They carried me past them, and the black woman’s eyes rolled up at us like a wild beast’s in a jungle defending her mate, and I remember thinking, though dimly, as a man will do when he has lost much blood, that love was love, and perhaps showed forth the brighter and whiter, the viler and blacker the heart which held it, and then I knew no more for a space.
When I came to a consciousness of myself again, the first thing of which I laid hold with my mind as a means whereby to pull my recollections back to my former cognisance of matters was a broad shaft of sunlight streaming in through the west window of the prison in Jamestown. And all this sunbeam was horribly barred like the body of a wasp by the iron grating of the window, and had a fierce sting of heat in it, for it was warm though only May, and I was in a high fever by reason of my wounds. And another thing which served to hale me back to acquaintance with my fixed estate of life was a great swarm of flies which had entered at that same window, and were grievously tormenting me, and I was too weak to disperse them. All my wounds were dressed and bandaged and I was laid comfortably enough upon a pallet, but I was all alone except for the flies which settled upon me blackly with such an insistence of buzzing that that minor grievance seemed verily the greatest in the world, and for the time all else was forgot.
For some little time I did not think of Mary Cavendish, so hedged about was I as to my freedom of thought and love by my physical ills, for verily after a man has been out of consciousness with a wound, it is his body which first struggles back to existence, and his heart and soul have to follow as they may.
So I lay there knowing naught except the weary pain of my wounds, and that sense of stiffness which forbade me to move, and the fretful heat of that fierce west sunbeam, and the buzzing swarm of flies, for some little time before the memory of it all came to me.
Then indeed, though with great pain, I raised myself upon my elbow, and peered about my cell, and called aloud for some one to come, thinking some one must be within hearing, for the sounds of life were all about me: the tramp of horses on the road outside, the even fall of a workman’s hammer, the sweet husky carol of a slave’s song, and the laughter of children at play.
So I shouted and waited and shouted again, and no one came. There was in my cell not much beside my pallet, except a little stand which looked like one from Drake Hill, and on the stand was a china dish like one which I had often seen at Drake Hill, with some mess therein, what, I knew not, and a bottle of wine and some medicine vials and glasses. I was not ironed, and, indeed, there was no need of that, since I could not have moved.
Between the wound in my leg and various sword-cuts, and a general soreness and stiffness as if I had been tumbled over a precipice, I was well-nigh as helpless as a week-old babe.