I now determined to keep awake while Melannie slept in order that I might watch Van Luck, and I impressed upon the queen that she must never sleep when I slept. Thus we continued for some nights, keeping watch and watch about. But I soon found I could not trust Melannie, for when I awoke I discovered her to be asleep. But in this, as in all else, Melannie was such a child that I could not find it in my heart to scold her.
HOW MY SECOND VOYAGE ENDED
I now resolved to place Van Luck under restraint, for it was plain to me he was not responsible for his actions, and with this object in view I went forward one morning with a rope in my hand, intending to secure him in some way from harming himself and others. As I approached him Van Luck, who seemed to divine my purpose, drew back with a savage, animal-like growl. I tried to pacify him by speaking kindly, but he suddenly sprang at me with a knife in his hand. I caught his arm before he could strike, and we fell together upon the thwarts of the boat, locked in a deadly embrace. Van Luck was a powerful man, and his madness seemed to give him double strength. I called to Melannie to keep away from us, but afraid for my safety, and fearless of her own, she hurried to my assistance. “Get my knife,” I whispered, for I was unable to draw it myself from its sheath by my side. The brave girl stooped to do my bidding, when the madman, at the same moment, wrenched his arm free and struck her. Melannie fell with a low moan upon the thwart beside me, and Van Luck, snatching the bag of gems from where it hung at her girdle, retreated with his prize to the stern.
I was soon upon my feet, and lifting Melannie into a more easy position, I turned my attention to Van Luck. He was sitting in the stern, handling the gems and mumbling over them, and when he saw me he clutched the bag, and, springing up, made as though to run from me, unmindful of the fact that we were tossing in mid-ocean. Without turning his head from looking back at me, he stumbled blindly into the sea, where he soon became lost amid the grey waves that rose on every side.
When I returned to Melannie I could see that she was sinking fast. I did my best to staunch the blood which flowed from her breast. But her whitened face, upon which the dews of death were gathering, warned me she had not many moments to live.
“Kiss me, Peter,” she whispered. “It is better that I should go. You do not love me; you cannot love me as I love you. There is some one else whom you love. I know it; I have felt it. Go to her, Peter, but do not quite forget me.”
These were her last words, and, when I kissed her, Melannie, Queen of the Island of Gems, had crossed the waters of the Great Divide. Next day I consigned her body to the deep wrapped in her robe of white tapa cloth which formed her shroud.