“I won’t run away,” I said, “so you might slacken these ropes and let me breathe easy.”
Apparently he was an accommodating gaoler, for he did as I wished.
“And give me a drink,” I said, “for my tongue’s like a stick.”
He mixed me a pannikin of rum and water. Perhaps he hocussed it, or maybe ’twas only the effect of spirits on a weary body; but three minutes after I had drunk I was in a heavy sleep.
VARIOUS DOINGS IN THE SAVANNAH.
I awoke in broad daylight, and when my wits came back to me, I saw I was in a tent of skins, with my limbs unbound, and a pitcher of water beside me placed by some provident hand. Through the tent door I looked over a wide space of green savannah. How I had got there I knew not; but, as my memory repeated the events of the night, I knew I had travelled far, for the sea showed miles away at a great distance beneath me. On the water I saw a ship in full sail, diminished to a toy size, careering northward with the wind.
Outside a man was seated whistling a cheerful tune. I got to my feet and staggered out to clear my head in the air, and found the smiling face of Ringan.
“Good-morning, Andrew,” he cried, as I sat down beside him. “Have you slept well?”
I rubbed my eyes and took long draughts of the morning breeze.
“Are you a warlock, Mr. Campbell, that you can spirit folk about the country at your pleasure? I have slept sound, but my dreams have been bad.”
“Yes,” he said; “what sort of dreams, maybe?”
“I dreamed I was in a wild place among wild men, and that I saw murder done. The look of the man who did it was not unlike your own.”
“You have dreamed true,” he said gravely; “but you have the wrong word for it. Others would call it justice.”
“What sort of justice?” said I, “when you had no court or law but just what you made yourself.”
“Is it not a stiff Whiggamore?” he said, looking skywards. “Why, man, all justice is what men make themselves. What hinders the Free Companions from making as honest laws as any cackling Council in the towns? Did you see the man Cosh? Have you heard anything of his doings, and will you deny that the world was well quit of him? There’s a decency in all trades, and Cosh fair stank to heaven. But I’m glad the thing ended as it did. I never get to like a cold execution. ’Twas better for everybody that he should fly at my face and get six inches of kindly steel in his throat. He had a gentleman’s death, which was more than his crimes warranted.”
I was only half convinced. Here was I, a law-abiding merchant, pitchforked suddenly into a world of lawlessness. I could not be expected to adjust my views in the short space of a night.
“You gave me a rough handling,” I said, “Where was the need of it?”
“And you showed very little sense in bursting in on us the way you did! Could you not have bided quietly till Shalah gave the word? I had to be harsh with you, or they would have suspected something and cut your throat. Yon gentry are not to take liberties with. What made you do it, Andrew?”