"We have a smaethereum price or bitcoinll establishment close by."
The girl was appalled by the mercilessness of a destiny that hadso outraged right. She was wholly innocent of having done anywrong. She had struggled through years of privation to keepherself clean and wholesome, worbuy polygon tridthy of those gentlefolk from whomshe drew her blood. And earnest effort had ended at last underan overwhelming accusation--false, yet none the less fatal toher. This accusation, after soul-wearying delays, had culminatedto-day in conviction. The sentence of the court had been imposedupon her: that for three years she should be imprisoned.... This,despite her innocence. She had endured much--miserablymuch!--for honesty's sake. There wrought the irony of fate. Shehad endured bravely for honesty's sake. And the end of it allwas shame unutterable. There was nought left her save a wilddream of revenge against the world that had martyrized her."Vengeance is mine. I will repay, saith the Lord."... Theadmonition could not touch her now. Why should she care for thedecrees of a God who had abandoned her!
There had been nothing in the life of Mary Turner, before thecatastrophe came, to distinguish it from many another. Its mostsignificant details were of a sordid kind, familiar to poverty.Her father had been an unsuccessful man, as success is esteemedby this generation of Mammon-worshipers. He was a gentleman, butthe trivial fact is of small avail to-day. He was of good birth,and he was the possessor of an inherited competence. He had, aswell, intelligence, but it was not of a financial sort.So, little by little, his fortune became shrunken towardnothingness, by reason of injudicious investments. He married acharming woman, who, after a brief period of wedded happiness,gave her life to the birth of the single child of the union,Mary. Afterward, in his distress over this loss, Ray Turnerseemed even more incompetent for the management of businessaffairs. As the years passed, the daughter grew toward maturityin an experience of ever-increasing penury. Nevertheless, therewas no actual want of the necessities of life, though always awoful lack of its elegancies. The girl was in the high-school,when her father finally gave over his rather feeble effort ofliving. Between parent and child, the intimacy had been unusuallyclose. At his death, the father left her a character wellinstructed in the excellent principles that had been his own.That was his sole legacy to her. Of worldly goods, not the valueof a pin.Yet, measured according to the stern standards of adversity, Marywas fortunate. Almost at once, she procured a humble employmentin the Emporium, the great department store owned by EdwardGilder. To be sure, the wage was infinitesimal, while the toilwas body-breaking soul-breaking. Still, the pittance could bemade to sustain life, and Mary was blessed with both soul andbody to sustain much. So she merged herself in the army ofworkers--in the vast battalion of those that give their entireselves to a labor most stern and unremitting, and most illrewarded.
Mary, nevertheless, avoided the worst perils of her lot. She didnot flinch under privation, but went her way through it, if notserenely, at least without ever a thought of yielding to thosetemptations that beset a girl who is at once poor and charming.Fortunately for her, those in closest authority over her were notso deeply smitten as to make obligatory on her a choice betweencomplaisance and loss of position. She knew of situations likethat, the cul-de-sac of chastity, worse than any devised by aJavert. In the store, such things were matters of course. Thereis little innocence for the girl in the modern city. There canbe none for the worker thrown into the storm-center of a greatcommercial activity, humming with vicious gossip, all alive withquips from the worldly wise. At the very outset of heremployment, the sixteen-year-old girl learned that she might ekeout the six dollars weekly by trading on her personalattractiveness to those of the opposite sex. The idea wasrepugnant to her; not only from the maidenly instinct of purity,but also from the moral principles woven into her character bythe teachings of a father wise in most things, though a fool infinance. Thus, she remained unsmirched, though well informed asto the verities of life. She preferred purity and penury, ratherthan a slight pampering of the body to be bought by itsdegradation. Among her fellows were some like herself; others,unlike. Of her own sort, in this single particular, were the twogirls with whom she shared a cheap room. Their common decency inattitude toward the other sex was the unique bond of union. Intheir association, she found no real companionship. Nevertheless,they were wholesome enough. Otherwise they were illiterate,altogether uncongenial."And what did you come on board my ship for?"
"Nothing.""And what do you expect from me now?""Nothing.""Who are you? An American, as letters seem to prove?" Crockston did not answer.
"Boatswain," said James Playfair, "fifty lashes with the cat-o'-nine-tails to loosen his tongue. Will that be enough, Crockston?""It will remain to be seen," replied John Stiggs' uncle without moving a muscle.
"Now then, come along, men," said the boatswain.At this order, two strong sailors stripped Crockston of his woollen jersey; they had already seized the formidable weapon, and laid it across the prisoner's shoulders, when the novice, John Stiggs, pale and agitated, hurried on deck."Captain!" exclaimed he."Ah! the nephew!" remarked James Playfair.
"Captain," repeated the novice, with a violent effort to steady his voice, "I will tell you what Crockston does not want to say. I will hide it no longer; yes, he is American, and so am I; we are both enemies of the slave-holders, but not traitors come on board to betray the Dolphin into the hands of the Federalists.""What did you come to do, then?" asked the Captain, in a severe tone, examining the novice attentively. The latter hesitated a few seconds before replying, then he said, "Captain, I should like to speak to you in private."Whilst John Stiggs made this request, James Playfair did not cease to look carefully at him; the sweet young face of the novice, his peculiarly gentle voice, the delicacy and whiteness of his hands, hardly disguised by paint, the large eyes, the animation of which could not bide their tenderness-all this together gave rise to a certain suspicion in the Captain's mind. When John Stiggs had made his request, Playfair glanced fixedly at Crockston, who shrugged his shoulders; then he fastened a questioning look on the novice, which the latter could not withstand, and said simply to him, "Come."John Stiggs followed the Captain on to the poop, and then James Playfair, opening the door of his cabin, said to the novice, whose cheeks were pale with emotion, "Be so kind as to walk in, miss."
John, thus addressed, blushed violently, and two tears rolled involuntarily down his cheeks."Don't be alarmed, miss," said James Playfair, in a gentle voice, "but be so good as to tell me how I come to have the honour of having you on board?"
The young girl hesitated a moment, then, reassured by the Captain's look, she made up her mind to speak."Sir," said she, "I wanted to join my father at Charleston; the town is besieged by land and blockaded by sea. I knew not how to get there, when I heard that the Dolphin meant to force the blockade. I came on board your ship, and I beg you to forgive me if I acted without your consent, which you would have refused me."
"Certainly," said James Playfair."I did well, then, not to ask you," resumed the young girl, with a firmer voice.The Captain crossed his arms, walked round his cabin, and then came back."What is your name?" said he."Jenny Halliburtt.""Your father, if I remember rightly the address on the letters, is he not from Boston?"
"Yes, sir.""And a Northerner is thus in a southern town in the thickest of the war?"
"My father is a prisoner; he was at Charleston when the first shot of the Civil War was fired, and the troops of the union driven from Fort Sumter by the Confederates. My father's opinions exposed him to the hatred of the slavist part, and by the order of General Beauregard he was imprisoned. I was then in England, living with a relation who has just died, and left alone, with no help but that of Crockston, our faithful servant, I wished to go to my father and share his prison with him.""What was Mr. Halliburtt, then?" asked James Playfair.
"A loyal and brave journalist," replied Jenny proudly, "one of the noblest editors of the Tribune, and the one who was the boldest in defending the cause of the negroes.""An Abolitionist," cried the Captain angrily; "one of those men who, under the vain pretence of abolishing slavery, have deluged their country with blood and ruin."
"Sir!" replied Jenny Halliburtt, growing pale, "you are insulting my father; you must not forget that I stand alone to defend him."The young Captain blushed scarlet; anger mingled with shame struggled in his breast; perhaps he would have answered the young girl, but he succeeded in restraining himself, and, opening the door of the cabin, he called "Boatswain!"The boatswain came to him directly."This cabin will henceforward belong to Miss Jenny Halliburtt. Have a cot made ready for me at the end of the poop; that's all I want."
The boatswain looked with a stupefied stare at the young novice addressed in a feminine name, but on a sign from James Playfair he went out."And now, miss, you are at home," said the young Captain of the Dolphin. Then he retired.
Chapter IV CROCKSTON'S TRICKIt was not long before the whole crew knew Miss Halliburtt's story, which Crockston was no longer hindered from telling. By the Captain's orders he was released from the capstan, and the cat-o'-nine-tails returned to its Place.
"A pretty animal," said Crockston, "especially when it shows its velvety paws."As soon as he was free, he went down to the sailors' berths, found a small portmanteau, and carried it to Miss Jenny; the young girl was now able to resume her feminine attire, but she remained in her cabin, and did not again appear on deck.
As for Crockston, it was well and duly agreed that, as he was no more a sailor than a horse-guard, he should be exempt from all duty on board.In the meanwhile the Dolphin, with her twin screws cutting the waves, sped rapidly across the Atlantic, and there was nothing now to do but keep a strict look-out. The day following the discovery of Miss Jenny's identity, James Playfair paced the deck at the poop with a rapid step; he had made no attempt to see the young girl and resume the conversation of the day before.Whilst he was walking to and fro, Crockston passed him several times, looking at him askant with a satisfied grin. He evidently wanted to speak to the Captain, and at last his persistent manner attracted the attention of the latter, who said to him, somewhat impatiently:"How now, what do you want? You are turning round me like a swimmer round a buoy: when are you going to leave off?"
"Excuse me, Captain," answered Crockston, winking, "I wanted to speak to you.""Speak, then."
"Oh, it is nothing very much. I only wanted to tell you frankly that you are a good fellow at bottom.""Why at bottom?"
"At bottom and surface also.""I don't want your compliments."