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Ruth, Ruth, Jack's wife. I am mad; but then I hear
The wind moan Ruth, love Ruth, my lost love Ruth,
Oh, Ruth, Ruth, Ruth, lost now for evermore.
Twelve years ago, I thought my heart would break,
When she-my only woman in the world-
Became Jack's wife; but she will never know
Now, ah, ha! ha! ha! When Jack lived, by God!
I never dreamed of breathing it at all.
Yes; I was faithful to my friend and her;
But, ah! when he was dead and when I knew
She loved me, I went mad, I dared not sleep
For fear of dreams too terrible to breathe.
I strove, strove, strove to loathe her lovely face;
For, though you must not tell a soul on earth,
I say that-ah, ha! ha! How goes the song,
Damned old sea-dogs, lying forgotten,
Pou shall your green-girt mother enfold
With shell-grown cabins and hulks grown rotten,
And weedy cables and green sea-mould ;
And bars of bullion and Spanish gold;
And bleached white bones and ..
I say just this, no more, murder will out!
Murder will out, my friend, murder will out!
Well, as you know, the knife was in my hand,
When suddenly, as it seemed to me, we passed
The line of a great Valley on the coast,
A ragged gorge of gloom amongst the hills ;
And whether a wind swept through it and made us heel
Unawares over, I hardly know; but there
We lay nigh flat for a moment, and with the shock
The ballast shifted, and a broadside wave
Struck us before we righted, and made us heel
A little farther, and over the sinking gunwale
The whole sea scrambled in and filled us; then
Down, down, down in a hideous whirl we went,
Down in a drowning roar of cataract gloom,
Down, down for ever; down, down into hell;
Down till the breast and eyeballs almost burst
For freedom from that agony; at last
The mad whirl sank into a ghastly peace
Loaded with cold dark death, far down, far down,
Under the sea, and with one frantic thrust
I struck my hands and face up, up to seek
The stars again; but, there, there, even now
The memory of that moment shrieks aloud
With horror; something clasped me, held me down
To stifle and struggle. Oh, my God, my God,
Some suffocating nightmare of the sea
With human arms had gripped me! Ay, you
Who that was! No; no; no; there was no help;
I say there was no help: I could not save him;
For he was tangled in the cordage: God,
I say that Jack was trapped there; and his arms
Clung blindly to me as a child might cling
To its mother in the darkness : my soul screamed
For life, life; and my bursting eyeballs burned
Against the weight of waters; my teeth grinned
Upwards at God, and my hand held the knife;
And then the coward that sleeps in all of us
Woke like a beast and revelled. Could I help
What slept within me? Is there any man
Made as we are—Oh ay, poor mad Tom knows;
The village used to call me Doctor Tom
Because I read so many books,—a man
Made, body and blood, out of the buried past
Of all his forefathers in all the worlds
And all the years from all eternity,-
Is there a man, I say, can even dream
He knows what cravings, what wild instincts lurk
Within him, darkly as adders in a wood,
Ready to strike if some new chance arise
Beyond his use and custom ? Chain him down,
Your saint, his lips against the quivering lips
Of one he loved; would law prevent the heart
Beating a little quicker even in death?
Leave them a little; will their virtue make
The contact less a kiss or freeze the cry
Of sex in either's blood ? Before my God,
I struggled first to free him; then to free
Myself, myself! I struggled and strove to unclench
His grip: I tore at him; my nails bent back
And bled, and still he gripped me bursting there
With agony; I smote the heft of the knife
Again, again, into his cold dumb face,
And his grip tightened; then, I know not how,
But all the wild beasts in me suddenly hungered
And leapt for joy as I thrust and thrust the cold
Sharp steel in a savage sensual ecstasy,
Again, again, into his quivering throat,
The throat that in some nightmare of the past
I had seen her kiss and kiss. I thrust it in
Again, again, and hacked those kisses out,
And warmed my hands in blood until I felt
The grip relax and the dead face fall back
For ever; and I shot upward till I heard
The whole sea hissing in my ears, and gasped
My thanks to God under the ghastly moon.
You know the papers told how I was saved !
Saved! Is it all a great big jest of God's ?
Ah, ha! ha! ha! Lumpety, tumpety, tum!
How does the song go? Ah, ha! ha! ha! ha!
Pig-tailed devils of cutlass and rum,
Fierce old faces with many a scar;
Are ye all gone home to your Kingdom Come,
Men that steered by the storm and the star ?
From Porto Bello to Calabar
What wicked old songs you used to roar,
Sons and fathers of Trafalgar,
Where are the
Ruth, Ruth, lost for evermore! I've walked about the beaches on the watch you
know what: there's not a cormorant Or sea-gull looks for food more greedily Than I have watched and waited day and night In storm and calm for that; yes, day and night For nigh a year; but Jack has never come; They'll never find him now. One night I found
The little yacht that I was whittling out,
Cast up with other rubbish from the sea.
Listen; the wind is moaning like a child ;
Oh Ruth, Ruth, Ruth, lost, lost for ever now;
For I have murdered love, and God is love,
So God is dead for me: they that kill love
Kill God in their own hearts; and I, Ruth, Ruth,
I murdered love the night I killed my friend,
And I must burn in hell for evermore.
Hush ! hush! These are not tears; if they were tears
All might be well, and I should not go mad;
I am blinded; but no, no; they are not tears.
Indeed he was my friend. You know, down there,
It hardly seemed like murder, in the dark;
No; no; no; no; not murder; for I say
In spite of all, he was my friend, my friend.
BY KATHERINE CECIL THURSTON.
AND Loder dined with Lillian and lighting a cigar than RenAstrupp. We live in an age wick—displaying an unusual when society expects
amount of haste and importexacts much. He dined, not ance-entered the room carrythrough bravado and not ing a letter. through cowardice, but because Seeing Loder, he came forit seemed the obvious—the only ward at once. thing to do. To him a scene
“Mr Fraide's' man brought of any description was distaste- this, sir," he explained. He ful; to Lillian it was unknown. was most particular to give it In her world people loved or into my hands—making sure hated, were spiteful or foolish, 'twould reach you. He's waitwere even quixotio or dishonour- ing for an answer, sir.” able, but they seldom made
Loder rose and took the Loder tacitly saw and letter, a quick thrill of specutacitly accepted this.
lation and interest springing Possibly they ate extremely across his mind. During his little during the course of the time of banishment he had dinner, and talked extraordin- followed the political situation arily much on subjects that with feverish attention-insupinterested neither ; but the portably chafed by the desire main point at least was gained. to share in it, apprehensively They dined. The convention- chilled at the thought of Chilalities
appeased - the cote's possible behaviour. He silent, watchful servants who knew that in the comparatively waited on them were given no short interval since Parliament food for comment. The fact had risen no aot of aggression that Loder left immediately had marked the Russian 0cafter dinner; the fact that he cupation of Meshed, but he paused on the doorstep after also knew that Fraide and his the hall-door had closed behind followers looked askance at him, and drew a long, deep that great Power's amiable breath of relief, held only attitude, and at sight of his an individual significance, and leader's message his intuition therefore did not count.
stirred, On reaching Chilcote's house, Turning to the nearest lamp, he passed at once to the study he tore the envelope apart and and dismissed Greening for the scanned the letter anxiously, night. But scarcely bad he It was written in Fraide's own taken advantage of his solitude clear, somewhat old-fashioned by settling into an armchair handwriting, and opened with