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THE 

FEARSOME 

ISLAND 




THE LIBRARY 
-| OF 

J THE UNIVERSITY 
OF CALIFORNIA 

LOS ANGELES 



7s/ 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2007 with funding from 

Microsoft Corporation 



http://www.archive.org/details/fearsomeislandbeOOkinriala 



The Fearsome Island 



The 

Fearsome Island, 

Being a Modern Rendering 
of the Narrative 

QF one Silas Fordred, Master Mari- 
ner of Hythe, whose shipwreck and 
subsequent adventures are herein set 
forth. Also an appendix accounting in a 
rational manner for the seeming mar- 
vels that Silas Fordred encountered 
during his sojourn on the fearsome is- 
land of Don Diego Rodriguez. 

By Albert Kinross. 



CHICAGO: 
Printed for Herbert S. Stone &T Com- 
pany at the Chap-Book offices in the 
Caxton Building. i8p6. 



COPYRIGHT, 1896, BY 
HERBERT S. STONE * CO. 



6021 
^6 24f 



DEDICATION. 



Dear Zangwill, 

I have to thank you for so much in the 
past, present, and I think I may venture on 
prophesy and say the future. Kindly accept 
this inscription as some small token of that 
gratitude. As for the book, I fear its con- 
tents will surprise you as much as they sur- 
prised 

Yours most sincerely, 

ALBERT KINROSS. 

January, 1896. 



G3193S 



THE PREFACE. 

TN the reproduction of this narrative it 
was my intention to modernise the 
English of the original version. I am no 
great scholar, being more interested in 
the humanity of things than in their aes- 
thetics ; and, in the retelling of this story, 
I find that I have been completely over- 
powered by the original version, so that 
the language in which this history is here 
set forth is no language. I have, however, 
let it stand, as I feel that the leisurely 
dialect that I have instinctively adopted 
is more in keeping with the character 
and surroundings of Silas Fordred than 
the crisp, clear-cut phraseology of to-day. 



The Pr efac e . 

Also in the original manuscript were 
many coarse phrases that I have all but 
eliminated ; should one or two such have 
crept into this version, will the indulgent 
reader kindly pass them by, merely regard- 
ing such in the light of landmarks of a 
day that was wont to express its thoughts 
and sentiments with no uncertain voice. 

ALBERT KINROSS. 

Hampstead, i8p6. 



INTRODUCTION 

I WAS staying down at Hythe last 
winter, and, among other occupa- 
tions, I found time to assist my very 
good friend Cobb, Town Clerk of the 
old cinque port, in sorting a mass of 
ancient documents but recently discov- 
ered in a musty chest that Back the 
beadle had stumbled across in the Town 
Hall cellar. These papers were, for 
the most part, connected with the bus- 
inesses transacted by Cobb's remotest 
predecessors; with meat and drink fur- 
nished at the Lord Warden's banquets, 
and tithes paid to his Grace the Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury. Our national 
enemy across the channel had given 
the worthy Councillors of those days 
much food for thought, and there were 



Introduction 

many accounts of moneys spent with 
the object of offensive and defensive 
chastisement to be inflicted on that 
relentless foe. 

But, among all these documents, 
many of which might possess great 
interest for the antiquarian or social 
economist, there was one that I read 
and re-read thrice before imparting its 
contents to my good friend Cobb ; or 
stay, such rather was my intention, 
but, on second thoughts, I carefully 
placed the time-worn sheets in my 
ulster pocket — there was quite a bun- 
dle of them — and here in town I am 
turning into modern English what Silas 
Fordred penned with great labour and 
difficulty in the days of good Queen 
Bess. 

Fordred shall tell his own story, and 
you, my readers (among whom I hope 
friend Cobb will occupy a foremost 
place,) believe or doubt! The story 
rings honest and the truth was more in 



Introduction 

favour in those days than in this scep- 
tic age. 

Here follow the time-stained papers 
of Silas Fordred worked up into a nar- 
rative of some literary merit ; for style 
and polish had he none, this blunt 
mariner of yester-year. 

For want of a better title, and I hold 
that all things should have a distinctive 
name, I have headed this narrative: 

The 

Fearsome Island 

Before the assembled Town Council 
of Hythe Borough I have read and set 
my name to this true statement of what 
befell me in my last voyage to the South- 
ern Seas. If any there be that doubt, let 
them go down to my house in Stade 
Street and inspect the strange barque 
that carried me from the Fearsome 
Island to the good ship Queen Marie 
that brought me hither. Further, have 
I not shewn you vessels of gold that 
3 



Introduction 

were in the Dark Chamber, likewise 
the thirteen great diamonds that hung 
round the neck of the bronze idol? 
Also have you seen the knife of Span- 
ish steel with the round ruby at its hilt 
and the two fangs that broke on my 
hand from the mouth of the Hag of 
Turret? The captain and seamen of 
the ship Queen Marie have spoken 
of the hairy man that was a-dying 
when I was discovered afloat and with- 
out food. What I have written is true 
on my oath and by my hope of enter- 
ing heaven. 

(Signed) Silas Fordred. 
Witnessed by 

Evan the Welshman, 
Town Clerk, 



Chapter I 

ON the third day of June, 1558, 
Mary that was called Bloody 
being then our Queen, Thomas Snoad 
and I set out from Hythe for the great 
port of Dover, where lay the ship 
Brave Luck that we had jointly pur- 
chased to trade with for our own 
profits and benefaction. Previously, 
both of us had been in the employ of 
Deedes, the great London merchant, 
who hath more ships than I have toes 
or fingers. We rose early in the morn- 
ing, so that when we reached Dover 
the sun was close on midday and we 
were greatly athirst. Straightway we 
boarded our ship, in whose cabin was 
meat and drink in plenty, and, our 
appetites being stilled, we went into 
Dover town to prepare for the voyage 
5 



The Fearsome Island 

we were about to undertake. That 
same day we engaged fourteen seamen 
and three boys, also a black man from 
beyond the Middle Sea who was re- 
puted to cook exceeding well and with- 
out causing an over-great stink. 

Our cargo we put aboard: child's 
things from Chepeside, and horns that 
would make music; also cloth stuffs 
for such as wear garments, and good 
bows and arrows and broadswords for 
them that love to fight. 

At the eleventh hour and before we 
hove anchor I bethought me of Dick 
Whittington, that was thrice Lord 
Mayor of London, and I hied back to 
the town and bought two cats that 
were with kitten, also a Tom-cat, ex- 
ceeding fierce and black, that was sold 
me by a witch and had eaten man's 
flesh. 

That night we slept on board, greatly 
tired, for we had been astir since sun- 
rise putting chests and bales in the 
6 



, The Fearsome Island 

hold, and it was on the second morn- 
ing after quitting Hythe that we set 
sail and passed down the Channel on 
our way to Grand Canary and the 
Southern Seas. 

It were idle to write here what befell 
during the first two months of our voy- 
age, that in all things greatly resem- 
bled other voyages. Fair winds and 
pleasant trade with good profits were 
our lot. 

The Negro cook was of a merry 
mood and amused us hugely, for he 
could dance and sing and make agree- 
able noises with pieces of wood held in 
his hands, and his smile was wide as 
the smile of a crocodile. Nor was he 
idle at his business, for he could prepare 
excellent dishes, many of which were 
new and unknown to us, and therefore 
the pleasanter. 

We touched at the Gold River that 
runs into the ocean on the West of 
Africa, and spent some days bartering 
7 



The Fearsome Island 

for gold dust, ivory, and palm oil. It 
was here that our cook, the black 
knave, played us a scurvy trick. 
When we set sail once more, that foul 
Indian was nowhere to be found, and 
we were without cook. And then I 
remembered that he had said that his 
home was in these parts. He had de- 
ceived and deserted us, and his soul 
was black as his skin. 

From the Gold River we sailed south 
along the coast, and went ashore at 
many places, till we reached a harbour 
from whence we could see a mountain 
with a flat top like a table. We had 
bartered away all our cargo and there 
was no further cause to prolong our 
voyage, so here we turned our ship's 
head and sailed joyfully North. 

On the third day of journeying 
homewards great gales began to blow ; 
for six days and six nights we ran with 
bare masts before the winds, and only 
God on high knew in what sea we were, 

8 



The Fearsome Island 

and, though we prayed at morn and 
eve, He told us naught. 

On that sixth day methought the 
world would end, for there were huger 
seas about us than any I had ever seen 
before. The hold was full of water, 
and I wept bitter tears as wave after 
wave broke over Snoad's ship and mine. 

" Beshrew me," said I to Thomas, 
my partner, '* our cargo will suffer 
damage — the palm-oil runs to waste. ' ' 

" Aye," said Snoad, " 'tis I who 
feel each drop that spoils, even as 
thou," and he shook his bare head, 
and the great tears stood in his eyes, 
for Snoad was a man of much thrift, 
though unmarried. 

The great cat that had eaten man's 
flesh was sore afraid, its hair stood 
erect on its back and its eyes shone 
like burnished brass. And in the 
night of that day, as Thomas Snoad 
and I were praying for light and a 
smooth sea, for we had neither slept 
9 



The Fearsome Island 

nor eaten save upright all the six days, 
an huger wave than all curled and 
splintered into a thousand pieces over 
us, and the water stung our faces like 
a shower of broken glass, while the 
ship Brave Luck swayed like a man 
drunk with ale, and its bow rose high 
into the air above our heads. 

u God save us, Snoad! " said I. 

'* Amen! " said Snoad, and though 
we shouted, our voices were as a whis- 
per. We could hear the seamen call 
on Mary that is the Virgin and Jesus 
who died on the Cross, and some knelt, 
while others threw their arms above 
their heads and trembled with the fear 
of death. There were wild eyes around 
us, and faces drawn and terrible as the 
faces of wild beasts that are mad with 
hunger and evil passion. I saw these 
things as in a dream, for they moved 
me not overmuch, and the men about 
me were not men as I had known them, 
and nothing was real till the ship fell 
ip 



The Fearsome Island 

from under us and we were in the 
waters, Snoad and I, in a valley 'twixt 
mountains of water, now rising to the 
crest, now falling deep, like balls of 
down in an autumn wind. We could 
see the heads of the others bobbing 
like black corks, and overhead in the 
sky we saw the lightning glitter and 
run, while in our ears the thunder 
boomed death knells. It was a brave 
yet awful sight, and I think that hell 
can contain nothing more terrible than 
that black sea, with the black faces 
bobbing through the darkness, through 
which the lightning swished like a 
rapier of cold gold. Over the hold of 
our ship had been a cover of wood with 
handles of rope and two yards long 
and broad. This cover I made out 
bearing down on me. I reached out a 
hand, and my arm was fast twisted in 
the rope ere the next wave could bear 
me from this raft. Snoad was at my 
side. 



The Fearsome Island 

" Give me your hand, Snoad," I 
shouted, but he could not hear my 
voice above the wind and waves that 
roared like many lions. I reached out 
my other arm and caught the top of 
his jerkin — 'twas of good stout leather, 
— and he looked at me (his head was 
like a painting of John the Baptist's 
head on a platter) and spat water from 
his mouth. 

' ' God save thee, Fordred ! ' ' 

I saw the words on his lips but heard 
naught. 

" Amen! " said I, and we clung to- 
gether for the dear life for weary minute 
after minute ; and when at last the grey 
dawn broke, there was land not over 
far from us, and the waves were bear- 
ing us thither at great speed. As we 
neared the shore we let go of our raft, 
and, taking what little strength re- 
mained to us, we swam on by ourselves 
till a huge breaker flung us heavily on 
the beach. We picked ourselves up 
12 



The Fearsome Island 

again — it was a joyful feeling, this 
standing once more upright on our legs 
— and went inland beyond the sea's 
reach. 

We cast off our dripping garments 
and knelt naked to pray a thanksgiv- 
ing, but, we were so tired and ex- 
hausted that we fell down close to- 
gether, our legs refusing their office, 
and we slept thus in the grey dawn, 
naked and worn out. The far-off lands 
are warmer than ours, so we feared not 
to be sick by thus lying bare under 
the open sky. 

So we fell asleep, a-weary from our 
toil and watching, and we lay quite 
still till the noonday sun smote on our 
eyelids. When we awoke, the sky was 
deep blue, the winds had ceased to 
rage, and the sea had grown calm and 
serene, so that we felt like two that 
had dreamed an evil dream and were 
but newly awakened. There was a 
pinching feeling at our stomachs; we 
13 



The Fearsome Island 

had fasted for many hours, and what 
we had lately eaten was of no great 
moment. Snoad and I arose and 
walked inland to where there were 
trees with strange fruits such as grow 
in distant lands, and we sat in the 
branches of one such and ate from a 
great gourd we had found at its foot. 
I looked at Snoad and saw that he was 
naked. 

" Friend Snoad," said I, " where 
be thy garments? for surely thou dost 
bear thee as Adam when in the Garden 
of Eden." 

" Friend Fordred," cried Snoad, 
" look to thyself! " 

And I looked, and I too was naked ! 
Then I looked up at Snoad, but he was 
nowhere to be seen ; and I looked down 
at Snoad, and he was fallen from the 
branch with over-much laughing and 
lay now a-rolling on his back with a 
full mouth and great tears on his 
cheeks. 



The Fearsome Island 

" Silas Fordred! "he cried, "wouldst 
thou choke me? " 

And I too laughed till I dropped 
from my branch on to Thomas Snoad's 
stomach. 

u Nay, we will both choke," I said, 
and began to laugh anew; but Snoad 
was silent for he had no wind. 

After we had eaten we walked slowly 
back to the spot where lay our clothes, 
dry but marvellous small from the 
water and the hot sun. And then we 
went down to the sea all smooth and 
smiling. 

" God save us, Fordred! " said 
Snoad, " where be we? " 

11 Aye, where be we? " I answered, 
and we shook our heads and looked 
around and upwards; and as we 
looked, what should we see but a huge 
idol, a great figure, shining and of 
bronze, such as mariners say are wor- 
shipped in the isles beyond Kathay 
that are called Nipong. We both 
*5 



The Fearsome Island 

rubbed our eyes, so as to make sure 
that we saw true. Aye, there was the 
figure, a great woman with a calm face, 
and neither shift nor other garment. 
For eyes there were broad holes, and 
in and about these hollow sockets flew 
sea-birds, and they perched on her 
breasts, on her knees, and about her 
feet. 

" Good Fordred," said Snoad, " if 
that be god of these parts let us make 
obeisance, it may be fitting and proper 
that we should." 

" Nay," said I, in a stern voice and 
loud, u Thomas Snoad, rather let us 
cross ourselves and pray to the Blessed 
Virgin, who hath just saved us from 
death by drowning! " 

" Thou art right, good Fordred," 
he replied; and we repeated the Lord's 
Prayer twice, for 'twas the only prayer 
that we could repeat from memory. 

After that we walked closer to the 
idol with stout hearts and unafraid, and 
16 



The Fearsome Island 

we looked into its face, to its great 
nose, and the holes that were eyes, and 
to its neck — and on its neck hung 
stones that sparkled, big stones all 
white and glistening as I have seen the 
diamond stones shine in a goldsmith's 
shop, only these stones were larger 
than any that I had ever seen before, 
and I have been to the Tower of Lon- 
don, and seen the great ruby that was 
in the crown of King Harry of Agin- 
court. 

44 Those be diamonds," said Snoad. 

44 I will not say ye nay," I replied. 

Then we looked again, up and down, 
and at the feet of the great figure were 
human bones, skulls and leg bones, and 
ribs and arms. 

1 ' See ye those, friend Snoad ? " I 
asked. 

14 Yea, I see them; they be human 
sacrifices. I have heard tell of such 
among those that be heathens." 

Thomas Snoad was one that always 

17 



The Fearsome Island 

had answer and explanation at his 
tongue's tip, even though he knew 
nothing of the matter in hand. This 
was his great weakness — a small thing, 
for he was as gallant a seaman as ever 
trod a ship. 

We looked once more, and all the 
skeletons were broken across the mid- 
dle, and the upper parts lay here and 
the lower parts lay there. 

"See ye that, friend Snoad?" I 
asked, and my thoughts went back to 
the bones that are in the crypt of the 
Hythe Church. 

" Yea," he made reply (as was his 
wont), " 'tis most like to be their man- 
ner of offering sacrifice." 

And for a few moments we stood 
wondering what manner of god this 
might be, and whose were the bones 
that lay all white at its feet. 

Again our eyes lighted on the great 
white stones that sparkled more than a 
woman's eyes. 

18 



The Fearsome Island 

" They be for us," said Snoad. 
" Wilt climb and take them? 'Tis 
easy to reach. Mayhap there will 
come worshippers ere long and 'twill 
be too late." 

'* Be wise, friend Snoad," said I, 
' ' and think thyself of good luck should 
the worshippers not offer thee up as a 
sacrifice. The diamonds can wait, and, 
should we be discovered by the men 
that inhabit this land, we might have 
to pay a huge price. ' ' 

I led him away, and we walked 
about all that day without seeing sign 
of man or human habitation. We ate 
fruits and berries, and great crabs that 
came out of the sea and sought to 
pinch us. These we slew with stones 
and pieces of rock, breaking their shells, 
after which they died. It was raw meat, 
but a hungry man waits not for a cook. 

That night we slept under a broad 
tree, near a brook of running water 
that we had drank from. The next 
19 



The Fearsome Island 

morning when I awoke I was alone, and 
Thomas Snoad was nowhere to be seen. 

** Snoad, Thomas Snoad!" I cried 
till my throat pained, but there came 
no reply. At last I bethought me of 
the diamond stones and the great lust 
that had shone in Snoad* s eyes on the 
yesterday. 

Quick I sprang to my feet, and ran 
with great speed toward the seashore, 
where stood the great idol of bronze 
with the glistening necklet, and, as I 
approached, I could see Snoad a-climb- 
ing from the huge toes onto the knees. 

" Get thee down! " I cried. " Get 
thee down, thou thief, thou sacrileg- 
ious thief, there will be mischief in the 
deed and dire punishment to follow." 

So I spake to Thomas Snoad, for 
God hath given me a honest soul. 

He heeded not, and again I cried : 

11 Get thee down, Thomas Snoad! " 
But he heeded not; and now he had 
one hand on the outstanding breast and 



The Fearsome Island 

he stood on the brazen knee, and then, 
as he swung upward to the neck where 
sparkled the jewel, the great bronze 
arms did close — aye, did close I say, 
and I have sworn it, — did close fast and 
sharp over Thomas Snoad, and his 
head and trunk fell one way and his 
legs and belly another, aye, right to 
my feet ; and, as I crossed myself and 
fell down on my knees, I saw the arms 
of that accursed figure swing back wide 
open and empty as before, and Thomas 
Snoad lay at my feet in two halves, so 
that I understood the meaning of the 
broken skeletons all sundered in the 
middle, and I shook my fist at the 
curst idol, and the arms were wide 
apart and without motion, and the 
great white jewels sparkled mockingly 
in that morning's sun. 

I knelt some minutes all fearsome 
and a-trembling, wondering to what 
devil's land this body o' mine had 
strayed, and, as I knelt, I could feel 

21 



The Fearsome Island 

something soft yet firm a-pressing 
gently against my thighbone, and at 
the same time I could hear a low sound 
such as is made by a cat that is pleased. 
I looked round to my side and there 
was the black cat from the ship a- fond- 
ling of me, he that had eat man's flesh 
and had dwelt with a witch. He was 
very friendly and there was a fond look 
in his face; but, for all that, I arose 
hastily, bethinking me of the body of 
poor Thomas Snoad that lay there 
dead and in two parts, and meseemed 
it were well did I arise and bury him 
ere harm befell. So I searched till I 
found a sharp stone all broad and flat 
like a spade, and with it I dug in the 
soft sand, so that by ten o'clock that 
day by the sun I had buried Thomas 
Snoad, all that was mortal of that gal- 
lant mariner. As the sand lay thick 
over him, I did think to say a prayer, 
and again I prayed to '■ Our Father 
which art in Heaven," that being the 

99 



The Fearsome Island 

only prayer that I could repeat without 
book or priest. I was alone now, and 
as the " Amen " left my lips my soli- 
tude and isolation came back to me 
strong and full, and my heart felt heavy 
within me and tears of self-pity stood 
in both my eyes. I was fit to weep, 
and lay helpless and without hope as is 
a despairing woman, till, with great 
effort, I repeated '* Silas Fordred, that 
art a man, be thou a man." This I 
said thrice, gaining strength with each 
repetition, and the mist before my eyes 
vanished, though a tear trickled slow 
down both the sides of my nose and 
splashed onto the thirsty sand below. 
I saw clear once more, and the black 
cat was before me, gazing piteously 
into my face as if to share my burden 
of sorrow. I drew him gently onto 
my lap, and we both sat lonely and 
forsaken on the empty strand, ponder- 
ing over what next we should do in 
that gruesome land of the brazen idol. 
*3 



Chapter 1 1 

ON the next morning the cat and 
I held council — we had slept to- 
gether on the previous night for the 
sake of the companionship of the other. 
" Black cat of the witch," said I, 
after gazing long at him steadfastly and 
with much thought, "do thou that are 
skilled in Sorcery lead and I will fol- 
low," and with that I laid my hand 
lightly on the beast's head, and it 
looked up into my eyes unafraid and 
as a friend might do. After which, 
with tail erect and moustachios point- 
ing right and left, it went inland, I fol- 
lowing, and for two days and a night 
we journeyed through thick woods, 
with here and there a rich plain that 
was as fair a pasture land as are the 
marshes around Romney Town. 
H 



The Fearsome Island 

Towards the vesper hour on the sec- 
ond day of our wanderings we came to 
a hill on whose crest stood a fair castle, 
which, though nowise old or a-crumb- 
ling, yet looked neglected and for- 
saken, being much overgrown with 
mosses, weeds, and climbing plants 
that flourish with great vigour in 
Southern lands, and grow there in one 
year more than such things grow in 
ten years in our own country. 

M Black cat," said I, " let us enter," 
and together we strode up the hillside 
to a fair gate, that was arched and had 
ornaments of wrought-iron to its face 
of strong wood. This gate was let 
into the castle wall over against a 
round tower, such as I have seen at 
Windsor as a boy at the castle of King 
Harry that had six wives. Round 
about us reigned a death-like silence, 
and from the castle came no sound. I 
looked up, marvelling, at the rank 
grasses and untended growths, at the 
25 



The Fearsome Island 

window glass whereon the dust and 
grime lay thick, at the weather-stained 
masonry, and beyond,, at the garden 
about the castle, where grew neither 
fruit nor flower, nothing but worthless 
plants and common weeds such as were 
in the woods through which we had 
passed on our way thither. 

Greatly I wondered as to who might 
dwell in this deserted palace, and I 
looked around for means of entry. 
Over on the gate was a large knocker 
of bronze and shaped like an open hand 
stretched out in welcome. It was on 
a hinge and the knuckles were thick 
and heavy, so that when it fell the 
noise might be the greater. I reached 
out my hand, and was about to raise the 
knocker and clamour at the gateway, 
when I bethought me of poor Thomas 
Snoad and the fate that had overtaken 
him. 

" Black cat,' said I, " there be 
strategy and there be cunning, and 
26 



The Fearsome Island 

wherefore, did I lack these arts, were 
I, Silas Fordred, master-mariner?" 

With that I unfastened my belt of 
good leather, that cost me one groat 
and a penny at Canterbury fair, and I 
lifted up the bronze hand with the belt 
that I had wound around it, and, be- 
hold, the bronze fingers clutched the 
belt, closed as do lion's claws — yea, 
even as the arms of the idol had closed 
on poor Thomas Snoad. I laughed 
loud to myself at the sight, and the 
cat, too, did laugh, for I had escaped 
a cruel device and had outwitted some 
uncommon malignant sorcerer. High 
I swung the hand with my good leather 
thong, and then I loosed my hold and 
the fist fell back with a crash, while, 
at the same instant, the gateway 
opened wide from the inside, and with- 
out human aid. By the waning day- 
light I could see a broad hall, tiled and 
paved, with rich rugs and skins on the 
floor ; the walls were hung with tapes- 
27 



The Fearsome Island 

tries and designs made of rare spears, 
bucklers and swords. Here and there 
were low couches that looked soft and 
inviting — it was a fair sight for eyes and 
body that had not rested on comfort 
and ease for many months. The sun 
was sinking fast — and the darkness ap- 
proaches quick in these lands, — so I 
thought it unwise to enter the castle at 
this late hour and resolved to spend 
that night on the hillside, deeming it 
safer to rest there than in the great 
hall. The black cat, whom I had 
named Satan for a jest, lay by my side 
as on the other nights, he being by 
now mighty trustful of me and friend- 
ly. Ever and anon our eyes wandered 
through the darkness to the black out- 
line of the castle, and, though there 
were many windows, we saw no light 
or sign of light in any one of the rooms. 
Only once I thought I could see a 
faint glimmer, as of a lamp, shine from 
the round window in the turret ; but I 
28 



The Fearsome Island 

looked again and it was gone, and I 
looked again and it was a moonbeam 
that had painted a patch of silver on 
the pane. On the morrow, when the 
sun stood clear in the sky, and after I 
had bathed and drank water from a 
running stream so that all my wits 
might be with me, I entered at the 
castle gate. The brazen hand was still 
clenched over my belt of leather. 

Satan was the first to enter the hall, 
a great chamber with many doors let 
into the wall on either side, while at 
the far end rose a broad stairway, 
which we ascended without mishap. 

It would be idle were I to describe 
what was in that castle; suffice to say, 
it was like a nobleman's palace, with 
chairs of carved wood-work and great 
beds with spreading canopies, such as I 
have seen at the Palace at Hampton 
Court, by aid of my friend, Roger the 
Ratcatcher, who doth dwell in that 
famous abode. 



The Fearsome Island 

With great caution we peered into 
many chambers, and no harm befell; 
and when we had descended the stair- 
way and explored the rooms about the 
great hall, we passed yet beyond to 
where there were kitchens and store- 
rooms, where we found stacks of dried 
fruits and vegetables, also sealed tins 
that we broke, and wherein were large 
pieces of flesh — beef and pork and the 
tongues of oxen. 

We sat us down and feasted until 
our insides could be no more dis- 
tended, and, our thirst being then far 
stronger than our hunger, we arose, 
thinking to go down to the stream 
that ran beside the hill whereon stood 
the castle, there to drink our fill of 
water. 

Now, as once more we crossed the 
great hall, a marvellous strange thing 
befell. I had trodden on a square tile 
— it was green in colour, being the 
centre-piece of the design that orna- 
30 



The Fearsome Island 

merited the paving, — and this green 
tile yielded under my foot, so that, 
fearing some new witchcraft, with a 
deadly fear at my heart, I sprang high 
up into the air. It was a mercy that 
my legs were well up under me, for as 
a flash there swung 'twixt wall and 
wall a long blade of steel shaped as a 
giant sword. It passed low down, just 
above the head of Satan, the cat, just 
below the soles of my feet. It was a 
marvellous cunning piece of sorcery, 
for was I not bound to light once more 
on that green tile — so broad it was — 
and yet again, and yet again, till I 
should be quite tired, and without 
strength to spring, and then — I shud- 
dered. Three times I jumped high in- 
to the air, like to a girl that skips with 
a rope, only this rope of mine was a 
steel knife, sharp and keen, and I 
thought many things, and all of them 
very terrible and uncomforting; and 
three times the long steel blade hissed 
3* 



The Fearsome Island 

by, low down and from wall to wall. 
A fourth time I lighted on the green 
tile, but on this occasion the spell 
worked not; true, the sword issued 
forth as before, yet, instead of flashing 
'twixt wall and wall, it swerved in its 
course, hesitated, and then fell harm- 
less to the ground, dead and without 
power. The charm that had caused it 
to chop to and fro had failed. I 
touched it lightly with my forefinger, 
and it did not stir; I handled it yet 
more familiarly and it moved not. It 
was a long blade, long as the hall was 
broad, somewhat rusty and ill-looking 
it was for lack of armourer's care, yet 
sharp withal and of a fine temper. 

" Yea," I thought, " the magic of 
the devil, thy smith, hath left thee, 
thanks be to God, for truly thou art an 
evil device and an unholy; " and, as in 
a dream, I saw myself springing into 
the air, till at last, weak and feeble, I 
could spring no more ; and what I then 
32 



The Fearsome Island 

perceived caused me to shudder anew. 
I went from the prostrate blade back 
to the green tile and trod upon it with 
the end of one foot, and the long knife 
quivered like an animal wounded in 
the chase and a-dying, yet it stirred 
not from the ground. " Magic blade 
that art no longer magic, thy strength 
is gone! " I said aloud, and with that 
I broke off the end of the sword with 
my two hands, that were protected 
by a cloth I had taken from one of 
the couches that stood around. I 
stooped and sweated, and my face was 
purple, yet, ere I had done, the huge 
blade was in five pieces, and powerless 
to do further harm. 

It was with a greater thirst than be- 
fore that Satan and I sped downhill to 
the stream. Here we drank our fill, 
and it was good to be once more out 
in the open air under the free sky, 
with naught to fear and no care at our 
hearts. The rest of that day we sat in 
33 



The Fearsome Island 

the cool shade of a wood, listening to 
the apes and birds of coloured plumage 
that chattered in the trees. 

Satan, the black cat, lies dead and un- 
buried in a strange land, and no human 
eye marked his death. His last hour 
was perchance the most evil in both 
our lives, and maybe in that hour I 
had no thought for him or he for me ; 
yet now, in my security, I think daily 
on him, and there rise tears to my 
eyes, for he was dear to me and I to 
him, and the dangers that we shared 
together I shall never forget. In the 
night I again ascended the hill and wan- 
dered around and about the castle, for 
a spirit of unrest possessed me and I 
could not sleep. No light was visible 
from any window, and all was black 
and inanimate as before. On the 
round window of the turret the same 
patch of moonlight silvered the pane, 
yet there was no moon in the skies, 
naught but an army of stars, wondrous 
34 



The Fearsome Island 

bright and near to earth, as are the 
stars of all distant lands. 

Later I slept deep, yet, ere my eyes 
closed, I had pondered much over that 
patch of moonlight on the round win- 
dow of the turret ; for albeit there was 
no moon visible in the sky, a moon-ray 
pale and argentine it most certainly 
was that I had seen, and I resolved 
that I would ascend to the turret and 
seek to discover from whence sprang 
this strange light that had so puzzled 
me. 

On the morrow Satan and I once 
more set out for the storeroom in 
search of meat. Again we ate our fill, 
and our appetites were very great and 
pressing. From this chamber there 
led underground a stone stairway that 
we afterwards descended, cautiously, 
and one foot moving slow after the 
other. The walls of this stairway were 
damp and mildewed, and when we 
reached the cellar below the air was 
35 



The Fearsome Island 

humid and lifeless as a stagnant tarn. 
There were holes in the walls, through 
which streamed pale rays of light, so 
that we discovered the nature of this 
underground chamber without great 
mystery or labour. Underfoot was 
the naked earth without flagstone or 
paving, and, on all sides, stretched a 
huge crypt, a ceiling of many curves 
supported by numberless pillars. At 
Canterbury Cathedral, where lie the 
bones of St. Thomas a Becket, is just 
such a crypt, though vaster far than 
the one Satan and I explored that 
morning. There were many casks 
about us, and goodly flasks of glass 
and earthenware that held rich wines 
and oils; also were there quaintly- 
painted chests filled with the dried leaf 
of some unknown plant. I drank 
sparingly of the rich wines that we had 
discovered, tasting of many sorts and 
colours; and each was of a quality 
rarer and more costly than any liquor 
36 



The Fearsome Island 

I had drunk before. The dust and 
cobwebs lay thick on all that was about 
us, and I thought that few men had 
drunk wine of so old a vintage; yet, 
because of the sorcery that was all 
about us, I restrained my natural de- 
sires and forbode to drink more than I 
could carry without detriment to my 
reason and good sense, knowing full 
well that I should want all the wits I 
was possessed of, even on that day as 
on the previous days. 

Further on in this great cellar was 
a space with a palisade of wood all 
about it, and within were barrels, two 
or three of which had their heads stove 
in, so that their contents were spread 
on the ground beside them. I climbed 
the palisade and Satan pressed with his 
body through the bars. 

" Gunpowder, as I live! " I cried, 

fingering the black grains that strewed 

the ground. I had no great use of so 

dangerous a neighbour, and yet, 

37 



The Fearsome Island 

thought I, " If the sorceries and dan- 
gers with which I am hourly beset 
cease not, maybe I shall lose patience 
and send this castle and all its witch- 
crafts a-flying into the air;" for I 
looked not upon this store of gunpow- 
der with dread, as some men might 
have done, but as an ally, for stood it 
not at my service as much as at the use 
of any other man? Satan and I then 
proceeded further through the crypt- 
like cellar, and at the further end was 
yet another stairway. This we ascended 
as carefully as was our wont, and soon 
we were standing in a vast apartment 
that we had heretofore been unaware 
of. This new chamber was quite 
unlike any of the others through which 
we had passed, being bare and huger 
than any dwelling-room, with a ceiling 
high and vaulted ; indeed, it was in 
shape more like the inside of a church 
than a room in a nobleman's palace. 
In this chamber were anvils and 
38 



The Fearsome Island 

moulds, and furnaces empty and idle; 
here also were strange machines whose 
uses I could in no way surmise; and 
all these things were rusty and red, 
and discoloured with unuse. This 
chamber reminded me of a vast 
smithy, only it was of another and a 
more cunning nature than any smith's 
shop that I had ever seen. Around 
the walls were shelves whereon stood 
great jars and caskets, and there were 
chests that had drawers that were filled 
with carpenter's stores, — screws and 
nails and gimlets and files and rivets. 
There were also boxes full of thin 
sticks of wood with a red substance 
at their end, and I rubbing two such 
together, they burst into flame. Then 
I bethought me of the gunpowder in 
the cellar below, and I put a box of 
these fire-makers in my pouch, so that 
I could act at a short notice. 

I marvelled greatly at the long rows 
of jars, many of which were of glass, 
39 



The Fearsome Island 

so that I could see that they were 
filled with coloured liquids, and all of 
them bore inscriptions in a strange 
tongue — for a strange tongue it must 
have been, the words being written 
with English characters, yet conveying 
no meaning to me as I spelt them out. 
From one such a jar I took the cover, 
and there arose a smell most nauseous, 
so that I had much ado that I might 
not vomit. Yet one more jar did I 
uncover, and there arose fumes into 
the air about me, ruddy brown in 
colour, and of an evil quality, so thick 
and foul that I was nigh suffocated 
when these vapours entered at my 
mouth. There was a large doorway at 
the end of the chamber, and to this 
both Satan and I scampered quick. 
We opened it, and before us was the 
forsaken garden that was about the 
castle. We stood long on the thresh- 
old, exceeding thankful for air that 
was pure and of good odour. 
4 o 



The Fearsome Island 

The gateway through which we had 
passed opened out on to the back of 
the castle, and before us lay the tan- 
gled desolation of the garden that 
had fallen to such lamentable decay. 
There were seats and arbours, all moss- 
grown and scarcely recognisable, and 
we sat us down and pondered over the 
things that were about us, marvel- 
ling much how it was that they were 
there, and how it was that their pres- 
ent plight was so lonesome and un- 
tended. 

" 'Tis like the fable of the Brier 
Rose, friend Satan," I said, as I 
scratched the top of his head, and 
then I smacked my lips together. 
" Maybe I shall kiss the princess," I 
continued, M and she will awake and 
chide me for a hairy-faced varlet." 
My hand was on my chin and I could 
feel my beard grown long and thick, 
and never a barber's shop would I, 
Silas Fordred, enter for many a long 
41 



The Fearsome Island 

day. My hair, too, was long and un- 
kempt, and truly had a princess gazed 
on me, I fear greatly that she would 
have turned on her side and essayed to 
sleep once more. 

With such like thoughts I wandered 
through the tangled bushes and net- 
work of creeping plants, that plucked 
at my feet and tripped me up, while 
the green tendrils tapped at my face 
and curled round my fingers, filling the 
air with a moist odour, somewhat 
rank, yet not unpleasing. We had 
proceeded thus slowly for some hun- 
dreds of yards, when we came to an 
open space where stood three build- 
ings that had closed doors. Each of 
these structures was of stone, low in 
the roof and of simple form, and, from 
their shape, it was easy to tell that 
they consisted of but a single chamber. 
These we passed and repassed with 
much curiosity, but by now we had 
grown prudent and slow of action — 
4* 



The Fearsome Island 

aye, even fearful, — so that we were 
content to return to the woods as on 
the previous day, to idle away the time 
and bethink us of the morrow. 

It was quite silent in the wood, save 
for the stirring of leaves and the cries 
and motions of 'bird and beast, and 
Satan sat on blissfully at my side, with 
his head resting on his outstretched 
paws. On a sudden, however, the 
black cat rose to his feet with hair erect 
and his body forming an archway, while 
his claws came forth from their sheath. 

" What is it, friend Satan? " I 
cried. I looked in the direction of his 
eyes, and true, there was cause for 
alarm. Gazing straight at us, and 
some little distance away, was a man 
all naked and hairy, as is an ape. 

I rose to my feet and saw that he 
had no weapon. This gave me some 
courage, so that I called aloud: 

II Hairy man! who art thou, and 
what woulds't thou? " 

43 



The Fearsome Island 

He made no answer, and there was 
a look of terror on his face — 'twas 
brown in colour, of a somewhat lighter 
hue than a Negro's. 

" Come hither, thou man-ape," I 
said, loud and clear. 

He gave a shrill cry, and then turn- 
ing round he fled into the wood. I 
followed as fast as I was able, yet this 
hairy man was lithe and agile as is a 
greyhound, so that ere I had run many 
yards I had lost all trace of him. 
Breathless I returned to Satan, the cat. 

" Eater of man's flesh," I said, "we 
be not alone. Perchance this is a 
land of hairy men — and sorcerers." 

Satan, the cat, purred his agreement. 

" We must watch and wait," said I, 
1 ' and heaven above will help us ; for, 
cat, though thy hue be black, thou 
hast borne thee like a true Christian," 
and I drew him toward me and rubbed 
his black face against my cheek with 
much affection. 

44 



The Fearsome Island 

That day we saw no more of the 
hairy man, nor did we see other man 
or woman of like breed and nature. 
In the night, as I gazed upward to the 
castle on the hill, the patch of silver 
light was again visible on the turret 
window. I resolved that on the next 
day I would ascend the stairway and 
explore the tower, which as yet I had 
not entered ; for there was no moon in 
the sky, and I marvelled greatly as to 
the why and how of that patch of sil- 
ver light that shone each night on the 
turret window without apparent cause 
or natural source. 



Chapter III 

ON the morrow Satan and I set 
out for the store-room, whither 
we daily hied for meat and sustenance. 
It was a dismal day, with a dark sky, 
from which the rain fell in thick sheets, 
so that we ate more than we needed 
and drank our fill, aye, and more than 
our fill, of the wine in the cellar below. 
I remember well that I emptied a flask 
of red and a flask of yellow, and yet 
another flask of red ; for the leaden sky 
had made me sorrowful and the warm 
wine brought me comfort. By noon I 
had driven all care from my heart, and I 
was singing ribald songs and a-sitting on 
the floor with Satan, whom I had made 
to drink his fill of wine from a platter. 
" Satan, old crow," I cried, " 'tis a 
goodly tavern ; wilt pay the reckoning?" 
46 



The Fearsome Island 

He came towards me, yet not in a 
straight line but in a curve: the face 
he wore was not his own, 'twas more 
like the face of a stupid sheep ; for the 
liquor had reached his brain, and his 
head and limbs were unsteady. 

" Thou drunken knave," I cried, 
1 ' get thee hence ; no denier hast thou 
with which to pay what glasses thou 
hast burst! Out, thou black tinker! " 
and with that we fell into each other's 
arms and rolled on the floor, together 
and wondrous happy. 

'Twas then that I bethought me of 
the turret and the silver moonlight I 
had seen on its window these last three 
nights. 

" Friend Beelzebub," said I to my 
companion, " We two will venture to 
the tower and see what it holds — per- 
chance a duplicate moon ; marry, thou 
roistering puss, up on to thy four legs, 
and do thou lead the way! " 

Together we struggled out into the 
47 



The Fearsome Island 

hall and then upstairs till we came to 
a doorway that opened on to a wind- 
ing staircase that, as I rightly sur- 
mised, led to the chamber in the turret. 
Well I remember how we wound 
round this last flight; the steps were 
of stone, and we held on to the damp 
walls, muttering to ourselves and ever 
and anon laughing aloud ; for the wine 
was hot in our heads, and our legs 
went one way and our bodies another. 
At length we reached the stairway 
head, and I threw open a brass-stud- 
ded door. Before us was a round 
apartment, the floor littered with huge 
folios, while a red curtain of heavy silk 
hung from floor to ceiling at the fur- 
ther end. On entering this chamber 
we were greeted by a cry, shrill and 
uncanny as the shriek of a night bird. 
I looked about me, and there rose from 
a low chair an aged crone, bent well- 
nigh double, with a lifeless face, and 
long wisps of hair that were a pale yel- 
4 8 



The Fearsome Island 

low from age. Two long teeth, brown 
as toasted almonds, projected on either 
side of her mouth, while on her chin 
sprouted a fine beard that I plucked as 
I looked into her face and drew her 
toward me. Her eyes were small, 
malevolent, and like beads of glass. 

" What make you up here, old 
hag?" I said, holding tight to her 
beard so as to make sure of her face, 
for most things that were about me I 
could see double, aye, and some three- 
fold. She laid her hand — 'twas dry 
and lean, with thick black veins — on 
my arm, and hissed with rage as does 
a serpent, trying with feeble force to 
disengage her beard. 

" What make you up here, old 
witch, spells and sorcery? " I asked 
once more. Then I turned to Satan 
that had dwelt with the witch: 
" Knowest thou this lady? " I said, 
with a thick voice. The black cat 
shrunk to my side, marvellous steady 

49 



The Fearsome Island 

and sober. " Satan, thou that I 
bought of a witch, thou that knowest 
the ways of sorcerers, is it safe to let 
this old crone live, or shall I hurl her 
from the turret window? " And with 
that I drew the hag yet closer towards 
me, and made as if to execute my 
threat. 

" Indeed, kind sir, 'twas not I," 
she whined. 

11 Dost speak the English tongue? — 
aye, I forgot thou art a witch and 
speak all tongues. ' ' 

" Indeed, sweet sir, I have done 
thee no harm; prithee release my 
beard!" 

" 'Twas not you? " I burst out. 
" You have done me no harm? Then 
you know what devil's work has gone 
forward under this roof, Hag of the 
Turret? Was the sword that flashed 
under my heels of thy forging? " 

" Indeed, kind sir," she whimpered, 
" I had no power over that blade, nor 
50 



The Fearsome Island 

over the bronze hand on the gateway. 
I fear these things even as you fear 
them. I am but an old woman, and no 
witch ; pray, kind sir, release your hold 
on my beard, for the pain is great." 

" Heaven help you, if you lie," I 
said, and I loosed my hold. 

She fell back muttering to herself in 
a strange tongue, and her glance was 
that evil and malevolent that I shud- 
dered at sight of so terrible a visage. 

I turned to friend Satan, who, in 
spite of temporary calmness, was heavy 
with wine. He lay now on the floor 
of the chamber asleep and breathing 
hard from his nostrils, so that I could 
see his moustachios bend and sway. 

" Arouse thee, friend Satan," I 
cried, treading with my foot on his 
back. " And thou, old hag, beware!" 

I strode several times round the 
chamber, turning over the huge vol- 
umes that were strewn about and of 
which I could understand no word, 
51 



The Fearsome Island 

though I be a good scholar, having 
been intended as a boy for the priest- 
hood, and I had studied hard till the 
day that I quitted the monastery for 
the ocean that had the greater attrac- 
tion for me. I stood before the circu- 
lar window that I had gazed on from 
below, and on the other side of the 
turret was another window of the same 
shape and size. We were high up 
above the earth, and I could see across 
wood and meadow-land far away to the 
sea, and wherever I looked stretched 
the blue of the distant ocean. 

" 'Tis an island, this land of brazen 
idols and bearded hags, eh, old snake? 
and what may be its name? " I cried. 

*• It hath no name," she said. 

" And thy name? " 

" I have none." 

" Then, Hag of the Turret shalt 
thou be called henceforth. Come thou 
below to the cellar and we will cele- 
brate thy christening. ' ' 
53 



The Fearsome Island 

I laid my hand on her shoulder, and 
I felt that she was shaking with fear 
under my palm. I am not of a cruel 
disposition and I was moved. 

" Have no dread," I cried; " so 
long as thy conduct is harmless and of 
good report thou art safe. I am 
neither witch nor sorcerer; naught 
but a plain seaman, Silas Fordred, 
master-mariner of Hythe." 

She scowled at me most bad-humonr- 
edly. 

" I love seamen, they are brave 
and free as the ocean, ' ' said the witch. 

" Aye, thou lovest them as did the 
Syrens. I know thy love and will 
none of it." 

" You mock me because I am old 
and withered; 'tis not generous, Silas 
Fordred, master-mariner of Hythe, — 
'tis not generous, nor is it brave." 

" Get thee back to thy spells and 
incantations, ' ' and I looked at the great 
tomes that were spread about the 
S3 



The Fearsome Island 

room. "Yet stay," I continued: 
" whence comes the patch of moon- 
light that I see nightly on thy win- 
dow-pane? " 

For answer she pressed a spring in 
the wall, and, as I live, there burnt in 
a globe of glass above our heads a pale 
thread of light, white as a moon-ray. 

'■ A strange lamp is this, aye, and 
another of thy sorcerer's tricks; take 
care that it works no harm." 

"An innocent device," she pro- 
tested, M and simple." 

" 'Tis well; mark what I have said, 
and now good-day, and mind thou 
keepest to thy turret; for should I 
meet thee below, I will spit thee like a 
woodcock on one of thine own swords. " 

She scowled most evilly, the thin 
lips curling inward over her toothless 
gums, while the two fangs at the cor- 
ners pressed down on her withered 
chin. 

M Come, friend Satan," said I, stir- 

54 



The Fearsome Island 

ring the weary cat with my foot, " let 
us away." 

Together we descended the stairway, 
and the brass-studded door closed over 
our heads; then downhill to the 
stream that bordered the wood, to 
idle through the long afternoon as best 
we might. 

Thus, stretched at our ease, we 
thought over the day's events, and 
what they might bode. The hairy 
man of the yesterday came not within 
our ken, nor did we see further trace 
or sign of thing human, so there was 
naught to disturb our reflections. In 
the night-time the pale light glowed 
on the round window-pane as before, 
and not many hours after sunset we 
slept, greatly tired from the wine and 
the day's excitements, till late into the 
next day. 

After our usual meal, and we drank 
sparingly this time, we again ascended 
to the turret and held converse with 
55 



The Fearsome Island 

the witch. This we did for lack of 
other employment and because the 
time hung heavy on our hands. We 
stayed and spoke with her till both 
Satan and I were wearied with fruit- 
less discourse; then downstairs again 
wishing we had kept to our own com- 
pany. 

Our condition was most lonesome, 
and, after awhile, we wandered in the 
forsaken garden, for 'twas much like 
ourselves, and there is a wondrous 
sympathy 'twixt things animate and 
things inanimate be they in a like 
plight and condition. Yea, and even 
though we were silent and without 
power of comforting the other with 
speech, I saw in this neglected garden 
much that spoke to me in sympathy 
and tried hard to soothe my heavy 
heart; for it seemed to me as though 
the uncared plants felt what I felt, and, 
had they had utterance, they would 
have voiced my own thoughts. Even 
56 



The Fearsome Island 

the insects and bugs that crawled from 
leaf to leaf were in a less pitiable plight 
than this forsaken garden and myself, 
and, when I had thought and pitied 
myself awhile, there were tears on my 
cheek that rolled onto the fur of Satan, 
my friend, and made round spots on 
his coat that were more shiny than 
what was dry. 

As I sat thus thinking of gloomy 
things, I bethought me of the three 
buildings with the closed doors, and I 
resolved once more to visit them; for 
anything was a distraction in my pre- 
sent plight, and I saw no danger in 
this survey of stones and mortar. 

The sun was high in the afternoon 
sky, that was a deep hard blue, and so 
clear was the air that each leaf and 
flower stood clear-cut and separate, as 
though hewn in coloured stone. 

When we reached the open space 
where stood the three chambers, we 
found that they were as before, with 
57 



The Fearsome Island 

but one slight difference. The doors 
of the first two were closed, but the 
third door stood open to my gaze. I 
bethought me of the Hag of the Tur- 
ret, and wondered greatly whether 
the open door was her doing. I 
looked into the chamber, for there was 
naught to hinder me, and before my 
eyes was spread a rich feast laid out in 
vessels of beaten gold, such vessels as 
the ones that I had brought from 
thence, and that I have shewn you at 
my house in Stade Street. There were 
broad dishes and platters, and flasks 
and goblets, yellow and ashine, that 
made my fingers to itch and ache. It 
was foolish of me to wish for gold at 
that time; for what use had I for 
wealth in a land where there was none 
to buy or sell with but a bent crone 
and a man all hairy? 

On one dish was a boar's head, on 
another a swan, and there were all 
manner of rich meats and fair jellies 
53 



The Fearsome Island 

and fruits, that called to mind the dain- 
ties that I have heard tell are eaten by 
the Lord Mayor of London and his 
Aldermen each ninth day of November. 

Satan too looked at the rich feast, 
and, without more ado, he ran inside 
and began to eat from a huge pasty, 
and he coming to no harm, I lost fear 
and followed, for I had eaten no cooked 
food for many days, and the banquet 
enticed me greatly. 

Boldly I entered and laid my hand 
on a fine peach. As I touched it the 
fruit crumbled to dust in my fingers; 
while behind me the door closed fast 
with a thud, and I was in black dark- 
ness, with only Satan's eyes for a lamp. 
The air about me, which at first was 
sweet and pure, grew thick and nox- 
ious, and there pressed a great weight 
on my chest so that it was hard to 
breathe, and I stood there in the 
darkness thinking that my last hour 
was come, and wondering whether I 
59 



The Fearsome Island 

had best bestir myself and see if there 
was no chance of escape. I gathered 
together all my strength, and breathed 
but rarely and through my nostrils; 
while Satan, the cat, whined piteously 
at my side. I tore at the walls with my 
hands, but they were firm and pitiless; 
and vainly I sought to find the door 
that had closed and shut out all the 
light, for there were no windows to 
this chamber, and the darkness was 
black and endless. 

The thick nauseous air grew heavier 
and heavier, and now my eyes burnt 
fit to drop from out my head, while 
my tongue clove to my mouth and felt 
parched and dry, like to a piece of 
smoked meat. My limbs grew heavy 
and without strength, and the great 
vein on my forehead beat like a Nurem- 
berg time-dial. I was afraid to pray, 
for the thick air would have entered at 
my lips and choked me the faster. 
Satan, the cat, had ceased to whine, 
60 



The Fearsome Island 

the green light in his eyes glowed no 
longer, and, as my foot stirred him, I 
felt that he was as lead, heavy and 
without life. All was silent, save for 
the noises in my head, and the low hiss 
of the rank gas that issued form some- 
where under my feet. On a sudden, 
a long shrill laugh, fiendish and dia- 
bolic, pierced the silence, and then 
another and yet another. I ceased my 
efforts to escape, and stood still and 
intent, trying to* gather from whence 
came this burst of merriment. The 
sound was somewhat distant, and as I 
listened, the laughter ceased, and the 
shrill voice burst into a cackling chant, 
that it intoned in some strange tongue. 
M It must be someone in the garden 
without," I thought; ** most likely it 
is the Hag of the Turret;" whereupon 
I resolved, should I outlive this hour, 
to strangle her with my thumbs and 
fingers, aye, and without speech or 
question. 

61 



The Fearsome Island 

Quick these thoughts and many 
others galloped through my brain, and 
all the time I was sinking, slowly sink- 
ing. My heart still beat, and won- 
drous loud too; but my body was 
weary and without strength. I swayed 
and I staggered, for I could breathe 
no more, and my head was going 
round and round like the wheel of a 
cart ; then I fell, clutching on my way 
the carving of a stone that projected 
some inches from the wall at my side. 
Well I remember that fall and the hope- 
less sense of the end of all things that 
came with it; then I recollect, even 
better and with a greater zest, how I 
reached that thrice blessed piece of car- 
ving, that for one moment stayed my 
fall, and how stone and carving moved 
under my hand, making a crevice in 
the wall, so that there cut through the 
darkness a thin blade of light, while a 
million dust atoms danced merrily in 
line 'twixt the cleft and the paving. 
62 



The Fearsome Island 

The stone that I held was loose, and 
the mortar about it decayed ; the cool 
draught of air played on my face, giv- 
ing me fresh courage, so that with 
might and main I pulled and pushed 
at that heaven-sent stone so that at 
last it fell to the ground outside the 
chamber, whilst the daylight and God's 
own blessed air did enter like unto two 
glorious angels. 

As the stone fell to earth with a thud 
I heard yet another sound, a cry of 
rage and lamentation. I put my head 
through the hole I had made so that 
I might breathe more freely and rid 
my entrails of the nauseous gas, and 
the garden was around me as before. 
I was too busy with my own bodily 
affairs to pay much heed to the cry 
that I had heard and the anger that 
was in the voice, yet, as once more I 
felt alive and somewhat vigorous, I 
looked hard about me, and through the 
bushes and tangle of the garden I made 
63 



The Fearsome Island 

out the aged crone of the turret hob- 
bling homewards, a-shaking of her staff 
and muttering in her beard. 

As the air from without rushed into 
the dark chamber, behold, and I have 
sworn it, the door once more opened 
wide, and without help from me or hu- 
man being, and again there was light 
in the room, so that I could see the 
body of Satan, the cat, that was quite 
dead; also could I see the feast and 
the vessels of gold. Now, with all 
haste I seized four goblets, a great 
flask, six broad dishes, and nine plat- 
ters, these being all that I could carry, 
I being then a weak man and over- 
weary; and with these I ran into the 
open and sank down on my knees, 
praying a prayer of my own making 
that rose to my lips from out my heart 
of hearts. Afterwards I bethought me 
of the black cat that I had left behind 
me, and further, it seemed unwise 
were I to return for his body, he being 
6 4 



The Fearsome Island 

dead and beyond the reach of human 
aid. 

As I thought of my friend, Satan, 
the cat, a great rage seized upon me, 
for he had been to me a dear compan- 
ion during some of the longest days 
that I have ever lived through — trust- 
ing and large-hearted he had been, of 
unchanging mood and warm affections, 
and the Hag of Turret it was that had 
wrought this murder! I was athirst 
for revenge, yet somewhat feeble from 
my recent adventure, and, though my 
first impulse was to run straight up to 
the turret and fling the curst witch 
from the window, yet I thought I 
would wait till the morrow ere I 
wrought this justice. I was greatly 
weary both in mind and body, so that 
taken unawares my wits would have 
been too feeble to meet cunning by 
cunning, and my body too weary to 
bear any encounter that called for over- 
much exertion. 

6s 



The Fearsome Island 

Alone and by myself back to the 
wood I hied with my golden dishes, 
and these I hid secure in a spot that I 
could well remember, 'twas under the 
roots of a great tree. I was on my 
knees engaged in this business, when 
suddenly I looked about me, and be- 
hold, the hairy man of two days before 
was a-watching of me with much curi- 
osity. Straightway I arose and ad- 
vanced towards him, but he stepped 
back as at our first meeting. I stood 
still and waited for him to speak. 
There was no great fear on his face as 
there had been when we had first en- 
countered the other, yet no one word 
did he say, only clenched his hairy fist 
and pointed with his other arm in the 
direction of the castle, uttering strange 
sounds and grinding his teeth together 
till the noise pained me. 

'* Thou too knowest the witch? " I 
asked, and I bent my back as the Hag 
of the Turret bent her back, and I 
66 



The Fearsome Island 

pulled at my beard and pointed to the 
sides of my mouth so as to call to his 
mind the two fangs of the witch. 

He understood my meaning, for he 
smiled and shook his head up and 
down ; then he sprang high into the air 
and trod hard with his feet on the 
earth, as if to stamp the life out of 
some prostrate body. 

" Aye, we will trample her to death, 
and worse, far worse!" I cried. 

For answer this hairy man neighed 
like a horse, and then ran away into 
the wood without sign or word. 

I turned to my gold platters, that 
were still where I had placed them, and I 
marvelled much at the strange conduct 
of this hairy heathen that ran all naked 
in the wood, and hated the witch 
with as great a hatred as mine own. 
All the while my head ached sore and 
my eyes smarted, and, had I possessed 
a mirror, I would have seen that they 
were red. I was not easily rid of the 
67 



The Fearsome Island 

noxious gas that I had breathed, and 
at sunset I laid me down to rest, some- 
what sick of body and greatly weary 
and worn out. 

It was yet more lonesome than be- 
fore to lie thus lone and companion- 
less, and often in the night I awoke, 
and, wondering at the emptiness of 
my arms and missing the familiar 
breathing at my side, I cried aloud: 
11 Satan, old friend, where stay you? " 
till I remembered that he had been 
slain by black magic, and that on the 
morrow I would up to the turret and 
slay the hag that dwelt there, without 
question or other word. 



Chapter IV 

THERE was little of mercy and 
little of sweetness in my heart 
when I next ascended the stairway 
that led to the chamber where dwelt 
the Hag of the Turret. Three steps 
did I take at a time, and in my right 
hand was a sword of good steel, the 
best of those that hung on the walls 
in the great hall below. Carefully I 
had sharpened and ground the edge, 
and there was little flesh that was 
human that the keen blade would not 
divide. 

Well I remember how my eyeballs 
were aflame with hatred and lust of 
blood, how my throat was hard and 
dry and my teeth firm set. There was 
no softness in me as I thought of the 
69 



The Fearsome Island 

woman's years and helpless state, and 
swiftly the stone stairs fell back under 
the spring of my stride. She had 
sought to kill me — I that had done her 
no wrong, — and my cat, Satan, she 
had slain with as black a cunning as 
any that I had as yet encountered. 
The blood of Thomas Snoad cried loud 
for vengeance, and the grip on my 
sword-hilt tightened at the thought of 
how it would cleave and make a part- 
ing in the yellow wisps of hair, then 
downward to the chin through the 
coarse beard — and the Hag of the 
Turret would work no more evil, what- 
ever else might befall. 

I flung open her chamber door, and 
she advanced to meet me with the 
same cunning smile that was her 
wonted mask. Then she read the 
message in my eyes and in my hand, 
and down at my feet she flung herself, 
sore afraid and trembling. 

" Speak!" she cried. " Nay, look 
70 



The Fearsome Island 

not at me thus! What have I done? 
What is my fault? " 

I made no answer to her question. 

" I give thee one minute's grace for 
prayer, ' ' said I ; " and pray thy hard- 
est, for afterwards thou shalt die a 
swift death." 

Again she asked me for reason and 
explanation of my harsh conduct, but 
I uttered no word. Still I stood with 
lowered blade, counting the seconds 
till I should have counted sixty. The 
last ten I spoke aloud, so that the tor- 
ture and the suspense might be the 
greater. 

" Fifty -seven!" I said. ''Fifty- 
eight!" — I hardly knew my own voice, 
'twas that stern and hard. V Fifty- 
nine!" "Six "I began, but 

stopped short, for the hag had sprung 
to her feet, and with a terrible cry as 
of a wild panther at bay, she crossed 
the room to where hung on the wall 
the heavy curtain of red silk. 
7* 



The Fearsome Island 

" Don Diego, my father, I crave thy 
help!" she cried aloud, and her voice 
shrieked high and unearthly — such a 
voice as neither human man nor wo- 
man has ever heard or uttered. With 
her lean hand she drew aside the cur- 
tain, and there stood before me a man 
with coal-black eyes, so hard, so pierc- 
ing, that they froze the blood in my 
veins, and the marrow in my back 
so that I was held fast, and stood 
still and rigid, as I have seen birds 
pause, fixed and motionless, when 
held fast by the glassy eyes of a 
serpent. The naked blade dropped 
from my ice-cold hand on to the 
floor, for I was transfixed and rendered 
without strength; and perforce had I 
to gaze and yet gaze more, with both 
my eyes sealed fast to the eyes of this 
apparition. 

I recall this new figure well, and, in- 
deed, with good reason. 'Twas a man 
of middle age, clad in black velvet, and 
72 



The Fearsome Island 

with a bare head. The face I shall 
never forget; so proud, so fierce, so 
saturnine was its expression that even 
now, with eyes closed, I can see it as 
distinct to-day as I could on that, our 
first and last encounter. The com- 
plexion was dark, swarthy as that of a 
Spaniard; on the chin was a peaked 
beard, and the hair on the man's head 
was coal-black; yet beyond all stood 
out the two eyes that held me fast as 
if by magic. 

Thus stood I, spellbound and unable 
to stir hand or foot, and round me 
walked the bent hag, gleeful of mood, 
rubbing her two hands round about 
each other, and mewing with pleasure 
like some great cat. For awhile she 
hovered round about me, enjoying to 
the full my discomfiture; then, from a 
chest, she brought out a mirror, and 
for an instant she held it 'twixt me and 
the coal-black eyes that gripped mine 
own. The face that I saw was ghastly 
73 



The Fearsome Island 

white under my brown beard, on my 
brow stood glassy beads of sweat, the 
lines of fear made my face lowly and 
mean, and mine eyes were wide open 
and without life or power. She with- 
drew the mirror, and once again I was 
spellbound by the sable figure with the 
evil glance. 

" Shall I draw the curtain?" she 
whispered in my ear. 

"Yes." 

There was no sound, but she marked 
the words on my lips. 

"You have seen sufficient; would 
you not like yet one more look?" 

She held the silk in her bony hand. 

" No! for the sake of the Virgin — " 

The words stuck in my throat for I 
was hoarse with terror. 

" Swear thou wilt leave me in peace, 
and never more enter this chamber!" 

" I swear!" 

I would have sworn away my hopes 



74 



The Fearsome Island 

of life and Heaven in that moment, so 
empty was I of power and courage. 

" Now go!" she cried, and the cur- 
tain was drawn once more over those 
hell-born eyes. Her hand still 
clutched the silk, and at any moment 
the man in black might once more 
stand before me. 

Hastily I turned to the doorway, yet 
before I left the chamber she held the 
mirror once more before my face; but 
all that I saw was a mist on the glass, 
and there was no reflection either of 
my face or aught else. 

Fearfully I sprang down stairs, in 
haste and as though pursued by ten 
million devils, for had I not been on the 
near confines of hell and gazed on what 
no human eye ever was fashioned to gaze 
upon? For the eyes in my head were 
without true sight, and all before them 
was yellow and formless, as though I 
had stared into the face of the sun and 
been blinded by its glare. 
75 



The Fearsome Island 

Terror-struck and abject, I kept far 
away from the castle till such time as 
hunger forced me to the store-room 
and the cellar. To drown my fear and 
anguish, I drank deeper on that day 
than I have ever drunk before or since. 
My head was afire and my gait hap- 
hazard when, with a flask of red wine 
under each arm, I once more set out 
for my lair in the woods. As I passed 
through the great hall my attention 
was aroused by a mirror, alike in 
form and size to the one that the Hag 
'of the Turret had held before my face 
in the morning. It lay on one of the 
couches. 

" There will be no fearsome face all 
white and chattering now," said I 
thickly, and I could feel the wine burn- 
ing under my skin. My heart was 
light and careless, and I picked up the 
mirror and gazed into it; an instant 
later I had dashed it to the ground, 
where it splintered into a thousand 
76 



The Fearsome Island 

fragments; for by all Heaven and 
earth, I had gazed at the same terror- 
torn face, all white and bloodless, that 
I had seen reflected in this very mirror 
when it was held up between my eyes 
and the apparition that was in the tur- 
ret behind the heavy curtain of red silk ! 

Hastily I left the castle and wan- 
dered to a seat in the forsaken garden, 
where I thought and quaked anew, for 
the courage that the wine had lent me 
was all but fled, and I was as a child 
that has been burnt to the bone and is 
once more face to face with the fire, 
only 'twas Sorcery that I stood in awe 
of, and I had suffered o'ermuch from 
it. As I sat thus trembling in all my 
four limbs, may I be lost in the deep- 
est pit if the curst witch did not find 
me out and make mock of me! 

V Silas Fordred, master-mariner of 
Hythe, where be thy courage and thy 
cunning now? Ha! ha!" and she 
laughed long and high in her throat. 
77 



The Fearsome Island 

I said no word, and my chin was on 
my chest, that weary and spent was I. 

" It was not well to threaten, aye, 
and seek to slay an old woman that 
had done thee no harm ! Even if thy 
evil planning had succeeded it would 
not have been well; the Hag of the 
Turret would not have died un- 
avenged, for thou art but a man — a 
weak, common man, — with naught but 
brute strength and a cowardly heart!" 

" Get thee away! I have suffered 
enough, so leave me in peace!" 

'* Not yet, I have not done with 
thee yet. Come with me and I will 
show thee a brave sight." 

*' Away old hag, or I shall do thee 
harm!" I cried. 

She laughed all around her mouth, 
showing her toothless gums, and the 
roots of the two brown fangs that were 
on either side. Her hand went to 
her girdle, and I could see the gleam 
of a blood-red stone above her fingers 
78 



The Fearsome Island 

that were clutching the hilt of a long 
dagger. 

" Come! you will come?" she plead- 
ed, for now her voice took on a wheed- 
ling tone ; and she turned in the direc- 
tion of the three chambers that stood 
separate and side by side with closed 
doors. 

I followed her. Heaven alone know- 
eth why I rose to my feet at her behest 
and went the same way as she. All I 
can say is that I had a lurking hope in 
my heart that something of chance or 
justice might deliver her into my 
hands, and then 

'• You come! you obey me, Silas 
Fordred! Do you hope to push me 
across the threshold of the Dark Cham- 
ber, eh?" and her hand went signifi- 
cantly to the dagger-hilt with the great 
ruby at its head. 

She had read the thought of ven- 
geance from my face, and silently I 
vowed I would think no more; but, 
79 



The Fearsome Island 

when the fit moment arrived, I would 
act, and she should die whatever dog's 
death she had intended for me. 

By now we had reached the three 
chambers, and, as once before, and that 
on a memorable occasion, two of the 
doors were closed and the other stood 
wide open. Curiously I gazed within, 
the witch marking the direction of my 
eyes, and noting with a great satisfac- 
tion their expression of greed and lust 
of gain ; for what I saw was a chamber 
full of wide-open chests, and caskets 
all full and over-running with coloured 
gems and coined gold. 'Twas like 
what I had seen in the windows of the 
Lombards that change moneys, only 
here were precious gems in such a 
plenty and gold pieces by the bushel 
and by the gallon ; such wealth as I 
had never gazed on before — aye, and 
of whose mere existence I had not 
dreamed. Though I tried my hardest, 
I could not suppress all desire ; and, as 
80 



The Fearsome Island 

my eyes lit up, the bearded hag no- 
ticed my thirst, and chuckled and 
made strange noises of satisfaction. 

" 'Tis some other devil's business, 
of that I have no doubt," said I in- 
wardly, and calming myself I stood 
firm and cold before the doorway. 

14 Thou canst go and take what 
wealth that pleases thee," cried the 
hag in my ear. 

I made no answer, but stood firm 
and at a good space from the door- 
way. 

" Thou wilt have riches enough to 
purchase a whole county ; thou wilt be 
able to build schools and churches, and 
thou wilt be the first commoner in all 
Hythe Borough, plain Master Silas 
Fordred the mariner." 

I smiled disdainfully, the wine I had 
recently drunk coming once more to 
my aid. 

" Nay, nay," I said. " I have had 
enough of thy riches and thy lures, I 
81 



The Fearsome Island 

will none of them!" and I turned on 
my heel. 

" Surely, friend Silas," she cried, 
" thou art but a fool, and not the 
clever knave that I mistook thee for!" 

' ' Aye, aye, that I know well, and 
more beside, ' ' said I with a smile, and 
moved away from her. She was greatly 
angered and the corners of her mouth 
twitched with suppressed rage. Still 
she hobbled after me, did this bent 
hag. 

" Come back, friend Silas! " she 
called. " Come back and plunge both 
thy arms into this wealth ; truly thou 
shalt come to no harm — nay more, I 
will enter with thee!" 

" Thrice have I answered thee, and 
each time said I nay ; let this be my 
last word and thine!" and I stood 
away from her with folded arms. 

1 ' Truly thou makest me impatient ! 
Enter with me now, or never shalt 
thou enter the Chamber of Riches, and 
82 



The Fearsome Island 

a poor man shalt thou die, naked and 
with an empty belly!" 

I said no word in reply. 

" Never in all thy life shalt thou 
enter!'' she hissed in my ear. 

" Calm thyself, bent hag, calm thy- 
self; thy conduct befits not thy years!" 
and I laughed aloud in her face, so 
that she grew a deep yellow with rage 
and hatred. With that I set off for 
the wood, and left her spitting and 
afume before the open doorway. 

I had not gone many steps when I 
turned round and saw that she was on 
my heels, her lips white with passion, 
her expression more evil and menacing 
than I had as yet seen it, her eyes 
fierce and glittering as a hawk's. 

M Thou wilt enter yon doorway, 
Silas Fordred!" she cried, and beat 
on the ground with her staff. 

** I will not, thou moth-eaten fury! 
get thee to the devil!" and I laughed 
aloud in her face. 

83 



The Fearsome Island 

Her yellow visage changed to a deep 
orange, and great veins stood out on 
her lean cheeks and forehead. 

" Thou wilt enter yon chamber, that 
I swear, either alive or else dead ! but 
enter yon chamber thou shalt! " and 
her voice choked short in her neck. 

" I shall not! " said I, quite cold. 

"Thou shalt!" she shrieked. I 
smiled broad into her face, so that, los- 
ing all prudence and all self-command, 
she spat and boiled at the mouth, hiss 
ing like a serpent in pain. 

I watched her with an indifferent eye. 

' ' Thou shalt enter ! ' ' she cried ; 
" living or dead, thou shalt enter!" 
and so saying she snatched the dagger 
from her girdle and flew at me in a 
fury of hate and bitter rage. 

Well I remember how the long, lean 
blade flashed 'twixt my face and the 
sky, and how, an instant later, I had 
her wrist tight in my two hands ; then 
there was a noise as of a twig snap- 
84 



The Fearsome Island 

ping, and the bone of her arm, dry and 
brittle with age, broke into two pieces, 
while I fell forward as the strain gave 
way. Quickly I arose to my feet, and 
she was at me again, yet this time the 
dagger lay on the ground, and she 
came to me with wide-open mouth, 
the brown fang on either side bare to 
the roots; the fingers of her one hand 
were apart and curved like claws, and 
the other arm hung loose at her side, 
the lower half flapping idly to and fro 
as she moved. Like to a tigress, with 
the white froth on her parted lips, she 
sprang at me, and I, mad with hate 
and rage, forced my one hand through 
her wide open jaws, while with the 
other I clasped her lean legs at the 
bend. High I held her in the air and 
ran thus, she swinging above my head, 
hissing and writhing with pain and 
hatred. High above my head she 
twisted and turned, and then I flung 
her with all my strength, whirled her 
8s 



The Fearsome Island 

clean and clear through the wide-open 
doorway of the Chamber of Riches, 
where were the coloured jewels and 
the chests of gold. As the lean 
shanks were freed and my hands drew 
across the toothless gums, the two 
fangs on the sides of her mouth snap- 
ped short and fell at my feet, while 
overhead there swished through the air 
that cursed Hag of the Turret, to light 
with all force amid the gold and pre- 
cious gems. To earth she fell with a 
rattling sound, and that was the last I 
saw or ever shall see of her lean car- 
case, for, in the self-same moment as 
she touched ground, a broad sheet of 
flame, yellow as the gold within, filled 
the entire chamber, dropped from ceil- 
ing to floor a curtain of fire. I gazed 
breathless and awestruck at this spec- 
tacle, yet with a keen joy in my heart 
as I thought of the Hag of the Turret, 
who must now be roasting within as 
later she would broil in Hell. For the 
86 



The Fearsome Island 

space of ten seconds the broad flame 
licked and waved, then it expired and 
all was clear and simple as before, only 
the Hag of the Turret was nowhere to 
be seen, and for that I thanked God 
and His Son and the Blessed Virgin. 

At my feet, that had left deep 
marks in the turf by reason of my last 
great effort, were the two yellow fangs 
that had broke short on my hand. 
These I picked up and placed carefully 
within my pouch as a remembrance of 
the She-fiend from whose mouth they 
had dropt; and you, who have seen 
them at my house in Stade Street can 
now understand why I troubled to 
bring home with me ivory of so worth- 
less a nature. 

I knelt long and devoutly, praying 
to the God that had rid me of so curst 
a companion, voicing my thanks with 
much direct and grateful speech ; and, 
even when I could no more think of 
fitting phrases, I still knelt with closed 
87 



The Fearsome Island 

eyes, as my thanks swelled in my heart 
and spoke for me — aye, and perhaps 
with a sweeter tongue than the bald 
utterances which were all that so sim- 
ple a man as myself could think of 
and weave into a prayer. At length, 
these devotions and some tears having 
eased my heart, I looked up, and in 
front of me and on all fours was the 
hairy man looking humbly into my 
face. As our glances met, he pranced 
around like a colt that is out at pas- 
ture, put his face to the ground and 
placed my hand to his head, so that I 
wondered whether he did not mistake 
me for a priest and was seeking my 
blessing. I knew that he had seen me 
at prayer, and that, perchance, I had 
misled him into holding that I was 
a priest. 

M I am no friar," I cried, M but 
plain Silas Fordred, master-mariner of 
Hythe, that suffered shipwreck on this 
accursed island some months since." 
88 



The Fearsome Island 

The hairy man spoke not, but, in- 
stead, he made strange noises as do 
the beasts of the forest, and signs with 
his arms like unto a negro trader. 

Once more he pressed my hand to 
his head, and he was about to lay his 
cheek against my feet, when I arose 
with some choler. 

" Hairy man," said I, " thou art 
little better than a fool ! Bear thee as 
a man, and not as a dog that has been 
lately whipped!" 

Yet again and for some time longer 
he pranced for joy, and pointed first 
to his eyes and then into the chamber 
with the wide-open door, wherein the 
witch had lately disappeared. 

" Did'st see the somersault she 
turned?" I asked. M 'Twas bravely 
done, aye, thou naked one?" 

He recognised the cheery tone of my 

voice and once more skipped joyfully 

toward me, while I, somewhat weary 

of his too evident pleasure, smote him 

89 



The Fearsome Island 

heavily in the ribs, so that he was grat- 
ified, yet not too much so. After I 
had taken this precaution, he kept at 
a safe distance from me, and though 
ever and anon there came a smile into 
the corner of his eye, he ventured no 
more within reach of my foot or fist 
till his joy was of a calmer nature. 

After awhile I went into the castle, 
the savage following close at my heel. 

I had that day triumphed over the 
Hag of the Turret, and the presence of 
a companion — aye, even of a compan- 
ion that spoke no real tongue, and, 
moreover, was hairy from head to toe, 
— had given me new hope and cour- 
age ; so much so, that I resolved forth- 
with, and while my revived manhood 
was still hot within me, to mount the 
turret stairway and see whether I could 
not conquer the evil-eyed monster be- 
yond the curtain, as I had conquered 
the hag, his friend. 

I had read the story of David and 
90 



The Fearsome Island 

Goliath, and I was minded to meet 
this foe even as the Hebrew Harpist 
had met the Philistine; but I, having 
neither sling nor stone, took with me 
instead a heavy hammer of iron, which 
weapon I resolved to hurl at the evil 
one's head the moment that the hairy 
man, whom I should so instruct, had 
withdrawn the curtain. 

Stealthily, so as not to give alarm 
and warning to the black-browed Sor- 
cerer overhead, we mounted the nar- 
row stairway, and, with some catching 
at our breath, entered the doorway of 
the turret chamber. Within this de- 
serted apartment was deep stillness, 
and at the far end hung the heavy cur- 
tain of red silk, lengthways, from ceil- 
ing to flagstone as before. With some 
trouble and after a great making of 
signs, I at length instructed my new- 
found ally in his duty, and at a signal 
from me the curtain was drawn aside, 
and quick, before the sinister face had 
91 



The Fearsome Island 

power to hold me, I flung the ham- 
mer at it with all my force. No 
sooner had the haft left my hand than 
a great fear seized upon me, and I 
closed my eyes, wondering what dire 
consequences would follow on my at- 
tack. 

I stood in darkness many long sec- 
onds, expecting the turret to sway and 
topple to the earth — aye, yet stranger 
and more hurtful events and mis- 
chances did I think of, — yet through 
the stillness there came only one sound 
— the falling of a shower of splintered 
glass that recalled the breaking of the 
mirror that I had flung from me in 
the morning. I opened my eyes, and 
beyond the curtain that the hairy man 
still held to his side (and his face was 
in that moment a fine picture of varied 
humours) there was naught but an 
empty space, under which was in- 
scribed in tall letters of ebony: 
" DIGO RODRICOVEZ," 
92 



The Fearsome Island 

and on the floor of the chamber lay a 
thousand fragments of glass. Many of 
these I stooped over and gazed at with 
much curiosity. Most of them were 
portions of a mirror, so that in their 
depths I caught glimpses of my own 
face; on others were patches of black 
velvet ; and in one I met the ear and 
awful eye of the figure that had struck 
such terror into me on that self-same 
day. I put these pieces of glass aside 
and pondered, while all the time the 
hairy man stood awestruck and silent 
before me. 

" Man of the furry hide," said I at 
last, " surely this was a mirror, much 
such an one as that which carried the 
imprint of my face this morning, and 
in it yon demon — and Heaven alone 
knoweth where and what he be — had 
gazed at some one time or another. 
His evil eye it was that, reflected in 
this glass, transfixed and held me mo- 
tionless some few hours since. 'Twas 
93 



The Fearsome Island 

no real man that I saw, but a shadow 
wrought by black magic and strange 
crafts. The witch, praise be to 
Heaven, hath paid the price of her evil- 
doings, and there will be no new Sorcery 
on this island for many a long day!" 

I looked at the tall letters of ebony 
once more and repeated them many 
times, marvelling greatly as to their 
meaning and significance. Then a 
thought came to me — one that I had 
strangely overlooked — that filled my 
breast and mind with new alarms: " If 
the mirror I had shattered held but a 
reflection of a Sorcerer, where was that 
Sorcerer's self, and might not he at 
any moment weave some new spell 
about me — aye, perchance at this pres- 
ent instant he might be planning my 
destruction?" 

Many times I repeated the two ebon 
words " DlGO RODRICOVEZ, " marvel- 
ling the while greatly as to what could 
be their meaning and significance. 
94 



The Fearsome Island 

From the turret we once more de- 
scended to the garden, where stood the 
chamber that was the tomb of the Hag 
of the Turret. The door was still wide 
open and the wealth within tempted 
me greatly, although I was well aware 
of the uselessness of riches in my pres- 
ent plight. Such is the force of custom 
and habit. I made my way from 
thence, resolved to let well alone and 
to touch naught else that might in any 
way tempt or cause me harm. I passed 
the third chamber, and this time a 
fresh doorway stood open, so that I 
could gaze and satisfy my curiosity. 
Now I saw clear into a room quaintly 
alight and all rosy as is a sunset, and 
within were lovely maidens that 
neither stirred nor spoke, clad in won- 
drous thin and gauzy garments, and of 
a marvellous fair complexion that the 
tender light made yet more strangely 
beautiful. 

" Hairy man," said I, " let us 
95 



The Fearsome Island 

away; this is some new spell!" and I 
grasped his shoulder and the two of 
us strode hastily from the spot, onward 
through the garden. As I pressed for- 
ward past the place where I had strug- 
gled with the witch I made out some- 
thing that glittered on the grass. 
What I picked up was the dagger that 
the hag had sought to kill me with, a 
long blade of Spanish steel, and at its 
hilt was a round ruby. This I stuck 
into my belt that I had lately taken 
from one of the rooms in the castle, 
for my own leathern girdle was still 
clenched by the brazen fist that swung 
on the castle doorwway. This knife 
you have seen in company with my 
other belongings, and such of you as 
are skilled in these matters can testify 
as to the fineness of the workmanship 
and the lustre of the precious stone at 
its head. 

The dusk was fast approaching and 
the day was well-nigh sped. It had 
96 



The Fearsome Island 

been a day of great events and much 
danger and activity, and many a time 
within the last twenty-four hours had 
my heart stuck fast in my throat and 
my teeth chattered in my mouth, for 
it is not given to every man to perform 
deeds of valour without misgiving and 
inward qualms; nay more, I dare 
swear that the bravest hero — one that 
can face human enemies without know- 
ing dread or fear — would have shrunk 
aghast at the black sorceries and other 
superhuman dangers wherewith I had 
that day done battle. Now my mind 
was somewhat at rest, maybe that it 
shared the same weariness that beset 
my body; also was my hunger great 
and my thirst of a similar quality. 
Long did the hairy man and I sit 
together in the store-room making a 
giant's supper, and my belt hung idly 
on my loins and I was scant of breath 
when I had done. My new-found ally 
sate beside me on the floor, eating with 
97 



The Fearsome Island 

great gusto and no little astonishment 
at the source of our meal ; he, in com- 
mon with myself, never before having 
seen flesh that was preserved in sealed 
tins, nor had he ever tasted wines and 
heady liquors of any sort till this same 
night. We drank wisely, and, in spite 
of the manifest danger of the action, 
fell asleep where we had eaten, this 
being the first night that I had spent 
under a roof since the day that I and 
Thomas Snoad set out from Hythe. 



Chapter V 

HAIRY MAN!" said I next 
morning, as we rubbed our 
eyes and stretched our limbs, for we 
had slept deep, " henceforth thou shalt 
be known as Esau, a fitter name and a 
more ancient. Now, Esau, let us to 
breakfast, and afterwards we will hold 
a council and resolve on what measures 
we can take to quit this thrice accurst 
island, and all that it holds." 

It was of little use, this converse 
with Esau ; but it was good and cheer- 
ing to hear the sound of my voice, 
and, when I spoke, my companion 
smiled with over-great intelligence, 
although he understood no single word. 

11 Esau," said I, when our meal was 
done, and we had lain for some time 
99 



The Fearsome Island 

on the floor a-blinking upward at the 
roofing, " what shall we do now?" 

I waited not for a reply, but con- 
tinued : 

" A ship we will build, even though 
it be but a small one, and in it we shall 
sail away from this witch-ridden land, 
where naught is safe or of good 
health." 

Thereupon we arose, and made our 
way to the great room beyond the hall, 
the chamber that was like to a huge 
smithy. Here there were axes and 
saws and shipwright's tools in plenty; 
also a barrow with wheels and a light 
truck. These two carriages we filled 
with all manner of implements, and 
some sacks containing the smallware of 
our trade. On the canvas of one of 
these last was painted, strange to say, 
in a black lettering, clavos de fierro, 
words that signify ship's nails in the 
Spanish tongue, a language with which 
I am well acquainted from frequent 

IOO 



The Fearsome Island 

intercourse with the mariners of that 
great nation. 

Three times in all did Esau and I 
make the journey, 'twixt the castle and 
the sea shore. After our first journey 
we built a rude hut wherein to place 
the contents of our barrow; also a 
somewhat stronger habitation that 
would give us shelter at night time; 
for I was o'erweary of sleeping in the 
open, exposed to rain and whatever 
wind and weather with which Provi- 
dence might favour me. 

Before we once more set our faces 
inland, we bathed and made merry in 
the sea, spending much such a day as 
do English townsfolk who go to the 
shore in summer-time. 

All about us was unchanged, and the 
great bronze idol kept watch and ward 
over the coast, silent and passive as 
ever, while at its feet the bleached 
skeletons, all sundered in the middle, 
were strewn here and there. At sight 



The Fearsome Island 

of the strange god the smile vanished 
from Esau's face, and he beat his head 
on the sand and made moan, and with 
clenched fist he cried aloud in the idol's 
face, and made deep noises in his 
throat that were his manner of cursing; 
so that I knew that he could be no 
worshipper of the great bronze god. 

"It is well, friend Esau," said I, 
'* and I am overjoyed to find thee not 
idolatrous and a heathen, as are most 
wild men." 

After that we departed once more 
inland, and on our return to the shore 
we were laden with sheets and cloths 
that we had taken from the great 
beds, and wax and stout cords and 
threads, for we would have to make 
sails and shrouds for our mast. What 
space we had over we filled with the 
flesh that was in the sealed tins, and 
flasks of wine, and swords and spears 
from the great hall, with which wea- 
pons we hoped to slay many of the 
1 02 



The Fearsome Island 

birds and beasts in the woods, so that 
we might eat fresh meat every day. 

All these goods were stowed care- 
fully away in our hut, and then we set 
to work on our ship, hewing down 
trees in the woods, and labouring with 
great vigour from daybreak to dusk. 
In the evening when our work was 
done we would walk round the coast 
spying for a sail or sign of man, yet 
none such did we ever see ; and always 
there confronted us the great bronze 
idol, with the thirteen white gems at 
its throat. 

Now, one day when we had walked 
maybe half a league along the lonely 
strand, we chanced on what seemed 
to be a bower, and, as we came closer, 
we could see that what we had mis- 
taken for an arbour was a long low 
house of wood with but three walls and 
a roof, all overgrown with moss and 
trailing plants. Carefully we ap- 
proached, and walked round the house, 
*°3 



The Fearsome Island 

first on one side and then on the other, 
till we came to the front that faced the 
sea, the side that was open and had no 
wall, and here we discerned the prow 
of a small ship. The blood rushed to 
my face at the sight, and I ran forward 
in great haste so that my hands might 
feel what mine eyes had beheld. Of 
truth, it was a ship, wondrous light, 
yet of a marvellous secure build, as I 
that am a seaman could rightly vouch 
for, and as you that have seen it with- 
out my house in Stade Street can tes- 
tify. 

This strange vessel had neither mast, 
sail, nor oar. It was all open and 
bare, save but for a single cabin that 
was furnished for extreme comfort and 
ease, and, at the one end, the body of 
the vessel was made solid with wooden 
planking, atop of which were three 
handles of silver, wrought like the han- 
dles of a door. At first I feared that 
the ship was of witchcraft like unto the 
104 



The Fearsome Island 

other marvels that I had encountered 
in this island; neverthless, Esau and 
myself slept that night secure within 
the cabin, without evil dream or other 
harm, so that on the morrow I be- 
thought me that this was of good 
omen, and, be the silver handles what 
they might, I would venture across the 
seas in this strange barque. 

Under the ship was a wooden stage, 
long and broad, with wheels that I 
greased with the fat of a beast, so that, 
without great ado, Esau and I were 
able to float our new-found prize, and, 
with the oars that we had already 
fashioned, we rowed near a league 
along the shore without mishap, save 
that Esau, who was no waterman, did 
fall heavily backward more times than 
once. The last part of our journey 
was performed at some speed, for this 
barque was marvellously light, being 
mostly built of cork that weighs but 
little ; and what steel and timber that 
105 



The Fearsome Island 

was used in its construction was of a 
fine quality, very strong, yet in nowise 
weighty. 

Thankful was I that Providence had 
put in my path the thing that of all 
things I most desired; and now that 
we had a vessel, I resolved that we 
would put to sea with the least possible 
delay, and get us away from the hea- 
then land where but to be alive was a 
great danger. 

Yet, before we hoisted our sail to 
the winds and disappeared down the 
horizon, I resolved to make one last 
journey to the castle on the hill-top, 
for our stores of flesh and wine were 
getting low, and I had hidden my gold 
platters in the wood; and these I re- 
solved to take with us, they being of 
great price. 

Esau and I had made us a mast and 

a stout sail with all needful tackle in 

the shape of shrouds and sheets, and 

we had only to get provisions and 

io6 



The Fearsome Island 

fresh water aboard before setting out 
to a port of safety. 

Once more we went a-journeying 
with our two barrows through the 
woods and pasture lands that lay be- 
tween the seashore and the castle. 
As ever, the brazen hand still clenched 
my girdle of leather and the gate stood 
wide open. 

First of all we went down to my old 
lair in the woods and loaded the gold 
vessels into my barrow, and then we 
spent some time going to and fro 
with armfuls of provisions and flasks 
of wine till both our barrows could 
hold no more. This done, we had a 
farewell repast in the store-room, and 
we sat making merry till Esau sudden- 
ly sprang up and ran swiftly to the 
gateway; then he rushed madly down- 
hill to the wood, signing with his head 
and arms that he would return ere sun- 
down. Marvelling greatly as to the 
meaning of this sudden flight, I 
107 



The Fearsome Island 

watched him disappear in the foliage, 
and then for the last time I wandered 
through the castle. All was still as 
death and utterly deserted, and yet, 
thought I, as I sat in the great smith's 
shop, " It would be well were I to 
save other shipwrecked mariners from 
the spells and sorceries that had done 
unto death Thomas Snoad and Satan, 
the black cat ; and from which I my- 
self had but barely escaped, and of 
which Esau, the hairy man, stood in 
such evident fear." Therefore, I hied 
me to the cellar where were the barrels 
of gunpowder that I have spoken of 
before, and, labouring hard, I piled 
eight of these in the great hall, five I 
left below — they were sufficient to 
have destroyed a city — one barrel I 
placed at the closed doorway of the 
Dark Chamber, and, as I was rolling 
another towards the chamber with the 
beauteous maidens and the rosy light, 
whom should I espy but Esau, greatly 
106 



The Fearsome Island 

exercised in mind and body, driving 
before him a wild pig that ran shriek- 
ing and in evident dread. The hairy 
man followed as swift as any hare, and 
in his hand he held a stout cudgel, 
with which he ever and anon bela- 
boured the terrified hog. 

Amazed, I surveyed this strange 
spectacle, wondering to what end could 
serve this baiting and harrying of the 
ill-looking creature. We were all 
three of us going in the direction of the 
chamber with the lovely maidens, and, 
as I approached, I could see that the 
door stood wide open as ever, and that 
the damsels were wondrous fair to gaze 
upon. From these pleasant reflections 
my mind was called back to my com- 
rade, who now fell to thwacking the 
wild pig more mercilessly than before, 
so that the airs were filled with a 
piteous squealing that, mingled with 
the cries of Esau, made as great a 
tumult as the island had ever listened 
109 



The Fearsome Island 

to. I marked the open door and then 
I guessed what Esau was attempting. 
With a final blow he drove the wild 
pig, now frantic with fear and pain, 
across the threshold of the chamber, 
and then I saw what manner of fate 
would have overtaken me, had I been 
foolish enough or hasty enough to have 
yielded to this great tempting and to 
have ventured into that house. The 
wild pig rushed headlong to its fate, as 
ghastly and as merciless a doom as any 
that e'er befel living man or beast. 
For one moment it stood within, hesi- 
tating which way to turn, and casting 
a wild eye over its shoulder at its bar- 
barous pursuer; then, like to the 
gnashing of a thousand hungry teeth, 
there fell from roof to floor of the 
chamber countless sharp-pointed spears 
that dropped vertically, with a great 
clamour and clashing of steel as the 
metal heads struck the flag-stones. 
Upon every square foot of flooring 



The Fearsome Island 

there fell sure and straight no less than 
three of these sharp-pointed rods of 
iron, so that as I looked the chamber 
was barred from wall to wall, thick 
with iron staves as is a forest with 
trees. By eighteen such spears was 
pierced the wild pig, held hard and 
fast, so that he died upright standing 
dead and bleeding on his four legs. 
The lovely maidens neither stirred nor 
made signs either of horror or joy; 
they stood silent, untouched and unin- 
jured, while all about them was bar on 
bar of iron. 

So this was the special devilment 
that overhung the third chamber, and 
straightway I rolled my cask to its very 
threshold in the same manner as I had 
placed another against the doorway of 
the Dark Chamber. Esau and I 
fetched yet another barrel and this we 
stood upright before the Chamber of 
Riches, so that the ashes of the Hag 
of the Turret and her last dwelling 



The Fearsome Island 

place might be scattered in one com- 
mon eruption. 

All that there now remained for me 
to do, was to lay a powder train 'twixt 
all these barrels, which I cheerily set 
about, making a black line, thick and 
heavy, that ran from the cellar to the 
great hall and to the three chambers, 
then downhill to the wood. This 
done, we returned for our two barrows, 
that we trundled along to a good mile 
beyond where ended the train of gun- 
powder. 

It was now quite dark, and we 
moved hastily, I holding in my hand a 
box of the red-tipped splinters of wood 
that when rubbed hard burst into 
flame. Cautiously and with great care 
I set fire to the end of the powder 
train, and then the two of us ran till 
we were out of breath. Presently 
there were two reports and a bright 
flame spread like sheet-lightning across 
the night. 



The Fearsome Island 

" The Chambers! " I cried, as a 
third explosion rang out. 

We were now beyond the wood in 
an open country, and we could see the 
castle on the hill-top stand dark 
against the sky. An instant later and 
the countryside stood out green and 
gold as in broad daylight, and turret 
and walls toppled and fell as does a 
child's house that is built of wooden 
bricks, and then was blotted out and 
clouded with a huge volume of smoke, 
thick, dense and opaque; afterwards, 
silence and black night, and all was 
still and peaceful as before. 

Esau, the hairy man, had witnessed 
this great spectacle, and now frantic 
with delight he capered about me and 
knelt at my feet and put his lips to my 
hands till I had perforce to kick him 
hard so that he might take himself 
away and be grateful with a lesser 
show of devotion. This he did, rub- 



"3 



The Fearsome Island 

bing his flanks and the other spots 
where my foot had dwelt. 

So was that accursed castle wiped 
from off the face of this earth, and 
thus were Satan, the black cat, and 
Thomas Snoad, my fellow-adventurer, 
avenged fully and to the hilt. 



Chapter VI 

THERE was a feeling of triumph in 
my heart as once more we jour- 
neyed to the sea-shore, to embark on 
our good ship and set sail across the 
green waters. Manfully we pushed 
our barrows before us, I singing brave 
songs as I strode, and, though our 
loads were weightier than they had 
ever been before, our two carriages 
seemed wondrous light and easy of 
guidance. 

Hope is a wondrous well, and I had 
drunk deep of its waters, a rare medi- 
cine, that, after these many days of 
fear and terror, was bringing my man- 
hood back to me and implanting new 
courage in my heart. Our ship stood 
ready, and carefully we stowed away 
"5 



The Fearsome Island 

our provisions and the spoils of the 
Dark Chamber. The next two days 
we went a-hunting, slaying whatever 
beast or fowl came in our way, so that 
we might have fresh meat in plenty. 
Many gourds we filled with fresh water 
from a stream, and, on the third day, 
we resolved that we would hoist our 
sail at sunrise on the following morning 
and then away. 

The last eve I paid a visit of farewell 
to the great bronze idol. The thirteen 
diamond stones sparkled as never they 
had sparkled before, and, as I gazed, 
a huge desire seized on me and grew so 
strong that I, feeling that with the 
new ship had come new strength and 
power, swore loudly and with many 
oaths that the jewels should be mine. 

In the morning when all was ready 
and we had only to push off from the 
shore to be free and beyond the reach 
of the evil and the magic that lurked 
within this bewitched island, I helped 

116 



The Fearsome Island 

Esau to float our ship and instructed 
him to get out the oars and row close 
along the shore till he was opposite 
the spot where stood the brazen idol, 
making sign to him that I would join 
him at that place, swimming straight 
out from the shore onto our vessel. 

He set off without misgiving of any 
kind, while I, walking rapidly, was 
presently face to face with the great 
figure and the glistening stones. So 
that I might have the more courage I 
talked wildly in the idol's brazen face, 
with strange grimaces and much mock- 
ery, saying, ' ' Thou art a false god and 
the jewels be not thine," beside other 
things unwise to recall. Also did I 
roll my tongue at the dumb figure and 
I spat with scorn on the sand at its 
feet. For in the night-time, as I lay 
awake, I had thought of a plan where- 
by I might reach the necklet, and now 
I approached the great idol with a 
rope that I made fast about its waist, 
117 



The Fearsome Island 

using great caution and keeping well 
without the reach of the brazen arms. 
I had thought that I might approach 
the idol from behind, using to that end 
the half of my rope that hung from 
the hips to the ground beside me, for, 
by aid of the rope, I could reach the 
figure's middle, from thence I could 
easily climb to the brazen shoulders, 
and then the gems would be mine. 

At first I tried to ascend the rope 
with my hands, dragging my body 
after me ; but the idol was at too great 
a height from the ground, and I had 
not sufficient strength to reach its 
waist, where I would have obtained a 
foothold. I attempted this manner of 
reaching the necklace till I was well 
nigh fit to drop from exhaustion, and 
then, this having failed, another plan 
came to me. I would use my feet, 
steadying myself by the rope and thus 
climb, step by step, to the idol's waist, 
much as children, holding their father's 
118 



The Fearsome Island 

hands, climb from his knee to his thigh 
and then upward over his body to his 
shoulders. Once more I attempted to 
ascend the huge figure, but the pol- 
ished bronze was all smooth and slip- 
pery as is winter ice, so that my feet 
could get no foothold and moved as 
if they had been greased with fat, and 
after every few steps I had to begin 
afresh. Seven times I fell, hanging by 
the rope in mid-air and swinging to and 
fro without control of my body. At the 
seventh fall I was mad with rage and 
fury, for I am of a hot temper, and, 
losing hold of my rope furiously did I 
run round to the face of the great 
figure, crying, " Idol, thou art a false 
god, and I, Silas Fordred, fear thee 
not, nay, nor an hundred of thy 
breed!" and much more of a like na- 
ture. With that I climbed in a mad 
heat onto the great knee, still calling 
out aloud my defiance, from thence I 
onto the loins, and, as my hand 
119 



The Fearsome Island 

pressed on the outstanding breast, I 
head a noise as of metal grinding 
against metal and the brazen arms 
quivered, while, in that self-same mo- 
ment, I loosed my hold and fell heavily 
to earth, and over my head I heard the 
clash of the great arms as they met 
the body — 'twas as the striking of a 
bell. I lay on the sea-shore, stunned 
and dazed from my fall, and then the 
ground beside me shook and there was 
a noise as of thunder that is near. For 
some moments I was without sense or 
understanding, and when my mind 
once more became live and active and 
I had rubbed my eyes, wondering the 
while whether I was on earth and alive 
or dead and in the realms beyond, 
there came back to me the clash of the 
giant arms and the memory of how I 
had striven to wrest the necklet from 
the brazen throat. 

The sun was strong in my eyes and 
I raised my head trying to discover the 
1 20 



The Fearsome Island 

exact nature of what had befallen, 
and behold, at my side lay one half of 
the bronze idol, that was broken across 
the middle and in two parts, as were 
Thomas Snoad and the skeletons that 
lay about and around it. The lower 
half of the figure was still seated, rigid 
and meaningless; the upper part had 
fallen onto the earth beside me, and on 
its neck glistened and shone the thir- 
teen great diamonds. Slowly it dawned 
upon me what had befallen, and I ex- 
plained the reason of the severed body 
thus: the brazen arms had found no 
body to break their force, and they 
had closed with all their might and 
weight on the brass body of the idol's 
self, and had sundered it as they had 
sundered the flesh and bones of poor 
Thomas Snoad, my friend. 

Now I rose to my feet and tore the 
necklet from the brazen throat that lay 
all helpless at my side, and the stones 
were set in fine gold, and close at hand 

121 



The Fearsome Island 

they were even larger and brighter 
than they had seemed when sparkling 
up on high above my head. 

Gleefully I put the jewels into my 
pouch, where were also the fangs that 
I had broke from the jaw of the Hag 
of the Turret, and then a great fear 
seized on me ; for, though I am a man, 
pious and a believer in the one and 
only God and His Son Jesus and the 
Virgin Mary, yet still did I dread that 
the idol might seek to avenge what I 
had caused to befall, and quick and 
straight, without halting, yet ever and 
anon looking backward over my shoul- 
der to see whether or not I was pur- 
sued, I ran as fast as my legs could 
bear me to the water's edge and spied 
for my ship and Esau, who was rowing 
her close in shore. They were near at 
hand, and, with a cry of joy, I plunged 
into the surf, first feeling at my pouch 
to see that the diamonds were secure 
within; then I turned hastily to the 

123 



The Fearsome Island 

land, a new wave of dread surging 
through my body. Esau marked the 
swiftness with which I struck out from 
the shore, and I swam like one pos- 
sessed, for, following me with the 
speed of the wind was the sable figure 
of the turret, he whose image I had 
destroyed with a hammer — the vile 
Sorcerer himself. At last I clambered 
over the side of the ship, and without 
a word I sprang in a cold sweat of fear 
and despair to the rope that would 
hoist our sail, and when Esau knew 
that I was tugging for the dear life, he, 
too, came over and worked beside me, 
though with a surprised look in his 
face as if he wondered as to the cause 
of this excessive fear and haste. 

" Look, look!" I cried, " he follows 
us!" and I pointed to the shore, and 
Esau looked and shook his head. 
" There is nothing, you say? " and I, 
too, turned my eyes landward, yet all 
I could see was the flat foreshore with 
1 23 



The Fearsome Island 

the sundered idol and the woods and 
foliage beyond. Only when we were 
far from land, with the sea spreading 
white under our keel, did I regain my 
composure and throw off the fear that 
had seized upon me as I escaped with 
my booty. 

Esau had all the while gazed at me 
in wonder and with some joy, for he 
had marked the broken god, yet had 
he not understood what actual occur- 
rences had taken place during my ab- 
sence that forenoon. With much 
making of signs I told him all that was 
possible, and when I held the great 
gems before his eyes he blinked and 
smiled, dazzled by their exceeding 
beauty and joyful to think that I had 
overcome the dread figure that guarded 
those shores. 

That night, with sail hoist over our 
heads, we were far out to sea, and the 
land of strange witchcrafts and fear- 
some spells was nowheres to be seen, 
134 



The Fearsome Island 

while all around us stretched and 
sighed the great waters. 

Yet one more mystery came to pass 
ere we were quit of the Sorcerer's coast 
wherein we had fared so evilly, and 
this time we were fortune's favourites 
and the new spell worked us a service. 

I have spoken before of the three 
handles that are of solid silver and like 
to those on a door, that you may see 
for yourselves on the strange barque. 
Though now you may turn and wrench 
these handles and naught befalls, yet, 
when on the third day of our voyage — 
and I have sworn it — I turned the middle 
handle out of mere curiosity, straight- 
way did the ship proceed with speed 
some ten times greater than before, as 
though stirred and pressed forward by 
some strange miracle, like unto one of 
those that are told of in the Holy 
Book. Like an arrow it clove the 
waters and the spray danced joyfully 
at it flanks, while the sweet, cool wind 
"5 



The Fearsome Island 

played on our faces and made the blood 
under our cheeks quick and flush with 
motion. Again I turned the handle, and 
then the ship moved as it had moved 
before with but a single sail. Another 
handle was a rudder that steered mar- 
vellous sure, so that when both spells 
were at work we progressed with great 
ease and swiftness. For seven days and 
seven nights we shot forward like a 
sea-bird, although our sail lay idle 
aboard; then we dropped down to a 
dead stillness, drifting idly as the waters 
listed, and, though I turned the 
handles all manner of ways the ship 
went none the faster. The magic that 
had given us wings had ceased, and we 
rehoist our sail and went onward at a 
more natural speed. All the time our 
eyes were turned to the north and to 
the south and eastwards and westwards, 
seeking for a ship or a land where there 
were men, so that we might be informed 
as to what strange seas we were sailing, 
126 



The Fearsome Island 

and in what direction lay the good port 
of Hythe and England, my own native 
land. 

Though we had left the Fearsome 
Island and all its witchcrafts behind us, 
yet were our hardships in no ways 
ended; indeed, when I think aright, 
meseems that they were but just be- 
gun, for, what are sudden death and 
dangers quick and violent compared 
to the slow tortures of hunger and 
thirst! Looking backward in the en- 
forced leisure of our aimless sailing, 
and I had many a long hour wherein 
to think of what was past, I discovered 
that, for all my self-commiseration, 
there was a certain pleasurable excite- 
ment mingled with the fears and dan- 
gers I had encountered during my 
sojourn on the witchcurst land that I 
had quitted. From one hour to an- 
other I had been lost in wonder and 
thought, not knowing what the next 
might bring forth, and, together with 
127 



The Fearsome Island 

this insecurity, there was a certain se- 
cret blessing that I had not hitherto 
recognized ; for, had I not learned to 
know and to believe in myself, and 
had I not been tried and tempted as 
are few men; and was I not the 
stronger and the manlier for all these 
wrestlings? I had issued unharmed 
from countless dangers, and, for much 
of my present safety and security, I 
had but to thank my own ready wit 
and courage; and, on the day when 
Esau and myself set out on our home- 
ward voyage, I felt more of a man, 
aye, a man strong and of a clear brain, 
than ever I had felt before — or since 
either, for that matter — and it seemed 
that, in spite of the many anxious and 
troubled days and nights that I had 
lately undergone, still had I much to be 
grateful for. 

Yet there was a far stronger and a 
more wearisome test of courage and 
manhood before me than any I had 
128 



The Fearsome Island 

undergone, and, though 'twas of a less 
entertaining nature, yet, nevertheless, 
was its mark deeper and more lasting 
than all my struggles against witchcraft 
and black sorcery. 

The first days of our voyage were 
idly spent ; I had much to think on, 
and Esau was content to watch me 
and prepare our food. Above our 
heads were blue skies, and I have ever 
observed that when the heavens are 
without cloud the heart of man doth 
also beat serene and joyful. On our 
setting out I had made Esau wear a 
suit of blue cloth that I had taken 
express from the castle, for I knew 
that as we sailed the airs would grow 
colder and he would feel the lack of 
garments. He wore this costume for 
the first two days of our voyage, and, 
though I could see that it irked him, 
he made no sign of disapproval. On 
the morning of the third day he was 
hairy and naked as before, and, when 
129 



The Fearsome Island 

I questioned him, he pointed to the 
waters, and I could not but smile, so 
like an idle child was he with his ex- 
cuses and shamelessness. We had 
fair weather for the first two weeks of 
our voyage, and though this be a long 
time when passed on the open sea and 
with but a single companion and he 
devoid of reasonable speech, yet, the 
whole while was I of a stout heart and 
exceeding cheery. All these days we 
had spied neither sail nor land, though 
from morn till eve we kept an eager 
watch, and through the night we 
looked hard for light and a beacon. I 
had taught Esau that seamanship which 
was needful for the safe conduct of our 
ship, and he was greatly content to 
serve me, though marvelling greatly 
at the vast expanse of ocean that 
seemed to have no ending. By-and- 
by the warm airs through which we 
had passed grew cooler, and overhead 
the blue of the sky took on a paler 
130 



The Fearsome Island 

hue. The sea too grew more boister- 
ous, and Esau, the hairy man, that 
was no sailor, was sick and greatly 
troubled. He lay quite still in the 
cabin with his two hands pressed to his 
middle, and the big tears ran down the 
sides of his face and he made moan 
and groaned, so that I who listened 
was sore moved and pitiful. After 
awhile the cold airs took hold of him 
and he lay below and coughed till my 
heart grew heavy within me. For 
some days we encountered stormy 
weather, after which came a great calm, 
and for more than a week we lay quite 
still, while our sail hung idle on the 
mast. By now we had lost all count 
of time and I was sore perplexed and 
doubtful, wondering with some misgiv- 
ing as to how this voyage would end. 
Yet another misfortune was in store 
for us, for the provisions that we had 
aboard grew less and less, and day 
for day we ate but half our fill and 
131 



The Fearsome Island 

we were athirst from morn to night, 
never daring to drink largely from our 
fast emptying gourds. At first when 
we encountered the dead calm I have 
spoken of we made some efforts with 
our oars, but, after awhile, our feeble- 
ness of mind and body proved too 
strong and we were content to drift 
idly, a prey to all manner of hopeless 
thoughts. Many a time in those long 
days did I wish that I had been con- 
tent to remain on the island, and in 
Esau's eyes, that were large and re- 
proachful, I saw the same misgiving. 
Yet now 'twas too late to turn back, 
and we floated from night to morning 
with still another comrade to bear us 
company and keep watch, so that we 
were three on board the ship, and our 
names were, Esau and Silas Fordred, 
and the Evil Conscience of Silas For- 
dred. 

Those days were overlong, and I 
grew thin and haggard with thought, 
132 



The Fearsome Island 

hunger and inaction. In the morning 
of each new day I would reflect that I 
had done what I had done, meaning no 
harm and with all good intent; yet, in 
the afternoon, when for hours I had 
gazed on Esau, lying quite still and 
with a deadly cough in his chest, 
groaning heavily from sickness and evil 
nourishment, my conscience smote me, 
and I felt that I was both a brute and 
a fool for having bartered dry land and 
ample meat for this desert of green sea 
that gave forth nothing. Then I 
thought that, had we had better for- 
tune, and had we encountered a vessel 
that had aided us, I would have had 
no cause for self-reproach. I pondered 
on these things hour after hour, and 
my thoughts were but a circle, and in 
this circle I wandered continually and 
ever, so that what my brain held was 
of little use to me and of much harm. 
Greatly and often did I fear that my 
reason might desert me, and that some 
i33 



The Fearsome Island 

day I should be discovered on the open 
sea, mad and with a vacant gaze, all 
alone save but for a naked savage, and 
he nigh dead from hunger, sickness 
and thirst — a pretty picture, truly, and 
by no means over-pleasant to dwell 
with continuously. 

I shall write no more of there hard- 
ships, suffice to say that I would not 
endure them over again for all the 
wealth that is in the universe, and, 
believe me, there was more real suffer- 
ing in these long weeks spent hungry 
and in pain on the empty sea than in 
all my traffickings with sorcerers and 
idols of bronze. We had lost count of 
time and most other things, and every 
moment I was expecting the ghost of 
Esau to be given up, when the good 
ship Queen Marie of Plymouth crossed 
our track and took us aboard. God 
alone knows how long we had been 
afloat and how near I had been unto 



i34 



The Fearsome Island 

death. Esau, that was a naked sav- 
age, had less power of endurance than 
I that can read and write and do wear 
clothing, for, three days after we were 
rescued, and though the captain of the 
Queen Marie spared us no care or at- 
tention, Esau, the hairy man, died in 
my arms. He had been greatly ailing 
when we had encountered the English 
barque, coughing much and being 
warm with fever, and there was no 
strength left in him after the many 
days he had thirsted and lived on in- 
sufficient food. We buried him at sea, 
and thus, of all the four that had dwelt 
on the Fearsome Island, I alone sur- 
vived. The two halves of Thomas 
Snoad were buried on the sea-shore; 
Satan, the black cat, died in the Dark 
Chamber, as I have narrated; Esau, 
the hairy man, died at sea on board 
the ship Queen Marie from hunger, 
thirst, and sickness brought on by ex- 



i35 



The Fearsome Island 

posure to wind and weather, for he was 
no seaman, but a naked savage of the 
woods and dry land. 

Thus, alone, did I return from the 
first voyage I had undertaken on my 
ship Brave Luck, that now lies fathoms 
deep in an unknown sea, with riches 
and wealth in plenty, yet the price I 
had paid was a dear one, such as no 
man dare pay a second time. 

The captain of the Queen Marie 
had made my strange barque with 
the silver handles fast to his own 
ship, so that I was able to bring it 
hither, and, thirteen days after our 
encounter, he landed me at Ply- 
mouth, from which port I made my 
way homeward, after rewarding my 
rescuers fittingly with thanks and with 
gold. 

Thus did I return once more to 
Hythe, and, hear ye, I have written 
the truth and naught but what these 



136 



The Fearsome Island 

eyes have seen, and may God and the 
Virgin save me if I speak untrue. 
(Signed) Silas Fordred, 

Master Mariner of Hythe. 
Witnessed by 

Evan the Welshman, 
Town Clerk. 
Dated February jd, 1660. 



APPENDIX 

SUCH is the narrative of Silas For- 
dred, master mariner of Hythe, 
the cinque port in the county of Kent. 
Now on reading this strange story I 
was greatly perplexed. It seemed dif 
ficult to believe that this direct Eliza- 
bethan mariner had fabricated the 
string of events here reproduced, for, 
by his own showing, he was a plain 
and simple man, without overmuch im- 
agination or phantasy, and I found it 
indeed hard, with my extended knowl- 
edge of man and woman, to set down 
this yarn of Silas Fordred's as one 
huge lie from beginning to end, as a 
man of shorter sight and less penetra- 
tion might have set it down. Often I 
pondered over the strange land of the 
bronze idol and what had happened 
138 



Appendix 

there, and the only clue I had to the 
mystery was the inscription in tall 
ebony letters: 

" DIGO RODRICOVEZ," 
which in truth was little help to me. 
Yet for many months these two words 
remained in my head, and often have 
I seen them stand out clear and black 
before my eyes. 

Everything comes to him that waits, 
so that one day as I was burrowing 
among some old volumes in the great 
library of the British Museum, I ran 
across a large folio bound in brown 
leather and printed in the Spanish 
tongue. In that language was in- 
scribed on the title page : The Life and 
Adventures of Don Diego Rodriguez. 
Again the words " DIGO RODRI- 
COVEZ " came back to me, and 
eagerly I read page after page of the 
great volume. 

From it I gathered that Don Diego 
Rodriguez was a man of much cun- 
»39 



Appendix 

ning, with great learning and skill in 
alchemy. Towards the end of the fif- 
teenth century he had become Grand 
Inquisitor of Spain, and in that capa- 
city had devised machines of so fiend- 
ish a nature that his brother inquisitors 
had held a council at which it was con- 
clusively proved that Don Diego was 
in league with the Devil, and it was 
furthermore decided that for the wel- 
fare and safety of the State, it were 
well that the Grand Inquisitor should 
leave the country and take his hellish 
inventions elsewhere; for no man, 
were he Cardinal or the King's own 
self, was safe, as the Don could kill 
without leaving wound or sign of poi- 
son or other witness. In the same 
year as that in which the council was 
held, Don Diego had left Spain in a 
curious vessel of his own construction, 
that had neither mast nor sail nor gal- 
ley-slave. He took with him the 
whole of his vast wealth, and, such 
i 4 o 



Appendix 

was the dread that men had of him, 
that no one made effort to deprive him 
of his ill-gotten treasure. His sole 
companion was a girl child, reputed to 
be his daughter, and thus he set off 
across the ocean. 

The rest of his life is shrouded in 
some mystery, and there is no absolute 
certainty as to his [further movements. 
Rumour hath it that he reached an 
island, presumably one of the West 
Indies, where he landed and caused 
the natives to build him a great castle ; 
also, that as soon as this was accomp- 
lished he set to work to depopulate 
the island by means of the same hellish 
inventions that were the cause of his 
banishment. 

Such in brief was the story of Don 
Diego Rodriguez, whom I hold to be 
identical with Silas Fordred's " DIGO 
RODRICOVEZ," and, seeing that Silas 
had but his memory and an imperfect 
education to trust to, there is little to 
141 



Appendix 

wonder at in the fact that the Hythe 
seaman should so misspell what he had 
but read long months before. 

What makes me further incline to an 
implicit belief in this theory is, that 
among other marvels accredited to the 
Don was the power of making perma- 
nent the reflection of a human face in 
a mirror, a discovery somewhat akin to 
our modern art of photography. This 
will account for the figure behind the 
red silk curtain, doubtless a reproduc- 
tion of the Don's own features. The 
reappearance of this figure when Silas 
was escaping to his ship with the dia- 
monds was no doubt due to the sea- 
man's evil conscience — merely an hallu- 
cination of an excited brain. Most of 
the other so-called marvels were skil- 
fully constructed machines that any 
mechanical engineer of the present day 
could double ; that such was the case is 
amply proved by the failure from rust 
and unuse of the mechanism that 
142 



Appendix 

worked the giant sword-blade that 
Silas encountered in the great hall. 
Further, I have little doubt but that the 
"Hag of the Turret" was the identical 
girl-child, grown old, that accom- 
panied Don Diego when he left Spain ; 
naturally, Silas Fordred saw in this 
bearded old woman a " witch " and a 
M sorceress," and most men of his day, 
even those of birth and education, 
would have arrived at a similar conclu- 
sion, especially after the episodes that 
preceded the encounter. The hairy 
man, Esau, was in all probability an 
aboriginal native, one, or the child of 
one, that had escaped the Don's 
clutches. 

I have only to add that, in my hum- 
ble opinion, it must have been Don 
Diego Rodriguez, and not Christo- 
pher Columbus, that really discovered 
America. 






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