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The pirate woman


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Title:ThePirateWoman
Author:AylwardEdwardDingle
ReleaseDate:September22,2009[EBook#30057]
Language:English

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ALL-STORYWEEKLY
VOL.XC
NUMBER2
SATURDAY,NOVEMBER2,1918



ThePirateWoman


byCaptainDingle
Authorof"TheCoolieShip,""StewardoftheWestward,"etc.
[Transcriber'sNote:Thisnovelwasoriginallyserializedinfourinstallmentsin
All-StoryWeeklymagazinefromNovember2,1918,toNovember23,1918.
Theoriginalbreaksintheserialhavebeenretained,butsummariesofprevious
eventsprecedingthesecondandthirdinstallmentshavebeenmovedtotheend
ofthise-book.TheTableofContentswhichfollowsthisnotewascreatedfor
thiselectronicedition.]


TableofContents
November2,1918
I.
II.
III.
IV.
V.
VI.

THECAVEOFTERRIBLETHINGS.
DOLORESRECEIVESHERDIADEM.
THEGROVEOFMYSTERY.
THEPIRATES'BARBECUE.
MILOSIGHTSASAIL.
THEPARTYFROMTHEYACHT.

193
196
200
203
206
209

November9,1918
VII.


VIII.
IX.
X.
XI.
XII.
XIII.

THEATTACKONTHEFEUFOLLETTE.
DOLORESDELIVERSJUDGMENT.
THESULTANADECIDESSEVERALTHINGS.
AREEDSHAKENBYTHEWINDSOFPASSION.
PASCHERETTEUNVEILSHERPURPOSE.
SANCHOSETTLESHISACCOUNT.
DOLORESFLOATSTHEFEUFOLLETTE.

466
469
472
475
477
480
488

November16,1918
XIV.
XV.
XVI.
XVII.
XVIII.
XIX.

YELLOWRUFE'SFINISH.
THEFIRESOFTHEFLESH.
PEARSEENTERSTHECAVEOFALADDIN.
THETREASURETEST.
PASCHERETTEDEALSAGAIN.
WHILEVICTORYHANGSINTHEBALANCE.

697
701
704
707
711
715

November23,1918
XX.
XXI.
XXII.

DOLORESDEMANDSADECISION.
THESLUMBERINGSAVAGE.
THEFLIGHTOFTHEFEUFOLLETTE.

147
150
153


XXIII.
XXIV.
XXV.

STUMPYFIRESTHEMAGAZINE.
MILOCROSSESTHEBAR.
THETOLLOFTHEGODS.

155
157
159


ThePirateWoman


byCaptainDingle
Authorof"TheCoolieShip,""StewardoftheWestward,"etc.


CHAPTERI.
THECAVEOFTERRIBLETHINGS.
Agreatunrestbroodedovermountainandforest;theblueCaribbeanlayhushed
andglaring,asifheldinleashbyapowergreaterthanthatwhichorderedits
dailyebbandflow.
Menmovedorstoodbeneaththetreesonthecliffsideinattitudesofsupreme
aweorgrowinguneasiness,accordingtotheirkind:foramongthemwere
numberedSpaniardandBriton,creoleandmulatto,Caribandoctoroon,with
coal-blacknegroesenoughtooutnumberalltherest—anditwasupontheselast
thatprofoundawesatoppressively.
Apart,followedbyahundredfurtiveeyes,Dolores,daughterofRedJabez,
rangedbackandforthbeforethemightyrockportalsoftheCaveofTerrible
Things,likesomemagnificenttigresshedgedwithfoes.Beyondthoseportals
RedJabez,Sultanofpirates,arbiteroflifeanddeathoverthemotley
community,layatgripswiththegrimspectertowhomhehadconsignedscores
farmorereadilythanhenowyieldeduphisownred-stainedsoul.RedJabezwas
dyingadeathashardashisluridlifehadbeen.
BeyondthoserockportalsnonesaveJabezandMilo,theherculeanAbyssinian
slave,hadeverpassed.Dolores,nextinline,wasinignoranceasdeepasher
meanestslave,concerningwhatlaybeyondthegreatmassofrockwhichformed
thedoor,andwhichMiloalonecouldmove.Sheknew,asdideveryone,thatthe
greatchamberofRedJabezheldsomevastmystery;shesuspected,asdidthe
rest,thatitconcealedwealthbeyonddreams;deepdowninhersoulshehoped
thatinviolatechamberheldforherthemeansofemancipation;butofthishope,
noneknewsaveherself.ForQueenofNightthoughthewhitemencalledher,
Sultanathoughshewasnamedwithfearandsubmissionbytheblacks,though
herpowerwassecondonlytothatofRedJabez,andbarelylessthanhis,a
cankergnawedattheheartofDolores,thecankerofasuspicionthatherpower
wasbutapaltrypower,herfreedombutacagedfreedom.


Somewherebeyondthegreatoceanthatstretchedawaybeforehereyeslaya
worldsheknewnothingof;yetsinceherearliestchildhoodherkeenmindhad
toldherthatthesilkwithwhichshewasclothed,thejewelsthatencrustedher
dagger-hilt,theshipswhosepillagehadyieldedupthesethings,mustcomefrom
landsfardistant,moredesirablethanthemarooncountryofJamaica.More,her
earsattunedtothewhisperorroarofthesea,thesighorshriekofthewinds,
carriedtoherthemutteringsofmenlongheldinleash,whonowsawintheir
chieftain'sdeaththerealizationoftheirownwilddreamsofrichesandrelease.
Allthesethingstoldherthatthegreat,strangeworldbeyondthesea-linewas
somethingforhertostrivefor;notfortherabblewhocalledherqueen.
Shepacedbackandforth,asplendidlylithe,glowingcreatureofbeautyand
passion,everymovementagrace,eachgracesuchasbefittedaroyalwoman
consciousofmentalandphysicalperfection.Herhairsurroundedherfaceand
shouldersinalustrous,ripplingcloud,throughwhichpeepedabarearmand
breaststolenfromthegoddessofbeauty;hertunicofquiltedChinesesilkhung
fromoneshoulderbyastrapfashionedfromtheribbonoftheStarofPersia,and
fastenedbythestar;herstrong,slenderwaistwasgirdledwithaheavygoldcord
thatsupportedalong,thindagger,notoy,inajeweledsheath;thehemofher
singlegarmentrangwithgoldsequinstothemovementofhersmoothly
muscularknees;herhigh-archedfeetwereprotectedfromthornsandshellsby
sandalsofredleather.
Asthemomentspassed,andnosigncamefromwithinthecave,Dolores
restrainedherimpatiencewithincreasingdifficulty.Themenscatteredaround
werenotofsuchstuff;theyfelttheimpendingcrisissettleheavilyuponthem,
andwhiteandblackalikedrewtogetherforthecomfortofclosetouch.From
timetotimeahardierspiritutteredhisthoughtsaloud,yetalwayswithaglance
ofuncertaintytowardDolores.Theyhadreasontoglancethatway;forevery
manhadtastedofthequeen'sjustice,whichrarelyerredonthesideofmildness;
manyofthemhadexperiencedherterriblecompetencetocarryoutasentencein
person.Ofthemall,notonebutknewthatinDoloresheownedasqueena
womanwhoneedyieldnothingofprowesstoanyman:herknifewasasswift,
herroundwristasstrong,herblazingviolet-blackeyesassureasanyamong
them.Notamancouldeverforgettheoffendingslavewhomshehadthrashed
withherownhands,disdainingassistance,untilthewretchtorelooseandfled
screamingtotheclifftopitchheadlongintotheshark-infestedsea;norcould
theyforgetherunhesitatingdiveandterrificstruggletorecoverhimandher
completionoftheinterruptedpunishmentwhenshehadbroughthimback.


Yetthestressprovedtoogreat,eveninfaceofthesememories,andatall,
powerfulSpaniard,heavilyearringed,handsome,withaswart,brutalbeauty,
deliveredascorchingoathtotheheavyairandexclaimedfiercely:
"Acurseonthisbabe'splay!Mustmenstandherelikewhippedcursuntilaslave
commandsusenter?Come!Who'llfollowmepastthatdoor?I'llknowwhatlies
behindthismummeryifIchokeitfromoldJabez'switheredneckashedies."
Themansteppedforwardtwopaces,glaringdefiantlyatDolores,waitingfor
mentofollow.Anuneasyshufflingoffeetwashisonlyanswerforamoment;
thenhiseyesshiftedwithcoolingardoratsightofDolores.Forabreathafterhe
hadceasedspeaking,thegirlstoodlikeasplendidstatue,exceptfortheglitterof
hereyesandaslightquiveringofherlimbs;itwasasifsheawaitedsome
response;thenherfacerelaxedintoacontemptuoussmile,andhercrimsonlips
partedtorevealhereven,gleamingteeth.Shelaughed,aripplinglittlelaughlike
thetinkleofsteellinks,andwithasingleglidingmovementthatpermittedno
avoidancesheswepttowithintwofeetofthenowfrightenedruffian.
"Yes?YellowRufewouldchokewordsfromadyingman!"shecried."Nothing
thatlivesandcanstandontwofeetisindangerfromsuchashe.Peace,slavish
dog!"shepanted,flingingoutagleaminghandandseizinghimbyoneearring.
"ThusImarkcursthatseektheirfoodamongthedead!"Withthewords
Dolores'srighthandflashedupward,knife-armed,andacrossRufe'scheek
glaredacrimsoncross;intohiseyesleapedthefearofdeath.
"Nowgo!"shesaidimperiously,pushinghimaway."Letnomanforgetthat
whilethelifeisinRedJabezheholdsthylivesinpawn.Whenhisspiritgoes,ye
shallreckonwithme!"
Rufestaggeredaway,halfincredulousthathispunishmenthadfallenshortof
death.Hiscompanionsledhimapartwithmanyabackwardglanceof
apprehensionattheauthoressofhisdiscomfiture,andadeep,sullenmuttering
rippledthroughthecrowd.Doloresresumedhersolitarypacingwithoutanother
thoughtforthehardyrascalshehadsoswiftlyandeffectivelysoftened.Hereyes
wereeverbenttowardthegreatrock;herthoughtswerecenteredonavague,
mysteriousinstinctwhichwhisperedtoherthatwithherfirstadmissionintothat
frowningcavernthemantleoffierceoldRedJabezwouldfalluponher,and
withitwouldcomepowerthataCzarmightenvy!ACzar'spower,indeed,but
withallofaCzar'scaresandmore;forCzarneverruledoversubjectslikethese.
Asuddenhushfellupontheplace;themutteringsceasedasiftongueswere


strickenstiff.Rufe,withhisheadnowenwrappedincrossedbandages,stared
towardthegreatrockwithawaveringexpressioninhissmolderingeyes,an
expressionthathoveredbetweenreluctantsubmission,reawakenedcupidity,and
dawninghope.Doloresstoodmotionless,imperiousineverylineandfeature,
herheavyeyelashesveilingtheeagernessinhereyes,herredlipscurvedin
royalindifference.
Thegreatrockwasturning.
Slowly,yetwiththeflawlessregularityofamillwheel,themassofstonewas
rolledupwardandtooneside;itrestedatlastonaledge,balancedperfectly,
readytofallagainatthetouchofafinger;andintheapertureappearedthe
humanagentofitsopening.
Milo,thegiantAbyssinian,guardianoftherock,custodianoftheCaveof
TerribleThings,boneofcontentionforthejealousandterrorofthestrongest,
filledtheentrancewithhiscolossalframeandlookedoutwithacalmdignity
thatmadethewhitescringewithhatred.Slowly,withstatelygrace,thegiant
advanceduntilhestoodbeforeDolores,andinhiscoal-blackeyesshonethe
lightoflimitlessdevotion.Heknelt,kissedthesequinsonhertunic'shem,then,
withbothhandspressedtohisforehead,hebowedhisfacetotheearthather
feet.
"Rise,Milo,"saidDolores,gently,andherbreathcaughtpainfullyasshespoke.
Sheknewwhattheslavecamefor;everymaninthatcommunityofpirates,
wreckers,escapedslaves,andconvictsknewaswellasshe.Allhadawaitedthis
moment,knowingwhenitcamethatthemysteryofthecavewouldbeamystery
nolongertoatleastoneofthem:allknewthatthesummonsmeantthepassing
oftheoldpiratewhohadbroughtthemtogether,ruledthemwithbloodandiron,
andforcedfromthemahomagenoneofthemwouldrendertohisMaker.
"MySultana,itistime,"saidMilo,risingandwaiting.Heneededtosayno
more.
"Leadmetomyfather,then,"repliedthegirl,andsteppedafterthegiantwith
surestepandresoluteface,givingnoheedtotherenewedshufflingand
congregatingofherpeople,nortoRufe,whoagainstoodoutbeforetherestand
addressedtheminfiercetones.
Doloresenteredthegreathewn-rockdoorwayandinspiteofherstoutheartand
steelwillshethrilledineveryfiber.Attheendofthefrowningpassage,whose


rubylampsbutaccentuatedthegloomandimpartedtoitaninfernalglow,laythe
greatchamberthatonlythechiefmightenter.Whatwouldshefindthere?Her
father,yes,anddying!Otherwisethissummonshadnevercome.Thedeathmust
beuponhimnow;thefierceoldsea-kinghadheldhisthrone-roominviolate
throughmanyboutswiththegrimReaper,knowinghisownstrengthtoconquer.
Butnowhehadcalled,andDoloressoughttheunknownwithacuriositythat
beatdownfear.
Behindheraheavythudechoedalongtherockywalls,andtheouterlightwas
cutoffbythefallingofthegreatstone.InamomentMilostoodbesideherand,
takingherhandinhis,ledheralongtheutterlyinvisibleflooruntilshestood
beforeamassivedoor.Herfeetsankintothepileofheavycarpets;hernostrils
quiveredtothedelicateodorsofburningspices;atthetopofthedooragreat
jeweledlanterncastarich,yellowlightdownthepanels,andthegirlgasped
involuntarilyatthesightrevealedtoher.Eachpanelwasformedofscalesthat
overlappedlikeaserpent's;thescaleswereroughlyhammeredgoldandsilver,
richlychased,andstuddedthicklywithgems—withoutanyconjecturesheknew
themtobepreciousvesselsthatshouldhavegracedanaltar,split,perhapswitha
bloodycutlass,andbeatenoutintoirregularplatestogratifysomegrimhumor
oftheterribleoldcorsairinthelongago.Neitherhinges,handle,lock,norlatch
appearedonthesurface;apparentlythedoorwassolidlyembeddedinthemighty
rockitself.Thegiantlaidahandonthesideofthedoor-frame,andDolores
waitedwithimpatienceforadmission.Forallherschooledself-controlhereyes
glintedwithastonishmentwhenMilostoodasideandbowedlow,saying:
"Enter,myprincess!"
Withoutasoundthemassivedoorhadvanished,slidingupandoutofsightin
thedarkrecessoftheroof,leavingsmooth,steel-linedslotsatsidesandbottom
thatreflectedthepolishofscrupulouscare.Doloresstifledhersurprise,and
movedtowardtheheavyvelvethangingswhichstillbarredherway.These,too,
weresweptasidewithnovisibleeffort,andthegirlstoodonthethresholdofthe
chamberofmystery.


CHAPTERII.
DOLORESRECEIVESHERDIADEM.
Inagreatcanopiedbed,takenfromsomerichlootedIndiaman,RedJabezlay
motionlessasaneffigyinstone.Histall,powerfulbodywassharplyoutlinedin
coveringsofsilkandrarelace;thearmsandcrestofaducalhousewereworked
intothepillowsthatsupportedhismassivehead.Hisdrawn,haggardfacewas
surroundedandallbutcoveredwithagreatmaneofvividredhair;hissilken
shirt,wideopenattheneck,revealedamassivechest,whosetideofrespiration
hadallbutceasedtorun.Onlyhiseyes,fierceyet,heldtokenoflingeringlife;it
wasasifthevitalsparkwasconcentratedintoonefinalblazeoftremendous
brilliancy.
ThefierceeyesmovedswiftlyatDolores'sentrance,andonemighthavesaida
filmoftendernesssweptforaninstantoverthehardglintinthem.Itwasgoneas
swiftlyasitcame,andthestaresettledunwaveringlyuponthestupefiedgirl.For
stupefactionhadgrippedDoloresinthatfirstentryintothegreatchamber.Her
wildestdreams,andtheyhadbeenattimesfantastic,hadnevershowedher
anythingmeasurablyapproachingthescenethatsmotehereyesnow.Forthe
momentdeath,RedJabez,herdestiny,everythingmeltedintothevisionary
beyondandlefthercapableofnovolition.
Thegreatbedstoodinthecenterofavastcavern;sides,roof,floor,everyinch
oftherockitselfboreproofofthehandiworkofhundredsofcunningcraftsmen;
butthefurnishingsfilledDolores'seyestotheexclusionofallelse.Divansand
chairs,cabinetsandtablescarriedthemindfarawaytotherealmofemperors
andkings;vasesfromChinaandGreecestoodonstandsofboule-work;atall
ebony-and-ivoryclock-case,inwhichtickedsonorouslyamasterpieceofPeter
Hele,stoodbetweentwogorgeouspiecesofGobelintapestry.Andaroundher
andabove,Dolores'samazedeyeslightedupongemsofthepainter'sartsuchas
fewcollectionsmightboast.Theentireceilingwascoveredwithacolossal
"BattleoftheAmazons,"byRubens,eachfigurethrownoutinstartling
distinctness,fullofvoluptuouslifeandaction;thewallsweremantledbyvast
goldenframesholdingthebestofTitian,CorreggioandGiorgione,Raphaeland


Ribera.Andjewelsflashedeverywhere;cunninglyplacedlamps,themselves
encrustedwiththereddestofrubies,thesubtlestofgreenemeralds,flooded
wallsandfurnishingswithasoftyetsearchinglightwhichseemedtobe
carefullycalculatedtoaccentuatethosethingswhosebeautydemandedlight,yet
toleavetheeyeunwearied.
"Thehourhasstruck,mySultana,"saidMiloanxiously,andDoloresshookoff
thespellandapproachedthegreatbed.RedJabezclosedhiseyesassheleaned
overhim,andhislipsnowalonegaveevidenceoflife.Thegirl,rearedamong
thewildestofdesolateisolation,knowingnosofteningtiesoffamily,her
impulsesandemotionsthoseofabeautifulanimal,andincreasinglysobecause
ofherstationamongtherabblethatcalledthedyingmanchief,stareddownat
herterribleparentwithoutatraceofvisibleregret:ratherinhereyesshonethe
triumphofavictorabouttoenteruponaconqueredkingdom.Buttheredpirate
wasspeaking,andshebenthereartocatchhiswords.Itrequirednophysician's
knowledgetoperceiveinhisdampfaceallthesignsofimminentdissolution.
"Dolores,mytraverseisrun,"whisperedJabez.Theeffortallbutstolehis
breath.Hepaused;thensummoningallthetremendouswillthathaddominated
hisframewhensurgingwithstrength,hetoldwhathehadtosayinshort
sentences,nursingtheflickeringsparktoforcehisspeech."Neverleavehere,
girl.Letnomango,either.Theworldhasforgottenmeandallofus;but
memoryistenacious—itwillreviveatahint;everythroatthatpulseswithhot
lifehere—yes,mydaughter,evenyourfairthroat—wasmeasuredyearsago—a
ropeawaitseveryone.Buthere—"
"Yes,father?"Doloresshiveredinthepause;thesilencechilledher.Thegiant
Abyssinianstoodattheheadofthebed,andnowmoistenedthedyinglipswith
wine.RedJabezstrainedconvulsively,snatchingathisthroat,andresumedwith
weakervoice.
"HereIhavebeenking;hereyouarequeen;allthesethingsyousee,andmany
more,areyours;lifeanddeathareinyourhandstogiveorwithhold.Keepthe
steelhand,thoughyouweartheglove,Dolores.Youhavelearnedpower;with
thegreaterpoweryoutakefromthischamber,andwithMilo,letnothing,no
man,stiryourfears.KeepthischamberasIhavekeptit;itisyourstrength;
whendangerthreatenstobeatyoudown,hereyouwillfind—"
Theflutteringwhisperceased.Theoldpiratelayrigid.Dolores,havingheardso
much,yetsolittle,hoveredoverthebedinanecstasyofunsatisfiedhungerfor


more;Milostoodby,amagnificentstatueinlivingbronze,hiseyessetina
steadyblazeonthefaceofhismaster.Oncemorethebluelipsmoved.Dolores
darteddownwitheagerear,herhandsclaspedasifinsupplication.
"Milo—tell,"camethewhisper,andwithitwentupthesoulofRedJabeztoface
atribunalmoredreadthananyearthlyjudgehisbodyhadeluded.Andthetall
clocktickedhisknell.
Doloresflungherselfdownonthebed,pattingthedeadfacewithnervous
fingers;butshewasdry-eyed,nofilialdespairraisedtumultinherbreast,her
pleadingwasfortheimpossible—forthedeadlipstospeak—andwhenshewas
refusedherplea,shesprangfromthecouchinaparoxysmofroyalfury:
"Now,bythepowersofevil,heshalllieuncoffineduntilthosesecretivelips
readmetheriddletheyhavehalftold!"shecried,pacingbetweenbedandwall
withupliftedarmsandhard,glitteringeyes.Shesuddenlypausedinherwild
walk,turnedswiftly,andreachedthebedsidewiththesamesubtle,gliding
sweepthathadcarriedherbeforeYellowRufe;itwasacharacteristicmovement
withher—acompoundoftheglidingdartofthetiger-sharkandthesilent-footed
pounceofitsjunglebrother.Milorousedfromhisdejectionandsprangfromhis
kneeswithamazingpromptitude,buthehadyettoroundthebed-footwhenthe
splendidfurystoodpantingoverthecorpse.
"Speak!"shecried,shakingthecoverletsavagely.Milo,withhorrorinhis
shiningface,gentlyremovedherhand,thenstoodbeforeherwithbowedhead,
hiscavernouschestheavingwildly.
"Fool!Leaveme!"shesnapped,andstrucktheslavewithallhersavageforceon
thecheek.Milo'sfaceturnedgrayforaflashinginstant,thenthedoglike
devotionthatfilledhisheartshonethroughhiseyes,andhekneltatthefurious
girl'sfeet,hisheadtotheground.Inamomenthestoodupand,layingahand
reverentlyuponDolores'sshakingshoulders,hegazeddeepintohereyes.She
shiveredagainattheuncannyhintofvolcanicmighteffusedbythegiant—
volcanic,yetquiescentforthemoment.Hislipsopenedtospeak;andshesprang
tothereaction.Nowafreshfuryseizedherattheslave'stemerity;sheflungoff
hishand,andsnatchedforthherdagger.
"Strike,Sultana,"saidMilosimply.Hedrewasidethestrapofhisleatherntunic,
baringhisheart."Strike,butfirstsufferthyslavetoreleasetheefromthistomb."
"Release?Tomb?Whattalkisthis?"gaspedDolores,herdaggerheldpoised


aloft,herlipsquivering.
"Atombitisifthyservantfalls,Sultana.NonesaveIcanopenthegreatdoor.
Closeit?Yes,anymightcloseit.Come,Iwillleadtheeoutofthisawful
presence;thenatthegatethoushaltsendMilotohismasterwholovedhim."
SlowlyDoloresslippedherdaggerintothesheath,andherfacewasbowedin
confusion.Allherlife,thegiantslavehadtendedher,guardedherstepsandher
sleep,taughthertheexercisesthathadmadeherfearedbyalltheturbulentcrew
outside;andshewasnowpermittedthesavinggraceofremembrance.Shegave
himherhand,andallowedhimtoplaceituponhishead,alwayshisfavorite
meansofexpressionwhenshefollowedanoutburstofragewithcontrition;and
insoftertoneshebeggedforananswertotheriddlethathadbeenleftwithher.
"Come,Sultana,"Milosaid,oncemorelayingahandonhershoulder,thistime
withoutresentmentfromher."Thyfather,theRedChief,leftmuchtobetold;I
willtelltheeall,butnotnow.Patience,princess,"hepleaded,catchingthe
warningglintinhereyes,"dostthouhearnothing?Listenattentively—no,notin
here,outside—bendthyeartothistapestry;'tisbeforeacunningsoundingstone
throughwhichvoicesmaywellbeheardonthecliffside.Listen."
Doloreslistenedwithbadgrace,forsheregardedthisasasubterfugeofthe
giant's,andresentmentwasveryreadytoriseinheragain.Butinamomenther
indifferencevanished;shegrewalert;herbodytensed,andherlimbsquivered;
theglitterofaqueeninrighteousangerlightedhereyes,andsheraisedan
unnecessaryhandtoimpresssilenceupontheslave.
"Hasthearthisbeforenow?"shedemandedinavibrantwhisper.
"Sincethouentered,Sultana.Itcouldbenothingbutrebellion;yetwasIloathto
burdenmychiefwiththistroubleinhishourofpassage.ButIknownowthatit
hasrisentoheightswhichdemandswiftaction;thereforeIhavemadethee
awareofit."
"'TisthatvillainRufeagain!"mutteredDolores,stillpressingherearagainstthe
tapestry.Themurmurofahundredvoicescameclearlytoher,andaboveall
soundedthehigh-raisedshoutofonewhoharanguedtherest.Atperiodsthe
murmuringbecameahowl,andthetriumphantnoteinitleftscantroomfor
doubtastothenatureoftheaddress.Thegirl,facedwiththeresponsibilityof
decidedaction,nolongerabletodependonthewisdomandterriblepowerof
RedJabez,steppedfromthewallwithpantingheartandpartedlips,butwithno


traceoffear.Uncertaintymovedher;uncertaintyastotheresourcesofthegreat
chamber,whosemysterieshadscarcelybeguntounfoldforhererethecurtain
wasdroppedagain.Herstoutspiritdecidedforher.
"Come,leadmeout,Milo,"sheordered,drawingherselfroyallyerectand
slippingherdaggeraroundnearerherhand."Wemustcoolthatrabblebeforethe
firespreadsfurther.Takeaweapon,openthedoor,andfollowme."
"Itisthedecisionofafitdaughterofmychief,"repliedMilo,hisgreatframe
expandingtotheboundingenergythatsurgedthroughhim.Unknowntoher,his
eyeshadneverleftDoloreswhileshewasmakingherdecision;nowjoyand
ardorsuffusedandtransfiguredhim.Slavehewas,yetitwashewholookedthe
royalpartinthatinstant.
"Waitbutabreath,"hesaid,andreachedintwogiganticstridesamassiveoaken
chestheavilyfastenedwithwroughtiron.Liftingthelidwithreverence,hetook
outaplaingoldcircletandreturnedtoDolores.
"ThyfatherbadememakethisandkeepituntilthouwastmySultana,indeed,"
hesaid.Heraisedtheheavy,dull-goldband,andplacedituponDolores'sbrow
withthecourtlyhomageofabornnoble.Itfittedtoperfection—asindeedit
should,sincethelovingfingersthathadfashionedithadcreptaroundthegirl's
sleepingheadmanytimestothatend—andfemininevanitywouldnotpermit
Dolorestoignorethefit.Shesteppedovertoalonggilt-framedmirror,andher
beautifulfacegrewdarkandhervioleteyesduskyatthegloriousreflectionthat
gazedoutather.
"Itiswell,Milo;Ithankthee,"shesmiled."Nowtoscattertheratsthatgnawat
mywalls.Leadoutquickly."
Miloenteredthepassage,raisingtheplateddoorandlettingitfallafterthem.He
disdainedtocarryaweapon;butDoloreswascontent,forshehadwitnessed
whatthosehugehandscoulddo.Astheyapproachedthegreatstoneatthe
entrance,thesoundsoutsiderangthroughthecorridor,andthesharp
reverberationsthataccompaniedthematintervalstoldofanassaultontherock
itselfwithpikes,crowbars,orothersmallerrocks.Milostoopedtothesillofthe
rock,andplacedhishandsbeneathit.
"Standaway,"hewhispered,andstrainedhisarms."Letthyservantgooutand
silencethisclamor—"


"Openquickly!"sheinterruptedhim,imperiously."Itisnotfortheslaveto
precedethesovereign.Peace,andopen."
Herhandwasonherdagger,herheadwasraisedproudly;everyinchandlineof
herfigureirradiatedsplendidstrengthandsurety;Miloheavedattherock,and
smiledblissfully.ThiswasindeedhowhehaddreamedofhisSultanawhenshe
shouldcomeintoherown.
Heheavedsteadily,andthegreatrockrosefromoneside,rollingupandupuntil
itbalancedontheledge;butMiloknewtherewassomeagencyatworkthat
hinderedtheraisingofit;neverbeforehaditbeenatasktobringsweattohis
brow,andnowhedrippedfromeverypore.Therockrefusedtobalancewithout
hishanduponit,andhedarednottakehisshoulderawaytolookoverthetop
lestitfallandcrushhim.HecastanappealinglooktowardDolores,whowas
impatientlywaitingforhimtostandclear,andshesteppedpasthimtothe
outside.Shewasgreetedwitharoarofderisionthatechoedfardowntothesea.
"Peace,dogsofthedevil!"shecriedwithonehandupraised.Aroaringguffaw
answeredher.Thenaburlyruffian,one-eyedandmarkedbyagreatcutlas-scar
thatranfromhischinacrosshisbrokennoseandendedsomewhereamongthe
rootsofhishair,steppedforwardwithasmirkofconfidence,andmadeamock
curtsy.
"Queeno'thepirates,wesaluteye!"hesaid.Thenthrewawayallpretense,and
sworearippingcursetothedestinationofhissoul."Come,mygirl,"heshouted,
"thegame'splayedtoafinish.Th'oldbuckisdead,an'wewantsomeo'them
prettieshehidawayinside.You'reanicegal,Idon'tdeny,andweain'tgoingto
harmyeifyedon'thinderus;butweain'tplayin'kingsan'queensnomore.
Comenow,letthebigfellertakeusin,andsaynomoreaboutit,forhaveour
fling,wewill."
Themobhadedgednearer,untilnowtheysurgedaroundtheentrancesocloseto
Doloresthatshefeltthebreathoftheleaders.Shenoticedwithsharp
wondermentthatYellowRufewasnotamongtheforemost;butshewasgiven
notimetosurmise,forthemobpressedonuntilshewasforcedeithertoriskan
advanceorgiveground.Alittleshockrippledthroughherwhensheturned
swiftlytoseehowMilofared,andfoundhimgone.Themobsawit,too,and
seethedaboutherwithhungryfaces.
"Comeon,lads!"theyhowled."Milo'sgoneinsidetoopenupthelootforus."A
grimyhandsnatchedatthegirl'stunic,andinaflashtheentrancewaschoked


withfiercelystrivingshapes.
WithagaspingcryoffuryDoloresstruckasidetheboldhand,andwitha
panther-springshewasuponhim.Oneslender,brownhand,strongasasteel
claw,grippedhisthroat;theotherhandgrippedaglitteringdaggerthatswept
likethearrowoffatetohisheartanddroppedhimalogatherfeet.Justfora
breaththecrowdpausedinawe;thenhoarselygrowlingtheypackedforward
again,andDoloresfoundherselffightingdesperatelyagainstmenmaddened
intosteel-armedwolves,thirstyforherbloodinpaymentforthatsplit.Shemore
thanheldherownbysheerskillandsupplenessforaspace;butassailedfromall
sidessavethebackshespeedilyfeltherlimbsgrowingheavyandawkward,and
acutlassangaboveherbentheadwhenherfoothadfailed,leavingherwithout
guardoravoidance.
Thensheknewthatshehadbeenpermittedtowinherspurs.Forthethreatening
cutlaswascaughtinmidairbyahugebarehand,wrenchedfromitsowner's
grasp,andreturnedpointfirstintotheassailant'sbreast.AndMilo'sdeepvoice
ranginherear:
"Stepintothepassage,Sultana,andswiftly.Haveacareforthebodyonthe
floor,buttarrynot.Topauseistodie!"
Shefeltherselfdrawninside,thebattleseemedtoleaveherisolated,thepassage
wasasstillasacloisteraftertheturmoiloutside,andshestumbledalonginthe
dimredglow,barelyavoidingtrippingoverabodyonthefloorwhichaglance
showedhertobeacorpse.Thiswasthemanwhohadtriedtocrushbackthe
rockdooronMilo.
Doloresspurnedthebodywithherfoot,andabruptlyturnedback,inarageto
thinkthatshehadpermittedthegiantslavetoorderherintoskulkingsecurity.
Shehaltedasswiftlyasshehadturned;forintheapertureattheendofthe
passagethehugeformofMilostood,bothhandsraised,andinthemacaskwas
poised.Aqueer,splutteringsoundatfirstpuzzledDolores;thenshemadeouta
short,hangingfusedependingfromthecask,anditsplutteredasitdwindled,
flingingsparksaroundthegiant'sbowedheaduntilthepointoffireseemed
readytodisappearinthebung-hole.
"Treasurefordogs!"roaredMilo."Divideitamongthee!"Thegreatrock
thuddeddownasthecaskhurtledoutintothemob;thenextinstantthecavern
shookandquiveredtoaterrificexplosion;amomentaftertheearthmighthave
beendeadforallsoundinthepassage;yetanothermomentandtheouterworld


rangwithcriesandshrieks,cursesandentreaties,andMilobowedlowtohis
mistressandsaid:
"NowifmySultanadeemsfit,itistimetoshowthisscumoftheearththeir
sovereign."
"Wait,Milo,"repliedDolores,shudderingslightlyatsightofhim.Thegiantwas
streakedandsplashedwithblood;forinthosemomentswhenhestood
defenselessbeforecastinghisinfernalmachine,adozencutlasesandkniveshad
soughthislife.
"Pardonthyslave,"hereturned,sensinghermeaning."Iwillgothus.'Twerenot
goodthatthesedogsshouldknowtheirwoundscanhurt.Suchscratchesare
nothing.Theyarepaidforinfull."
"Itiswell.Leadoutagain,goodMilo,andfearnotforme.Withthoubesideme
Iamarmedinproof."
Againtheyemergedintotheair,butnowadeathlysilencereceivedthem.
Silencebrokenonlybytherustlingofgarments,asawitheredoldcrone
shambledforwardandcastherselfatDolores'sfeet.


CHAPTERIII.
THEGROVEOFMYSTERY.
Doloresstoodstill,sweepingthesceneofdestructionwithagazeofflinty
penetration.Thegrovelingcroneatherfeetaffectedherlikesomethingunclean,
andshespurnedtheoldwomanwithherfoot,steppingasidewithagestureof
disgust.Thensheraisedherrighthand,andcriedwithbitterscorn:
"Come,mybravejackals!Cometothefeastpreparedforthee."Sheloweredher
handandwithacontemptuoussmileindicatedthegruesomeresultsofthe
explosionofMilo'sawfulbomb.
Ontheedgeoftheforestthehardierrascalshadhalted;atherwordtheyglared
loweringlyatherandtheimpassivegiantatherback;fromtheshadowofthe
treesyellowandbrownandblackfacespeeredinquiveringterror;butnone
respondedtohercommandtoapproachher.Theoldwomanonthegroundalone
madeaudiblereply,andherslavishwhiningenragedDolores.Withastampof
hersandaledfootshetorefromherwaistthegoldcord,slippedoffthedagger
sheath,andfelluponthewretchedoldservitorwithashowerofblows.
"Silence,oldcat!"shecried,andtheblowsfellheavily."Upwiththee,andaway.
Goquickly,andmakereadythealtarintheGroveofMystery.Ceasethy
bleating,oldwitch,andsummonthyshakywitsagainsttheordealIshallput
theeto.Someoneamongyestirreduptherisingwhichresultedasyenowsee.
ThatoneIshallknowbeforesundown,andheshallbitterlyrepenthim.Away!"
DoloreswasastonishedatseeingnosignofRufe,butoutwardlysheshowed
noneofherastonishment.Amorevitalconsiderationwaspresentinthe
disobedienceofthemotleycrewwhoasyetmadenoefforttocometohercall.
Drawingherselffullyerectwhentheoldwomandeparted,sheagainstretched
outherhandandcried:
"DogsofSatan!Iawaityourhomage.RedJabezliesdead:yethisspiritlivesin
me,yourqueen.Bysomanybreathsthatyefloutme,byjustsomanytorments
shallIhaveyetorn.Come,dogs.Kneel!"


Ahoarsemurmurwentupfromtheforestedge,andfirstonebyone,thenin
knotsofhalfascoreeach,thenegroesandhalf-breedsslunkintotheopenand
approachedherwitheyesfullofpanic.Thewhites,notsosusceptibletoabstract
influence,stillhesitated,drawingneartoeachotheringrowlingconsultation.
Doloresgavethemnosign,thoughshewatchedthemkeenlyfromunderher
loweredlashes.Shegaveherattentiontothelineofabjectcreatureswhofiled
slowlypasther,eachonestoppingtogrovelinthedustatherfeetandpassing
on.TheseMilohaltednearbyandherdedintoashivering,frightenedmob.And
Dolores'scooldisregardofthewhiteshaditscalculatedeffect.Onebyonethey
steppedoutintotheopenashadthecoloredmen;themoretimorous,or
superstitious,camefirst,somewearingshamedgrins,otherspalpablyimpressed
bytheexampleoftheothersandshufflingontheirwayuncomfortably.Lastof
allcamethebolderspirits,andtheseworefacesintendedtoexpresscontempt,or
atleastsarcasticindifference;butthefaceschangedinvariablyoncloser
approachtothequeen.Memoryprovedastubbornmaster;ineveryman'sbreast
remembranceclamoredtothemtohaveacarehowtheyborethemselvesbefore
thisbeautifulfurytheycalledqueen.
StillYellowRufecamenot.
Whenallhadknelt,andallhadbeenherdedbythegiantMilointwoseparate
parties,thenumberwastallied,andofthewhites,besidesRufe,sevenwere
missing.Onelayinsidethepassage;oftheresttherewereremainslyingabout
therockywalltothecavernthatmightbethreemenorsix—humandiscernment
couldneverdecidewhich.
Doloresfacedhermongrelsubjectsagainandherdarkeyesblazedwithfire,her
beautifulfacewasdarkwithsurgingblood,everylineofherlithefigure
quiveredasshespoke:
"Iseekthedogwhostirredyeuptomutiny!"shecried."YellowRufe,ifitbehe,
isnotamongye,norisheoneofthesecarrionscatteredontheground.Ifitbe
someothervillain,himIwillknowbeforethesunhasstretchedmyshadowto
thecliff.Deliverhimuptome,andhealoneshallrepay.Disobey,andevery
bitingdogamongyeshallswiftlylearnthepriceofdisobedience.Iwait."
Thesunwasfastsetting,andalreadytheshadowshadgrownlong.Fiveminutes
atmostwouldseetheshadowofDolores'sheadatthebaseofthegreatrock,and
theblacksstartedwhimperingwithapprehension.Amongthewhitesa
tremendousquietreigned;butsullenbrowshere,snarlingteeththere,gavehint


oftheirinterestinthesun'sprogress.Stillnomanspoke.Rathertheylookedat
eachotherquestioninglyastheminutesflew,asiftheculpritwereindeednot
amongthem.
ButDoloreswaswisebeyondheryears,wisewithawisdombredofher
volcanicexistenceinsuchastation,andsherefusedtobehoodwinkedbythe
apparentabsenceofthemanshesought.Hershadowtouchedtherock,and
withoutanothersecondofhesitationsheturnedtowardtheforestfringe,walking
withmajesticcarriageandlookingneithertorightnorleft.Shesimplyuttered
oneshortsentence:"TotheGrove!"
Everymanwithdarkbloodinhisveinsfollowedherlikeasheep,forterrible
thingshadbeenwitnessedintheGroveofMysteries:thingsfarbeyondthe
understandingofsuchmen.Thesullenwhiteshungbackagain,fortheircolder
bloodwasnotimpregnatedwiththefearsandsuperstitionsthatexertedsuch
tremendousswayovertheircoloredfellows.StillDoloresgavethemnevera
look;shewalkedon,andtheforestclosedbehindher,asifshebelievedher
footstepsfollowedbyeveryfootintheunrulycrew.
ItwasMilowhoconstitutedherdependablerearguard.Milowasthere,andMilo
wouldseetoitthatnoskulkerdeclinedhisqueen'scommand.Therelaythe
reasonwhyDoloressoplacidlyturnedherbacktomenwhosedearestambition
wouldhavebeenrealizedbytheplungeofsteelbetweenhershouldersatthat
moment.Milowalkedaroundtotherearofthehesitantmob,andwithoutaword
grippedthehindmostinhistwogreathandsandhurledhimbodilyoverthe
headsofhismatesinthedesireddirection.
"Swine!"sworeaharelippedMexican,whippingouthiscutlas."I'llseeyour
blackheartforthat!"andfuriouslymadeplaytoavengeinsulttohissorely
handledfellow.
Theblackgiantturnedascalmlyasifhismistresshadcalledhim,andseizedthe
fellow'scutlashandinonehugefist,crushingboneandsteelintogorypulp
withoutvisibleeffort.Hislipsneveropened,histremendouschestwasruffled
notonewhit;Milo'seyesalonegavewarningofwhathemightdoifoccasion
arose;andfooledbyhisobviouscarelessness,thewhitemenclosedaroundhim,
knivesandcutlasesdrawn,franticforhislife.
Theyshouldhaveknownbetter.Theirlessonshadbeenmanyandvivid;butnot
amanofthemallwasofthecalibertolearnfromaslave.Milokeptholdofhis
man'shand,andatthescrapeofsteelleavingscabbard,hebroughtuphisfree


handandgraspedthefellow'sleftwrist.Then,springingasidewiththeresistless
impulseofachargingbuffalo,hegainedaclearspace,andbegantoswinghis
victimbythewrists.
Onecompletecirclewasmadewiththehumanclub,thenacatlikeruffian
watchedhischanceanddartedinwithmurderousknifeatMilo'sbreastwhilethe
dreadfulclubwasathisback.Coolasamountainspring,thegiantimmediately
letgohisman,lettinghimflyfarbehindhimlikeastonefromacatapult.Ina
twinklingofaneye,thegreathandsthatreleasedtheonecaptiveclosedafresh
onthenewassailantinfront,andnowthegiantgavenofurthergrace.His
fingerstightenedontheman'sthroatandthedesperatefacewentblack.Then,
keepingthefelloweverbeforehim,hesuddenlyflunghimintotheairbythe
waist,shiftingholdswithtigerishswiftness,andcaughthimbytheanklesashe
camedown.Hewhirledtheunfortunatewretchonce,andthreemenwentdown
undertheterribleblow;therestscatteredwithfurioushowls,bespatteredwith
thebloodoftheircomrade;butonemoresightoftheunruffledgiantcowed
them;noneattemptedfurtherknifeorsword-play.ThenMilosmiledscornfully,
anduttered:"Go!"andtheywenttotheforestlikejackalsbeforethelion.The
giantsawthemontheirway,andtossinghisfearfulweaponoverthecliff,strode
afterthem,anawfulembodimentofrelentless,allbutlimitlessstrength.
Theforestlayhushedanddimbeyondthefringe;whisperingleavesand
cracklingtwigssoundedsharpasashowerofstonesinthestillness.Greattrees
rearedtheirmajesticheadstomingletheirfoliageandshutoutthelight;every
creeping,flying,walkingcreatureseemedawedintoavaguemurmuringthat
wasdeeperthansilence.TheGroveofMysterieswasasemicircularspaceof
cool,mossysward,boweredingreattreesandtangledvinescreens;its
backgroundwasthebarerockofthecliffsideitself—actually,thoughunknown
totherabble,theouterrockywallofthegreatchamber—andagainstthisstood
thealtar.
Theoldwomanhadmadeuseofherskinnylimbstogoodeffect,impelledbya
fearthathadbecometerror.Thealtarwasresplendentinsilkandvelvet,
fashionedforanaltarverydifferentfromthis;butinplaceofthevesselsusually
associatedwithsosacredapieceoffurniture,theAltaroftheGrovewas
embellishedwithamosaicofskullsandbonessurroundingacompleteskeleton
whichhelditsheadinonegrislyhand.
Intheholloweye-socketsglowedaweirdfirethatdartedforthatirregular
intervalslikeglancesofdemoniacalhate;atthealtarfootagreatcensererupted


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