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Title: The Battle of the Strong: A Romance of Two Kingdoms — Complete
Author: Parker, Gilbert
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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THE BATTLE OF THE STRONG, Complete

[A ROMANCE OF TWO KINGDOMS]

By Gilbert Parker



CONTENTS:

     THE INVASION

     ELEVEN YEARS AFTER ELEVEN YEARS AFTER

     IN FRANCE--NEAR FIVE MONTHS AFTER

     IN JERSEY FIVE YEARS LATER IN JERSEY FIVE YEARS LATER

     DURING ONE YEAR LATER DURING ONE YEAR LATER

     IN JERSEY--A YEAR LATER



INTRODUCTION

This book is a protest and a deliverance. For seven years I had written
continuously of Canada, though some short stories of South Sea life, and
the novel Mrs. Falchion, had, during that time, issued from my pen.
It looked as though I should be writing of the Far North all my life.
Editors had begun to take that view; but from the start it had never
been my view. Even when writing Pierre and His People I was determined
that I should not be cabined, cribbed, and confined in one field; that
I should not, as some other men have done, wind in upon myself, until
at last each succeeding book would be but a variation of some previous
book, and I should end by imitating myself, become the sacrifice to the
god of the pin-hole.

I was warned not to break away from Canada; but all my life I had been
warned, and all my life I had followed my own convictions. I would
rather not have written another word than be corralled, bitted, saddled,
and ridden by that heartless broncho-buster, the public, which wants a
man who has once pleased it, to do the same thing under the fret of whip
and spur for ever. When I went to the Island of Jersey, in 1897, it was
to shake myself free of what might become a mere obsession. I determined
that, as wide as my experiences had been in life, so would my writing
be, whether it pleased the public or not. I was determined to fulfil
myself; and in doing so to take no instructions except those of my own
conscience, impulse, and conviction. Even then I saw fields of work
which would occupy my mind, and such skill as I had, for many a year to
come. I saw the Channel Islands, Egypt, South Africa, and India. In all
these fields save India, I have given my Pegasus its bridle-rein, and,
so far, I have no reason to feel that my convictions were false. I
write of Canada still, but I have written of the Channel Islands, I have
written of Egypt, I have written of England and South Africa, and my
public--that is, those who read my books--have accepted me in all these
fields without demur. I believe I have justified myself in not accepting
imprisonment in the field where I first essayed to turn my observation
of life to account.

I went to Jersey, therefore, with my teeth set, in a way; yet happily
and confidently. I had been dealing with French Canada for some years,
and a step from Quebec, which was French, to Jersey, which was Norman
French, was but short. It was a question of atmosphere solely. Whatever
may be thought of The ‘Battle of the Strong’ I have not yet met a
Jerseyman who denies to it the atmosphere of the place. It could hardly
have lacked it, for there were twenty people, deeply intelligent,
immensely interested in my design, and they were of Jersey families
which had been there for centuries. They helped me, they fed me with
dialect, with local details, with memories, with old letters, with
diaries of their forebears, until, if I had gone wrong, it would have
been through lack of skill in handling my material. I do not think
I went wrong, though I believe that I could construct the book more
effectively if I had to do it again. Yet there is something in looseness
of construction which gives an air of naturalness; and it may be that
this very looseness which I notice in ‘The Battle of the Strong’ has had
something to do with giving it such a great circle of readers; though
this may appear paradoxical. When it first appeared, it did not make the
appeal which ‘The Right of Way’ or ‘The Seats of the Mighty’ made, but
it justified itself, it forced its way, it assured me that I had done
right in shaking myself free from the control of my own best work.
The book has gone on increasing its readers year by year, and when
it appeared in Nelson’s delightful cheap edition in England it had an
immediate success, and has sold by the hundred thousand in the last four
years.

One of the first and most eager friends of ‘The Battle of the Strong’
was Mrs. Langtry, now Lady de Bathe, who, born in Jersey, and come of
an old Jersey family, was well able to judge of the fidelity of the life
and scene which it depicted. She greatly desired the novel to be turned
into a play, and so it was. The adaptation, however, was lacking in
much, and though Miss Marie Burroughs and Maurice Barrymore played in
it, success did not attend its dramatic life.

‘The Battle of the Strong’ was called an historical novel by many
critics, but the disclaimer which I made in the first edition I make
again. ‘The Seats of the Mighty’ came nearer to what might properly
be called an historical novel than any other book which I have written
save, perhaps, ‘A Ladder of Swords’. ‘The Battle of the Strong’ is not
without faithful historical elements, but the book is essentially a
romance, in which character was not meant to be submerged by incident;
and I do not think that in this particular the book falls short of the
design of its author. There was this enormous difference between life
in the Island of Jersey and life in French Canada, that in Jersey,
tradition is heaped upon tradition, custom upon custom, precept upon
precept, until every citizen of the place is bound by innumerable cords
of a code from which he cannot free himself. It is a little island, and
that it is an island is evidence of a contracted life, though, in this
case, a life which has real power and force. The life in French Canada
was also traditional, and custom was also somewhat tyrannous, but it
was part of a great continent in which the expansion of the man and of
a people was inevitable. Tradition gets somewhat battered in a new land,
and even where, as in French Canada, the priest and the Church have such
supervision, and can bring such pressure to bear that every man must
feel its influence; yet there is a happiness, a blitheness, and an
exhilaration even in the most obscure quarter of French Canada which
cannot be observed in the Island of Jersey. In Jersey the custom of five
hundred years ago still reaches out and binds; and so small is the place
that every square foot of it almost--even where the potato sprouts,
and the potato is Jersey’s greatest friend--is identified with some
odd incident, some naive circumstance, some big, vivid, and striking
historical fact. Behind its rugged coasts a little people proudly hold
by their own and to their own, and even a Jersey criminal has more
friends in his own environment than probably any other criminal anywhere
save in Corsica; while friendship is a passion even with the pettiness
by which it is perforated.

Reading this book again now after all these years, I feel convinced that
the book is truly Jersiais, and I am grateful to it for having brought
me out from the tyranny of the field in which I first sought for a
hearing.



NOTE

A list of Jersey words and phrases used herein, with their English or
French equivalents, will be found at the end of the book. The Norman and
patois words are printed as though they were English, some of them being
quite Anglicised in Jersey. For the sake of brevity I have spoken of the
Lieutenant-Bailly throughout as Bailly; and, in truth, he performed all
the duties of Bailly in those days when this chief of the Jurats of the
Island usually lived in England.



PROEM

There is no man living to-day who could tell you how the morning broke
and the sun rose on the first day of January 1800; who walked in the
Mall, who sauntered in the Park with the Prince: none lives who heard
and remembers the gossip of the moment, or can give you the exact
flavour of the speech and accent of the time. Down the long aisle of
years echoes the air but not the tone; the trick of form comes to us but
never the inflection. The lilt of the sensations, the idiosyncrasy of
voice, emotion, and mind of the first hour of our century must now pass
from the printed page to us, imperfectly realised; we may not know
them through actual retrospection. The more distant the scene, the more
uncertain the reflection; and so it must needs be with this tale, which
will take you back to even twenty years before the century began.

Then, as now, England was a great power outside these small islands.
She had her foot firmly planted in Australia, in Asia, and in
America--though, in bitterness, the American colonies had broken free,
and only Canada was left to her in that northern hemisphere. She has
had, in her day, to strike hard blows even for Scotland, Ireland, and
Wales. But among her possessions is one which, from the hour its
charter was granted it by King John, has been loyal, unwavering, and
unpurchasable. Until the beginning of the century the language of this
province was not our language, nor is English its official language
to-day; and with a pretty pride oblivious of contrasts, and a simplicity
unconscious of mirth, its people say: “We are the conquering race; we
conquered England, England did not conquer us.”

A little island lying in the wash of St. Michael’s Basin off the coast
of France, Norman in its foundations and in its racial growth, it has
been as the keeper of the gate to England; though so near to France
is it, that from its shores on a fine day may be seen the spires of
Coutances, from which its spiritual welfare was ruled long after
England lost Normandy. A province of British people, speaking still the
Norman-French that the Conqueror spoke; such is the island of Jersey,
which, with Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, Herm, and Jethou, form what we
call the Channel Isles, and the French call the Iles de la Manche.



CHAPTER I

In all the world there is no coast like the coast of Jersey; so
treacherous, so snarling; serrated with rocks seen and unseen, tortured
by currents maliciously whimsical, encircled by tides that sweep up
from the Antarctic world with the devouring force of a monstrous
serpent projecting itself towards its prey. The captain of these tides,
travelling up through the Atlantic at a thousand miles an hour, enters
the English Channel, and drives on to the Thames. Presently retreating,
it meets another pursuing Antarctic wave, which, thus opposed in its
straightforward course, recoils into St. Michael’s Bay, then plunges, as
it were, upon a terrible foe. They twine and strive in mystic conflict,
and, in rage of equal power, neither vanquished nor conquering, circle,
mad and desperate, round the Channel Isles. Impeded, impounded as they
riot through the flumes of sea, they turn furiously, and smite the
cliffs and rocks and walls of their prison-house. With the frenzied
winds helping them, the island coasts and Norman shores are battered by
their hopeless onset: and in that channel between Alderney and Cap de la
Hague man or ship must well beware, for the Race of Alderney is one of
the death-shoots of the tides. Before they find their way to the main
again, these harridans of nature bring forth a brood of currents which
ceaselessly fret the boundaries of the isles.

Always, always the white foam beats the rocks, and always must man go
warily along these coasts. The swimmer plunges into a quiet pool, the
snowy froth that masks the reefs seeming only the pretty fringe of
sentient life to a sleeping sea; but presently an invisible hand reaches
up and grasps him, an unseen power drags him exultingly out to the
main--and he returns no more. Many a Jersey boatman, many a fisherman
who has lived his whole life in sight of the Paternosters on the north,
the Ecrehos on the east, the Dog’s Nest on the south, or the Corbiere
on the west, has in some helpless moment been caught by the unsleeping
currents which harry his peaceful borders, or the rocks that have eluded
the hunters of the sea, and has yielded up his life within sight of his
own doorway, an involuntary sacrifice to the navigator’s knowledge and
to the calm perfection of an admiralty chart.

Yet within the circle of danger bounding this green isle the love of
home and country is stubbornly, almost pathetically, strong. Isolation,
pride of lineage, independence of government, antiquity of law and
custom, and jealousy of imperial influence or action have combined to
make a race self-reliant even to perverseness, proud and maybe vain,
sincere almost to commonplaceness, unimaginative and reserved, with
the melancholy born of monotony--for the life of the little country has
coiled in upon itself, and the people have drooped to see but just their
own selves reflected in all the dwellers of the land, whichever way they
turn. A hundred years ago, however, there was a greater and more general
lightness of heart and vivacity of spirit than now. Then the song of the
harvester and the fisherman, the boat-builder and the stocking-knitter,
was heard on a summer afternoon, or from the veille of a winter night
when the dim crasset hung from the roof and the seaweed burned in the
chimney. Then the gathering of the vraic was a fete, and the lads
and lasses footed it on the green or on the hard sand, to the chance
flageolets of sportive seamen home from the war. This simple gaiety was
heartiest at Christmastide, when the yearly reunion of families took
place; and because nearly everybody in Jersey was “couzain” to his
neighbour these gatherings were as patriarchal as they were festive.

       ..........................

The new year of seventeen hundred and eighty-one had been ushered in
by the last impulse of such festivities. The English cruisers lately in
port had vanished up the Channel; and at Elizabeth Castle, Mont Orgueil,
the Blue Barracks and the Hospital, three British regiments had taken
up the dull round of duty again; so that by the fourth day a general
lethargy, akin to content, had settled on the whole island.

On the morning of the fifth day a little snow was lying upon the ground,
but the sun rose strong and unclouded, the whiteness vanished, and
there remained only a pleasant dampness which made sod and sand firm
yet springy to the foot. As the day wore on, the air became more amiable
still, and a delicate haze settled over the water and over the land,
making softer to the eye house and hill and rock and sea.

There was little life in the town of St. Heliers, there were few people
upon the beach; though now and then some one who had been praying beside
a grave in the parish churchyard came to the railings and looked out
upon the calm sea almost washing its foundations, and over the dark
range of rocks, which, when the tide was out, showed like a vast
gridiron blackened by fires. Near by, some loitering sailors watched
the yawl-rigged fishing craft from Holland, and the codfish-smelling
cul-de-poule schooners of the great fishing company which exploited the
far-off fields of Gaspe in Canada.

St. Heliers lay in St. Aubin’s Bay, which, shaped like a horseshoe, had
Noirmont Point for one end of the segment and the lofty Town Hill for
another. At the foot of this hill, hugging it close, straggled the town.
From the bare green promontory above might be seen two-thirds of the
south coast of the island--to the right St. Aubin’s Bay, to the left
Greve d’Azette, with its fields of volcanic-looking rocks, and St.
Clement’s Bay beyond. Than this no better place for a watchtower could
be found; a perfect spot for the reflective idler and for the sailorman
who, on land, must still be within smell and sound of the sea, and loves
that place best which gives him widest prospect.

This day a solitary figure was pacing backwards and forwards upon the
cliff edge, stopping now to turn a telescope upon the water and now
upon the town. It was a lad of not more than sixteen years, erect,
well-poised, having an air of self-reliance, even of command. Yet it
was a boyish figure too, and the face was very young, save for the eyes;
these were frank but still sophisticated.

The first time he looked towards the town he laughed outright, freely,
spontaneously; threw his head back with merriment, and then glued his
eye to the glass again. What he had seen was a girl of about five years
of age with a man, in La Rue d’Egypte, near the old prison, even then
called the Vier Prison. Stooping, the man had kissed the child, and
she, indignant, snatching the cap from his head, had thrown it into the
stream running through the street. Small wonder that the lad on the hill
grinned, for the man who ran to rescue his hat from the stream was
none other than the Bailly of the island, next in importance to the
Lieutenant-Governor.

The lad could almost see the face of the child, its humorous anger, its
wilful triumph, and also the enraged look of the Bailly as he raked
the stream with his long stick, tied with a sort of tassel of office.
Presently he saw the child turn at the call of a woman in the Place du
Vier Prison, who appeared to apologise to the Bailly, busy now drying
his recovered hat by whipping it through the air. The lad on the hill
recognised the woman as the child’s mother.

This little episode over, he turned once more towards the sea, watching
the sun of late afternoon fall upon the towers of Elizabeth Castle and
the great rock out of which St. Helier the hermit once chiselled his
lofty home. He breathed deep and strong, and the carriage of his body
was light, for he had a healthy enjoyment of all physical sensations and
all the obvious drolleries of life. A broad sort of humour was written
upon every feature; in the full, quizzical eye, in the width of
cheek-bone, in the broad mouth, and in the depth of the laugh, which,
however, often ended in a sort of chuckle not entirely pleasant. It
suggested a selfish enjoyment of the odd or the melodramatic side of
other people’s difficulties.

At last the youth encased his telescope, and turned to descend the hill
to the town. As he did so, a bell began to ring. From where he was he
could look down into the Vier Marchi, or market-place, where stood
the Cohue Royale and house of legislature. In the belfry of this
court-house, the bell was ringing to call the Jurats together for a
meeting of the States. A monstrous tin pan would have yielded as much
assonance. Walking down towards the Vier Marchi the lad gleefully
recalled the humour of a wag who, some days before, had imitated the
sound of the bell with the words:

“Chicane--chicane! Chicane--chicane!”

The native had, as he thought, suffered somewhat at the hands of the
twelve Jurats of the Royal Court, whom his vote had helped to elect, and
this was his revenge--so successful that, for generations, when the bell
called the States or the Royal Court together, it said in the ears of
the Jersey people--thus insistent is apt metaphor:

“Chicane--chicane! Chicane--chicane!”

As the lad came down to the town, trades-people whom he met touched
their hats to him, and sailors and soldiers saluted respectfully. In
this regard the Bailly himself could not have fared better. It was not
due to the fact that the youth came of an old Jersey family, nor by
reason that he was genial and handsome, but because he was a midshipman
of the King’s navy home on leave; and these were the days when England’s
sailors were more popular than her soldiers.

He came out of the Vier Marchi into La Grande Rue, along the stream
called the Fauxbie flowing through it, till he passed under the archway
of the Vier Prison, making towards the place where the child had
snatched the hat from the head of the Bailly.

Presently the door of a cottage opened, and the child came out, followed
by her mother.

The young gentleman touched his cap politely, for though the woman was
not fashionably dressed, she was distinguished in appearance, with an
air of remoteness which gave her a kind of agreeable mystery.

“Madame Landresse--” said the young gentleman with deference.

“Monsieur d’Avranche--” responded the lady softly, pausing.

“Did the Bailly make a stir? I saw the affair from the hill, through my
telescope,” said young d’Avranche, smiling.

“My little daughter must have better manners,” responded the lady,
looking down at her child reprovingly yet lovingly.

“Or the Bailly must--eh, Madame?” replied d’Avranche, and, stooping, he
offered his hand to the child. Glancing up inquiringly at her mother,
she took it. He held hers in a clasp of good nature. The child was so
demure, one could scarcely think her capable of tossing the Bailly’s hat
into the stream; yet looking closely, there might be seen in her eyes a
slumberous sort of fire, a touch of mystery. They were neither blue nor
grey, but a mingling of both, growing to the most tender, greyish sort
of violet. Down through generations of Huguenot refugees had passed
sorrow and fighting and piety and love and occasional joy, until in
the eyes of this child they all met, delicately vague, and with the
wistfulness of the early morning of life.

“What is your name, little lady?” asked d’Avranche of the child.

“Guida, sir,” she answered simply.

“Mine is Philip. Won’t you call me Philip?”

She flashed a look at her mother, regarded him again, and then answered:

“Yes, Philip--sir.”

D’Avranche wanted to laugh, but the face of the child was sensitive and
serious, and he only smiled. “Say ‘Yes, Philip’, won’t you?” he asked.

“Yes, Philip,” came the reply obediently.

After a moment of speech with Madame Landresse, Philip stooped to say
good-bye to the child. “Good-bye, Guida.”

A queer, mischievous little smile flitted over her face--a second, and
it was gone.

“Good-bye, sir--Philip,” she said, and they parted. Her last words
kept ringing in his ears as he made his way homeward. “Good-bye,
sir--Philip”--the child’s arrangement of words was odd and amusing, and
at the same time suggested something more. “Good-bye, Sir Philip,” had a
different meaning, though the words were the same.

“Sir Philip--eh?” he said to himself, with a jerk of the head--“I’ll be
more than that some day.”



CHAPTER II

The night came down with leisurely gloom. A dim starlight pervaded
rather than shone in the sky; Nature seemed somnolent and gravely
meditative. It brooded as broods a man who is seeking his way through
a labyrinth of ideas to a conclusion still evading him. This sense of
cogitation enveloped land and sea, and was as tangible to feeling as
human presence.

At last the night seemed to wake from reverie. A movement, a thrill, ran
through the spangled vault of dusk and sleep, and seemed to pass over
the world, rousing the sea and the earth. There was no wind, apparently
no breath of air, yet the leaves of the trees moved, the weather-vanes
turned slightly, the animals in the byres roused themselves, and
slumbering folk opening their eyes, turned over in their beds, and
dropped into a troubled doze again.

Presently there came a long moaning sound from the tide, not loud but
rather mysterious and distant--a plaint, a threatening, a warning, a
prelude?

A dull labourer, returning from late toil, felt it, and raised his head
in a perturbed way, as though some one had brought him news of a far-off
disaster. A midwife, hurrying to a lowly birth-chamber, shivered and
gathered her mantle more closely about her. She looked up at the sky,
she looked out over the sea, then she bent her head and said to herself
that this would not be a good night, that ill-luck was in the air. “The
mother or the child will die,” she said to herself. A ‘longshoreman,
reeling home from deep potations, was conscious of it, and, turning
round to the sea, snarled at it and said yah! in swaggering defiance.
A young lad, wandering along the deserted street, heard it, began
to tremble, and sat down on a block of stone beside the doorway of a
baker’s shop. He dropped his head on his arms and his chin on his knees,
shutting out the sound and sobbing quietly.

Yesterday his mother had been buried; to-night his father’s door had
been closed in his face. He scarcely knew whether his being locked out
was an accident or whether it was intended. He thought of the time when
his father had ill-treated his mother and himself. That, however, had
stopped at last, for the woman had threatened the Royal Court, and
the man, having no wish to face its summary convictions, thereafter
conducted himself towards them both with a morose indifference.

The boy was called Ranulph, a name which had passed to him through
several generations of Jersey forebears--Ranulph Delagarde. He was being
taught the trade of ship-building in St. Aubin’s Bay. He was not beyond
fourteen years of age, though he looked more, so tall and straight and
self-possessed was he.

His tears having ceased soon, he began to think of what he was to do
in the future. He would never go back to his father’s house, or be
dependent on him for aught. Many plans came to his mind. He would learn
his trade of ship-building, he would become a master-builder, then a
shipowner, with fishing-vessels like the great company sending fleets to
Gaspe.

At the moment when these ambitious plans had reached the highest point
of imagination, the upper half of the door beside him opened suddenly,
and he heard men’s voices. He was about to rise and disappear, but the
words of the men arrested him, and he cowered down beside the stone. One
of the men was leaning on the half-door, speaking in French.

“I tell you it can’t go wrong. The pilot knows every crack in the coast.
I left Granville at three; Rulle cour left Chaussey at nine. If he lands
safe, and the English troops ain’t roused, he’ll take the town and hold
the island easy enough.”

“But the pilot, is he certain safe?” asked another voice. Ranulph
recognised it as that of the baker Carcaud, who owned the shop. “Olivier
Delagarde isn’t so sure of him.”

Olivier Delagarde! The lad started. That was his father’s name. He
shrank as from a blow--his father was betraying Jersey to the French!

“Of course, the pilot, he’s all right,” the Frenchman answered the
baker. “He was to have been hung here for murder. He got away, and
now he’s having his turn by fetching Rullecour’s wolves to eat up your
green-bellies. By to-morrow at seven Jersey ‘ll belong to King Louis.”

“I’ve done my promise,” rejoined Carcaud the baker; “I’ve been to three
of the guard-houses on St. Clement’s and Grouville. In two the men are
drunk as donkeys; in another they sleep like squids. Rullecour he can
march straight to the town and seize it--if he land safe. But will he
stand by ‘s word to we? You know the saying: ‘Cadet Roussel has
two sons; one’s a thief, t’other’s a rogue.’ There’s two
Rullecours--Rullecour before the catch and Rullecour after!”

“He’ll be honest to us, man, or he’ll be dead inside a week, that’s
all.”

“I’m to be Connetable of St. Heliers, and you’re to be
harbour-master--eh?”

“Naught else: you don’t catch flies with vinegar. Give us your
hand--why, man, it’s doggish cold.”

“Cold hand, healthy heart. How many men will Rullecour bring?”

“Two thousand; mostly conscripts and devil’s beauties from Granville and
St. Malo gaols.”

“Any signals yet?”

“Two--from Chaussey at five o’clock. Rullecour ‘ll try to land at Gorey.
Come, let’s be off. Delagarde’s there now.”

The boy stiffened with horror--his father was a traitor! The thought
pierced his brain like a hot iron. He must prevent this crime, and warn
the Governor. He prepared to steal away. Fortunately the back of the
man’s head was towards him.

Carcaud laughed a low, malicious laugh as he replied to the Frenchman.

“Trust the quiet Delagarde! There’s nothing worse nor still waters.
He’ll do his trick, and he’ll have his share if the rest suck their
thumbs. He doesn’t wait for roasted larks to drop into his mouth--what’s
that!” It was Ranulph stealing away.

In an instant the two men were on him, and a hand was clapped to his
mouth. In another minute he was bound, thrown onto the stone floor of
the bakehouse, his head striking, and he lost consciousness.

When he came to himself, there was absolute silence round him-deathly,
oppressive silence. At first he was dazed, but at length all that had
happened came back to him.

Where was he now? His feet were free; he began to move them about. He
remembered that he had been flung on the stone floor of the bakeroom.
This place sounded hollow underneath--it certainly was not the bakeroom.
He rolled over and over. Presently he touched a wall--it was stone. He
drew himself up to a sitting posture, but his head struck a curved
stone ceiling. Then he swung round and moved his foot along the wall--it
touched iron. He felt farther with his foot-something clicked. Now he
understood; he was in the oven of the bakehouse, with his hands bound.
He began to think of means of escape. The iron door had no inside latch.
There was a small damper covering a barred hole, through which perhaps
he might be able to get a hand, if only it were free. He turned round so
that his fingers might feel the grated opening. The edge of the little
bars was sharp. He placed the strap binding his wrists against these
sharp edges, and drew his arms up and down, a difficult and painful
business. The iron cut his hands and wrists at first, so awkward was the
movement. But, steeling himself, he kept on steadily.

At last the straps fell apart, and his hands were free. With difficulty
he thrust one through the bars. His fingers could just lift the latch.
Now the door creaked on its hinges, and in a moment he was out on the
stone flags of the bakeroom. Hurrying through an unlocked passage
into the shop, he felt his way to the street door, but it was securely
fastened. The windows? He tried them both, one on either side, but while
he could free the stout wooden shutters on the inside, a heavy iron bar
secured them without, and it was impossible to open them.

Feverish with anxiety, he sat down on the low counter, with his
hands between his knees, and tried to think what to do. In the numb
hopelessness of the moment he became very quiet. His mind was confused,
but his senses were alert; he was in a kind of dream, yet he was acutely
conscious of the smell of new-made bread. It pervaded the air of the
place; it somehow crept into his brain and his being, so that, as long
as he might live, the smell of new-made bread would fetch back upon him
the nervous shiver and numbness of this hour of danger.

As he waited, he heard a noise outside, a clac-clac! clac-clac! which
seemed to be echoed back from the wood and stone of the houses in the
street, and then to be lifted up and carried away over the roofs and
out to sea---clac-clac! clac-clac! It was not the tap of a blind man’s
staff--at first he thought it might be; it was not a donkey’s foot on
the cobbles; it was not the broom-sticks of the witches of St. Clement’s
Bay, for the rattle was below in the street, and the broom-stick rattle
is heard only on the roofs as the witches fly across country from
Rocbert to Bonne Nuit Bay.

This clac-clac came from the sabots of some nightfarer. Should he make a
noise and attract the attention of the passer-by? No, that would not
do. It might be some one who would wish to know whys and wherefores. He
must, of course, do his duty to his country, but he must save his
father too. Bad as the man was, he must save him, though, no matter what
happened, he must give the alarm. His reflections tortured him. Why had
he not stopped the nightfarer?

Even as these thoughts passed through the lad’s mind, the clac-clac had
faded away into the murmur of the stream flowing by the Rue d’Egypte
to the sea, and almost beneath his feet. There flashed on him at that
instant what little Guida Landresse had said a few days before as she
lay down beside this very stream, and watched the water wimpling by.
Trailing her fingers through it dreamily, the child had said to him:

“Ro, won’t it never come back?” She always called him “Ro,” because when
beginning to talk she could not say Ranulph.

Ro, won’t it never come back? But while yet he recalled the words,
another sound mingled again with the stream-clac-clac! clac-clac!
Suddenly it came to him who was the wearer of the sabots making this
peculiar clatter in the night. It was Dormy Jamais, the man who never
slept. For two years the clac-clac of Dormy Jamais’s sabots had not been
heard in the streets of St. Heliers--he had been wandering in France,
a daft pilgrim. Ranulph remembered how these sabots used to pass and
repass the doorway of his own home. It was said that while Dormy Jamais
paced the streets there was no need of guard or watchman. Many a time
had Ranulph shared his supper with the poor beganne whose origin no one
knew, whose real name had long since dropped into oblivion.

The rattle of the sabots came nearer, the footsteps were now in front
of the window. Even as Ranulph was about to knock and call the poor
vagrant’s name, the clac-clac stopped, and then there came a sniffing
at the shutters as a dog sniffs at the door of a larder. Following the
sniffing came a guttural noise of emptiness and desire. Now there was
no mistake; it was the half-witted fellow beyond all doubt, and he
could help him--Dormy Jamais should help him: he should go and warn the
Governor and the soldiers at the Hospital, while he himself would speed
to Gorey in search of his father. He would alarm the regiment there at
the same time.

He knocked and shouted. Dormy Jamais, frightened, jumped back into
the street. Ranulph called again, and yet again, and now at last Dormy
recognised the voice.

With a growl of mingled reassurance and hunger, he lifted down the iron
bar from the shutters. In a moment Ranulph was outside with two loaves
of bread, which he put into Dormy Jamais’s arms. The daft one whinnied
with delight.

“What’s o’clock, bread-man?” he asked with a chuckle.

Ranulph gripped his shoulders. “See, Dormy Jamais, I want you to go
to the Governor’s house at La Motte, and tell them that the French are
coming, that they’re landing at Gorey now. Then to the Hospital and tell
the sentry there. Go, Dormy--allez kedainne!”

Dormy Jamais tore at a loaf with his teeth, and crammed a huge crust
into his mouth.

“Come, tell me, will you go, Dormy?” the lad asked impatiently.

Dormy Jamais nodded his head, grunted, and, turning on his heel with
Ranulph, clattered up the street. The lad sprang ahead of him, and ran
swiftly up the Rue d’Egypte, into the Vier Marchi, and on over the Town
Hill along the road to Grouville.



CHAPTER III

Since the days of Henry III of England the hawk of war that broods in
France has hovered along that narrow strip of sea dividing the island
of Jersey from the duchy of Normandy. Eight times has it descended,
and eight times has it hurried back with broken pinion. Among these
truculent invasions two stand out boldly: the spirited and gallant
attack by Bertrand du Guesclin, Constable of France; and the freebooting
adventure of Rullecour, with his motley following of gentlemen and
criminals. Rullecour it was, soldier of fortune, gambler, ruffian, and
embezzler, to whom the King of France had secretly given the mission to
conquer the unconquerable little island.

From the Chaussey Isles the filibuster saw the signal light which the
traitor Olivier Delagarde had set upon the heights of Le Couperon,
where, ages ago, Caesar built fires to summon from Gaul his devouring
legions.

All was propitious for the attack. There was no moon--only a meagre
starlight when they set forth from Chaussey. The journey was made in
little more than an hour, and Rullecour himself was among the first
to see the shores of Jersey loom darkly in front. Beside him stood the
murderous pilot who was leading in the expedition, the colleague of
Olivier Delagarde.

Presently the pilot gave an exclamation of surprise and anxiety--the
tides and currents were bearing them away from the intended
landing-place. It was now almost low water, and instead of an immediate
shore, there lay before them a vast field of scarred rocks, dimly seen.
He gave the signal to lay-to, and himself took the bearings. The tide
was going out rapidly, disclosing reefs on either hand. He drew in
carefully to the right of the rock known as L’Echiquelez, up through
a passage scarce wide enough for canoes, and to Roque Platte, the
south-eastern projection of the island.

You may range the seas from the Yugon Strait to the Erebus volcano, and
you will find no such landing-place for imps or men as that field of
rocks on the southeast corner of Jersey called, with a malicious irony,
the Bane des Violets. The great rocks La Coniere, La Longy, Le Gros
Etac, Le Teton, and the Petite Sambiere, rise up like volcanic monuments
from a floor of lava and trailing vraic, which at half-tide makes the
sea a tender mauve and violet. The passages of safety between these
ranges of reef are but narrow at high tide; at half-tide, when the
currents are changing most, the violet field becomes the floor of a vast
mortuary chapel for unknowing mariners.

A battery of four guns defended the post on the landward side of this
bank of the heavenly name. Its guards were asleep or in their cups. They
yielded, without resistance, to the foremost of the invaders. But here
Rullecour and his pilot, looking back upon the way they had come,
saw the currents driving the transport boats hither and thither in
confusion. Jersey was not to be conquered without opposition--no army
of defence was abroad, but the elements roused themselves and furiously
attacked the fleet. Battalions unable to land drifted back with the
tides to Granville, whence they had come. Boats containing the heavy
ammunition and a regiment of conscripts were battered upon the rocks,
and hundreds of the invaders found an unquiet grave upon the Banc des
Violets.

Presently the traitor Delagarde arrived and was welcomed warmly by
Rullecour. The night wore on, and at last the remaining legions were
landed. A force was left behind to guard La Roque Platte, and then the
journey across country to the sleeping town began.

With silent, drowsing batteries in front and on either side of them,
the French troops advanced, the marshes of Samares and the sea on their
left, churches and manor houses on their right, all silent. Not yet had
a blow been struck for the honour of this land and of the Kingdom.

But a blind injustice was, in its own way, doing the work of justice.
On the march, Delagarde, suspecting treachery to himself, not without
reason, required of Rullecour guarantee for the fulfilment of his
pledge to make him Vicomte of the Island when victory should be theirs.
Rullecour, however, had also promised the post to a reckless young
officer, the Comte de Tournay, of the House of Vaufontaine, who,
under the assumed name of Yves Savary dit Detricand, marched with him.
Rullecour answered Delagarde churlishly, and would say nothing till the
town was taken--the ecrivain must wait. But Delagarde had been drinking,
he was in a mood to be reckless; he would not wait, he demanded an
immediate pledge.

“By and by, my doubting Thomas,” said Rullecour. “No, now, by the blood
of Peter!” answered Delagarde, laying a hand upon his sword.

The French leader called a sergeant to arrest him. Delagarde instantly
drew his sword and attacked Rullecour, but was cut down from behind
by the scimitar of a swaggering Turk, who had joined the expedition as
aide-de-camp to the filibustering general, tempted thereto by promises
of a harem of the choicest Jersey ladies, well worthy of this cousin of
the Emperor of Morocco.

The invaders left Delagarde lying where he fell. What followed this
oblique retribution could satisfy no ordinary logic, nor did it meet the
demands of poetic justice. For, as a company of soldiers from Grouville,
alarmed out of sleep by a distracted youth, hurried towards St. Heliers,
they found Delagarde lying by the roadside, and they misunderstood what
had happened. Stooping over him an officer said pityingly:

“See--he got this wound fighting the French!” With the soldiers was the
youth who had warned them. He ran forward with a cry, and knelt beside
the wounded man. He had no tears, he had no sorrow. He was only sick and
dumb, and he trembled with misery as he lifted up his father’s head. The
eyes of Olivier Delagarde opened.

“Ranulph--they’ve killed--me,” gasped the stricken man feebly, and his
head fell back.

An officer touched the youth’s arm. “He is gone,” said he. “Don’t fret,
lad, he died fighting for his country.”

The lad made no reply, and the soldiers hurried on towards the town.

He died fighting for his country! So that was to be the legend, Ranulph
meditated: his father was to have a glorious memory, while he himself
knew how vile the man was. One thing however: he was glad that Olivier
Delagarde was dead. How strangely had things happened! He had come to
stay a traitor in his crime, and here he found a martyr. But was not he
himself likewise a traitor? Ought not he to have alarmed the town
first before he tried to find his father? Had Dormy Jamais warned
the Governor? Clearly not, or the town bells would be ringing and the
islanders giving battle. What would the world think of him!

Well, what was the use of fretting here? He would go on to the town,
help to fight the French, and die that would be the best thing. He
knelt, and unclasped his father’s fingers from the handle of the sword.
The steel was cold, it made him shiver. He had no farewell to make. He
looked out to sea. The tide would come and carry his father’s body out,
perhaps-far out, and sink it in the deepest depths. If not that, then
the people would bury Olivier Delagarde as a patriot. He determined that
he himself would not live to see such mockery.

As he sped along towards the town he asked himself why nobody suspected
the traitor. One reason for it occurred to him: his father, as the whole
island knew, had a fishing-hut at Gorey. They would imagine him on the
way to it when he met the French, for he often spent the night there.
He himself had told his tale to the soldiers: how he had heard the baker
and the Frenchman talking at the shop in the Rue d’Egypte. Yes, but
suppose the French were driven out, and the baker taken prisoner and
should reveal his father’s complicity! And suppose people asked why he
himself did not go at once to the Hospital Barracks in the town and to
the Governor, and afterwards to Gorey?

These were direful imaginings. He felt that it was no use; that the lie
could not go on concerning his father. The world would know; the one
thing left for him was to die. He was only a boy, but he could fight.
Had not young Philip d’Avranche; the midshipman, been in deadly action
many times? He was nearly as old as Philip d’Avranche--yes, he would
fight, and, fighting, he would die. To live as the son of such a father
was too pitiless a shame.

He ran forward, but a weakness was on him; he was very hungry and
thirsty-and the sword was heavy. Presently, as he went, he saw a stone
well near a cottage by the roadside. On a ledge of the well stood a
bucket of water. He tilted the bucket and drank. He would have liked to
ask for bread at the cottage-door, but he said to himself, Why should he
eat, for was he not going to die? Yet why should he not eat, even if he
were going to die? He turned his head wistfully, he was so faint with
hunger. The force driving him on, however, was greater than hunger--he
ran harder.... But undoubtedly the sword was heavy!



CHAPTER IV

In the Vier Marchi the French flag was flying, French troops occupied
it, French sentries guarded the five streets entering into it.
Rullecour, the French adventurer, held the Lieutenant-Governor of the
isle captive in the Cohue Royale; and by threats of fire and pillage
thought to force capitulation. For his final argument he took the
Governor to the doorway, and showed him two hundred soldiers with
lighted torches ready to fire the town.

When the French soldiers first entered the Vier Marchi there was Dormy
Jamais on the roof of the Cohue Royale, calmly munching his bread. When
he saw Rullecour and the Governor appear, he chuckled to himself, and
said, in Jersey patois: “I vaut mux alouonyi l’bras que l’co,” which
is to say: It is better to stretch the arm than the neck. The Governor
would have done more wisely, he thought, to believe the poor beganne,
and to have risen earlier. Dormy Jamais had a poor opinion of a governor
who slept. He himself was not a governor, yet was he not always awake?
He had gone before dawn to the Governor’s house, had knocked, had given
Ranulph Delagarde’s message, had been called a dirty buzard, and been
sent away by the crusty, incredulous servant. Then he had gone to the
Hospital Barracks, was there iniquitously called a lousy toad, and had
been driven off with his quartern loaf, muttering through the dough the
island proverb “While the mariner swigs the tide rises.”

Had the Governor remained as cool as the poor vagrant, he would not have
shrunk at the sight of the incendiaries, yielded to threats, and signed
the capitulation of the island. But that capitulation being signed, and
notice of it sent to the British troops, with orders to surrender and
bring their arms to the Cohue Royale, it was not cordially received by
the officers in command.

“Je ne comprends pas le francais,” said Captain Mulcaster, at Elizabeth
Castle, as he put the letter into his pocket unread.

“The English Governor will be hanged, and the French will burn the
town,” responded the envoy. “Let them begin to hang and burn and be
damned, for I’ll not surrender the castle or the British flag so long as
I’ve a man to defend it, to please anybody!” answered Mulcaster.

“We shall return in numbers,” said the Frenchman, threateningly.

“I shall be delighted: we shall have the more to kill,” Mulcaster
replied.

Then the captive Lieutenant-Governor was sent to Major Peirson at the
head of his troops on the Mont es Pendus, with counsel to surrender.

“Sir,” said he, “this has been a very sudden surprise, for I was made
prisoner before I was out of my bed this morning.”

“Sir,” replied Peirson, the young hero of twenty-four, who achieved
death and glory between a sunrise and a noontide, “give me leave to tell
you that the 78th Regiment has not yet been the least surprised.”

From Elizabeth Castle came defiance and cannonade, driving back
Rullecour and his filibusters to the Cohue Royale: from Mont Orgueil,
from the Hospital, from St. Peter’s came the English regiments; from the
other parishes swarmed the militia, all eager to recover their beloved
Vier Marchi. Two companies of light infantry, leaving the Mont es
Pendus, stole round the town and placed themselves behind the invaders
on the Town Hill; the rest marched direct upon the enemy. Part went by
the Grande Rue, and part by the Rue d’Driere, converging to the point of
attack; and as the light infantry came down from the hill by the Rue des
Tres Pigeons, Peirson entered the Vier Marchi by the Route es Couochons.
On one side of the square, where the Cohue Royale made a wall to fight
against, were the French. Radiating from this were five streets and
passages like the spokes of a wheel, and from these now poured the
defenders of the isle.

A volley came from the Cohue Royale, then another, and another. The
place was small: friend and foe were crowded upon each other. The
fighting became at once a hand-to-hand encounter. Cannon were useless,
gun-carriages overturned. Here a drummer fell wounded, but continued
beating his drum to the last; there a Glasgow soldier struggled with
a French officer for the flag of the invaders; yonder a handful of
Malouins doggedly held the foot of La Pyramide, until every one was cut
down by overpowering numbers of British and Jersiais. The British
leader was conspicuous upon his horse. Shot after shot was fired at
him. Suddenly he gave a cry, reeled in his saddle, and sank, mortally
wounded, into the arms of a brother officer.

For a moment his men fell back.

In the midst of the deadly turmoil a youth ran forward from a group
of combatants, caught the bridle of the horse from which Peirson
had fallen, mounted, and, brandishing a short sword, called upon his
dismayed and wavering followers to advance; which they instantly did
with fury and courage. It was Midshipman Philip d’Avranche. Twenty
muskets were discharged at him. One bullet cut the coat on his shoulder,
another grazed the back of his hand, a third scarred the pommel of the
saddle, and still another wounded his horse. Again and again the English
called upon him to dismount, for he was made a target, but he refused,
until at last the horse was shot under him. Then once more he joined in
the hand-to-hand encounter.

Windows near the ground, such as were not shattered, were broken by
bullets. Cannon-balls embedded themselves in the masonry and the heavy
doorways. The upper windows were safe, however: the shots did not range
so high. At one of these, over a watchmaker’s shop, a little girl was to
be seen, looking down with eager interest. Presently an old man came in
view and led her away. A few minutes of fierce struggle passed, and then
at another window on the floor below the child appeared again. She saw a
youth with a sword hurrying towards the Cohue Royale from a tangled mass
of combatants. As he ran, a British soldier fell in front of him. The
youth dropped the sword and grasped the dead man’s musket.

The child clapped her hands on the window.

“It’s Ro--it’s Ro!” she cried, and disappeared again.

“Ro,” with white face, hatless, coatless, pushed on through the melee.
Rullecour, the now disheartened French general, stood on the steps of
the Cohue Royale. With a vulgar cruelty and cowardice he was holding the
Governor by the arm, hoping thereby to protect his own person from the
British fire.

Here was what the lad had been trying for--the sight of this man
Rullecour. There was one small clear space between the English and the
French, where stood a gun-carriage. He ran to it, leaned the musket on
the gun, and, regardless of the shots fired at him, took aim steadily.
A French bullet struck the wooden wheel of the carriage, and a splinter
gashed his cheek. He did not move, but took sight again, and fired.
Rullecour fell, shot through the jaw. A cry of fury and dismay went up
from the French at the loss of their leader, a shout of triumph from the
British.

The Frenchmen had had enough. They broke and ran. Some rushed for
doorways and threw themselves within, many scurried into the Rue des
Tres Pigeons, others madly fought their way into Morier Lane.

At this moment the door of the watchmaker’s shop opened and the little
girl who had been seen at the window ran into the square, calling out:
“Ro! Ro!” It was Guida Landresse.

Among the French flying for refuge was the garish Turk, Rullecour’s
ally. Suddenly the now frightened, crying child got into his path and
tripped him up. Wild with rage he made a stroke at her, but at that
instant his scimitar was struck aside by a youth covered with the smoke
and grime of battle. He caught up the child to his arms, and hurried
with her through the melee to the watchmaker’s doorway. There stood a
terror-stricken woman--Madame Landresse, who had just made her way into
the square. Placing the child, in her arms, Philip d’Avranche staggered
inside the house, faint and bleeding from a wound in the shoulder. The
battle of Jersey was over.

“Ah bah!” said Dormy Jamais from the roof of the Cohue Royale; “now
I’ll toll the bell for that achocre of a Frenchman. Then I’ll finish my
supper.”

Poising a half-loaf of bread on the ledge of the roof, he began to
slowly toll the cracked bell at his hand for Rullecour the filibuster.

The bell clanged out: Chicane-chicane! Chicane-chicane!

Another bell answered from the church by the square, a deep, mournful
note. It was tolling for Peirson and his dead comrades.

Against the statue in the Vier Marchi leaned Ranulph Delagarde. An
officer came up and held out a hand to him. “Your shot ended the
business,” said he. “You’re a brave fellow. What is your name?”

“Ranulph Delagarde, sir.”

“Delagarde--eh? Then well done, Delagardes! They say your father was the
first man killed. We won’t forget that, my lad.”

Sinking down upon the base of the statue, Ranulph did not stir or reply,
and the officer, thinking he was grieving for his father, left him
alone.



ELEVEN YEARS AFTER



CHAPTER V

The King of France was no longer sending adventurers to capture the
outposts of England. He was rather, in despair, beginning to wind in
again the coil of disaster which had spun out through the helpless
fingers of Neckar, Calonne, Brienne and the rest, and was in the end to
bind his own hands for the guillotine.

The Isle of Jersey, like a scout upon the borders of a foeman’s country,
looked out over St. Michael’s Basin to those provinces where the war
of the Vendee was soon to strike France from within, while England, and
presently all Europe, should strike her from without.

War, or the apprehension of war, was in the air. The people of the
little isle, living always within the influence of natural wonder and
the power of the elements, were deeply superstitious; and as news of
dark deeds done in Paris crept across from Carteret or St. Malo, as
men-of-war anchored in the tide-way, and English troops, against the
hour of trouble, came, transport after transport, into the harbour of
St. Heliers, they began to see visions and dream dreams. One peasant
heard the witches singing a chorus of carnage at Rocbert; another saw,
towards the Minquiers, a great army like a mirage upon the sea; others
declared that certain French refugees in the island had the evil eye and
bewitched their cattle; and a woman, wild with grief because her child
had died of a sudden sickness, meeting a little Frenchman, the Chevalier
du Champsavoys, in the Rue des Tres Pigeons, thrust at his face with her
knitting-needle, and then, Protestant though she was, made the sacred
sign, as though to defeat the evil eye.

This superstition and fanaticism so strong in the populace now and then
burst forth in untamable fury and riot. So that when, on the sixteenth
of December 1792, the gay morning was suddenly overcast, and a black
curtain was drawn over the bright sun, the people of Jersey, working in
the fields, vraicking among the rocks, or knitting in their doorways,
stood aghast, and knew not what was upon them.

Some began to say the Lord’s Prayer, some in superstitious terror ran to
the secret hole in the wall, to the chimney, or to the bedstead, or dug
up the earthen floor, to find the stocking full of notes and gold, which
might, perchance, come with them safe through any cataclysm, or start
them again in business in another world. Some began fearfully to sing
hymns, and a few to swear freely. These latter were chiefly carters,
whose salutations to each other were mainly oaths, because of the
extreme narrowness of the island roads, and sailors to whom profanity
was as daily bread.

In St. Heliers, after the first stupefaction, people poured into the
streets. They gathered most where met the Rue d’Driere and the Rue
d’Egypte. Here stood the old prison, and the spot was called the Place
du Vier Prison.

Men and women with breakfast still in their mouths mumbled their terror
to each other. A lobster-woman shrieking that the Day of Judgment was
come, instinctively straightened her cap, smoothed out her dress of
molleton, and put on her sabots. A carpenter, hearing her terrified
exclamations, put on his sabots also, stooped whimpering to the stream
running from the Rue d’Egypte, and began to wash his face. A dozen
of his neighbours did the same. Some of the women, however, went on
knitting hard, as they gabbled prayers and looked at the fast-blackening
sun. Knitting was to Jersey women, like breathing or tale-bearing,
life itself. With their eyes closing upon earth they would have gone on
knitting and dropped no stitches.

A dusk came down like that over Pompeii and Herculaneum. The tragedy of
fear went hand in hand with burlesque commonplace. The grey stone walls
of the houses grew darker and darker, and seemed to close in on the
dumfounded, hysterical crowd. Here some one was shouting command to
imaginary militia; there an aged crone was offering, without price,
simnels and black butter, as a sort of propitiation for an imperfect
past; and from a window a notorious evil-liver was frenziedly crying
that she had heard the devil and his Rocbert witches revelling in the
prison dungeons the night before. Thereupon a long-haired fanatic,
once a barber, with a gift for mad preaching, sprang upon the Pompe des
Brigands, and declaring that the Last Day was come, shrieked:

   “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me! He hath sent me to proclaim
   liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that
   are bound!”

Some one thrust into his hand a torch. He waved it to and fro in his
wild harangue; he threw up his arms towards the ominous gloom, and with
blatant fury ordered open the prison doors. Other torches and candles
appeared, and the mob trembled to and fro in delirium.

“The prison! Open the Vier Prison! Break down the doors!
Gatd’en’ale--drive out the devils! Free the prisoners--the poor
vauriens!” the crowd shouted, rushing forward with sticks and weapons.

The prison arched the street as Temple Bar once spanned the Strand. They
crowded under the archway, overpowered the terror-stricken jailer, and,
battering open the door in frenzy, called the inmates forth.

They looked to see issue some sailor seized for whistling of a Sabbath,
some profane peasant who had presumed to wear pattens in church, some
profaner peasant who had not doffed his hat to the Connetable, or some
slip-shod militiaman who had gone to parade in his sabots, thereby
offending the red-robed dignity of the Royal Court.

Instead, there appeared a little Frenchman of the most refined and
unusual appearance. The blue cloth of his coat set off the extreme
paleness of a small but serene face and high round forehead. The hair, a
beautiful silver grey which time only had powdered, was tied in a queue
behind. The little gentleman’s hand was as thin and fine as a lady’s,
his shoulders were narrow and slightly stooped, his eye was eloquent and
benign. His dress was amazingly neat, but showed constant brushing and
signs of the friendly repairing needle.

The whole impression was that of a man whom a whiff of wind would blow
away; with the body of an ascetic and the simplicity of a child.
The face had some particular sort of wisdom, difficult to define and
impossible to imitate. He held in his hand a tiny cane of the sort
carried at the court of Louis Quinze. Louis Capet himself had given it
to him; and you might have had the life of the little gentleman, but not
this cane with the tiny golden bust of his unhappy monarch.

He stood on the steps of the prison and looked serenely on the
muttering, excited crowd.

“I fear there is a mistake,” said he, coughing a little into his
fingers. “You do not seek me. I--I have no claim upon your kindness; I
am only the Chevalier Orvilliers du Champsavoys de Beaumanoir.”

For a moment the mob had been stayed in amazement by this small, rare
creature stepping from the doorway, like a porcelain coloured figure
from some dusky wood in a painting by Claude. In the instant’s pause the
Chevalier Orvilliers du Champsavoys de Beaumanoir took from his pocket
a timepiece and glanced at it, then looked over the heads of the crowd
towards the hooded sun, which now, a little, was showing its face again.

“It was due at eight, less seven minutes,” said he; “clear sun again was
set for ten minutes past. It is now upon the stroke of the hour.”

He seemed in no way concerned with the swaying crowd before
him--undoubtedly they wanted naught of him, and therefore he did
not take their presence seriously; but, of an inquiring mind, he was
absorbed in the eclipse.

“He’s a French sorcerer! He has the evil eye! Away with him to the sea!”
 shouted the fanatical preacher from the Pompe des Brigands.

“It’s a witch turned into a man!” cried a drunken woman from her window.
“Give him the wheel of fire at the blacksmith’s forge.”

“That’s it! Gad’rabotin--the wheel of fire’ll turn him back to a hag
again!”

The little gentleman protested, but they seized him and dragged him
from the steps. Tossed like a ball, so light was he, he grasped the
gold-headed cane as one might cling to life, and declared that he was
no witch, but a poor French exile, arrested the night before for being
abroad after nine o’clock, against the orders of the Royal Court.

Many of the crowd knew him well enough by sight, but they were too
delirious to act with intelligence now. The dark cloud was lifting a
little from the sun, and dread of the Judgment Day was declining; but
as the pendulum swung back towards normal life again, it carried with it
the one virulent and common prejudice of the country--radical hatred of
the French--which often slumbered but never died.

The wife of an oyster-fisher from Rozel Bay, who lived in hourly enmity
with the oyster-fishers of Carteret, gashed his cheek with the shell of
an ormer. A potato-digger from Grouville parish struck at his head with
a hoe, for the Granvillais had crossed the strait to the island the
year before, to work in the harvest fields for a lesser wage than the
Jersiais, and this little French gentleman must be held responsible for
that. The weapon missed the Chevalier, but laid low a centenier, who,
though a municipal officer, had in the excitement lost his head like his
neighbours. This but increased the rage against the foreigner, and was
another crime to lay to his charge. A smuggler thereupon kicked him in
the side.

At that moment there came a cry of indignation from a girl at an upper
window of the Place. The Chevalier evidently knew her, for even in his
hard case he smiled; and then he heard another voice ring out over the
heads of the crowd, strong, angry, determined.

From the Rue d’Driere a tall athletic man was hurrying. He had on his
shoulders a workman’s hand basket, from which peeped a ship-builder’s
tools. Seeing the Chevalier’s danger, he dropped his tool-basket through
the open window of a house and forced his way through the crowd, roughly
knocking from under them the feet of two or three ruffians who opposed
him. He reproached the crowd, he berated them, he handled them fiercely.
By a dexterous strength he caught the little gentleman up in his arms,
and, driving straight on to the open door of the smithy, placed him
inside, then blocked the passage with his own body.

It was a strange picture: the preacher in an ecstasy haranguing the
foolish rabble, who now realised, with an unbecoming joy, that the Last
Day was yet to face; the gaping, empty prison; the open windows crowded
with excited faces; the church bell from the Vier Marchi ringing an
alarm; Norman lethargy roused to froth and fury: one strong man holding
two hundred back!

Above them all, at a hus in the gable of a thatched cottage, stood the
girl whom the Chevalier had recognised, anxiously watching the affray.
She was leaning across the lower closed half of the door, her hands in
apprehensive excitement clasping her cheeks. The eyes were bewildered,
and, though alive with pain, watched the scene below with unwavering
intensity.

Like all mobs this one had no reason, no sense. They were baulked in
their malign intentions, and this man, Maitre Ranulph Delagarde, was the
cause of it--that was all they knew. A stone was thrown at Delagarde as
he stood in the doorway, but it missed him.

“Oh-oh-oh!” the girl exclaimed, shrinking. “O shame! O you cowards!” she
added, her hands now indignantly beating on the hus. Three or four men
rushed forward on Ranulph. He hurled them back. Others came on with
weapons. The girl fled for an instant, then reappeared with a musket, as
the people were crowding in on Delagarde with threats and execrations.

“Stop! stop!” cried the girl from above, as Ranulph seized a
black-smith’s hammer to meet the onset. “Stop, or I’ll fire!” she called
again, and she aimed her musket at the foremost assailants.

Every face turned in her direction, for her voice had rung out clear
as music. For an instant there was silence--the levelled musket had
a deadly look, and the girl seemed determined. Her fingers, her
whole body, trembled; but there was no mistaking the strong will, the
indignant purpose.

All at once in the pause another sound was heard. It was a quick tramp,
tramp, tramp! and suddenly under the prison archway came running an
officer of the King’s navy with a company of sailors. The officer, with
drawn sword, his men following with cutlasses, drove a way through the
mob, who scattered before them like sheep.

Delagarde threw aside his hammer, and saluted the officer. The little
Chevalier made a formal bow, and hastened to say that he was not at
all hurt. With a droll composure he offered snuff to the officer, who
declined politely. Turning to the window where the girl stood, the
new-comer saluted with confident gallantry.

“Why, it’s little Guida Landresse!” he said under his breath--“I’d know
her anywhere. Death and Beauty, what a face!” Then he turned to Ranulph
in recognition.

“Ranulph Delagarde, eh?” said he good-humouredly. “You’ve forgotten me,
I see. I’m Philip d’Avranche, of the Narcissus.”

Ranulph had forgotten. The slight lad Philip had grown bronzed, and
stouter of frame. In the eleven years since they had been together at
the Battle of Jersey, events, travel, and responsibility had altered him
vastly. Ranulph had changed only in growing very tall and athletic and
strong; the look of him was still that of the Norman lad of the isle,
though the power and intelligence of his face were unusual.

The girl in the cottage doorway had not forgotten at all. The words that
d’Avranche had said to her years before, when she was a child, came to
her mind: “My name is Philip; call me Philip.”

The recollection of that day when she snatched off the Bailly’s hat
brought a smile to her lips now, so quickly were her feelings moved one
way or another. Then she grew suddenly serious, for the memory of the
hour when he saved her from the scimitar of the Turk came to her, and
her heart throbbed hotly. But she smiled again, though more gently and a
little wistfully now.

Philip d’Avranche looked up towards her once more, and returned her
smile. Then he addressed the awed crowd. He did not spare his language;
he unconsciously used an oath or two. He ordered them off to their
homes. When they hesitated (for they were slow to acknowledge any
authority save their own sacred Royal Court) the sailors advanced on
them with drawn cutlasses, and a moment later the Place du Vier Prison
was clear. Leaving a half-dozen sailors on guard till the town corps
should arrive, d’Avranche prepared to march, and turned to Delagarde.

“You’ve done me a good turn, Monsieur d’Avranche,” said Ranulph.

“There was a time you called me Philip,” said d’Avranche, smiling. “We
were lads together.”

“It’s different now,” answered Delagarde.

“Nothing is different at all, of course,” returned d’Avranche
carelessly, yet with the slightest touch of condescension, as he
held out his hand. Turning to the Chevalier, he said: “Monsieur, I
congratulate you on having such a champion”--with a motion towards
Ranulph. “And you, monsieur, on your brave protector”--he again saluted
the girl at the window above.

“I am the obliged and humble servant of monsieur, and monsieur,”
 responded the little gentleman, turning from one to the other with
a courtly bow, the three-cornered hat under his arm, the right foot
forward, the thin fingers making a graceful salutation. “But I--I
think--I really think I must go back to prison. I was not formally set
free. I was out last night beyond the hour set by the Court. I lost my
way, and--”

“Not a bit of it,” d’Avranche interrupted. “The centeniers are too free
with their jailing here. I’ll be guarantee for you, monsieur.” He turned
to go.

The little man shook his head dubiously. “But, as a point of honour, I
really think--”

D’Avranche laughed. “As a point of honour, I think you ought to
breakfast. A la bonne heure, monsieur le chevalier!”

He turned again to the cottage window. The girl was still there. The
darkness over the sun was withdrawn, and now the clear light began to
spread itself abroad. It was like a second dawn after a painful night.
It tinged the face of the girl; it burnished the wonderful red-brown
hair falling loosely and lightly over her forehead; it gave her beauty a
touch of luxuriance. D’Avranche thrilled at the sight of her.

“It’s a beautiful face,” he said to himself as their eyes met and he
saluted once more.

Ranulph had seen the glances passing between the two, and he winced. He
remembered how, eleven years ago, Philip d’Avranche had saved the girl
from death. It galled him that then and now this young gallant should
step in and take the game out of his hands--he was sure that himself
alone could have mastered this crowd.

“Monsieur--monsieur le chevalier!” the girl called down from the window,
“grandpethe says you must breakfast with us. Oh, but come you must,
or we shall be offended!” she added, as Champsavoys shook his head in
hesitation and glanced towards the prison.

“As a point of honour--” the little man still persisted, lightly
touching his breast with the Louis Quinze cane, and taking a step
towards the sombre prison archway. But Ranulph interfered, drew him
gently inside the cottage, and, standing in the doorway, said to some
one within:

“May I come in also, Sieur de Mauprat?”

Above the pleasant welcome of a quavering voice came another, soft and
clear, in pure French:

“Thou art always welcome, without asking, as thou knowest, Ro.”

“Then I’ll go and fetch my tool-basket first,” Ranulph said cheerily,
his heart beating more quickly, and, turning, he walked across the
Place.



CHAPTER VI

The cottage in which Guida lived at the Place du Vier Prison was in
jocund contrast to the dungeon from which the Chevalier Orvilliers
du Champsavoys de Beaumanoir had complacently issued. Even in the hot
summer the prison walls dripped moisture, for the mortar had been made
of wet sea-sand, which never dried, and beneath the gloomy tenement of
crime a dark stream flowed to the sea. But the walls of the cottage were
dry, for, many years before, Guida’s mother had herself seen it built
from cellar-rock to the linked initials over the doorway, stone by
stone, and every corner of it was as free from damp as the mielles
stretching in sandy desolation behind to the Mont es Pendus, where the
law had its way with the necks of criminals.

In early childhood Madame Landresse had come with her father into exile
from the sunniest valley in the hills of Chambery, where flowers and
trees and sunshine had been her life. Here, in the midst of blank and
grim stone houses, her heart travelled back to the chateau where she
lived before the storm of persecution drove her forth; and she spent her
heart and her days in making this cottage, upon the western border of
St. Heliers, a delight to the quiet eye.

The people of the island had been good to her and her dead husband
during the two short years of their married life, and had caused her to
love the land which necessity made her home. Her child was brought up
after the fashion of the better class of Jersey children, wore what
they wore, ate what they ate, lived as they lived. She spoke the country
patois in the daily life, teaching it to Guida at the same time that she
taught her pure French and good English, which she herself had learned
as a child, and cultivated later here. She had done all in her power
to make Guida Jersiaise in instinct and habit, and to beget in her a
contented disposition. There could be no future for her daughter outside
this little green oasis of exile, she thought. Not that she lacked
ambition, but in the circumstances she felt that ambition could yield
but one harvest to her child, which was marriage. She herself had
married a poor man, a master builder of ships, like Maitre Ranulph
Delagarde, but she had been very happy while he lived. Her husband
had come of an ancient Jersey family, who were in Normandy before the
Conqueror was born; a man of genius almost in his craft, but scarcely
a gentleman according to the standard of her father, the distinguished
exile and now retired watchmaker. If Guida should chance to be as
fortunate as herself, she could ask no more.

She had watched the child anxiously, for the impulses of Guida’s
temperament now and then broke forth in indignation as wild as her tears
and in tears as wild as her laughter. As the girl grew in health and
stature, she tried, tenderly, strenuously, to discipline the sensitive
nature, bursting her heart with grief at times because she knew that
these high feelings and delicate powers came through a long line of
ancestral tendencies, as indestructible as perilous and joyous.

Four things were always apparent in the girl’s character: sympathy with
suffering, kindness without partiality, a love of nature, and an intense
candour.

Not a stray cat wandering into the Place du Vier Prison but found an
asylum in the garden behind the cottage. Not a dog hungry for a bone,
stopping at Guida’s door, but was sure of one from a hiding-place in
the hawthorn hedge of the garden. Every morning you might have seen
the birds in fluttering, chirping groups upon the may-tree or the
lilac-bushes, waiting for the tiny snow-storm of bread to fall from
her hand. Was he good or bad, ragged or neat, honest or a thief, not a
deserting sailor or a homeless lad, halting at the cottage, but was fed
from the girl’s private larder behind the straw beehives among the sweet
lavender and the gooseberry-bushes. No matter how rough the vagrant,
the sincerity and pure impulse of the child seemed to throw round him a
sunshine of decency and respect.

The garden behind the house was the girl’s Eden. She had planted upon
the hawthorn hedge the crimson monthly rose, the fuchsia, and the
jonquil, until at last the cottage was hemmed in by a wall of flowers;
and here she was ever as busy as the bees which hung humming on the
sweet scabious.

In this corner was a little hut for rabbits; in that, there was a hole
dug in the bank for a hedgehog; in the middle a little flower-grown
enclosure for cats in various stages of health or convalescence, and a
small pond for frogs; and in the midst of all wandered her faithful dog,
Biribi by name, as master of the ceremonies.

Madame Landresse’s one ambition had been to live long enough to see her
child’s character formed. She knew that her own years were numbered, for
month by month she felt her strength going. And yet a beautiful tenacity
kept her where she would be until Guida was fifteen years of age. Her
great desire had been to live till the girl was eighteen. Then--well,
then might she not perhaps leave her to the care of a husband? At best,
M. de Mauprat could not live long. He had at last been forced to give
up the little watchmaker’s shop in the Vier Marchi, where for so many
years, in simple independence, he had wrought, always putting by, from
work done after hours, Jersey bank-notes and gold, to give Guida a dot,
if not worthy of her, at least a guarantee against reproach when some
great man should come seeking her in marriage. But at last his hands
trembled among the tiny wheels, and his eyes failed. He had his dark
hour by himself, then he sold the shop to a native, who thenceforward
sat in the ancient exile’s place; and the two brown eyes of the stooped,
brown old man looked out no more from the window in the Vier Marchi: and
then they all made their new home in the Place du Vier Prison.

Until she was fifteen Guida’s life was unclouded. Once or twice her
mother tried to tell her of a place that must soon be empty, but her
heart failed her. So at last the end came like a sudden wind out of
the north; and it was left to Guida Landresse de Landresse to fight the
fight and finish the journey of womanhood alone.

This time was the turning-point in Guida’s life. What her mother had
been to the Sieur de Mauprat, she soon became. They had enough to live
on simply. Every week her grandfather gave her a fixed sum for the
household. Upon this she managed, that the tiny income left by her
mother might not be touched. She shrank from using it yet, and besides,
dark times might come when it would be needed. Death had once surprised
her, but it should bring no more amazement. She knew that M. de
Mauprat’s days were numbered, and when he was gone she would be left
without one near relative in the world. She realised how unprotected her
position would be when death came knocking at the door again. What she
would do she knew not. She thought long and hard. Fifty things occurred
to her, and fifty were set aside. Her mother’s immediate relatives
in France were scattered or dead. There was no longer any interest at
Chambery in the watchmaking exile, who had dropped like a cherry-stone
from the beak of the blackbird of persecution upon one of the Iles de la
Manche.

There remained the alternative more than once hinted by the Sieur de
Mauprat as the months grew into years after the mother died--marriage;
a husband, a notable and wealthy husband. That was the magic destiny de
Mauprat figured for her. It did not elate her, it did not disturb her;
she scarcely realised it. She loved animals, and she saw no reason to
despise a stalwart youth. It had been her fortune to know two or three
in the casual, unconventional manner of villages, and there were few in
the land, great or humble, who did not turn twice to look at her as she
passed through the Vier Marchi, so noble was her carriage, so graceful
and buoyant her walk, so lacking in self-consciousness her beauty. More
than one young gentleman of family had been known to ride through the
Place du Vier Prison, hoping to get sight of her, and to offer the view
of a suggestively empty pillion behind him.

She had, however, never listened to flatterers, and only one youth of
Jersey had footing in the cottage. This was Ranulph Delagarde, who had
gone in and out at his will, but that was casually and not too often,
and he was discreet and spoke no word of love. Sometimes she talked to
him of things concerning the daily life with which she did not care to
trouble Sieur de Mauprat. In ways quite unknown to her he had made her
life easier for her. She knew that her mother had thought of Ranulph for
her husband, although she blushed whenever--but it was not often--the
idea came to her. She remembered how her mother had said that Ranulph
would be a great man in the island some day; that he had a mind above
all the youths in St. Heliers; that she would rather see Ranulph
a master ship-builder than a babbling ecrivain in the Rue des Tres
Pigeons, a smirking leech, or a penniless seigneur with neither trade
nor talent. Guida was attracted to Ranulph through his occupation, for
she loved strength, she loved all clean and wholesome trades; that
of the mason, of the carpenter, of the blacksmith, and most of the
ship-builder. Her father, whom she did not remember, had been a
ship-builder, and she knew that he had been a notable man; every one had
told her that.

       .........................

“She has met her destiny,” say the village gossips, when some man in the
dusty procession of life sees a woman’s face in the pleasant shadow of a
home, and drops out of the ranks to enter at her doorway.

Was Ranulph to be Guida’s destiny?

Handsome and stalwart though he looked as he entered the cottage in the
Place du Vier Prison, on that September morning after the rescue of the
chevalier, his tool-basket on his shoulder, and his brown face enlivened
by one simple sentiment, she was far from sure that he was--far from
sure.



CHAPTER VII

The little hall-way into which Ranulph stepped from the street led
through to the kitchen. Guida stood holding back the door for him to
enter this real living-room of the house, which opened directly upon
the garden behind. It was so cheerful and secluded, looking out from
the garden over the wide space beyond to the changeful sea, that
since Madame Landresse’s death the Sieur de Mauprat had made it
reception-room, dining-room, and kitchen all in one. He would willingly
have slept there too, but noblesse oblige and the thought of what the
Chevalier Orvilliers du Champsavoys de Beaumanoir might think prevented
him. Moreover, there was something patriarchal in a kitchen as a
reception-room; and both he and the chevalier loved to watch Guida busy
with her household duties: at one moment her arms in the dough of the
kneading trough; at another picking cherries for a jelly, or casting up
her weekly accounts with a little smiling and a little sighing.

If, by chance, it had been proposed by the sieur to adjourn to the small
sitting-room which looked out upon the Place du Vier Prison, a gloom
would instantly have settled upon them both; though in this little front
room there was an ancient arm-chair, over which hung the sword that
the Comte Guilbert Mauprat de Chambery had used at Fontenoy against the
English.

So it was that this spacious kitchen, with its huge chimney, and paved
with square flagstones and sanded, became like one of those ancient
corners of camaraderie in some exclusive inn where gentlemen of quality
were wont to meet. At the left of the chimney was the great settle, or
veille, covered with baize, “flourished” with satinettes, and spread
with ferns and rushes, and above it a little shelf of old china worth
the ransom of a prince at least. Opposite the doorway were two great
armchairs, one for the sieur and the other for the Chevalier, who made
his home in the house of one Elie Mattingley, a fisherman by trade and
by practice a practical smuggler, with a daughter Carterette whom he
loved passing well.

These, with a few constant visitors, formed a coterie: the huge,
grizzly-bearded boatman, Jean Touzel, who wore spectacles, befriended
smugglers, was approved of all men, and secretly worshipped by his wife;
Amice Ingouville, the fat avocat with a stomach of gigantic proportions,
the biggest heart and the tiniest brain in the world; Maitre Ranulph
Delagarde, and lastly M. Yves Savary dit Detricand, that officer of
Rullecour’s who, being released from the prison hospital, when the hour
came for him to leave the country was too drunk to find the shore. By
some whim of negligence the Royal Court was afterwards too lethargic to
remove him, and he stayed on, vainly making efforts to leave between one
carousal and another. In sober hours, none too frequent, he was rather
sorrowfully welcomed by the sieur and the chevalier.

When Ranulph entered the kitchen his greeting to the sieur and the
chevalier was in French, but to Guida he said, rather stupidly in the
patois--for late events had embarrassed him--“Ah bah! es-tu gentiment?”

“Gentiment,” she answered, with a queer little smile. “You’ll have
breakfast?” she said in English.

“Et ben!” Ranulph repeated, still embarrassed, “a mouthful, that’s all.”

He laid aside his tool-basket, shook hands with the sieur, and seated
himself at the table. Looking at du Champsavoys, he said:

“I’ve just met the connetable. He regrets the riot, chevalier, and says
the Royal Court extends its mercy to you.”

“I prefer to accept no favours,” answered the chevalier. “As a point of
honour, I had thought that, after breakfast, I should return to prison,
and--”

“The connetable said it was cheaper to let the chevalier go free than to
feed him in the Vier Prison,” dryly explained Ranulph, helping himself
to roasted conger eel and eyeing hungrily the freshly-made black butter
Guida was taking from a wooden trencher. “The Royal Court is stingy,”
 he added. “‘It’s nearer than Jean Noe, who got married in his red
queminzolle,’ as we say on Jersey--”

But he got no further at the moment, for shots rang out suddenly before
the house. They all started to their feet, and Ranulph, running to the
front door, threw it open. As he did so a young man, with blood flowing
from a cut on the temple, stepped inside.



CHAPTER VIII

It was M. Savary dit Detricand.

“Whew--what fools there are in the world! Pish, you silly apes!” the
young man said, glancing through the open doorway again to where the
connetable’s men were dragging two vile-looking ruffians into the Vier
Prison.

“What’s happened, monsieur?” said Ranulph, closing the door and bolting
it.

“What was it, monsieur?” asked Guida anxiously, for painful events had
crowded too fast that morning. Detricand was stanching the blood at his
temple with the scarf from his neck.

“Get him some cordial, Guida--he’s wounded!” said de Mauprat.

Detricand waved a hand almost impatiently, and dropped upon the veille,
swinging a leg backwards and forwards.

“It’s nothing, I protest--nothing whatever, and I’ll have no cordial,
not a drop. A drink of water--a mouthful of that, if I must drink.”

Guida caught up a hanap of water from the dresser, and passed it to him.
Her fingers trembled a little. His were steady enough as he took the
hanap and drank off the water at a gulp. Again she filled it and again
he drank. The blood was running in a tiny little stream down his cheek.
She caught her handkerchief from her girdle impulsively, and gently
wiped it away.

“Let me bandage the wound,” she said eagerly. Her eyes were alight with
compassion, certainly not because it was the dissipated French invader,
M. Savary dit Detricand,--no one knew that he was the young Comte
de Tournay of the House of Vaufontaine, but because he was a wounded
fellow-creature. She would have done the same for the poor beganne,
Dormy Jamais, who still prowled the purlieus of St. Heliers.

It was clear, however, that Detricand felt differently. The moment she
touched him he became suddenly still. He permitted her to wash the
blood from his temple and forehead, to stanch it first with brandied
jeru-leaves, then with cobwebs, and afterwards to bind it with her own
kerchief.

Detricand thrilled at the touch of the warm, tremulous fingers. He had
never been quite so near her before. His face was not far from hers. Now
her breath fanned him. As he bent his head for the bandaging, he could
see the soft pulsing of her bosom, and hear the beating of her heart.
Her neck was so full and round and soft, and her voice--surely he had
never heard a voice so sweet and strong, a tone so well poised, so
resonantly pleasant.

When she had finished, he had an impulse to catch the hand as it dropped
away from his forehead, and kiss it; not as he had kissed many a hand,
hotly one hour and coldly the next, but with an unpurchasable kind of
gratitude characteristic of this especial sort of sinner. He was just
young enough, and there was still enough natural health in him, to know
the healing touch of a perfect decency, a pure truth of spirit. Yet
he had been drunk the night before, drunk with three noncommissioned
officers--and he a gentleman, in spite of all, as could be plainly seen.

He turned his head away from the girl quickly, and looked straight into
the eyes of her grandfather.

“I’ll tell you how it was, Sieur de Mauprat,” said he. “I was crossing
the Place du Vier Prison when a rascal threw a cleaver at me from a
window. If it had struck me on the head--well, the Royal Court would
have buried me, and without a slab to my grave like Rullecour. I burst
open the door of the house, ran up the stairs, gripped the ruffian, and
threw him through the window into the street. As I did so a door opened
behind, and another cut-throat came at me with a pistol. He fired--fired
wide. I ran in on him, and before he had time to think he was out of the
window too. Then the other brute below fired up at me. The bullet gashed
my temple, as you see. After that, it was an affair of the connetable
and his men. I had had enough fighting before breakfast. I saw your open
door, and here I am--monsieur, monsieur, monsieur, mademoiselle!” He
bowed to each of them and glanced towards the table hungrily.

Ranulph placed a seat for him. He viewed the conger eel and limpets with
an avid eye, but waited for the chevalier and de Mauprat to sit. He
had no sooner taken a mouthful, however, and thrown a piece of bread to
Biribi the dog, than, starting again to his feet, he said:

“Your pardon, monsieur le chevalier, that brute in the Place has knocked
all sense from my head! I’ve a letter for you, brought from Rouen by one
of the refugees who came yesterday.” He drew from his breast a packet
and handed it over. “I went out to their ship last night.”

The chevalier looked with surprise and satisfaction at the seal on
the letter, and, breaking it, spread open the paper, fumbled for the
eye-glass which he always carried in his waistcoat, and began reading
diligently.

Meanwhile Ranulph turned to Guida. “To-morrow Jean Touzel and his wife
and I go to the Ecrehos Rocks in Jean’s boat,” said he. “A vessel was
driven ashore there three days ago, and my carpenters are at work on
her. If you can go and the wind holds fair, you shall be brought back
safe by sundown--Jean says so too.”

Of all boatmen and fishermen on the coast, Jean Touzel was most to be
trusted. No man had saved so many shipwrecked folk, none risked his life
so often; and he had never had a serious accident. To go to sea with
Jean Touzel, folk said, was safer than living on land. Guida loved the
sea; and she could sail a boat, and knew the tides and currents of the
south coast as well as most fishermen.

M. de Mauprat met her inquiring glance and nodded assent. She then said
gaily to Ranulph: “I shall sail her, shall I not?”

“Every foot of the way,” he answered.

She laughed and clapped her hands. Suddenly the little chevalier broke
in. “By the head of John the Baptist!” said he.

Detricand put down his knife and fork in amazement, and Guida coloured,
for the words sounded almost profane upon the chevalier’s lips.

Du Champsavoys held up his eye-glass, and, turning from one to the
other, looked at each of them imperatively yet abstractedly too. Then,
pursing up his lower lip, and with a growing amazement which carried him
to distant heights of reckless language, he said again:

“By the head of John the Baptist on a charger!” He looked at Detricand
with a fierceness which was merely the tension of his thought. If he had
looked at a wall it would have been the same. But Detricand, who had an
almost whimsical sense of humour, felt his neck in affected concern as
though to be quite sure of it. “Chevalier,” said he, “you shock us--you
shock us, dear chevalier.”

“The most painful things, and the most wonderful too,” said the
chevalier, tapping the letter with his eye-glass; “the most terrible and
yet the most romantic things are here. A drop of cider, if you please,
mademoiselle, before I begin to read it to you, if I may--if I may--eh?”

They all nodded eagerly. Guida handed him a mogue of cider. The little
grey thrush of a man sipped it, and in a voice no bigger than a bird’s
began:

   “From Lucillien du Champsavoys, Comte de Chanier, by the hand of a
   faithful friend, who goeth hence from among divers dangers, unto my
   cousin, the Chevalier du Champsavoys de Beaumanoir, late Gentleman
   of the Bedchamber to the best of monarchs, Louis XV, this writing:

   “MY DEAR AND HONOURED Cousin”--The chevalier paused, frowned a
   trifle, and tapped his lips with his finger in a little lyrical
   emotion--“My dear and honoured cousin, all is lost. The France we
   loved is no more. The twentieth of June saw the last vestige of
   Louis’s power pass for ever. That day ten thousand of the
   sans-culottes forced their way into the palace to kill him. A faithful
   few surrounded him. In the mad turmoil, we were fearful, he was
   serene. ‘Feel,’ said Louis, placing his hand on his bosom, ‘feel
   whether this is the beating of a heart shaken by fear.’ Ah, my
   friend, your heart would have clamped in misery to hear the Queen
   cry: ‘What have I to fear? Death? it is as well to-day as
   to-morrow; they can do no more!’ Their lives were saved, the day
   passed, but worse came after.

   “The tenth of August came. With it too, the end-the dark and bloody
   end-of the Swiss Guard. The Jacobins had their way at last. The
   Swiss Guard died in the Court of the Carrousel as they marched to
   the Assembly to save the King. Thus the last circle of defence
   round the throne was broken. The palace was given over to flame and
   the sword. Of twenty nobles of the court I alone escaped. France
   is become a slaughter-house. The people cried out for more liberty,
   and their liberators gave them the freedom of death. A fortnight
   ago, Danton, the incomparable fiend, let loose his assassins upon
   the priests of God. Now Paris is made a theatre where the people
   whom Louis and his nobles would have died to save have turned every
   street into a stable of carnage, every prison and hospital into a
   vast charnel-house. One last revolting thing alone remains to be
   done--the murder of the King; then this France that we have loved
   will have no name and no place in our generation. She will rise
   again, but we shall not see her, for our eyes have been blinded with
   blood, for ever darkened by disaster. Like a mistress upon whom we
   have lavished the days of our youth and the strength of our days,
   she has deceived us; she has stricken us while we slept. Behold a
   Caliban now for her paramour!

   “Weep with me, for France despoils me. One by one my friends have
   fallen beneath the axe. Of my four sons but one remains. Henri was
   stabbed by Danton’s ruffians at the Hotel de Ville; Gaston fought
   and died with the Swiss Guard, whose hacked and severed limbs were
   broiled and eaten in the streets by these monsters who mutilate the
   land. Isidore, the youngest, defied a hundred of Robespierre’s
   cowards on the steps of the Assembly, and was torn to pieces by the
   mob. Etienne alone is left. But for him and for the honour of my
   house I too would find a place beside the King and die with him.
   Etienne is with de la Rochejaquelein in Brittany. I am here at
   Rouen.

   “Brittany and Normandy still stand for the King. In these two
   provinces begins the regeneration of France: we call it the War of
   the Vendee. On that Isle of Jersey there you should almost hear the
   voice of de la Rochejaquelein and the marching cries of our loyal
   legions. If there be justice in God we shall conquer. But there
   will be joy no more for such as you or me, nor hope, nor any peace.
   We live only for those who come after. Our duty remains, all else
   is dead. You did well to go, and I do well to stay.

   “By all these piteous relations you shall know the importance of the
   request I now set forth.

   “My cousin by marriage of the House of Vaufontaine has lost all his
   sons. With the death of the Prince of Vaufontaine, there is in
   France no direct heir to the house, nor can it, by the law, revert
   to my house or my heirs. Now of late the Prince hath urged me to
   write to you--for he is here in seclusion with me--and to unfold to
   you what has hitherto been secret. Eleven years ago the only nephew
   of the Prince, after some naughty escapades, fled from the Court
   with Rullecour the adventurer, who invaded the Isle of Jersey. From
   that hour he has been lost to France. Some of his companions in
   arms returned after a number of years. All with one exception
   declared that he was killed in the battle at St. Heliers. One,
   however, maintains that he was still living and in the prison
   hospital when his comrades were set free.

   “It is of him I write to you. He is--as you will perchance
   remember--the Comte de Tournay. He was then not more than seventeen
   years of age, slight of build, with brownish hair, dark grey eyes,
   and had over the right shoulder a scar from a sword thrust. It
   seemeth little possible that, if living, he should still remain in
   that Isle of Jersey. He may rather have returned to obscurity in
   France or have gone to England to be lost to name and remembrance
   --or even indeed beyond the seas.

   “That you may perchance give me word of him is the object of my
   letter, written in no more hope than I live; and you can well guess
   how faint that is. One young nobleman preserved to France may yet
   be the great unit that will save her.

   “Greet my poor countrymen yonder in the name of one who still waits
   at a desecrated altar; and for myself you must take me as I am, with
   the remembrance of what I was, even

          “Your faithful friend and loving kinsman,

                    “CHANIER.”

   “All this, though in the chances of war you read it not till
   wintertide, was told you at Rouen this first day of September 1792.”

During the reading, broken by feeling and reflective pauses on the
chevalier’s part, the listeners showed emotion after the nature of each.
The Sieur de Mauprat’s fingers clasped and unclasped on the top of his
cane, little explosions of breath came from his compressed lips, his
eyebrows beetled over till the eyes themselves seemed like two glints
of flame. Delagarde dropped a fist heavily upon the table, and held
it there clinched, while his heel beat a tattoo of excitement upon the
floor. Guida’s breath came quick and fast--as Ranulph said afterwards,
she was “blanc comme un linge.” She shuddered painfully when the
slaughter and burning of the Swiss Guards was read. Her brain was so
swimming with the horrors of anarchy that the latter part of the letter
dealing with the vanished Count of Tournay passed by almost unheeded.

But this particular matter greatly interested Ranulph and de Mauprat.
They leaned forward eagerly, seizing every word, and both instinctively
turned towards Detricand when the description of de Tournay was read.

As for Detricand himself, he listened to the first part of the letter
like a man suddenly roused out of a dream. For the first time since
the Revolution had begun, the horror of it and the meaning of it were
brought home to him. He had been so long expatriated, had loitered so
long in the primrose path of daily sleep and nightly revel, had fallen
so far, that he little realised how the fiery wheels of Death were
spinning in France, or how black was the torment of her people. His face
turned scarlet as the thing came home to him now. He dropped his head in
his hand as if to listen more attentively, but it was in truth to
hide his emotion. When the names of Vaufontaine and de Tournay were
mentioned, he gave a little start, then suddenly ruled himself to a
strange stillness. His face seemed presently to clear; he even smiled
a little. Conscious that de Mauprat and Delagarde were watching him, he
appeared to listen with a keen but impersonal interest, not without its
effect upon his scrutinisers. He nodded his head as though he understood
the situation. He acted very well; he bewildered the onlookers. They
might think he tallied with the description of the Comte de Tournay,
yet he gave the impression that the matter was not vital to himself. But
when the little Chevalier stopped and turned his eye-glass upon him with
sudden startled inquiry, he found it harder to keep composure.

“Singular--singular!” said the old man, and returned to the reading of
the letter.

When he ended there was absolute silence for a moment. Then the
chevalier lifted his eye-glass again and looked at Detricand intently.

“Pardon me, monsieur,” he said, “but you were with Rullecour--as I was
saying.”

Detricand nodded with a droll sort of helplessness, and answered: “In
Jersey I never have chance to forget it, Chevalier.”

Du Champsavoys, with a naive and obvious attempt at playing counsel,
fixed him again with the glass, pursed his lips, and with the importance
of a greffier at the ancient Cour d’Heritage, came one step nearer to
his goal.

“Have you knowledge of the Comte de Tournay, monsieur?”

“I knew him--as you were saying, Chevalier,” answered Detricand lightly.

Then the Chevalier struck home. He dropped his fingers upon the table,
stood up, and, looking straight into Detricand’s eyes, said:

“Monsieur, you are the Comte de Tournay!”

The Chevalier involuntarily held the silence for an instant. Nobody
stirred. De Mauprat dropped his chin upon his hands, and his eyebrows
drew down in excitement. Guida gave a little cry of astonishment. But
Detricand answered the Chevalier with a look of blank surprise and a
shrug of the shoulder, which had the effect desired.

“Thank you, Chevalier,” said he with quizzical humour. “Now I know who I
am, and if it isn’t too soon to levy upon the kinship, I shall dine with
you today, chevalier. I paid my debts yesterday, and sous are scarce,
but since we are distant cousins I may claim grist at the family mill,
eh?”

The Chevalier sat, or rather dropped into his chair again.

“Then you are not the Comte de Tournay, monsieur,” said he hopelessly.

“Then I shall not dine with you to-day,” retorted Detricand gaily.

“You fit the tale,” said de Mauprat dubiously, touching the letter with
his finger.

“Let me see,” rejoined Detricand. “I’ve been a donkey farmer, a
shipmaster’s assistant, a tobacco pedlar, a quarryman, a wood merchant,
an interpreter, a fisherman--that’s very like the Comte de Tournay! On
Monday night I supped with a smuggler; on Tuesday I breakfasted on soupe
a la graisse with Manon Moignard the witch; on Wednesday I dined with
Dormy Jamais and an avocat disbarred for writing lewd songs for a
chocolate-house; on Thursday I went oyster-fishing with a native who
has three wives, and a butcher who has been banished four times for
not keeping holy the Sabbath Day; and I drank from eleven o’clock till
sunrise this morning with three Scotch sergeants of the line--which is
very like the Comte de Tournay, as you were saying, Chevalier! I am five
feet eleven, and the Comte de Tournay was five feet ten--which is no
lie,” he added under his breath. “I have a scar, but it’s over my left
shoulder and not over my right--which is also no lie,” he added under
his breath. “De Tournay’s hair was brown, and mine, you see, is almost
a dead black--fever did that,” he added under his breath. “De Tournay
escaped the day after the Battle of Jersey from the prison hospital, I
was left, and here I’ve been ever since--Yves Savary dit Detricand at
your service, chevalier.”

A pained expression crossed over the Chevalier’s face. “I am most sorry;
I am most sorry,” he said hesitatingly. “I had no wish to wound your
feelings.”

“Ah, it is de Tournay to whom you must apologise,” said Detricand
musingly, with a droll look.

“It is a pity,” continued the Chevalier, “for somehow all at once I
recalled a resemblance. I saw de Tournay when he was fourteen--yes, I
think it was fourteen--and when I looked at you, monsieur, his face came
back to me. It would have made my cousin so happy if you had been the
Comte de Tournay and I had found you here.” The old man’s voice trembled
a little. “We are growing fewer every day, we Frenchmen of the ancient
families. And it would have made my cousin so happy, as I was saying,
monsieur.”

Detricand’s manner changed; he became serious. The devil-may-care,
irresponsible shamelessness of his face dropped away like a mask.
Something had touched him. His voice changed too.

“De Tournay was a much better fellow than I am, chevalier,” said
he--“and that’s no lie,” he added under his breath. “De Tournay was a
fiery, ambitious, youngster with bad companions. De Tournay told me
he repented of coming with Rullecour, and he felt he had spoilt his
life--that he could never return to France again or to his people.”

The old Chevalier shook his head sadly. “Is he dead?” he asked.

There was a slight pause, and then Detricand answered: “No, still
living.”

“Where is he?”

“I promised de Tournay that I would never reveal that.”

“Might I not write to him?” asked the old man. “Assuredly, Chevalier.”

“Could you--will you--despatch a letter to him from me, monsieur?”

“Upon my honour, yes.”

“I thank you--I thank you, monsieur; I will write it to-day.”

“As you will, Chevalier. I will ask you for the letter to-night,”
 rejoined Detricand. “It may take time to reach de Tournay; but he shall
receive it into his own hands.”

De Mauprat trembled to his feet to put the question he knew the
Chevalier dreaded to ask:

“Do you think that monsieur le comte will return to France?”

“I think he will,” answered Detricand slowly.

“It will make my cousin so happy--so happy,” quavered the little
Chevalier. “Will you take snuff with me, monsieur?” He offered his
silver snuff-box to his vagrant countryman. This was a mark of favour he
showed to few.

Detricand bowed, accepted, and took a pinch. “I must be going,” he said.



CHAPTER IX

At eight o’clock the next morning, Guida and her fellow-voyagers, bound
for the Ecrehos Rocks, had caught the first ebb of the tide, and with a
fair wind from the sou’-west had skirted the coast, ridden lightly over
the Banc des Violets, and shaped their course nor’-east. Guida kept the
helm all the way, as she had been promised by Ranulph. It was still
more than half tide when they approached the rocks, and with a fair wind
there should be ease in landing.

No more desolate spot might be imagined. To the left, as you faced
towards Jersey, was a long sand-bank. Between the rocks and the
sand-bank shot up a tall, lonely shaft of granite with an evil history.
It had been chosen as the last refuge of safety for the women and
children of a shipwrecked vessel, in the belief that high tide would
not reach them. But the wave rose up maliciously, foot by foot, till
it drowned their cries for ever in the storm. The sand-bank was called
“Ecriviere,” and the rock was afterwards known as the “Pierre des
Femmes.”

Other rocks less prominent, but no less treacherous, flanked it--the
Noir Sabloniere and the Grande Galere. To the right of the main island
were a group of others, all reef and shingle, intersected by treacherous
channels; in calm lapped by water with the colours of a prism of
crystal, in storm by a leaden surf and flying foam. These were known as
the Colombiere, the Grosse Tete, Tas de Pois, and the Marmotiers; each
with its retinue of sunken reefs and needles of granitic gneiss lying
low in menace. Happy the sailor caught in a storm and making for the
shelter the little curves in the island afford, who escapes a twist
of the current, a sweep of the tide, and the impaling fingers of the
submarine palisades.

Beyond these rocks lay Maitre Ile, all gneiss and shingle, a desert in
the sea. The holy men of the early Church, beholding it from the shore
of Normandy, had marked it for a refuge from the storms of war and the
follies of the world. So it came to pass, for the honour of God and the
Virgin Mary, the Abbe of Val Richer builded a priory there: and there
now lie in peace the bones of the monks of Val Richer beside
the skeletons of unfortunate gentlemen of the sea of later
centuries--pirates from France, buccaneers from England, and smugglers
from Jersey, who kept their trysts in the precincts of the ancient
chapel.

The brisk air of early autumn made the blood tingle in Guida’s cheeks.
Her eyes were big with light and enjoyment. Her hair was caught close
by a gay cap of her own knitting, but a little of it escaped, making a
pretty setting to her face.

The boat rode under all her courses, until, as Jean said, they had put
the last lace on her bonnet. Guida’s hands were on the tiller firmly,
doing Jean’s bidding promptly. In all they were five. Besides Guida and
Ranulph, Jean and Jean’s wife, there was a young English clergyman of
the parish of St. Michael’s, who had come from England to fill the place
of the rector for a few months. Word had been brought to him that a man
was dying on the Ecrehos. He had heard that the boat was going, he had
found Jean Touzel, and here he was with a biscuit in his hand and a
black-jack of French wine within easy reach. Not always in secret the
Reverend Lorenzo Dow loved the good things of this world.

The most notable characteristic of the young clergyman’s appearance was
his outer guilelessness and the oddness of his face. His head was rather
big for his body; he had a large mouth which laughed easily, a noble
forehead, and big, short-sighted eyes. He knew French well, but could
speak almost no Jersey patois, so, in compliment to him, Jean Touzel,
Ranulph, and Guida spoke in English. This ability to speak English--his
own English--was the pride of Jean’s life. He babbled it all the way,
and chiefly about a mythical Uncle Elias, who was the text for many a
sermon.

“Times past,” said he, as they neared Maitre Ile, “mon onc’ ‘Lias he
knows these Ecrehoses better as all the peoples of the world--respe d’la
compagnie. Mon onc’ ‘Lias he was a fine man. Once when there is a fight
between de Henglish and de hopping Johnnies,” he pointed towards France,
“dere is seven French ship, dere is two Henglish ship--gentlemen-of-war
dey are call. Eh ben, one of de Henglish ships he is not a
gentleman-of-war, he is what you call go-on-your-own-hook--privator. But
it is all de same--tres-ba, all right! What you t’ink coum to pass? De
big Henglish ship she is hit ver’ bad, she is all break-up. Efin,
dat leetle privator he stan’ round on de fighting side of de
gentleman-of-war and take de fire by her loneliness. Say, then, wherever
dere is troub’ mon onc’ ‘Lias he is there, he stan’ outside de troub’
an’ look on--dat is his hobby. You call it hombog? Oh, nannin-gia!
Suppose two peoples goes to fight, ah bah, somebody must pick up de
pieces--dat is mon onc’ ‘Lias! He have his boat full of hoysters; so he
sit dere all alone and watch dat great fight, an’ heat de hoyster an’
drink de cider vine.

“Ah, bah! mon onc’ ‘Lias he is standin’ hin de door dat day. Dat is what
we say on Jersey--when a man have some ver’ great luck we say he stan’
hin de door. I t’ink it is from de Bible or from de helmanac--sacre moi,
I not know.... If I talk too much you give me dat black-jack.”

They gave him the black-jack. After he had drunk and wiped his mouth on
his sleeve, he went on:

“O my good-ma’m’selle, a leetle more to de wind. Ah, dat is
right--trejous!... Dat fight it go like two bulls on a vergee--respe
d’la compagnie. Mon onc’ ‘Lias he have been to Hengland, he have sing
‘God save our greshus King’; so he t’ink a leetle--Ef he go to de
French, likely dey will hang him. Mon onc’ ‘Lias, he is what you call
patreeteesm. He say, ‘Hengland, she is mine--trejous.’ Efin, he sail
straight for de Henglish ships. Dat is de greates’ man, mon onc’
‘Lias--respe d’la compagnie! he coum on de side which is not fighting.
Ah bah, he tell dem dat he go to save de gentleman-of-war. He see a
hofficier all bloodiness and he call hup: ‘Es-tu gentiment?’ he say.
‘Gentiment,’ say de hofficier; ‘han’ you?’ ‘Naicely, yank you!’ mon onc’
‘Lias he say. ‘I will save you,’ say mon onc’ ‘Lias--‘I will save de
ship of God save our greshus King.’ De hofficier wipe de tears out of
his face. ‘De King will reward you, man alive,’ he say. Mon onc’
‘Lias he touch his breast and speak out. ‘Mon hofficier, my reward is
here--trejous. I will take you into de Ecrehoses.’ ‘Coum up and save de
King’s ships,’ says de hofficier. ‘I will take no reward,’ say mon onc’
‘Lias, ‘but, for a leetle pourboire, you will give me de privator--eh?’
‘Milles sacres’--say de hofficier, ‘mines saeres--de privator!’ he
say, ver’ surprise’. ‘Man doux d’la vie--I am damned!’ ‘You are damned
trulee, if you do not get into de Ecrehoses,’ say mon onc’ ‘Lias--‘A
bi’tot, good-bye!’ he say. De hofficier call down to him: ‘Is dere
nosing else you will take?’ ‘Nannin, do not tempt me,’ say mon onc’
‘Lias. ‘I am not a gourman’. I will take de privator--dat is my hobby.’
All de time de cannons grand--dey brow-brou! boum-boum!--what you call
discomfortable. Time is de great t’ing, so de hofficier wipe de tears
out of his face again. ‘Coum up,’ he say; ‘de privator is yours.’

“Away dey go. You see dat spot where we coum to land, Ma’m’selle
Landresse--where de shingle look white, de leetle green grass above?
Dat is where mon onc’ ‘Lias he bring in de King’s ship and de privator.
Gatd’en’ale--it is a journee awful! He twist to de right, he shape to
de left trough de teeth of de rocks--all safe--vera happee--to dis nice
leetle bay of de Maitre Ile dey coum. De Frenchies dey grind dere teeth
and spit de fire. But de Henglish laugh at demdey are safe. ‘Frien’ of
my heart,’ say de hofficier to mon onc’ ‘Lias, ‘pilot of pilots,’ he
say, ‘in de name of our greshus King I t’ank you--A bi’tot, good-bye!’
he say. ‘Tres-ba,’ mon onc’ ‘Lias he say den, ‘I will go to my
privator.’ ‘You will go to de shore,’ say de hofficier. ‘You will wait
on de shore till de captain and his men of de privator coum to you. When
dey coum, de ship is yours--de privator is for you.’ Mon onc’ ‘Lias he
is like a child--he believe. He ‘bout ship and go shore. Misery me,
he sit on dat rocking-stone you see tipping on de wind. But if he wait
until de men of de privator coum to him, he will wait till we see him
sitting there now. Gache-a-penn, you say patriote? Mon onc’ ‘Lias he has
de patreeteesm, and what happen? He save de ship of de greshus King God
save--and dey eat up his hoysters! He get nosing. Gad’rabotin--respe
d’la compagnie--if dere is a ship of de King coum to de Ecrehoses, and
de hofficier say to me”--he tapped his breast--“‘Jean Touzel, tak de
ships of de King trough de rocks,’--ah bah, I would rememb’ mon onc’
‘Lias. I would say, ‘A bi’tot-good-bye.’... Slowlee--slowlee! We are at
de place. Bear wif de land, ma’m’selle! Steadee! As you go! V’la! hitch
now, Maitre Ranulph.”

The keel of the boat grated on the shingle.

The air of the morning, the sport of using the elements for one’s
pleasure, had given Guida an elfish sprightliness of spirits. Twenty
times during Jean’s recital she had laughed gaily, and never sat a laugh
better on any one’s countenance than on hers. Her teeth were strong,
white, and regular; in themselves they gave off a sort of shining mirth.

At first the lugubrious wife of the happy Jean was inclined to resent
Guida’s gaiety as unseemly, for Jean’s story sounded to her as serious
statement of fact; which incapacity for humour probably accounted for
Jean’s occasional lapses from domestic grace. If Jean had said that he
had met a periwinkle dancing a hornpipe with an oyster she would have
muttered heavily “Think of that!” The most she could say to any one
was: “I believe you, ma couzaine.” Some time in her life her voice had
dropped into that great well she called her body, and it came up only
now and then like an echo. There never was anything quite so fat as she.
She was found weeping one day on the veille because she was no longer
able to get her shoulders out of the window to use the clothes-lines
stretching to her neighbour’s over the way. If she sat down in your
presence, it was impossible to do aught but speculate as to whether she
could get up alone. Yet she went abroad on the water a great deal with
Jean. At first the neighbours gave out sinister suspicions as to Jean’s
intentions, for sea-going with your own wife was uncommon among the
sailors of the coast. But at last these dark suggestions settled down
into a belief that Jean took her chiefly for ballast; and thereafter she
was familiarly called “Femme de Ballast.”

Talking was no virtue in her eyes. What was going on in her mind no one
ever knew. She was more phlegmatic than an Indian; but the tails of the
sheep on the Town Hill did not better show the quarter of the wind than
the changing colour of Aimable’s face indicated Jean’s coming or going.
For Mattresse Aimable had one eternal secret, an unwavering passion for
Jean Touzel. If he patted her on the back on a day when the fishing was
extra fine, her heart pumped so hard she had to sit down; if, passing
her lonely bed of a morning, he shook her great toe to wake her, she
blushed, and turned her face to the wall in placid happiness. She was so
credulous and matter-of-fact that if Jean had told her she must die on
the spot, she would have said “Think of that!” or “Je te crais,” and
died. If in the vague dusk of her brain the thought glimmered that she
was ballast for Jean on sea and anchor on land, she still was content.
For twenty years the massive, straight-limbed Jean had stood to her for
all things since the heavens and the earth were created. Once, when she
had burnt her hand in cooking supper for him, his arm made a trial of
her girth, and he kissed her. The kiss was nearer her ear than her lips,
but to her mind it was the most solemn proof of her connubial happiness
and of Jean’s devotion. She was a Catholic, unlike Jean and most people
of her class in Jersey, and ever since that night he kissed her she had
told an extra bead on her rosary and said another prayer.

These were the reasons why at first she was inclined to resent Guida’s
laughter. But when she saw that Maitre Ranulph and the curate and Jean
himself laughed, she settled down to a grave content until they landed.

They had scarce reached the deserted chapel where their dinner was to be
cooked by Maitresse Aimable, when Ranulph called them to note a vessel
bearing in their direction.

“She’s not a coasting craft,” said Jean.

“She doesn’t look like a merchant vessel,” said Ranulph, eyeing her
through his telescope. “Why, she’s a warship!” he added.

Jean thought she was not, but Maitre Ranulph said “Pardi, I ought to
know, Jean. Ship-building is my trade, to say nothing of guns--I wasn’t
two years in the artillery for nothing. See the low bowsprit and the
high poop. She’s bearing this way. She’ll be Narcissus!” he said slowly.

That was Philip d’Avranche’s ship.

Guida’s face lighted, her heart beat faster. Ranulph turned on his heel.

“Where are you going, Ro?” Guida said, taking a step after him.

“On the other side, to my men and the wreck,” he said, pointing.

Guida glanced once more towards the man-o’-war: and then, with mischief
in her eye, turned towards Jean. “Suppose,” she said to him archly,
“suppose the ship should want to come in, of course you’d remember your
onc’ ‘Lias, and say, ‘A bi’tot, good-bye!”’

An evasive “Ah bah!” was the only reply Jean vouchsafed.

Ranulph joined his men at the wreck, and the Reverend Lorenzo Dow went
about the Lord’s business in the little lean-to of sail-cloth and ship’s
lumber which had been set up near to the toil of the carpenters. When
the curate entered the but the sick man was in a doze. He turned his
head from side to side restlessly and mumbled to himself. The curate,
sitting on the ground beside the man, took from his pocket a book, and
began writing in a strange, cramped hand. This book was his journal.
When a youth he had been a stutterer, and had taken refuge from talk
in writing, and the habit stayed even as his affliction grew less. The
important events of the day or the week, the weather, the wind, the
tides, were recorded, together with sundry meditations of the Reverend
Lorenzo Dow. The pages were not large, and brevity was Mr. Dow’s
journalistic virtue. Beyond the diligent keeping of this record, he
had no habits, certainly no precision, no remembrance, no system: the
business of his life ended there. He had quietly vacated two curacies
because there had been bitter complaints that the records of certain
baptisms, marriages, and burials might only be found in the chequered
journal of his life, sandwiched between fantastic reflections and
remarks upon the rubric. The records had been exact enough, but the
system was not canonical, and it rested too largely upon the personal
ubiquity of the itinerary priest, and the safety of his journal--and of
his life.

Guida, after the instincts of her nature, had at once sought the highest
point on the rocky islet, and there she drank in the joy of sight and
sound and feeling. She could see--so perfect was the day--the line
marking the Minquiers far on the southern horizon, the dark and perfect
green of the Jersey slopes, and the white flags of foam which beat
against the Dirouilles and the far-off Paternosters, dissolving as
they flew, their place taken by others, succeeding and succeeding, as
a soldier steps into a gap in the line of battle. Something in these
rocks, something in the Paternosters--perhaps their distance, perhaps
their remoteness from all other rocks--fascinated her. As she looked
at them, she suddenly felt a chill, a premonition, a half-spiritual,
half-material telegraphy of the inanimate to the animate: not from
off cold stone to sentient life; but from that atmosphere about the
inanimate thing, where the life of man has spent itself and been
dissolved, leaving--who can tell what? Something which speaks but yet
has no sound.

The feeling which possessed Guida as she looked at the Paternosters was
almost like blank fear. Yet physical fear she had never felt, not since
that day when the battle raged in the Vier Marchi, and Philip d’Avranche
had saved her from the destroying scimitar of the Turk. Now that scene
all came back to her in a flash, as it were; and she saw again the dark
snarling face of the Mussulman, the blue-and-white silk of his turban,
the black and white of his waistcoat, the red of the long robe, and the
glint of his uplifted sword. Then in contrast, the warmth, brightness,
and bravery on the face of the lad in blue and gold who struck aside
the descending blade and caught her up in his arms; and she had nestled
there--in those arms of Philip d’Avranche. She remembered how he had
kissed her, and how she had kissed him--he a lad and she a little
child--as he left her with her mother in the watchmaker’s shop in
the Vier Marchi that day.... And she had never seen him again until
yesterday.

She looked from the rocks to the approaching frigate. Was it the
Narcissus coming--coming to this very island? She recalled Philip--how
gallant he was yesterday, how cool, with what an air of command! How
light he had made of the riot! Ranulph’s strength and courage she
accepted as a matter of course, and was glad that he was brave,
generous, and good; but the glamour of distance and mystery were
around d’Avranche. Remembrance, like a comet, went circling through the
firmament of eleven years, from the Vier Marchi to the Place du Vier
Prison.

She watched the ship slowly bearing with the land. The Jack was flying
from the mizzen. They were now taking in her topsails. She was so near
that Guida could see the anchor a-cockbell, and the poop lanthorns.
She could count the guns like long black horns shooting out from a
rhinoceros hide: she could discern the figurehead lion snarling into the
spritsail. Presently the ship came up to the wind and lay to. Then she
signalled for a pilot, and Guida ran towards the ruined chapel, calling
for Jean Touzel.

In spite of Jean’s late protests as to piloting a “gentleman-of-war,”
 this was one of the joyful moments of his life. He could not loosen his
rowboat quick enough; he was away almost before you could have spoken
his name. Excited as Guida was, she could not resist calling after him:

“‘God save our greshus King! A bi’tot--goodbye!’”



CHAPTER X

As Ranulph had surmised, the ship was the Narcissus, and its first
lieutenant was Philip d’Avranche. The night before, orders had reached
the vessel from the Admiralty that soundings were to be taken at the
Ecrehos. The captain had at once made inquiries for a pilot, and Jean
Touzel was commended to him. A messenger sent to Jean found that he had
already gone to the Ecrehos. The captain had then set sail, and now,
under Jean’s skilful pilotage, the Narcissus twisted and crept through
the teeth of the rocks at the entrance, and slowly into the cove, reefs
on either side gaping and girding at her, her keel all but scraping
the serrated granite beneath. She anchored, and boats put off to take
soundings and explore the shores. Philip was rowed in by Jean Touzel.

Stepping out upon the beach of Mattre ‘Ile, Philip slowly made his way
over the shingle to the ruined chapel, in no good humour with himself or
with the world, for exploring these barren rocks seemed a useless whim
of the Admiralty, and he could not conceive of any incident rising from
the monotony of duty to lighten the darkness of this very brilliant
day. His was not the nature to enjoy the stony detail of his profession.
Excitement and adventure were as the breath of life to him, and since
he had played his little part at the Jersey battle in a bandbox eleven
years before, he had touched hands with accidents of flood and field in
many countries.

He had been wrecked on the island of Trinidad in a tornado, losing his
captain and his ship; had seen active service in America and in India;
won distinction off the coast of Arabia in an engagement with Spanish
cruisers; and was now waiting for his papers as commander of a ship
of his own, and fretted because the road of fame and promotion was so
toilsome. Rumours of war with France had set his blood dancing a little,
but for him most things were robbed of half their pleasure because they
did not come at once.

This was a moody day with him, for he had looked to spend it
differently. As he walked up the shingle his thoughts were hanging
about a cottage in the Place du Vier Prison. He had hoped to loiter in
a doorway there, and to empty his sailor’s heart in well-practised
admiration before the altar of village beauty. The sight of Guida’s face
the day before had given a poignant pulse to his emotions, unlike the
broken rhythm of past comedies of sentiment and melodramas of passion.
According to all logic of custom, the acuteness of yesterday’s
impression should have been followed up by today’s attack; yet here he
was, like another Robinson Crusoe, “kicking up the shingle of a cursed
Patmos”--so he grumbled aloud. Patmos was not so wild a shot after all,
for no sooner had he spoken the word than, looking up, he saw in the
doorway of the ruined chapel the gracious figure of a girl: and a book
of revelations was opened and begun.

At first he did not recognise Guida. There was only a picture before him
which, by some fantastic transmission, merged into his reveries. What he
saw was an ancient building--just such a humble pile of stone and rough
mortar as one might see on some lone cliff of the AEgean or on abandoned
isles of the equatorial sea. The gloom of a windowless vault was behind
the girl, but the filtered sunshine of late September fell on her head.
It brightened the white kerchief, and the bodice and skirt of a faint
pink, throwing the face into a pleasing shadow where the hand curved
over the forehead. She stood like some Diana of a ruined temple looking
out into the staring day.

At once his pulses beat faster, for to him a woman was ever the fountain
of adventure, and an unmanageable heart sent him headlong to the oasis
where he might loiter at the spring of feminine vanity, or truth, or
impenitent gaiety, as the case might be. In proportion as his spirits
had sunk into sour reflection, they now shot up rocket-high at the sight
of a girl’s joyous pose of body and the colour and form of the picture
she made. In him the shrewdness of a strong intelligence was mingled
with wild impulse. In most, rashness would be the outcome of such a
marriage of characteristics; but clear-sightedness, decision, and a
little unscrupulousness had carried into success many daring actions of
his life. This very quality of resolute daring saved him from disaster.

Impulse quickened his footsteps now. It quickened them to a run when
the hand was dropped from the girl’s forehead, and he saw again the face
whose image and influence had banished sleep from his eyes the night
before.

“Guida!” broke from his lips.

The man was transfigured. Brightness leaped into his look, and the
greyness of his moody eye became as blue as the sea. The professional
straightness of his figure relaxed into the elastic grace of an athlete.
He was a pipe to be played on: an actor with the ambitious brain of a
diplomatist; as weak as water, and as strong as steel; soft-hearted to
foolishness or unyielding at will.

Now, if the devil had sent a wise imp to have watch and ward of this
man and this maid, and report to him upon the meeting of their ways,
the moment Philip took Guida’s hand, and her eyes met his, monsieur the
reporter of Hades might have clapped-to his book and gone back to his
dark master with the message and the record: “The hour of Destiny is
struck.”

When the tide of life beats high in two mortals, and they meet in
the moment of its apogee, when all the nature is sweeping on without
command, guilelessly, yet thoughtlessly, the mere lilt of existence
lulling to sleep wisdom and tried experience--speculation points all one
way. Many indeed have been caught away by such a conjunction of tides,
and they mostly pay the price.

But paying is part of the game of life: it is the joy of buying that we
crave. Go down into the dark markets of the town. See the long, narrow,
sordid streets lined with the cheap commodities of the poor. Mark
how there is a sort of spangled gaiety, a reckless swing, a grinning
exultation in the grimy, sordid caravanserai. The cheap colours of the
shoddy open-air clothing-house, the blank faded green of the coster’s
cart; the dark bluish-red of the butcher’s stall--they all take on a
value not their own in the garish lights flaring down the markets of
the dusk. Pause to the shrill music of the street musician, hear the
tuneless voice of the grimy troubadour of the alley-ways; and then hark
to the one note that commands them all--the call which lightens up faces
sodden with base vices, eyes bleared with long looking into the dark
caverns of crime:

“Buy--buy--buy--buy--buy!”

That is the tune the piper pipes. We would buy, and behold, we must pay.
Then the lights go out, the voices stop, and only the dark tumultuous
streets surround us, and the grime of life is ours again. Whereupon we
go heavily to hard beds of despair, having eaten the cake we bought, and
now must pay for unto Penalty, the dark inordinate creditor. And anon
the morning comes, and then, at last, the evening when the triste
bazaars open again, and the strong of heart and nerve move not from
their doorways, but sit still in the dusk to watch the grim world go
by. But mostly they hurry out to the bazaars once more, answering to the
fevered call:

“Buy--buy--buy--buy--buy!”

And again they pay the price: and so on to the last foreclosure and the
immitigable end.

One of the two standing in the door of the ruined chapel on the Ecrehos
had the nature of those who buy but once and pay the price but once; the
other was of those who keep open accounts in the markets of life. The
one was the woman and the other was the man.

There was nothing conventional in their greeting. “You remembered me!”
 he said eagerly, in English, thinking of yesterday.

“I shouldn’t deserve to be here if I had forgotten,” she answered
meaningly. “Perhaps you forget the sword of the Turk?” she added.

He laughed a little, his cheek flushed with pleasure. “I shouldn’t
deserve to be here if I remembered--in the way you mean,” he answered.

Her face was full of pleasure. “The worst of it is,” she said, “I never
can pay my debt. I have owed it for eleven years, and if I should live
to be ninety I should still owe it.”

His heart was beating hard and he became daring. “So, thou shalt save
my life,” he said, speaking in French. “We shall be quits then, thou and
I.”

The familiar French thou startled her. To hide the instant’s confusion
she turned her head away, using a hand to gather in her hair, which the
wind was lifting lightly.

“That wouldn’t quite make us quits,” she rejoined; “your life is
important, mine isn’t. You”--she nodded towards the Narcissus--“you
command men.”

“So dost thou,” he answered, persisting in the endearing pronoun.

He meant it to be endearing. As he had sailed up and down the world,
a hundred ports had offered him a hundred adventures, all light in
the scales of purpose, but not all bad. He had gossiped and idled and
coquetted with beauty before; but this was different, because the nature
of the girl was different from all others he had met. It had mostly been
lightly come and lightly go with himself, as with the women it had
been easily won and easily loosed. Conscience had not smitten him
hard, because beauty, as he had known it, though often fair and of good
report, had bloomed for others before he came. But here was a nature
fresh and unspoiled from the hand of the potter Life.

As her head slightly turned from him again, he involuntarily noticed the
pulse beating in her neck, the rise and fall of her bosom. Life--here
was life unpoisoned by one drop of ill thought or light experience.

“Thou dost command men too,” he repeated.

She stepped forward a little from the doorway and beyond him, answering
back at him:

“Oh, no, I only knit, and keep a garden, and command a little home,
that’s all.... Won’t you let me show you the island?” she added quickly,
pointing to a hillock beyond, and moving towards it. He followed,
speaking over her shoulder:

“That’s what you seem to do,” he answered, “not what you do.” Then he
added rhetorically: “I’ve seen a man polishing the buckle of his shoe,
and he was planning to take a city or manoeuvre a fleet.”

She noticed that he had dropped the thou, and, much as its use had
embarrassed her, the gap left when the boldness was withdrawn became
filled with regret, for, though no one had dared to say it to her
before, somehow it seemed not rude on Philip’s lips. Philip? Yes, Philip
she had called him in her childhood, and the name had been carried on
into her girlhood--he had always been Philip to her.

“No, girls don’t think like that, and they don’t do big things,” she
replied. “When I polish the pans”--she laughed--“and when I scour my
buckles, I just think of pans and buckles.” She tossed up her fingers
lightly, with a perfect charm of archness.

He was very close to her now. “But girls have dreams, they have
memories.”

“If women hadn’t memory,” she answered, “they wouldn’t have much, would
they? We can’t take cities and manoeuvre fleets.” She laughed a little
ironically. “I wonder that we think at all or have anything to think
about, except the kitchen and the garden, and baking and scouring and
spinning”--she paused slightly, her voice lowered a little--“and
the sea, and the work that men do round us.... Do you ever go into a
market?” she added suddenly.

Somehow she could talk easily and naturally to him. There had been no
leading up to confidence. She felt a sudden impulse to tell him all
her thoughts. To know things, to understand, was a passion with her. It
seemed to obliterate in her all that was conventional, it removed her
far from sensitive egotism. Already she had begun “to take notice” in
the world, and that is like being born again. As it grows, life ceases
to be cliche; and when the taking notice is supreme we call it genius;
and genius is simple and believing: it has no pride, it is naive, it is
childlike.

Philip seemed to wear no mark of convention, and Guida spoke her
thoughts freely to him. “To go into a market seems to me so wonderful,”
 she continued. “There are the cattle, the fruits, the vegetables, the
flowers, the fish, the wood; the linen from the loom, the clothes that
women’s fingers have knitted. But it isn’t just those things that you
see, it’s all that’s behind them--the houses, the fields, and the boats
at sea, and the men and women working and working, and sleeping and
eating, and breaking their hearts with misery, and wondering what is to
be the end of it all; yet praying a little, it may be, and dreaming a
little--perhaps a very little.” She sighed, and continued: “That’s as
far as I get with thinking. What else can one do in this little island?
Why, on the globe Maitre Damian has at St. Aubin’s, Jersey is no bigger
than the head of a pin. And what should one think of here?”

Her eyes were on the sea. Its mystery was in them, the distance, the ebb
and flow, the light of wonder and of adventure too. “You--you’ve been
everywhere,” she went on. “Do you remember you sent me once from Malta a
tiny silver cross? That was years ago, soon after the Battle of Jersey,
when I was a little bit of a girl. Well, after I got big enough I used
to find Malta and other places on Maitre Damian’s globe. I’ve lived
always there, on that spot”--she pointed towards Jersey--“on that
spot one could walk round in a day. What do I know! You’ve been
everywhere--everywhere. When you look back you’ve got a thousand
pictures in your mind. You’ve seen great cities, temples, palaces, great
armies, fleets; you’ve done things: you’ve fought and you’ve commanded,
though you’re so young, and you’ve learned about men and about many
countries. Look at what you know, and then, if you only think, you’ll
laugh at what I know.”

For a moment he was puzzled what to answer. The revelation of the
girl’s nature had come so quickly upon him. He had looked for freshness,
sweetness, intelligence, and warmth of temperament, but it seemed to
him that here were flashes of power. Yet she was only seventeen. She had
been taught to see things with her own eyes and not another’s, and she
spoke of them as she saw them; that was all. Yet never but to her mother
had Guida said so much to any human being as within these past few
moments to Philip d’Avranche.

The conditions were almost maliciously favourable, and d’Avranche was
simple and easy as a boy, with his sailor’s bonhomie and his naturally
facile spirit. A fateful adaptability was his greatest weapon in life,
and his greatest danger. He saw that Guida herself was unconscious of
the revelation she was making, and he showed no surprise, but he caught
the note of her simplicity, and responded in kind. He flattered her
deftly--not that she was pressed unduly, he was too wise for that. He
took her seriously; and this was not all dissimulation, for her every
word had glamour, and he now exalted her intellect unduly. He had never
met girl or woman who talked just as she did; and straightway, with the
wild eloquence of his nature, he thought he had discovered a new heaven
and a new earth. A spell was upon him. He knew what he wanted when he
saw it. He had always made up his mind suddenly, always acted on the
intelligent impulse of the moment. He felt things, he did not study
them--it was almost a woman’s instinct. He came by a leap to the goal
of purpose, not by the toilsome steps of reason. On the instant his
headlong spirit declared his purpose: this was the one being for him in
all the world: at this altar he would light a lamp of devotion, and keep
it burning forever.

“This is my day,” he said to himself. “I always knew that love would
come down on me like a storm.” Then, aloud, he said to her: “I wish I
knew what you know; but I can’t, because my mind is different, my life
has been different. When you go into the world and see a great deal, and
loosen a little the strings of your principles, and watch how sins and
virtues contradict themselves, you see things after a while in a kind of
mist. But you, Guida, you see them clearly because your heart is clear.
You never make a mistake, you are always right because your mind is
right.”

She interrupted him, a little troubled and a good deal amazed: “Oh, you
mustn’t, mustn’t speak like that. It’s not so. How can one see and learn
unless one sees and knows the world? Surely one can’t think wisely if
one doesn’t see widely?”

He changed his tactics instantly. The world--that was the thing? Well,
then, she should see the world, through him, with him.

“Yes, yes, you’re right,” he answered. “You can’t know things unless you
see widely. You must see the world. This island, what is it? I was born
here, don’t I know! It’s a foothold in the world, but it’s no more; it’s
not afield to walk in, why, it’s not even a garden. No, it’s the little
patch of green we play in in front of a house, behind the railings,
before we go out into the world and learn how to live.”

They had now reached the highest point on the island, where a flagstaff
stood. Guida was looking far beyond Jersey to the horizon line. There
was little haze, the sky was inviolably blue. Far off against the
horizon lay the low black rocks of the Minquiers. They seemed to her,
on the instant, like stepping-stones. Beyond would be other
stepping-stones, and others and others still again, and they would all
mark the way and lead to what Philip called the world. The world! She
felt a sudden little twist of regret at her heart. Here she was like a
cow grazing within the circle of its tether--like a lax caterpillar on
its blade of grass. Yet it had all seemed so good to her in the past;
broken only by little bursts of wonder and wish concerning that outside
world.

“Do we ever learn how to live?” she asked. “Don’t we just go on from one
thing to another, picking our way, but never knowing quite what to do,
because we don’t know what’s ahead? I believe we never do learn how to
live,” she added, half-smiling, yet a little pensive too; “but I am so
very ignorant, and--”

She stopped, for suddenly it flashed upon her: here she was baring
her childish heart--he would think it childish, she was sure he
would--everything she thought, to a man she had never known till to-day.
No, no, she was wrong; she had known him, but it was only as Philip,
the boy who had saved her life. And the Philip of her memory was only a
picture, not a being; something to think about, not something to speak
with, to whom she might show her heart. She flushed hotly and turned her
shoulder on him. Her eyes followed a lizard creeping up the stones. As
long as she lived she remembered that lizard, its colour changing in the
sun. She remembered the hot stones, and how warm the flag-staff was when
she stretched out her hand to it mechanically. But the swift, noiseless
lizard running in and out of the stones, it was ever afterwards like a
coat-of-arms upon the shield of her life.

Philip came close to her. At first he spoke over her shoulder, then he
faced her. His words forced her eyes up to his, and he held them.

“Yes, yes, we learn how to live,” he said. “It’s only when we travel
alone that we don’t see before us. I will teach you how to live--we
will learn the way together! Guida! Guida!”--he reached out his hands
to wards her--“don’t start so! Listen to me. I feel for you what I have
felt for no other being in all my life. It came upon me yesterday when
I saw you in the window at the Vier Prison. I didn’t understand it. All
night I walked the deck thinking of you. To-day as soon as I saw your
face, as soon as I touched your hand, I knew what it was, and--”

He attempted to take her hand now. “Oh, no, no!” she exclaimed, and drew
back as if terrified.

“You need not fear me,” he burst out. “For now I know that I have but
two things to live for: for my work”--he pointed to the Narcissus--“and
for you. You are frightened of me? Why, I want to have the right to
protect you, to drive away all fear from your life. You shall be the
garden and I shall be the wall; you the nest and I the rock; you the
breath of life and I the body that breathes it. Guida, my Guida, I love
you!”

She drew back, leaning against the stones, her eyes riveted upon his,
and she spoke scarcely above a whisper.

“It is not true--it is not true. You’ve known me only for one day--only
for one hour. How can you say it!” There was a tumult in her breast; her
eyes shone and glistened; wonder, embarrassed yet happy wonder, looked
at him from her face, which was touched with an appealing, as of the
heart that dares not believe and yet must believe or suffer.

“It is madness,” she added. “It is not true--how can it be true!”

Yet it all had the look of reality--the voice had the right ring, the
face had truth, the bearing was gallant; the force and power of the man
overwhelmed her.

She reached out her hand tremblingly as though to push him back. “It
cannot be true,” she said. “To think--in one day!”

“It is true,” he answered, “true as that I stand here. One day--it is
not one day. I knew you years ago. The seed was sown then, the flower
springs up to-day, that is all. You think I can’t know that it is love I
feel for you? It is admiration; it is faith; it is desire too; but it is
love. When you see a flower in a garden, do you not know at once if you
like it or no? Don’t you know the moment you look on a landscape, on a
splendid building, whether it is beautiful to you? If, then, with these
things one knows--these that haven’t any speech, no life like yours or
mine--how much more when it is a girl with a face like yours, when it
is a mind noble like yours, when it is a touch that thrills, and a voice
that drowns the heart in music! Guida, believe that I speak the truth.
I know, I swear, that you are the one passion, the one love of my life.
All others would be as nothing, so long as you live, and I live to look
upon you, to be beside you.”

“Beside me!” she broke in, with an incredulous irony fain to be
contradicted, “a girl in a village, poor, knowing nothing, seeing no
farther”--she looked out towards Jersey--“seeing no farther than the
little cottage in the little country where I was born.”

“But you shall see more,” he said, “you shall see all, feel all, if you
will but listen to me. Don’t deny me what is life and breathing and
hope to me. I’ll show you the world; I’ll take you where you may see and
know. We will learn it all together. I shall succeed in life. I shall
go far. I’ve needed one thing to make me do my best for some one’s sake
beside my own; you will make me do it for your sake. Your ancestors
were great people in France; and you know that mine, centuries ago, were
great also--that the d’Avranches were a noble family in France. You and
I will win our place as high as the best of them. In this war that’s
coming between England and France is my chance. Nelson said to me the
other day--you have heard of him, of young Captain Nelson, the man
they’re pointing to in the fleet as the one man of them all?--he said
to me: ‘We shall have our chance now, d’Avranche.’ And we shall. I have
wanted it till to-day for my own selfish ambition--now I want it for
you. When I landed on this islet a half-hour ago, I hated it, I hated my
ship, I hated my duty, I hated everything, because I wanted to go where
you were, to be with you. It was Destiny that brought us both to this
place at one moment. You can’t escape Destiny. It was to be that I
should love you, Guida.”

He reached out to take her hands, but she put them behind her against
the stones, and drew back. The lizard suddenly shot out from a hole and
crossed over her fingers. She started, shivered at the cold touch, and
caught the hand away. A sense of foreboding awaked in her, and her eyes
followed the lizard’s swift travel with a strange fascination. But she
lifted them to Philip’s, and the fear and premonition passed.

“Oh, my brain is in a whirl!” she said. “I do not understand. I know
so little. No one has ever spoken to me as you have done. You would
not dare”--she leaned forward a little, looking into his face with
that unwavering gaze which was the best sign of her straight-forward
mind--“you would not dare to deceive--you would not dare. I have--no
mother,” she added with simple pathos.

The moisture came into his eyes. He must have been stone not to be
touched by the appealing, by the tender inquisition, of that look.

“Guida,” he said impetuously, “if I deceive you, may every fruit of life
turn to dust and ashes in my mouth! If ever I deceive you, may I die a
black, dishonourable death, abandoned and alone! I should deserve that
if I deceived you, Guida.”

For the first time since he had spoken she smiled, yet her eyes filled
with tears too.

“You will let me tell you that I love you, Guida--it is all I ask now:
that you will listen to me?”

She sighed, but did not answer. She kept looking at him, looking as
though she would read his inmost soul. Her face was very young, though
the eyes were so wise in their simplicity.

“You will give me my chance--you will listen to me, Guida, and try to
understand--and be glad?” he asked, leaning closer to her and holding
out his hands.

She drew herself up slightly as with an air of relief and resolve. She
put a hand in his.

“I will try to understand--and be glad,” she answered.

“Won’t you call me Philip?” he said.

The same slight, mischievous smile crossed her lips now as eleven years
ago in the Rue d’Egypte, and recalling that moment, she replied:

“Yes, sir--Philip!”

At that instant the figure of a man appeared on the shingle beneath,
looking up towards them. They did not see him. Guida’s hand was still in
Philip’s.

The man looked at them for a moment, then started and turned away. It
was Ranulph Delagarde.

They heard his feet upon the shingle now. They turned and looked; and
Guida withdrew her hand.



CHAPTER XI

There are moments when a kind of curtain seems dropped over the brain,
covering it, smothering it, while yet the body and its nerves are
tingling with sensation. It is like the fire-curtain of a theatre let
down between the stage and the audience, a merciful intervention between
the mind and the disaster which would consume it.

As the years had gone on Maitre Ranulph’s nature had grown more
powerful, and his outdoor occupation had enlarged and steadied his
physical forces. His trouble now was in proportion to the force of
his character. The sight of Guida and Philip hand in hand, the tender
attitude, the light in their faces, was overwhelming and unaccountable.
Yesterday these two were strangers--to-day it was plain to be seen
they were lovers, and lovers who had reached a point of confidence and
revelation. Nothing in the situation tallied with Ranulph’s ideas of
Guida and his knowledge of life. He had, as one might say, been eye to
eye with this girl for fifteen years: he had told his love for her in
a thousand little ways, as the ant builds its heap to a pyramid that
becomes a thousand times greater than itself. He had followed her
footsteps, he had fetched and carried, he had served afar off, he had
ministered within the gates. He had, unknown to her, watched like the
keeper of the house over all who came and went, neither envious nor
over-zealous, neither intrusive nor neglectful; leaving here a word
and there an act to prove himself, above all, the friend whom she could
trust, and, in all, the lover whom she might wake to know and reward. He
had waited with patience, hoping stubbornly that she might come to put
her hand in his one day.

Long ago he would have left the island to widen his knowledge, earn
experience in his craft, or follow a career in the army--he had been an
expert gunner when he served in the artillery four years ago--and hammer
out fame upon the anvils of fortune in England or in France; but he had
stayed here that he might be near her. His love had been simple, it
had been direct, and wise in its consistent reserve. He had been
self-obliterating. His love desired only to make her happy: most lovers
desire that they themselves shall be made happy. Because of the crime
his father committed years ago--because of the shame of that hidden
crime--he had tried the more to make himself a good citizen, and had
formed the modest ambition of making one human being happy. Always
keeping this near him in past years, a supreme cheerfulness of heart had
welled up out of his early sufferings and his innate honesty. Hope had
beckoned him on from year to year, until it seemed at last that the time
had almost come when he might speak, might tell her all--his father’s
crime and the manner of his father’s death; of his own devoted purpose
in trying to expiate that crime by his own uprightness; and of his love
for her.

Now, all in a minute, his horizon was blackened. This adventurous
gallant, this squire of dames, had done in a day what he had worked,
step by step, to do through all these years. This skipping seafarer,
with his powder and lace, his cocked hat and gold-handled sword, had
whistled at the gates which he had guarded and by which he had prayed,
and all in a minute every defence had been thrown down, and Guida--his
own Guida--had welcomed the invader with shameless eagerness.

He crossed the islet slowly. It seemed to him--and for a moment it was
the only thing of which he was conscious--that the heels of his boots
shrieked in the shingle, and with every step he was raising an immense
weight. He paused behind the chapel. After a little the smother lifted
slowly from his brain.

“I’ll believe in her still,” he said aloud. “It’s all his cursed tongue.
As a boy he could make every other boy do what he wanted because his
tongue knows how to twist words. She’s been used to honest people; he’s
talked a new language to her--tricks caught in his travels. But she
shall know the truth. She shall find out what sort of a man he is. I’ll
make her see under his pretty foolings.”

He turned, and leaned against the wall of the chapel. “Guida, Guida,” he
said, speaking as if she were there before him, “you won’t--you won’t
go to him, and spoil your life, and mine too. Guida, ma couzaine, you’ll
stay here, in the land of your birth. You’ll make your home here--here
with me, ma chere couzaine. Ah, but then you shall be my wife in spite
of him, in spite of a thousand Philip d’Avranches!”

He drew himself up firmly, for a great resolve was made. His path
was clear. It was a fair fight, he thought; the odds were not so much
against him after all, for his birth was as good as Philip d’Avranche’s,
his energy was greater, and he was as capable and as clever in his own
way.

He walked quickly down the shingle towards the wreck on the other side
of the islet. As he passed the hut where the sick man lay, he heard a
querulous voice. It was not that of the Reverend Lorenzo Dow.

Where had he heard that voice before? A shiver of fear ran through him.
Every sense and emotion in him was arrested. His life seemed to reel
backward. Curtain after curtain of the past unfolded.

He hurried to the door of the hut and looked in.

A man with long white hair and straggling grey beard turned to him a
haggard face, on which were written suffering, outlawry, and evil.

“Great God--my father!” Ranulph said.

He drew back slowly like a man who gazes upon some horrible fascinating
thing, and then turned heavily towards the sea, his face set, his senses
paralysed.

“My father not dead! My father--the traitor!” he groaned.



CHAPTER XII

Philip d’Avranche sauntered slowly through the Vier Marchi, nodding
right and left to people who greeted him. It was Saturday and market day
in Jersey. The square was crowded with people. All was a cheerful
babel; there was movement, colour everywhere. Here were the high and
the humble, hardi vlon and hardi biaou--the ugly and the beautiful,
the dwarfed and the tall, the dandy and the dowdy, the miser and the
spendthrift; young ladies gay in silks, laces, and scarfs from Spain,
and gentlemen with powdered wigs from Paris; sailors with red tunics
from the Mediterranean, and fishermen with blue and purple blouses from
Brazil; man-o’-war’s-men with Greek petticoats, Turkish fezzes, and
Portuguese espadras. Jersey housewives, in bedgones and white caps, with
molleton dresses rolled up to the knees, pushed their way through the
crowd, jars of black butter, or jugs of cinnamon brandy on their heads.
From La Pyramide--the hospitable base of the statue of King George
II--fishwives called the merits of their conger-eels and ormers; and
the clatter of a thousand sabots made the Vier Marchi sound like a
ship-builder’s yard.

In this square Philip had loitered and played as a child. Down there,
leaning against a pillar of the Corn Market piazza was Elie Mattingley,
the grizzly-haired seller of foreign silks and droll odds and ends, who
had given him a silver flageolet when he was a little lad. There were
the same swaggering manners, the big gold rings in his ears; there
was the same red sash about the waist, the loose unbuttoned shirt, the
truculent knifebelt; there were the same keen brown eyes looking you
through and through, and the mouth with a middle tooth in both jaws
gone. Elie Mattingley, pirate, smuggler, and sometime master of a
privateer, had had dealings with people high and low in the island, and
they had not always, nor often, been conducted in the open Vier Marchi.

Fifteen years ago he used to have his little daughter Carterette always
beside him when he sold his wares. Philip wondered what had become of
her. He glanced round.... Ah, there she was, not far from her father,
over in front of the guard-house, selling, at a little counter with
a canopy of yellow silk (brought by her father from that distant land
called Piracy), mogues of hot soupe a la graisse, simnels, curds,
coffee, and Jersey wonders, which last she made on the spot by dipping
the little rings of dough in a bashin of lard on a charcoal fire at her
side.

Carterette was short and spare, with soft yet snapping eyes as black as
night--or her hair; with a warm, dusky skin, a tongue which clattered
pleasantly, and very often wisely. She had a hand as small and plump as
a baby’s, and a pretty foot which, to the disgust of some mothers and
maidens of greater degree, was encased in a red French slipper, instead
of the wooden sabot stuffed with straw, while her ankles were nicely
dressed in soft black stockings, in place of the woolen native hose, as
became her station.

Philip watched Carterette now for a moment, a dozen laughing memories
coming back to him; for he had teased her and played with her when she
was a child, had even called her his little sweetheart. Looking at her
he wondered what her fate would be: To marry one of these fishermen
or carters? No, she would look beyond that. Perhaps it would be one of
those adventurers in bearskin cap and buckskin vest, home from Gaspe,
where they had toiled in the great fisheries, some as common fishermen,
some as mates and maybe one or two as masters. No, she would look beyond
that. Perhaps she would be carried off by one of those well-to-do,
black-bearded young farmers in the red knitted queminzolle, blue
breeches, and black cocked hat, with his kegs of cider and bunches of
parsley.

That was more likely, for among the people there was every prejudice in
her favour. She was Jersey born, her father was reputed to have laid by
a goodly sum of money--not all got in this Vier Marchi; and that he was
a smuggler and pirate roused a sentiment in their bosoms nearer to envy
than aught else. Go away naked and come back clothed, empty and come
back filled, simple and come back with a wink of knowledge, penniless
and come back with the price of numerous vergees of land, and you might
answer the island catechism without fear. Be lambs in Jersey, but harry
the rest of the world with a lion’s tooth, was the eleventh commandment
in the Vier Marchi.

Yes, thought Philip idly now, as he left the square, the girl would
probably marry a rich farmer, and when he came again he should find her
stout of body, and maybe shrewish of face, crying up the virtues of
her black butter and her knitted stockings, having made the yellow silk
canopy above her there into a gorgeous quilt for the nuptial bed.

Yet the young farmers who hovered near her now, buying a glass of cider
or a mogue of soup, received but scant notice. She laughed with them,
treated them lightly, and went about her business again with a toss of
the head. Not once did she show a moment’s real interest, not until a
fine upstanding fellow came round the corner from the Rue des Vignes,
and passed her booth.

She was dipping a doughnut into the boiling lard, but she paused with it
suspended. The little dark face took on a warm glow, the eyes glistened.

“Maitre Ranulph!” called the girl softly. Then as the tall fellow turned
to her and lifted his cap she added briskly: “Where away so fast with
face hard as hatchet?”

“Garcon Cart’rette!” he said abstractedly--he had always called her
that.

He was about to move on. She frowned in vexation, yet she saw that he
was pale and heavy-eyed, and she beckoned him to come to her.

“What’s gone wrong, big wood-worm?” she said, eyeing him closely, and
striving anxiously to read his face. He looked at her sharply, but the
softness in her black eyes somehow reassured him, and he said quite
kindly:

“Nannin, ‘tite garcon, nothing’s matter.”

“I thought you’d be blithe as a sparrow with your father back from the
grave!” Then as Ranulph’s face seemed to darken, she added: “He’s not
worse--he’s not worse?”

“No, no, he’s well enough now,” he said, forcing a smile.

She was not satisfied, but she went on talking, intent to find the cause
of his abstraction. “Only to think,” she said--“only to think that he
wasn’t killed at all at the Battle of Jersey, and was a prisoner in
France, and comes back here--and we all thought him dead, didn’t we?”

“I left him for dead that morning on the Grouville road,” he answered.
Then, as if with a great effort, and after the manner of one who has
learned a part, he went on: “As the French ran away mad, paw of one on
tail of other, they found him trying to drag himself along. They nabbed
him, and carried him aboard their boats to pilot them out from the
Rocque Platte, and over to France. Then because they hadn’t gobbled us
up here, what did the French Gover’ment do? They clapped a lot of ‘em in
irons and sent ‘em away to South America, and my father with ‘em. That’s
why we heard neither click nor clack of him all this time. He broke free
a year ago. Then he fell sick. When he got well he set sail for Jersey,
was wrecked off the Ecrehos, and everybody knows the rest. Diantre, he’s
had a hard time!”

The girl had listened intently. She had heard all these things in flying
rumours, and she had believed the rumours; but now that Maitre Ranulph
told her--Ranulph, whose word she would have taken quicker than the oath
of a Jurat--she doubted. With the doubt her face flushed as though she
herself had been caught in a lie, had done a mean thing. Somehow her
heart was aching for him, she knew not why.

All this time she had held the doughnut poised; she seemed to have
forgotten her work. Suddenly the wooden fork holding the cake was taken
from her fingers by the daft Dormy Jamais who had crept near.

“Des monz a fou,” said he, “to spoil good eating so! What says
fishing-man: When sails flap, owner may whistle for cargo. Tut, tut,
goose Carterette!”

Carterette took no note, but said to Ranulph:

“Of course he had to pilot the Frenchmen back, or they’d have killed
him, and it’d done no good to refuse. He was the first man that fought
the French on the day of the battle, wasn’t he? I’ve always heard that.”
 Unconsciously she was building up a defence for Olivier Delagarde. She
was, as it were, anticipating insinuation from other quarters. She was
playing Ranulph’s game, because she instinctively felt that behind this
story there was gloom in his mind and mystery in the tale itself. She
noticed too that he shrank from her words. She was not very quick of
intellect, so she had to feel her way fumblingly. She must have time to
think, but she said tentatively:

“I suppose it’s no secret? I can tell any one at all what happened to
your father?” she asked.

“Oh so--sure so!” he said rather eagerly. “Tell every one about it. He
doesn’t mind.”

Maitre Ranulph deceived but badly. Bold and convincing in all honest
things, he was, as yet, unconvincing in this grave deception. All these
years he had kept silence, enduring what he thought a buried shame;
but that shame had risen from the dead, a living agony. His father had
betrayed the island to the French: if the truth were known to-day they
would hang him for a traitor on the Mont es Pendus. No mercy and scant
shrift would be shown him.

Whatever came, he must drink this bitter cup to the dregs. He could
never betray his own father. He must consume with inward disgust while
Olivier Delagarde shamelessly babbled his monstrous lies to all who
would listen. And he must tell these lies too, conceal, deceive, and
live in hourly fear of discovery. He must sit opposite his father day by
day at table, talk with him, care for him, shrinking inwardly at every
knock at the door lest it should be an officer come to carry the pitiful
traitor off to prison.

And, more than all, he must give up for ever the thought of Guida. Here
was the acid that ate home, the black hopelessness, the machine of fate
clamping his heart. Never again could he rise in the morning with a
song on his lips; never again his happy meditations go lilting with the
clanging blows of the adze and the singing of the saws.

All these things had vanished when he looked into a tent-door on the
Ecrehos. Now, in spite of himself, whenever he thought upon Guida’s
face, this other fateful figure, this Medusan head of a traitor, shot in
between.

Since his return his father had not been strong enough to go abroad; but
to-day he meant to walk to the Vier Marchi. At first Ranulph had decided
to go as usual to his ship-yard at St. Aubin’s, but at last in
anxious fear he too had come to the Vier Marchi. There was a horrible
fascination in being where his father was, in listening to his
falsehoods, in watching the turns and twists of his gross hypocrisies.

But yet at times he was moved by a strange pity, for Olivier Delagarde
was, in truth, far older than his years: a thin, shuffling, pallid
invalid, with a face of mingled sanctity and viciousness. If the old
man lied, and had not been in prison all these years, he must have had
misery far worse, for neither vice nor poverty alone could so shatter a
human being. The son’s pity seemed to look down from a great height upon
the contemptible figure with the beautiful white hair and the abominable
mouth. This compassion kept him from becoming hard, but it would also
preserve him to hourly sacrifice--Prometheus chained to his rock. In
the short fortnight that had gone since the day upon the Ecrehos, he had
changed as much as do most people in ten years. Since then he had seen
neither Philip nor Guida.

To Carterette he seemed not the man she had known. With her woman’s
instinct she knew that he loved Guida, but she also knew that nothing
which might have happened between them could have brought this look of
shame and shrinking into his face. As these thoughts flashed through her
mind her heart grew warmer. Suppose Ranulph was in some trouble--well,
now might be her great chance. She might show him that he could not live
without her friendship, and then perhaps, by-and-bye, that he could not
live without her love.

Ranulph was about to move on. She stopped him. “When you need me, Maitre
Ranulph, you know where to find me,” she said scarce above a whisper. He
looked at her sharply, almost fiercely, but again the tenderness of her
eyes, the directness of her gaze, convinced him. She might be, as
she was, variable with other people; with himself she was invincibly
straightforward.

“P’raps you don’t trust me?” she added, for she read his changing
expression.

“I’d trust you quick enough,” he said.

“Then do it now--you’re having some bad trouble,” she rejoined.

He leaned over her stall and said to her steadily and with a little
moroseness:

“See you, ma garche, if I was in trouble I’d bear it by myself. I’d ask
no one to help me. I’m a man, and I can stand alone. Don’t go telling
folks I look as if I was in trouble. I’m going to launch to-morrow the
biggest ship ever sent from a Jersey building yard--that doesn’t look
like trouble, does it? Turn about is fair play, garcon Cart’rette: so
when you’re in trouble come to me. You’re not a man, and it’s a man’s
place to help a woman, all the more when she’s a fine and good little
stand-by like you.”

He forced a smile, turned upon his heel, and threaded his way through
the square, keeping a look-out for his father. This he could do easily,
for he was the tallest man in the Vier Marchi by at least three inches.

Carterette, oblivious of all else, stood gazing after him. She was
only recalled to herself by Dormy Jamais. He was diligently cooking her
Jersey wonders, now and then turning his eyes up at her--eyes which were
like spots of greyish, yellowish light in a face of putty and flour;
without eyelashes, without eyebrows, a little like a fish’s, something
like a monkey’s. They were never still. They were set in the face like
little round glow worms in a mould of clay. They burned on night and
day--no man had ever seen Dormy Jamais asleep.

Carterette did not resent his officiousness. He had a kind of kennel in
her father’s boat-house, and he was devoted to her. More than all else,
Dormy Jamaas was clean. His clothes were mostly rags, but they were
comely, compact rags. When he washed them no one seemed to know, but no
languid young gentleman lounging where the sun was warmest in the Vier
Marchi was better laundered.

As Carterette turned round to him he was twirling a cake on the wooden
fork, and trolling:

          “Caderoussel he has a coat,
          All lined with paper brown;
          And only when it freezes hard
          He wears it in the town.
          What do you think of Caderoussel?
          Ah, then, but list to me:
          Caderoussel is a bon e’fant--”

“Come, come, dirty-fingers,” she said. “Leave my work alone, and stop
your chatter.”

The daft one held up his fingers, but to do so had to thrust a cake into
his mouth.

“They’re as clean as a ha’pendy,” he said, mumbling through the cake.
Then he emptied his mouth of it, and was about to place it with the
others.

“Black beganne,” she cried; “how dare you! V’la--into your pocket with
it!”

He did as he was bid, humming to himself again:

          “M’sieu’ de la Palisse is dead,
          Dead of a maladie;
          Quart’ of an hour before his death
          He could breathe like you and mel
          Ah bah, the poor M’sieu’
          De la Palisse is dead!”

“Shut up! Man doux d’la vie, you chatter like a monkey!”

“That poor Maitre Ranulph,” said Dormy, “once he was lively as a basket
of mice; but now--”

“Well, now, achocre?” she said irritably, stamping her foot.

“Now the cat’s out of the bag--oui-gia!”

“You’re as cunning as a Norman--you’ve got things in your noddee!” she
cried with angry impatience.

He nodded, grinning. “As thick as haws,” he answered.

She heard behind her a laugh of foolish good-nature, which made her
angry too, for it seemed to be making fun of her. She wheeled to see M.
Savary dit Detricand leaning with both elbows on the little counter, his
chin in his hand, grinning provokingly,

“Oh, it’s you!” she said snappishly; “I hope you’re pleased.”

“Don’t be cross,” he answered, his head swinging unsteadily. “I wasn’t
laughing at you, heaven-born Jersienne. I wasn’t, ‘pon honour! I was
laughing at a thing I saw five minutes ago.” He nodded in gurgling
enjoyment now. “You mustn’t mind me, seraphine,” he added, “I’d a hot
night, and I’m warm as a thrush now. But I saw a thing five minutes
ago!”--he rolled on the stall. “‘Sh!” he added in a loud mock whisper,
“here he comes now. Milles diables, but here’s a tongue for you, and
here’s a royal gentleman speaking truth like a travelling dentist!”

Carterette followed his gesture and saw coming out of the Route es
Couochons, where the brave Peirson issued to his death eleven years
before, Maitre Ranulph’s father.

He walked with the air of a man courting observation. He imagined
himself a hero; he had told his lie so many times now that he almost
believed it himself.

He was soon surrounded. Disliked when he lived in Jersey before the
invasion years ago, that seemed forgotten now; for word had gone abroad
that he was a patriot raised from the dead, an honour to his country.
Many pressed forward to shake hands with him.

“Help of heaven, is that you, m’sieu’?” asked one. “You owed me five
chelins, but I wiped it out, O my good!” cried another generously.

“Shaken,” cried a tall tarter holding out his hand. He had lived in
England, and now easily made English verbs into French.

One after another called on him to tell his story; some tried to hurry
him to La Pyramide, but others placed a cider-keg near, and almost
lifted him on to it.

“Go on, go on, tell us the story,” they cried. “To the devil with the
Frenchies!”

“Here--here’s a dish of Adam’s ale,” cried an old woman, handing him a
bowl of water.

They cheered him lustily. The pallor of his face changed to a warmth. He
had the fatuousness of those who deceive with impunity. With confidence
he unreeled the dark line out to the end. When he had told his
story, still hungry for applause, he repeated the account of how the
tatterdemalion brigade of Frenchmen came down upon him out of the night,
and how he should have killed Rullecour himself had it not been for an
officer who struck him down from behind.

During the recital Ranulph had drawn near. He watched the enthusiasm
with which the crowd received every little detail of the egregious
history. Everybody believed the old man, who was safe, no matter
what happened to himself, Ranulph Delagarde, ex-artilleryman,
ship-builder--and son of a criminal. At any rate the worst was over now,
the first public statement of the lifelong lie. He drew a sigh of relief
and misery in one. At that instant he caught sight of the flushed
face of Detricand, who broke into a laugh of tipsy mirth when Olivier
Delagarde told how the French officer had stricken him down as he was
about finishing off Rullecour.

All at once the whole thing rushed upon Ranulph. What a fool he had
been! He had met this officer of Rullecour’s these ten years past, and
never once had the Frenchman, by so much as a hint, suggested that he
knew the truth about his father. Here and now the contemptuous mirth
upon the Frenchman’s face told the whole story. The danger and horror of
the situation descended on him. Instantly he started towards Detricand.

At that moment his father caught sight of Detricand also, saw the laugh,
the sneer, and recognised him. Halting short in his speech he turned
pale and trembled, staring as at a ghost. He had never counted on this.
His breath almost stopped as he saw Ranulph approach Detricand.

Now the end was come. His fabric of lies would be torn down; he would
be tried and hanged on the Mont es Pendus, or even be torn to pieces by
this crowd. Yet he could not have moved a foot from where he was if he
had been given a million pounds.

The sight of Ranulph’s face revealed to Detricand the true meaning of
this farce and how easily it might become a tragedy. He read the story
of the son’s torture, of his sacrifice; and his decision was instantly
made: he would befriend him. Looking straight into his eyes, his own
said he had resolved to know nothing whatever about this criminal on
the cider-cask. The two men telegraphed to each other a perfect
understanding, and then Detricand turned on his heel, and walked away
into the crowd.

The sudden change in the old man’s appearance had not been lost on the
spectators, but they set it down to weakness or a sudden sickness. One
ran for a glass of brandy, another for cider, and an old woman handed up
to him a mogue of cinnamon drops.

The old man tremblingly drank the brandy. When he looked again Detricand
had disappeared. A dark, sinister expression crossed his face, an evil
thought pulled down the corners of his mouth as he stepped from the
cask. His son went to him and taking his arm, said: “Come, you’ve done
enough for to-day.”

The old man made no reply, but submissively walked away into the Coin
& Anes. Once however he turned and looked the way Detricand had gone,
muttering.

The peasants cheered him as he passed. Presently, free of the crowd and
entering the Rue d’Egypte, he said to Ranulph:

“I’m going alone; I don’t need you.”

“Where are you going?” asked Ranulph.

“Home,” answered the old man gloomily.

Ranulph stopped. “All right; better not come out again to-day.”

“You’re not going to let that Frenchman hurt me?” suddenly asked
Delagarde with morose anxiety. “You’re going to stop that? They’d put me
in prison.”

Ranulph stooped over his father, his eyes alive with anger, his face
blurred with disgust.

“Go home,” said he, “and never mention this again while you live, or
I’ll take you to prison myself.” Ranulph watched his father disappear
down the Rue d’Egypte, then he retraced his steps to the Vier Marchi.
With a new-formed determination he quickened his walk, ruling his face
to a sort of forced gaiety, lest any one should think his moodiness
strange. One person after another accosted him. He listened eagerly, to
see if anything were said which might show suspicion of his father. But
the gossip was all in old Delagarde’s favour. From group to group he
went, answering greetings cheerily and steeling himself to the whole
disgusting business.

Presently he saw the Chevalier du Champsavoys with the Sieur de Mauprat.
This was the first public appearance of the chevalier since the sad
business at the Vier Prison a fortnight before. The simple folk had
forgotten their insane treatment of him then, and they saluted him
now with a chirping: “Es-tu biaou, chevalier?” and “Es-tu gentiment,
m’sieu’?” to which he responded with amiable forgiveness. To his idea
they were only naughty children, their minds reasoning no more
clearly than they saw the streets through the tiny little squares of
bottle-glass in the windows of their homes.

All at once they came face to face with Detricand. The chevalier stopped
short with pleased yet wistful surprise. His brow knitted when he saw
that his compatriot had been drinking again, and his eyes had a pained
look as he said eagerly:

“Have you heard from the Comte de Tournay, monsieur? I have not seen you
these days past. You said you would not disappoint me.”

Detricand drew from his pocket a letter and handed it over, saying:
“This comes from the comte.”

The old gentleman took the letter, nervously opened it, and read it
slowly, saying each sentence over twice as though to get the full
meaning.

“Ah,” he exclaimed, “he is going back to France to fight for the King!”

Then he looked at Detricand sadly, benevolently. “Mon cher,” said he,
“if I could but persuade you to abjure the wine-cup and follow his
example!”

Detricand drew himself up with a jerk. “You can persuade me, chevalier,”
 said he. “This is my last bout. I had sworn to have it with--with a
soldier I knew, and I’ve kept my word. But it’s the last, the very last
in my life, on the honour of--the Detricands. And I am going with the
Comte de Tournay to fight for the King.”

The little chevalier’s lips trembled, and taking the young man by the
collar of his coat, he stood tiptoed, and kissed him on both cheeks.

“Will you accept something from me?” asked M. de Mauprat, joining in his
friend’s enthusiasm. He took from his pocket a timepiece he had worn
for fifty years. “It is a little gift to my France, which I shall see
no more,” he added. “May no time be ill spent that it records for you,
monsieur.”

Detricand laughed in his careless way, but the face, seamed with
dissipation, took on a new and better look, as with a hand-grasp of
gratitude he put the timepiece in his pocket.

“I’ll do my best,” he said simply. “I’ll be with de la Rochejaquelein
and the army of the Vendee to-morrow night.”

Then he shook hands with both little gentlemen and moved away towards
the Rue des Tres Pigeons. Presently some one touched his arm. He looked
round. It was Ranulph.

“I stood near,” said Ranulph; “I chanced to hear what you said to them.
You’ve been a friend to me today--and these eleven years past. You knew
about my father, all the time.”

Before replying Detricand glanced round to see that no one was
listening.

“Look you, monsieur, a man must keep some decencies in his life, or cut
his own throat. What a ruffian I’d be to do you or your father harm! I’m
silent, of course. Let your mind rest about me. But there’s the baker
Carcaud--”

“The baker?” asked Ranulph dumfounded. “I thought he was tied to a rock
and left to drown, by Rullecour’s orders.”

“I had him set free after Rullecour had gone on to the town. He got away
to France.”

Ranulph’s anxiety deepened. “He might come back, and then if anything
happened to him--”

“He’d try and make things happen to others, eh? But there’s little
danger of his coming back. They know he’s a traitor, and he knows he’d
be hung. If he’s alive he’ll stay where he is. Cheer up! Take my word,
Olivier Delagarde has only himself to fear.” He put out his hand.
“Good-bye. If ever I can do anything for you, if you ever want to
find me, come or send to--no, I’ll write it,” he suddenly added, and
scribbling something on a piece of paper he handed it over.

They parted with another handshake, Detricand making his way into the
Rue d’Egypte, and towards the Place du Vier Prison.

Ranulph stood looking dazedly at the crowd before him, misery, revolt,
and bitterness in his heart. This French adventurer, Detricand, after
years of riotous living, could pick up the threads of life again with a
laugh and no shame, while he felt himself going down, down, down, with
no hope of ever rising again.

As he stood buried in his reflections the town crier entered the Vier
Marchi, and, going to La Pyramide, took his place upon the steps, and in
a loud voice began reading a proclamation.

It was to the effect that the great Fishing Company trading to Gaspe
needed twenty Jersiais to go out and replace a number of the company’s
officers and men who had been drowned in a gale off the rock called
Perch. To these twenty, if they went at once, good pay would be
given. But they must be men of intelligence and vigour, of well-known
character.

The critical moment in Maitre Ranulph’s life came now. Here he was
penned up in a little island, chained to a criminal having the fame of a
martyr. It was not to be borne. Why not leave it all behind? Why not let
his father shift for himself, abide his own fate? Why not leave him the
home, what money he had laid by, and go-go-go where he could forget,
go where he could breathe. Surely self-preservation, that was the first
law; surely no known code of human practice called upon him to share the
daily crimes of any living soul--it was a daily repetition of his crime
for this traitor to carry on the atrocious lie of patriotism.

He would go. It was his right.

Taking a few steps towards the officer of the company standing by the
crier, he was about to speak. Some one touched him.

He turned and saw Carterette. She had divined his intention, and though
she was in the dark as to the motive, she saw that he meant to go to
Gaspe. Her heart seemed to contract till the pain of it hurt her; then,
as a new thought flashed into her mind, it was freed again and began
pounding hard against her breast. She must prevent him from leaving
Jersey, from leaving her. What she might feel personally would have no
effect upon him; she would appeal to him from a different stand-point.

“You must not go,” she said. “You must not leave your father alone,
Maitre Ranulph.”

For a minute he did not reply. Through his dark wretchedness one thought
pierced its way: this girl was his good friend.

“Then I’ll take him with me,” he said.

“He would die in the awful cold,” she answered. “Nannin-gia, you must
stay.”

“Eh ben, I will think!” he said presently, with an air of heavy
resignation, and, turning, walked away. Her eyes followed him. As she
went back to her booth she smiled: he had come one step her way. He
would not go.



CHAPTER XIII

When Detricand left the Vier Marchi he made his way along the Rue
d’Egypte to the house of M. de Mauprat. The front door was open, and a
nice savour of boiling fruit came from within. He knocked, and instantly
Guida appeared, her sleeves rolled back to her elbows, her fingers
stained with the rich red of the blackberries on the fire.

A curious shade of disappointment came into her face when she saw who it
was. It was clear to Detricand that she expected some one else; it was
also clear that his coming gave no especial pleasure to her, though she
looked at him with interest. She had thought of him more than once since
that day when the famous letter from France to the chevalier was read.
She had instinctively compared him, this roystering, notorious fellow,
with Philip d’Avranche, Philip the brave, the ambitious, the conquering.
She was sure that Philip had never over-drunk himself in his life; and
now, looking into the face of Detricand, she could tell that he had been
drinking again. One thing was apparent, however: he was better dressed
than she ever remembered seeing him, better pulled together, and bearing
himself with an air of purpose.

“I’ve fetched back your handkerchief--you tied up my head with it, you
know,” he said, taking it from his pocket. “I’m going away, and I wanted
to thank you.”

“Will you not come in, monsieur?” she said.

He readily entered the kitchen, still holding the handkerchief in his
hand, but he did not give it to her. “Where will you sit?” she said,
looking round. “I’m very busy. You mustn’t mind my working,” she added,
going to the brass bashin at the fire. “This preserve will spoil if I
don’t watch it.”

He seated himself on the veille, and nodded his head. “I like this,” he
said. “I’m fond of kitchens. I always was. When I was fifteen I was sent
away from home because I liked the stables and the kitchen too well.
Also I fell in love with the cook.”

Guida flushed, frowned, her lips tightened, then presently a look of
amusement broke over her face, and she burst out laughing.

“Why do you tell me these things?” she said. “Excuse me, monsieur, but
why do you always tell unpleasant things about yourself? People think
ill of you, and otherwise they might think--better.”

“I don’t want them to think better till I am better,” he answered. “The
only way I can prevent myself becoming a sneak is by blabbing my faults.
Now, I was drunk last night--very, very drunk.”

A look of disgust came into her face.

“Why do you relate this sort of thing to me, monsieur? Do--do I remind
you of the cook at home, or of an oyster-girl in Jersey?”

She was flushing, but her voice was clear and vibrant, the look of the
eyes direct and fearless. How dared he hold her handkerchief like that!

“I tell you them,” he answered slowly, looking at the handkerchief in
his hand, then raising his eyes to hers with whimsical gravity, “because
I want you to ask me never to drink again.”

She looked at him scarce comprehending, yet feeling a deep compliment
somewhere, for this man was a gentleman by birth, and his manner was
respectful, and had always been respectful to her.

“Why do you want me to ask you that?” she said. “Because I’m going to
France to join the war of the Vendee, and--”

“With the Comte de Tournay?” she interrupted. He nodded his head. “And
if I thought I was keeping a promise to--to you, I’d not break it. Will
you ask me to promise?” he persisted, watching her intently.

“Why, of course,” she answered kindly, almost gently; the compliment was
so real, he could not be all bad.

“Then say my name, and ask me,” he said.

“Monsieur--”

“Leave out the monsieur,” he interrupted.

“Yves Savary dit Detricand, will you promise me, Guida Landresse--”

“De Landresse,” he interposed courteously.

“--Guida Landresse de Landresse, that you will never again drink wine to
excess, and that you will never do anything that”--she paused confused.
“That you would not wish me to do,” he said in a low voice.

“That I should not wish you to do,” she repeated in a half-embarrassed
way.

“On my honour I promise,” he said slowly.

A strange feeling came over her. She had suddenly, in some indirect,
allusive way, become interested in a man’s life. Yet she had done
nothing, and in truth she cared nothing. They stood looking at each
other, she slightly embarrassed, he hopeful and eager, when suddenly a
step sounded without, a voice called “Guida!” and as Guida coloured
and Detricand turned towards the door, Philip d’Avranche entered
impetuously.

He stopped short on seeing Detricand. They knew each other slightly, and
they bowed. Philip frowned. He saw that something had occurred between
the two. Detricand on his part realised the significance of that
familiar “Guida!” called from outside. He took up his cap.

“It is greeting and good-bye, I am just off for France,” he said.

Philip eyed him coldly, and not a little maliciously, for he knew
Detricand’s reputation well, the signs of a hard life were thick on him,
and he did not like to think of Guida being alone with him.

“France should offer a wide field for your talents just now,” he
answered drily; “they seem wasted here.” Detricand’s eye flashed, but
he answered coolly: “It wasn’t talent that brought me here, but a boy’s
folly; it’s not talent that’s kept me from starving here, I’m afraid,
but the ingenuity of the desperate.”

“Why stay here? The world was wide, and France but a step away. You
would not have needed talents there. You would no doubt have been
rewarded by the Court which sent you and Rullecour to ravage Jersey--”

“The proper order is Rullecour and me, monsieur.” Detricand seemed
suddenly to have got back a manner to which he had been long a stranger.
His temper became imperturbable, and this was not lost on Philip; his
manner had a balanced serenity, while Philip himself had no such perfect
control; which made him the more impatient. Presently Detricand added in
a composed and nonchalant tone:

“I’ve no doubt there were those at Court who’d have clothed me in purple
and fine linen, and given me wine and milk, but it was my whim to work
in the galleys here, as it were.”

“Then I trust you’ve enjoyed your Botany Bay,” answered Philip
mockingly. “You’ve been your own jailer, you could lay the strokes on
heavy or light.” He moved to the veille, and sat down. Guida busied
herself at the fireplace, but listened intently.

“I’ve certainly been my own enemy, whether the strokes were heavy or
light,” replied Detricand, lifting a shoulder ironically.

“And a friend to Jersey at the same time, eh?” was the sneering reply.

Detricand was in the humour to tell the truth even to this man who
hated him. He was giving himself the luxury of auricular confession.
But Philip did not see that when once such a man has stood in his own
pillory, sat in his own stocks, voluntarily paid the piper, he will take
no after insult.

Detricand still would not be tempted out of his composure. “No,” he
answered, “I’ve been an enemy to Jersey too, both by act and example;
but people here have been kind enough to forget the act, and the example
I set is not unique.”

“You’ve never thought that you’ve outstayed your welcome, eh?”

“As to that, every country is free to whoever wills, if one cares to
pay the entrance fee and can endure the entertainment. One hasn’t to
apologise for living in a country. You probably get no better treatment
than you deserve, and no worse. One thing balances another.”

The man’s cool impeachment and defence of himself irritated Philip, the
more so because Guida was present, and this gentlemanly vagrant had him
at advantage.

“You paid no entrance fee here; you stole in through a hole in the wall.
You should have been hanged.”

“Monsieur d’Avranche!” said Guida reproachfully, turning round from the
fire.

Detricand’s answer came biting and dry. “You are an officer of your
King, as was I. You should know that hanging the invaders of Jersey
would have been butchery. We were soldiers of France; we had the
distinction of being prisoners of war, monsieur.”

This shot went home. Philip had been touched in that nerve called
military honour. He got to his feet. “You are right,” he answered
with reluctant frankness. “Our grudge is not individual, it is against
France, and we’ll pay it soon with good interest, monsieur.”

“The individual grudge will not be lost sight of in the general, I
hope?” rejoined Detricand with cool suggestion, his clear, persistent
grey eye looking straight into Philip’s.

“I shall do you that honour,” said Philip with mistaken disdain.

Detricand bowed low. “You will always find me in the suite of the Prince
of Vaufontaine, monsieur, and ready to be so distinguished by you.”
 Turning to Guida, he added: “Mademoiselle will perhaps do me the honour
to notice me again one day?” then, with a mocking nod to Philip, he left
the house.

Guida and Philip stood looking after him in silence for a minute.
Suddenly Guida said to herself: “My handkerchief--why did he take my
handkerchief? He put it in his pocket again.”

Philip turned on her impatiently.

“What was that adventurer saying to you, Guida? In the suite of the
Prince of Vaufontaine, my faith! What did he come here for?”

Guida looked at him in surprise. She scarcely grasped the significance
of the question. Before she had time to consider, he pressed it again,
and without hesitation she told him all that had happened--it was so
very little, of course--between Detricand and herself. She omitted
nothing save that Detricand had carried off the handkerchief, and she
could not have told, if she had been asked, why she did not speak of it.

Philip raged inwardly. He saw the meaning of the whole situation from
Detricand’s stand-point, but he was wise enough from his own stand-point
to keep it to himself; and so both of them reserved something, she from
no motive that she knew, he from an ulterior one. He was angry too:
angry at Detricand, angry at Guida for her very innocence, and because
she had caught and held even the slight line of association Detricand
had thrown.

In any case, Detricand was going to-morrow, and to-day-to-day should
decide all between Guida and himself. Used to bold moves, in this affair
of love he was living up to his custom; and the encounter with Detricand
here added the last touch to his resolution, nerved him to follow his
strong impulse to set all upon one hazard. A month ago he had told Guida
that he loved her; to-day there should be a still more daring venture.
A thing not captured by a forlorn hope seemed not worth having. The girl
had seized his emotions from the first moment, and had held them. To him
she was the most original creature he had ever met, the most natural,
the most humorous of temper, the most sincere. She had no duplicity, no
guile, no arts.

He said to himself that he knew his own mind always. He believed in
inspirations, and he would back his knowledge, his inspiration, by an
irretrievable move. Yesterday had come an important message from his
commander. That had decided him. To-day Guida should hear a message
beyond all others in importance.

“Won’t you come into the garden?” he said presently.

“A moment--a moment,” she answered him lightly, for the frown had passed
from his face, and he was his old buoyant self again. “I’m to make an
end to this bashin of berries first,” she added. So saying, she waved
him away with a little air of tyranny; and he perched himself boyishly
on the big chair in the corner, and with idle impatience began playing
with the flax on the spinning-wheel near by. Then he took to humming
a ditty the Jersey housewife used to sing as she spun, while Guida
disposed of the sweet-smelling fruit. Suddenly she stopped and stamped
her foot.

“No, no, that’s not right, stupid sailor-man,” she said, and she sang a
verse at him over the last details of her work:

       “Spin, spin, belle Mergaton!
         The moon wheels full, and the tide flows high,
        And your wedding-gown you must put it on
         Ere the night hath no moon in the sky--
            Gigoton Mergaton, spin!”

She paused. He was entranced. He had never heard her sing, and the full,
beautiful notes of her contralto voice thrilled him like organ music.
His look devoured her, her song captured him.

“Please go on,” he said, “I never heard it that way.” She was
embarrassed yet delighted by his praise, and she threw into the next
verse a deep weirdness:

       “Spin, spin, belle Mergaton!
         Your gown shall be stitched ere the old moon fade:
        The age of a moon shall your hands spin on,
         Or a wife in her shroud shall be laid--
              Gigoton Mergaton, spin!”

“Yes, yes, that’s it!” he exclaimed with gay ardour. “That’s it. Sing
on. There are two more verses.”

“I’ll only sing one,” she answered, with a little air of wilfulness.

       “Spin, spin, belle Mergaton!
         The Little Good Folk the spell they have cast;
        By your work well done while the moon hath shone,
         Ye shall cleave unto joy at last--
            Gigoton Mergaton, spin!”

As she sang the last verse she seemed in a dream, and her rich voice,
rising with the spirit of the concluding lines, poured out the notes
like a bird drunk with the air of spring.

“Guida,” he cried, springing to his feet, “when you sing like that it
seems to me I live in a world that has nothing to do with the sordid
business of life, with my dull trade--with getting the weather-gauge or
sailing in triple line. You’re a planet all by yourself, Mistress Guida!
Are you ready to come into the garden?”

“Yes, yes, in a minute,” she answered. “You go out to the big
apple-tree, and I’ll come in a minute.” The apple-tree was in the
farthest corner of the large garden. Near it was the summer-house where
Guida and her mother used to sit and read, Guida on the three-legged
stool, her mother on the low, wide seat covered with ferns. This spot
Guida used to “flourish” with flowers. The vines, too, crept through the
rough latticework, and all together made the place a bower, secluded and
serene. The water of the little stream outside the hedge made music too.

Philip placed himself on the bench beneath the appletree. What a change
was all this, he thought to himself, from the staring hot stones of
Malta, the squalor of Constantinople, the frigid cliffs of Spitzbergen,
the noisome tropical forests of the Indies! This was Arcady. It was
peace, it was content. His life was sure to be varied and perhaps
stormy--here would be the true change, the spirit of all this. Of course
he would have two sides to his life like most men: that lived before the
world, and that of the home. He would have the fight for fame. He would
have to use, not duplicity, but diplomacy, to play a kind of game;
but this other side to his life, the side of love and home, should be
simple, direct--all genuine and strong and true. In this way he would
have a wonderful career.

He heard Guida’s footstep now, and standing up he parted the apple
boughs for her entrance. She was dressed all in white, without a touch
of colour save in the wild rose at her throat and the pretty red shoes
with the broad buckles which the Chevalier had given her. Her face, too,
had colour--the soft, warm tint of the peach-blossom--and her auburn
hair was like an aureole.

Philip’s eyes gleamed. He stretched out both his hands in greeting and
tenderness. “Guida--sweetheart!” he said.

She laughed up at him mischievously, and put her hands behind her back.

“Ma fe, you are so very forward,” she said, seating herself on the
bench. “And you must not call me Guida, and you’ve no right to call me
sweetheart.”

“I know I’ve no right to call you anything, but to myself I always call
you Guida, and sweetheart too, and I’ve liked to think that you would
care to know my thoughts,” he answered.

“Yes, I wish I knew your thoughts,” she responded, looking up at him
intently; “I should like to know every thought in your mind.... Do you
know--you don’t mind my saying just what I think?--I find myself feeling
that there’s something in you that I never touch; I mean, that a friend
ought to touch, if it’s a real friendship. You appear to be so frank,
and I know you are frank and good and true, and yet I seem always to
be hunting for something in your mind, and it slips away from me
always--always. I suppose it’s because we’re two different beings, and
no two beings can ever know each other in this world, not altogether.
We’re what the Chevalier calls ‘separate entities.’ I seem to understand
his odd, wise talk better lately. He said the other day: ‘Lonely we
come into the world, and lonely we go out of it.’ That’s what I mean. It
makes me shudder sometimes, that part of us which lives alone for ever.
We go running on as happy as can be, like Biribi there in the garden,
and all at once we stop short at a hedge, just as he does there--a hedge
just too tall to look over and with no foothold for climbing. That’s
what I want so much; I want to look over the Hedge.”

When she spoke like this to Philip, as she sometimes did, she seemed
quite unconscious that he was a listener, it was rather as if he
were part of her and thinking the same thoughts. To Philip she seemed
wonderful. He had never bothered his head in that way about abstract
things when he was her age, and he could not understand it in her. What
was more, he could not have thought as she did if he had tried. She had
that sort of mind which accepts no stereotyped reflection or idea;
she worked things out for herself. Her words were her own, and not
another’s. She was not imitative, nor yet was she bizarre; she was
individual, simple, inquiring.

“That’s the thing that hurts most in life,” she added presently; “that
trying to find and not being able to--voila, what a child I am to babble
so!” she broke off with a little laugh, which had, however, a plaintive
note. There was a touch of undeveloped pathos in her character, for she
had been left alone too young, been given responsibility too soon.

He felt he must say something, and in a sympathetic tone he replied:

“Yes, Guida, but after a while we stop trying to follow and see and
find, and we walk in the old paths and take things as they are.”

“Have you stopped?” she said to him wistfully. “Oh, no, not altogether,”
 he replied, dropping his tones to tenderness, “for I’ve been trying
to peep over a hedge this afternoon, and I haven’t done it yet.” “Have
you?” she rejoined, then paused, for the look in his eyes embarrassed
her.... “Why do you look at me like that?” she added tremulously.

“Guida,” he said earnestly, leaning towards her, “a month ago I asked
you if you would listen to me when I told you of my love, and you said
you would. Well, sometimes when we have met since, I have told you the
same story, and you’ve kept your promise and listened. Guida, I want
to go on telling you the same story for a long time--even till you or I
die.”

“Do you--ah, then, do you?” she asked simply. “Do you really wish that?”

“It is the greatest wish of my life, and always will be,” he added,
taking her unresisting hands.

“I like to hear you say it,” she answered simply, “and it cannot be
wrong, can it? Is there any wrong in my listening to you? Yet why do I
feel that it is not quite right?--sometimes I do feel that.”

“One thing will make all right,” he said eagerly; “one thing. I love
you, Guida, love you devotedly. Do you--tell me if you love me? Do not
fear to tell me, dearest, for then will come the thing that makes all
right.”

“I do not know,” she responded, her heart beating fast, her eyes
drooping before him; “but when you go from me, I am not happy till I see
you again. When you are gone, I want to be alone that I may remember all
you have said, and say it over to myself again. When I hear you speak I
want to shut my eyes, I am so happy; and every word of mine seems clumsy
when you talk to me; and I feel of how little account I am beside you.
Is that love, Philip--Philip, do you think that is love?”

They were standing now. The fruit that hung above Guida’s head was not
fairer and sweeter than she. Philip drew her to him, and her eyes lifted
to his.

“Is that love, Philip?” she repeated. “Tell me, for I do not know--it
has all come so soon. You are wiser; do not deceive me; you understand,
and I do not. Philip, do not let me deceive myself.”

“As the Judgment of Life is before us, I believe you love me,
Guida--though I don’t deserve it,” he answered with tender seriousness.

“And it is right that you should love me; that we should love each
other, Philip?”

“It will be right soon,” he said, “right for ever. Guida mine, I want
you to marry me.”

His arm tightened round her waist, as though he half feared she would
fly from him. He was right; she made a motion backward, but he held her
firmly, tenderly. “Marry--marry you, Philip!” she exclaimed in trembling
dismay.

“Marry--yes, marry me, Guida. That will make all right; that will bind
us together for ever. Have you never thought of that?”

“Oh, never, never!” she answered. It was true, she had never thought
of that; there had not been time. Too much had come all at once. “Why
should I? I cannot--cannot. Oh, it could not be--not at least for a
long, long time, not for years and years, Philip.”

“Guida,” he answered gravely and persistently, “I want you to marry
me--to-morrow.”

She was overwhelmed. She could scarcely speak. “To-morrow--to-morrow,
Philip? You are laughing at me. I could not--how could I marry you
to-morrow?”

“Guida, dearest,”--he took her hands more tightly now--“you must indeed.
The day after to-morrow my ship is going to Portsmouth for two months.
Then we return again here, but I will not go now unless I go as your
husband!”

“Oh, no, I could not--it is impossible, Philip! It is madness--it is
wrong. My grandfather--”

“Your grandfather need not know, sweetheart.”

“How can you say such wicked things, Philip?”

“My dearest, it is not necessary for him to know. I don’t want any one
to know until I come back from Portsmouth. Then I shall have a ship of
my own--commander of the Araminta I shall be then. I have word from the
Admiralty to that effect. But I dare not let them know that I am married
until I get commissioned to my ship. The Admiralty has set its face
against lieutenants marrying.”

“Then do not marry, Philip. You ought not, you see.”

Her pleading was like the beating of helpless wings against the bars of
a golden cage.

“But I must marry you, Guida. A sailor’s life is uncertain, and what I
want I want now. When I come back from Portsmouth every one shall know,
but if you love me--and I know you do--you must marry me to-morrow.
Until I come back no one shall know about it except the clergyman, Mr.
Dow of St. Michael’s--I have seen him--and Shoreham, a brother officer
of mine. Ah, you must, Guida, you must! Whatever is worth doing is
better worth doing in the time one’s own heart says. I want it more, a
thousand times more, than I ever wanted anything in my life.”

She looked at him in a troubled sort of way. Somehow she felt wiser than
he at that moment, wiser and stronger, though she scarcely defined the
feeling to herself, though she knew that in the end her brain would
yield to her heart in this.

“Would it make you so much happier, Philip?” she said more kindly than
joyfully, more in grave acquiescence than delighted belief.

“Yes, on my honour--supremely happy.”

“You are afraid that otherwise, by some chance, you might lose me?” she
said it tenderly, yet with a little pain.

“Yes, yes, that is it, Guida dearest,” he replied. “I suppose women are
different altogether from men,” she answered. “I could have waited ever
so long, believing that you would come again, and that I should never
lose you. But men are different; I see, yes, I see that, Philip.”

“We are more impetuous. We know, we sailors, that now-to-day-is our
time; that to-morrow may be Fate’s, and Fate is a fickle jade: she
beckons you up with one hand to-day, and waves you down with the other
to-morrow.”

“Philip,” she said, scarcely above a whisper, and putting her hands on
his arms, as her head sank towards him, “I must be honest with you--I
must be that or nothing at all. I do not feel as you do about it; I
can’t. I would much--much--rather everybody knew. And I feel it almost
wrong that they do not.” She paused a minute, her brow clouded slightly,
then cleared again, and she went on bravely: “Philip, if--if I should,
you must promise me that you will leave me as soon as ever we are
married, and that you will not try to see me until you come again from
Portsmouth. I am sure that is right, for the deception will not be so
great. I should be better able then to tell the poor grandpethe. Will
you promise me, Philip-dear? It--it is so hard for me. Ah, can’t you
understand?”

This hopeless everlasting cry of a woman’s soul!

He clasped her close. “Yes, Guida, my beloved, I understand, and I
promise you--I do promise you.” Her head dropped on his breast, her arms
ran round his neck. He raised her face; her eyes were closed; they were
dropping tears. He tenderly kissed the tears away.



CHAPTER XIV

       “Oh, give to me my gui-l’annee,
         I pray you, Monseigneur;
        The king’s princess doth ride to-day,
         And I ride forth with her.
        Oh! I will ride the maid beside
         Till we come to the sea,
        Till my good ship receive my bride,
         And she sail far with me.
         Oh, donnez-moi ma gui-l’annee,
          Monseigneur, je vous prie!”

The singer was perched on a huge broad stone, which, lying athwart other
tall perpendicular stones, made a kind of hut, approached by a pathway
of upright narrow pillars, irregular and crude. Vast must have been
the labour of man’s hands to lift the massive table of rock upon
the supporting shafts--relics of an age when they were the only
architecture, the only national monuments; when savage ancestors in
lion skins, with stone weapons, led by white-robed Druid priests, came
solemnly here and left the mistletoe wreath upon these Houses of Death
for their adored warriors.

Even the words sung by Shoreham on the rock carried on the ancient
story, the sacred legend that he who wore in his breast this mistletoe
got from the Druids’ altar, bearing his bride forth by sea or land,
should suffer no mischance; and for the bride herself, the morgen-gifn
should fail not, but should attest richly the perfect bliss of the
nuptial hours.

The light was almost gone from the day, though the last crimson petals
had scarce dropped from the rose of sunset. Upon the sea beneath there
was not a ripple; it was a lake of molten silver, shading into a leaden
silence far away. The tide was high, and the ragged rocks of the Banc
des Violets in the south and the Corbiore in the west were all but
hidden.

Below the mound where the tuneful youth loitered was a path, leading
down through the fields and into the highway. In this path walked
lingeringly a man and a maid. Despite the peaceful, almost dormant life
about them, the great event of their lives had just occurred, that which
is at once a vast adventure and a simple testament of nature: they had
been joined in marriage privately in the parish church of St. Michael’s
near by. As Shoreham’s voice came down the cotil, the two looked up,
then passed on out of view.

But still the voice followed them, and the man looked down at the maid,
repeating the refrain of the song:

          “Oh, give to me my gui-l’annee,
          Monseigneur, je vous prie!”

The maid looked up at the man tenderly, almost devoutly.

“I have no Druid’s mistletoe from the Chapel of St. George, but I will
give you--stoop down, Philip,” she added softly, “I will give you the
first kiss I have ever given to any man.”

He stooped. She kissed him on the forehead, then upon the lips.

“Guida, my wife,” Philip said, and drew her to his breast.

“My Philip,” she answered softly. “Won’t you say, ‘Philip, my husband’?”

She shyly did as he asked in a voice no louder than a bee’s. She was
only seventeen.

Presently she looked up at him with a look a little abashed, a little
anxious, yet tender withal.

“Philip,” she said, “I wonder what we will think of this day a year
from now--no, don’t frown, Philip,” she added. “You look at things so
differently from me. To-day is everything to you; to-morrow is very much
to me. It isn’t that I am afraid, it is that thoughts of possibilities
will come whether or no. If I couldn’t tell you everything I feel I
should be most unhappy. You see, I want to be able to do that, to tell
you everything.”

“Of course, of course,” he said, not quite comprehending her, for his
thoughts were always more material. He was revelling in the beauty
of the girl before him, in her perfect outward self, in her unique
personality. The more subtle, the deeper part of her, the searching
soul never to be content with superficial reasons and the obvious cause,
these he did not know--was he ever to know? It was the law of her nature
that she was never to deceive herself, to pretend anything, nor to
forgive pretence. To see things, to look beyond the Hedge, that was to
be a passion with her; already it was nearly that.

“Of course,” Philip continued, “you must tell me everything, and I’ll
understand. And as for what we’ll think of this in another year, why,
doesn’t it hold to reason that we’ll think it the best day of our
lives--as it is, Guida?” He smiled at her, and touched her shining
hair. “Evil can’t come out of good, can it? And this is good, as good as
anything in the world can be.... There, look into my eyes that way--just
that way.”

“Are you happy--very, very happy, Philip?” she asked, lingering on the
words.

“Perfectly happy, Guida,” he answered; and in truth he seemed so, his
eyes were so bright, his face so eloquent, his bearing so buoyant.

“And you think we have done quite right, Philip?” she urged.

“Of course, of course we have. We are honourably disposing of our
own fates. We love each other, we are married as surely as others are
married. Where is the wrong? We have told no one, simply because for
a couple of months it is best not to do so. The parson wouldn’t have
married us if there’d been anything wrong.”

“Oh, it isn’t what the clergyman might think that I mean; it’s what we
ourselves think down, down deep in our hearts. If you, Philip--if you
say it is all right, I will believe that it is right, for you would
never want your wife to have one single wrong thing like a dark spot on
her life with you--would you? If it is all right to you, it must be all
right for me, don’t you see?”

He did see that, and it made him grave for an instant, it made him not
quite so sure.

“If your mother were alive,” he answered, “of course she should have
known; but it isn’t necessary for your grandfather to know. He talks; he
couldn’t keep it to himself even for a month. But we have been regularly
married, we have a witness--Shoreham over there,” he pointed towards the
Druid’s cromlech where the young man was perched--“and it only concerns
us now--only you and me.”

“Yet if anything happened to you during the next two months, Philip, and
you did not come back!”

“My dearest, dearest Guida,” he answered, taking her hands in his,
and laughing boyishly, “in that case you will announce the marriage.
Shoreham and the clergyman are witnesses; besides, there’s the
certificate which Mr. Dow will give you to-morrow; and, above all,
there’s the formal record on the parish register. There, sweetest
interrogation mark in the world, there is the law and the gospel! Come,
come, let us be gay, let this be the happiest hour we’ve yet had in all
our lives.”

“How can I be altogether gay, Philip, when we part now, and I shall not
see you for two whole long months?”

“Mayn’t I come to you for just a minute to-morrow morning, before I go?”

“No, no, no, you must not, indeed you must not. Remember your promise,
remember that you are not to see me again until you come back from
Portsmouth. Even this is not quite what we agreed, for you are still
with me, and we’ve been married nearly half an hour!”

“Perhaps we were married a thousand years ago--I don’t know,” he
answered, drawing her to him. “It’s all a magnificent dream so far.”

“You must go, you must keep your word. Don’t break the first promise you
ever made me, Philip.”

She did not say it very reproachfully, for his look was ardent and
worshipful, and she could not be even a little austere in her new joy.

“I am going,” he answered. “We will go back to the town, I by the road,
you by the shore, so no one will see us, and--”

“Philip,” said Guida suddenly, “is it quite the same being married
without banns?”

His laugh had again a youthful ring of delight. “Of course, just the
same, my doubting fay,” said he. “Don’t be frightened about anything.
Now promise me that--will you promise me?”

She looked at him a moment steadily, her eyes lingering on his face with
great tenderness, and then she said:

“Yes, Philip, I will not trouble or question any longer. I will only
believe that everything is all right. Say good-bye to me, Philip. I
am happy now, but if--if you stay any longer--ah, please, please go,
Philip!”

A moment afterwards Philip and Shoreham were entering the high road,
waving their handkerchiefs to her as they went.

She had gone back to the Druid’s cromlech where Philip’s friend had sat,
and with smiling lips and swimming eyes she watched the young men until
they were lost to view.

Her eyes wandered over the sea. How immense it was, how mysterious, how
it begot in one feelings both of love and of awe! At this moment she was
not in sympathy with its wonderful calm. There had been times when she
seemed of it, part of it, absorbed by it, till it flowed over her soul
and wrapped her in a deep content. Now all was different. Mystery and
the million happenings of life lay hidden in that far silver haze. On
the brink of such a sea her mind seemed to be hovering now. Nothing was
defined, nothing was clear. She was too agitated to think; life, being,
was one wide, vague sensation, partly delight, partly trepidation.
Everything had a bright tremulousness. This mystery was no dark cloud,
it was a shaking, glittering mist, and yet there rose from it an air
which made her pulse beat hard, her breath come with joyous lightness.
She was growing to a new consciousness; a new glass, through which to
see life, was quickly being adjusted to her inner sight.

Many a time, with her mother, she had sat upon the shore at St. Aubin’s
Bay, and looked out where white sails fluttered like the wings of
restless doves. Nearer, maybe just beneath her, there had risen the keen
singing of the saw, and she could see the white flash of the adze as it
shaped the beams; the skeleton of a noble ship being covered with its
flesh of wood, and veined with iron; the tall masts quivering to their
places as the workmen hauled at the pulleys, singing snatches of patois
rhymes. She had seen more than one ship launched, and a strange shiver
of pleasure and of pain had gone through her; for as the water caught
the graceful figure of the vessel, and the wind bellied out the sails,
it seemed to her as if some ship of her own hopes were going out between
the reefs to the open sea. What would her ship bring back again to her?
Or would anything ever come back?

The books of adventure, poetry, history, and mythology she had read with
her mother had quickened her mind, sharpened her intuition, had made her
temperament still more sensitive--and her heart less peaceful. In her
was almost every note of human feeling: home and duty, song and gaiety,
daring and neighbourly kindness, love of sky and sea and air and
orchards, of the good-smelling earth and wholesome animal life, and all
the incidents, tragic, comic, or commonplace, of human existence.

How wonderful love was, she thought! How wonderful that so many millions
who had loved had come and gone, and yet of all they felt they had
spoken no word that laid bare the exact feeling to her or to any other.
The barbarians who raised these very stones she sat on, they had loved
and hated, and everything they had dared or suffered was recorded--but
where? And who could know exactly what they felt?

She realised the almost keenest pain of life, that universal agony, the
trying to speak, to reveal; and the proof, the hourly proof even the
wisest and most gifted have, that what they feel they can never quite
express, by sound, or by colour, or by the graven stone, or by the
spoken word.... But life was good, ah yes! and all that might be
revealed to her she would pray for; and Philip--her Philip--would help
her to the revelation.

Her Philip! Her heart gave a great throb, for the knowledge that she was
a wife came home to her with a pleasant shock. Her name was no longer
Guida Landresse de Landresse, but Guida d’Avranche. She had gone from
one tribe to another, she had been adopted, changed. A new life was
begun.

She rose, slowly made her way down to the sea, and proceeded along the
sands and shore-paths to the town. Presently a large vessel, with new
sails, beautiful white hull, and gracious form, came slowly round a
point. She shaded her eyes to look at it.

“Why, it’s the boat Maitre Ranulph was to launch to-day,” she said. Then
she stopped suddenly. “Poor Ranulph--poor Ro!” she added gently. She
knew that he cared for her--loved her. Where had he been these weeks
past? She had not seen him once since that great day when they had
visited the Ecrehos.



CHAPTER XV

The house of Elie Mattingley the smuggler stood in the Rue d’Egypte, not
far east of the Vier Prison. It had belonged to a jurat of repute, who
parted with it to Mattingley not long before he died. There was no doubt
as to the validity of the transfer, for the deed was duly registered
au greffe, and it said: “In consideration of one livre turnois,”
 etc. Possibly it was a libel against the departed jurat that he and
Mattingley had had dealings unrecognised by customs law, crystallising
at last into this legacy to the famous pirate-smuggler.

Unlike any other in the street, this house had a high stone wall in
front, enclosing a small square paved with flat stones. In one corner
was an ivy-covered well, with an antique iron gate, and the
bucket, hanging on a hook inside the fern-grown hood, was an old
wine-keg--appropriate emblem for a smuggler’s house. In one corner,
girdled by about five square feet of green earth, grew a pear tree,
bearing large juicy pears, reserved for the use of a distinguished
lodger, the Chevalier du Champsavoys de Beaumanoir.

In the summer the Chevalier always had his breakfast under this tree.
Occasionally one other person breakfasted with him, even Savary dit
Detricand, whom however he met less frequently than many people of the
town, though they lived in the same house. Detricand was but a fitful
lodger, absent at times for a month or so, and running up bills for food
and wine, of which payment was never summarily demanded by Mattingley,
for some day or other he always paid. When he did, he never questioned
the bill, and, what was most important, whether he was sober or “warm as
a thrush,” he always treated Carterette with respect, though she was not
unsparing with her tongue under slight temptation.

Despite their differences and the girl’s tempers, when the day came for
Detricand to leave for France, Carterette was unhappy. Several things
had come at once: his going,--on whom should she lavish her good advice
and biting candour now?--yesterday’s business in the Vier Marchi
with Olivier Delagarde, and the bitter change in Ranulph. Sorrowful
reflections and as sorrowful curiosity devoured her.

All day she tortured herself. The late afternoon came, and she could
bear it no longer--she would visit Guida. She was about to start, when
the door in the garden wall opened and Olivier Delagarde entered. As
he doffed his hat to her she thought she had never seen anything more
beautiful than the smooth forehead, white hair, and long beard of the
returned patriot. That was the first impression; but a closer scrutiny
detected the furtive, watery eye, the unwholesome, drooping mouth,
the vicious teeth, blackened and irregular. There was, too, something
sinister in the yellow stockings, luridly contrasting with the black
knickerbockers and rusty blue coat.

At first Carterette was inclined to run towards the prophet-like
figure--it was Ranulph’s father; next she drew back with dislike--his
smile was leering malice under the guise of amiable mirth. But he was
old, and he looked feeble, so her mind instantly changed again, and
she offered him a seat on a bench beside the arched doorway with the
superscription:

       “Nor Poverty nor Riches, but Daily Bread
        Under Mine Own Fig Tree.”

After the custom of the country, Carterette at once offered him
refreshment, and brought him brandy--good old brandy was always to be
got at the house of Elie Mattingley! As he drank she noticed a peculiar,
uncanny twitching of the fingers and eyelids. The old man’s eyes were
continually shifting from place to place. He asked Carterette many
questions. He had known the house years before--did the deep stream
still run beneath it? Was the round hole still in the floor of the back
room, from which water used to be drawn in old days? Carterette replied
that it was M. Detricand’s bedroom now, and you could plainly hear the
stream running beneath the house. Did not the noise of the water
worry poor M. Detricand then? And so it still went straight on to the
sea--and, of course, much swifter after such a heavy rain as they had
had the day before.

Carterette took him into every room in the house save her own and
the Chevalier’s. In the kitchen and in Detricand’s bedroom Olivier
Delagarde’s eyes were very busy. He saw that the kitchen opened on
the garden, which had a gate in the rear wall. He also saw that the
lozenge-paned windows swung like doors, and were not securely fastened;
and he tried the trap-door in Detricand’s bedroom to see the water
flowing beneath, just as it did when he was young--Yes, there it was
running swiftly away to the sea! Then he babbled all the way to the door
that led into the street; for now he would stay no longer.

When he had gone, Carterette sat wondering why it was that Ranulph’s
father should inspire her with such dislike. She knew that at this
moment no man in Jersey was so popular as Olivier Delagarde. The longer
she thought the more puzzled she became. No sooner had she got one
theory than another forced her to move on. In the language of her
people, she did not know on which foot to dance.

As she sat and thought, Detricand entered, loaded with parcels and
bundles. These were mostly gifts for her father and herself; and for
du Champsavoys there was a fine delft shaving-dish, shaped like a
quartermoon to fit the neck. They were distributed, and by the time
supper was over, it was quite dark. Then Detricand said his farewells,
for it was ten o’clock, and he must be away at three, when his boat was
to steal across to Brittany, and land him near to the outposts of the
Royalist army under de la Rochejaquelein. There were letters to write
and packing yet to do. He set to work gaily.

At last everything was done, and he was stooping over a bag to fasten
it. The candle was in the window. Suddenly a hand--a long, skinny
hand--reached softly out from behind a large press, and swallowed and
crushed out the flame. Detricand raised his head quickly, astonished.
There was no wind blowing--the candle had not even flickered when
burning. But then, again, he had not heard a sound; perhaps that was
because his foot was scraping the floor at the moment the light went
out. He looked out of the window, but there was only starlight, and he
could not see distinctly. Turning round he went to the door of the outer
hall-way, opened it, and stepped into the garden. As he did so, a
figure slipped from behind the press in the bedroom, swiftly raised the
trap-door in the flooring, then, shadowed by the door leading into the
hall-way, waited for him.

Presently his footstep was heard. He entered the hall, stood in the
doorway of the bedroom for a moment, while he searched in his pockets
for a light, then stepped inside.

Suddenly his attention was arrested. There was the sound of flowing
water beneath his feet. This could always be heard in his room, but now
how loud it was! Realising that the trap-door must be open, he listened
for a second and was instantly conscious of some one in the room. He
made a step towards the door, but it suddenly closed softly. He moved
swiftly to the window, for the presence was near the door.

What did it mean? Who was it? Was there one, or more? Was murder
intended? The silence, the weirdness, stopped his tongue--besides, what
was the good of crying out? Whatever was to happen would happen at once.
He struck a light, and held it up. As he did so some one or something
rushed at him. What a fool he had been--the light had revealed his
position! But at the same moment came the instinct to throw himself
to one side; which he did as the rush came. In that one flash he had
seen--a man’s white beard.

Next instant there was a sharp sting in his right shoulder. The knife
had missed his breast--the sudden swerving had saved him. Even as it
struck, he threw himself on his assailant. Then came a struggle. The
long fingers of the man with the white beard clove to the knife like
a dead soldier’s to the handle of a sword. Twice Detricand’s hand
was gashed slightly, and then he pinioned the wrist of his enemy, and
tripped him up. The miscreant fell half across the opening in the floor.
One foot, hanging down, almost touched the running water.

Detricand had his foe at his mercy. There was the first inclination to
drop him into the stream, but that was put away as quickly as it came.
He gave the wretch a sudden twist, pulling him clear of the hole, and
wrenched the knife from his fingers at the same moment.

“Now, monsieur,” said he, feeling for a light, “now we’ll have a look at
you.”

The figure lay quiet beneath him. The nervous strength was gone, the
body was limp, the breathing was laboured. The light flared. Detricand
held it down, and there was revealed the haggard, malicious face of
Olivier Delagarde.

“So, monsieur the traitor,” said Detricand--“so you’d be a murderer
too--eh?”

The old man mumbled an oath.

“Hand of the devil,” continued Detricand, “was there ever a greater
beast than you! I held my tongue about you these eleven years past,
I held it yesterday and saved your paltry life, and you’d repay me by
stabbing me in the dark--in a fine old-fashioned way too, with your
trap-doors, and blown-out candle, and Italian tricks--”

He held the candle down near the white beard as though he would singe
it.

“Come, sit up against the wall there and let me look at you.”

Cringing, the old man drew himself over to the wall. Detricand, seating
himself in a chair, held the candle up before him.

After a moment he said: “What I want to know is, how could a low-flying
cormorant like you beget a gull of the cliffs like Maitre Ranulph?”

The old man did not answer, but sat blinking with malignant yet fearful
eyes at Detricand, who continued: “What did you come back for? Why
didn’t you stay dead? Ranulph had a name as clean as a piece of paper
from the mill, and he can’t write it now without turning sick, because
it’s the same name as yours. You’re the choice blackamoor of creation,
aren’t you? Now what have you got to say?”

“Let me go,” whined the old man with the white beard. “Let me go,
monsieur. Don’t send me to prison.”

Detricand stirred him with his foot, as one might a pile of dirt.

“Listen,” said he. “In the Vier Marchi they’re cutting off the ear of
a man and nailing it to a post, because he ill-used a cow. What do you
suppose they’d do to you, if I took you down there and told them it
was through you Rullecour landed, and that you’d have seen them all
murdered--eh, maitre cormorant?”

The old man crawled towards Detricand on his knees. “Let me go, let me
go,” he whined. “I was mad; I didn’t know what I was doing; I’ve not
been right in the head since I was in the Guiana prison.”

At that moment it struck Detricand that the old man must have had
some awful experience in prison, for now his eyes had the most painful
terror, the most abject fear. He had never seen so craven a sight.

“What were you in prison for in Guiana, and what did they do to you
there?” asked Detricand sternly. Again the old man shivered horribly,
and tears streamed down his cheeks, as he whined piteously: “Oh no, no,
no--for the mercy of Christ, no!” He threw up his hands as if to ward
off a blow.

Detricand saw that this was not acting, that it was a supreme terror, an
awful momentary aberration; for the traitor’s eyes were wildly staring,
the mouth was drawn in agony, the hands were now rigidly clutching an
imaginary something, the body stiffened where it crouched.

Detricand understood now. The old man had been tied to a triangle and
whipped--how horribly who might know? His mood towards the miserable
creature changed: he spoke to him in a firm, quiet tone.

“There, there, you’re not going to be hurt. Be quiet now, and you shall
not be touched.”

Then he stooped over, and quickly undoing the old man’s waistcoat, he
pulled down the coat and shirt and looked at his back. As far as he
could see it was scarred as though by a red-hot iron, and the healed
welts were like whipcords on the shrivelled skin. The old man whimpered
yet, but he was growing quieter. Detricand lifted him up, and buttoning
the shirt and straightening the coat again, he said:

“Now, you’re to go home and sleep the sleep of the unjust, and you’re to
keep the sixth commandment, and you’re to tell no more lies. You’ve made
a shameful mess of your son’s life, and you’re to die now as soon as you
can without attracting notice. You’re to pray for an accident to take
you out of the world: a wind to blow you over a cliff, a roof to fall on
you, a boat to go down with you, a hole in the ground to swallow you up,
a fever or a plague to end you in a day.”

He opened the door to let him go; but suddenly catching his arms held
him in a close grip. “Hark!” he said in a mysterious whisper.

There was only the weird sound of the running water through the open
trap-door of the floor. He knew how superstitious was every Jerseyman,
from highest to lowest, and he would work upon that weakness now.

“You hear that water running to the sea?” he said solemnly. “You tried
to kill and drown me to-night. You’ve heard how when one man has drowned
another an invisible stream follows the murderer wherever he goes, and
he hears it, hour after hour, month after month, year after year, until
suddenly one day it comes on him in a huge flood, and he is found,
whether in the road, or in his bed, or at the table, or in the field,
drowned, and dead?”

The old man shivered violently.

“You know Manon Moignard the witch? Well, if you don’t do what I
say--and I shall find out, mind you--she shall bewitch the flood on
you. Be still ... listen! That’s the sound you’ll hear every day of your
life, if you break the promise you’ve got to make to me now.”

He spoke the promise with ghostly deliberation, and the old man, all
the desperado gone out of him, repeated it in a husky voice. Whereupon
Detricand led him into the garden, saw him safe out on the road and
watched him disappear. Then rubbing his fingers, as though to rid them
of pollution, with an exclamation of disgust he went back to the house.

By another evening--that is, at the hour when Guida arrived home after
her secret marriage with Philip d’Avranche--he saw the lights of the
army of de la Rochejaquelein in the valley of the Vendee.



CHAPTER XVI

The night and morning after Guida’s marriage came and went. The day drew
on to the hour fixed for the going of the Narcissus. Guida had worked
all forenoon with a feverish unrest, not trusting herself, though the
temptation was sore, to go where she might see Philip’s vessel lying in
the tide-way. She had resolved that only at the moment fixed for sailing
would she go to the shore; yet from her kitchen door she could see a
wide acreage of blue water and a perfect sky; and out there was Noirmont
Point, round which her husband’s ship would go, and be lost to her
vision thereafter.

The day wore on. She got her grandfather’s dinner, saw him bestowed in
the great arm-chair for his afternoon sleep, and, when her household
work was done, settled herself at the spinning wheel.

The old man loved to have her spin and sing as he drowsed. To-day his
eyes had followed her everywhere. He could not have told why it was, but
somehow all at once he seemed to deeply realise her--her beauty, the joy
of this innocent living intelligence moving through his home. She had
always been necessary to him, but he had taken her presence as a matter
of course. She had always been to him the most wonderful child ever
given to comfort an old man’s life, but now as he abstractedly took
a pinch of snuff from the silver box and then forgot to put it to
his nose, he seemed suddenly to get that clearness of sight, that
perspective, from which he could see her as she really was. He took
another pinch of snuff, and again forgot to put it to his nose, but
brushed imaginary dust from his coat, as was his wont, and whispered to
himself:

“Why now, why now, I had not thought she was so much a woman. Flowers
of the sea, but what eyes, what carriage, and what an air! I had not
thought--h’m--blind old bat that I am--I had not thought she was grown
such a lady. It was only yesterday, surely but yesterday, since I rocked
her to sleep. Francois de Mauprat”--he shook his head at himself--“you
are growing old. Let me see--why, yes, she was born the day I sold the
blue enamelled timepiece to his Highness the Duc de Mauban. The Duc was
but putting the watch to his ear when a message comes to say the child
there is born. ‘Good,’ says the Duc de Mauban, when he hears, ‘give me
the honour, de Mauprat,’ says he, ‘for the sake of old days in
France, to offer a name to the brave innocent--for the sake of old
associations,’ says de Mauban. ‘You knew my wife, de Mauprat,’ says he;
‘you knew the Duchesse Guida-Guidabaldine. She’s been gone these ten
years, alas! You were with me when we were married, de Mauprat,’ says
the Duc; ‘I should care to return the compliment if you will allow me to
offer a name, eh?’ ‘Duc,’ said I, ‘there is no honour I more desire for
my grandchild.’ ‘Then let the name of Guidabaldine be somewhere among
others she will carry, and--and I’ll not forget her, de Mauprat, I’ll
not forget her.’... Eh, eh, I wonder--I wonder if he has forgotten the
little Guidabaldine there? He sent her a golden cup for the christening,
but I wonder--I wonder--if he has forgotten her since? So quick of
tongue, so bright of eye, so light of foot, so sweet a face--if one
could but be always young! When her grandmother, my wife, my Julie, when
she was young--ah, she was fair, fairer than Guida, but not so tall--not
quite so tall. Ah!...”

He was slipping away into sleep when he realised that Guida was singing

       “Spin, spin, belle Mergaton!
         The moon wheels full, and the tide flows high,
        And your wedding-gown you must put it on
         Ere the night hath no moon in the sky--
             Gigoton Mergaton, spin!”

“I had never thought she was so much a woman,” he said drowsily; “I--I
wonder why--I never noticed it.”

He roused himself again, brushed imaginary snuff from his coat, keeping
time with his foot to the wheel as it went round. “I--I suppose she will
wed soon.... I had forgotten. But she must marry well, she must marry
well--she is the godchild of the Duc de Mauban. How the wheel goes
round! I used to hear--her mother--sing that song, ‘Gigoton, Mergaton
spin-spin-spin.’” He was asleep.

Guida put by the wheel, and left the house. Passing through the Rue des
Sablons, she came to the shore. It was high tide. This was the time that
Philip’s ship was to go. She had dressed herself with as much care as
to what might please his eye as though she were going to meet him in
person. Not without reason, for, though she could not see him from the
land, she knew he could see her plainly through his telescope, if he
chose.

She reached the shore. The time had come for him to go, but there was
his ship at anchor in the tide-way still. Perhaps the Narcissus was
not going; perhaps, after all, Philip was to remain! She laughed with
pleasure at the thought of that. Her eyes wandered lovingly over the
ship which was her husband’s home upon the sea. Just such another vessel
Philip would command. At a word from him those guns, like long, black,
threatening arms thrust out, would strike for England with thunder and
fire.

A bugle call came across the still water, clear, vibrant, and
compelling. It represented power. Power--that was what Philip, with
his ship, would stand for in the name of England. Danger--oh yes, there
would be danger, but Heaven would be good to her; Philip should go safe
through storm and war, and some day great honours would be done him. He
should be an admiral, and more perhaps; he had said so. He was going
to do it as much for her as for himself, and when he had done it, to be
proud of it more for her than for himself; he had said so: she believed
in him utterly. Since that day upon the Ecrehos it had never occurred
to her not to believe him. Where she gave her faith she gave it wholly;
where she withdrew it--

The bugle call sounded again. Perhaps that was the signal to set sail.
No, a boat was putting out from the Narcissus. It was coming landward.
As she watched its approach she heard a chorus of boisterous voices
behind her. She turned and saw nearing the shore from the Rue d’Egypte a
half-dozen sailors, singing cheerily:

       “Get you on, get you on, get you on,
        Get you on to your fo’c’stle’ome;
        Leave your lassies, leave your beer,
        For the bugle what you ‘ear
        Pipes you on to your fo’c’stle ‘ome--
        ‘Ome--‘ome--‘ome,
        Pipes you on to your fo’c’stle ‘ome.”

Guida drew near.

“The Narcissus is not leaving to-day?” she asked of the foremost sailor.

The man touched his cap. “Not to-day, lady.”

“When does she leave?”

“Well, that’s more nor I can say, lady, but the cap’n of the main-top,
yander, ‘e knows.”

She approached the captain of the main-top. “When does the Narcissus
leave?” she asked.

He looked her up and down, at first glance with something like boldness,
but instantly he touched his hat.

“To-morrow, mistress--she leaves at ‘igh tide tomorrow.”

With an eye for a fee or a bribe, he drew a little away from the others,
and said to her in a low tone: “Is there anything what I could do for
you, mistress? P’r’aps you wanted some word carried aboard, lady?”

She hesitated an instant, then said: “No-no, thank you.”

He still waited, however, rubbing his hand on his hip with mock
bashfulness. There was an instant’s pause, then she divined his meaning.

She took from her pocket a shilling. She had never given away so much
money in her life before, but she seemed to feel instinctively that now
she must give freely--now that she was the wife of an officer of the
navy. Strange how these sailors to-day seemed so different to her from
ever before--she felt as if they all belonged to her. She offered the
shilling to the captain of the main-top. His eyes gloated, but he said
with an affected surprise:

“No, I couldn’t think of it, yer leddyship.”

“Ah, but you will take it!” she said. “I--I have a r-relative”--she
hesitated at the word--“in the navy.”

“‘Ave you now, yer leddyship?” he said. “Well, then, I’m proud to ‘ave
the shilling to drink ‘is ‘ealth, yer leddyship.”

He touched his hat, and was about to turn away. “Stay a little,” she
said with bashful boldness. The joy of giving was rapidly growing to
a vice. “Here’s something for them,” she added, nodding towards his
fellows, and a second shilling came from her pocket. “Just as you say,
yer leddyship,” he said with owlish gravity; “but for my part I think
they’ve ‘ad enough. I don’t ‘old with temptin’ the weak passions of
man.”

A moment afterwards the sailors were in the boat, rowing towards the
Narcissus. Their song came back across the water:

       “... O you A.B. sailor-man,
        Wet your whistle while you can,
         For the piping of the bugle calls you ‘ome!
        ‘Ome--‘ome--‘ome,
         Calls you on to your fo’c’stle ‘ome!”

The evening came down, and Guida sat in the kitchen doorway looking
out over the sea, and wondering why Philip had sent her no message. Of
course he would not come himself, he must not: he had promised her. But
how much she would have liked to see him for just one minute, to feel
his arms about her, to hear him say good-bye once more. Yet she loved
him the better for not coming.

By and by she became very restless. She would have been almost happier
if he had gone that day: he was within call of her, still they were not
to see each other.

She walked up and down the garden, Biribi the dog by her side. Sitting
down on the bench beneath the appletree, she recalled every word that
Philip had said to her two days before. Every tone of his voice, every
look he had given her, she went over in her thoughts. There is no
reporting in the world so exact, so perfect, as that in a woman’s mind,
of the words, looks, and acts of her lover in the first days of mutual
confession and understanding.

It can come but once, this dream, fantasy, illusion--call it what you
will: it belongs to the birth hour of a new and powerful feeling; it is
the first sunrise of the heart. What comes after may be the calmer joy
of a more truthful, a less ideal emotion, but the transitory glory of
the love and passion of youth shoots higher than all other glories
into the sky of time. The splendour of youth is its madness, and the
splendour of that madness is its unconquerable belief. And great is the
strength of it, because violence alone can destroy it. It does not yield
to time nor to decay, to the long wash of experience that wears away the
stone, nor to disintegration. It is always broken into pieces at a blow.
In the morning all is well, and ere the evening come the radiant temple
is in ruins.

At night when Guida went to bed she could not sleep at first. Then came
a drowsing, a floating between waking and sleeping, in which a hundred
swift images of her short past flashed through her mind:

A butterfly darting in the white haze of a dusty road, and the cap of
the careless lad that struck it down.... Berry-picking along the hedges
beyond the quarries of Mont Mado, and washing her hands in the strange
green pools at the bottom of the quarries.... Stooping to a stream and
saying of it to a lad: “Ro, won’t it never come back?”... From the front
doorway watching a poor criminal shrink beneath the lash with which he
was being flogged from the Vier Marchi to the Vier Prison... Seeing
a procession of bride and bridegroom with young men and women gay in
ribbons and pretty cottons, calling from house to house to receive the
good wishes of their friends, and drinking cinnamon wine and mulled
cider--the frolic, the gaiety of it all. Now, in a room full of people,
she was standing on a veille flourished with posies of broom and
wildflowers, and Philip was there beside her, and he was holding her
hand, and they were waiting and waiting for some one who never came.
Nobody took any notice of her and Philip, she thought; they stood there
waiting and waiting--why, there was M. Savary dit Detricand in the
doorway, waving a handkerchief at her, and saying: “I’ve found it--I’ve
found it!”--and she awoke with a start.

Her heart was beating hard, and for a moment she was dazed; but
presently she went to sleep again, and dreamed once more.

This time she was on a great warship, in a storm which was driving
towards a rocky shore. The sea was washing over the deck. She recognised
the shore: it was the cliff at Plemont in the north of Jersey, and
behind the ship lay the awful Paternosters. They were drifting, drifting
on the wall of rock. High above on the land there was a solitary stone
hut. The ship came nearer and nearer. The storm increased in strength.
In the midst of the violence she looked up and saw a man standing in
the doorway of the hut. He turned his face towards her: it was Ranulph
Delagarde, and he had a rope in his hand. He saw her and called to her,
making ready to throw the rope, but suddenly some one drew her back. She
cried aloud, and then all grew black....

And then, again, she knew she was in a small, dark cabin of the ship.
She could hear the storm breaking over the deck. Now the ship struck.
She could feel her grinding upon the rocks. She seemed to be sinking,
sinking--There was a knocking, knocking at the door of the cabin, and a
voice calling to her--how far away it seemed!... Was she dying, was
she drowning? The words of a nursery rhyme rang in her ears distinctly,
keeping time to the knocking. She wondered who should be singing a
nursery rhyme on a sinking ship:

            “La main morte,
             La main morte,
             Tapp’ a la porte,
             Tapp’ a la porte.”

She shuddered. Why should the dead hand tap at her door? Yet there it
was tapping louder, louder.... She struggled, she tried to cry out, then
suddenly she grew quiet, and the tapping got fainter and fainter--her
eyes opened: she was awake.

For an instant she did not know where she was. Was it a dream still? For
there was a tapping, tapping at her door--no, it was at the window.
A shiver ran through her from head to foot. Her heart almost stopped
beating. Some one was calling to her.

“Guida! Guida!”

It was Philip’s voice. Her cheek had been cold the moment before; now
she felt the blood tingling in her face. She slid to the floor, threw a
shawl round her, and went to the casement.

The tapping began again. For a moment she could not open the window. She
was trembling from head to foot. Philip’s voice reassured her a little.

“Guida, Guida, open the window a moment.”

She hesitated. She could not--no--she could not do it. He tapped still
louder.

“Guida, don’t you hear me?” he asked.

She undid the catch, but she had hardly the courage even yet. He heard
her now, and pressed the window a little. Then she opened it slowly, and
her white face showed.

“O Philip,” she said breathlessly, “why have you frightened me so?”

He caught her hand in his own. “Come out into the garden, sweetheart,”
 he said, and he kissed the hand. “Put on a dress and your slippers and
come,” he urged again.

“Philip,” she said, “O Philip, I cannot! It is too late. It is midnight.
Do not ask me. Why, why did you come?”

“Because I wanted to speak with you for one minute. I have only a little
while. Please come outside and say good-bye to me again. We are sailing
to-morrow--there’s no doubt about it this time.”

“O Philip,” she answered, her voice quivering, “how can I? Say good-bye
to me here, now.”

“No, no, Guida, you must come. I can’t kiss you good-bye where you are.”

“Must I come to you?” she said helplessly. “Well, then, Philip,” she
added, “go to the bench by the apple-tree, and I shall be there in a
moment.”

“Beloved!” he exclaimed ardently. She shut the window slowly.

For a moment he looked about him; then went lightly through the
garden, and sat down on the bench under the apple-tree, near to the
summer-house. At last he heard her footstep. He rose quickly to meet
her, and as she came timidly to him, clasped her in his arms.

“Philip,” she said, “this isn’t right. You ought not to have come; you
have broken your promise.”

“Are you not glad to see me?”

“Oh, you know, you know that I’m glad to see you, but you shouldn’t have
come--hark! what’s that?” They both held their breath, for there was a
sound outside the garden wall. Clac-clac! clac-clac!--a strange, uncanny
footstep. It seemed to be hurrying away--clac-clac! clac-clac!

“Ah, I know,” whispered Guida: “it is Dormy Jamais. How foolish of me to
be afraid!”

“Of course, of course,” said Philip--“Dormy Jamais, the man who never
sleeps.”

“Philip--if he saw us!”

“Foolish child, the garden wall is too high for that. Besides--”

“Yes, Philip?”

“Besides, you are my wife, Guida!”

“No, no, Philip, no; not really so until all the world is told.”

“My beloved Guida, what difference can that make?” She sighed and shook
her head. “To me, Philip, it is only that which makes it right--that the
whole world knows. Philip, I am so afraid of--of secrecy, and cheating.”

“Nonsense-nonsense!” he answered. “Poor little wood-bird, you’re
frightened at nothing at all. Come and sit by me.” He drew her close to
him.

Her trembling presently grew less. Hundreds of glow-worms were
shimmering in the hedge. The grass-hoppers were whirring in the mielles
beyond; a flutter of wings went by overhead. The leaves were rustling
gently; a fresh wind was coming up from the sea upon the soft, fragrant
dusk.

They talked a little while in whispers, her hands in his, his voice
soothing her, his low, hurried words giving her no time to think. But
presently she shivered again, though her heart was throbbing hotly.

“Come into the summer-house, Guida; you are cold, you are shivering.” He
rose, with his arm round her waist, raising her gently at the same time.

“Oh no, Philip dear,” she said, “I’m not really cold--I don’t know what
it is--”

“But indeed you are cold,” he answered. “There’s a stiff south-easter
rising, and your hands are like ice. Come into the arbour for a minute.
It’s warm there, and then--then we’ll say good-bye, sweetheart.”

His arm round her, he drew her with him to the summer-house, talking to
her tenderly all the time. There was reassurance, comfort, loving care
in his very tones.

How brightly the stars shone, how clearly the music of the stream
came over the hedge! With what lazy restfulness the distant All’s well
floated across the mielles from a ship at anchor in the tide-way, how
like a slumber-song the wash of the sea rolled drowsily along the wind!
How gracious the smell of the earth, drinking up the dew of the affluent
air, which the sun, on the morrow, should turn into life-blood for the
grass and trees and flowers!



CHAPTER XVII

Philip was gone. Before breakfast was set upon the table, Guida saw the
Narcissus sail round Noirmont Point and disappear.

Her face had taken on a new expression since yesterday. An old touch of
dreaminess, of vague anticipation was gone--that look which belongs to
youth, which feels the confident charm of the unknown future. Life
was revealed; but, together with joy, wonder and pain informed the
revelation.

A marvel was upon her. Her life was linked to another’s, she was a wife.
She was no longer sole captain of herself. Philip would signal, and she
must come until either he or she should die. He had taken her hand, and
she must never let it go; the breath of his being must henceforth give
her new and healthy life, or inbreed a fever which should corrode the
heart and burn away the spirit. Young though she was, she realised
it--but without defining it. The new-found knowledge was diffused in her
character, expressed in her face.

Seldom had a day of Guida’s life been so busy. It seemed to her that
people came and went far more than usual. She talked, she laughed a
little, she answered back the pleasantries of the seafaring folk who
passed her doorway or her garden. She was attentive to her
grandfather; exact with her household duties. But all the time she was
thinking--thinking--thinking. Now and again she smiled, but at times too
tears sprang to her eyes, to be quickly dried. More than once she drew
in her breath with a quick, sibilant sound, as though some thought
wounded her; and she flushed suddenly, then turned pale, then came to
her natural colour again.

Among those who chanced to visit the cottage was Maitresse Aimable. She
came to ask Guida to go with her and Jean to the island of Sark, twelve
miles away, where Guida had never been. They would only be gone one
night, and, as Maitresse Aimable said, the Sieur de Mauprat could very
well make shift for once.

The invitation came to Guida like water to thirsty ground. She longed to
get away from the town, to be where she could breathe; for all this day
the earth seemed too small for breath: she gasped for the sea, to be
alone there. To sail with Jean Touzel was practically to be alone, for
Maitresse Aimable never talked; and Jean knew Guida’s ways, knew
when she wished to be quiet. In Jersey phrase, he saw beyond his
spectacles--great brass-rimmed things, giving a droll, childlike kind of
wisdom to his red rotund face.

Having issued her invitation, Maitresse Aimable smiled placidly and
seemed about to leave, when, all at once, without any warning, she
lowered herself like a vast crate upon the veille, and sat there looking
at Guida.

At first the grave inquiry of her look startled Guida. She was beginning
to know that sensitive fear assailing those tortured by a secret. How
she loathed this secrecy! How guilty she now felt, where, indeed, no
guilt was! She longed to call aloud her name, her new name, from the
housetops.

The voice of Maitresse Aimable roused her. Her ponderous visitor had
made a discovery which had yet been made by no other human being. Her
own absurd romance, her ancient illusion, had taught her to know when
love lay behind another woman’s face. And after her fashion, Maitresse
Aimable loved Jean Touzel as it is given to few to love.

“I was sixteen when I fell in love; you’re seventeen--you,” she said.
“Ah bah, so it goes!”

Guida’s face crimsoned. What--how much did Maitresse Aimable know? By
what necromancy had this fat, silent fisher-wife learned the secret
which was the heart of her life, the soul of her being--which was
Philip? She was frightened, but danger made her cautious.

“Can you guess who it is?” she asked, without replying directly to the
oblique charge.

“It is not Maitre Ranulph,” answered her friendly inquisitor; “it is not
that M’sieu’ Detricand, the vaurien.” Guida flushed with annoyance. “It
is not that farmer Blampied, with fifty vergees, all potatoes; it is not
M’sieu’ Janvrin, that bat’d’lagoule of an ecrivain. Ah bah, so it goes!”

“Who is it, then?” persisted Guida. “Eh ben, that is the thing!”

“How can you tell that one is in love, Maitresse Aimable?” persisted
Guida.

The other smiled with a torturing placidity, then opened her mouth;
but nothing came of it. She watched Guida moving about the kitchen
abstractedly. Her eye wandered to the racllyi, with its flitches of
bacon, to the dreschiaux and the sanded floor, to the great Elizabethan
oak chair, and at last back to Guida, as though through her the lost
voice might be charmed up again.

The eyes of the two met now, fairly, firmly; and Guida was conscious of
a look in the other’s face which she had never seen before. Had then
a new sight been given to herself? She saw and understood the look in
Maitresse Aimable’s face, and instantly knew it to be the same that was
in her own.

With a sudden impulse she dropped the bashin she was polishing,
and, going over quickly, she silently laid her cheek against her old
friend’s. She could feel the huge breast heave, she felt the vast face
turn hot, she was conscious of a voice struggling back to life, and she
heard it say at last:

“Gatd’en’ale, rosemary tea cures a cough, but nothing cures the love--ah
bah, so it goes!”

“Do you love Jean?” whispered Guida, not showing her face, but longing
to hear the experience of another who suffered that joy called love.

Maitresse Aimable’s face grew hotter; she did not speak, but patted
Guida’s back with her heavy hand and nodded complacently.

“Have you always loved him?” asked Guida again, with an eager
inquisition, akin to that of a wayside sinner turned chapel-going saint,
hungry to hear what chanced to others when treading the primrose path.

Maitresse Aimable again nodded, and her arm drew closer about Guida.
There was a slight pause, then came an unsophisticated question:

“Has Jean always loved you?”

A short silence, and then the voice said with the deliberate prudence of
an unwilling witness:

“It is not the man who wears the wedding-ring.” Then, as if she had been
disloyal in even suggesting that Jean might hold her lightly, she added,
almost eagerly--an enthusiasm tempered by the pathos of a half-truth:

“But my Jean always sleeps at home.”

This larger excursion into speech gave her courage, and she said more;
and even as Guida listened hungrily--so soon had come upon her the
apprehensions and wavering moods of loving woman!--she was wondering to
hear this creature, considered so dull by all, speak as though out of a
watchful and capable mind. What further Maitresse Aimable said was proof
that if she knew little and spake little, she knew that little well; and
if she had gathered meagrely from life, she had at least winnowed out
some small handfuls of grain from the straw and chaff. At last her
sagacity impelled her to say:

“If a man’s eyes won’t see, elder-water can’t make him; if he will--ah
bah, glad and good!” Both arms went round Guida, and hugged her
awkwardly.

Her voice came up but once more that morning. As she left Guida in the
doorway, she said with a last effort:

“I will have one bead to pray for you, trejous.” She showed her rosary,
and, Huguenot though she was, Guida touched the bead reverently. “And if
there is war, I will have two beads, trejous. A bi’tot--good-bye!”

Guida stood watching her from the doorway, and the last words of the
fisher-wife kept repeating themselves through her brain: “And if there
is war, I will have two beads, trejous.”

So, Maitresse Aimable knew she loved Philip! How strange it was that one
should read so truly without words spoken, or through seeing acts which
reveal. She herself seemed to read Maitresse Aimable all at once--read
her by virtue, and in the light, of true love, the primitive and
consuming feeling in the breast of each for a man. Were not words
necessary for speech after all? But here she stopped short suddenly;
for if love might find and read love, why was it she needed speech of
Philip? Why was it her spirit kept beating up against the hedge beyond
which his inner self was, and, unable to see that beyond, needed
reassurance by words, by promises and protestations?

All at once she was angry with herself for thinking thus concerning
Philip. Of course Philip loved her deeply. Had she not seen the light of
true love in his eyes, and felt the arms of love about her? Suddenly she
shuddered and grew bitter, and a strange rebellion broke loose in her.
Why had Philip failed to keep his promise not to see her again after
the marriage, till he should return from Portsmouth? It was selfish,
painfully, terribly selfish of him. Why, even though she had been
foolish in her request--why had he not done as she wished? Was that
love--was it love to break the first promise he had ever made to his
wife?

Yet she excused him to herself. Men were different from women, and men
did not understand what troubled a woman’s heart and spirit; they were
not shaken by the same gusts of emotion; they--they were not so fine;
they did not think so deeply on what a woman, when she loves, thinks
always, and acts upon according to her thought. If Philip were only here
to resolve these fears, these perplexities, to quiet the storm in
her! And yet, could he--could he? For now she felt that this storm was
rooting up something very deep and radical in her. It frightened her,
but for the moment she fought it passionately.

She went into her garden; and here among her animals and her flowers it
seemed easier to be gay of heart; and she laughed a little, and was most
tender and pretty with her grandfather when he came home from spending
the afternoon with the Chevalier.

In this manner the first day of her marriage passed--in happy
reminiscence and in vague foreboding; in affection yet in reproach as
the secret wife; and still as the loving, distracted girl, frightened at
her own bitterness, but knowing it to be justified.

The late evening was spent in gaiety with her grandfather and the
Chevalier; but at night when she went to bed she could not sleep. She
tossed from side to side; a hundred thoughts came and went. She grew
feverish, her breath choked her, and she got up and opened the window.
It was clear, bright moonlight, and from where she was she could see the
mielles and the ocean and the star-sown sky above and beyond. There she
sat and thought and thought till morning.



CHAPTER XVIII

At precisely the same moment in the morning two boats set sail from the
south coast of Jersey: one from Grouville Bay, and one from the harbour
of St. Heliers. Both were bound for the same point; but the first was to
sail round the east coast of the island, and the second round the west
coast.

The boat leaving Grouville Bay would have on her right the Ecrehos and
the coast of France, with the Dirouilles in her course; the other would
have the wide Atlantic on her left, and the Paternosters in her course.
The two converging lines should meet at the island of Sark.

The boat leaving Grouville Bay was a yacht carrying twelve swivel-guns,
bringing Admiralty despatches to the Channel Islands. The boat leaving
St. Heliers harbour was a new yawl-rigged craft owned by Jean Touzel. It
was the fruit of ten years’ labour, and he called her the Hardi Biaou,
which, in plain English, means “very beautiful.” This was the third time
she had sailed under Jean’s hand. She carried two carronades, for war
with France was in the air, and it was Jean’s whim to make a show of
preparation, for, as he said: “If the war-dogs come, my pups can bark
too. If they don’t, why, glad and good, the Hardi Biaou is big enough to
hold the cough-drops.”

The business of the yacht Dorset was important that was why so small a
boat was sent on the Admiralty’s affairs. Had she been a sloop she might
have attracted the attention of a French frigate or privateer wandering
the seas in the interests of Vive la Nation! The business of the yawl
was quite unimportant. Jean Touzel was going to Sark with kegs of wine
and tobacco for the seigneur, and to bring over whatever small cargo
might be waiting for Jersey. The yacht Dorset had aboard her the
Reverend Lorenzo Dow, an old friend of her commander. He was to be
dropped at Sark, and was to come back with Jean Touzel in the Hardi
Biaou, the matter having been arranged the evening before in the Vier
Marchi. The saucy yawl had aboard Maitresse Aimable, Guida, and a lad to
assist Jean in working the sails. Guida counted as one of the crew, for
there was little in the handling of a boat she did not know.

As the Hardi Biaou was leaving the harbour of St. Heliers, Jean told
Guida that Mr. Dow was to join them on the return journey. She had
a thrill of excitement, for this man was privy to her secret, he was
connected with her life history. But before the little boat passed St.
Brelade’s Bay she was lost in other thoughts: in picturing Philip on the
Narcissus, in inwardly conning the ambitious designs of his career. What
he might yet be, who could tell? She had read more than a little of the
doings of great naval commanders, both French and British. She knew how
simple midshipmen had sometimes become admirals, and afterwards peers of
the realm.

Suddenly a new thought came to her. Suppose that Philip should rise to
high places, would she be able to follow? What had she seen--what did
she know--what social opportunities had been hers? How would she fit
with an exalted station?

Yet Philip had said that she could take her place anywhere with grace
and dignity; and surely Philip knew. If she were gauche or crude in
manners, he would not have cared for her; if she were not intelligent,
he would scarcely have loved her. Of course she had read French and
English to some purpose; she could speak Spanish--her grandfather had
taught her that; she understood Italian fairly--she had read it aloud
on Sunday evenings with the Chevalier. Then there were Corneille,
Shakespeare, Petrarch, Cervantes--she had read them all; and even Wace,
the old Norman trouvere, whose Roman de Rou she knew almost by heart.
Was she so very ignorant?

There was only one thing to do: she must interest herself in what
interested Philip; she must read what he read; she must study naval
history; she must learn every little thing about a ship of war. Then
Philip would be able to talk with her of all he did at sea, and she
would understand.

When, a few days ago, she had said to him that she did not know how she
was going to be all that his wife ought to be, he had answered her:
“All I ask is that you be your own sweet self, for it is just you that I
want, you with your own thoughts and imaginings, and not a Guida who
has dropped her own way of looking at things to take on some one
else’s--even mine. It’s the people who try to be clever who never are;
the people who are clever never think of trying to be.”

Was Philip right? Was she really, in some way, a little bit clever? She
would like to believe so, for then she would be a better companion for
him. After all, how little she knew of Philip--now, why did that thought
always come up! It made her shudder. They two would really have to begin
with the A B C of understanding. To understand was a passion, it was
breathing and life to her. She would never, could never, be satisfied
with skimming the surface of life as the gulls out there skimmed the
water.... Ah, how beautiful the morning was, and how the bracing air
soothed her feverishness! All this sky, and light, and uplifting
sea were hers, they fed her with their strength--they were all so
companionable.

Since Philip had gone--and that was but four days ago--she had sat down
a dozen times to write to him, but each time found she could not. She,
drew back from it because she wanted to empty out her heart, and yet,
somehow, she dared not. She wanted to tell Philip all the feelings that
possessed her; but how dared she write just what she felt: love and
bitterness, joy and indignation, exaltation and disappointment, all in
one? How was it these could all exist in a woman’s heart at once? Was
it because Love was greater than all, deeper than all, overcame all,
forgave all? and was that what women felt and did always? Was that their
lot, their destiny? Must they begin in blind faith, then be plunged into
the darkness of disillusion, shaken by the storm of emotion, taste the
sting in the fruit of the tree of knowledge--and go on again the same,
yet not the same?

More or less incoherently these thoughts flitted through Guida’s mind.
As yet her experiences were too new for her to fasten securely upon
their meaning. In a day or two she would write to Philip freely and
warmly of her love and of her hopes; for, maybe, by that time nothing
but happiness would be left in the caldron of feeling. There was a
packet going to England in three days--yes, she would wait for that.
And Philip--alas! a letter from him could not reach her for at least
a fortnight yet; and then in another month after that he would be with
her, and she would be able to tell the whole world that she was the wife
of Captain Philip d’Avranche, of the good ship Araminta--for that he was
to be when he came again.

She was not sad now, indeed she was almost happy, for her thoughts had
brought her so close to Philip that she could feel his blue eyes looking
at her, the strong clasp of his hand. She could almost touch the brown
hair waving back carelessly from the forehead, untouched by powder,
in the fashion of the time; and she could hear his cheery laugh quite
plainly, so complete was the illusion.

St. Ouen’s Bay, l’Etacq, Plemont, dropped behind them as they sailed.
They drew on to where the rocks of the Paternosters foamed to the
unquiet sea. Far over between the Nez du Guet and the sprawling
granite pack of the Dirouilles, was the Admiralty yacht winging to
the nor’-west. Beyond it again lay the coast of France, the tall white
cliffs, the dark blue smoky curve ending in Cap de la Hague.

To-day there was something new in this picture of the coast of France.
Against the far-off sands were some little black spots, seemingly no
bigger than a man’s hand. Again and again Jean Touzel had eyed these
moving specks with serious interest; and Maitresse Aimable eyed Jean,
for Jean never looked so often at anything without good reason. If,
perchance, he looked three times at her consecutively, she gaped with
expectation, hoping that he would tell her that her face was not so red
to-day as usual--a mark of rare affection.

At last Guida noticed Jean’s look. “What is it that you see, Maitre
Jean?” she said.

“Little black wasps, I think, ma’m’selle-little black wasps that sting.”

Guida did not understand.

Jean gave a curious cackle, and continued: “Ah, those wasps--they have
a sting so nasty!” He paused an instant, then he added in a lower voice,
and not quite so gaily: “Yon is the way that war begins.”

Guida’s fingers suddenly clinched rigidly upon the tiller. “War? Do--do
you think that’s a French fleet, Maitre Jean?”

“Steadee--steadee-keep her head up, ma’m’selle,” he answered, for Guida
had steered unsteadily for the instant. “Steadee--shale ben! that’s
right--I remember twenty years ago the black wasps they fly on the
coast of France like that. Who can tell now?” He shrugged his shoulders.
“P’rhaps they are coum out to play, but see you, when there is trouble
in the nest it is my notion that wasps come out to sting. Look at France
now, they all fight each other there, ma fuifre! When folks begin to
slap faces at home, look out when they get into the street. That is when
the devil have a grand fete.”

Guida’s face grew paler as he spoke. The eyes of Maitresse Aimable were
fixed on her now, and unconsciously the ponderous good-wife felt in that
warehouse she called her pocket for her rosary. An extra bead was there
for Guida, and one for another than Guida. But Maltresse Aimable did
more: she dived into the well of silence for her voice; and for the
first time in her life she showed anger with Jean. As her voice came
forth she coloured, her cheeks expanded, and the words sallied out in
puffs:

“Nannin, Jean, you smell shark when it is but herring. You cry wasp
when the critchett sing. I will believe war when I see the splinters
fly--me!”

Jean looked at his wife in astonishment. That was the longest speech
he had ever heard her make. It was also the first time that her rasp of
criticism had ever been applied to him, and with such asperity too. He
could not make it out. He looked from his wife to Guida; then, suddenly
arrested by the look in her face, he scratched his shaggy head in
despair, and moved about in his seat.

“Sit you still, Jean,” said his wife sharply; “you’re like peas on a hot
griddle.”

This confused Jean beyond recovery, for never in his life had Aimable
spoken to him like that. He saw there was something wrong, and he did
not know whether to speak or hold his tongue; or, as he said to himself,
he “didn’t know which eye to wink.” He adjusted his spectacles, and,
pulling himself together, muttered: “Smoke of thunder, what’s all this?”

Guida wasn’t a wisp of quality to shiver with terror at the mere mention
of war with France; but ba su, thought Jean, there was now in her face a
sharp, fixed look of pain, in her eyes a bewildered anxiety.

Jean scratched his head still more. Nothing particular came of that.
There was no good trying to work the thing out suddenly, he wasn’t
clever enough. Then out of an habitual good-nature he tried to bring
better weather fore and aft.

“Eh ben,” said he, “in the dark you can’t tell a wasp from a honey-bee
till he lights on you; and that’s too far off there”--he jerked a finger
towards the French shore--“to be certain sure. But if the wasp nip, you
make him pay for it, the head and the tail--yes, I think-me.... There’s
the Eperquerie,” he added quickly, nodding in front of him.

The island of Sark lifted a green bosom above her perpendicular cliffs,
with the pride of an affluent mother among her brood. Dowered by sun
and softened by a delicate haze like an exquisite veil of modesty,
this youngest daughter of the isles clustered with her kinsfolk in the
emerald archipelago between the great seas.

The outlines of the coast grew plainer as the Hardi Biaou drew nearer
and nearer. From end to end there was no harbour upon this southern
side. There was no roadway, as it seemed no pathway at all up the
overhanging cliffs-ridges of granite and grey and green rock, belted
with mist, crowned by sun, and fretted by the milky, upcasting surf.
Little islands, like outworks before it, crouched slumberously to the
sea, as a dog lays its head in its paws and hugs the ground close, with
vague, soft-blinking eyes.

By the shore the air was white with sea-gulls flying and circling,
rising and descending, shooting up straight into the air; their
bodies smooth and long like the body of a babe in white samite, their
feathering tails spread like a fan, their wings expanding on the ambient
air. In the tall cliffs were the nests of dried seaweed, fastened to the
edge of a rocky bracket on lofty ledges, the little ones within piping
to the little ones without. Every point of rock had its sentinel gull,
looking-looking out to sea like some watchful defender of a mystic
city. Piercing might be the cries of pain or of joy from the earth, more
piercing were their cries; dark and dreadful might be the woe of those
who went down to the sea in ships, but they shrilled on unheeding, their
yellow beaks still yellowing in the sun, keeping their everlasting watch
and ward.

Now and again other birds, dark, quick-winged, low-flying, shot in
among the white companies of sea-gulls, stretching their long necks,
and turning their swift, cowardly eyes here and there, the cruel beak
extended, the body gorged with carrion. Black marauders among blithe
birds of peace and joy, they watched like sable spirits near the nests,
or on some near sea rocks, sombre and alone, blinked evilly at the tall
bright cliffs and the lightsome legions nestling there.

These swart loiterers by the happy nests of the young were like spirits
of fate who might not destroy, who had no power to harm the living,
yet who could not be driven forth: the ever-present death-heads at the
feast, the impressive acolytes by the altars of destiny.

As the Hardi Biaou drew near the lofty, inviolate cliffs, there opened
up sombre clefts and caverns, honeycombing the island at all points of
the compass. She slipped past rugged pinnacles, like buttresses to the
island, here trailed with vines, valanced with shrubs of unnameable
beauty, and yonder shrivelled and bare like the skin of an elephant.

Some rocks, indeed, were like vast animals round which molten granite
had been poured, preserving them eternally. The heads of great dogs,
like the dogs of Ossian, sprang out in profile from the repulsing
mainland; stupendous gargoyles grinned at them from dark points of
excoriated cliff. Farther off, the face of a battered sphinx stared with
unheeding look into the vast sea and sky beyond. From the dark depths
of mystic crypts came groanings, like the roaring of lions penned beside
the caves of martyrs.

Jean had startled Guida with his suggestions of war between England and
France. Though she longed to have Philip win glory in some great battle,
yet her first natural thought was of danger to the man she loved--and
the chance too of his not coming back to her from Portsmouth. But now
as she looked at this scene before her, there came again to her face the
old charm of blitheness. The tides of temperament in her were fast to
flow and quick to ebb. The reaction from pain was in proportion to her
splendid natural health.

Her lips smiled. For what can long depress the youthful and the loving
when they dream that they are entirely beloved? Lands and thrones
may perish, plague and devastation walk abroad with death, misery and
beggary crawl naked to the doorway, and crime cower in the hedges; but
to the egregious egotism of young love there are only two identities
bulking in the crowded universe. To these immensities all other beings
are audacious who dream of being even comfortable and obscure--happiness
would be a presumption; as though Fate intended each living human being
at some one moment to have the whole world to himself. And who shall cry
out against that egotism with which all are diseased?

So busy was Guida with her own thoughts that she scarcely noticed they
had changed their course, and were skirting the coast westerly, whereby
to reach Havre Gosselin on the other side of the island. There on the
shore above lay the seigneurie, the destination of the Hardi Biaou.

As they passed the western point of the island, and made their course
easterly by a channel between rocky bulwarks opening Havre Gosselin,
they suddenly saw a brig rounding the Eperquerie. She was making to the
south-east under full sail. Her main and mizzen masts were not visible,
and her colours could not be seen, but Jean’s quick eye had lighted
on something which made him cast apprehensive glances at his wife and
Guida. There was a gun in the stern port-hole of the vanishing brig; and
he also noted that it was run out for action.

His swift glance at his wife and Guida assured him that they had not
noticed the gun.

Jean’s brain began working with unusual celerity. He was certain that
the brig was a French sloop or a privateer. In other circumstances, that
in itself might not have given him much trouble of mind, for more than
once French frigates had sailed round the Channel Isles in insulting
strength and mockery; but at this moment every man knew that France and
England were only waiting to see who should throw the ball first and set
the red game going. Twenty French frigates could do little harm to the
island of Sark; a hundred men could keep off an army and navy there;
but Jean knew that the Admiralty yacht Dorset was sailing at this moment
within half a league of the Eperquerie. He would stake his life that
the brig was French and hostile and knew it also. At all costs he must
follow and learn the fate of the yacht.

If he landed at Havre Gosselin and crossed the island on foot, whatever
was to happen would be over and done, and that did not suit the book of
Jean Touzel. More than once he had seen a little fighting, and more than
once shared in it. If there was to be a fight--he looked affectionately
at his carronades--then he wanted to be within seeing or striking
distance.

Instead of running into Havre Gosselin, he set for the Bec du Nez, the
eastern point of the island. His object was to land upon the rocks of
the Eperquerie, where the women would be safe whatever befell. The tide
was running strong round the point, and the surf was heavy, so that once
or twice the boat was almost overturned; but Jean had measured well the
currents and the wind.

This was one of the most exciting moments in his life, for, as they
rounded the Bec du Nez, there was the Dorset going about to make for
Guernsey, and the brig, under full sail, bearing down upon her. Even as
they rounded the point, up ran the tricolour to the brig’s mizzen-mast,
and the militant shouts of the French sailors came over the water.

Too late had the little yacht with her handful of guns seen the danger
and gone about. The wind was fair for her; but it was as fair for the
brig, able to outsail her twice over. As the Hardi Biaou neared the
landing-place of the Eperquerie, a gun was fired from the privateer
across the bows of the Dorset, and Guida realised what was happening.

As they landed another shot was fired, then came a broadside. Guida put
her hands before her eyes, and when she looked again the main-mast of
the yacht was gone. And now from the heights of Sark above there
rang out a cry from the lips of the affrighted islanders:
“War--war--war--war!”

Guida sank down upon the rock, and her face dropped into her hands. She
trembled violently. Somehow all at once, and for the first time in her
life, there was borne in upon her a feeling of awful desolation and
loneliness. She was alone--she was alone--she was alone that was the
refrain of her thoughts.

The cry of war rang along the cliff tops; and war would take Philip from
her. Perhaps she would never see him again. The horror of it, the pity
of it, the peril of it.

Shot after shot the twelve-pounders of the Frenchman drove like dun hail
at the white timbers of the yacht, and her masts and spars were flying.
The privateer now came drawing down to where she lay lurching.

A hand touched Guida upon the shoulder. “Cheer thee, my dee-ar,” said
Maitresse Aimable’s voice. Below, Jean Touzel had eyes only for
this sea-fight before him, for, despite the enormous difference, the
Englishmen were now fighting their little craft for all that she was
capable. But the odds were terribly against her, though she had the
windward side, and the firing of the privateer was bad. The carronades
on her flush decks were replying valiantly to the twelve-pounders of
the brig. At last a chance shot carried away her mizzenmast, and
another dismounted her single great gun, killing a number of men. The
carronades, good for only a few discharges, soon left her to the fury
of her assailant, and presently the Dorset was no better than a battered
raisin-box. Her commander had destroyed his despatches, and nothing
remained now but to be sunk or surrender.

In not more than twenty minutes from the time the first shot was fired,
the commander and his brave little crew yielded to the foe, and the
Dorset’s flag was hauled down.

When her officers and men were transferred to the Frenchman, her one
passenger and guest, the Rev. Lorenzo Dow, passed calmly from the
gallant little wreck to the deck of the privateer, with a finger between
the leaves of his book of meditations. With as much equanimity as he
would have breakfasted with a bishop, made breaches of the rubric,
or drunk from a sailor’s black-jack, he went calmly into captivity in
France, giving no thought to what he left behind; quite heedless that
his going would affect for good or ill the destiny of the young wife of
Philip d’Avranche.

Guida watched the yacht go down, and the brig bear away towards France
where those black wasps of war were as motes against the white sands.
Then she remembered that there had gone with it one of the three people
in the world who knew her secret, the man who had married her to Philip.
She shivered a little, she scarcely knew why, for it did not then seem
of consequence to her whether Mr. Dow went or stayed, though he had
never given her the marriage certificate. Indeed, was it not better
he should go? Thereby one less would know her secret. But still an
undefined fear possessed her.

“Cheer thee, cheer thee, my dee-ar, my sweet dormitte,” said Maitresse
Aimable, patting her shoulder. “It cannot harm thee, ba su! ‘Tis but a
flash in the pan.”

Guida’s first impulse was to throw herself into the arms of the
slow-tongued, great-hearted woman who hung above her like a cloud of
mercy, and tell her whole story. But no, she would keep her word to
Philip, till Philip came again. Her love--the love of the young, lonely
wife, must be buried deep in her own heart until he appeared and gave
her the right to speak.

Jean was calling to them. They rose to go. Guida looked about her. Was
it all a dream-all that had happened to her, and around her? The world
was sweet to look upon, and yet was it true that here before her eyes
there had been war, and that out of war peril must come to her.

A week ago she was free as air, happy as healthy body, truthful mind,
simple nature, and tender love can make a human being. She was then only
a young, young girl. To-day-she sighed.

Long after they put out to sea again she could still hear the affrighted
cry of the peasants from the cliff-or was it only the plaintive echo of
her own thoughts?

“War--war--war--war!”



IN FRANCE--NEAR FIVE MONTHS AFTER



CHAPTER XIX

“A moment, monsieur le duc.”

The Duke turned at the door, and looked with listless inquiry into the
face of the Minister of Marine, who, picking up an official paper from
his table, ran an eye down it, marked a point with the sharp corner of
his snuff-box, and handed it over to his visitor, saying:

“Our roster of English prisoners taken in the action off Brest.”

The Duke, puzzled, lifted his glass and scanned the roll mechanically.

“No, no, Duke, just where I have marked,” interposed the Minister.

“My dear Monsieur Dalbarade,” remarked the Duke a little querulously, “I
do not see what interest--”

He stopped short, however, looked closer at the document, and then
lowering it in a sort of amazement, seemed about to speak; but, instead,
raised the paper again and fixed his eyes intently on the spot indicated
by the Minister.

“Most curious,” he said after a moment, making little nods of his head
towards Dalbarade; “my own name--and an English prisoner, you say?”

“Precisely so; and he gave our fellows some hard knocks before his
frigate went on the reefs.”

“Strange that the name should be my own. I never heard of an English
branch of our family.”

A quizzical smile passed over the face of the Minister, adding to his
visitor’s mystification. “But suppose he were English, yet French too?”
 he rejoined.

“I fail to understand the entanglement,” answered the Duke stiffly.

“He is an Englishman whose name and native language are French--he
speaks as good French as your own.”

The Duke peevishly tapped a chair with his stick. “I am no reader
of riddles, monsieur,” he said acidly, although eager to know more
concerning this Englishman of the same name as himself, ruler of the
sovereign duchy of Bercy.

“Shall I bid him enter, Prince?” asked the Minister. The Duke’s face
relaxed a little, for the truth was, at this moment of his long life he
was deeply concerned with his own name and all who bore it.

“Is he here then?” he asked, nodding assent.

“In the next room,” answered the Minister, turning to a bell and
ringing. “I have him here for examination, and was but beginning when I
was honoured by your Highness’s presence.” He bowed politely, yet there
was, too, a little mockery in the bow, which did not escape the Duke.
These were days when princes received but little respect in France.

A subaltern entered, received an order, and disappeared. The Duke
withdrew to the embrasure of a window, and immediately the prisoner was
gruffly announced.

The young Englishman stood quietly waiting, his quick eyes going from
Dalbarade to the wizened figure by the window, and back again to the
Minister. His look carried both calmness and defiance, but the defiance
came only from a sense of injury and unmerited disgrace.

“Monsieur,” said the Minister with austerity, “in your further
examination we shall need to repeat some questions.”

The prisoner nodded indifferently, and for a brief space there was
silence. The Duke stood by the window, the Minister by his table, the
prisoner near the door. Suddenly the prisoner, with an abrupt motion
of the hand towards two chairs, said with an assumption of ordinary
politeness:

“Will you not be seated?”

The remark was so odd in its coolness and effrontery, that the Duke
chuckled audibly. The Minister was completely taken aback. He glanced
stupidly at the two chairs--the only ones in the room--and at the
prisoner. Then the insolence of the thing began to work upon him, and
he was about to burst forth, when the Duke came forward, and politely
moving a chair near to the young commander, said:

“My distinguished compliments, monsieur le capitaine. I pray you accept
this chair.”

With quiet self-possession and a matter-of-course air the prisoner bowed
politely, and seated himself, then with a motion of the hand backward
towards the door, said to the Duke: “I’ve been standing five hours
with some of those moutons in the ante-room. My profound thanks to
monseigneur.”

Touching the angry Minister on the arm, the Duke said quietly:

“Dear monsieur, will you permit me a few questions to the prisoner?”

At that instant there came a tap at the door, and an orderly entered
with a letter to the Minister, who glanced at it hurriedly, then turned
to the prisoner and the Duke, as though in doubt what to do.

“I will be responsible for the prisoner, if you must leave us,” said the
Duke at once.

“For a little, for a little--a matter of moment with the Minister of
War,” answered Dalbarade, nodding, and with an air of abstraction left
the room.

The Duke withdrew to the window again, and seated himself in the
embrasure, at some little distance from the Englishman, who at once got
up and brought his chair closer. The warm sunlight of spring, streaming
through the window, was now upon his pale face, and strengthened it,
giving it fulness and the eye fire.

“How long have you been a prisoner, monsieur?” asked the Duke, at the
same time acknowledging the other’s politeness with a bow.

“Since March, monseigneur.”

“Monseigneur again--a man of judgment,” said the Duke to himself,
pleased to have his exalted station recognised. “H’m, and it is now
June--four months, monsieur. You have been well used, monsieur?”

“Vilely, monseigneur,” answered the other; “a shipwrecked enemy should
never be made prisoner, or at least he should be enlarged on parole; but
I have been confined like a pirate in a sink of a jail.”

“Of what country are you?”

Raising his eyebrows in amazement the young man answered:

“I am an Englishman, monseigneur.”

“Monsieur is of England, then?”

“Monseigneur, I am an English officer.”

“You speak French well, monsieur.”

“Which serves me well in France, as you see, monseigneur.”

The Duke was a trifle nettled. “Where were you born, monsieur?”

There was a short pause, and then the prisoner, who had enjoyed the
other’s perplexity, said:

“On the Isle of Jersey, monseigneur.”

The petulant look passed immediately from the face of the Duke; the
horizon was clear at once.

“Ah, then, you are French, monsieur!”

“My flag is the English flag; I was born a British subject, and I shall
die one,” answered the other steadily.

“The sentiment sounds estimable,” answered the Duke; “but as for life
and death, and what we are or what we may be, we are the sport of Fate.”
 His brow clouded. “I myself was born under a monarchy; I shall probably
die under a Republic. I was born a Frenchman; I may die--”

His tone had become low and cynical, and he broke off suddenly,
as though he had said more than he meant. “Then you are a Norman,
monsieur,” he added in a louder tone.

“Once all Jerseymen were Normans, and so were many Englishmen,
monseigneur.”

“I come of Norman stock too, monsieur,” remarked the Duke graciously,
yet eyeing the young man keenly.

“Monseigneur has not the kindred advantage of being English?” added the
prisoner dryly.

The Duke protested with a deprecatory wave of the fingers and a flash
of the sharp eyes, and then, after a slight pause, said: “What is your
name, monsieur?”

“Philip d’Avranche,” was the brief reply; then with droll impudence:
“And monseigneur’s, by monseigneur’s leave?”

The Duke smiled, and that smile relieved the sourness, the fret of a
face which had care and discontent written upon every line of it. It was
a face that had never known happiness. It had known diversion, however,
and unusual diversion it knew at this moment.

“My name,” he answered with a penetrating quizzical look, “--my name is
Philip d’Avranche.”

The young man’s quick, watchful eyes fixed themselves like needles on
the Duke’s face. Through his brain there ran a succession of queries and
speculations, and dominating them all one clear question-was he to gain
anything by this strange conversation? Who was this great man with a
name the same as his own, this crabbed nobleman with skin as yellow as
an orange, and body like an orange squeezed dry? He surely meant him no
harm, however, for flashes of kindliness had lighted the shrivelled face
as he talked. His look was bent in piercing comment upon Philip, who,
trying hard to solve the mystery, now made a tentative rejoinder to
his strange statement. Rising from his chair and bowing, he said, with
shrewd foreknowledge of the effect of his words:

“I had not before thought my own name of such consequence.”

The old man grunted amiably. “My faith, the very name begets a towering
conceit wherever it goes,” he answered, and he brought his stick down on
the floor with such vehemence that the emerald and ruby rings rattled on
his shrunken fingers.

“Be seated--cousin,” he said with dry compliment, for Philip had
remained standing, as if with the unfeigned respect of a cadet in the
august presence of the head of his house. It was a sudden and bold
suggestion, and it was not lost on the Duke. The aged nobleman was too
keen an observer not to see the designed flattery, but he was in a mood
when flattery was palatable, seeing that many of his own class were
arrayed against him for not having joined the army of the Vendee; and
that the Revolutionists, with whom he had compromised, for the safety
of his lands of d’Avranche and his duchy of Bercy, regarded him with
suspicion. Between the two, the old man--at heart most profoundly a
Royalist--bided his time, in some peril but with no fear. The spirit of
this young Englishman of his own name pleased him; the flattery, patent
as it was, gratified him, for in revolutionary France few treated him
with deference now. Even the Minister of Marine, with whom he was on
good terms, called him “citizen” at times.

All at once it flashed on the younger man that this must be the Prince
d’Avranche, Duc de Bercy, of that family of d’Avranche from which his
own came in long descent--even from the days of Rollo, Duke of Normandy.
He recalled on the instant the token of fealty of the ancient House of
d’Avranche--the offering of a sword.

“Your Serene Highness,” he said with great deference and as great tact,
“I must first offer my homage to the Prince d’Avranche, Duc de Bercy--”
 Then with a sudden pause, and a whimsical look, he added: “But, indeed,
I had forgotten, they have taken away my sword!”

“We shall see,” answered the Prince, well pleased, “we shall see
about that sword. Be seated.” Then, after a short pause: “Tell me now,
monsieur, of your family, of your ancestry.”

His eyes were bent on Philip with great intentness, and his thin lips
tightened in some unaccountable agitation.

Philip instantly responded. He explained how in the early part of the
thirteenth century, after the great crusade against the Albigenses, a
cadet of the house of d’Avranche had emigrated to England, and had
come to place and honour under Henry III, who gave to the son of this
d’Avranche certain tracts of land in Jersey, where he settled. Philip
was descended in a direct line from this same receiver of king’s
favours, and was now the only representative of his family.

While Philip spoke the Duke never took eyes from his face--that face so
facile in the display of feeling or emotion. The voice also had a lilt
of health and vitality which rang on the ears of age pleasantly. As he
listened he thought of his eldest son, partly imbecile, all but a lusus
naturae, separated from his wife immediately after marriage, through
whom there could never be succession--he thought of him, and for the
millionth time in his life winced in impotent disdain. He thought too of
his beloved second son, lying in a soldier’s grave in Macedonia; of the
buoyant resonance of that by-gone voice, of the soldierly good spirits
like to the good spirits of the prisoner before him, and “his heart
yearned towards the young man exceedingly.” If that second son had but
lived there would be now no compromising with this Republican Government
of France; he would be fighting for the white flag with the golden
lilies over in the Vendee.

“Your ancestors were mine, then,” remarked the Duke gravely, after
a pause, “though I had not heard of that emigration to England.
However--however! Come, tell me of the engagement in which you lost your
ship,” he added hurriedly in a low tone. He was now so intent that
he did not stir in his seat, but sat rigidly still, regarding Philip
kindly. Something in the last few moments’ experience had loosened the
puckered skin, softened the crabbed look in the face, and Philip had no
longer doubt of his friendly intentions.

“I had the frigate Araminta, twenty-four guns, a fortnight out from
Portsmouth,” responded Philip at once. “We fell in with a French
frigate, thirty guns. She was well to leeward of us, and the Araminta
bore up under all sail, keen for action. The Frenchman was as ready as
ourselves for a brush, and tried to get the weather of us, but, failing,
she shortened sail and gallantly waited for us. The Araminta overhauled
her on the weather quarter, and hailed. She responded with cheers and
defiance--as sturdy a foe as man could wish. We lost no time in getting
to work, and, both running before the wind, we fired broadsides as we
cracked on. It was tit-for-tat for a while with splinters flying and
neither of us in the eye of advantage, but at last the Araminta shot
away the main-mast and wheel of the Niobe, and she wallowed like a tub
in the trough of the sea. We bore down on her, and our carronades raked
her like a comb. Then we fell thwart her hawse, and tore her up through
her bowline-ports with a couple of thirty-two-pounders. But before we
could board her she veered, lurched, and fell upon us, carrying away our
foremast. We cut clear of the tangle, and were making once more to board
her, when I saw to windward two French frigates bearing down on us under
full sail. And then--”

The Prince exclaimed in surprise: “I had not heard of this,” he said.
“They did not tell the world of those odds against you.”

“Odds and to spare, monsieur le due! We had had all we could manage in
the Niobe, though she was now disabled, and we could hurt her no more.
If the others came up on our weather we should be chewed like a bone in
a mastiff’s jaws. If she must fight again, the Araminta would be little
fit for action till we cleared away the wreckage; so I sheered off to
make all sail. We ran under courses with what canvas we had, and got
away with a fair breeze and a good squall whitening to windward, while
our decks were cleared for action again. The guns on the main-deck
had done good service and kept their places. On the quarter-deck
and fo’castle there was more amiss, but as I watched the frigates
overhauling us I took heart of grace still. There was the creaking and
screaming of the carronade-slides, the rattling of the carriages of the
long twelve-pounders amidships as they were shotted and run out again,
the thud of the carpenters’ hammers as the shot-holes were plugged--good
sounds in the ears of a fighter--”

“Of a d’Avranche--of a d’Avranche!” interposed the Prince.

“We were in no bad way, and my men were ready for another brush with
our enemies, everything being done that could be done, everything in its
place,” continued Philip. “When the frigates were a fair gunshot off, I
saw that the squall was overhauling us faster than they. This meant good
fortune if we wished escape, bad luck if we would rather fight. But I
had no time to think of that, for up comes Shoreham, my lieutenant, with
a face all white. ‘For God’s sake, sir,’ says he, ‘shoal water-shoal
water! We’re ashore.’ So much, monsieur le prince, for Admiralty charts
and soundings! It’s a hateful thing to see--the light green water,
the deadly sissing of the straight narrow ripple like the grooves of a
wash-board: and a ship’s length ahead the water breaking over the reefs,
two frigates behind ready to eat us.

“Up we came to the wind, the sheets were let run, and away flew the
halyards. All to no purpose, for a minute later we came broadside on
the reef, and were gored on a pinnacle of rock. The end wasn’t long in
coming. The Araminta lurched off the reef on the swell. We watched
our chance as she rolled, and hove overboard our broadside of long
twelve-pounders. But it was no use. The swishing of the water as it
spouted from the scuppers was a deal louder than the clang of the
chain-pumps. It didn’t last long. The gale spilled itself upon us, and
the Araminta, sick and spent, slowly settled down. The last I saw of
her”--Philip raised his voice as though he would hide what he felt
behind an unsentimental loudness--“was the white pennant at the main-top
gallant masthead. A little while, and then I didn’t see it, and--and so
good-bye to my first command! Then”--he smiled ironically--“then I was
made prisoner by the French frigates, and have been closely confined
ever since, against every decent principle of warfare. And now here I
am, monsieur le duc.”

The Duke had listened with an immovable attention, the grey eyebrows
twitching now and then, the arid face betraying a grim enjoyment.
When Philip had finished, he still sat looking at him with steady
slow-blinking eyes, as though unwilling to break the spell the tale had
thrown round him. But an inquisition in the look, a slight cocking of
the head as though weighing important things, the ringed fingers softly
drumming on the stick before him--all these told Philip that something
was at stake concerning himself.

The Duke seemed about to speak, when the door of the room opened and the
Minister of Marine entered. The Duke, rising and courteously laying
a hand on his arm, drew him over to the window, and engaged him in
whispered conversation, of which the subject seemed unwelcome to the
Minister, for now and then he interrupted sharply.

As the two stood fretfully debating, the door of the room again opened.
There appeared an athletic, adventurous-looking officer in brilliant
uniform who was smiling at something called after him from the
antechamber. His blue coat was spick and span and very gay with double
embroidery at the collar, coat-tails, and pockets. His white waistcoat
and trousers were spotless; his netted sash of blue with its stars
on the silver tassels had a look of studied elegance. The black
three-cornered hat, broidered with gold, and adorned with three ostrich
tips of red and a white and blue aigrette, was, however, the glory of
his bravery. He seemed young to be a General of Division, for such his
double embroideries and aigrette proclaimed him.

He glanced at Philip, and replied to his salute with a half-quizzical
smile on his proud and forceful face. “Dalbarade, Dalbarade,” said he
to the Minister, “I have but an hour--ah, monsieur le prince!” he added
suddenly, as the latter came hurriedly towards him, and, grasping his
hand warmly, drew him over to Dalbarade at the window. Philip now knew
beyond doubt that he was the subject of debate, for all the time that
the Duke in a low tone, half cordial, half querulous, spoke to the
new-comer, the latter let his eyes wander curiously towards Philip. That
he was an officer of great importance was to be seen from the deference
paid him by Dalbarade.

All at once he made a polite gesture towards the Duke, and, facing the
Minister, said in a cavalier-like tone, and with a touch of patronage:
“Yes, yes, Dalbarade; it is of no consequence, and I myself will be
surety for both.” Then turning to the nobleman, he added: “We are
beginning to square accounts, Duke. Last time we met I had a large
favour of you, and to-day you have a small favour of me. Pray introduce
your kinsman here, before you take him with you,” and he turned squarely
towards Philip.

Philip could scarcely believe his ears. The Duke’s kinsman! Had the
Duke then got his release on the ground that they were of kin--a kinship
which, even to be authentic, must go back seven centuries for proof?

Yet here he was being introduced to the revolutionary general as “my
kinsman of the isles of Normandy.” Here, too, was the same General
Grandjon-Larisse applauding him on his rare fortune to be thus released
on parole through the Duc de Bercy, and quoting with a laugh, half sneer
and half raillery, the old Norman proverb: “A Norman dead a thousand
years cries Haro! Haro! if you tread on his grave.”

So saying, he saluted the Duke with a liberal flourish of the hand and a
friendly bow, and turned away to Dalbarade.

A half-hour later Philip was outside with the Duke, walking slowly
through the court-yard to an open gateway, where waited a carriage with
unliveried coachman and outriders. No word was spoken till they entered
the carriage and were driven swiftly away.

“Whither now, your Highness?” asked Philip.

“To the duchy,” answered the other shortly, and relapsed into sombre
meditation.



CHAPTER XX

The castle of the Prince d’Avranche, Duc de Bercy, was set upon a vast
rock, and the town of Bercy huddled round the foot of it and on great
granite ledges some distance up. With fifty defenders the castle, on its
lofty pedestal, might have resisted as many thousands; and, indeed,
it had done so more times than there were rubies in the rings of
the present Duke, who had rescued Captain Philip d’Avranche from the
clutches of the Red Government.

Upon the castle, with the flag of the duchy, waved the republican
tricolour, where for a thousand years had floated a royal banner. When
France’s great trouble came to her, and the nobles fled, or went
to fight for the King in the Vendee, the old Duke, with a dreamy
indifference to the opinion of Europe, had proclaimed alliance with the
new Government. He felt himself privileged in being thus selfish; and he
had made the alliance that he might pursue, unchecked, the one remaining
object of his life.

This object had now grown from a habit into a passion. It was now his
one ambition to arrange a new succession excluding the Vaufontaines,
a detested branch of the Bercy family. There had been an ancient feud
between his family and the Vaufontaines, whose rights to the succession,
after his eldest son, were to this time paramount. For three years past
he had had a whole monastery of Benedictine monks at work to find some
collateral branch from which he might take a successor to Leopold John,
his imbecile heir--but to no purpose.

In more than a little the Duke was superstitious, and on the day when he
met Philip d’Avranche in the chamber of M. Dalbarade he had twice turned
back after starting to make the visit, so great was his dislike to
pay homage to the revolutionary Minister. He had nerved himself to the
distasteful duty, however, and had gone. When he saw the name of the
young English prisoner--his own name--staring him in the face, he had
had such a thrill as a miracle might have sent through the veins of a
doubting Christian.

Since that minute he, like Philip, had been in a kind of dream; on his
part, to find in the young man, if possible, an heir and successor; on
Philip’s to make real exalted possibilities. There had slipped past
two months, wherein Philip had seen a new and brilliant avenue of life
opening out before him. Most like a dream indeed it seemed. He had been
shut out from the world, cut off from all connection with England and
his past, for M. Dalbarade made it a condition of release that he should
send no message or correspond with any one outside Castle Bercy. He
had not therefore written to Guida. She seemed an interminable distance
away. He was as completely in a new world as though he had been
transplanted; he was as wholly in the air of fresh ambitions as though
he were beginning the world again--ambitions as gorgeous as bewildering.

For, almost from the first, the old nobleman treated him like a son.
He spoke freely to him of the most private family matters, of the most
important State affairs. He consulted with him, he seemed to lean upon
him. He alluded often, in oblique phrase, to adoption and succession. In
the castle Philip was treated as though he were in truth a high kinsman
of the Duke. Royal ceremony and state were on every hand. He who had
never had a servant of his own, now had a score at his disposal. He had
spent his early days in a small Jersey manor-house; here he was walking
the halls of a palace with the step of assurance, the most honoured
figure in a principality next to the sovereign himself. “Adoption and
succession” were words that rang in his ears day and night. The wild
dream had laid feverish hands upon him. Jersey, England, the Navy,
seemed very far away.

Ambition was the deepest passion in him, even as defeating the hopes of
the Vaufontaines was more than a religion with the Duke. By no trickery,
but by a persistent good-nature, alertness of speech, avoidance of
dangerous topics, and aptness in anecdote, he had hourly made his
position stronger, himself more honoured at the Castle Bercy. He had
also tactfully declined an offer of money from the Prince--none the less
decidedly because he was nearly penniless. The Duke’s hospitality he was
ready to accept, but not his purse--not yet.

Yet he was not in all acting a part. He was sincere in his liking
for the soured, bereaved sovereign, forced to endure alliance with
a Government he loathed. He even admired the Duke for his vexing
idiosyncrasies, for they came of a strong individuality which, in
happier case, should have made him a contented and beloved monarch. As
it was, the people of his duchy were loyal to him beyond telling, doing
his bidding without cavil: standing for the King of France at his will,
declaring for the Republic at his command; for, whatever the Duke was
to the world outside, within his duchy he was just and benevolent, if
imperious.

All these things Philip had come to know in his short sojourn. He had,
with the Duke, mingled freely, yet with great natural dignity, among the
people of the duchy, and was introduced everywhere, and at all times, as
the sovereign’s kinsman--“in a direct line from an ancient branch,” as
his Highness declared. He had been received gladly, and had made himself
an agreeable figure in the duchy, to the delight of the Duke, who
watched his every motion, every word, and their effect. He came to know
the gossip gone abroad that the Duke had already chosen him for heir. A
fantastic rumour, maybe, yet who could tell?

One day the Duke arranged a conference of the civil and military
officers of his duchy. He chuckled to see how reluctant they all were at
first to concede their homage to his favourite, and how soon they fell
under that favourite’s influence--all save one man, the Intendant of
the duchy. Philip himself was quick to see that this man, Count Carignan
Damour, apprehensive for his own selfish ends, was bitterly opposed to
him. But Damour was one among many, and the Duke was entirely satisfied,
for the common people received Philip with applause.

On this very day was laid before the Duke the result of the long
researches of the monks into the genealogy of the d’Avranches, and
there, clearly enough, was confirmation of all Philip had said about
his ancestors and their relation to the ancient house of d’Avranche.
The Duke was overjoyed, and thereupon secretly made ready for Philip’s
formal adoption and succession. It never occurred to him that Philip
might refuse.

On the same afternoon he sent for Philip to come to him in the highest
room of the great tower. It was in this room that, many years ago, the
Duke’s young and noble wife, from the province of Aquitaine, had given
birth to the second son of the house of Bercy, and had died a year
later, happy that she should at last leave behind a healthy, beautiful
child, to do her honour in her lord’s eyes.

In this same room the Duke and the brave second son had spent unnumbered
hours; and here it had come home to him that the young wife was
faultless as to the elder, else she had not borne him this perfect
younger son. Thus her memory came to be adored; and thus, when the
noble second son, the glory of his house and of his heart, was killed
in Macedonia, the Duke still came to the little upper room for his
communion of remembrance. Hour after hour he would sit looking from
the great window out over the wide green valley, mourning bitterly, and
feeling his heart shrivel up within him, his body grow crabbed and cold,
and his face sour and scornful.

When Philip now entered this sanctuary, the Duke nodded and motioned him
to a chair. In silence he accepted, and in silence they sat for a time.
Philip knew the history of this little room--he had learned it first
from Frange Pergot, the porter at the castle gates with whom he had made
friends. The silence gave him opportunity to recall the whole story.

At length the motionless brown figure huddled in the great chair, not
looking at Philip but out over the wide green valley, began to speak in
a low, measured tone, as a dreamer might tell his dream, or a priest his
vision:

“A breath of life has come again to me through you. Centuries ago our
ancestors were brothers--far back in the direct line, brothers--the
monks have proved it.

“Now I shall have my spite of the Vaufoutaines, and now shall I have
another son--strong, and with good blood in him to beget good blood.”

A strange, lean sort of smile passed over his lips, his eyebrows
twitched, his hands clinched the arm of the chair wherein he sat, and he
made a motion of his jaws as though enjoying a toothsome morsel.

“H’m, Henri Vaufontaine shall see--and all his tribe! They shall not
feed upon these lands of the d’Avranches, they shall not carouse at my
table when I am gone and the fool I begot has returned to his Maker. The
fault of him was never mine, but God’s--does the Almighty think we can
forget that? I was ever sound and strong. When I was twenty I killed two
men with my own sword at a blow; when I was thirty, to serve the King
I rode a hundred and forty miles in one day--from Paris to Dracourt
it was. We d’Avranches have been men of power always. We fought
for Christ’s sepulchre in the Holy Land, and three bishops and two
archbishops have gone from us to speak God’s cause to the world. And my
wife, she came of the purest stock of Aquitaine, and she was constant,
in her prayers. What discourtesy was it then, for God, who hath been
served well by us, to serve me in return with such mockery: to send me a
bloodless zany, whom his wife left ere the wedding meats were cold.”

His foot tapped the floor in anger, his eyes wandered restlessly out
over the green expanse. Suddenly a dove perched upon the window-sill
before him. His quick, shifting gaze settled on it and stayed, softening
and quieting.

After a slight pause, he turned to Philip and spoke in a still lower
tone. “Last night in the chapel I spake to God and I said: ‘Lord God,
let there be fair speech between us. Wherefore hast Thou nailed me like
a malefactor to the tree? Why didst Thou send me a fool to lead our
house, and afterwards a lad as fine and strong as Absalom, and then lay
him low like a wisp of corn in the wind, leaving me wifeless--with a
prince to follow me, the by-word of men, the scorn of women--and of the
Vaufontaines?”’

He paused again, and his eyes seemed to pierce Philip’s, as though he
would read if each word was burning its way into his brain.

“As I stood there alone, a voice spoke to me as plainly as now I speak
to you, and it said: ‘Have done with railing. That which was the elder’s
shall be given to the younger. The tree hath grown crabbed and old, it
beareth no longer. Behold the young sapling by thy door--I have planted
it there. The seed is the seed of the old tree. Cherish it, lest a
grafted tree flourish in thy house.’”.... His words rose triumphantly.
“Yes, yes, I heard it with my own ears, the Voice. The crabbed tree,
that is the main line, dying in me; the grafted tree is the Vaufontaine,
the interloper and the mongrel; and the sapling from the same seed as
the crabbed old tree”--he reached out as though to clutch Philip’s arm,
but drew back, sat erect in his chair, and said with ringing decision:
“the sapling is Philip d’Avranche, of the Jersey Isle.”

For a moment there was silence between the two. A strong wind came
rushing up the valley through the clear sunlight, the great trees
beneath the castle swayed, and the flapping of the tricolour could be
heard within. From the window-sill the dove, caught up on the wave of
wind, sailed away down the widening glade.

Philip’s first motion was to stand up and say: “I dare not think your
Highness means in very truth to make me your kinsman in the succession.”

“And why not, why not?” testily answered the Duke, who liked not to be
imperfectly apprehended. Then he added more kindly: “Why not--come, tell
me that, cousin? Is it then distasteful?”

Philip’s heart gave a leap and his face flushed. “I have no other
kinsman,” he answered in a low tone of feeling. “I knew I had your
august friendship--else all the tokens of your goodness to me were
mockery; but I had scarce let myself count on the higher, more intimate
honour--I, a poor captain in the English navy.”

He said the last words slowly, for, whatever else he was, he was a loyal
English sailor, and he wished the Duc de Bercy to know it, the more
convincingly the better for the part he was going to play in this duchy,
if all things favoured.

“Tut, tut, what has that to do with it?” answered the Duke. “What has
poverty to do with blood? Younger sons are always poor, younger cousins
poorer. As for the captaincy of an English warship, that’s of no
consequence where greater games are playing--eh?”

He eyed Philip keenly, yet too there was an unasked question in his
look. He was a critic of human nature, he understood the code of honour,
none better; his was a mind that might be wilfully but never crassly
blind. He was selfish where this young gentleman was concerned, yet he
knew well how the same gentleman ought to think, speak, and act.

The moment of the great test was come.

Philip could not read behind the strange, shrivelled face. Instinct
could help him much, but it could not interpret that parchment. He did
not know whether his intended reply would alienate the Duke or not, but
if it did, then he must bear it. He had come, as he thought, to the crux
of this adventure. All in a moment he was recalled again to his real
position. The practical facts of his life possessed him. He was standing
between a garish dream and commonplace realities. Old feelings came
back--the old life. The ingrain loyalty of all his years was his again.
Whatever he might be, he was still an English officer, and he was not
the man to break the code of professional honour lightly. If the Duke’s
favour and adoption must depend on the answer he must now give, well,
let it be; his last state could not be worse than his first.

So, still standing, he answered the Duke boldly, yet quietly, his new
kinsman watching him with a grim curiosity.

“Monsieur le prince,” said Philip, “I am used to poverty, that matters
little; but whatever you intend towards me--and I am persuaded it is to
my great honour and happiness--I am, and must still remain, an officer
of the English navy.”

The Duke’s brow contracted, and his answer came cold and incisive: “The
navy--that is a bagatelle; I had hoped to offer you heritage. Pooh,
pooh, commanding a frigate is a trade--a mere trade!”

Philip’s face did not stir a muscle. He was in spirit the born
adventurer, the gamester who could play for life’s largest stakes, lose
all, draw a long breath--and begin the world again.

“It’s a busy time in my trade now, as Monsieur Dalbarade would tell you,
Duke.”

The Duke’s lips compressed as though in anger. “You mean to say,
monsieur, that you would let this wretched war between France and
England stand before our own kinship and alliance? What are you and I in
this great shuffle of events? Have less egotism, less vanity, monsieur.
You are no more than a million others--and I--I am nothing. Come, come,
there is more than one duty in the life of every man, and sometime he
must choose between one and the other. England does not need you”--his
voice and manner softened, he leaned towards Philip, the eyes almost
closing as he peered into his face--“but you are needed by the House of
Bercy.”

“I was commissioned to a warship in time of war,” answered Philip
quietly, “and I lost that warship. When I can, it is my duty to go
back to the powers that sent me forth. I am still an officer in full
commission. Your Highness knows well what honour claims of me.”

“There are hundreds of officers to take your place; in the duchy of
Bercy there is none to stand for you. You must choose between your trade
and the claims of name and blood, older than the English navy, older
than Norman England.”

Philip’s colour was as good, his manner as easy as if nothing were at
stake; but in his heart he felt that the game was lost--he saw a storm
gathering in the Duke’s eyes, the disappointment presently to break out
into wrath, the injured vanity to burst into snarling disdain. But he
spoke boldly nevertheless, for he was resolved that, even if he had to
return from this duchy to prison, he would go with colours flying.

“The proudest moment of my life was when the Duc de Bercy called me
kinsman,” he responded; “the best” (had he then so utterly forgotten the
little church of St. Michael’s?) “was when he showed me friendship. Yet,
if my trade may not be reconciled with what he may intend for me, I must
ask to be sent back to Monsieur Dalbarade.” He smiled hopelessly, yet
with stoical disregard of consequences, and went on: “For my trade is
in full swing these days, and I stand my chance of being exchanged and
earning my daily bread again. At the Admiralty I am a master workman on
full pay, but I’m not earning my salt here. With Monsieur Dalbarade my
conscience would be easier.”

He had played his last card. Now he was prepared for the fury of a
jaundiced, self-willed old man, who could ill brook being thwarted.
He had quickly imagined it all, and not without reason, for surely a
furious disdain was at the grey lips, lines of anger were corrugating
the forehead, the rugose parchment face was fiery with distemper.

But what Philip expected did not come to pass. Rising quickly to his
feet, the Duke took him by the shoulders, kissed him on both cheeks, and
said:

“My mind is made up--is made up. Nothing can change it. You have no
father, cousin--well, I will be your father. You shall retain your post
in the English navy-officer and patriot you shall be if you choose. A
brave man makes a better ruler. But now there is much to do. There
is the concurrence of the English King to secure; that shall be--has
already been--my business. There is the assent of Leopold John to
achieve; that I shall command. There are the grave formalities of
adoption to arrange; these I shall expedite. You shall see, Master
Insolence--you, who’d throw me and my duchy over for your trade; you
shall see how the Vaufontaines will gnash their teeth!”

In his heart Philip was exultant, though outwardly he was calm. He was,
however, unprepared for what followed. Suddenly the Duke, putting a hand
on his shoulder, said:

“One thing, cousin, one thing: you must marry in our order, and at once.
There shall be no delay. Succession must be made sure. I know the very
woman--the Comtesse Chantavoine--young, rich, amiable. You shall meet
her to-morrow-to-morrow.”



CHAPTER XXI

“The Comtesse Chantavoine, young, rich, amiable. You shall meet her
to-morrow”...!--Long after Philip left the Duke to go to his own
chamber, these words rang in his ears. He suddenly felt the cords of
fate tightening round him. So real was the momentary illusion that, as
he passed through the great hall where hung the portraits of the Duke’s
ancestors, he made a sudden outward motion of his arms as though to free
himself from a physical restraint. Strange to say, he had never foreseen
or reckoned with this matter of marriage in the designs of the Duke. He
had forgotten that sovereign dukes must make sure their succession even
unto the third and fourth generation. His first impulse had been to tell
the Duke that to introduce him to the Countess would be futile, for
he was already married. But the instant warning of the mind that his
Highness could never and would never accept the daughter of a Jersey
ship-builder restrained him. He had no idea that Guida’s descent from
the noble de Mauprats of Chambery would weigh with the Duke, who would
only see in her some apple-cheeked peasant stumbling over her court
train.

It was curious that the Duke had never even hinted at the chance of his
being already married--yet not so curious either, since complete
silence concerning a wife was in itself declaration enough that he was
unmarried. He felt in his heart that a finer sense would have offered
Guida no such humiliation, for he knew the lie of silence to be as evil
as the lie of speech.

He had not spoken, partly because he had not yet become used to the fact
that he really was married. It had never been brought home to him by
the ever-present conviction of habit. One day of married life, or, in
reality, a few hours of married life, with Guida had given the sensation
more of a noble adventure than of a lasting condition. With distance
from that noble adventure, something of the glow of a lover’s relations
had gone, and the subsequent tender enthusiasm of mind and memory was
not vivid enough to make him daring or--as he would have said--reckless
for its sake. Yet this same tender enthusiasm was sincere enough to
make him accept the fact of his marriage without discontent, even in the
glamour of new and alluring ambitions.

If it had been a question of giving up Guida or giving up the duchy of
Bercy--if that had been put before him as the sole alternative, he would
have decided as quickly in Guida’s favour as he did when he thought it
was a question between the duchy and the navy. The straightforward
issue of Guida or the duchy he had not been called upon to face. But,
unfortunately for those who are tempted, issues are never put quite so
plainly by the heralds of destiny and penalty. They are disguised as
delectable chances: the toss-up is always the temptation of life. The
man who uses trust-money for three days, to acquire in those three days
a fortune, certain as magnificent, would pull up short beforehand if the
issue of theft or honesty were put squarely before him. Morally he means
no theft; he uses his neighbour’s saw until his own is mended: but he
breaks his neighbour’s saw, his own is lost on its homeward way; and
having no money to buy another, he is tried and convicted on a charge of
theft. Thus the custom of society establishes the charge of immorality
upon the technical defect. But not on that alone; upon the principle
that what is committed in trust shall be held inviolate, with an exact
obedience to the spirit as to the letter of the law.

The issue did not come squarely to Philip. He had not openly lied about
Guida: so far he had had no intention of doing so. He even figured to
himself with what surprise Guida would greet his announcement that she
was henceforth Princesse Guida d’Avranche, and in due time would be
her serene highness the Duchesse de Bercy. Certainly there was nothing
immoral in his ambitions. If the reigning Prince chose to establish him
as heir, who had a right to complain?

Then, as to an officer of the English navy accepting succession in a
sovereign duchy in suzerainty to the present Government of France, while
England was at war with her, the Duke had more than once, in almost so
many words, defined the situation. Because the Duke himself, with no
successor assured, was powerless to side with the Royalists against the
Red Government, he was at the moment obliged, for the very existence
of his duchy, to hoist the tricolour upon the castle with his own flag.
Once the succession was secure beyond the imbecile Leopold John, then he
would certainly declare against the present fiendish Government and for
the overthrown dynasty.

Now England was fighting France, not only because she was revolutionary
France, but because of the murder of Louis XVI and for the restoration
of the overthrown dynasty. Also she was in close sympathy with the war
of the Vendee, to which she would lend all possible assistance. Philip
argued that if it was his duty, as a captain in the English navy, to
fight against the revolutionaries from without, he would be beyond
criticism if, as the Duc de Bercy, he also fought against them from
within.

Indeed, it was with this plain statement of the facts that the second
military officer of the duchy had some days before been sent to the
Court of St. James to secure its intervention for Philip’s freedom by
exchange of prisoners. This officer was also charged with securing the
consent of the English King for Philip’s acceptance of succession in the
duchy, while retaining his position in the English navy. The envoy had
been instructed by the Duke to offer his sympathy with England in the
war and his secret adherence to the Royalist cause, to become open so
soon as the succession through Philip was secured.

To Philip’s mind all that side of the case was in his favour, and sorted
well with his principles of professional honour. His mind was not so
acutely occupied with his private honour. To tell the Duke now of his
marriage would be to load the dice against himself: he felt that the
opportunity for speaking of it had passed.

He seated himself at a table and took from his pocket a letter of
Guida’s written many weeks before, in which she had said firmly that she
had not announced the marriage, and would not; that he must do it,
and he alone; that the letter written to her grandfather had not been
received by him, and that no one in Jersey knew their secret.

In reading this letter again a wave of feeling rushed over him. He
realised the force and strength of her nature: every word had a clear,
sharp straightforwardness and the ring of truth.

A crisis was near, and he must prepare to meet it.

The Duke had said that he must marry; a woman had already been chosen
for him, and he was to meet her to-morrow. But, as he said to himself,
that meant nothing. To meet a woman was not of necessity to marry her.

Marry--he could feel his flesh creeping! It gave him an ugly, startled
sensation. It was like some imp of Satan to drop into his ear the
suggestion that princes, ere this, had been known to have two wives--one
of them unofficial. He could have struck himself in the face for the
iniquity of the suggestion; he flushed from the indecency of it; but
so have sinners ever flushed as they set forth on the garish road to
Avernus. Yet--yet somehow he must carry on the farce of being single
until the adoption and the succession had been formally arranged.

Vexed with these unbidden and unwelcome thoughts, he got up and walked
about his chamber restlessly. “Guida--poor Guida!” he said to himself
many times. He was angry, disgusted that those shameful, irresponsible
thoughts should have come to him. He would atone for all that--and
more--when he was Prince and she Princess d’Avranche. But, nevertheless,
he was ill at ease with himself. Guida was off there alone in
Jersey--alone. Now, all at once, another possibility flashed into
his mind. Suppose, why, suppose--thoughtless scoundrel that he had
been--suppose that there might come another than himself and Guida to
bear his name! And she there alone, her marriage still kept secret--the
danger of it to her good name. But she had said nothing in her letters,
hinted nothing. No, in none had there been the most distant suggestion.
Then and there he got them, one and all, and read every word, every
line, all through to the end. No; there was not one hint. Of course it
could not be so; she would have--but no, she might not have! Guida was
unlike anybody else.

He read on and on again. And now, somehow, he thought he caught in one
of the letters a new ring, a pensive gravity, a deeper tension, which
were like ciphers or signals to tell him of some change in her. For a
moment he was shaken. Manhood, human sympathy, surged up in him. The
flush of a new sensation ran through his veins like fire. The first
instinct of fatherhood came to him, a thrilling, uplifting feeling. But
as suddenly there shot through his mind a thought which brought him to
his feet with a spring.

But suppose--suppose that it was so--suppose that through Guida the
further succession might presently be made sure, and suppose he went to
the Prince and told him all; that might win his favour for her; and the
rest would be easy. That was it, as clear as day. Meanwhile he would
hold his peace, and abide the propitious hour.

For, above all else--and this was the thing that clinched the purpose
in his mind--above all else, the Duke had, at best, but a brief time to
live. Only a week ago the Court physician had told him that any violence
or mental shock might snap the thread of existence. Clearly, the thing
was to go on as before, keep his marriage secret, meet the Countess,
apparently accede to all the Duke proposed, and wait--and wait.

With this clear purpose in his mind colouring all that he might say, yet
crippling the freedom of his thought, he sat down to write to Guida.
He had not yet written to her, according to his parole: this issue was
clear; he could not send a letter to Guida until he was freed from that
condition. It had been a bitter pill to swallow; and many times he
had had to struggle with himself since his arrival at the castle. For
whatever the new ambitions and undertakings, there was still a woman
in the lonely distance for whose welfare he was responsible, for whose
happiness he had yet done nothing, unless to give her his name under
sombre conditions was happiness for her. All that he had done to remind
him of the wedded life he had so hurriedly, so daringly, so eloquently
entered upon, was to send his young wife fifty pounds. Somehow, as
this fact flashed to his remembrance now, it made him shrink; it had a
certain cold, commercial look which struck him unpleasantly. Perhaps,
indeed, the singular and painful shyness--chill almost--with which Guida
had received the fifty pounds now communicated itself to him by the
intangible telegraphy of the mind and spirit.

All at once that bare, glacial fact of having sent her fifty pounds
acted as an ironical illumination of his real position. He felt
conscious that Guida would have preferred some simple gift, some little
thing that women love, in token and remembrance, rather than this
contribution to the common needs of existence. Now that he came to think
of it, since he had left her in Jersey, he had never sent her ever so
small a gift. He had never given her any gifts at all save the Maltese
cross in her childhood--and her wedding-ring. As for the ring, it had
never occurred to him that she could not wear it save in the stillness
of the night, unseen by any eye save her own. He could not know that
she had been wont to go to sleep with the hand clasped to her breast,
pressing close to her the one outward token she had of a new life, begun
with a sweetness which was very bitter and a bitterness only a little
sweet.

Philip was in no fitting mood to write a letter. Too many emotions were
in conflict in him at once. They were having their way with him; and,
perhaps, in this very complexity of his feelings he came nearer to being
really and acutely himself than he had ever been in his life. Indeed,
there was a moment when he was almost ready to consign the Duke and all
that appertained to the devil or the deep sea, and to take his fate as
it came. But one of the other selves of him calling down from the little
attic where dark things brood, told him that to throw up his present
chances would bring him no nearer and no sooner to Guida, and must
return him to the prison whence he came.

Yet he would write to Guida now, and send the letter when he was
released from parole. His courage grew as the sentences spread out
before him; he became eloquent. He told her how heavily the days and
months went on apart from her. He emptied out the sensations of absence,
loneliness, desire, and affection. All at once he stopped short. It
flashed upon him now that always his letters had been entirely of his
own doings; he had pictured himself always: his own loneliness, his own
grief at separation. He had never yet spoken of the details of her life,
questioned her of this and of that, of all the little things which fill
the life of a woman--not because she loves them, but because she is a
woman, and the knowledge and governance of little things is the habit
of her life. His past egotism was borne in upon him now. He would try to
atone for it. Now he asked her many questions in his letter. But one
he did not ask. He knew not how to speak to her of it. The fact that he
could not was a powerful indictment of his relations towards her, of his
treatment of her, of his headlong courtship and marriage.

So portions of this letter of his had not the perfect ring of truth, not
the conviction which unselfish love alone can beget. It was only at the
last, only when he came to a close, that the words went from him with
the sharp photography of his own heart. It came, perhaps, from a remorse
which, for the instant, foreshadowed danger ahead; from an acute pity
for her; or perchance from a longing to forego the attempt upon an
exalted place, and get back to the straightforward hours, such as those
upon the Ecrehos, when he knew that he loved her. But the sharpness of
his feelings rendered more intense now the declaration of his love.
The phrases were wrung from him. “Good-bye--no, a la bonne heure, my
dearest,” he wrote. “Good days are coming--brave, great days, when I
shall be free to strike another blow for England, both from within
and from without France; when I shall be, if all go well, the Prince
d’Avranche, Duc de Bercy, and you my perfect Princess. Good-bye! Thy
Philip, qui t’aime toujours.”

He had hardly written the last words when there came a knocking at his
door, and a servant entered. “His Highness offers his compliments to
monsieur, and will monsieur descend to meet the Marquis Grandjon-Larisse
and the Comtesse Chantavoine, who have just arrived.”

For an instant Philip could scarce compose himself, but he sent a
message of obedience to the Duke’s command, and prepared to go down.

So it was come--not to-morrow, but to-day. Already the deep game was on.
With a sigh which was half bitter and mocking laughter, he seized the
pouncebox, dried his letter to Guida, and put it in his pocket. As he
descended the staircase, the last words of it kept assailing his mind,
singing in his brain: “Thy Philip, qui t’aime toujours!”



CHAPTER XXII

Not many evenings after Philip’s first interview with the Comtesse
Chantavoine, a visitor arrived at the castle. From his roundabout
approach up the steep cliff in the dusk it was clear he wished to avoid
notice. Of gallant bearing, he was attired in a fashion unlike the
citizens of Bercy, or the Republican military often to be seen in the
streets of the town. The whole relief of the costume was white: white
sash, white cuffs turned back, white collar, white rosette and band,
white and red bandeau, and the faint glitter of a white shirt. In
contrast were the black hat and plume, black top boots with huge spurs,
and yellow breeches. He carried a gun and a sword, and a pistol was
stuck in the white sash. But one thing caught the eye more than all
else: a white square on the breast of the long brown coat, strangely
ornamented with a red heart and a cross. He was evidently a soldier of
high rank, but not of the army of the Republic.

The face was that of a devotee, not of peace but of war--of some forlorn
crusade. It had deep enthusiasm, which yet to the trained observer would
seem rather the tireless faith of a convert than the disposition of the
natural man. It was somewhat heavily lined for one so young, and the
marks of a hard life were on him, but distinction and energy were in his
look and in every turn of his body.

Arriving at the castle, he knocked at the postern. At first sight of him
the porter suspiciously blocked the entrance with his person, but seeing
the badge upon his breast, stood at gaze, and a look of keen curiosity
crossed over his face. On the visitor announcing himself as a
Vaufontaine, this curiosity gave place to as keen surprise; he was
admitted with every mark of respect, and the gates closed behind him.

“Has his Highness any visitors?” he asked as he dismounted.

The porter nodded assent.

“Who are they?” He slipped a coin into the porter’s hand.

“One of the family--for so his Serene Highness calls him.”

“H’m, indeed! A Vaufontaine, friend?”

“No, monsieur, a d’Avranche.”

“What d’Avranche? Not Prince Leopold John?”

“No, monsieur, the name is the same as his Highness’s.”

“Philip d’Avranche? Ah, from whence?”

“From Paris, monsieur, with his Highness.”

The visitor, whistling softly to himself, stood thinking a moment.

Presently he said:

“How old is he?”

“About the same age as monsieur.”

“How does he occupy himself?”

“He walks, rides, talks with his Highness, asks questions of the people,
reads in the library, and sometimes shoots and fishes.”

“Is he a soldier?”

“He carries no sword, and he takes long aim with a gun.”

A sly smile was lurking about the porter’s mouth. The visitor drew from
his pocket a second gold piece, and, slipping it into the other’s hand,
said:

“Tell it all at once. Who is the gentleman, and what is his business
here? Is he, perhaps, on the side of the Revolution, or does he--keep
better company?”

He looked keenly into the eyes of the porter, who screwed up his own,
returning the gaze unflinchingly. Handing back the gold piece, the man
answered firmly:

“I have told monsieur what every one in the duchy knows; there’s no
charge for that. For what more his Highness and--and those in his
Highness’s confidence know,” he drew himself up with brusque importance,
“there’s no price, monsieur.”

“Body o’ me, here’s pride and vainglory!” answered the other. “But I
know you, my fine Pergot, I knew you almost too well years ago; and
then you were not so sensitive; then you were a good Royalist like me,
Pergot.”

This time he fastened the man’s look with his own and held it until
Pergot dropped his head before it.

“I don’t remember monsieur,” he answered, perturbed.

“Of course not. The fine Pergot has a bad memory, like a good
Republican, who by law cannot worship his God, or make the sign of
the Cross, or, ask the priest to visit him when he’s dying. A red
Revolutionist is our Pergot now!”

“I’m as good a Royalist as monsieur,” retorted the man with some
asperity. “So are most of us. Only--only his Highness says to us--”

“Don’t gossip of what his Highness says, but do his bidding, Pergot.
What a fool are you to babble thus! How d’ye know but I’m one of
Fouche’s or Barere’s men? How d’ye know but there are five hundred men
beyond waiting for my whistle?”

The man changed instantly. His hand was at his side like lightning.
“They’d never hear that whistle, monsieur, though you be Vaufontaine or
no Vaufontaine!”

The other, smiling, reached out and touched him on the shoulder kindly.

“My dear Frange Pergot,” said he, “that’s the man I knew once, and the
sort of man that’s been fighting with me for the Church and for the King
these months past in the Vendee. Come, come, don’t you know me, Pergot?
Don’t you remember the scapegrace with whom, for a jape, you waylaid my
uncle the Cardinal and robbed him, then sold him back his jewelled watch
for a year’s indulgences?”

“But no, no,” answered the man, crossing himself quickly, and by the
dim lanthorn light peering into the visitor’s face, “it is not possible,
monsieur. The Comte Detricand de Tournay--God rest him!--died in the
Jersey Isle, with him they called Rullecour.”

“Well, well, you might at least remember this,” rejoined the other, and
with a smile he showed an old scar in the palm of his hand.

A little later was ushered into the library of the castle the Comte
Detricand de Tournay, who, under the name of Savary dit Detricand,
had lived in the Isle of Jersey for many years. There he had been
a dissipated idler, a keeper of worthless company, an alien coolly
accepting the hospitality of a country he had ruthlessly invaded as a
boy. Now, returned from vagabondage, he was the valiant and honoured
heir of the House of Vaufontaine, and heir-presumptive of the House of
Bercy.

True to his intention, Detricand had joined de la Rochejaquelein, the
intrepid, inspired leader of the Vendee, whose sentiments became his
own--“If I advance, follow me; if I retreat, kill me; if I fall, avenge
me.”

He had proven himself daring, courageous, resourceful. His unvarying
gaiety of spirits infected the simple peasants with a rebounding energy;
his fearlessness inspired their confidence; his kindness to the wounded,
friend or foe, his mercy to prisoners, the respect he showed devoted
priests who shared with the peasants the perils of war, made him
beloved.

From the first all the leaders trusted him, and he sprang in a day, as
had done the peasants Cathelineau, d’Elbee, and Stofflet, or gentlemen
like Lescure and Bonchamp, and noble fighters like d’Antichamp and the
Prince of Talmont, to an outstanding position in the Royalist army.
Again and again he had been engaged in perilous sorties and leading
forlorn hopes. He had now come from the splendid victory at Saumur to
urge his kinsman, the Duc de Bercy, to join the Royalists.

He had powerful arguments to lay before a nobleman the whole traditions
of whose house were of constant alliance with the Crown of France, whose
very duchy had been the gift of a French monarch. Detricand had not seen
the Duke since he was a lad at Versailles, and there would be much in
his favour, for of all the Vaufontaines the Duke had reason to dislike
him least, and some winning power in him had of late grown deep and
penetrating.

When the Duke entered upon him in the library, he was under the
immediate influence of a stimulating talk with Philip d’Avranche and the
chief officers of the duchy. With the memory of past feuds and hatreds
in his mind, and predisposed against any Vaufontaine, his greeting was
courteously disdainful, his manner preoccupied.

Remarking that he had but lately heard of monsieur le comte’s return to
France, he hoped he had enjoyed his career in--was it then England or
America? But yes, he remembered, it began with an expedition to take the
Channel Isles from England, an insolent, a criminal business in time of
peace, fit only for boys or buccaneers. Had monsieur le comte then spent
all these years in the Channel Isles--a prisoner perhaps? No? Fastening
his eyes cynically on the symbol of the Royalist cause on Detricand’s
breast, he asked to what he was indebted for the honour of this present
visit. Perhaps, he added drily, it was to inquire after his own health,
which, he was glad to assure monsieur le comte and all his cousins of
Vaufontaine, was never better.

The face was like a leather mask, telling nothing of the arid sarcasm in
the voice. The shoulders were shrunken, the temples fallen in, the neck
behind was pinched, and the eyes looked out like brown beads alive with
fire, and touched with the excitement of monomania. His last word had
a delicate savagery of irony, though, too, there could be heard in the
tone a defiance, arguing apprehension, not lost upon his visitor.

Detricand had inwardly smiled during the old man’s monologue, broken
only by courteous, half-articulate interjections on his own part. He
knew too well the old feud between their houses, the ambition that had
possessed many a Vaufontaine to inherit the dukedom of Bercy, and the
Duke’s futile revolt against that possibility. But for himself, now heir
to the principality of Vaufontaine, and therefrom, by reversion, to that
of Bercy, it had no importance.

He had but one passion now, and it burned clear and strong, it
dominated, it possessed him. He would have given up any worldly honour
to see it succeed. He had idled and misspent too many years, been
vaurien and ne’er-do-well too long to be sordid now. Even as the
grievous sinner, come from dark ways, turns with furious and tireless
strength to piety and good works, so this vagabond of noble family,
wheeling suddenly in his tracks, had thrown himself into a cause which
was all sacrifice, courage, and unselfish patriotism--a holy warfare.
The last bitter thrust of the Duke had touched no raw flesh, his withers
were unwrung. Gifted to thrust in return, and with warrant to do so,
he put aside the temptation, and answered his kinsman with daylight
clearness.

“Monsieur le duc,” said he, “I am glad your health is good--it better
suits the purpose of this interview. I am come on business, and on that
alone. I am from Saumur, where I left de la Rochejaquelein, Stofflet,
Cathelineau, and Lescure masters of the city and victors over Coustard’s
army. We have taken eleven thousand prisoners, and--”

“I have heard a rumour--” interjected the Duke impatiently.

“I will give you fact,” continued Detricand, and he told of the series
of successes lately come to the army of the Vendee. It was the heyday of
the cause.

“And how does all this concern me?” asked the Duke.

“I am come to beg you to join us, to declare for our cause, for the
Church and for the King. Yours is of the noblest names in France. Will
you not stand openly for what you cannot waver from in your heart? If
the Duc de Bercy declares for us, others will come out of exile, and
from submission to the rebel government, to our aid. My mission is to
beg you to put aside whatever reasons you may have had for alliance with
this savage government, and proclaim for the King.”

The Duke never took his eyes from Detricand’s.

What was going on behind that parchment face, who might say?

“Are you aware,” he answered Detricand at last, “that I could send you
straight from here to the guillotine?”

“So could the porter at your gates, but he loves France almost as well
as does the Duc de Bercy.”

“You take refuge in the fact that you are my kinsman,” returned the Duke
acidly.

“The honour is stimulating, but I should not seek salvation by it. I
have the greater safety of being your guest,” answered Detricand with
dignity.

“Too premature a sanctuary for a Vaufontaine!” retorted the Duke,
fighting down growing admiration for a kinsman whose family he would
gladly root out, if it lay in his power.

Detricand made a gesture of impatience, for he felt that his appeal had
availed nothing, and he had no heart for a battle of words. His wit had
been tempered in many fires, his nature was non-incandescent to praise
or gibe. He had had his share of pastime; now had come his share of
toil, and the mood for give and take of words was not on him.

He went straight to the point now. Hopelessly he spoke the plain truth.

“I want nothing of the Prince d’Avranche but his weight and power in a
cause for which the best gentlemen of France are giving their lives. I
fasten my eyes on France alone: I fight for the throne of Louis, not for
the duchy of Bercy. The duchy of Bercy may sink or swim for all of me,
if so be it does not stand with us in our holy war.”

The Duke interjected a disdainful laugh. Suddenly there shot into
Detricand’s mind a suggestion, which, wild as it was, might after
all belong to the grotesque realities of life. So he added with
deliberation:

“If alliance must still be kept with this evil government of France,
then be sure there is no Vaufontaine who would care to inherit a duchy
so discredited. To meet that peril the Duc de Bercy will do well to
consult his new kinsman--Philip d’Avranche.”

For a moment there was absolute silence in the room. The old nobleman’s
look was like a flash of flame in a mask of dead flesh. The short upper
lip was arrested in a sort of snarl, the fingers, half-closed, were
hooked like talons, and the whole man was a picture of surprise,
fury, and injured pride. The Duc de Bercy to be harangued to his
duty, scathed, measured, disapproved, and counselled, by a stripling
Vaufontaine--it was monstrous.

It had the bitterness of aloes also, for in his own heart he knew that
Detricand spoke truth. The fearless appeal had roused him, for a moment
at least, to the beauty and righteousness of a sombre, all but hopeless,
cause, while the impeachment had pierced every sore in his heart. He
felt now the smarting anger, the outraged vanity of the wrong-doer who,
having argued down his own conscience, and believing he has blinded
others as himself, suddenly finds that himself and his motives are naked
before the world.

Detricand had known regretfully, even as he spoke, that the Duke, no
matter what the reason, would not now ally himself with the Royalists;
though, had his life been in danger, he still would have spoken the
truth. So he had been human enough to try and force open the door
of mystery by a biting suggestion; for he had a feeling that in the
presence of the mysterious kinsman, Philip d’Avranche, lay the cause of
the Duke’s resistance to his prayer. Who was this Philip d’Avranche? At
the moment it seemed absurd to him that his mind should travel back to
the Isle of Jersey.

The fury of the Duke was about to break forth, when the door of the
chamber opened and Philip stepped inside. The silence holding two men
now held three, and a curious, cold astonishment possessed the
two younger. The Duke was too blind with anger to see the start
of recognition his visitors gave at sight of each other, and by a
concurrence of feeling neither Detricand nor Philip gave sign of
acquaintance. Wariness was Philip’s cue, wondering caution Detricand’s
attitude.

The Duke spoke first. Turning from Philip, he said to Detricand with
malicious triumph:

“It will disconcert your pious mind to know I have yet one kinsman who
counts it no shame to inherit Bercy. Monsieur le comte, I give you here
the honour to know Captain Philip d’Avranche.”

Something of Detricand’s old buoyant self came back to him. His face
flushed with sudden desire to laugh, then it paled in dumb astonishment.
So this man, Philip d’Avranche, was to be set against him even in the
heritage of his family, as for one hour in a Jersey kitchen they had
been bitter opposites. For the heritage of the Houses of Vaufontaine
and Bercy he cared little--he had deeper ambitions; but this adventuring
sailor roused in him again the private grudge he had once begged him to
remember. Recovering himself, he answered meaningly, bowing low:

“The honour is memorable--and monstrous.” Philip set his teeth, but
replied: “I am overwhelmed to meet one whose reputation is known--in
every taproom.”

Neither had chance to say more, for the Duke, though not conceiving the
cause or meaning of the biting words, felt the contemptuous suggestion
in Detricand’s voice, and burst out in anger:

“Go tell the prince of Vaufontaine that the succession is assured to my
house. Monsieur my cousin, Captain Philip d’Avranche, is now my adopted
son; a wife is chosen for him, and soon, monsieur le comte, there will
be still another successor to the title.”

“The Duc de Bercy should add inspired domestic prophecy to the family
record in the ‘Almanach de Gotha,”’ answered Detricand.

“God’s death!” cried the old nobleman, trembling with rage, and
stretching towards the bell-rope, “you shall go to Paris and the Temple.
Fouche will take care of you.”

“Stop, monsieur le duc!” Detricand’s voice rang through the room. “You
shall not betray even the humblest of your kinsmen, like that monster
d’Orleans who betrayed the highest of his. Be wise: there are hundreds
of your people who still will pass a Royalist on to safety.”

The Duke’s hand dropped from the bell-rope. He knew that Detricand’s
words were true. Ruling himself to quiet, he said with cold hatred:

“Like all your breed, crafty and insolent. But I will make you pay for
it one day.”

Glancing towards Philip as though to see if he could move him, Detricand
answered: “Make no haste on my behalf; years are not of such moment to
me as to your Highness.”

Philip saw Detricand’s look, and felt his moment and his chance had
come. “Monsieur le comte!” he exclaimed threateningly.

The Duke glanced proudly at Philip. “You will collect the debt, cousin,”
 said he, and the smile on his face was wicked as he again turned towards
Detricand.

“With interest well compounded,” answered Philip firmly.

Detricand smiled. “I have drawn the Norman-Jersey cousin, then?” said
he. “Now we can proceed to compliments.” Then with a change of manner
he added quietly: “Your Highness, may the House of Bercy have no worse
enemy than I! I came only to plead the cause which, if it give death,
gives honour too. And I know well that at least you are not against us
in heart. Monsieur d’Avranche”--he turned to Philip, and his words
were slow and deliberate--“I hope we may yet meet in the Place du Vier
Prison--but when and where you will; and you shall find me in the Vendee
when you please.” So saying, he bowed, and, turning, left the room.

“What meant the fellow by his Place du Vier Prison?” asked the Duke.

“Who knows, monsieur le duc?” answered Philip. “A fanatic like all the
Vaufontaines--a roysterer yesterday, a sainted chevalier to-morrow,”
 said the Duke irritably. “But they still have strength and
beauty--always!” he added reluctantly. Then he looked at the strong and
comely frame before him, and was reassured. He laid a hand on Philip’s
broad shoulder, and said admiringly:

“You will of course have your hour with him, cousin: but not--not till
you are a d’Avranche of Bercy.”

“Not till I am a d’Avranche of Bercy,” responded Philip in a low voice.



CHAPTER XXIII

With what seemed an unnecessary boldness Detricand slept that night at
the inn, “The Golden Crown,” in the town of Bercy: a Royalist of the
Vendee exposing himself to deadly peril in a town sworn to alliance with
the Revolutionary Government. He knew that the town, even the inn, might
be full of spies; but one other thing he also knew: the innkeeper of
“The Golden Crown” would not betray him, unless he had greatly changed
since fifteen years ago. Then they had been friends, for his uncle
of Vaufontaine had had a small estate in Bercy itself, in ironical
proximity to the castle.

He walked boldly into the inn parlour. There were but four men in the
room--the landlord, two stout burghers, and Frange Pergot, the porter
of the castle, who had lost no time carrying his news: not to betray his
old comrade in escapade, but to tell a chosen few, Royalists under the
rose, that he had seen one of those servants of God, an officer of the
Vendee.

At sight of the white badge with the red cross on Detricand’s coat, the
four stood up and answered his greeting with devout respect; and he had
speedy assurance that in this inn he was safe from betrayal. Presently
he learned that three days hence a meeting of the States of Bercy was to
be held for setting the seal upon the Duke’s formal adoption of Philip,
and to execute a deed of succession. It was deemed certain that, ere
this, the officer sent to England would have returned with Philip’s
freedom and King George’s licence to accept the succession in the duchy.
From interest in these matters alone Detricand would not have remained
at Bercy, but he thought to use the time for secretly meeting officers
of the duchy likely to favour the cause of the Royalists.

During these three days of waiting he heard with grave concern a
rumour that the great meeting of the States would be marked by Philip’s
betrothal with the Comtesse Chantavoine. He cared naught for the
succession, but there was ever with him the remembrance of Guida
Landresse de Landresse, and what touched Philip d’Avranche he had come
to associate with her. Of the true relations between Guida and Philip he
knew nothing, but from that last day in Jersey he did know that Philip
had roused in her emotions, perhaps less vital than love but certainly
less equable than friendship.

Now in his fear that Guida might suffer, the more he thought of the
Comtesse Chantavoine as the chosen wife of Philip the more it troubled
him. He could not shake off oppressive thoughts concerning Guida
and this betrothal. They interwove themselves through all his secret
business with the Royalists of Bercy. For his own part, he would have
gone far and done much to shield her from injury. He had seen and
known in her something higher than Philip might understand--a simple
womanliness, a profound depth of character. His pledge to her had
been the key-note of his new life. Some day, if he lived and his cause
prospered, he would go back to Jersey--too late perhaps to tell her
what was in his heart, but not too late to tell her the promise had been
kept.

It was a relief when the morning of the third day came, bright and
joyous, and he knew that before the sun went down he should be on his
way back to Saumur.

His friend the innkeeper urged him not to attend the meeting of the
States of Bercy, lest he should be recognised by spies of government. He
was, however, firm in his will to go, but he exchanged his coat with the
red cross for one less conspicuous.

With this eventful morn came the news that the envoy to England had
returned with Philip’s freedom by exchange of prisoners, and with
the needful licence from King George. But other news too was carrying
through the town: the French Government, having learned of the Duke’s
intentions towards Philip, had despatched envoys from Paris to forbid
the adoption and deed of succession.

Though the Duke would have defied them, it behoved him to end the
matter, if possible, before these envoys’ arrival. The States therefore
was hurriedly convened two hours before the time appointed, and the race
began between the Duke and the emissaries of the French Government.

It was a perfect day, and as the brilliant procession wound down the
great rock from the castle, in ever-increasing, glittering line, the
effect was mediaeval in its glowing splendour. All had been ready for
two days, and the general enthusiasm had seized upon the occasion with
an adventurous picturesqueness, in keeping with this strange elevation
of a simple British captain to royal estate. This buoyant, clear-faced,
stalwart figure had sprung suddenly out of the dark into the garish
light of sovereign place, and the imagination of the people had been
touched. He was so genial too, so easy-mannered, this d’Avranche of
Jersey, whose genealogy had been posted on a hundred walls and carried
by a thousand mouths through the principality. As Philip rode past on
the left of the exulting Duke, the crowds cheered him wildly. Only on
the faces of Comte Carignan Damour and his friends was discontent, and
they must perforce be still. Philip himself was outwardly calm,
with that desperate quiet which belongs to the most perilous, most
adventurous achieving. Words he had used many years ago in Jersey kept
ringing in his ears--“‘Good-bye, Sir Philip’--I’ll be more than that
some day.”

The Assembly being opened, in a breathless silence the Governor-General
of the duchy read aloud the licence of the King of England for Philip
d’Avranche, an officer in his navy, to assume the honours to be
conferred upon him by the Duke and the States of Bercy. Then, by command
of the Duke, the President of the States read aloud the new order of
succession:

“1. To the Hereditary Prince Leopold John and his heirs male; in default
of which to

“2. The Prince successor, Philip d’Avranche and his heirs male; in
default of which to

“3. The heir male of the House of Vaufontaine.”

Afterwards came reading of the deed of gift by which the Duke made over
to Prince Philip certain possessions in the province of d’Avranche. To
all this the assent of Prince Leopold John had been formally secured.
After the Assembly and the chief officers of the duchy should have
ratified these documents and the Duke signed them, they were to be
enclosed in a box with three locks and deposited with the Sovereign
Court at Bercy. Duplicates were also to be sent to London and registered
in the records of the College of Arms. Amid great enthusiasm, the
States, by unanimous vote, at once ratified the documents. The one
notable dissentient was the Intendant, Count Carignan Damour, the
devout ally of the French Government. It was he who had sent Fouche word
concerning Philip’s adoption; it was also he who had at last, through
his spies, discovered Detricand’s presence in the town, and had taken
action thereupon. In the States, however, he had no vote, and wisdom
kept him silent, though he was watchful for any chance to delay events
against the arrival of the French envoys.

They should soon be here, and, during the proceedings in the States,
he watched the doors anxiously. Every minute that passed made him more
restless, less hopeful. He had a double motive in preventing this new
succession. With Philip as adopted son and heir there would be fewer
spoils of office; with Philip as duke there would be none at all,
for the instinct of distrust and antipathy was mutual. Besides, as a
Republican, he looked for his reward from Fouche in good time.

Presently it was announced by the President that the signatures to the
acts of the States would be set in private. Thereupon, with all the
concourse standing, the Duke, surrounded by the law, military, and civil
officers of the duchy, girded upon Philip the jewelled sword which
had been handed down in the House of d’Avranche from generation to
generation. The open function being thus ended, the people were enjoined
to proceed at once to the cathedral, where a Te Deum would be sung.

The public then retired, leaving the Duke and a few of the highest
officials of the duchy to formally sign and seal the deeds. When the
outer doors were closed, one unofficial person remained--Comte Detricand
de Tournay, of the House of Vaufontaine. Leaning against a pillar, he
stood looking calmly at the group surrounding the Duke at the great
council-table.

Suddenly the Duke turned to a door at the right of the President’s
chair, and, opening it, bowed courteously to some one beyond. An instant
afterwards there entered the Comtesse Chantavoine, with her uncle the
Marquis Grandjon-Larisse, an aged and feeble but distinguished figure.
They advanced towards the table, the lady on the Duke’s arm, and Philip,
saluting them gravely, offered the Marquis a chair. At first the Marquis
declined it, but the Duke pressed him, and in the subsequent proceedings
he of all the number was seated.

Detricand apprehended the meaning of the scene. This was the lady whom
the Duke had chosen as wife for the new Prince. The Duke had invited the
Comtesse to witness the final act which was to make Philip d’Avranche
his heir in legal fact as by verbal proclamation; not doubting that the
romantic nature of the incident would impress her. He had even hoped
that the function might be followed by a formal betrothal in the
presence of the officials; and the situation might still have been
critical for Philip had it not been for the pronounced reserve of the
Comtesse herself.

Tall, of gracious and stately carriage, the curious quietness of the
face of the Comtesse would have been almost an unbecoming gravity were
it not that the eyes, clear, dark, and strong, lightened it. The mouth
had a somewhat set sweetness, even as the face was somewhat fixed in
its calm. In her bearing, in all her motions, there was a regal quality;
yet, too, something of isolation, of withdrawal, in her self-possession
and unruffled observation. She seemed, to Detricand, a figure apart,
a woman whose friendship would be everlasting, but whose love would be
more an affectionate habit than a passion; and in whom devotion would be
strong because devotion was the key-note of her nature. The dress of a
nun would have turned her into a saint; of a peasant would have made her
a Madonna; of a Quaker, would have made her a dreamer and a devote; of a
queen, would have made her benign yet unapproachable. It struck him
all at once as he looked, that this woman had one quality in absolute
kinship with Guida Landresse--honesty of mind and nature; only with
this young aristocrat the honesty would be without passion. She had
straight-forwardness, a firm if limited intellect, a clear-mindedness
belonging somewhat to narrowness of outlook, but a genuine capacity for
understanding the right and the wrong of things. Guida, so Detricand
thought, might break her heart and live on; this woman would break her
heart and die: the one would grow larger through suffering, the other
shrink to a numb coldness.

So he entertained himself by these flashes of discernment, presently
merged in wonderment as to what was in Philip’s mind as he stood there,
destiny hanging in that drop of ink at the point of the pen in the
Duke’s fingers!

Philip was thinking of the destiny, but more than all else just now he
was thinking of the woman before him and the issue to be faced by him
regarding her. His thoughts were not so clear nor so discerning as
Detricand’s. No more than he understood Guida did he understand
this clear-eyed, still, self-possessed woman. He thought her cold,
unsympathetic, barren of that glow which should set the pulses of a man
like himself bounding. It never occurred to him that these still waters
ran deep, that to awaken this seemingly glacial nature, to kindle a fire
on this altar, would be to secure unto his life’s end a steady, enduring
flame of devotion. He revolted from her; not alone because he had a
wife, but because the Comtesse chilled him, because with her, in any
case, he should never be able to play the passionate lover as he had
done with Guida; and with Philip not to be the passionate lover was to
be no lover at all. One thing only appealed to him: she was the Comtesse
Chantavoine, a fitting consort in the eyes of the world for a sovereign
duke. He was more than a little carried off his feet by the marvel of
the situation. He could think of nothing quite clearly; everything was
confused and shifting in his mind.

The first words of the Duke were merely an informal greeting to his
council and the high officers present. He was about to speak further
when some one drew his attention to Detricand’s presence. An order was
given to challenge the stranger, but Detricand, without waiting for the
approach of the officer, advanced towards the table, and, addressing the
Duke, said:

“The Duc de Bercy will not forbid the presence of his cousin, Detricand
de Tournay, at this impressive ceremony?”

The Duke, dumfounded, though he preserved an outward calm, could not
answer for an instant. Then with a triumphant, vindictive smile which
puckered his yellow cheeks like a wild apple, he said:

“The Comte de Tournay is welcome to behold an end of the ambitions of
the Vaufontaines.” He looked towards Philip with an exulting
pride. “Monsieur le Comte is quite right,” he added, turning to his
council--“he may always claim the privileges of a relative of the
Bercys; but the hospitality goes not beyond my house and my presence,
and monsieur le comte will understand my meaning.”

At that moment Detricand caught the eye of Damour the Intendant, and he
understood perfectly. This man, the innkeeper had told him, was known to
be a Revolutionary, and he felt he was in imminent danger.

He came nearer, however, bowing to all present, and, making no reply to
the Duke save a simple, “I thank your Highness,” took a place near the
council-table.

The short ceremony of signing the deeds immediately followed. A few
formal questions were asked of Philip, to which he briefly replied, and
afterwards he made the oath of allegiance to the Duke, with his hand
upon the ancient sword of the d’Avranches. These preliminaries ended,
the Duke was just stooping to put his pen to the paper for signature,
when the Intendant, as much to annoy Philip as still to stay the
proceedings against the coming of Fouche’s men, said:

“It would appear that one question has been omitted in the formalities
of this Court.” He paused dramatically. He was only aiming a random
shot; he would make the most of it.

The Duke looked up perturbed, and said sharply: “What is that--what is
that, monsieur?”

“A form, monsieur le duc, a mere form. Monsieur”--he bowed towards
Philip politely--“monsieur is not already married? There is no--” He
paused again.

For an instant there was absolute stillness. Philip had felt his heart
give one great thump of terror: Did the Intendant know anything? Did
Detricand know anything.

Standing rigid for a moment, his pen poised, the Duke looked sharply
at the Intendant and then still more sharply at Philip. The progress of
that look had granted Philip an instant’s time to recover his composure.
He was conscious that the Comtesse Chantavoine had given a little start,
and then had become quite still and calm. Now her eyes were intently
fixed upon him.

He had, however, been too often in physical danger to lose his nerve at
this moment. The instant was big with peril; it was the turning point
of his life, and he felt it. His eyes dropped towards the spot of ink at
the point of the pen the Duke held. It fascinated him, it was destiny.

He took a step nearer to the table, and, drawing himself up, looked his
princely interlocutor steadily in the eyes.

“Of course there is no marriage--no woman?” asked the Duke a little
hoarsely, his eyes fastened on Philip’s. With steady voice Philip
replied: “Of course, monsieur le duc.”

There was another stillness. Some one sighed heavily. It was the
Comtesse Chantavoine.

The next instant the Duke stooped, and wrote his signature three times
hurriedly upon the deeds.

A moment afterwards, Detricand was in the street, making towards “The
Golden Crown.” As he hurried on he heard the galloping of horses ahead
of him. Suddenly some one plucked him by the arm from a doorway.

“Quick--within!” said a voice. It was that of the Duke’s porter, Frange
Pergot. Without hesitation or a word, Detricand did as he was bid, and
the door clanged to behind him.

“Fouche’s men are coming down the street; spies have betrayed you,”
 whispered Pergot. “Follow me. I will hide you till night, and then you
must away.”

Pergot had spoken the truth. But Detricand was safely hidden, and
Fouche’s men came too late to capture the Vendean chief or to forbid
those formal acts which made Philip d’Avranche a prince.

Once again at Saumur, a week later, Detricand wrote a long letter to
Carterette Mattingley, in Jersey, in which he set forth these strange
events at Bercy, and asked certain questions concerning Guida.



CHAPTER XXIV

Since the day of his secret marriage with Guida, Philip had been carried
along in the gale of naval preparation and incidents of war as a leaf is
borne onward by a storm--no looking back, to-morrow always the goal. But
as a wounded traveller nursing carefully his hurt seeks shelter from
the scorching sun and the dank air, and travels by little stages lest
he never come at all to friendly hostel, so Guida made her way slowly
through the months of winter and of spring.

In the past, it had been February to Guida because the yellow Lenten
lilies grew on all the sheltered cotils; March because the periwinkle
and the lords-and-ladies came; May when the cliffs were a blaze of
golden gorse and the perfume thereof made all the land sweet as a
honeycomb.

Then came the other months, with hawthorn trees and hedges all in blow;
the honeysuckle gladdening the doorways, the lilac in bloomy thickets;
the ox-eyed daisy of Whitsuntide; the yellow rose of St. Brelade that
lies down in the sand and stands up in the hedges; the “mergots” which,
like good soldiers, are first in the field and last out of it; the
unscented dog-violets, orchises and celandines; the osier beds, the ivy
on every barn; the purple thrift in masses on the cliff; the sea-thistle
in its glaucous green--“the laughter of the fields whose laugh was
gold.” And all was summer.

Came a time thereafter, when the children of the poor gathered
blackberries for preserves and home made wine; when the wild stock
flowered in St. Ouen’s Bay; when the bracken fern was gathered from
every cotil, and dried for apple-storing, for bedding for the cherished
cow, for back-rests for the veilles, and seats round the winter fire;
when peaches, apricots, and nectarines made the walls sumptuous red and
gold; when the wild plum and crab-apple flourished in secluded roadways,
and the tamarisk dropped its brown pods upon the earth. And all this was
autumn.

At last, when the birds of passage swept aloft, snipe and teal and
barnacle geese, and the rains began; when the green lizard with its
turquoise-blue throat vanished; when the Jersey crapaud was heard
croaking no longer in the valleys and the ponds; and the cows were well
blanketed--then winter had come again.

Such was the association of seasons in Guida’s mind until one day of a
certain year, when for a few hours a man had called her his wife, and
then had sailed away. There was no log that might thereafter record the
days and weeks unwinding the coils of an endless chain into that sea
whither Philip had gone.

Letters she had had, two letters, one in January, one in March. How
many times, when a Channel-packet came in, did she go to the doorway and
watch for old Mere Rossignol, making the rounds with her hand basket,
chanting the names of those for whom she had letters; and how many times
did she go back to the kitchen, choking down a sob!

The first letter from Philip was at once a blessing and a blow; it was
a reassurance and it was a misery. It spoke of bread, as it were, yet
offered a stone. It eloquently, passionately told of his love; but it
also told, with a torturing ease, that the Araminta was commissioned
with sealed orders, and he did not know when he should see her nor when
he should be able to write again. War had been declared against France,
and they might not touch a port nor have chance to send a letter by
a homeward vessel for weeks, and maybe months. This was painful, of
course, but it was fate, it was his profession, and it could not be
helped. Of course--she must understand--he would write constantly,
telling her, as through a kind of diary, what he was doing every day,
and then when the chance came the big budget should go to her.

A pain came to Guida’s heart as she read the flowing tale of his buoyant
love. Had she been the man and he the woman, she could never have
written so smoothly of “fate,” and “profession,” nor told of this
separation with so complaisant a sorrow. With her the words would have
been wrenched forth from her heart, scarred into the paper with the
bitterness of a spirit tried beyond enduring.

With what enthusiasm did Philip, immediately after his heart-breaking
news, write of what the war might do for him; what avenues of
advancement it might open up, what splendid chances it would offer
for success in his career! Did he mean that to comfort her, she asked
herself. Did he mean it to divert her from the pain of the separation,
to give her something to hope for? She read the letter over and over
again--yet no, she could not, though her heart was so willing, find that
meaning in it. It was all Philip, Philip full of hope, purpose, prowess,
ambition. Did he think--did he think that that could ease the pain,
could lighten the dark day settling down on her? Could he imagine that
anything might compensate for his absence in the coming months, in
this year of all years in her life? His lengthened absence might be
inevitable, it might be fate, but could he not see the bitter cruelty of
it? He had said that he would be back with her again in two months; and
now--ah, did he not know!

As the weeks came and went again she felt that indeed he did not
know--or care, maybe.

Some natures cling to beliefs long after conviction has been shattered.
These are they of the limited imagination, the loyal, the pertinacious,
and the affectionate, the single-hearted children of habit; blind
where they do not wish to see, stubborn where their inclinations lie,
unamenable to reason, wholly held by legitimate obligations.

But Guida was not of these. Her brain and imagination were as strong as
her affections. Her incurable honesty was the deepest thing in her; she
did not know even how to deceive herself. As her experience deepened
under the influence of a sorrow which still was joy, and a joy that
still was sorrow, her vision became acute and piercing. Her mind was
like some kaleidoscope. Pictures of things, little and big, which had
happened to her in her life, flashed by her inner vision in furious
procession. It was as if, in the photographic machinery of the brain,
some shutter had slipped from its place, and a hundred orderless and
ungoverned pictures, loosed from natural restraint, rushed by.

Five months had gone since Philip had left her: two months since she
had received his second letter, months of complexity of feeling; of
tremulousness of discovery; of hungry eagerness for news of the war; of
sudden little outbursts of temper in her household life--a new thing
in her experience; of passionate touches of tenderness towards her
grandfather; of occasional biting comments in the conversations between
the Sieur and the Chevalier, causing both gentlemen to look at each
other in silent amaze; of as marked lapses into listless disregard of
any talk going on around her.

She had been used often to sit still, doing nothing, in a sort of
physical content, as the Sieur and his visitors talked; now her hands
were always busy, knitting, sewing, or spinning, the steady gaze upon
the work showing that her thoughts were far away. Though the Chevalier
and her grandfather vaguely noted these changes, they as vaguely set
them down to her growing womanhood. In any case, they held it was not
for them to comment upon a woman or upon a woman’s ways. And a girl like
Guida was an incomprehensible being, with an orbit and a system all
her own; whose sayings and doings were as little to be reduced to their
understandings as the vagaries of any star in the Milky Way or the
currents in St. Michael’s Basin.

One evening she sat before the fire thinking of Philip. Her grandfather
had retired earlier than usual. Biribi lay asleep on the veille. There
was no sound save the ticking of the clock on the mantel above her head,
the dog’s slow breathing, the snapping of the log on the fire, and a
soft rush of heat up the chimney. The words of Philip’s letters, from
which she had extracted every atom of tenderness they held, were always
in her ears. At last one phrase kept repeating itself to her like some
plaintive refrain, torturing in its mournful suggestion. It was this:
“But you see, beloved, though I am absent from you I shall have such
splendid chances to get on. There’s no limit to what this war may do for
me.”

Suddenly Guida realised how different was her love from Philip’s, how
different her place in his life from his place in her life. She reasoned
with herself, because she knew that a man’s life was work in the world,
and that work and ambition were in his bones and in his blood, had
been carried down to him through centuries of industrious, ambitious
generations of men: that men were one race and women were another. A man
was bound by the conditions governing the profession by which he earned
his bread and butter and played his part in the world, while striving
to reach the seats of honour in high places. He must either live by the
law, fulfil to the letter his daily duties in the business of life, or
drop out of the race; while a woman, in the presence of man’s immoderate
ambition, with bitterness and tears, must learn to pray, “O Lord, have
mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.”

Suddenly the whole thing resolved itself in Guida’s mind, and her
thinking came to a full stop. She understood now what was the right and
what the wrong; and, child as she was in years, woman in thought and
experience, yielding to the impulse of the moment, she buried her face
in her hands and burst into tears.

“O Philip, Philip, Philip,” she sobbed aloud, “it was not right of you
to marry me; it was wicked of you to leave me!” Then in her mind she
carried on the impeachment and reproach. If he had married her openly
and left her at once, it would have been hard to bear, but in the
circumstances it might have been right. If he had married her secretly
and left her at the altar, so keeping the vow he had made her when she
promised to become his wife, that might have been pardonable. But to
marry her as he did, and then, breaking his solemn pledge, leave her--it
was not right in her eyes; and if not right in the eyes of her who loved
him, in whose would it be right?

To these definitions she had come at last.

It is an eventful moment, a crucial ordeal for a woman, when she forces
herself to see the naked truth concerning the man she has loved, yet the
man who has wronged her. She is born anew in that moment: it may be to
love on, to blind herself, and condone and defend, so lowering her own
moral tone; or to congeal in heart, become keener in intellect, scornful
and bitter with her own sex and merciless towards the other, indifferent
to blame and careless of praise, intolerant, judging all the world by
her own experience, incredulous of any true thing. Or again she may
become stronger, sadder, wiser; condoning nothing, minimising nothing,
deceiving herself in nothing, and still never forgiving at least one
thing--the destruction of an innocent faith and a noble credulity;
seeing clearly the whole wrong; with a strong intelligence measuring
perfectly the iniquity; but out of a largeness of nature and by virtue
of a high sense of duty, devoting her days to the salvation of a man’s
honour, to the betterment of one weak or wicked nature.

Of these last would have been Guida.

“O Philip, Philip, you have been wicked to me!” she sobbed.

Her tears fell upon the stone hearth, and the fire dried them. Every
teardrop was one girlish feeling and emotion gone, one bright fancy, one
tender hope vanished. She was no longer a girl. There were troubles and
dangers ahead of her, but she must now face them dry-eyed and alone.

In his second letter Philip had told her to announce the marriage, and
said that he would write to her grandfather explaining all, and also to
the Rev. Lorenzo Dow. She had waited and watched for that letter to her
grandfather, but it had not come. As for Mr. Dow, he was a prisoner with
the French; and he had never given her the marriage certificate.

There was yet another factor in the affair. While the island was
agog over Mr. Dow’s misfortune, there had been a bold robbery at St.
Michael’s Rectory of the strong-box containing the communion plate, the
parish taxes for the year, and--what was of great moment to at least one
person--the parish register of deaths, baptisms, and marriages. Thus it
was that now no human being in Jersey could vouch that Guida had been
married.

Yet these things troubled her little. How easily could Philip set all
right! If he would but come back--that at first was her only thought;
for what matter a ring, or any proof or proclamation without Philip!

It did not occur to her at first that all these things were needed to
save her from shame in the eyes of the world. If she had thought of
them apprehensively, she would have said to herself, how easy to set all
right by simply announcing the marriage! And indeed she would have done
so when war was declared and Philip received his new command, but that
she had wished the announcement to come from him. Well, that would come
in any case when his letter to her grandfather arrived. No doubt it had
missed the packet by which hers came, she thought.

But another packet and yet another arrived; and still there was no
letter from Philip for the Sieur de Mauprat. Winter had come, and spring
had gone, and now summer was at hand. Haymaking was beginning, the wild
strawberries were reddening among the clover, and in her garden, apples
had followed the buds on the trees beneath which Philip had told his
fateful tale of love.

At last a third letter arrived, but it brought little joy to her heart.
It was extravagant in terms of affection, but somehow it fell short
of the true thing, for its ardour was that of a mind preoccupied, and
underneath all ran a current of inherent selfishness. It delighted in
the activity of his life, it was full of hope, of promise of happiness
for them both in the future, but it had no solicitude for Guida in the
present. It chilled her heart--so warm but a short season ago--that
Philip to whom she had once ascribed strength, tenderness, profound
thoughtfulness, should concern himself so little in the details of her
life. For the most part, his letters seemed those of an ardent lover who
knew his duty and did it gladly, but with a self-conscious and flowing
eloquence, costing but small strain of feeling.

In this letter he was curious to know what the people in Jersey said
about their marriage. He had written to Lorenzo Dow and her grandfather,
he said, but had heard afterwards that the vessel carrying the letters
had been taken by a French privateer; and so they had not arrived in
Jersey. But of course she had told her grandfather and all the island
of the ceremony performed at St. Michael’s. He was sending her fifty
pounds, his first contribution to their home; and, the war over,
a pretty new home she certainly should have. He would write to her
grandfather again, though this day there was no time to do so.

Guida realised now that she must announce the marriage at once. But what
proofs of it had she? There was the ring Philip had given her, inscribed
with their names; but she was sophisticated enough to know that this
would not be adequate evidence in the eyes of her Jersey neighbours.
The marriage register of St. Michael’s, with its record, was stolen,
and that proof was gone. Lastly, there were Philip’s letters; but no--a
thousand times no!--she would not show Philip’s letters to any human
being; even the thought of it hurt her delicacy, her self-respect. Her
heart burned with fresh bitterness to think that there had been a secret
marriage. How hard it was at this distance of time to tell the world the
tale, and to be forced to prove it by Philip’s letters. No, no, in spite
of all, she could not do it--not yet. She would still wait the arrival
of his letter to her grandfather. If it did not come soon, then she must
be brave and tell her story.

She went to the Vier Marchi less now. Also fewer folk stood gossiping
with her grandfather in the Place du Vier Prison, or by the well at
the front door--so far he had not wondered why. To be sure, Maitresse
Aimable came oftener; but, since that notable day at Sark, Guida had
resolutely avoided reference, however oblique, to Philip and herself.
In her dark days the one tenderly watchful eye upon her was that of the
egregiously fat old woman called the “Femme de Ballast,” whose thick
tongue clave to the roof of her mouth, whose outer attractions were so
meagre that even her husband’s chief sign of affection was to pull her
great toe, passing her bed of a morning to light the fire.

Carterette Mattingley also came, but another friend who had watched over
Guida for years before Philip appeared in the Place du Vier Prison
never entered her doorway now. Only once or twice since that day on
the Ecrehos, so fateful to them both, had Guida seen Ranulph. He had
withdrawn to St. Aubin’s Bay, where his trade of ship-building was
carried on, and having fitted up a small cottage, lived a secluded life
with his father there. Neither of them appeared often in St. Heliers,
and they were seldom or never seen in the Vier Marchi.

Carterette saw Ranulph little oftener than did Guida, but she knew what
he was doing, being anxious to know, and every one’s business being
every one else’s business in Jersey. In the same way Ranulph knew of
Guida. What Carterette was doing Ranulph was not concerned to know, and
so knew little; and Guida knew and thought little of how Ranulph fared:
which was part of the selfishness of love.

But one day Carterette received a letter from France which excited her
greatly, and sent her off hot-foot to Guida. In the same hour Ranulph
heard a piece of hateful gossip which made him fell to the ground the
man who told him, and sent him with white face, and sick, yet indignant
heart, to the cottage in the Place du Vier Prison.



CHAPTER XXV

Guida was sitting on the veille reading an old London paper she had
bought of the mate of the packet from Southampton. One page contained
an account of the execution of Louis XVI; another reported the fight
between the English thirty-six gun frigate Araminta and the French
Niobe. The engagement had been desperate, the valiant Araminta having
been fought, not alone against odds as to her enemy, but against the
irresistible perils of a coast upon which the Admiralty charts gave
cruelly imperfect information. To the Admiralty we owed the fact, the
journal urged, that the Araminta was now at the bottom of the sea,
and its young commander confined in a French fortress, his brave and
distinguished services lost to the country. Nor had the government yet
sought to lessen the injury by arranging a cartel for the release of the
unfortunate commander.

The Araminta! To Guida the letters of the word seemed to stand out from
the paper like shining hieroglyphs on a misty grey curtain. The rest of
the page was resolved into a filmy floating substance, no more tangible
than the ashy skeleton on which writing still lives when the paper
itself has been eaten by flame, and the flame swallowed by the air.

Araminta--this was all her eyes saw, that familiar name in the flaring
handwriting of the Genius of Life, who had scrawled her destiny in that
one word.

Slowly the monstrous ciphers faded from the grey hemisphere of space,
and she saw again the newspaper in her trembling fingers, the kitchen
into which the sunlight streamed from the open window, the dog Biribi
basking in the doorway. That living quiet which descends upon a house
when the midday meal and work are done came suddenly home to her, in
contrast to the turmoil in her mind and being.

So that was why Philip had not written to her! While her heart was daily
growing more bitter against him, he had been fighting his vessel against
great odds, and at last had been shipwrecked and carried off a prisoner.
A strange new understanding took possession of her. Her life suddenly
widened. She realised all at once how the eyes of the whole world might
be fixed upon a single ship, a few cannon, and some scores of men. The
general of a great army leading tens of thousands into the clash of
battle--that had been always within her comprehension; but this was
almost miraculous, this sudden projection of one ship and her commander
upon the canvas of fame. Philip had left her, unknown save to a few.
With the nations turned to see, he had made a gallant and splendid
fight, and now he was a prisoner in a French fortress.

This then was why her grandfather had received no letter from him
concerning the marriage. Well, now she must speak for herself; she must
announce it. Must she show Philip’s letters?--No, no, she could not....
Suddenly a new suggestion came to her: there was one remaining proof.
Since no banns had been published, Philip must have obtained a license
from the Dean of the island, and he would have a record of it. All she
had to do now was to get a copy of this record--but no, a license to
marry was no proof of marriage; it was but evidence of intention.

Still, she would go to the Dean this very moment.

It was not right that she should wait longer: indeed, in waiting so long
she had already done great wrong to herself--and to Philip perhaps.

She rose from the veille with a sense of relief. No more of this
secrecy, making her innocence seem guilt; no more painful dreams of
punishment for some intangible crime; no starting if she heard a sudden
footstep; no more hurried walk through the streets, looking neither to
right nor to left; no more inward struggles wearing away her life.

To-morrow--to-morrow--no, this very night, her grandfather and one
other, even Maitresse Aimable, should know all; and she should sleep
quietly--oh, so quietly to-night!

Looking into a mirror on the wall--it had been a gift from her
grandfather--she smiled at herself. Why, how foolish of her it had been
to feel so much and to imagine terrible things! Her eyes were shining
now, and her hair, catching the sunshine from the window, glistened like
burnished copper. She turned to see how it shone on the temple and the
side of her head. Philip had praised her hair. Her look lingered for a
moment placidly on herself-then she started suddenly. A wave of feeling,
a shiver, passed through her, her brow gathered, she flushed deeply.

Turning away from the mirror, she went and sat down again on the edge
of the veille. Her mind had changed. She would go to the Dean’s--but
not till it was dark. She suddenly thought it strange that the Dean had
never said anything about the license. Why, again, perhaps he had. How
should she know what gossip was going on in the town! But no, she was
quick to feel, and if there had been gossip she would have felt it in
the manner of her neighbours. Besides, gossip as to a license to marry
was all on the right side. She sighed--she had sighed so often of
late--to think what a tangle it all was, of how it would be smoothed out
tomorrow, of what--

There was a click of the garden-gate, a footstep on the walk, a
half-growl from Biribi, and the face of Carterette Mattingley appeared
in the kitchen doorway. Seeing Guida seated on the veille, she came in
quickly, her dancing dark eyes heralding great news.

“Don’t get up, ma couzaine,” she said, “please no. Sit just there, and
I’ll sit beside you. Ah, but I have the most wonderfuls!”

Carterette was out of breath. She had hurried here from her home. As she
said herself, her two feet weren’t in one shoe on the way, and that with
her news made her quiver with excitement.

At first, bursting with mystery, she could do no more than sit and look
in Guida’s face. Carterette was quick of instinct in her way, but yet
she had not seen any marked change in her friend during the past few
months. She had been so busy thinking of her own particular secret that
she was not observant of others. At times she met Ranulph, and then she
was uplifted, to be at once cast down again; for she saw that his
old cheerfulness was gone, that a sombreness had settled on him. She
flattered herself, however, that she could lighten his gravity if she
had the right and the good opportunity; the more so that he no longer
visited the cottage in the Place du Vier Prison.

This drew her closer to Guida also, for, in truth, Carterette had no
loftiness of nature. Like most people, she was selfish enough to hold a
person a little dearer for not standing in her own especial light. Long
ago she had shrewdly guessed that Guida’s interest lay elsewhere than
with Ranulph, and a few months back she had fastened upon Philip as the
object of her favour. That seemed no weighty matter, for many sailors
had made love to Carterette in her time, and knowing it was here to-day
and away to-morrow with them, her heart had remained untouched. Why
then should she think Guida would take the officer seriously where she
herself held the sailor lightly? But at the same time she felt sure that
what concerned Philip must interest Guida, she herself always cared to
hear the fate of an old admirer, and this was what had brought her to
the cottage to-day.

“Guess who’s wrote me a letter?” she asked of Guida, who had taken up
some sewing, and was now industriously regarding the stitches.

At Carterette’s question, Guida looked up and said with a smile, “Some
one you like, I see.”

Carterette laughed gaily. “Ba su, I should think I did--in a way. But
what’s his name? Come, guess, Ma’m’selle Dignity.”

“Eh ben, the fairy godmother,” answered Guida, trying not to show an
interest she felt all too keenly; for nowadays it seemed to her that all
news should be about Philip. Besides, she was gaining time and preparing
herself for--she knew not what.

“O my grief!” responded the brown-eyed elf, kicking off a red slipper,
and thrusting her foot into it again, “never a fairy godmother had I,
unless it’s old Manon Moignard the witch:

       “‘Sas, son, bileton,
        My grand’methe a-fishing has gone:
        She’ll gather the fins to scrape my jowl,
        And ride back home on a barnyard fowl!’

“Nannin, ma’m’selle, ‘tis plain to be seen you can’t guess what a
cornfield grows besides red poppies.” Laughing in sheer delight at the
mystery she was making, she broke off again into a whimsical nursery
rhyme:

         “‘Coquelicot, j’ai mal au de
          Coquelicot, qu’est qui l’a fait?
          Coquelicot, ch’tai mon valet.’”

She kicked off the red slipper again. Flying half-way across the room,
it alighted on the table, and a little mud from the heel dropped on the
clean scoured surface. With a little moue of mockery, she got slowly
up and tiptoed across the floor, like a child afraid of being scolded.
Gathering the dust carefully, and looking demurely askance at Guida the
while, she tiptoed over again to the fireplace and threw it into the
chimney.

“Naughty Carterette,” she said at herself with admiring reproach, as
she looked in Guida’s mirror, and added, glancing with farcical approval
round the room, “and it all shines like peacock’s feather, too!”

Guida longed to snatch the letter from Carterette’s hand and read it,
but she only said calmly, though the words fluttered in her throat:

“You’re as gay as a chaffinch, Garcon Carterette.” Garcon Carterette!
Instantly Carterette sobered down. No one save Ranulph ever called her
Garcon Carterette. Guida used Ranulph’s name for Carterette, knowing
that it would change the madcap’s mood. Carterette, to hide a sudden
flush, stooped and slowly put on her slipper. Then she came back to the
veille, and sat down again beside Guida, saying as she did so:

“Yes, I’m gay as a chaffinch--me.”

She unfolded the letter slowly, and Guida stopped sewing, but
mechanically began to prick the linen lying on her knee with the point
of the needle.

“Well,” said Carterette deliberately, “this letter’s from a pend’loque
of a fellow--at least, we used to call him that--though if you come to
think, he was always polite as mended porringer. Often he hadn’t two
sous to rub against each other. And--and not enough buttons for his
clothes.”

Guida smiled. She guessed whom Carterette meant. “Has Monsieur Detricand
more buttons now?” she asked with a little whimsical lift of the
eyebrows.

“Ah bidemme, yes, and gold too, all over him--like that!” She made a
quick sweeping gesture which would seem to make Detricand a very spangle
of buttons. “Come, what do you think--he’s a general now.

“A general!” Instantly Guida thought of Philip and a kind of envy shot
into her heart that this idler Detricand should mount so high in a few
months--a man whose past had held nothing to warrant such success. “A
general--where?” she asked.

“In the Vendee army, fighting for the new King of France--you know the
rebels cut off the last King’s head.”

At another time Guida’s heart would have throbbed with elation, for
the romance of that Vendee union of aristocrat and peasant fired her
imagination; but she only said in the tongue of the people: “Ma fuifre,
yes, I know!”

Carterette was delighted to thus dole out her news, and get due reward
of astonishment. “And he’s another name,” she added. “At least it’s not
another, he always had it, but he didn’t call himself by it. Pardi, he’s
more than the Chevalier; he’s the Comte Detricand de Tournay--ah, then,
believe me if you choose, there it is!”

She pointed to the signature of the letter, and with a gush of eloquence
explained how it all was about Detricand the vaurien and Detricand the
Comte de Tournay.

“Good riddance to Monsieur Savary dit Detricand, and good welcome to
the Comte de Tournay,” answered Guida, trying hard to humour Carterette,
that she should sooner hear the news yet withheld. “And what follows
after?”

Carterette was half sorry that her great moment had come. She wished
she could have linked out the suspense longer. But she let herself be
comforted by the anticipated effect of her “wonderfuls.”

“I’ll tell you what comes after--ah, but see then what a news I have for
you! You know that Monsieur d’Avranche--well, what do you think has come
to him?”

Guida felt as if a monstrous hand had her heart in its grasp, crushing
it. Presentiment seized her. Carterette was busy running over the
pages of the letter, and did not notice her colourless face. She had
no thought that Guida had any vital interest in Philip, and ruthlessly,
though unconsciously, she began to torture the young wife as few are
tortured in this world.

She read aloud Detricand’s description of his visit to the Castle of
Bercy, and of the meeting with Philip. “‘See what comes of a name!’”
 wrote Detricand. “‘Here was a poor prisoner whose ancestor, hundreds
of years ago, may or mayn’t have been a relative of the d’Avranches of
Clermont, when a disappointed duke, with an eye open for heirs, takes a
fancy to the good-looking face of the poor prisoner, and voila! you have
him whisked off to a palace, fed on milk and honey, and adopted into the
family. Then a pedigree is nicely grown on a summer day, and this fine
young Jersey adventurer is found to be a green branch from the old root;
and there’s a great blare of trumpets, and the States of the duchy are
called together to make this English officer a prince--and that’s the
Thousand and One Nights in Arabia, Ma’m’selle Carterette.’”

Guida was sitting rigid and still. In the slight pause Carterette
made, a hundred confused torturing thoughts swam through her mind and
presently floated into the succeeding sentences of the letter:

“‘As for me, I’m like Rabot’s mare, I haven’t time to laugh at my
own foolishness. I’m either up to my knees in grass or clay fighting
Revolutionists, or I’m riding hard day and night till I’m round-backed
like a wood-louse, to make up for all the good time I so badly lost in
your little island. You wouldn’t have expected that, my friend with the
tongue that stings, would you? But then, Ma’m’selle of the red slippers,
one is never butted save by a dishorned cow--as your father used to
say.”’

Carterette paused again, saying in an aside: “That is M’sieu’ all
over, all so gay. But who knows? For he says, too, that the other day
a-fighting Fontenay, five thousand of his men come across a cavalry as
they run to take the guns that eat them up like cabbages, and they drop
on their knees, and he drops with them, and they all pray to God to help
them, while the cannon balls whiz-whiz over their heads. And God did
hear them, for they fell down flat when the guns was fired and the
cannon balls never touched ‘em.”

During this interlude, Guida, sick with anxiety, could scarcely sit
still. She began sewing again, though her fingers trembled so she could
hardly make a stitch. But Carterette, the little egoist, did not notice
her agitation; her own flurry dimmed her sight.

She began reading again. The first few words had little or no
significance for Guida, but presently she was held as by the fascination
of a serpent.

“‘And Ma’m’selle Carterette, what do you think this young captain, now
Prince Philip d’Avranche, heir to the title of Bercy--what do you think
he is next to do? Even to marry a countess of great family the old Duke
has chosen for him; so that the name of d’Avranche may not die out in
the land. And that is the way that love begins.... Wherefore, I want you
to write and tell me--’”

What he wanted Carterette to tell him Guida never heard, though it
concerned herself, for she gave a moan like a dumb animal in agony, and
sat rigid and blanched, the needle she had been using embedded in her
finger to the bone, but not a motion, not a sign of animation in face or
figure.

All at once, some conception of the truth burst upon the affrighted
Carterette. The real truth she imagined as little as had Detricand.

But now when she saw the blanched face, the filmy eyes and stark look,
the finger pierced by the needle, she knew that a human heart had been
pierced too, with a pain worse than death--truly it was worse, for she
had seen death, and she had never seen anything like this in its dire
misery and horror. She caught the needle quickly from the finger,
wrapped her kerchief round the wound, threw away the sewing from Guida’s
lap, and running an arm about her waist, made as if to lay a hot cheek
against the cold brow of her friend. Suddenly, however, with a new and
painful knowledge piercing her intelligence, and a face as white and
scared as Guida’s own, she ran to the dresser, caught up a hanap, and
brought some water. Guida still sat as though life had fled, and the
body, arrested in its activity, would presently collapse.

Carterette, with all her seeming lightsomeness, had sense and
self-possession. She tenderly put the water to Guida’s lips, with
comforting words, though her own brain was in a whirl, and dark
forebodings flashed through her mind.

“Ah, man gui, man pethe!” she said in the homely patois. “There, drink,
drink, dear, dear couzaine.” Guida’s lips opened, and she drank slowly,
putting her hand to her heart with a gesture of pain. Carterette
put down the hanap and caught her hands. “Come, come, these cold
hands--pergui, but we must stop that! They are so cold.” She rubbed them
hard. “The poor child of heaven--what has come over you? Speak to me...
ah, but see, everything will come all right by and by! God is good.
Nothing’s as bad as what it seems. There was never a grey wind but
there’s a greyer. Nanningia, take it not so to heart, my couzaine; thou
shalt have love enough in the world.... Ah, grand doux d’la vie, but
I could kill him!” she added under her breath, and she rubbed Guida’s
hands still, and looked frankly, generously into her eyes.

Yet, try as she would in that supreme moment, Carterette could not feel
all she once felt concerning Guida. There is something humiliating in
even an undeserved injury, something which, to the human eye, lessens
the worthiness of its victim. To this hour Carterette had looked upon
her friend as a being far above her own companionship. All in a moment,
in this new office of comforter the relative status was altered. The
plane on which Guida had moved was lowered. Pity, while it deepened
Carterette’s tenderness, lessened the gap between them.

Perhaps something of this passed through Guida’s mind, and the deep
pride and courage of her nature came to her assistance. She withdrew her
hands and mechanically smoothed back her hair, then, as Carterette sat
watching her, folded up the sewing and put it in the work-basket hanging
on the wall.

There was something unnatural in her governance of herself now. She
seemed as if doing things in a dream, but she did them accurately and
with apparent purpose. She looked at the clock, then went to the fire to
light it, for it was almost time to get her grandfather’s tea. She did
not seem conscious of the presence of Carterette, who still sat on the
veille, not knowing quite what to do. At last, as the flame flashed up
in the chimney, she came over to her friend, and said:

“Carterette, I am going to the Dean’s. Will you run and ask Maitresse
Aimable to come here to me soon?” Her voice had the steadiness of
despair--that steadiness coming to those upon whose nerves has fallen a
great numbness, upon whose sensibilities has settled a cloud that stills
them as the thick mist stills the ripples on the waters of a fen.

All the glamour of Guida’s youth had dropped away. She had deemed life
good, and behold, it was not good; she had thought her dayspring was on
high, and happiness had burnt into darkness like quick-consuming flax.
But all was strangely quiet in her heart and mind. Nothing more that
she feared could happen to her; the worst had fallen, and now there came
down on her the impermeable calm of the doomed.

Carterette was awed by her face, and saying that she would go at once to
Maitresse Aimable, she started towards the door, but as quickly stopped
and came back to Guida. With none of the impulse that usually marked her
actions, she put her arms round Guida’s neck and kissed her, saying with
a subdued intensity:

“I’d go through fire and water for you. I want to help you every way I
can--me.”

Guida did not say a word, but she kissed the hot cheek of the
smuggler-pirate’s daughter, as in dying one might kiss the face of a
friend seen with filmy eyes.

When she had gone Guida drew herself up with a shiver. She was conscious
that new senses and instincts were born in her, or were now first
awakened to life. They were not yet under control, but she felt them,
and in so far as she had power to think, she used them.

Leaving the house and stepping into the Place du Vier Prison, she walked
quietly and steadily up the Rue d’Driere. She did not notice that people
she met glanced at her curiously, and turned to look after her as she
hurried on.



CHAPTER XXVI

It had been a hot, oppressive day, but when, a half-hour later, Guida
hastened back from a fruitless visit to the house of the Dean, who was
absent in England, a vast black cloud had drawn up from the south-east,
dropping a curtain of darkness upon the town. As she neared the doorway
of the cottage, a few heavy drops began to fall, and, in spite of
her bitter trouble, she quickened her footsteps, fearing that her
grandfather had come back, to find the house empty and no light or
supper ready.

M. de Mauprat had preceded her by not more than five minutes. His
footsteps across the Place du Vier Prison had been unsteady, his head
bowed, though more than once he raised it with a sort of effort, as it
were in indignation or defiance. He muttered to himself as he opened the
door, and he paused in the hall-way as though hesitating to go forward.
After a moment he made a piteous gesture of his hand towards the
kitchen, and whispered to himself in a kind of reassurance. Then he
entered the room and stood still. All was dark save for the glimmer of
the fire.

“Guida! Guida!” he said in a shaking, muffled voice. There was no
answer. He put by his hat and stick in the corner, and felt his way to
the great chair-he seemed to have lost his sight. Finding the familiar,
worn arm of the chair, he seated himself with a heavy sigh. His lips
moved, and he shook his head now and then, as though in protest against
some unspoken thought.

Presently he brought his clinched hand down heavily on the table, and
said aloud:

“They lie--they lie! The Connetable lies! Their tongues shall be cut
out. ... Ah, my little, little child!... The Connetable dared--he
dared--to tell me this evil gossip--of the little one--of my Guida!”

He laughed contemptuously, but it was a crackling, dry laugh, painful in
its cheerlessness. He drew his snuff-box from his pocket, opened it, and
slowly taking a pinch, raised it towards his nose, but the hand paused
half-way, as though a new thought arrested it.

In the pause there came the sound of the front door opening, and then
footsteps in the hall.

The pinch of snuff fell from the fingers of the old man on to the white
stuff of his short-clothes, but as Guida entered the room and stood
still a moment, he did not stir in his seat. The thundercloud had come
still lower and the room was dark, the coals in the fireplace being now
covered with grey ashes.

“Grandpethe! Grandpethe!” Guida said.

He did not answer. His heart was fluttering, his tongue clove to the
roof of his mouth, dry and thick. Now he should know the truth, now
he should be sure that they had lied about his little Guida, those
slanderers of the Vier Marchi. Yet, too, he had a strange, depressing
fear, at variance with his loving faith and belief that in Guida there
was no wrong: such belief as has the strong swimmer that he can reach
the shore through wave and tide; yet also with strange foreboding,
prelude to the cramp that makes powerless, defying youth, strength, and
skill. He could not have spoken if it had been to save his own life--or
hers.

Getting no answer to her words, Guida went first to the hearth and
stirred the fire, the old man sitting rigid in his chair and regarding
her with fixed, watchful eyes. Then she found two candles and lighted
them, placing them on the mantel, and turning to the crasset hanging by
its osier rings from a beam, slowly lighted it. Turning round, she was
full in the light of the candles and the shooting flames of the fire.

De Mauprat’s eyes had followed her every motion, unconscious of his
presence as she was. This--this was not the Guida he had known! This
was not his grandchild, this woman with the pale, cold face, and dark,
unhappy eyes; this was not the laughing girl who but yesterday was a
babe at his knee. This was not--

The truth, which had yet been before his blinded eyes how long! burst
upon him. The shock of it snapped the filmy thread of being. As the
escaping soul found its wings, spread them, and rose from that dun
morass called Life, the Sieur de Mauprat, giving a long, deep sigh, fell
back in his great arm-chair dead, and the silver snuff-box rattled to
the floor.

Guida turned round with a sharp cry. Running to him, she lifted up the
head that lay over on his shoulder. She felt his pulse, she called to
him. Opening his waistcoat, she put her ear to his heart; but it was
still--still.

A mist, a blackness, came over her own eyes, and without a cry or a
word, she slid to the floor unconscious, as the black thunderstorm broke
upon the Place du Vier Prison.

The rain was like a curtain let down between the prying, clattering
world without and the strange peace within: the old man in his perfect
sleep; the young, misused wife in that passing oblivion borrowed from
death and as tender and compassionate while it lasts.

As though with merciful indulgence, Fate permitted no one to enter upon
the dark scene save a woman in whom was a deep motherhood which had
never nourished a child, and to whom this silence and this sorrow gave
no terrors. Silence was her constant companion, and for sorrow she had
been granted the touch that assuages the sharpness of pain and the love
called neighbourly kindness. Maitresse Aimable came.

Unto her it was given to minister here. As the night went by, and the
offices had been done for the dead, she took her place by the bedside of
the young wife, who lay staring into space, tearless and still, the life
consuming away within her.

In the front room of the cottage, his head buried in his hands, Ranulph
Delagarde sat watching beside the body of the Sieur de Mauprat.



CHAPTER XXVII

In the Rue d’Driere, the undertaker and his head apprentice were
right merry. But why should they not be? People had to die, quoth the
undertaker, and when dead they must be buried. Burying was a trade, and
wherefore should not one--discreetly--be cheerful at one’s trade? In
undertaking there were many miles to trudge with coffins in a week,
and the fixed, sad, sympathetic look long custom had stereotyped was
wearisome to the face as a cast of plaster-of-paris. Moreover, the
undertaker was master of ceremonies at the house of bereavement as well.
He not only arranged the funeral, he sent out the invitations to the
“friends of deceased, who are requested to return to the house of the
mourners after the obsequies for refreshment.” All the preparations for
this feast were made by the undertaker--Master of Burials he chose to be
called.

Once, after a busy six months, in which a fever had carried off many a
Jersiais, the Master of Burials had given a picnic to his apprentices,
workmen, and their families. At this buoyant function he had raised his
glass and with playful plaintiveness proposed: “The day we celebrate!”

He was in a no less blithesome mood this day. The head apprentice was
reading aloud the accounts for the burials of the month, while the
master checked off the items, nodding approval, commenting, correcting
or condemning with strange expletives.

“Don’t gabble, gabble next one slowlee!” said the Master of Burials,
as the second account was laid aside, duly approved. “Eh ben, now let’s
hear the next--who is it?”

“That Josue Anquetil,” answered the apprentice. The Master of Burials
rubbed his hands together with a creepy sort of glee. “Ah, that was a
clever piece of work! Too little of a length and a width for the box,
but let us be thankful--it might have been too short, and it wasn’t.”

“No danger of that, pardingue!” broke in the apprentice. “The first it
belonged to was a foot longer than Josue--he.”

“But I made the most of Josue,” continued the Master. “The mouth was
crooked, but he was clean, clean--I shaved him just in time. And he had
good hair for combing to a peaceful look, and he was light to carry--O
my good! Go on, what has Josue the centenier to say for himself?”

With a drawling dull indifference, the lank, hatchet-faced servitor of
the master servitor of the grave read off the items:

   The Relict of Josue Anquetil, Centenier, in account with
   Etienne Mahye, Master of Burials.

Item: Livres. Sols. Farth. Paid to Gentlemen of Vingtaine, who carried
him to his grave.................. 4 4 0 Ditto to me, Etienne Mahye, for
proper gloves of silk and cotton................. 1 0 0 Ditto to me, E.
M., for laying of him out and all that appertains............... 0 7 0
Ditto to me, E. M., for coffin............ 4 0 0 Ditto to me, E. M., for
divers............ 0 4 0


The Master of Burials interrupted. “Bat’dlagoule, you’ve forgot blacking
for coffin!”

The apprentice made the correction without deigning reply, and then went
on

                     Livres. Sols. Farth.

Ditto to me, E. M., for black for blacking
coffin.................................... 0 3 0 Ditto to me, E. M.,
paid out for supper after obs’quies........................... 3 2 0
Ditto to me, E. M., paid out for wine (3 pots and 1 pt. at a shilling)
for ditto..................................... 2 5 6 Ditto to me, E. M.,
paid out for oil and candle.................................... 0 7
0 Ditto to me, E. M., given to the poor, as fitting station of
deceased............... 4 0 0


The apprentice stopped. “That’s all,” he said.

There was a furious leer on the face of the Master of Burials. So, after
all his care, apprentices would never learn to make mistakes on his
side. “O my grief, always on the side of the corpse, that can thank
nobody for naught!” was his snarling comment.

“What about those turnips from Denise Gareau, numskull?” he grunted, in
a voice between a sneer and a snort.

The apprentice was unmoved. He sniffed, rubbed his nose with a
forefinger, laboriously wrote for a moment, and then added:

Ditto to Madame Denise Gareau for turnips for supper after obs’quies
...................... 10 sols

“Saperlote, leave out the Madame, calf-lugs--, you!”

The apprentice did not move a finger. Obstinacy sat enthroned on him.
In a rage, the Master made a snatch at a metal flower-wreath to throw at
him. “Shan’t! She’s my aunt. I knows my duties to my aunt--me,” said the
apprentice stolidly.

The Master burst out in a laugh of scorn. “Gaderabotin, here’s family
pride for you! I’ll go stick dandelines in my old sow’s ear--respe d’la
compagnie.”

The apprentice was still calm. “If you want to flourish yourself, don’t
mind me,” said he, and picking up the next account, he began reading:

   Mademoiselle Landresse, in the matter of the Burial of
   the Sieur de Mauprat, to Etienne Mahye, &c. Item--

The first words read by the apprentice had stilled the breaking storm
of the Master’s anger. It dissolved in a fragrant dew of proud
reminiscence, profit, and scandal.

He himself had no open prejudices. He was an official of the public--or
so he counted himself--and he very shrewdly knew his duty in that walk
of life to which it had pleased Heaven to call him. The greater the
notoriety of the death, the more in evidence was the Master and all
his belongings. Death with honour was an advantage to him; death with
disaster a boon; death with scandal was a godsend. It brought tears
of gratitude to his eyes when the death and the scandal were in high
places. These were the only real tears he ever shed. His heart was in
his head, and the head thought solely of Etienne Mahye. Though he wore
an air of sorrow and sympathy in public, he had no more feeling than a
hangman. His sympathy seemed to say to the living, “I wonder how soon
you’ll come into my hands,” and to the dead, “What a pity you can only
die once--and second-hand coffins so hard to get!”

   Item: paid to me, Etienne Mahye,

droned the voice of the apprentice,

   for rosewood coffin--

“O my good,” interrupted the Master of Burials with a barren chuckle,
and rubbing his hands with glee, “O my good, that was a day in a
lifetime! I’ve done fine work in my time, but upon that day--not a cloud
above, no dust beneath, a flowing tide, and a calm sea. The Royal Court,
too, caught on a sudden marching in their robes, turns to and joins the
cortegee, and the little birds a-tweeting-tweeting, and two parsons at
the grave. Pardingue, the Lord was--with me that day, and--”

The apprentice laughed--a dry, mirthless laugh of disbelief and
ridicule. “Ba su, master, the Lord was watching you. There was two
silver bits inside that coffin, on Sieur’s eyes.”

“Bigre!” The Master was pale with rage. His lips drew back, disclosing
long dark teeth and sickly gums, in a grimace of fury. He reached out to
seize a hammer lying at his hand, but the apprentice said quickly:

“Sapri--that’s the cholera hammer!”

The Master of Burials dropped the hammer as though it were at white
heat, and eyed it with scared scrutiny. This hammer had been used in
nailing down the coffins of six cholera patients who had died in one
house at Rozel Bay a year before. The Master would not himself go near
the place, so this apprentice had gone, on a promise from the Royal
Court that he should have for himself--this he demanded as reward--free
lodging in two small upper rooms of the Cohue Royale, just under the
bell which said to the world, “Chicane--chicane! Chicane--chicane!”

This he asked, and this he got, and he alone of all Jersey went out
to bury three people who had died of cholera; and then to watch three
others die, to bury them scarce cold, and come back, with a leer of
satisfaction, to claim his price. At first people were inclined to make
a hero of him, but that only made him grin the more, and at last the
island reluctantly decided that he had done the work solely for fee and
reward.

The hammer used in nailing the coffins, he had carried through the town
like an emblem of terror and death, and henceforth he only, in the shop
of the Master, touched it.

“It won’t hurt you if you leave it alone,” said the apprentice grimly
to the Master of Burials. “But, if you go bothering, I’ll put it in your
bed, and it’ll do after to nail down your coffin.”

Then he went on reading with a malicious calmness, as though the matter
were the dullest trifle:

Item: one dozen pairs of gloves for mourners.

“Par made, that’s one way of putting it!” commented the apprentice, “for
what mourners was there but Ma’m’selle herself, and she quiet as a mice,
and not a teardrop, and all the island necks end to end for look at her,
and you, master, whispering to her: ‘The Lord is the Giver and Taker,’
and the Femme de Ballast t’other side, saying ‘My dee-ar, my dee-ar,
bear thee up, bear thee up--thee.’”

“And she looking so steady in front of her, as if never was shame about
her--and her there soon to be; and no ring of gold upon her hand, and
all the world staring!” broke in the Master, who, having edged away
from the cholera hammer, was launched upon a theme that stirred his very
soul. “All the world staring, and good reason,” he added.

“And she scarce winking, eh?” said the apprentice. “True that--her eyes
didn’t feel the cold,” said the Master of Burials with a leer, for to
his sight as to that of others, only as boldness had been Guida’s bitter
courage, the blank, despairing gaze, coming from eyes that turn their
agony inward.

The apprentice took up the account again, and prepared to read it. The
Master, however, had been roused to a genial theme. “Poor fallen child
of Nature!” said he. “For what is birth or what is looks of virtue like
a summer flower! It is to be brought down by hand of man.” He was warmed
to his text. Habit had long made him so much hypocrite, that he was
sentimentalist and hard materialist in one. “Some pend’loque has brought
her beauty to this pass, but she must suffer--and also his time will
come, the sulphur, the torment, the worm that dieth not--and no Abraham
for parched tongue--misery me! They that meet in sin here shall meet
hereafter in burning fiery furnace.”

The cackle of the apprentice rose above the whining voice. “Murder,
too--don’t forget the murder, master. The Connetable told the old Sieur
de Mauprat what people were blabbing, and in half-hour dead he is--he.”

“Et ben, the Sieur’s blood it is upon their heads,” continued the Master
of Burials; “it will rise up from the ground--”

The apprentice interrupted. “A good thing if the Sieur himself doesn’t
rise, for you’d get naught for coffin or obs’quies. It was you tells the
Connetable what folks babbled, and the Connetable tells the Sieur,
and the Sieur it kills him dead. So if he rised, he’d not pay you for
murdering him--no, bidemme! And ‘tis a gobbly mouthful--this,” he added,
holding up the bill.

The undertaker’s lips smacked softly, as though in truth he were waiting
for the mouthful. Rubbing his hands, and drawing his lean leg up till
it touched his nose, he looked over it with avid eyes, and said: “How
much--don’t read the items, but come to total debit--how much she pays
me?”

Ma’m’selle Landresse, debtor in all for one hundred and twenty livres,
eleven sols and two farthings.

“Shan’t you make it one hundred and twenty-one livres?” added the
apprentice.

“God forbid, the odd sols and farthings are mine--no more!” returned the
Master of Burials. “Also they look exact; but the courage it needs to be
honest! O my grief, if--”

“‘Sh!” said the apprentice, pointing, and the Master of Burials,
turning, saw Guida pass the window. With a hungry instinct for the
morbid they stole to the doorway and looked down the Rue d’Driere after
her. The Master was sympathetic, for had he not in his fingers at
that moment a bill for a hundred and twenty livres odd? The way the
apprentice craned his neck, and tightened the forehead over his large,
protuberant eyes, showed his intense curiosity, but the face was
implacable. It was like that of some strong fate, superior to all
influences of sorrow, shame, or death. Presently he laughed--a crackling
cackle like new-lighted kindling wood; nothing could have been more
inhuman in sound. What in particular aroused this arid mirth probably he
himself did not know. Maybe it was a native cruelty which had a sort
of sardonic pleasure in the miseries of the world. Or was it only the
perception, sometimes given to the dullest mind, of the futility of
goodness, the futility of all? This perhaps, since the apprentice shared
with Dormy Jamais his rooms at the top of the Cohue Royale; and there
must have been some natural bond of kindness between the blank, sardonic
undertaker’s apprentice and the poor beganne, who now officially rang
the bell for the meetings of the Royal Court.

The dry cackle of the apprentice as he looked after Guida roused a
mockery of indignation in the Master. “Sacre matin, a back-hander on the
jaw’d do you good, slubberdegullion--you! Ah, get go scrub the coffin
blacking from your jowl!” he rasped out with furious contempt.

The apprentice seemed not to hear, but kept on looking after Guida, a
pitiless leer on his face. “Dame, lucky for her the Sieur died before
he had chance to change his will. She’d have got ni fiche ni bran from
him.”

“Support d’en haut, if you don’t stop that I’ll give you a coffin before
your time, keg of nails--you. Sorrow and prayer at the throne of grace
that she may have a contrite heart”--he clutched the funeral bill
tighter in his fingers--“is what we must feel for her. The day the Sieur
died and it all came out, I wept. Bedtime come I had to sop my eyes with
elder-water. The day o’ the burial mine eyes were so sore a-draining I
had to put a rotten sweet apple on ‘em over-night--me.”

“Ah bah, she doesn’t need rosemary wash for her hair!” said the
apprentice admiringly, looking down the street after Guida as she turned
into the Rue d’Egypte.

Perhaps it was a momentary sympathy for beauty in distress which made
the Master say, as he backed from the doorway with stealthy step:

“Gatd’en’ale, ‘tis well she has enough to live on, and to provide for
what’s to come!”

But if it was a note of humanity in the voice it passed quickly, for
presently, as he examined the bill for the funeral of the Sieur de
Mauprat, he said shrilly:

“Achocre, you’ve left out the extra satin for his pillow--you.”

“There wasn’t any extra satin,” drawled the apprentice.

With a snarl the Master of Burials seized a pen and wrote in the
account:

Item: To extra satin for pillow, three livres.



CHAPTER XXVIII

Guida’s once blithe, rose-coloured face was pale as ivory, the mouth had
a look of deep sadness, and the step was slow; but the eye was clear
and steady, and her hair, brushed under the black crape of the bonnet as
smoothly as its nature would admit, gave to the broad brow a setting of
rare attraction and sombre nobility. It was not a face that knew inward
shame, but it carried a look that showed knowledge of life’s cruelties
and a bitter sensitiveness to pain. Above all else it was fearless, and
it had no touch of the consciousness or the consequences of sin; it was
purity itself.

It alone should have proclaimed abroad her innocence, though she said no
word in testimony. To most people, however, her dauntless sincerity only
added to her crime and to the scandalous mystery. Yet her manner awed
some, while her silence held most back. The few who came to offer
sympathy, with curiousness in their eyes and as much inhumanity as pity
in their hearts, were turned back gently but firmly, more than once with
proud resentment.

So it chanced that soon only Maitresse Aimable came--she who asked no
questions, desired no secrets--and Dormy Jamais.

Dormy had of late haunted the precincts of the Place du Vier Prison, and
was the only person besides Maitresse Aimable whom Guida welcomed.
His tireless feet went clac-clac past her doorway, or halted by it, or
entered in when it pleased him. He was more a watch-dog than Biribi; he
fetched and carried; he was silent and sleepless--always sleepless.
It was as if some past misfortune had opened his eyes to the awful
bitterness of life, and they had never closed again.

The Chevalier had not been with her, for on the afternoon of the very
day her grandfather died, he had gone a secret voyage to St. Malo, to
meet the old solicitor of his family. He knew nothing of his friend’s
death or of Guida’s trouble. As for Carterette, Guida would not let her
come--for her own sake.

Nor did Maitre Ranulph visit her after the funeral of the Sieur de
Mauprat. The horror of the thing had struck him dumb, and his mind
was one confused mass of conflicting thoughts. There--there were the
terrifying facts before him; yet, with an obstinacy peculiar to him, he
still went on believing in her goodness and in her truth. Of the man who
had injured her he had no doubt, and his course was clear, in the hour
when he and Philip d’Avranche should meet. Meanwhile, from a spirit
of delicacy, avoiding the Place du Vier Prison, he visited Maitresse
Aimable, and from day to day learned all that happened to Guida. As of
old, without her knowledge, he did many things for her through the same
Maitresse Aimable. And it quickly came to be known in the island that
any one who spoke ill of Guida in his presence did so at no little
risk. At first there had been those who marked him as the wrongdoer, but
somehow that did not suit with the case, for it was clear he loved Guida
now as he had always done; and this the world knew, as it had known that
he would have married her all too gladly. Presently Detricand and Philip
were the only names mentioned, but at last, as by common consent, Philip
was settled upon, for such evidence as there was pointed that way. The
gossips set about to recall all that had happened when Philip was in
Jersey last. Here one came forward with a tittle of truth, and there
another with tattle of falsehood, and at last as wild a story was
fabricated as might be heard in a long day.

But in bitterness Guida kept her own counsel.

This day when she passed the undertaker’s shop she had gone to visit the
grave of her grandfather. He had died without knowing the truth, and her
heart was hardened against him who had brought misery upon her. Reaching
the cottage in the Place du Vier Prison now, she took from a drawer
the letter Philip had written her on the day he first met the Comtesse
Chantavoine. She had received it a week ago. She read it through slowly,
shuddering a little once or twice. When she had finished, she drew paper
to her and began a reply.

The first crisis of her life was passed. She had met the shock of utter
disillusion; her own perfect honesty now fathomed the black dishonesty
of the man she had loved. Death had come with sorrow and unmerited
shame. But an innate greatness, a deep courage supported her. Out of her
wrongs and miseries now she made a path for her future, and in that path
Philip’s foot should never be set. She had thought and thought, and had
come to her decision. In one month she had grown years older in mind.
Sorrow gave her knowledge, it threw her back on her native strength and
goodness. Rising above mere personal wrongs she grew to a larger sense
of womanhood, to a true understanding of her position and its needs. She
loved no longer, but Philip was her husband by the law, and even as she
had told him her whole mind and heart in the days of their courtship and
marriage, she would tell him her whole mind and heart now. Once more, to
satisfy the bond, to give full reasons for what she was about to do, she
would open her soul to her husband, and then no more! In all she wrote
she kept but two things back, her grandfather’s death--and one other.
These matters belonged to herself alone.

   No, Philip d’Avranche, [she wrote], your message came too late. All
   that you might have said and done should have been said and done
   long ago, in that past which I believe in no more. I will not ask
   you why you acted as you did towards me. Words can alter nothing
   now. Once I thought you true, and this letter you send would have
   me still believe so. Do you then think so ill of my intelligence?
   In the light of the past it may be you have reason, for you know
   that I once believed in you! Think of it--believed in you!

   How bad a man are you! In spite of all your promises; in spite of
   the surrender of honest heart and life to you; in spite of truth and
   every call of honour, you denied me--dared to deny me, at the very
   time you wrote this letter.

   For the hopes and honours of this world, you set aside, first by
   secrecy, and then by falsehood, the helpless girl to whom you once
   swore undying love. You, who knew the open book of her heart, you
   threw it in the dust. “Of course there is no wife?” the Duc de
   Bercy said to you before the States of Bercy. “Of course,” you
   answered. You told your lie without pity.

   Were you blind that you did not see the consequences? Or did you
   not feel the horror of your falsehood?--to play shuttlecock with a
   woman’s life, with the soul of your wife; for that is what your
   conduct means. Did you not realise it, or were you so wicked that
   you did not care? For I know that before you wrote me this letter,
   and afterwards when you had been made prince, and heir to the duchy,
   the Comtesse Chantavoine was openly named by the Duc de Bercy for
   your wife.

   Now read the truth. I understand all now. I am no longer the
   thoughtless, believing girl whom you drew from her simple life to
   give her so cruel a fate. Yesterday I was a child, to-day----Oh,
   above all else, do you think I can ever forgive you for having
   killed the faith, the joy of life that was in me! You have spoiled
   for me for ever my rightful share of the joyous and the good. My
   heart is sixty though my body is not twenty. How dared you rob me
   of all that was my birthright, of all that was my life, and give me
   nothing--nothing in return!

   Do you remember how I begged you not to make me marry you; but you
   urged me, and because I loved you and trusted you, I did? how I
   entreated you not to make me marry you secretly, but you insisted,
   and loving you, I did? how you promised you would leave me at the
   altar and not see me till you came again to claim me openly for your
   wife, and you broke that sacred promise? Do you remember--my
   husband!

   Do you remember that night in the garden when the wind came moaning
   up from the sea? Do you remember how you took me in your arms, and
   even while I listened to your tender and assuring words, in that
   moment--ah, the hurt and the wrong and the shame of it! Afterwards
   in the strange confusion, in my blind helplessness I tried to say,
   “But he loved me,” and I tried to forgive you. Perhaps in time I
   might have made myself believe I did; for then I did not know you as
   you are--and were; but understanding all now I feel that in that
   hour I really ceased to love you; and when at last I knew you had
   denied me, love was buried for ever.

   Your worst torment is to come, mine has already been with me. When
   my miseries first fell upon me, I thought that I must die. Why
   should I live on--why should I not die? The sea was near, and it
   buries deep. I thought of all the people that live on the great
   earth, and I said to myself that the soul of one poor girl could not
   count, that it could concern no one but myself. It was clear to me
   --I must die and end all.

   But there came to me a voice in the night which said: “Is thy life
   thine own to give or to destroy?” It was clearer than my own
   thinking. It told my heart that death by one’s own hand meant
   shame; and I saw then that to find rest I must drag unwilling feet
   over the good name and memory of my dead loved ones. Then I
   remembered my mother. If you had remembered her perhaps you would
   have guarded the gift of my love and not have trampled it under your
   feet--I remembered my mother, and so I live still.

   I must go on alone, with naught of what makes life bearable; you
   will keep climbing higher by your vanity, your strength, and your
   deceit. But yet I know however high you climb you will never find
   peace. You will remember me, and your spirit will seek in vain for
   rest. You will not exist for me, you will not be even a memory; but
   even against your will I shall always be part of you: of your brain,
   of your heart, of your soul--the thought of me your torment in your
   greatest hour. Your passion and your cowardice have lost me all;
   and God will punish you, be sure of that.

   There is little more to say. If it lies in my power I shall never
   see you again while I live. And you will not wish it. Yes, in
   spite of your eloquent letter lying here beside me, you do not wish
   it, and it shall not be. I am not your wife save by the law; and
   little have you cared for law! Little, too, would the law help you
   in this now; for which you will rejoice. For the ease of your mind
   I hasten to tell you why.

   First let me inform you that none in this land knows me to be your
   wife. Your letter to my grandfather never reached him, and to this
   hour I have held my peace. The clergyman who married us is a
   prisoner among the French, and the strong-box which held the
   register of St. Michael’s Church was stolen. The one other witness,
   Mr. Shoreham, your lieutenant--as you tell me--went down with the
   Araminta. So you are safe in your denial of me. For me, I would
   endure all the tortures of the world rather than call you husband
   ever again. I am firmly set to live my own life, in my own way,
   with what strength God gives. At last I see beyond the Hedge.

   Your course is clear. You cannot turn back now. You have gone too
   far. Your new honours and titles were got at the last by a
   falsehood. To acknowledge it would be ruin, for all the world knows
   that Captain Philip d’Avranche of the King’s navy is now the adopted
   son of the Duc de Bercy. Surely the house of Bercy has cause for
   joy, with an imbecile for the first in succession and a traitor for
   the second!

   I return the fifty pounds you sent me--you will not question why
....And so all ends. This is a last farewell between us.

   Do you remember what you said to me on the Ecrehos? “If ever I
   deceive you, may I die a black, dishonourable death, abandoned and
   alone. I should deserve that if ever I deceived you, Guida.”

   Will you ever think of that, in your vain glory hereafter?

                  GUIDA LANDRESSE DE LANDRESSE.



IN JERSEY FIVE YEARS LATER



CHAPTER XXIX

On a map the Isle of Jersey has the shape and form of a tiger on the
prowl.

The fore-claws of this tiger are the lacerating pinnacles of the
Corbiere and the impaling rocks of Portelet Bay and Noirmont; the
hind-claws are the devastating diorite reefs of La Motte and the Banc
des Violets. The head and neck, terrible and beautiful, are stretched
out towards the west, as it were to scan the wild waste and jungle of
the Atlantic seas. The nose is L’Etacq, the forehead Grosnez, the ear
Plemont, the mouth the dark cavern by L’Etacq, and the teeth are the
serried ledges of the Foret de la Brequette. At a discreet distance from
the head and the tail hover the jackals of La Manche: the Paternosters,
the Dirouilles, and the Ecrehos, themselves destroying where they may,
or filching the remains of the tiger’s feast of shipwreck and ruin.
In truth, the sleek beast, with its feet planted in fearsome rocks and
tides, and its ravening head set to defy the onslaught of the main,
might, but for its ensnaring beauty, seem some monstrous foot-pad of the
deep.

To this day the tiger’s head is the lonely part of Jersey; a hundred
years ago it was as distant from the Vier Marchi as is Penzance from
Covent Garden. It would almost seem as if the people of Jersey, like the
hangers-on of the king of the jungle, care not to approach too near the
devourer’s head. Even now there is but a dwelling here and there upon
the lofty plateau, and none at all near the dark and menacing
headland. But as if the ancient Royal Court was determined to prove its
sovereignty even over the tiger’s head, it stretched out its arms from
the Vier Marchi to the bare neck of the beast, putting upon it a belt of
defensive war; at the nape, a martello tower and barracks; underneath,
two other martello towers like the teeth of a buckle.

The rest of the island was bristling with armament. Tall platforms were
erected at almost speaking distance from each other, where sentinels
kept watch for French frigates or privateers. Redoubts and towers were
within musket-shot of each other, with watch-houses between, and at
intervals every able-bodied man in the country was obliged to leave his
trade to act as sentinel, or go into camp or barracks with the militia
for months at a time. British cruisers sailed the Channel: now a
squadron under Barrington, again under Bridport, hovered upon the coast,
hoping that a French fleet might venture near.

But little of this was to be seen in the western limits of the parish
of St. Ouen’s. Plemont, Grosnez, L’Etacq, all that giant headland could
well take care of itself--the precipitous cliffs were their own defence.
A watch-house here and there sufficed. No one lived at L’Etacq, no one
at Grosnez; they were too bleak, too distant and solitary. There were no
houses, no huts.

If you had approached Plemont from Vinchelez-le-Haut, making for the
sea, you would have said that it also had no habitation. But when at
last you came to a hillock near Plemont point, looking to find nothing
but sky and sea and distant islands, suddenly at your very feet you saw
a small stone dwelling. Its door faced the west, looking towards the
Isles of Guernsey and Sark. Fronting the north was a window like an eye,
ever watching the tireless Paternosters. To the east was another tiny
window like a deep loop-hole or embrasure set towards the Dirouilles and
the Ecrehos.

The hut had but one room, of moderate size, with a vast chimney. Between
the chimney and the western wall was a veille, which was both lounge
and bed. The eastern side was given over to a few well-polished kitchen
utensils, a churn, and a bread-trough. The floor was of mother
earth alone, but a strip of handmade carpet was laid down before the
fireplace, and there was another at the opposite end. There were also a
table, a spinning-wheel, and a shelf of books.

It was not the hut of a fisherman, though upon the wall opposite the
books there hung fishing-tackle, nets, and cords, while outside, on
staples driven in the jutting chimney, were some lobster-pots. Upon two
shelves were arranged a carpenter’s and a cooper’s tools, polished and
in good order. And yet you would have said that neither a cooper nor
a carpenter kept them in use. Everywhere there were signs of man’s
handicraft as well as of woman’s work, but upon all was the touch of
a woman. Moreover, apart from the tools there was no sign of a man’s
presence in the hut. There was no coat hanging behind the door, no
sabots for the fields or oilskins for the sands, no pipe laid upon a
ledge, no fisherman’s needle holding a calendar to the wall. Whatever
was the trade of the occupant, the tastes were above those of the
ordinary dweller in the land. That was to be seen in a print of
Raphael’s “Madonna and Child” taking the place of the usual sampler upon
the walls of Jersey homes; in the old clock nicely bestowed between a
narrow cupboard and the tool shelves; in a few pieces of rare old china
and a gold-handled sword hanging above a huge, well-carved oak chair.
The chair relieved the room of anything like commonness, and somehow was
in sympathy with the simple surroundings, making for dignity and sweet
quiet. It was clear that only a woman could have arranged so perfectly
this room and all therein. It was also clear that no man lived here.

Looking in at the doorway of this hut on a certain autumn day of the
year 1797, the first thing to strike your attention was a dog lying
asleep on the hearth. Then a suit of child’s clothes on a chair
before the fire of vraic would have caught the eye. The only thing to
distinguish this particular child’s dress from that of a thousand others
in the island was the fineness of the material. Every thread of it had
been delicately and firmly knitted, till it was like perfect soft blue
cloth, relieved by a little red silk ribbon at the collar.

The hut contained as well a child’s chair, just so high that when placed
by the windows commanding the Paternosters its occupant might see the
waves, like panthers, beating white paws against the ragged granite
pinnacles; the currents writhing below at the foot of the cliffs, or at
half-tide rushing up to cover the sands of the Greve aux Langons, and
like animals in pain, howling through the caverns in the cliffs; the
great nor’wester of November come battering the rocks, shrieking to the
witches who boiled their caldrons by the ruins of Grosnez Castle that
the hunt of the seas was up.

Just high enough was the little chair that of a certain day in the
year its owner might look out and see mystic fires burning round the
Paternosters, and lighting up the sea with awful radiance. Scarce a
rock to be seen from the hut but had some legend like this: the burning
Russian ship at the Paternosters, the fleet of boats with tall prows and
long oars drifting upon the Dirouilles and going down to the cry of the
Crusaders’ Dahindahin! the Roche des Femmes at the Ecrehos, where still
you may hear the cries of women in terror of the engulfing sea.

On this particular day, if you had entered the hut, no one would
have welcomed you; but had you tired of waiting, and followed the
indentations of the coast for a mile or more by a deep bay under tall
cliffs, you would have seen a woman and a child coming quickly up the
sands. Slung upon the woman’s shoulders was a small fisherman’s basket.
The child ran before, eager to climb the hill and take the homeward
path.

A man above was watching them. He had ridden along the cliff, had seen
the woman in her boat making for the shore, had tethered his horse in
the quarries near by, and now awaited her. He chuckled as she came on,
for he had ready a surprise for her. To make it more complete he hid
himself behind some boulders, and as she reached the top sprang out with
an ugly grinning.

The woman looked at him calmly and waited for him to speak. There was
no fear on her face, not even surprise; nothing but steady inquiry and
quiet self-possession. With an air of bluster the man said:

“Aha, my lady, I’m nearer than you thought--me!” The child drew in to
its mother’s side and clasped her hand. There was no fear in the little
fellow’s look, however; he had something of the same self-possession as
the woman, and his eyes were like hers, clear, unwavering, and with a
frankness that consumed you. They were wells of sincerity; open-eyed,
you would have called the child, wanting a more subtle description.

“I’m not to be fooled-me! Come now, let’s have the count,” said the man,
as he whipped a greasy leather-covered book from his pocket. “Sapristi,
I’m waiting. Stay yourself!” he added roughly as she moved on, and his
greyish-yellow face had an evil joy at thought of the brutal work in
hand.

“Who are you?” she asked, but taking her time to speak.

“Dame! you know who I am.”

“I know what you are,” she answered quietly.

He did not quite grasp her meaning, but the tone sounded contemptuous,
and that sorted little with his self-importance.

“I’m the Seigneur’s bailiff--that’s who I am. Gad’rabotin, don’t you put
on airs with me! I’m for the tribute, so off with the bag and let’s see
your catch.”

“I have never yet paid tribute to the seigneur of the manor.”

“Well, you’ll begin now. I’m the new bailiff, and if you don’t pay your
tale, up you come to the court of the fief to-morrow.”

She looked him clearly in the eyes. “If I were a man, I should not pay
the tribute, and I should go to the court of the fief to-morrow, but
being a woman--”

She clasped the hand of the child tightly to her for an instant, then
with a sigh she took the basket from her shoulders and, opening it,
added:

“But being a woman, the fish I caught in the sea that belongs to God and
to all men I must divide with the Seigneur whose bailiff spies on poor
fisher-folk.”

The man growled an oath and made a motion as though he would catch her
by the shoulder in anger, but the look in her eyes stopped him. Counting
out the fish, and giving him three out of the eight she had caught, she
said:

“It matters not so much to me, but there are others poorer than I, they
suffer.”

With a leer the fellow stooped, and, taking up the fish, put them in the
pockets of his queminzolle, all slimy from the sea as they were.

“Ba su, you haven’t got much to take care of, have you? It don’t take
much to feed two mouths--not so much as it does three, Ma’m’selle.”

Before he had ended, the woman, without reply to the insult, took the
child by the hand and moved along her homeward path towards Plemont.

“A bi’tot, good-bye!” the bailiff laughed brutally. Standing with his
legs apart and his hands fastened on the fish in the pockets of his long
queminzolle, he called after her in sneering comment: “Ma fistre, your
pride didn’t fall--ba su!” Then he turned on his heel.

“Eh ben, here’s mackerel for supper,” he added as he mounted his horse.

The woman was Guida Landresse, the child was her child, and they lived
in the little house upon the cliff at Plemont. They were hastening
thither now.



CHAPTER XXX

A visitor was awaiting Guida and the child: a man who, first knocking
at the door, then looking in and seeing the room empty, save for the dog
lying asleep by the fire, had turned slowly away, and going to the cliff
edge, looked out over the sea. His movements were deliberate, his body
moved slowly; the whole appearance was of great strength and nervous
power. The face was preoccupied, the eyes were watchful, dark,
penetrating. They seemed not only to watch but to weigh, to meditate,
even to listen--as it were, to do the duty of all the senses at once. In
them worked the whole forces of his nature; they were crucibles wherein
every thought and emotion were fused. The jaw was set and strong, yet
it was not hard. The face contradicted itself. While not gloomy it had
lines like scars telling of past wounds. It was not despairing, it
was not morbid, and it was not resentful; it had the look of one both
credulous and indomitable. Belief was stamped upon it; not expectation
or ambition, but faith and fidelity. You would have said he was a man
of one set idea, though the head had a breadth sorting little with
narrowness of purpose. The body was too healthy to belong to a fanatic,
too powerful to be that of a dreamer alone, too firm for other than a
man of action.

Several times he turned to look towards the house and up the pathway
leading from the hillock to the doorway. Though he waited long he did
not seem impatient; patience was part of him, and not the least part.
At last he sat down on a boulder between the house and the shore, and
scarcely moved, as minute after minute passed, and then an hour and
more, and no one came. Presently there was a soft footstep beside him,
and he turned. A dog’s nose thrust itself into his hand.

“Biribi, Biribi!” he said, patting its head with his big hand. “Watching
and waiting, eh, old Biribi?” The dog looked into his eyes as if he
knew what was said, and would speak--or, indeed, was speaking in his
own language. “That’s the way of life, Biribi--watching and waiting, and
watching--always watching.”

Suddenly the dog caught its head away from his hand, gave a short joyful
bark, and ran slowly up the hillock.

“Guida and the child,” the man said aloud, moving towards the
house--“Guida and the child!”

He saw her and the little one before they saw him. Presently the child
said: “See, maman,” and pointed. Guida started. A swift flush passed
over her face, then she smiled and made a step forward to meet her
visitor.

“Maitre Ranulph--Ranulph!” she said, holding out her hand. “It’s a long
time since we met.”

“A year,” he answered simply, “just a year.” He looked down at the
child, then stooped, caught him up in his arms and said: “He’s grown.
Es-tu gentiment?” he added to the child--“es-tu gentiment, m’sieu’?”

The child did not quite understand. “Please?” it said in true Jersey
fashion--at which the mother was troubled.

“O Guilbert, is that what you should say?” she asked. The child looked
up quaintly at her, and with the same whimsical smile which Guida had
given to another so many years ago, he looked at Ranulph and said:
“Pardon, monsieur.”

“Coum est qu’on etes, m’sieu’?” said Ranulph in another patois greeting.

Guida shook her head reprovingly. The child glanced swiftly at his
mother as though asking permission to reply as he wished, then back at
Ranulph, and was about to speak, when Guida said: “I have not taught him
the Jersey patois, Ranulph; only English and French.”

Her eyes met his clearly, meaningly. Her look said to him as plainly as
words, The child’s destiny is not here in Jersey. But as if he knew
that in this she was blinding herself, and that no one can escape the
influences of surroundings, he held the child back from him, and said
with a smile: “Coum est qu’on vos portest?”

Now the child with elfish sense of the situation replied in Jersey
English: “Naicely, thenk you.”

“You see,” said Ranulph to Guida, “there are things in us stronger than
we are. The wind, the sea, and people we live with, they make us sing
their song one way or another. It’s in our bones.”

A look of pain passed over Guida’s face, and she did not reply to his
remark, but turned almost abruptly to the doorway, saying, with just the
slightest hesitation: “You will come in?”

There was no hesitation on his part. “Oui-gia!” he said, and stepped
inside.

She hastily hung up the child’s cap and her own, and as she gathered in
the soft, waving hair, Ranulph noticed how the years had only burnished
it more deeply and strengthened the beauty of the head. She had made the
gesture unconsciously, but catching the look in his eye a sudden thrill
of anxiety ran through her. Recovering herself, however, and with an air
of bright friendliness, she laid a hand upon the great arm-chair, above
which hung the ancient sword of her ancestor, the Comte Guilbert Mauprat
de Chambery, and said: “Sit here, Ranulph.”

Seating himself he gave a heavy sigh--one of those passing breaths of
content which come to the hardest lives now and then: as though the
Spirit of Life itself, in ironical apology for human existence, gives
moments of respite from which hope is born again. Not for over four long
years had Ranulph sat thus quietly in the presence of Guida. At first,
when Maitresse Aimable had told him that Guida was leaving the Place du
Vier Prison to live in this lonely place with her newborn child, he had
gone to entreat her to remain; but Maitresse Aimable had been present
then, and all that he could say--all that he might speak out of his
friendship, out of the old love, now deep pity and sorrow--was of no
avail. It had been borne in upon him then that she was not morbid, but
that her mind had a sane, fixed purpose which she was intent to fulfil.
It was as though she had made some strange covenant with a little
helpless life, with a little face that was all her face; and that
covenant she would keep.

So he had left her, and so to do her service had been granted elsewhere.
The Chevalier, with perfect wisdom and nobility, insisted on being
to Guida what he had always been, accepting what was as though it had
always been, and speaking as naturally of her and the child as though
there had always been a Guida and the child. Thus it was that he counted
himself her protector, though he sat far away in the upper room of
Elie Mattingley’s house in the Rue d’Egypte, thinking his own thoughts,
biding the time when she should come back to the world, and mystery be
over, and happiness come once more; hoping only that he might live to
see it.

Under his directions, Jean Touzel had removed the few things that Guida
took with her to Plemont; and instructed by him, Elie Mattingley sold
her furniture. Thus Guida had settled at Plemont, and there over four
years of her life were passed.

“Your father--how is he?” she asked presently. “Feeble,” replied
Ranulph; “he goes abroad but little now.”

“It was said the Royal Court was to make him a gift, in remembrance
of the Battle of Jersey.” Ranulph turned his head away from her to the
child, and beckoned him over. The child came instantly.

As Ranulph lifted him on his knee he answered Guida: “My father did not
take it.”

“Then they said you were to be constable--the grand monsieur.” She
smiled at him in a friendly way.

“They said wrong,” replied Ranulph.

“Most people would be glad of it,” rejoined Guida. “My mother used to
say you would be Bailly one day.”

“Who knows--perhaps I might have been!”

She looked at him half sadly, half curiously. “You--you haven’t any
ambitions now, Maitre Ranulph?” It suddenly struck her that perhaps she
was responsible for the maiming of this man’s life--for clearly it was
maimed. More than once she had thought of it, but it came home to her
to-day with force. Years ago Ranulph Delagarde had been spoken of as
one who might do great things, even to becoming Bailly. In the eyes of a
Jerseyman to be Bailly was to be great, with jurats sitting in a row
on either side of him and more important than any judge in the Kingdom.
Looking back now Guida realised that Ranulph had never been the same
since that day on the Ecrehos when his father had returned and Philip
had told his wild tale of love.

A great bitterness suddenly welled up in her. Without intention, without
blame, she had brought suffering upon others. The untoward happenings
of her life had killed her grandfather, had bowed and aged the old
Chevalier, had forced her to reject the friendship of Carterette
Mattingley, for the girl’s own sake; had made the heart of one fat old
woman heavy within her; and, it would seem, had taken hope and ambition
from the life of this man before her. Love in itself is but a bitter
pleasure; when it is given to the unworthy it becomes a torture--and so
far as Ranulph and the world knew she was wholly unworthy. Of late she
had sometimes wondered if, after all, she had had the right to do as
she had done in accepting the public shame, and in not proclaiming
the truth: if to act for one’s own heart, feelings, and life alone, no
matter how perfect the honesty, is not a sort of noble cruelty, or cruel
nobility; an egotism which obeys but its own commandments, finding its
own straight and narrow path by first disbarring the feelings and lives
of others. Had she done what was best for the child? Misgiving upon this
point made her heart ache bitterly. Was life then but a series of trist
condonings at the best, of humiliating compromises at the worst?

She repeated her question to Ranulph now. “You haven’t ambition any
longer?”

“I’m busy building ships,” he answered evasively. “I build good ships,
they tell me, and I am strong and healthy. As for being connetable, I’d
rather help prisoners free than hale them before the Royal Court.
For somehow when you get at the bottom of most crimes--the small ones
leastways--you find they weren’t quite meant. I expect--I expect,” he
added gravely, “that half the crimes oughtn’t to be punished at all; for
it’s queer that things which hurt most can’t be punished by law.”

“Perhaps it evens up in the long end,” answered Guida, turning away from
him to the fire, and feeling her heart beat faster as she saw how the
child nestled in Ranulph’s arms--her child which had no father. “You
see,” she added, “if some are punished who oughtn’t to be, there are
others who ought to be that aren’t, and the worst of it is, we care so
little for real justice that we often wouldn’t punish if we could. I
have come to feel that. Sometimes if you do exactly what’s right, you
hurt some one you don’t wish to hurt, and if you don’t do exactly what’s
right, perhaps that some one else hurts you. So, often, we would rather
be hurt than hurt.”

With the last words she turned from the fire and involuntarily faced
him. Their eyes met. In hers were only the pity of life, the sadness,
the cruelty of misfortune, and friendliness for him. In his eyes was
purpose definite, strong.

He went over and put the child in its high chair. Then coming a little
nearer to Guida, he said:

“There’s only one thing in life that really hurts--playing false.”

Her heart suddenly stopped beating. What was Ranulph going to say? After
all these years was he going to speak of Philip? But she did not reply
according to her thought.

“Have people played false in your life--ever?” she asked.

“If you’ll listen to me I’ll tell you how,” he answered. “Wait, wait,”
 she said in trepidation. “It--it has nothing to do with me?”

He shook his head. “It has only to do with my father and myself. When
I’ve told you, then you must say whether you will have anything to do
with it, or with me.... You remember,” he continued, without waiting for
her to speak, “you remember that day upon the Ecrehos--five years ago?
Well, that day I had made up my mind to tell you in so many words what I
hoped you had always known, Guida. I didn’t--why? Not because of another
man--no, no, I don’t mean to hurt you, but I must tell you the truth
now--not because of another man, for I should have bided my chance with
him.”

“Ranulph, Ranulph,” she broke in, “you must not speak of this now! Do
you not see it hurts me? It is not like you. It is not right of you--”

A sudden emotion seized him, and his voice shook. “Not right! You should
know that I’d never say one word to hurt you, or do one thing to wrong
you. But I must speak to-day-I must tell you everything. I’ve thought of
it for four long years, and I know now that what I mean to do is right.”

She sat down in the great arm-chair. A sudden weakness came upon her:
she was being brought face to face with days of which she had never
allowed herself to think, for she lived always in the future now.

“Go on,” she said helplessly. “What have you to say, Ranulph?”

“I will tell you why I didn’t speak of my love to you that day we went
to the Ecrehos. My father came back that day.”

“Yes, yes,” she said; “of course you had to think of him.”

“Yes, I had to think of him, but not in the way you mean. Be patient a
little while,” he added.

Then in a few words he told her the whole story of his father’s
treachery and crime, from the night before the Battle of Jersey up to
their meeting again upon the Ecrehos.

Guida was amazed and moved. Her heart filled with pity. “Ranulph--poor
Ranulph!” she said, half rising in her seat.

“No, no--wait,” he rejoined. “Sit where you are till I tell you all.
Guida, you don’t know what a life it has been for me these four years. I
used to be able to look every man in the face without caring whether he
liked me or hated me, for then I had never lied, I had never done a mean
thing to any man; I had never deceived--nannin-gia, never! But when my
father came back, then I had to play a false game. He had lied, and to
save him I either had to hold my peace or tell his story. Speaking was
lying or being silent was lying. Mind you, I’m not complaining, I’m not
saying it because I want any pity. No, I’m saying it because it’s the
truth, and I want you to know the truth. You understand what it means to
feel right in your own mind--if you feel that way, the rest of life is
easy. Eh ben, what a thing it is to get up in the morning, build your
fire, make your breakfast, and sit down facing a man whose whole life’s
a lie, and that man your own father! Some morning perhaps you forget,
and you go out into the sun, and it all seems good; and you take your
tools and go to work, and the sea comes washing up the shingle, and you
think that the shir-r-r-r of the water on the pebbles and the singing of
the saw and the clang of the hammer are the best music in the world. But
all at once you remember--and then you work harder, not because you love
work now for its own sake, but because it uses up your misery and makes
you tired; and being tired you can sleep, and in sleep you can forget.
Yet nearly all the time you’re awake it fairly kills you, for you feel
some one always at your elbow whispering, ‘you’ll never be happy
again, you’ll never be happy again!’ And when you tell the truth
about anything, that some one at your elbow laughs and says: ‘Nobody
believes--your whole life’s a lie!’ And if the worst man you know passes
you by, that some one at your elbow says: ‘You can wear a mask, but
you’re no better than he, no better, no--“’

While Ranulph spoke Guida’s face showed a pity and a kindness as deep
as the sorrow which had deepened her nature. She shook her head once or
twice as though to say, Surely, what suffering! and now this seemed to
strike Ranulph, to convict him of selfishness, for he suddenly
stopped. His face cleared, and, smiling with a little of his old-time
cheerfulness, he said:

“Yet one gets used to it and works on because one knows it will all come
right sometime. I’m of the kind that waits.”

She looked up at him with her old wide-eyed steadfastness and replied:
“You are a good man, Ranulph.” He stood gazing at her a moment without
remark, then he said:

“No, ba su, no! but it’s like you to say I am.” Then he added suddenly:
“I’ve told you the whole truth about myself and about my father. He did
a bad thing, and I’ve stood by him. At first, I nursed my troubles and
my shame. I used to think I couldn’t live it out, that I had no right
to any happiness. But I’ve changed my mind about that-oui-gia! As I
hammered away at my ships month in month out, year in year out, the
truth came home to me at last. What right had I to sit down and brood
over my miseries? I didn’t love my father, but I’ve done wrong for him,
and I’ve stuck to him. Well, I did love--and I do love--some one else,
and I should only be doing right to tell her, and to ask her to let me
stand with her against the world.”

He was looking down at her with all his story in his face. She put out
her hand quickly as if in protest and said:

“Ranulph--ah no, Ranulph--”

“But yes, Guida,” he replied with stubborn tenderness, “it is you I
mean--it is you I’ve always meant. You have always been a hundred times
more to me than my father, but I let you fight your fight alone. I’ve
waked up now to my mistake. But I tell you true that though I love you
better than anything in the world, if things had gone well with you
I’d never have come to you. I never came, because of my father, and I’d
never have come because you are too far above me always--too fine, too
noble for me. I only come now because we’re both apart from the world
and lonely beyond telling; because we need each other. I have just one
thing to say: that we two should stand together. There’s none ever can
be so near as those that have had hard troubles, that have had bitter
wrongs. And when there’s love too, what can break the bond! You and I
are apart from the world, a black loneliness no one understands. Let us
be lonely no longer. Let us live our lives together. What shall we care
for the rest of the world if we know we mean to do good and no wrong? So
I’ve come to ask you to let me care for you and the child, to ask you
to make my home your home. My father hasn’t long to live, and when he is
gone we could leave this island for ever. Will you come, Guida?”

She had never taken her eyes from his face, and as his story grew her
face lighted with emotion, the glow of a moment’s content, of a fleeting
joy. In spite of all, this man loved her, he wanted to marry her--in
spite of all. Glad to know that such men lived--and with how dark
memories contrasting with this bright experience-she said to him once
again: “You are a good man, Ranulph.”

Coming near to her, he said in a voice husky with feeling: “Will you be
my wife, Guida?”

She stood up, one hand resting on the arm of the great chair, the other
half held out in pitying deprecation.

“No, Ranulph, no; I can never, never be your wife--never in this world.”

For an instant he looked at her dumfounded, then turned away to the
fireplace slowly and heavily. “I suppose it was too much to hope for,”
 he said bitterly. He realised now how much she was above him, even in
her sorrow and shame.

“You forget,” she answered quietly, and her hand went out suddenly to
the soft curls of the child, “you forget what the world says about me.”

There was a kind of fierceness in his look as he turned to her again.

“Me--I have always forgotten--everything,” he answered. “Have you
thought that for all these years I’ve believed one word? Secours d’la
vie, of what use is faith, what use to trust, if you thought I believed!
I do not know the truth, for you have not told me; but I do know, as I
know I have a heart in me--I do know that there never was any wrong in
you. It is you who forget,” he added quickly--“it is you who forget. I
tried to tell you all this before; three years ago I tried to tell you.
You stopped me, you would not listen. Perhaps you’ve thought I did not
know what has happened to you every week, almost every day of your life?
A hundred times I have walked here and you haven’t seen me--when you
were asleep, when you were fishing, when you were working like a man
in the fields and the garden; you who ought to be cared for by a man,
working like a slave at man’s work. But, no, no, you have not thought
well of me, or you would have known that every day I cared, every day I
watched, and waited, and hoped--and believed!”

She came to him slowly where he stood, his great frame trembling with
his passion and the hurt she had given him, and laying her hand upon his
arm, she said:

“Your faith was a blind one, Ro. I was either a girl who--who deserved
nothing of the world, or I was a wife. I had no husband, had I? Then I
must have been a girl who deserved nothing of the world, or of you. Your
faith was blind, Ranulph, you see it was blind.”

“What I know is this,” he repeated with dogged persistence--“what I know
is this: that whatever was wrong, there was no wrong in you. My life a
hundred times on that!”

She smiled at him, the brightest smile that had been on her face these
years past, and she answered softly: “‘I did not think there was so
great faith--no, not in Israel!’” Then the happiness passed from her
lips to her eyes. “Your faith has made me happy, Ro--I am selfish, you
see. Your love in itself could not make me happy, for I have no right to
listen, because--”

She paused. It seemed too hard to say: the door of her heart enclosing
her secret opened so slowly, so slowly. A struggle was going on in her.
Every feeling, every force of her nature was alive. Once, twice, thrice
she tried to speak and could not. At last with bursting heart and eyes
swimming with tears she said solemnly:

“I can never marry you, Ranulph, and I have no right to listen to your
words of love, because--because I am a wife.”

Then she gave a great sigh of relief; like some penitent who has for
a lifetime hidden a sin or a sorrow and suddenly finds the joy of a
confessional which relieves the sick heart, takes away the hand of
loneliness that clamps it, and gives it freedom again; lifting the poor
slave from the rack of secrecy, the cruelest inquisition of life and
time. She repeated the words once more, a little louder, a little
clearer. She had vindicated herself to God, now she vindicated herself
to man--though to but one.

“I can never marry you; because I am a wife,” she said again. There
was a slight pause, and then the final word was said: “I am the wife of
Philip d’Avranche.”

Ranulph did not speak. He stood still and rigid, looking with eyes that
scarcely saw.

“I had not intended telling any one until the time should come”--once
more her hand reached out and tremblingly stroked the head of the
child--“but your faith has forced it from me. I couldn’t let you go
from me now, ignorant of the truth, you whose trust is beyond telling.
Ranulph, I want you to know that I am at least no worse than you thought
me.”

The look in his face was one of triumph, mingled with despair, hatred,
and purpose--hatred of Philip d’Avranche, and purpose concerning him. He
gloried now in knowing that Guida might take her place among the honest
women of this world,--as the world terms honesty,--but he had received
the death-blow to his every hope. He had lost her altogether, he who had
watched and waited; who had served and followed, in season and out of
season; who had been the faithful friend, keeping his eye fixed only
upon her happiness; who had given all; who had poured out his heart like
water, and his life like wine before her.

At first he only grasped the fact that Philip d’Avranche was the husband
of the woman he loved, and that she had been abandoned. Then sudden
remembrance stunned him: Philip d’Avranche, Duc de Bercy, had another
wife. He remembered--it had been burned into his brain the day he saw
it first in the Gazette de Jersey--that he had married the Comtesse
Chantavoine, niece of the Marquis Grandjon-Larisse, upon the very day,
and but an hour before, the old Duc de Bercy suddenly died. It flashed
across his mind now what he had felt then. He had always believed that
Philip had wronged Guida; and long ago he would have gone in search of
him--gone to try the strength of his arm against this cowardly marauder,
as he held him--but his father’s ill-health had kept him where he was,
and Philip was at sea upon the nation’s business. So the years had gone
on until now.

His brain soon cleared. All that he had ever thought upon the matter
now crystallised itself into the very truth of the affair. Philip had
married Guida secretly; but his new future had opened up to him all
at once, and he had married again--a crime, but a crime which in high
places sometimes goes unpunished. How monstrous it was that such vile
wickedness should be delivered against this woman before him, in whom
beauty, goodness, power were commingled! She was the real Princess
Philip d’Avranche, and this child of hers--now he understood why she
allowed Guilbert to speak no patois.

They scarcely knew how long they stood silent, she with her hand
stroking the child’s golden hair, he white and dazed, looking, looking
at her and the child, as the thing resolved itself to him. At last, in
a voice which neither he nor she could quite recognise as his own, he
said:

“Of course you live now only for Guilbert.”

How she thanked him in her heart for the things he had left unsaid,
those things which clear-eyed and great-minded folk, high or humble,
always understand. There was no selfish lamenting, no reproaches, none
of the futile banalities of the lover who fails to see that it is no
crime for a woman not to love him. The thing he had said was the thing
she most cared to hear.

“Only for that, Ranulph,” she answered.

“When will you claim the child’s rights?”

She shook her head sadly. “I do not know,” she answered with hesitation.
“I will tell you all about it.”

Then she told him of the lost register of St. Michael’s, and about
the Reverend Lorenzo Dow, but she said nothing as to why she had kept
silence. She felt that, man though he was, he might divine something of
the truth. In any case he knew that Philip had deserted her.

After a moment he said: “I’ll find Mr. Dow if he is alive, and the
register too. Then the boy shall have his rights.”

“No, Ranulph,” she answered firmly, “it shall be in my own time. I must
keep the child with me. I know not when I shall speak; I am biding my
day. Once I thought I never should speak, but then I did not see all,
did not wholly see my duty towards Guilbert. It is so hard to find what
is wise and just.”

“When the proofs are found your child shall have his rights,” he said
with grim insistence.

“I would never let him go from me,” she answered, and, leaning over, she
impulsively clasped the little Guilbert in her arms.

“There’ll be no need for Guilbert to go from you,” he rejoined, “for
when your rights come to you, Philip d’Avranche will not be living.”

“Will not be living!” she said in amazement. She did not understand.

“I mean to kill him,” he answered sternly.

She started, and the light of anger leaped into her eyes. “You mean to
kill Philip d’Avranche--you, Maitre Ranulph Delagarde!” she exclaimed.
“Whom has he wronged? Myself and my child only--his wife and his child.
Men have been killed for lesser wrongs, but the right to kill does not
belong to you. You speak of killing Philip d’Avranche, and yet you dare
to say you are my friend!”

In that moment Ranulph learned more than he had ever guessed of life’s
subtle distinctions and the workings of a woman’s mind; and he knew that
she was right. Her father, her grandfather, might have killed Philip
d’Avranche--any one but himself, he the man who had but now declared his
love for her. Clearly his selfishness had blinded him. Right was on his
side, but not the formal codes by which men live. He could not avenge
Guida’s wrongs upon her husband, for all men knew that he himself had
loved her for years.

“Forgive me,” he said in a low tone. Then a new thought came to him. “Do
you think your not speaking all these years was best for the child?” he
asked.

Her lips trembled. “Oh, that thought,” she said, “that thought has made
me unhappy so often! It comes to me at night as I lie sleepless, and I
wonder if my child will grow up and turn against me one day. Yet I did
what I thought was right, Ranulph, I did the only thing I could do. I
would rather have died than--”

She stopped short. No, not even to this man who knew all could she speak
her whole mind; but sometimes the thought came to her with horrifying
acuteness: was it possible that she ought to have sunk her own
disillusions, misery, and contempt of Philip d’Avranche, for the child’s
sake? She shuddered even now as the reflection of that possibility came
to her--to live with Philip d’Avranche!

Of late she had felt that a crisis was near. She had had premonitions
that her fate, good or bad, was closing in upon her; that these days in
this lonely spot with her child, with her love for it and its love for
her, were numbered; that dreams must soon give way for action, and this
devoted peace would be broken, she knew not how.

Stooping, she kissed the little fellow upon the forehead and the eyes,
and his two hands came up and clasped both her cheeks.

“Tu m’aimes, maman?” the child asked. She had taught him the pretty
question.

“Comme la vie, comme la vie!” she answered with a half sob, and caught
up the little one to her bosom. Now she looked towards the window.
Ranulph followed her look, and saw that the shades of night were
falling.

“I have far to walk,” he said; “I must be going.” As he held out his
hand to Guida the child leaned over and touched him on the shoulder.
“What is your name, man?” he asked.

He smiled, and, taking the warm little hand in his own, he said: “My
name is Ranulph, little gentleman. Ranulph’s my name, but you shall call
me Ro.”

“Good-night, Ro, man,” the child answered with a mischievous smile.

The scene brought up another such scene in Guida’s life so many years
ago. Instinctively she drew back with the child, a look of pain crossing
her face. But Ranulph did not see; he was going. At the doorway he
turned and said:

“You know you can trust me. Good-bye.”



CHAPTER XXXI

When Ranulph returned to his little house at St. Aubin’s Bay night had
fallen. Approaching he saw there was no light in the windows. The
blinds were not drawn, and no glimmer of fire came from the chimney.
He hesitated at the door, for he instinctively felt that something must
have happened to his father. He was just about to enter, however, when
some one came hurriedly round the corner of the house.

“Whist, boy,” said a voice; “I’ve news for you.” Ranulph recognised the
voice as that of Dormy Jamais. Dormy plucked at his sleeve. “Come with
me, boy,” said he.

“Come inside if you want to tell me something,” answered Ranulph.

“Ah bah, not for me! Stone walls have ears. I’ll tell only you and the
wind that hears and runs away.”

“I must speak to my father first,” answered Ranulph.

“Come with me, I’ve got him safe,” Dormy chuckled to himself.

Ranulph’s heavy hand dropped on his shoulder. “What’s that you’re
saying--my father with you! What’s the matter?”

As though oblivious of Ranulph’s hand Dormy went on chuckling.

“Whoever burns me for a fool ‘ll lose their ashes. Des monz a fous--I
have a head! Come with me.” Ranulph saw that he must humour the shrewd
natural, so he said:

“Et ben, put your four shirts in five bundles and come along.” He was
a true Jerseyman at heart, and speaking to such as Dormy Jamais he used
the homely patois phrases. He knew there was no use hurrying the little
man, he would take his own time.

“There’s been the devil to pay,” said Dormy as he ran towards the shore,
his sabots going clac--clac, clac--clac. “There’s been the devil to pay
in St. Heliers, boy.” He spoke scarcely above a whisper.

“Tcheche--what’s that?” said Ranulph. But Dormy was not to uncover his
pot of roses till his own time. “That connetable’s got no more wit than
a square bladed knife,” he rattled on. “But gache-a-penn, I’m hungry!”
 And as he ran he began munching a lump of bread he took from his pocket.

For the next five minutes they went on in silence. It was quite dark,
and as they passed up Market Hill--called Ghost Lane because of the Good
Little People who made it their highway--Dormy caught hold of Ranulph’s
coat and trotted along beside him. As they went, tokens of the life
within came out to them through doorway and window. Now it was the voice
of a laughing young mother:

            “Si tu as faim
             Manges ta main
             Et gardes l’autre pour demain;
             Et ta tete
             Pour le jour de fete;
             Et ton gros ortee
             Pour le Jour Saint Norbe”

And again:

          “Let us pluck the bill of the lark,
          The lark from head to tail--”

He knew the voice. It was that of a young wife of the parish of St.
Saviour: married happily, living simply, given a frugal board, after the
manner of her kind, and a comradeship for life. For the moment he felt
little but sorrow for himself. The world seemed to be conspiring against
him: the chorus of Fate was singing behind the scenes, singing of the
happiness of others in sardonic comment on his own final unhappiness.
Yet despite the pain of finality there was on him something of the
apathy of despair.

From another doorway came fragments of a song sung at a veille. The
door was open, and he could see within the happy gathering of lads and
lassies in the light of the crasset. There was the spacious kitchen, its
beams and rafters dark with age, adorned with flitches of bacon, huge
loaves resting in the racllyi beneath the centre beam, the broad open
hearth, the flaming fire of logs, and the great brass pan shining like
fresh-coined gold, on its iron tripod over the logs. Lassies in
their short woollen petticoats, and bedgones of blue and lilac, with
boisterous lads, were stirring the contents of the vast bashin--many
cabots of apples, together with sugar, lemon-peel, and cider; the old
ladies in mob-caps tied under the chin, measuring out the nutmeg and
cinnamon to complete the making of the black butter: a jocund recreation
for all, and at all times.

In one corner was a fiddler, and on the veille, flourished for the
occasion with satinettes and fern, sat two centeniers and the prevot,
singing an old song in the patois of three parishes.

Ranulph looked at the scene lingeringly. Here he was, with mystery and
peril to hasten his steps, loitering at the spot where the light of home
streamed out upon the roadway. But though he lingered, somehow he seemed
withdrawn from all these things; they were to him now as pictures of a
distant past.

Dormy plucked at his coat. “Come, come, lift your feet, lift your feet,”
 said he; “it’s no time to walk in slippers. The old man will be getting
scared, oui-gia!” Ranulph roused himself. Yes, yes, he must hurry on.
He had not forgotten his father, but something held him here; as though
Fate were whispering in his ear. What does it matter now? While yet you
may, feed on the sight of happiness. So the prisoner going to
execution seizes one of the few moments left to him for prayer, to look
lingeringly upon what he leaves, as though to carry into the dark a
clear remembrance of it all.

Moving on quietly in a kind of dream, Ranulph was roused again by
Dormy’s voice: “On Sunday I saw three magpies, and there was a wedding
that day. Tuesday I saw two--that’s for joy--and fifty Jersey prisoners
of the French comes back on Jersey that day. This morning one I saw.
One magpie is for trouble, and trouble’s here. One doesn’t have eyes for
naught--no, bidemme!”

Ranulph’s patience was exhausted.

“Bachouar,” he exclaimed roughly, “you make elephants out of fleas!
You’ve got no more news than a conch-shell has music. A minute and
you’ll have a back-hander that’ll put you to sleep, Maitre Dormy.”

If he had been asked his news politely Dormy would have been still more
cunningly reticent. To abuse him in his own argot was to make him loose
his bag of mice in a flash.

“Bachouar yourself, Maitre Ranulph! You’ll find out soon. No news--no
trouble--eh! Par made, Mattingley’s gone to the Vier Prison--he! The
baker’s come back, and the Connetable’s after Olivier Delagarde. No
trouble, pardingue, if no trouble, Dormy Jamais’s a batd’lagoule and
no need for father of you to hide in a place that only Dormy knows--my
good!”

So at last the blow had fallen; after all these years of silence,
sacrifice, and misery. The futility of all that he had done and suffered
for his father’s sake came home to Ranulph. Yet his brain was instantly
alive. He questioned Dormy rapidly and adroitly, and got the story from
him in patches.

The baker Carcaud, who, with Olivier Delagarde, betrayed the country
into the hands of Rullecour years ago, had, with a French confederate of
Mattingley’s, been captured in attempting to steal Jean Touzel’s boat,
the Hardi Biaou. At the capture the confederate had been shot. Before
dying he implicated Mattingley in several robberies, and a notorious
case of piracy of three months before, committed within gunshot of the
men-of-war lying in the tide-way. Carcaud, seriously wounded, to save
his life turned King’s evidence, and disclosed to the Royal Court in
private his own guilt and Olivier Delagarde’s treason.

Hidden behind the great chair of the Bailly himself, Dormy Jamais had
heard the whole business. This had brought him hot-foot to St. Aubin’s
Bay, whence he had hurried Olivier Delagarde to a hiding-place in the
hills above the bay of St. Brelade. The fool had travelled more swiftly
than Jersey justice, whose feet are heavy. Elie Mattingley was now in
the Vier Prison. There was the whole story.

The mask had fallen, the game was up. Well, at least there would be no
more lying, no more brutalising inward shame. All at once it appeared to
Ranulph madness that he had not taken his father away from Jersey long
ago. Yet too he knew that as things had been with Guida he could never
have stayed away.

Nothing was left but action. He must get his father clear of the island
and that soon. But how? and where should they go? He had a boat in St.
Aubin’s Bay: getting there under cover of darkness he might embark with
his father and set sail--whither? To Sark--there was no safety there. To
Guernsey--that was no better. To France--yes, that was it, to the war of
the Vendee, to join Detricand. No need to find the scrap of paper once
given him in the Vier Marchi. Wherever Detricand might be, his fame
was the highway to him. All France knew of the companion of de la
Rochejaquelein, the fearless Comte de Tournay. Ranulph made his
decision. Shamed and dishonoured in Jersey, in that holy war of the
Vendee he would find something to kill memory, to take him out of life
without disgrace. His father must go with him to France, and bide his
fate there also.

By the time his mind was thus made up, they had reached the lonely
headland dividing Portelet Bay from St. Brelade’s. Dark things were said
of this spot, and the country folk of the island were wont to avoid it.
Beneath the cliffs in the sea was a rocky islet called Janvrin’s Tomb.
One Janvrin, ill of a fell disease, and with his fellows forbidden
by the Royal Court to land, had taken refuge here, and died wholly
neglected and without burial. Afterwards his body lay exposed till the
ravens and vultures devoured it, and at last a great storm swept his
bones off into the sea. Strange lights were to be seen about this rock,
and though wise men guessed them mortal glimmerings, easily explained,
they sufficed to give the headland immunity from invasion.

To a cave at this point Dormy Jamais had brought the trembling Olivier
Delagarde, unrepenting and peevish, but with a craven fear of the Royal
Court and a furious populace quickening his footsteps. This hiding-place
was entered at low tide by a passage from a larger cave. It was like a
little vaulted chapel floored with sand and shingle. A crevice through
rock and earth to the world above let in the light and out the smoke.

Here Olivier Delagarde sat crouched over a tiny fire, with some bread
and a jar of water at his hand, gesticulating and talking to himself.
The long white hair and beard, with the benevolent forehead, gave
him the look of some latter-day St. Helier, grieving for the sins and
praying for the sorrows of mankind; but from the hateful mouth came
profanity fit only for the dreadful communion of a Witches’ Sabbath.

Hearing the footsteps of Ranulph and Dormy, he crouched and shivered in
terror, but Ranulph, who knew too well his revolting cowardice, called
to him reassuringly. On their approach he stretched out his talon-like
fingers in a gesture of entreaty.

“You’ll not let them hang me, Ranulph--you’ll save me,” he whimpered.

“Don’t be afraid, they shall not hang you,” Ranulph replied quietly, and
began warming his hands at the fire. “You’ll swear it, Ranulph--on the
Bible?”

“I’ve told you they shall not hang you. You ought to know by now whether
I mean what I say,” his son answered more sharply.

Assuredly Ranulph meant that his father should not be hanged. Whatever
the law was, whatever wrong the old man had done, it had been atoned
for; the price had been paid by both. He himself had drunk the cup of
shame to the dregs, but now he would not swallow the dregs. An iron
determination entered into him. He had endured all that he would endure
from man. He had set out to defend Olivier Delagarde from the worst that
might happen, and he was ready to do so to the bitter end. His scheme
of justice might not be that of the Royal Court, but he would defend it
with his life. He had suddenly grown hard--and dangerous.



CHAPTER XXXII

The Royal Court was sitting late. Candles had been brought to light
the long desk or dais where sat the Bailly in his great chair, and the
twelve scarlet-robed jurats. The Attorney-General stood at his desk,
mechanically scanning the indictment read against prisoners charged with
capital crimes. His work was over, and according to his lights he had
done it well. Not even the Undertaker’s Apprentice could have been less
sensitive to the struggles of humanity under the heel of fate and death.
A plaintive complacency, a little righteous austerity, and an agreeable
expression of hunger made the Attorney-General a figure in godly
contrast to the prisoner awaiting his doom in the iron cage opposite.

There was a singular stillness in this sombre Royal Court, where only
a tallow candle or two and a dim lanthorn near the door filled the
room with flickering shadows-great heads upon the wall drawing close
together, and vast lips murmuring awful secrets. Low whisperings came
through the dusk like mournful nightwinds carrying tales of awe through
a heavy forest. Once in the long silence a figure rose up silently, and
stealing across the room to a door near the jury box, tapped upon it
with a pencil. A moment’s pause, the door opened slightly, and another
shadowy figure appeared, whispered, and vanished. Then the first figure
closed the door again silently, and came and spoke softly up to the
Bailly, who yawned in his hand, sat back in his chair, and drummed
his fingers upon the arm. Thereupon the other--the greffier of the
court--settled down at his desk beneath the jurats, and peered into an
open book before him, his eyes close to the page, reading silently by
the meagre light of a candle from the great desk behind him.

Now a fat and ponderous avocat rose up and was about to speak, but the
Bailly, with a peevish gesture, waved him down, and he settled heavily
into place again.

At last the door at which the greffier had tapped opened, and a gaunt
figure in a red robe came out. Standing in the middle of the room he
motioned towards the great pew opposite the Attorney-General. Slowly the
twenty-four men of the grand jury following him filed into place and sat
themselves down in the shadows. Then the gaunt figure--the Vicomte or
high sheriff--bowing to the Bailly and the jurats, went over and took
his seat beside the Attorney-General. Whereupon the Bailly leaned
forward and droned a question to the Grand Enquete in the shadow. One
rose up from among the twenty-four, and out of the dusk there came in
reply to the Judge a squeaking voice:

“We find the Prisoner at the Bar more Guilty than Innocent.”

A shudder ran through the court. But some one not in the room shuddered
still more violently. From the gable window of a house in the Rue des
Tres Pigeons, a girl had sat the livelong day, looking, looking into the
court-room. She had watched the day decline, the evening come, and the
lighting of the crassets and the candles, and had waited to hear the
words that meant more to her than her own life. At last the great moment
came, and she could hear the foreman’s voice whining the fateful words,
“More Guilty than Innocent.”

It was Carterette Mattingley, and the prisoner at the bar was her
father.



CHAPTER XXXIII

Mattingley’s dungeon was infested with rats and other vermin, he had
only straw for his bed, and his food and drink were bread and water. The
walls were damp with moisture from the Fauxbie running beneath, and a
mere glimmer of light came through a small barred window. Superstition
had surrounded the Vier Prison with horrors. As carts passed under the
great archway, its depth multiplied the sounds so powerfully, the echoes
were so fantastic, that folk believed them the roarings of fiendish
spirits. If a mounted guard hurried through, the reverberation of
the drum-beats and the clatter of hoofs were so uncouth that children
stopped their ears and fled in terror. To the ignorant populace the Vier
Prison was the home of noisome serpents and the rendezvous of the devil
and his witches of Rocbert.

When therefore the seafaring merchant of the Vier Marchi, whose massive,
brass-studded bahue had been as a gay bazaar where the gentry of Jersey
refreshed their wardrobes, with one eye closed--when he was transferred
to the Vier Prison, little wonder he should become a dreadful being
round whom played the lightnings of dark fancy. Elie Mattingley the
popular sinner, with insolent gold rings in his ears, unchallenged as to
how he came by his merchandise, was one person; Elie Mattingley, a torch
for the burning, and housed amid the terrors of the Vier Prison, was
another.

Few people in Jersey slept the night before his execution. Here and
there kind-hearted women or unimportant men lay awake through pity, and
a few through a vague sense of loss; for, henceforth, the Vier Marchi
would lack a familiar interest; but mostly the people of Mattingley’s
world were wakeful through curiosity. Morbid expectation of the hanging
had for them a gruesome diversion. The thing itself would break the
daily monotony of life and provide hushed gossip for vraic gatherings
and veilles for a long time to come. Thus Elie Mattingley would not die
in vain!

Here was one sensation, but there was still another. Olivier Delagarde
had been unmasked, and the whole island had gone tracking him down. No
aged toothless tiger was ever sported through the jungle by an army
of shikarris with hungrier malice than was this broken traitor by the
people he had betrayed. Ensued, therefore, a commingling of patriotism
with lust of man-hunting and eager expectation of to-morrow’s sacrifice.

Nothing of this excitement disturbed Mattingley. He did not sleep, but
that was because he was still watching for a means of escape. He felt
his chances diminish, however, when about midnight an extra guard was
put round the prison. Something had gone amiss in the matter of his
rescue.

Three things had been planned.

Firstly, he was to try escape by the small window of the dungeon.

Secondly, Carterette was to bring Sebastian Alixandre to the prison
disguised as a sorrowing aunt of the condemned. Alixandre was suddenly
to overpower the jailer, Mattingley was to make a rush for freedom, and
a few bold spirits without would second his efforts and smuggle him
to the sea. The directing mind and hand in the business were Ranulph
Delagarde’s. He was to have his boat waiting to respond to a signal from
the shore, and to make sail for France, where he and his father were to
be landed. There he was to give Mattingley, Alixandre, and Carterette
his craft to fare across the seas to the great fishing-ground of Gaspe
in Canada.

Lastly, if these plans failed, the executioner was to be drugged with
liquor, his besetting weakness, on the eve of the hanging.

The first plan had been found impossible, the window being too small for
even Mattingley’s head to get through. The second had failed because
the righteous Royal Court forbade Carterette the prison, intent that she
should no longer be contaminated by so vile a wretch as her father. For
years this same Christian solicitude had looked down from the windows
of the Cohue Royale upon this same criminal in the Vier Marchi, with one
blind eye for himself the sinner and an open one for his merchandise.

Mattingley could hear the hollow sound of the sentinels’ steps under the
archway of the Vier Prison. He was quite stoical. If he had to die, then
he had to die. Death could only be a little minute of agony; and for
what came after--well, he had not thought fearfully of that, and he had
no wish to think of it at all. The visiting chaplain had talked, and he
had not listened. He had his own ideas about life, and death, and the
beyond, and they were not ungenerous. The chaplain had found him patient
but impossible, kindly but unresponsive, sometimes even curious, but
without remorse.

“You should repent with sorrow and a contrite heart,” said the
clergyman. “You have done many evil things in your life, Mattingley.”

Mattingley had replied: “Ma fuifre, I can’t remember them! I know I
never done them, for I never done anything but good all my life--so much
for so much.” He had argued it out with himself and he believed he was a
good man. He had been open-handed, had stood by his friends, and, up to
a few days ago, was counted a good citizen; for many had come to profit
through him. His trade--a little smuggling, a little piracy? Was not the
former hallowed by distinguished patronage, and had it not existed from
immemorial time? It was fair fight for gain, an eye for an eye and a
tooth for a tooth. If he hadn’t robbed others on the high seas, they
would probably have robbed him--and sometimes they did. His spirit was
that of the Elizabethan admirals; he belonged to a century not his own.
As for the crime for which he was to suffer, it had been the work of
another hand, and very bad work it was, to try and steal Jean Touzel’s
Hardi Biaou, and then bungle it. He had had nothing to do with it, for
he and Jean Touzel were the best of friends, as was proved by the fact
that while he lay in his dungeon, Jean wandered the shore sorrowing for
his fate.

Thinking now of the whole business and of his past life, Mattingley
suddenly had a pang. Yes, remorse smote him at last. There was one thing
on his conscience--only one. He had respect for the feelings of others,
and where the Church was concerned this was mingled with a droll sort of
pity, as of the greater for the lesser, the wise for the helpless. For
clergymen he had a half-affectionate contempt. He remembered now that
when, five years ago, his confederate who had turned out so badly--he
had trusted him, too! had robbed the church of St. Michael’s, carrying
off the great chest of communion plate, offertories, and rents, he
had piously left behind in Mattingley’s house the vestry-books and
parish-register; a nice definition in rogues’ ethics. Awaiting his end
now, it smote Mattingley’s soul that these stolen records had not been
returned to St. Michael’s. Next morning he must send word to Carterette
to restore the books. Then his conscience would be clear once more. With
this resolve quieting his mind, he turned over on his straw and went
peacefully to sleep.

Hours afterwards he waked with a yawn. There was no start, no terror,
but the appearance of the jailer with the chaplain roused in him disgust
for the coming function at the Mont es Pendus. Disgust was his chief
feeling. This was no way for a man to die! With a choice of evils he
should have preferred walking the plank, or even dying quietly in his
bed, to being stifled by a rope. To dangle from a cross-tree like a
half-filled bag offended all instincts of picturesqueness, and first and
last he had been picturesque.

He asked at once for pencil and paper. His wishes were obeyed with
deference. On the whole he realised by the attentions paid him--the
brandy and the food offered by the jailer, the fluttering kindness of
the chaplain--that in the life of a criminal there is one moment when
he commands the situation. He refused the brandy, for he was strongly
against spirits in the early morning, but asked for coffee. Eating
seemed superfluous--and a man might die more gaily on an empty stomach.
He assured the chaplain that he had come to terms with his conscience
and was now about to perform the last act of a well-intentioned life.

There and then he wrote to Carterette, telling her about the
vestry-books of St. Michael’s, and begging that she should restore them
secretly. There were no affecting messages; they understood each other.
He knew that when it was possible she would never fail to come to the
mark where he was concerned, and she had equal faith in him. So the
letter was sealed, addressed with flourishes, he was proud of his
handwriting, and handed to the chaplain for Carterette.

He had scarcely drunk his coffee when there was a roll of drums outside.
Mattingley knew that his hour was come, and yet to his own surprise he
had no violent sensations. He had a shock presently, however, for on the
jailer announcing the executioner, who should be there before him but
the Undertaker’s Apprentice! In politeness to the chaplain Mattingley
forbore profanity. This was the one Jerseyman for whom he had a profound
hatred, this youth with the slow, cold, watery blue eye, a face that
never wrinkled either with mirth or misery, the square-set teeth always
showing a little--an involuntary grimace of cruelty. Here was insult.

“Devil below us, so you’re going to do it--you!” broke out Mattingley.

“The other man was drunk,” said the Undertaker’s Apprentice. “He’s been
full as a jug three days. He got drunk too soon.” The grimace seemed to
widen. “O my good!” said Mattingley, and he would say no more. To him
words were like nails--of no use unless they were to be driven home by
acts.

To Mattingley the procession of death was stupidly slow. As it issued
from the archway of the Vier Prison between mounted guards, and passed
through a long lane of moving spectators, he looked round coolly. One or
two bold spirits cried out: “Head up to the wind, Maitre Elie!”

“Oui-gia,” he replied; “devil a top-sail in!” and turned a look of
contempt on those who hooted him. He realised now that there was no
chance of rescue. The militia and the town guard were in ominous force,
and although his respect for the island military was not devout, a
bullet from the musket of a fool might be as effective as one from
Bonapend’s--as Napoleon Bonaparte was disdainfully called in Jersey. Yet
he could not but wonder why all the plans of Alixandre, Carterette, and
Ranulph had gone for nothing; even the hangman had been got drunk too
soon! He had a high opinion of Ranulph, and that he should fail him was
a blow to his judgment of humanity.

He was thoroughly disgusted. Also they had compelled him to put on a
white shirt, he who had never worn linen in his life. He was ill at ease
in it. It made him conspicuous; it looked as though he were aping the
gentleman at the last. He tried to resign himself, but resignation was
hard to learn so late in life. Somehow he could not feel that this was
really the day of his death. Yet how could it be otherwise? There
was the Vicomte in his red robe, there was the sinister Undertaker’s
Apprentice, ready to do his hangman’s duty. There, as they crossed the
mielles, while the sea droned its sing-song on his left, was the parson
droning his sing-song on the right “In the midst of life we are in
death,” etc. There were the grumbling drums, and the crowd morbidly
enjoying their Roman holiday; and there, looming up before him, were the
four stone pillars on the Mont es Pendus from which he was to swing. His
disgust deepened. He was not dying like a seafarer who had fairly earned
his reputation.

His feelings found vent even as he came to the foot of the platform
where he was to make his last stand, and the guards formed a square
about the great pillars, glooming like Druidic altars. He burst forth in
one phrase expressive of his feelings.

“Sacre matin--so damned paltry!” he said, in equal tribute to two races.

The Undertaker’s Apprentice, thinking this a reflection upon his
arrangements, said, with a wave of the hand to the rope:

“Nannin, ch’est tres ship-shape, Maitre!”

The Undertaker’s Apprentice was wrong. He had made everything
ship-shape, as he thought, but a gin had been set for him. The rope to
be used at the hanging had been measured and approved by the Vicomte,
and the Undertaker’s Apprentice had carried it to his room at the top
of the Cohue Royale. In the dead of night, however, Dormy Jamais drew it
from under the mattress whereon the deathman slept, and substituted one
a foot longer. This had been Ranulph’s idea as a last resort, for he had
a grim wish to foil the law even at the twelfth hour.

The great moment had come. The shouts and hootings ceased. Out of the
silence there arose only the champing of a horse’s bit or the hysterical
giggle of a woman. The high painful drone of the chaplain’s voice was
heard.

Then came the fatal “Maintenant!” from the Vicomte, the platform fell,
and Elie Mattingley dropped the length of the rope.

What was the consternation of the Vicomte and the hangman, and the
horror of the crowd, to see that Mattingley’s toes just touched the
ground! The body shook and twisted. The man was being slowly strangled,
not hanged.

The Undertaker’s Apprentice was the only person who kept a cool head.
The solution of the problem of the rope for afterwards, but he had been
sent there to hang a man, and a man he would hang somehow. Without more
ado he jumped upon Mattingley’s shoulders and began to drag him down.

That instant Ranulph Delagarde burst through the mounted guard and the
militia. Rushing to the Vicomte, he exclaimed:

“Shame! The man was to be hung, not strangled. This is murder. Stop it,
or I’ll cut the rope.” He looked round on the crowd. “Cowards--cowards,”
 he cried, “will you see him murdered?”

He started forward to drag away the deathmann, but the Vicomte,
thoroughly terrified at Ranulph’s onset, himself seized the Undertaker’s
Apprentice, who, drawing off with unruffled malice, watched what
followed with steely eyes.

Dragged down by the weight of the Apprentice, Mattingley’s feet were now
firmly on the ground. While the excited crowd tried to break through the
cordon of mounted guards, Mattingley, by a twist and a jerk, freed his
corded hands. Loosing the rope at his neck he opened his eyes and looked
around him, dazed and dumb.

The Apprentice came forward. “I’ll shorten the rope oui-gia! Then you
shall see him swing,” he grumbled viciously to the Vicomte.

The gaunt Vicomte was trembling with excitement. He looked helplessly
around him.

The Apprentice caught hold of the rope to tie knots in it and so shorten
it, but Ranulph again appealed to the Vicomte.

“You’ve hung the man,” said he; “you’ve strangled him and you didn’t
kill him. You’ve got no right to put that rope round his neck again.”

Two jurats who had waited on the outskirts of the crowd, furtively
watching the effect of their sentence, burst in, as distracted as the
Vicomte.

“Hang the man again and the whole world will laugh at you,” Ranulph
said. “If you’re not worse than fools or Turks you’ll let him go. He has
had death already. Take him back to the prison then, if you’re afraid to
free him.” He turned on the crowd fiercely. “Have you nothing to say to
this butchery?” he cried. “For the love of God, haven’t you anything to
say?”

Half the crowd shouted “Let him go free!” and the other half,
disappointed in the working out of the gruesome melodrama, groaned and
hooted.

Meanwhile Mattingley stood as still as ever he had stood by his bahue in
the Vier Marchi, watching--waiting.

The Vicomte conferred nervously with the jurats for a moment, and then
turned to the guard.

“Take the prisoner to the Vier Prison,” he said. Mattingley had been
slowly solving the problem of his salvation. His eye, like a gimlet,
had screwed its way through Ranulph’s words into what lay behind, and
at last he understood the whole beautiful scheme. It pleased him:
Carterette had been worthy of herself, and of him. Ranulph had played
his game well too. He only failed to do justice to the poor beganne,
Dormy Jamais. But then the virtue of fools is its own reward. As the
procession started back with the Undertaker’s Apprentice now following
after Mattingley, not going before, Mattingley turned to him, and with a
smile of malice said:

“Ch’est tres ship-shape, Maitre-eh!” and he jerked his head back towards
the inadequate rope.

He was not greatly troubled about the rest of this grisly farce. He was
now ready for breakfast, and his appetite grew as he heard how the crowd
hooted and snarled yah! at the Undertaker’s Apprentice. He was quite
easy about the future. What had been so well done thus far could not
fail in the end.



CHAPTER XXXIV

Events proved Mattingley right. Three days after, it was announced that
he had broken prison. It is probable that the fury of the Royal Court at
the news was not quite sincere, for it was notable that the night of
his evasion, suave and uncrestfallen, they dined in state at the Tres
Pigeons. The escape gave them happy issue from a quandary.

The Vicomte officially explained that Mattingley had got out by the
dungeon window. People came to see the window, and there, ba su, the
bars were gone! But that did not prove the case, and the mystery was
deepened by the fact that Jean Touzel, whose head was too small for
Elie’s hat, could not get that same head through the dungeon window.
Having proved so much, Jean left the mystery there, and returned to his
Hardi Biaou.

This happened on the morning after the dark night when Mattingley,
Carterette, and Alixandre hurried from the Vier Prison, through the Rue
des Sablons to the sea, and there boarded Ranulph’s boat, wherein was
Olivier Delagarde the traitor.

Accompanying Carterette to the shore was a little figure that moved
along beside them like a shadow, a little grey figure that carried
a gold-headed cane. At the shore this same little grey figure bade
Mattingley good-bye with a quavering voice. Whereupon Carterette, her
face all wet with tears, kissed him upon both cheeks, and sobbed so that
she could scarcely speak. For now when it was all done--all the
horrible ordeal over--the woman in her broke down before the little old
gentleman, who had been like a benediction in the house where the ten
commandments were imperfectly upheld. But she choked down her sobs, and
thinking of another more than of herself, she said:

“Dear Chevalier, do not forget the book--that register--I gave you
to-night. Read it--read the last writing in it, and then you will
know--ah, bidemme--but you will know that her we love--ah, but you must
read it and tell nobody till--till the right time comes! She hasn’t held
her tongue for naught, and it’s only fair to do as she’s done all along,
and hold ours. Pardingue, but my heart hurts me!” she added suddenly,
and catching the hand that held the little gold cane she kissed it with
impulsive ardour. “You have been so good to me--oui-gia!” she said with
a gulp, and then she dropped the hand and turned and fled to the boat
rocking in the surf.

The little Chevalier watched the boat glide out into the gloom of night,
and waited till he knew that they must all be aboard Ranulph’s schooner
and making for the sea. Then he turned and went back to the empty house
in the Rue d’Egypte.

Opening the book Carterette had placed in his hands before they left the
house, he turned up and scanned closely the last written page. A moment
after, he started violently, his eyes dilating, first with wonder, then
with a bewildered joy; and then, Protestant though he was, with the
instinct of long-gone forefathers, he made the sacred gesture, and said:

“Now I have not lived and loved in vain, thanks be to God!”

Even as joy opened wide the eyes of the Chevalier, who had been sorely
smitten through the friends of his heart, out at sea Night and Death
were closing the eyes of another wan old man who had been a traitor to
his country.

For the boat of the fugitives had scarcely cleared reefs and rocks, and
reached the open Channel, when Olivier Delagarde, uttering the same cry
as when Ranulph and the soldiers had found him wounded in the Grouville
road sixteen years before, suddenly started up from where he had lain
mumbling, and whispering incoherently, “Ranulph--they’ve killed me!”
 fell back dead.

True to the instinct which had kept him faithful to one idea for sixteen
years, and in spite of the protests of Mattingley and Carterette--of the
despairing Carterette who felt the last thread of her hopes snap with
his going--Ranulph made ready to leave them. Bidding them good-bye, he
placed his father’s body in the rowboat, and pulling back to the shore
of St. Aubin’s Bay with his pale freight, carried it on his shoulders up
to the little house where he had lived so many years. There he kept the
death-watch alone.



CHAPTER XXXV

Guida knew nothing of the arrest and trial of Mattingley until he had
been condemned to death. Nor until then did she know anything of what
had happened to Olivier Delagarde; for soon after her interview with
Ranulph she had gone a-marketing to the Island of Sark, with the results
of half a year’s knitting. Her return had been delayed by ugly gales
from the south east. Several times a year she made this journey, landing
at the Eperquerie Rocks as she had done one day long ago, and selling
her beautiful wool caps and jackets to the farmers and fisher-folk,
getting in kind for what she gave.

When she made these excursions to Sark, Dormy Jamais had always remained
at the little house, milking her cow, feeding her fowls, and keeping all
in order--as perfect a sentinel as old Biribi, and as faithful. For the
first time in his life, however, Dormy Jamais was unfaithful. On the day
that Carcaud the baker and Mattingley were arrested, he deserted the hut
at Plemont to exploit, with Ranulph, the adventure which was at last
to save Olivier Delagarde and Mattingley from death. But he had been
unfaithful only in the letter of his bond. He had gone to the house of
Jean Touzel, through whose Hardi Biaou the disaster had come, and had
told Mattresse Aimable that she must go to Plemont in his stead--for a
fool must keep his faith whate’er the worldly wise may do. So the fat
Femme de Ballast, puffing with every step, trudged across the island to
Plemont, and installed herself as keeper of the house.

One day Mattresse Aimable’s quiet was invaded by two signalmen who kept
watch, not far from Guida’s home, for all sail, friend or foe, bearing
in sight. They were now awaiting the new Admiral of the Jersey station
and his fleet. With churlish insolence they entered Guida’s hut
before Maitresse Aimable could prevent it. Looking round, they laughed
meaningly, and then told her that the commander coming presently to lie
with his fleet in Grouville Bay was none other than the sometime
Jersey midshipman, now Admiral Prince Philip d’Avranche, Duc de Bercy.
Understanding then the meaning of their laughter, and the implied insult
to Guida, Maitresse Aimable’s voice came ravaging out of the silence
where it lay hid so often and so long, and the signalmen went their ways
shamefacedly.

She could not make head or tail of her thoughts now, nor see an inch
before her nose; all she could feel was an aching heart for Guida.
She had heard strange tales of how Philip had become Prince Philip
d’Avranche, and husband of the Comtesse Chantavoine, and afterwards Duc
de Bercy. Also she had heard how Philip, just before he became the Duc
de Bercy, had fought his ship against a French vessel off Ushant, and,
though she had heavier armament than his own, had destroyed her. For
this he had been made an admiral. Only the other day her Jean had
brought the Gazette de Jersey in which all these things were related,
and had spelled them out for her. And now this same Philip d’Avranche
with his new name and fame was on his way to defend the Isle of Jersey.

Mattresse Aimable’s muddled mind could not get hold of this new Philip.
For years she had thought him a monster, and here he was, a great and
valiant gentleman to the world. He had done a thing that Jean would
rather have cut off his hand--both hands--than do, and yet here he was,
an admiral, a prince, and a sovereign duke, and men like Jean were as
dust beneath his feet. The real Philip she knew: he was the man who had
spoiled the life of a woman; this other Philip--she could read about
him, she could think about him, just as she could think about William
and his horse’ in Boulay Bay, or the Little Bad Folk of Rocbert; but she
could not realise him as a thing of flesh and blood and actual being.
The more she tried to realise him the more mixed she became.

As in her mental maze she sat panting her way to enlightenment, she
saw Guida’s boat entering the little harbour. Now the truth must be
told--but how?

After her first exclamation of welcome to mother and child, Maitresse
Aimable struggled painfully for her voice. She tried to find words in
which to tell Guida the truth, but, stopping in despair, she suddenly
began rocking the child back and forth, saying only: “Prince Admiral
he--and now to come! O my good--O my good!” Guida’s sharp intuition
found the truth.

“Philip d’Avranche!” she said to herself. Then aloud, in a shaking
voice--“Philip d’Avranche!”

She could not think clearly for a moment. It was as if her brain had
received a blow, and in her head was a singing numbness, obscuring
eyesight, hearing, speech.

When she had recovered a little she took the child from Maitresse
Aimable, and pressing him to her bosom placed him in the Sieur de
Mauprat’s great arm-chair. This action, ordinary as it seemed, was
significant of what was in her mind. The child himself realised
something unusual, and he sat perfectly still, two small hands spread
out on the big arms.

“You always believed in me, ‘tresse Aimable,” Guida said at last in a
low voice.

“Oui-gia, what else?” was the instant reply. The quick responsiveness
of her own voice seemed to confound the Femme de Ballast, and her face
suffused.

Guida stooped quickly and kissed her on the cheek. “You’ll never regret
that. And you will have to go on believing still, but you’ll not be
sorry in the end, ‘tresse Aimable,” she said, and turned away to the
fireplace. An hour afterwards Mattresse Aimable was upon her way to St.
Heliers, but now she carried her weight more easily and panted less.
Twice within the last month Jean had given her ear a friendly pinch, and
now Guida had kissed her--surely she had reason to carry her weight more
lightly.

That afternoon and evening Guida struggled with herself: the woman in
her shrinking from the ordeal at hand. But the mother in her pleaded,
commanded, ruled confused emotions to quiet. Finality of purpose once
determined, a kind of peace came over her sick spirit, for with finality
there is quiescence if not peace.

When she looked at the little Guilbert, refined and strong, curiously
observant, and sensitive in temperament like herself, her courage
suddenly leaped to a higher point than it had ever known. This innocent
had suffered enough. What belonged to him he had not had. He had been
wronged in much by his father, and maybe--and this was the cruel part
of it--had been unwittingly wronged, alas! how unwilling, by her! If
she gave her own life many times, it still could be no more than was the
child’s due.

A sudden impulse seized her, and with a quick explosion of feeling she
dropped on her knees, and looking into his eyes, as though hungering for
the words she so often yearned to hear, she said:

“You love your mother, Guilbert? You love her, little son?”

With a pretty smile and eyes brimming with affectionate fun, but without
a word, the child put out a tiny hand and drew the fingers softly down
his mother’s face.

“Speak, little son, tell your mother that you love her.” The tiny hand
pressed itself over her eyes, and a gay little laugh came from the
sensitive lips, then both arms ran round her neck. The child drew her
head to him impulsively, and kissing her, a little upon the hair and a
little upon the forehead, so indefinite was the embrace, he said:

“Si, maman, I loves you best of all,” then added: “Maman, can’t I have
the sword now?”

“You shall have the sword too some day,” she answered, her eyes
flashing.

“But, maman, can’t I touch it now?”

Without a word she took down the sheathed goldhandled sword and laid it
across the chair-arms.

“I can’t take the sword out, can I, maman?” he asked.

She could not help smiling. “Not yet, my son, not yet.”

“I has to be growed up so the blade doesn’t hurt me, hasn’t I, maman?”

She nodded and smiled again, and went about her work.

He nodded sagely. “Maman--” he said. She turned to him; the little
figure was erect with a sweet importance. “Maman, what am I now--with
the sword?” he asked, with wide-open, amazed eyes.

A strange look passed across her face. Stooping, she kissed his curly
hair.

“You are my prince,” she said.

A little later the two were standing on that point of land called
Grosnez--the brow of the Jersey tiger. Not far from them was a
signal-staff which telegraphed to another signal-staff inland. Upon the
staff now was hoisted a red flag. Guida knew the signals well. The red
flag meant warships in sight. Then bags were hoisted that told of the
number of vessels: one, two, three, four, five, six, then one next the
upright, meaning seven. Last of all came the signal that a flag-ship was
among them.

This was a fleet in command of an admiral. There, not far out, between
Guernsey and Jersey, was the squadron itself. Guida watched it for
a long while, her heart hardening; but seeing that the men by the
signal-staff were watching her, she took the child and went to a spot
where they were shielded from any eyes. Here she watched the fleet draw
nearer and nearer.

The vessels passed almost within a stone’s throw of her. She could see
the St. George’s Cross flying at the fore of the largest ship. That
was the admiral’s flag--that was the flag of Admiral Prince Philip
d’Avranche, Duc de Bercy.

She felt her heart stand still suddenly, and with a tremor, as of fear,
she gathered her child close to her. “What is all those ships, maman?”
 asked the child. “They are ships to defend Jersey,” she said, watching
the Imperturbable and its flotilla range on.

“Will they affend us, maman?”

“Perhaps-at the last,” she said.



CHAPTER XXXVI

Off Grouville Bay lay the squadron of the Jersey station. The St.
George’s Cross was flying at the fore of the Imperturbable, and on every
ship of the fleet the white ensign flapped in the morning wind. The
wooden-walled three-decked flag-ship, with her 32-pounders, and six
hundred men, was not less picturesque and was more important than the
Castle of Mont Orgueil near by, standing over two hundred feet above the
level of the sea: the home of Philip d’Avranche, Duc de Bercy, and the
Comtesse Chantavoine, now known to the world as the Duchesse de Bercy.

The Comtesse had arrived in the island almost simultaneously with
Philip, although he had urged her to remain at the ducal palace of
Bercy. But the duchy of Bercy was in hard case. When the imbecile Duke
Leopold John died and Philip succeeded, the neutrality of Bercy had been
proclaimed, but this neutrality had since been violated, and there was
danger at once from the incursions of the Austrians and the ravages of
the French troops. In Philip’s absence the valiant governor-general
of the duchy, aided by the influence and courage of the Comtesse
Chantavoine, had thus far saved it from dismemberment, in spite of
attempted betrayals by Damour the Intendant, who still remained Philip’s
enemy.

But when the Marquis Grandjon-Larisse, the uncle of the Comtesse, died,
her cousin, General Grandjon-Larisse of the Republican army--whose word
with Dalbarade had secured Philip’s release years before for her own
safety, first urged and then commanded her temporary absence from
the duchy. So far he had been able to protect it from the fury of the
Republicans and the secret treachery of the Jacobins. But a time of
great peril was now at hand. Under these anxieties and the lack of other
inspiration than duty, her health had failed, and at last she obeyed her
cousin, joining Philip at the Castle of Mont Orgueil.

More than a year had passed since she had seen him, but there was no
emotion, no ardour in their present greeting. From the first there had
been nothing to link them together. She had married, hoping that she
might love thereafter; he in choler and bitterness, and in the stress of
a desperate ambition. He had avoided the marriage so long as he might,
in hope of preventing it until the Duke should die, but with the irony
of fate the expected death had come two hours after the ceremony. Then,
shortly afterwards, came the death of the imbecile Leopold John; and
Philip found himself the Duc de Bercy, and within a year, by reason of a
splendid victory for the Imperturbable, an admiral.

Truth to tell, in this battle he had fought for victory for his ship and
a fall for himself: for the fruit he had plucked was turning to dust and
ashes. He was haunted by the memory of a wronged woman, as she herself
had foretold. Death, with the burial of private dishonour under the
roses of public victory--that had come to be his desire. But he had
found that Death is wilful and chooseth her own time; that she may be
lured, but she will not come with shouting. So he had stoically accepted
his fate, and could even smile with a bitter cynicism when ordered to
proceed to the coast of Jersey, where collision with a French squadron
was deemed certain.

Now, he was again brought face to face with his past; with the imminent
memory of Guida Landresse de Landresse. Where was Guida now? What had
happened to her? He dared not ask, and none told him. Whichever way he
turned--night or day--her face haunted him. Looking out from the windows
of Mont Orgueil Castle, or from the deck of the Imperturbable, he could
see--and he could scarce choose but see--the lonely Ecrehos. There, with
a wild eloquence, he had made a girl believe he loved her, and had taken
the first step in the path which should have led to true happiness and
honour. From this good path he had violently swerved--and now?

From all that could be seen, however, the world went very well with him.
He was the centre of authority. Almost any morning one might have seen a
boat shoot out from below the Castle wall, carrying a flag with the blue
ball of a Vice-Admiral of the White in the canton, and as the Admiral
himself stepped upon the deck of the Imperturbable between saluting
guards, across the water came a gay march played in his honour.

Jersey herself was elate, eager to welcome one of her own sons risen
to such high estate. When, the very day after his arrival, he passed
through the Vier Marchi on his way to visit the Lieutenant-Governor, the
redrobed jurats impulsively turned out to greet him. They were ready
to prove that memory is a matter of will and cultivation. There is no
curtain so opaque as that which drops between the mind of man and the
thing it is advantageous to forget. But how closely does the ear of
self-service listen for the footfall of a most distant memory, when to
do so is to share even a reflected glory!

A week had gone since Philip had landed on the island. Memories pursued
him. If he came by the shore of St. Clement’s Bay, he saw the spot where
he had stood with her the evening he married her, and she said to him:
“Philip, I wonder what we will think of this day a year from now!...
To-day is everything to you, but to-morrow is very much to me.” He
remembered Shoreham sitting upon the cromlech above singing the legend
of the gui-l’annee--and Shoreham was lying now a hundred fathoms deep.

As he walked through the Vier Marchi with his officers, there flashed
before his eyes the scene of sixteen years ago, when, through the grime
and havoc of battle, he had run to save Guida from the scimitar of the
garish Turk. Walking through the Place du Vier Prison, he recalled the
morning when he had rescued Ranulph from the hands of the mob. Where was
Ranulph now?

If he had but known it, that very morning as he passed Mattingley’s
house Ranulph had looked down at him with infinite scorn and
loathing--but with triumph too, for the Chevalier had just shown him a
certain page in a certain parish-register long lost, left with him by
Carterette Mattingley. Philip knew naught of Ranulph save the story
babbled by the islanders. He cared to hear of no one but Guida, and who
was now to mention her name to him? It was long--so long since he had
seen her face. How many years ago was it? Only five, and yet it seemed
twenty.

He was a boy then; now his hair was streaked with grey. He was
light-hearted then, and he was still buoyant with his fellows, still
alert and vigorous, quick of speech and keen of humour--but only before
the world. In his own home he was fitful of mood, impatient of the
grave, meditative look of his wife, of her resolute tenacity of thought
and purpose, of her unvarying evenness of mood, through which no warmth
played. It seemed to him that if she had defied him--given him petulance
for petulance, impatience for impatience, it would have been easier
to bear. If--if he could only read behind those passionless eyes, that
clear, unwrinkled forehead! But he knew her no better now than he did
the day he married her. Unwittingly she chilled him, and he felt he had
no right to complain, for he had done her the greatest wrong which can
be done a woman. Whatever chanced, Guida was still his wife; and there
was in him yet the strain of Calvinistic morality of the island race
that bred him. He had shrunk from coming here, but it had been far worse
than he had looked for.

One day, in a nervous, bitter moment, after an impatient hour with the
Comtesse, he had said: “Can you--can you not speak? Can you not tell me
what you think?” She had answered quietly:

“It would do no good. You would not understand. I know you in some ways
better than you know yourself. I cannot tell what it is, but there is
something wrong in your nature, something that poisons your life. And
not myself only has felt that. I never told you--but you remember the
day the old Duke died, the day we were married? You had gone from the
room a moment. The Duke beckoned me to him, and whispered ‘Don’t be
afraid--don’t be afraid--’ and then he died. That meant that he was
afraid, that death had cleared his sight as to you in some way. He was
afraid--of what? And I have been afraid--of what? I do not know. Things
have not gone well somehow. You are strong, you are brave, and I come of
a family that have been strong and brave. We ought to be near: yet,
yet we are lonely and far apart, and we shall never be nearer or less
lonely. That I know.”

To this he had made no reply and this anger vanished. Something in her
words had ruled him to her own calmness, and at that moment he had the
first flash of understanding of her nature and its true relation to his
own.

Passing through the Rue d’Egypte this day he met Dormy Jamais. Forgetful
of everything save that this quaint foolish figure had interested him
when a boy, he called him by name; but Dormy Jamais swerved away, eyeing
him askance.

At that instant he saw Jean Touzel standing in the doorway of his house.
A wave of remorseful feeling rushed over him. He could wait no longer:
he would ask Jean Touzel and his wife about Guida. He instantly
bethought him of an excuse for the visit. His squadron needed another
pilot; he would approach Jean in the matter.

Bidding his flag-lieutenant go on to Elizabeth Castle whither they were
bound, and await him there, he crossed over to Jean. By the time he
reached the doorway, however, Jean had retreated to the veille by the
chimney behind Maitresse Aimable, who sat in a great stave-chair mending
a net.

Philip knocked and stepped inside. When Mattresse Aimable saw who it was
she was so startled that she dropped her work, and made vague clutches
to recover it. Stooping, however, was a great effort for her. Philip
instantly stepped forward and picked up the net. Politely handing it to
her, he said:

“Ah, Maitresse Aimable, it is as if you had never stirred all these
years!” Then turning to her husband “I have come looking for a good
pilot, Jean.” Mattresse Aimable had at first flushed to a purple, had
afterwards gone pale, then recovered herself, and now returned Philip’s
look with a downright steadiness. Like Jean, she knew well enough he had
not come for a pilot--that was not the business of a Prince Admiral.

She did not even rise. Philip might be whatever the world chose to call
him, but her house was her own, and he had come uninvited, and he was
unwelcome.

She kept her seat, but her fat head inclined once in greeting, and she
waited for him to speak again. She knew why he had come; and somehow the
steady look in these slow, brown eyes, and the blinking glance behind
Jean’s brass-rimmed spectacles, disconcerted Philip. Here were people
who knew the truth about him, knew the sort of man he really was. These
poor folk who had had nothing of the world but what they earned, they
would never hang on any prince’s favours.

He read the situation rightly. The penalties of his life were teaching
him a discernment which could never have come to him through good
fortune alone. Having at last discovered his real self a little, he was
in the way of knowing others.

“May I shut the door?” he asked quietly. Jean nodded. Closing it he
turned to them again. “Since my return I have heard naught concerning
Mademoiselle Landresse,” he said. “I want to ask you about her now. Does
she still live in the Place du Vier Prison?”

Both Jean and Aimable shook their heads. They had spoken no word since
his entrance.

“She--she is not dead?” he asked. They shook their heads again.

“Her grandfather”--he paused--“is he living?” Once more they shook their
heads in negation. “Where is mademoiselle?” he asked, sick at heart.

Jean looked at his wife; neither moved nor answered. “Where does she
live?” urged Philip. Still there was no motion, no reply. “You might
as well tell me.” His tone was half pleading, half angry--little like a
sovereign duke, very like a man in trouble. “You must know I shall find
out from some one else, then,” he continued. “But it is better for you
to tell me. I mean her no harm, and I would rather know about her from
her friends.”

He took off his hat now. Something in the dignity of these two honest
folk rebuked the pride of place and spirit in him. As plainly as
though heralds had proclaimed it, he understood that these two knew the
abatements on the shield of his honour-argent, a plain point tenne, due
to him “that tells lyes to his Prince or General,” and argent, a gore
sinister tenne, due for flying from his colours.

Maitresse Aimable turned and looked towards Jean, but Jean turned away
his head. Then she did not hesitate. The voice so oft eluding her will
responded readily now. Anger--plain primitive rage-possessed her. She
had had no child, but as the years had passed all the love that might
have been given to her own was bestowed upon Guida, and in that mind she
spoke.

“O my grief, to think you have come here-you!” she burst forth. “You
steal the best heart in the world--there is none like her, nannin-gia.
You promise her, you break her life, you spoil her, and then you fly
away--ah coward you! Man pethe benin, was there ever such a man like
you! If my Jean there had done a thing as that I would sink him in the
sea--he would sink himself, je me crais! But you come back here, O my
Mother of God, you come back here with your sword, with your crown-ugh,
it is like a black cat in heaven--you!”

She got to her feet more nimbly than she had ever done in her life, and
the floor seemed to heave as she came towards Philip. “You speak to me
with soft words,” she said harshly--“but you shall have the good hard
truth from me. You want to know now where she is--I ask where you have
been these five years? Your voice it tremble when you speak of her now.
Oh ho! it has been nice and quiet these five years. The grand pethe of
her drop dead in his chair when he know. The world turn against her,
make light of her, when they know. All alone--she is all alone, but for
one fat old fool like me. She bear all the shame, all the pain, for
the crime of you. All alone she take her child and go on to the rock of
Plemont to live these five years. But you, you go and get a crown and be
Amiral and marry a grande comtesse--marry, oh, je crais ben! This is no
world for such men like you. You come to my house, to the house of Jean
Touzel, to ask this and that--well, you have the truth of God, ba su!
No good will come to you in the end, nannin-gia! When you go to die, you
will think and think and think of that beautiful Guida Landresse; you
will think and think of the heart you kill, and you will call, and she
will not come. You will call till your throat rattle, but she will not
come, and the child of sorrow you give her will not come--no, bidemme!
E’fin, the door you shut you can open now, and you can go from the house
of Jean Touzel. It belong to the wife of an honest man--maint’nant!”

In the moment’s silence that ensued, Jean took a step forward. “Ma
femme, ma bonne femme!” he said with a shaking voice. Then he pointed
to the door. Humiliated, overwhelmed by the words of the woman, Philip
turned mechanically towards the door without a word, and his fingers
fumbled for the latch, for a mist was before his eyes. With a great
effort he recovered himself, and passed slowly out into the Rue
d’Egypte.

“A child--a child!” he said brokenly. “Guida’s child--my God! And
I--have never--known. Plemont--Plemont, she is at Plemont!” He
shuddered. “Guida’s child--and mine,” he kept saying to himself, as in a
painful dream he passed on to the shore.

In the little fisherman’s cottage he had left, a fat old woman sat
sobbing in the great chair made of barrel-staves, and a man, stooping,
kissed her twice on the cheek--the first time in fifteen years. And then
she both laughed and cried.



CHAPTER XXXVII

Guida sat by the fire sewing, Biribi the dog at her feet. A little
distance away, to the right of the chimney, lay Guilbert asleep. Twice
she lowered the work to her lap to look at the child, the reflected
light of the fire playing on his face. Stretching out her hand, she
touched him, and then she smiled. Hers was an all-devouring love; the
child was her whole life; her own present or future was as nothing; she
was but fuel for the fire of his existence.

A storm was raging outside. The sea roared in upon Plemont and Grosnez,
battering the rocks in futile agony. A hoarse nor’-easter ranged across
the tiger’s head in helpless fury: a night of awe to inland folk, and of
danger to seafarers. To Guida, who was both of the sea and of the land,
fearless as to either, it was neither terrible nor desolate to be alone
with the storm. Storm was but power unshackled, and power she loved and
understood. She had lived so long in close commerce with storm and sea
that something of their keen force had entered into her, and she was kin
with them. Each wind to her was intimate as a friend, each rock and cave
familiar as her hearthstone; and the ungoverned ocean spoke in terms
intelligible. So heavy was the surf that now and then the spray of some
foiled wave broke on the roof, but she only nodded at that, as though
the sea were calling her to come forth, tapping on her rooftree in
joyous greeting.

But suddenly she started and bent her head. It seemed as if her whole
body were hearkening. Now she rose quickly to her feet, dropped her work
upon the table near by, and rested herself against it, still listening.
She was sure she heard a horse’s hoofs. Turning swiftly, she drew the
curtain of the bed before her sleeping child, and then stood quiet
waiting--waiting. Her hand went to her heart once as though its fierce
throbbing hurt her. Plainly as though she could look through these stone
walls into clear sunlight, she saw some one dismount, and she heard a
voice.

The door of the but was unlocked and unbarred. If she feared, it was
easy to shoot the bolt and lock the door, to drop the bar across the
little window, and be safe and secure. But no bodily fear possessed
her--only that terror of the spirit when its great trial comes suddenly
and it shrinks back, though the mind be of faultless courage.

She waited. There came a knocking at the door. She did not move from
where she stood.

“Come in,” she said. She was composed and resolute now.

The latch clicked, the door opened, and a cloaked figure entered, the
shriek of the storm behind. The door closed again. The intruder took a
step forward, his hat came off, the cloak was loosed and dropped upon
the floor. Guida’s premonition had been right: It was Philip.

She did not speak. A stone could have been no colder as she stood in
the light of the fire, her face still and strong, the eyes darkling,
luminous. There was on her the dignity of the fearless, the pure in
heart.

“Guida!” Philip said, and took a step nearer, and paused.

He was haggard, he had the look of one who had come upon a desperate
errand. When she did not answer he said pleadingly:

“Guida, won’t you speak to me?”

“The Duc de Bercy chooses a strange hour for his visit,” she said
quietly.

“But see,” he answered hurriedly; “what I have to say to you--” he
paused, as though to choose the thing he should say first.

“You can say nothing I need hear,” she answered, looking him steadily in
the eyes.

“Ah, Guida,” he cried, disconcerted by her cold composure, “for God’s
sake listen to me! To-night we have to face our fate. To-night you have
to say--”

“Fate was faced long ago. I have nothing to say.”

“Guida, I have repented of all. I have come now only to speak honestly
of the wrong I did you. I have come to--”

Scorn sharpened her words, though she spoke calmly: “You have forced
yourself upon a woman’s presence--and at this hour!”

“I chose the only hour possible,” he answered quickly. “Guida, the past
cannot be changed, but we have the present and the future still. I have
not come to justify myself, but to find a way to atone.”

“No atonement is possible.”

“You cannot deny me the right to confess to you that--”

“To you denial should not seem hard usage,” she answered slowly, “and
confession should have witnesses--”

She paused suggestively. The imputation that he of all men had the least
right to resent denial; that, dishonest still, he was willing to justify
her privately though not publicly; that repentance should have been open
to the world--it all stung him.

He threw out his hands in a gesture of protest. “As many witnesses as
you will, but not now, not this hour, after all these years. Will you
not at least listen to me, and then judge and act? Will you not hear me,
Guida?”

She had not yet even stirred. Now that it had come, this scene was all
so different from what she might have imagined. But she spoke out of a
merciless understanding, an unchangeable honesty. Her words came clear
and pitiless:

“If you will speak to the point and without a useless emotion, I will
try to listen. Common kindness should have prevented this intrusion--by
you!”

Every word she said was like a whip-lash across his face. A devilish
light leapt into his eye, but it faded as quickly as it came.

“After to-night, to the public what you will,” he repeated with dogged
persistence, “but it was right we should speak alone to each other at
least this once before the open end. I did you wrong, yet I did not mean
to ruin your life, and you should know that. I ought not to have married
you secretly; I acknowledge that. But I loved you--”

She shook her head, and with a smile of pitying disdain--he could so
little see the real truth, his real misdemeanour--she said: “Oh no,
never--never! You were not capable of love; you never knew what it
means. From the first you were too untrue ever to love a woman. There
was a great fire of emotion, you saw shadows on the wall, and you fell
in love with them. That was all.”

“I tell you that I loved you,” he answered with passionate energy. “But
as you will. Let it be that it was not real love: at least it was all
there was in me to give. I never meant to desert you. I never meant to
disavow our marriage. I denied you, you will say. I did. In the light of
what came after, it was dishonourable--I grant that; but I did it at a
crisis and for the fulfilment of a great ambition--and as much for you
as for me.”

“That was the least of your evil work. But how little you know what true
people think or feel!” she answered with a kind of pain in her voice,
for she felt that such a nature could never even realise its own
enormities. Well, since it had gone so far she would speak openly,
though it hurt her sense of self-respect.

“For that matter, do you think that I or any good woman would have had
place or power, been princess or duchess, at the price? What sort of
mind have you?” She looked him straight in the eyes. “Put it in the
clear light of right and wrong, it was knavery. You--you talk of not
meaning to do me harm. You were never capable of doing me good. It was
not in you. From first to last you are untrue. Were it otherwise, were
you not from first to last unworthy, would you have--but no, your worst
crime need not be judged here. Yet had you one spark of worthiness
would you have made a mock marriage--it is no more--with the Comtesse
Chantavoine? No matter what I said or what I did in anger, or contempt
of you, had you been an honest man you would not have so ruined another
life. Marriage, alas! You have wronged the Comtesse worse than you have
wronged me. One day I shall be righted, but what can you say or do to
right her wrongs?”

Her voice had now a piercing indignation and force. “Yes, Philip
d’Avranche, it is as I say, justice will come to me. The world turned
against me because of you; I have been shamed and disgraced. For years
I have suffered in silence. But I have waited without fear for the end.
God is with me. He is stronger than fortune or fate. He has brought you
to Jersey once more, to right my wrongs, mine and my child’s.”

She saw his eyes flash to the little curtained bed. They both stood
silent and still. He could hear the child breathing. His blood
quickened. An impulse seized him. He took a step towards the bed, as
though to draw the curtain, but she quickly moved between.

“Never,” she said in a low stern tone; “no touch of yours for my
Guilbert--for my son! Every minute of his life has been mine. He is
mine--all mine--and so he shall remain. You who gambled with the name,
the fame, the very soul of your wife, you shall not have one breath of
her child’s life.”

It was as if the outward action of life was suspended in them for a
moment, and then came the battle of two strong spirits: the struggle
of fretful and indulged egotism, the impulse of a vigorous temperament,
against a deep moral force, a high purity of mind and conscience, and
the invincible love of the mother for the child. Time, bitterness, and
power had hardened Philip’s mind, and his long-restrained emotions,
breaking loose now, made him a passionate and wilful figure. His force
lay in the very unruliness of his spirit, hers in the perfect command of
her moods and emotions. Well equipped by the thoughts and sufferings of
five long years, her spirit was trained to meet this onset with fiery
wisdom. They were like two armies watching each other across a narrow
stream, between one conflict and another.

For a minute they stood at gaze. The only sounds in the room were the
whirring of the fire in the chimney and the child’s breathing. At last
Philip’s intemperate self-will gave way. There was no withstanding that
cold, still face, that unwavering eye. Only brutality could go further.
The nobility of her nature, her inflexible straight-forwardness came
upon him with overwhelming force. Dressed in molleton, with no adornment
save the glow of a perfect health, she seemed at this moment, as on the
Ecrehos, the one being on earth worth living and caring for. What had he
got for all the wrong he had done her? Nothing. Come what might, there
was one thing that he could yet do, and even as the thought possessed
him he spoke.

“Guida,” he said with rushing emotion, “it is not too late. Forgive the
past-the wrong of it, the shame of it. You are my wife; nothing can undo
that. The other woman--she is nothing to me. If we part and never meet
again she will suffer no more than she suffers to go on with me. She
has never loved me, nor I her. Ambition did it all, and of ambition God
knows I have had enough! Let me proclaim our marriage, let me come back
to you. Then, happen what will, for the rest of our lives I will try to
atone for the wrong I did you. I want you, I want our child. I want to
win your love again. I can’t wipe out what I have done, but I can put
you right before the world, I can prove to you that I set you above
place and ambition. If you shrink from doing it for me, do it”--he
glanced towards the bed--“do it for our child. To-morrow--to-morrow
it shall be, if you will forgive. To-morrow let us start
again--Guida--Guida!”

She did not answer at once; but at last she said “Giving up place
and ambition would prove nothing now. It is easy to repent when our
pleasures have palled. I told you in a letter four years ago that your
protests came too late. They are always too late. With a nature like
yours nothing is sure or lasting. Everything changes with the mood. It
is different with me: I speak only what I truly mean. Believe me, for
I tell you the truth, you are a man that a woman could forget but could
never forgive. As a prince you are much better than as a plain man, for
princes may do what other men may not. It is their way to take all and
give nothing. You should have been born a prince, then all your actions
would have seemed natural. Yet now you must remain a prince, for what
you got at such a price to others you must pay for. You say you would
come down from your high place, you would give up your worldly honours,
for me. What madness! You are not the kind of man with whom a woman
could trust herself in the troubles and changes of life. Laying all else
aside, if I would have had naught of your honours and your duchy long
ago, do you think I would now share a disgrace from which you could
never rise? For in my heart I feel that this remorse is but caprice. It
is to-day; it may not--will not--be tomorrow.”

“You are wrong, you are wrong. I am honest with you now,” he broke in.

“No,” she answered coldly, “it is not in you to be honest. Your words
have no ring of truth in my ears, for the note is the same as I heard
once upon the Ecrehos. I was a young girl then and I believed; I am a
woman now, and I should still disbelieve though all the world were on
your side to declare me wrong. I tell you”--her voice rose again,
it seemed to catch the note of freedom and strength of the storm
without--“I tell you, I will still live as my heart and conscience
prompt me. The course I have set for myself I will follow; the life I
entered upon when my child was born I will not leave. No word you have
said has made my heart beat faster. You and I can never have anything
to say to each other in this life, beyond”--her voice changed, she
paused--“beyond one thing--”

Going to the bed where the child lay, she drew the curtain softly, and
pointing, she said:

“There is my child. I have set my life to the one task, to keep him to
myself, and yet to win for him the heritage of the dukedom of Bercy. You
shall yet pay to him the price of your wrong-doing.”

She drew back slightly so that he could see the child lying with its
rosy face half buried in its pillow, the little hand lying like a flower
upon the coverlet.

Once more with a passionate exclamation he moved nearer to the child.

“No farther!” she said, stepping before him.

When she saw the wild impulse in his face to thrust her aside, she
added: “It is only the shameless coward that strikes the dead. You had
a wife--Guida d’Avranche, but Guida d’Avranche is dead. There only lives
the mother of this child, Guida Landresse de Landresse.”

She looked at him with scorn, almost with hatred. Had he touched
her--but she would rather pity than loathe!

Her words roused all the devilry in him. The face of the child had sent
him mad.

“By Heaven, I will have the child--I will have the child!” he broke out
harshly. “You shall not treat me like a dog. You know well I would have
kept you as my wife, but your narrow pride, your unjust anger threw me
over. You have wronged me. I tell you you have wronged me, for you held
the secret of the child from me all these years.”

“The whole world knew!” she exclaimed indignantly. “I will break your
pride,” he said, incensed and unable to command himself. “Mark you, I
will break your pride. And I will have my child too!”

“Establish to the world your right to him,” she answered keenly. “You
have the right to acknowledge him, but the possession shall be mine.”

He was the picture of impotent anger and despair. It was the irony of
penalty that the one person in the world who could really sting him was
this unacknowledged, almost unknown woman. She was the only human being
that had power to shatter his egotism and resolve him into the common
elements of a base manhood. Of little avail his eloquence now! He had
cajoled a sovereign dukedom out of an aged and fatuous prince; he had
cajoled a wife, who yet was no wife, from among the highest of a royal
court; he had cajoled success from Fate by a valour informed with vanity
and ambition; years ago, with eloquent arts he had cajoled a young girl
into a secret marriage--but he could no longer cajole the woman who was
his one true wife. She knew him through and through.

He was so wild with rage he could almost have killed her as she stood
there, one hand stretched out to protect the child, the other pointing
to the door.

He seized his hat and cloak and laid his hand upon the latch, then
suddenly turned to her. A dark project came to him. He himself could not
prevail with her; but he would reach her yet, through the child. If the
child were in his hands, she would come to him.

“Remember, I will have the child,” he said, his face black with evil
purpose.

She did not deign reply, but stood fearless and still, as, throwing open
the door, he rushed out into the night. She listened until she heard his
horse’s hoofs upon the rocky upland. Then she went to the door, locked
it, and barred it. Turning, she ran with a cry as of hungry love to the
little bed. Crushing the child to her bosom, she buried her face in his
brown curls.

“My son, my own, own son!” she said.



CHAPTER XXXVIII

If at times it would seem that Nature’s disposition of the events of a
life or a series of lives is illogical, at others she would seem to
play them with an irresistible logic--loosing them, as it were, in
a trackless forest of experience, and in some dramatic hour, by an
inevitable attraction, drawing them back again to a destiny fulfilled.
In this latter way did she seem to lay her hand upon the lives of Philip
d’Avranche and Guida Landresse.

At the time that Elie Mattingley, in Jersey, was awaiting hanging on
the Mont es Pendus, and writing his letter to Carterette concerning
the stolen book of church records, in a town of Brittany the Reverend
Lorenzo Dow lay dying. The army of the Vendee, under Detricand Comte de
Tournay, had made a last dash at a small town held by a section of the
Republican army, and captured it. On the prisons being opened, Detricand
had discovered in a vile dungeon the sometime curate of St. Michael’s
Church in Jersey. When they entered on him, wasted and ragged he lay
asleep on his bed of rotten straw, his fingers between the leaves of a
book of meditations. Captured five years before and forgotten alike
by the English and French Governments, he had apathetically pined and
starved to these last days of his life.

Recognising him, Detricand carried him in his strong arms to his own
tent. For many hours the helpless man lay insensible, but at last the
flickering spirit struggled back to light for a little space. When first
conscious of his surroundings, the poor captive felt tremblingly in the
pocket of his tattered vest. Not finding what he searched for, he half
started up. Detricand hastened forward with a black leather-covered book
in his hand. Mr. Dow’s thin trembling fingers clutched eagerly--it was
his only passion--at this journal of his life. As his grasp closed on
it, he recognised Detricand, and at the same time he saw the cross and
heart of the Vendee on his coat.

A victorious little laugh struggled in his throat. “The Lord hath
triumphed gloriously--I could drink some wine, monsieur,” he added in
the same quaint clerical monotone.

Having drunk the wine he lay back murmuring thanks and satisfaction, his
eyes closed. Presently they opened. He nodded at Detricand.

“I have not tasted wine these five years,” he said; then added,
“You--you took too much wine in Jersey, did you not, monsieur? I used to
say an office for you every Litany day, which was of a Friday.”

His eyes again caught the cross and heart on Detricand’s coat, and they
lighted up a little. “The Lord hath triumphed gloriously,” he repeated,
and added irrelevantly, “I suppose you are almost a captain now?”

“A general--almost,” said Detricand with gentle humour.

At that moment an orderly appeared at the tent-door, bearing a letter
for Detricand.

“From General Grandjon-Larisse of the Republican army, your highness,”
 said the orderly, handing the letter. “The messenger awaits an answer.”

As Detricand hastily read, a look of astonishment crossed over his face,
and his brows gathered in perplexity. After a minute’s silence he said
to the orderly:

“I will send a reply to-morrow.”

“Yes, your highness.” The orderly saluted and retired.

Mr. Dow half raised himself on his couch, and the fevered eyes swallowed
Detricand.

“You--you are a prince, monsieur?” he said. Detricand glanced up from
the letter he was reading again, a grave and troubled look on his face.

“Prince of Vaufontaine they call me, but, as you know, I am only a
vagabond turned soldier,” he said. The dying man smiled to himself,--a
smile of the sweetest vanity this side of death,--for it seemed to
him that the Lord had granted him this brand from the burning, and in
supreme satisfaction, he whispered: “I used to say an office for you
every Litany--which was a Friday, and twice, I remember, on two Saints’
days.”

Suddenly another thought came to him, and his lips moved--he was
murmuring to himself. He would leave a goodly legacy to the captive of
his prayers.

Taking the leather-covered journal of his life in both hands, he held it
out.

“Highness, highness--” said he. Death was breaking the voice in his
throat.

Detricand stooped and ran an arm round his shoulder, but raising himself
up Mr. Dow gently pushed him back. The strength of his supreme hour was
on him.

“Highness,” said he, “I give you the book of five years of my life--not
of its every day, but of its moments, its great days. Read it,” he
added, “read it wisely. Your own name is in it--with the first time I
said an office for you.” His breath failed him, he fell back, and lay
quiet for several minutes.

“You used to take too much wine,” he said half wildly, starting up
again. “Permit me your hand, highness.”

Detricand dropped on his knee and took the wasted hand. Mr. Dow’s
eyes were glazing fast. With a last effort he spoke--his voice like a
squeaking wind in a pipe:

“The Lord hath triumphed gloriously--” and he leaned forward to kiss
Detricand’s hand.

But Death intervened, and his lips fell instead upon the red cross on
Detricand’s breast, as he sank forward lifeless.

That night, after Lorenzo Dow was laid in his grave, Detricand read the
little black leather-covered journal bequeathed to him. Of the years of
his captivity the records were few; the book was chiefly concerned with
his career in Jersey. Detricand read page after page, more often with
a smile than not; yet it was the smile of one who knew life and would
scarce misunderstand the eccentric and honest soul of the Reverend
Lorenzo Dow.

Suddenly, however, he started, for he came upon these lines:

   I have, in great privacy and with halting of spirit, married, this
   twenty-third of January, Mr. Philip d’Avranche of His Majesty’s ship
   “Narcissus,” and Mistress Guida Landresse de Landresse, both of this
   Island of Jersey; by special license of the Bishop of Winchester.

To this was added in comment:

   Unchurchmanlike, and most irregular. But the young gentleman’s
   tongue is gifted, and he pressed his cause heartily. Also Mr.
   Shoreham of the Narcissus--“Mad Shoreham of Galway” his father was
   called--I knew him--added his voice to the request also. Troubled
   in conscience thereby, yet I did marry the twain gladly, for I think
   a worthier maid never lived than this same Mistress Guida Landresse
   de Landresse, of the ancient family of the de Mauprats. Yet I like
   not secrecy, though it be but for a month or two months--on my vow,
   I like it not for one hour.

   Note: At leisure read of the family history of the de Mauprats and
   the d’Avranches.

   N.: No more secret marriages nor special licenses--most uncanonical
   privileges!

   N.: For ease of conscience write to His Grace at Lambeth upon the
   point.

Detricand sprang to his feet. So this was the truth about Philip
d’Avranche, about Guida, alas!

He paced the tent, his brain in a whirl. Stopping at last, he took
from his pocket the letter received that afternoon from General
Grandjon-Larisse, and read it through again hurriedly. It proposed a
truce, and a meeting with himself at a village near, for conference upon
the surrender of Detricand’s small army.

“A bitter end to all our fighting,” said Detricand aloud at last. “But
he is right. It is now a mere waste of life. I know my course.... Even
to-night,” he added, “it shall be to-night.”

Two hours later Detricand, Prince of Vaufontaine, was closeted with
General Grandjon-Larisse at a village half-way between the Republican
army and the broken bands of the Vendee.

As lads Detricand and Grandjon-Larisse had known each other well. But
since the war began Grandjon-Larisse had gone one way, and he had gone
the other, bitter enemies in principle but friendly enough at heart.

They had not seen each other since the year before Rullecour’s invasion
of Jersey.

“I had hoped to see you by sunset, monseigneur,” said Grandjon-Larisse
after they had exchanged greetings.

“It is through a melancholy chance you see me at all,” replied Detricand
heavily.

“To what piteous accident am I indebted?” Grandjon-Larisse replied in
an acid tone, for war had given his temper an edge. “Were not my reasons
for surrender sound? I eschewed eloquence--I gave you facts.”

Detricand shook his head, but did not reply at once. His brow was
clouded.

“Let me speak fully and bluntly now,” Grandjon-Larisse went on. “You
will not shrink from plain truths, I know. We were friends ere you went
adventuring with Rullecour. We are soldiers too; and you will understand
I meant no bragging in my letter.”

He raised his brows inquiringly, and Detricand inclined his head in
assent.

Without more ado, Grandjon-Larisse laid a map on the table. “This will
help us,” he said briefly, then added: “Look you, Prince, when war began
the game was all with you. At Thouars here”--his words followed
his finger--“at Fontenay, at Saumur, at Torfou, at Coron, at
Chateau-Gonthier, at Pontorson, at Dol, at Antrain, you had us by the
heels. Victory was ours once to your thrice. Your blood was up. You had
great men--great men,” he repeated politely.

Detricand bowed. “But see how all is changed,” continued the
other. “See: by this forest of Vesins de la Rochejaquelein fell. At
Chollet”--his finger touched another point--“Bonchamp died, and here
d’Elbee and Lescure were mortally wounded. At Angers Stofflet was sent
to his account, and Charette paid the price at Nantes.” He held up his
fingers. “One--two--three--four--five--six great men gone!”

He paused, took a step away from the table, and came back again.

Once more he dropped his finger on the map. “Tinteniac is gone, and at
Quiberon Peninsula your friend Sombreuil was slain. And look you here,”
 he added in a lower voice, “at Laval my old friend the Prince of Talmont
was executed at his own chateau, where I had spent many an hour with
him.”

Detricand’s eyes flashed fire. “Why then permit the murder, monsieur le
general?”

Grandjon-Larisse started, his voice became hard at once. “It is not
a question of Talmont, or of you, or of me, monseigneur. It is not a
question of friendship, not even of father, or brother, or son--but of
France.”

“And of God and the King,” said Detricand quickly.

Grandjon-Larisse shrugged his shoulders. “We see with different eyes. We
think with different minds,” and he stooped over the map again.

“We feel with different hearts,” said Detricand. “There is the
difference between us--between your cause and mine. You are all for
logic and perfection in government, and to get it you go mad, and France
is made a shambles--”

“War is cruelty, and none can make it gentle,” interrupted
Grandjon-Larisse. He turned to the map once more. “And see, monseigneur,
here at La Vie your uncle the Prince of Vaufontaine died, leaving you
his name and a burden of hopeless war. Now count them all over--de la
Rochejaquelein, Bonchamp, d’Elbee, Lescure, Stofflet, Charette, Talmont,
Tinteniac, Sombreuil, Vaufontaine--they are all gone, your great men.
And who of chieftains and armies are left? Detricand of Vaufontaine
and a few brave men--no more. Believe me, monseigneur, your game is
hopeless--by your grace, one moment still,” he added, as Detricand made
an impatient gesture. “Hoche destroyed your army and subdued the country
two years ago. You broke out again, and Hoche and I have beaten you
again. Fight on, with your doomed followers--brave men I admit--and
Hoche will have no mercy. I can save your peasants if you will yield
now.

“We have had enough of blood. Let us have peace. To proceed is certain
death to all, and your cause worse lost. On my honour, monseigneur, I do
this at some risk, in memory of old days. I have lost too many friends,”
 he added in a lower voice.

Detricand was moved. “I thank you for this honest courtesy. I had almost
misread your letter,” he answered. “Now I will speak freely. I had hoped
to leave my bones in Brittany. It was my will to fight to the last, with
my doomed followers as you call them--comrades and lovers of France I
say. And it was their wish to die with me. Till this afternoon I had no
other purpose. Willing deaths ours, for I am persuaded, for every one
of us that dies, a hundred men will rise up again and take revenge upon
this red debauch of government!”

“Have a care,” said Grandjon-Larisse with sudden anger, his hand
dropping upon the handle of his sword.

“I ask leave for plain beliefs as you asked leave for plain words.
I must speak my mind, and I will say now that it has changed in this
matter of fighting and surrender. I will tell you what has changed it,”
 and Detricand drew from his pocket Lorenzo Dow’s journal. “It concerns
both you and me.”

Grandjon-Larisse flashed a look of inquiry at him. “It concerns your
cousin the Comtesse Chantavoine and Philip d’Avranche, who calls himself
her husband and Duc de Bercy.”

He opened the journal, and handed it to Grandjon-Larisse. “Read,” he
said.

As Grandjon-Larisse read, an oath broke from him. “Is this authentic,
monseigneur?” he said in blank astonishment “and the woman still lives?”

Detricand told him all he knew, and added:

“A plain duty awaits us both, monsieur le general. You are concerned for
the Comtesse Chantavoine; I am concerned for the Duchy of Bercy and for
this poor lady--this poor lady in Jersey,” he added.

Grandjon-Larisse was white with rage. “The upstart! The English
brigand!” he said between his teeth.

“You see now,” said Detricand, “that though it was my will to die
fighting your army in the last trench--”

“Alone, I fear,” interjected Grandjon-Larisse with curt admiration.

“My duty and my purpose go elsewhere,” continued Detricand. “They take
me to Jersey. And yours, monsieur?”

Grandjon-Larisse beat his foot impatiently on the floor. “For the
moment I cannot stir in this, though I would give my life to do so,” he
answered bitterly. “I am but now recalled to Paris by the Directory.”

He stopped short in his restless pacing and held out his hand.

“We are at one,” he said--“friends in this at least. Command me when
and how you will. Whatever I can I will do, even at risk and peril. The
English brigand!” he added bitterly. “But for this insult to my blood,
to the noble Chantavoine, he shall pay the price to me--yes, by the heel
of God!”

“I hope to be in Jersey three days hence,” said Detricand.



CHAPTER XXXIX

The bell on the top of the Cohue Royale clattered like the tongue of a
scolding fishwife. For it was the fourth of October, and the opening of
the Assise d’Heritage.

This particular session of the Court was to proceed with unusual spirit
and importance, for after the reading of the King’s Proclamation, the
Royal Court and the States were to present the formal welcome of the
island to Admiral Prince Philip d’Avranche, Duc de Bercy; likewise to
offer a bounty to all Jerseymen enlisting under him.

The island was en fete. There had not been such a year of sensations
since the Battle of Jersey. Long before chicane--chicane ceased clanging
over the Vier Marchi the body of the Court was filled. The Governor, the
Bailly, the jurats, the seigneurs and the dames des fiefs, the avocats
with their knowledge of the ancient custom of Normandy and the devious
inroads made upon it by the customs of Jersey, the military, all were in
their places; the officers of the navy had arrived, all save one and
he was to be the chief figure of this function. With each arrival the
people cheered and the trumpets blared. The islanders in the Vier Marchi
turned to the booths for refreshments, or to the printing-machine set
up near La Pyramide, and bought halfpenny chapsheets telling of recent
defeats of the French; though mostly they told in ebullient words of
the sea-fight which had made Philip d’Avranche an admiral, and of his
elevation to a sovereign dukedom. The crowds restlessly awaited his
coming now.

Inside the Court there was more restlessness still. It was now many
minutes beyond the hour fixed. The Bailly whispered to the Governor, the
Governor to his aide, and the aide sought the naval officers present;
but these could give no explanation of the delay. The Comtesse
Chantavoine was in her place of honour beside the Attorney-General--but
Prince Philip and his flag-lieutenant came not.

The Comtesse Chantavoine was the one person outwardly unmoved. What
she thought, who could tell? Hundreds of eyes scanned her face, yet
she seemed unconscious of them, indifferent to them. What would not the
Bailly have given for her calmness! What would not the Greffier have
given for her importance! She drew every eye by virtue of something
which was more than the name of Duchesse de Bercy. The face, the
bearing, had an unconscious dignity, a living command and composure: the
heritage, perhaps, of a race ever more fighters than courtiers, rather
desiring good sleep after good warfare than luxurious peace.

The silence, the tension grew painful. A whole half hour had the Court
waited beyond its time. At last, however, cheers arose outside, and all
knew that the Prince was coming. Presently the doors were thrown open,
two halberdiers stepped inside, and an officer of the Court announced
Admiral his Serene Highness Prince Philip d’Avranche, Duc de Bercy.

“Oui-gia, think of that!” said a voice from somewhere in the hall.

Philip heard it, and he frowned, for he recognised Dormy Jamais’s voice.
Where it came from he knew not, nor did any one; for the daft one was
snugly bestowed above a middle doorway in what was half balcony, half
cornice.

When Philip had taken his place beside the Comtesse Chantavoine, came
the formal opening of the Cour d’Heritage.

The Comtesse’s eyes fixed themselves upon Philip. There was that in
his manner which puzzled and evaded her clear intuition. Some strange
circumstance must have delayed him, for she saw that his flag-lieutenant
was disturbed, and this she felt sure was not due to delay alone. She
was barely conscious that the Bailly had been addressing Philip, until
he had stopped and Philip had risen to reply.

He had scarcely begun speaking when the doors were suddenly thrown open
again, and a woman came forward quickly. The instant she entered Philip
saw her, and stopped speaking. Every one turned.

It was Guida. In the silence, looking neither to right nor left, she
advanced almost to where the Greffier sat, and dropping on her knee and
looking up to the Bailly and the jurats, stretched out her hands and
cried:

“Haro, haro! A l’aide, mon Prince, on me fait tort!”

If one rose from the dead suddenly to command them to an awed obedience,
Jerseymen could not be more at the mercy of the apparition than at the
call of one who cries in their midst, “Haro! Haro!”--that ancient relic
of the custom of Normandy and Rollo the Dane. To this hour the Jerseyman
maketh his cry unto Rollo, and the Royal Court--whose right to respond
to this cry was confirmed by King John and afterwards by Charles--must
listen, and every one must heed. That cry of Haro makes the workman
drop his tools, the woman her knitting, the militiaman his musket, the
fisherman his net, the schoolmaster his birch, and the ecrivain his
babble, to await the judgment of the Royal Court.

Every jurat fixed his eye upon Guida as though she had come to claim his
life. The Bailly’s lips opened twice as though to speak, but no words
came. The Governor sat with hands clinched upon his chairarm. The crowd
breathed in gasps of excitement. The Comtesse Chantavoine looked at
Philip, looked at Guida, and knew that here was the opening of the
scroll she had not been able to unfold. Now she should understand that
something which had made the old Duc de Bercy with his last breath say,
Don’t be afraid!

Philip stood moveless, his eyes steady, his face bitter, determined. Yet
there was in his look, fixed upon Guida, some strange mingling of pity
and purpose. It was as though two spirits were fighting in his face for
mastery. The Countess touched him upon the arm, but he took no notice.
Drawing back in her seat she looked at him and at Guida, as one might
watch the balances of justice weighing life and death. She could not
read this story, but one glance at the faces of the crowd round her made
her aware that here was a tale of the past which all knew in little or
in much.

“Haro! haro! A l’aide, mon Prince, on me fait tort!” What did she
mean, this woman with the exquisite face, alive with power and feeling,
indignation and appeal? To what prince did she cry?--for what aid? who
trespassed upon her?

The Bailly now stood up, a frown upon his face. He knew what scandal had
said concerning Guida and Philip. He had never liked Guida, for in the
first days of his importance she had, for a rudeness upon his part meant
as a compliment, thrown his hat--the Lieutenant-Bailly’s hat--into the
Fauxbie by the Vier Prison. He thought her intrusive thus to stay these
august proceedings of the Royal Court, by an appeal for he knew not
what.

“What is the trespass, and who the trespasser?” asked the Bailly
sternly.

Guida rose to her feet.

“Philip d’Avranche has trespassed,” she said. “What Philip d’Avranche,
mademoiselle?” asked the Bailly in a rough, ungenerous tone.

“Admiral Philip d’Avranche, known as his Serene Highness the Duc de
Bercy, has trespassed on me,” she answered.

She did not look at Philip, her eyes were fixed upon the Bailly and the
jurats.

The Bailly whispered to one or two jurats. “Wherein is the trespass?”
 asked the Bailly sharply. “Tell your story.”

After an instant’s painful pause, Guida told her tale.

“Last night at Plemont,” she said in a voice trembling a little at first
but growing stronger as she went on, “I left my child, my Guilbert, in
his bed, with Dormy Jamais to watch beside him, while I went to my boat
which lies far from my hut. I left Dormy Jamais with the child because
I was afraid--because I had been afraid, these three days past, that
Philip d’Avranche would steal him from me. I was gone but half an hour;
it was dark when I returned. I found the door open, I found Dormy Jamais
lying unconscious on the floor, and my child’s bed empty. My child was
gone. He was stolen from me by Philip d’Avranche, Duc de Bercy.”

“What proof have you that it was the Duc de Bercy?” asked the Bailly.

“I have told your honour that Dormy Jamais was there. He struck Dormy
Jamais to the ground, and rode off with my child.”

The Bailly sniffed.

“Dormy Jamais is a simpleton--an idiot.”

“Then let the Prince speak,” she answered quickly. She turned and looked
Philip in the eyes. He did not answer a word. He had not moved since she
entered the court-room. He kept his eyes fixed on her, save for one or
two swift glances towards the jurats. The crisis of his life had come.
He was ready to meet it now: anything would be better than all he had
gone through during the past ten days. In mad impulse he had stolen the
child, with the wild belief that through it he could reach Guida, could
bring her to him. For now this woman who despised him, hated him, he
desired more than all else in the world. Ambition has her own means of
punishing. For her gifts of place or fortune she puts some impossible
hunger in the soul of the victim which leads him at last to his own
destruction. With all the world conquered there is still some mystic
island of which she whispers, and to gain this her votary risks all--and
loses all.

The Bailly saw by Philip’s face that Guida had spoken truth. But he
whispered with the jurats eagerly, and presently he said with brusque
decision:

“Our law of Haro may only apply to trespass upon property. Its intent is
merely civil.”

Which having said he opened and shut his mouth with gusto, and sat back
as though expecting Guida to retire.

“Your law of Haro, monsieur le Bailly!” Guida answered with flashing
eyes, her voice ringing out fearlessly. “Your law of Haro! The law of
Haro comes from the custom of Normandy, which is the law of Jersey. You
make its intent this, you make it that, but nothing can alter the law,
and what has been done in its name for generations. Is it so, that if
Philip d’Avranche trespass on my land, or my hearth, I may cry Haro,
haro! and you will take heed? But when it is blood of my blood, bone of
my bone, flesh of my flesh that he has wickedly seized; when it is the
head I have pillowed on my breast for four years--the child that has
known no father, his mother’s only companion in her unearned shame, the
shame of an outcast--then is it so that your law of Haro may not apply?
Messieurs, it is the justice of Haro that I ask, not your lax usage of
it. From this Prince Philip I appeal to the spirit of Prince Rollo who
made this law. I appeal to the law of Jersey which is the Custom of
Normandy. There are precedents enough, as you well know, messieurs. I
demand--I demand--my child.”

The Bailly and the jurats were in a hopeless quandary. They glanced
furtively at Philip. They were half afraid that she was right, and yet
were timorous of deciding against the Prince.

She saw their hesitation. “I call on you to fulfil the law. I have cried
Haro, haro! and what I have cried men will hear outside this Court,
outside this Isle of Jersey; for I appeal against a sovereign duke of
Europe.”

The Bailly and the jurats were overwhelmed by the situation. Guida’s
brain was a hundred times clearer than theirs. Danger, peril to her
child, had aroused in her every force of intelligence; she had the
daring, the desperation of the lioness fighting for her own.

Philip himself solved the problem. Turning to the bench of jurats, he
said quietly:

“She is quite right; the law of Haro is with her. It must apply.”

The Court was in a greater maze than ever. Was he then about to restore
to Guida her child? After an instant’s pause Philip continued:

“But in this case there was no trespass, for the child--is my own.”

Every eye in the Cohue Royale fixed itself upon him, then upon Guida,
then upon her who was known as the Duchesse de Bercy. The face of the
Comtesse Chantavoine was like snow, white and cold. As the words were
spoken a sigh broke from her, and there came to Philip’s mind that
distant day in the council chamber at Bercy when for one moment he was
upon his trial; but he did not turn and look at her now. It was all
pitiable, horrible; but this open avowal, insult as it was to the
Comtesse Chantavoine, could be no worse than the rumours which would
surely have reached her one day. So let the game fare on. He had thrown
down the glove now, and he could not see the end; he was playing for one
thing only--for the woman he had lost, for his own child. If everything
went by the board, why, it must go by the board. It all flashed
through his brain: to-morrow he must send in his resignation to the
Admiralty--so much at once. Then Bercy--come what might, there was work
for him to do at Bercy. He was a sovereign duke of Europe, as Guida had
said. He would fight for the duchy for his son’s sake. Standing there he
could feel again the warm cheek of the child upon his own, as last night
he felt it riding across the island from Plemont to the village near
Mont Orgueil. That very morning he had hurried down to a little cottage
in the village and seen it lying asleep, well cared for by a peasant
woman. He knew that to-morrow the scandal of the thing would belong to
the world, but he was not dismayed. He had tossed his fame as an admiral
into the gutter, but Bercy still was left. All the native force, the
stubborn vigour, the obdurate spirit of the soil of Jersey of which he
was, its arrogant self-will, drove him straight into this last issue.
What he had got at so much cost he would keep against all the world. He
would--

But he stopped short in his thoughts, for there now at the court-room
door stood Detricand, the Chouan chieftain.

He drew his hand quickly across his eyes. It seemed so wild, so
fantastic, that of all men, Detricand should be there. His gaze was so
fixed that every one turned to see--every one save Guida.

Guida was not conscious of this new figure in the scene. In her heart
was fierce tumult. Her hour had come at last, the hour in which she must
declare that she was the wife of this man. She had no proofs. No doubt
he would deny it now, for he knew how she loathed him. But she must tell
her tale.

She was about to address the Bailly, but, as though a pang of pity
shot, through her heart, she turned instead and looked at the Comtesse
Chantavoine. She could find it in her to pause in compassion for this
poor lady, more wronged than herself had been. Their eyes met. One
instant’s flash of intelligence between the souls of two women, and
Guida knew that the look of the Comtesse Chantavoine had said: “Speak
for your child.”

Thereupon she spoke.

“Messieurs, Prince Philip d’Avranche is my husband.”

Every one in the court-room stirred with excitement. Some weak-nerved
woman with a child at her breast began to cry, and the little one joined
its feeble wail to hers.

“Five years ago,” Guida continued, “I was married to Philip d’Avranche
by the Reverend Lorenzo Dow in the church of St. Michael’s--”

The Bailly interrupted with a grunt. “H’m--Lorenzo Dow is well out of
the way-have done.”

“May I not then be heard in my own defence?” Guida cried in indignation.
“For years I have suffered silently slander and shame. Now I speak
for myself at last, and you will not hear me! I come to this court of
justice, and my word is doubted ere I can prove the truth. Is it for
judges to assail one so? Five years ago I was married secretly, in St.
Michael’s Church--secretly, because Philip d’Avranche urged it, pleaded
for it. An open marriage, he said, would hinder his promotion. We were
wedded, and he left me. War broke out. I remained silent according to my
promise to him. Then came the time when in the States of Bercy he denied
that he had a wife. From the hour I knew he had done so I denied him. My
child was born in shame and sorrow, I myself was outcast in this island.
But my conscience was clear before Heaven. I took myself and my child
out from among you and went to Plemont. I waited, believing that
God’s justice was surer than man’s. At last Philip d’Avranche--my
husband--returned here. He invaded my home, and begged me to come
with my child to him as his wife--he who had so evilly wronged me, and
wronged another more than me. I refused. Then he stole my child from me.
You ask for proofs of my marriage. Messieurs, I have no proofs.

“I know not where Lorenzo Dow may be found. The register of St.
Michael’s Church, as you all know, was stolen. Mr. Shoreham, who
witnessed the marriage, is dead. But you must believe me. There is one
witness left, if he will but speak--even the man who married me, the man
that for one day called me his wife. I ask him now to tell the truth.”

She turned towards Philip, her clear eyes piercing him through and
through.

What was going on in his mind neither she nor any in that Court might
ever know, for in the pause, the Comtesse Chantavoine rose up, and
passing steadily by Philip, came to Guida. Looking her in the eyes with
an incredible sorrow, she took her hand, and turned towards Philip with
infinite scorn.

A strange, thrilling silence fell upon all the Court. The jurats shifted
in their seats with excitement. The Bailly, in a hoarse, dry voice,
said:

“We must have proof. There must be record as well as witness.”

From near the great doorway came a voice saying: “The record is here,”
 and Detricand stepped forward, in his uniform of the army of the Vendee.

A hushed murmur ran round the room. The jurats whispered to each other.

“Who are you, monsieur?” said the Bailly.

“I am Detricand, Prince of Vaufontaine,” he replied, “for whom the
Comtesse Chantavoine will vouch,” he added in a pained voice, and bowed
low to her and to Guida. “I am but this hour landed. I came to Jersey on
this very matter.”

He did not wait for the Bailly to reply, but began to tell of the death
of Lorenzo Dow, and, taking from his pocket the little black journal,
opened it and read aloud the record written therein by the dead
clergyman. Having read it, he passed it on to the Greffier, who handed
it up to the Bailly. Another moment’s pause ensued. To the most ignorant
and casual of the onlookers the strain was great; to those chiefly
concerned it was supreme. The Bailly and the jurats whispered together.
Now at last a spirit of justice was roused in them. But the law’s
technicalities were still to rule.

The Bailly closed the book, and handed it back to the Greffier with the
words: “This is not proof though it is evidence.”

Guida felt her heart sink within her. The Comtesse Chantavoine, who
still held her hand, pressed it, though herself cold as ice with
sickness of spirit.

At that instant, and from Heaven knows where--as a bird comes from a
bush--a little grey man came quickly among them all, carrying spread
open before him a book almost as big as himself. Handing it up to the
Bailly, he said:

“Here is the proof, Monsieur le Bailly--here is the whole proof.”

The Bailly leaned over and drew up the book. The jurats crowded near and
a dozen heads gathered about the open volume.

At last the Bailly looked up and addressed the Court solemnly.

“It is the lost register of St. Michael’s,” he said. “It contains
the record of the marriage of Lieutenant Philip d’Avranche and Guida
Landresse de Landresse, both of the Isle of Jersey, by special license
of the Bishop of Winchester.”

“Precisely so, precisely so,” said the little grey figure--the Chevalier
Orvillier du Champsavoys de Beaumanoir. Tears ran down his cheeks as he
turned towards Guida, but he was smiling too.

Guida’s eyes were upon the Bailly. “And the child?” she cried with a
broken voice--“the child?”

“The child goes with its mother,” answered the Bailly firmly.



DURING ONE YEAR LATER



CHAPTER XL

The day that saw Guida’s restitution in the Cohue Royale brought but
further trouble to Ranulph Delagarde. The Chevalier had shown him the
lost register of St. Michael’s, and with a heart less heavy, he left
the island once more. Intending to join Detricand in the Vendee, he
had scarcely landed at St. Malo when he was seized by a press-gang and
carried aboard a French frigate commissioned to ravage the coasts of
British America. He had stubbornly resisted the press, but had been
knocked on the head, and there was an end on it.

In vain he protested that he was an Englishman. They laughed at him. His
French was perfect, his accent Norman, his was a Norman face--evidence
enough. If he was not a citizen of France he should be, and he must
be. Ranulph decided that it was needless to throw away his life. It
was better to make a show of submission. So long as he had not to fight
British ships, he could afford to wait. Time enough then for him to take
action. When the chance came he would escape this bondage; meanwhile
remembering his four years’ service with the artillery at Elizabeth
Castle, he asked to be made a gunner, and his request was granted.

The Victoire sailed the seas battle-hungry, and presently appeased her
appetite among Dutch and Danish privateers. Such excellent work did
Ranulph against the Dutchmen, that Richambeau, the captain, gave him
a gun for himself, and after they had fought the Danes made him a
master-gunner. Of the largest gun on the Victoire Ranulph grew so fond
that at last he called her ma couzaine.

Days and weeks passed, until one morning came the cry of “Land!
Land!” and once again Ranulph saw British soil--the tall cliffs of the
peninsula of Gaspe. Gaspe--that was the ultima Thule to which Mattingley
and Carterette had gone.

Presently, as the Victoire came nearer to the coast, he could see a bay
and a great rock in the distance, and, as they bore in now, the rock
seemed to stretch out like a vast wall into the gulf. As he stood
watching and leaning on ma couzaine, a sailor near him said that the bay
and the rock were called Perce.

Perce Bay--that was the exact point for which Elie Mattingley and
Carterette had sailed with Sebastian Alixandre. How strange it was! He
had bidden Carterette good-bye for ever, yet fate had now brought him to
the very spot whither she had gone.

The Rock of Perce was a wall, three hundred feet high, and the wall
was an island that had once been a long promontory like a battlement,
jutting out hundreds of yards into the gulf. At one point it was pierced
by an archway. It was almost sheer; its top was flat and level. Upon
the sides there was no verdure; upon the top centuries had made a green
field. The wild geese as they flew northward, myriad flocks of gulls,
gannets, cormorants, and all manner of fowl of the sea, had builded upon
the summit until it was rich with grass and shrubs. The nations of the
air sent their legions here to bivouac, and the discord of a hundred
languages might be heard far out to sea, far in upon the land. Millions
of the races of the air swarmed there; at times the air above was
darkened by clouds of them. No fog-bell on a rock-bound coast might
warn mariners more ominously than these battalions of adventurers on the
Perce Rock.

No human being had ever mounted to this eyrie. Generations of fishermen
had looked upon the yellowish-red limestone of the Perce Rock with a
valorous eye, but it would seem that not even the tiny clinging hoof of
a chamois or wild goat might find a foothold upon the straight sides of
it.

Ranulph was roused out of the spell Perce cast over him by seeing the
British flag upon a building by the shore of the bay they were now
entering. His heart gave a great bound. Yes, it was the English flag
defiantly flying. And more--there were two old 12 pounders being trained
on the French squadron. For the first time in years a low laugh burst
from his lips.

“O mai grand doux,” he said in the Jersey patois, “only one man in the
world would do that. Only Elie Mattingley!”

At that moment, Mattingley now issued from a wooden fishing-shed with
Sebastian Alixandre and three others armed with muskets, and passed
to the little fort on which flew the British and Jersey flags. Ranulph
heard a guffaw behind. Richambeau, the captain, confronted him.

“That’s a big splutter in a little pot, gunner,” said he. He put his
telescope to his eye. “The Lord protect us,” he cried, “they’re going to
fight my ship!” He laughed again till the tears came. “Son of Peter,
but it is droll that--a farce au diable! They have humour, these
fisher-folk, eh, gunner?”

“Mattingley will fight you just the same,” answered Ranulph coolly.

“Oh ho, you know these people, my gunner?” asked Richambeau.

“All my life,” answered Ranulph, “and, by your leave, I will tell you
how.”

Not waiting for permission, after the manner of his country, he told
Richambeau of his Jersey birth and bringing up, and how he was the
victim of the pressgang.

“Very good,” said Richambeau. “You Jersey folk were once Frenchmen, and
now that you’re French again, you shall do something for the flag. You
see that 12-pounder yonder to the right? Very well, dismount it. Then
we’ll send in a flag of truce, and parley with this Mattingley, for
his jests are worth attention and politeness. There’s a fellow at the
gun--no, he has gone. Dismount the right-hand gun at one shot. Ready
now. Get a good range.”

The whole matter went through Ranulph’s mind as the captain spoke. If he
refused to fire, he would be strung up to the yardarm; if he fired and
missed, perhaps other gunners would fire, and once started they might
raze the fishing-post. If he dismounted the gun, the matter would
probably remain only a jest, for such as yet Richambeau regarded it.

Ranulph ordered the tackle and breechings cast away, had off the apron,
pricked a cartridge, primed, bruised the priming, and covered the vent.
Then he took his range steadily, quietly. There was a brisk wind
blowing from the south--he must allow for that; but the wind was stopped
somewhat in its course by the Perch Rock--he must allow for that.

All was ready. Suddenly a girl came running round the corner of the
building.

It was Carterette. She was making for the right-hand gun. Ranulph
started, the hand that held the match trembled.

“Fire, you fool, or you’ll kill the girl!” cried Richambeau.

Ranulph laid a hand on himself as it were. Every nerve in his body
tingled, his legs trembled, but his eye was steady. He took the sight
once more coolly, then blew on the match. Now the girl was within thirty
feet of the gun.

He quickly blew on the match again, and fired. When the smoke cleared
away he saw that the gun was dismounted, and not ten feet from it stood
Carterette looking at it dazedly.

He heard a laugh behind him. There was Richambeau walking away,
telescope under arm, even as the other 12-pounder on shore replied
impudently to the gun he had fired.

“A good aim,” he heard Richambeau say, jerking a finger backward towards
him.

Was it then? said Ranulph to himself; was it indeed? Ba su, it was the
last shot he would ever fire against aught English, here or elsewhere.

Presently he saw a boat drawing away with the flag of truce in the hands
of a sous-lieutenant. His mind was made up; he would escape to-night.
His place was there beside his fellow-countrymen. He motioned away the
men of the gun. He would load ma couzaine himself for the last time.

As he sponged the gun he made his plans. Swish-swash the sponge-staff
ran in and out--he would try to steal away at dog-watch. He struck the
sponge smartly on ma couzaine’s muzzle, cleansing it--he would have to
slide into the water like a rat and swim very softly to the shore. He
reached for a fresh cartridge, and thrust it into the throat of the gun,
and as the seam was laid downwards he said to himself that he could swim
under water, if discovered as he left the Victoire. As he unstopped the
touch-hole and tried with the priming-wire whether the cartridge was
home, he was stunned by a fresh thought.

Richambeau would send a squad of men to search for him, and if he
was not found they would probably raze the Post, or take its people
prisoners. As he put the apron carefully on ma couzaine, he determined
that he could not take refuge with the Mattingleys. Neither would it
do to make for the woods of the interior, for still Richambeau might
revenge himself on the fishing-post. What was to be done? He turned his
eyes helplessly on Perce Rock.

As he looked, a new idea came to him. If only he could get to the top of
that massive wall, not a hundred fleets could dislodge him. One musket
could defeat the forlorn hope of any army. Besides, if he took refuge
on the rock, there could be no grudge against Perce village or the
Mattingleys, and Richambeau would not injure them.

He eyed the wall closely. The blazing sunshine showed it up in a hard
light, and he studied every square yard of it with a telescope. At
one point the wall was not quite perpendicular. There were also narrow
ledges, lumps of stone, natural steps and little pinnacles which the
fingers could grip and where man might rest. Yes, he would try it.

It was the last quarter of the moon, and the neaptide was running low
when he let himself softly down into the water from the Victoire. The
blanket tied on his head held food kept from his rations, with stone
and flint and other things. He was not seen, and he dropped away quietly
astern, getting clear of the Victoire while the moon was partially
obscured.

Now it was a question when his desertion would be discovered. All he
asked was two clear hours. By that time the deed would be done, if he
could climb Perce Rock at all.

He touched bottom. He was on Perce sands. The blanket on his head was
scarcely wetted. He wrung the water out of his clothes, and ran softly
up the shore. Suddenly he was met by a cry of Qui va la! and he stopped
short at the point of Elie Mattingley’s bayonet. “Hush!” said Ranulph,
and gave his name.

Mattingley nearly dropped his musket in surprise. He soon knew the tale
of Ranulph’s misfortunes, but he had not yet been told of his present
plans when there came a quick footstep, and Carterette was at her
father’s side. Unlike Mattingley, she did drop her musket at the sight
of Ranulph. Her lips opened, but at first she could not speak--this was
more than she had ever dared hope for, since those dark days in Jersey.
Ranulph here! She pressed her hands to her heart to stop its throbbing.

Presently she was trembling with excitement at the story of how Ranulph
had been pressed at St. Malo, and, all that came after until this very
day.

“Go along with Carterette,” said Mattingley. “Alixandre is at the house;
he’ll help you away into the woods.”

As Ranulph hurried away with Carterette, he told her his design.
Suddenly she stopped short, “Ranulph Delagarde,” she said vehemently,
“you can’t climb Perch Rock. No one has ever done it, and you must not
try. Oh, I know you are a great man, but you mustn’t think you can do
this. You will be safe where we shall hide you. You shall not climb the
rock-ah no, ba su!”

He pointed towards the Post. “They wouldn’t leave a stick standing there
if you hid me. No, I’m going to the top of the rock.”

“Man doux terrible!” she said in sheer bewilderment, and then was
suddenly inspired. At last her time had come.

“Pardingue,” she said, clutching his arm, “if you go to the top of Perch
Rock, so will I!”

In spite of his anxiety he almost laughed.

“But see--but see,” he said, and his voice dropped; “you couldn’t stay
up there with me all alone, garcon Carterette. And Richambeau would be
firing on you too!”

She was very angry, but she made no reply, and he continued quickly:

“I’ll go straight to the rock now. When they miss me there’ll be a pot
boiling, you may believe. If I get up,” he added, “I’ll let a string
down for a rope you must get for me. Once on top they can’t hurt me....
Eh ben, A bi’tot, gargon Carterette!”

“O my good! O my good!” said the girl with a sudden change of mood. “To
think you have come like this, and perhaps--” But she dashed the tears
from her eyes, and bade him go on.

The tide was well out, the moon shining brightly. Ranulph reached the
point where, if the rock was to be scaled at all, the ascent must be
made. For a distance there was shelving where foothold might be had by a
fearless man with a steady head and sure balance. After that came about
a hundred feet where he would have to draw himself up by juttings and
crevices hand over hand, where was no natural pathway. Woe be to him if
head grew dizzy, foot slipped, or strength gave out; he would be broken
to pieces on the hard sand below. That second stage once passed, the
ascent thence to the top would be easier; for though nearly as steep,
it had more ledges, and offered fair vantage to a man with a foot like a
mountain goat. Ranulph had been aloft all weathers in his time, and his
toes were as strong as another man’s foot, and surer.

He started. The toes caught in crevices, held on to ledges, glued
themselves on to smooth surfaces; the knees clung like a rough-rider’s
to a saddle; the big hands, when once they got a purchase, fastened like
an air-cup.

Slowly, slowly up, foot by foot, yard by yard, until one-third of the
distance was climbed. The suspense and strain were immeasurable. But he
struggled on and on, and at last reached a sort of flying pinnacle of
rock, like a hook for the shields of the gods.

Here he ventured to look below, expecting to see Carterette, but there
was only the white sand, and no sound save the long wash of the gulf. He
drew a horn of arrack from his pocket and drank. He had two hundred feet
more to climb, and the next hundred would be the great ordeal.

He started again. This was travail indeed. His rough fingers, his toes,
hard as horn almost, began bleeding. Once or twice he swung quite clear
of the wall, hanging by his fingers to catch a surer foothold to right
or left, and just getting it sometimes by an inch or less. The tension
was terrible. His head seemed to swell and fill with blood: on the top
it throbbed till it was ready to burst. His neck was aching horribly
with constant looking up, the skin of his knees was gone, his ankles
bruised. But he must keep on till he got to the top, or until he fell.

He was fighting on now in a kind of dream, quite apart from all usual
feelings of this world. The earth itself seemed far away, and he was
toiling among vastnesses, himself a giant with colossal frame and huge,
sprawling limbs. It was like a gruesome vision of the night, when
the body is an elusive, stupendous mass that falls into space after a
confused struggle with immensities. It was all mechanical, vague, almost
numb, this effort to overcome a mountain. Yet it was precise and hugely
expert too; for though there was a strange mist on the brain, the body
felt its way with a singular certainty, as might some molluscan dweller
of the sea, sensitive like a plant, intuitive like an animal. Yet at
times it seemed that this vast body overcoming the mountain must let go
its hold and slide away into the darkness of the depths.

Now there was a strange convulsive shiver in every nerve--God have
mercy, the time was come!... No, not yet. At the very instant when it
seemed the panting flesh and blood would be shaken off by the granite
force repelling it, the fingers, like long antennae, touched horns of
rock jutting out from ledges on the third escarpment of the wall. Here
was the last point of the worst stage of the journey. Slowly, heavily,
the body drew up to the shelf of limestone, and crouched in an inert
bundle. There it lay for a long time.

While the long minutes went by, a voice kept calling up from below;
calling, calling, at first eagerly, then anxiously, then with terror.
By and by the bundle of life stirred, took shape, raised itself, and
was changed into a man again, a thinking, conscious being, who now
understood the meaning of this sound coming up from the earth below--or
was it the sea? A human voice had at last pierced the awful exhaustion
of the deadly labour, the peril and strife, which had numbed the brain
while the body, in its instinct for existence, still clung to the rocky
ledges. It had called the man back to earth--he was no longer a great
animal, and the rock a monster with skin and scales of stone.

“Ranulph! Maitre Ranulph! Ah, Ranulph!” called the voice.

Now he knew, and he answered down: “All right, all right, garche
Carterette!”

“Are you at the top?”

“No, but the rest is easy.”

“Hurry, hurry, Ranulph. If they should come before you reach the top!”

“I’ll soon be there.”

“Are you hurt, Ranulph?”

“No, but my fingers are in rags. I am going now. A bi’tot, Carterette!”

“Ranulph!”

“‘Sh, ‘sh, do not speak. I am starting.”

There was silence for what seemed hours to the girl below. Foot by foot
the man climbed on, no less cautious because the ascent was easier, for
he was now weaker. But he was on the monster’s neck now, and soon he
should set his heel on it: he was not to be shaken off.

At last the victorious moment came. Over a jutting ledge he drew himself
up by sheer strength and the rubber-like grip of his lacerated fingers,
and now he lay flat and breathless upon the ground.

How soft and cool it was! This was long sweet grass touching his face,
making a couch like down for the battered, wearied body. Surely such
travail had been more than mortal. And what was this vast fluttering
over his head, this million-voiced discord round him, like the
buffetings and cries of spirits welcoming another to their torment?
He raised his head and laughed in triumph. These were the cormorants,
gulls, and gannets on the Perch Rock.

Legions of birds circled over him with cries so shrill that at first
he did not hear Carterette’s voice calling up to him. At last, however,
remembering, he leaned over the cliff and saw her standing in the
moonlight far below.

Her voice came up to him indistinctly because of the clatter of the
birds. “Maitre Ranulph! Ranulph!” She could not see him, for this part
of the rock was in shadow.

“Ah bah, all right!” he said, and taking hold of one end of the twine
he had brought, he let the roll fall. It dropped almost at Carterette’s
feet. She tied to the end of it three loose ropes she had brought from
the Post. He drew them up quickly, tied them together firmly, and let
the great coil down. Ranulph’s bundle, a tent and many things Carterette
had brought were drawn up.

“Ranulph! Ranulph!” came Carterette’s voice again.

“Garcon Carterette!”

“You must help Sebastian Alixandre up,” she said.

“Sebastian Alixandre--is he there? Why does he want to come?”

“That is no matter,” she called softly. “He is coming. He has the rope
round his waist. Pull away!” It was better, Ranulph thought to himself,
that he should be on Perch Rock alone, but the terrible strain had
bewildered him, and he could make no protest now.

“Don’t start yet,” he called down; “I’ll pull when all’s ready.”

He fell back from the edge to a place in the grass where, tying the rope
round his body, and seating himself, he could brace his feet against
a ledge of rock. Then he pulled on the rope. It was round Carterette’s
waist!

Carterette had told her falsehood without shame, for she was of those
to whom the end is more than the means. She began climbing, and Ranulph
pulled steadily. Twice he felt the rope suddenly jerk when she lost her
footing, but it came in evenly still, and he used a nose of rock as a
sort of winch.

The climber was nearly two-thirds of the way up when a cannon-shot
boomed out over the water, frightening again the vast covey of birds
which shrieked and honked till the air was a maelstrom of cries. Then
came another cannon-shot.

Ranulph’s desertion was discovered. The fight was begun between a single
Jersey shipwright and a French war-ship.

His strength, however, could not last much longer. Every muscle of his
body had been strained and tortured, and even this lighter task tried
him beyond endurance. His legs stiffened against the ledge of rock, the
tension numbed his arms. He wondered how near Alixandre was to the top.
Suddenly there was a pause, then a heavy jerk. Love of God--the rope
was shooting through his fingers, his legs were giving way! He gathered
himself together, and then with teeth, hands, and body rigid with
enormous effort, he pulled and pulled. Now he could not see. A mist swam
before his eyes. Everything grew black, but he pulled on and on.

He never knew how the climber reached the top. But when the mist cleared
away from his eyes, Carterette was bending over him, putting rum to his
lips.

“Carterette-garcon Carterette!” he murmured, amazed. Then as the truth
burst upon him he shook his head in a troubled sort of way.

“What a cat I was!” said Carterette. “What a wild cat I was to make you
haul me up! It was bad for me with the rope round me, it must have been
awful for you, my poor esmanus--poor scarecrow Ranulph.”

Scarecrow indeed he looked. His clothes were nearly gone, his hair was
tossed and matted, his eyes bloodshot, his big hands like pieces of raw
meat, his feet covered with blood.

“My poor scarecrow!” she repeated, and she tenderly wiped the blood from
his face where his hands had touched it. Meanwhile bugle-calls and cries
of command came up to them, and in the first light of morning they could
see French officers and sailors, Mattingley, Alixandre, and others,
hurrying to and fro.

When day came clear and bright, it was known that Carterette as well
as Ranulph had vanished. Mattingley shook his head stoically,
but Richambeau on the Victoire was as keen to hunt down one
Jersey-Englishman as he had ever been to attack an English fleet. More
so, perhaps.

Meanwhile the birds kept up a wild turmoil and shrieking. Never before
had any one heard them so clamorous. More than once Mattingley had
looked at Perch Rock curiously, but whenever the thought of it as a
refuge came to him, he put it away. No, it was impossible.

Yet, what was that? Mattingley’s heart thumped. There were two people on
the lofty island wall--a man and a woman. He caught’ the arm of a French
officer near him. “Look, look!” he said. The officer raised his glass.

“It’s the gunner,” he cried and handed the glass to the old man.

“It’s Carterette,” said Mattingley in a hoarse voice. “But it’s not
possible. It’s not possible,” he added helplessly. “Nobody was ever
there. My God, look at it--look at it!”

It was a picture indeed. A man and a woman were outlined against the
clear air, putting up a tent as calmly as though on a lawn, thousands of
birds wheeling over their heads, with querulous cries.

A few moments later, Elie Mattingley was being rowed swiftly to the
Victoire, where Richambeau was swearing viciously as he looked through
his telescope. He also had recognised the gunner.

He was prepared to wipe out the fishing-post if Mattingley did not
produce Ranulph--well, “here was Ranulph duly produced and insultingly
setting up a tent on this sheer rock, with some snippet of the devil,”
 said Richambeau, and defying a great French war-ship. He would set his
gunners to work. If he only had as good a marksman as Ranulph himself,
the deserter should drop at the first shot “death and the devil take his
impudent face!”

He was just about to give the order when Mattingley was brought to him.
The old man’s story amazed him beyond measure.

“It is no man, then!” said Richambeau, when Mattingley had done. “He
must be a damned fly to do it. And the girl--sacre moi! he drew her up
after him. I’ll have him down out of that though, or throw up my flag,”
 he added, and turning fiercely, gave his orders.

For hours the Victoire bombarded the lonely rock from the north. The
white tent was carried away, but the cannon-balls flew over or merely
battered the solid rock, the shells were thrown beyond, and no harm was
done. But now and again the figure of Ranulph appeared, and a half-dozen
times he took aim with his musket at the French soldiers on the shore.
Twice his shots took effect; one man was wounded, and one killed.
Then whole companies of marines returned a musketry fire at him, to no
purpose. At his ease he hid himself in the long grass at the edge of the
cliff, and picked off two more men.

Here was a ridiculous thing: one man and a slip of a girl fighting and
defying a battle-ship. The smoke of battle covered miles of the great
gulf. Even the seabirds shrieked in ridicule.

This went on for three days at intervals. With a fine chagrin Richambeau
and his men saw a bright camp-fire lighted on the rock, and knew that
Ranulph and the girl were cooking their meals in peace. A flag-staff
too was set up, and a red cloth waved defiantly in the breeze. At last
Richambeau, who had watched the whole business from the deck of the
Victoire, burst out laughing, and sent for Elie Mattingley. “Come, I’ve
had enough,” said Richambeau.

“There never was a wilder jest, and I’ll not spoil the joke. He has us
on his toasting-fork. He shall have the honour of a flag of truce.”

And so it was that the French battle-ship sent a flag of truce to the
foot of Perch Rock, and a French officer, calling up, gave his captain’s
word of honour that Ranulph should suffer nothing at the hands of a
court-martial, and that he should be treated as an English prisoner of
war, not as a French deserter.

There was no court-martial. After Ranulph, at Richambeau’s command, had
told the tale of the ascent, the Frenchman said:

“No one but an Englishman could be fool enough to try such a thing, and
none but a fool could have had the luck to succeed. But even a fool can
get a woman to follow him, and so this flyaway followed you, and--”

Carterette made for Richambeau as though to scratch his eyes out, but
Ranulph held her back. “--And you are condemned, gunner,” continued
Richambeau dryly, “to marry the said maid before sundown, or be carried
out to sea a prisoner of war.” So saying, he laughed, and bade them
begone to the wedding.

Ranulph left Richambeau’s ship bewildered and perturbed. For hours he
paced the shore, and at last his thoughts began to clear. The new life
he had led during the last few months had brought many revelations. He
had come to realise that there are several sorts of happiness, but
that all may be divided into two kinds: the happiness of doing good to
ourselves, and that of doing good to others. It opened out clearly to
him now as he thought of Carterette in the light of Richambeau’s coarse
jest.

For years he had known in a sort of way that Carterette preferred him to
any other man. He knew now that she had remained single because of him.
For him her impatience had been patience, her fiery heart had spilled
itself in tenderness for his misfortunes. She who had lightly tossed
lovers aside, her coquetry appeased, had to himself shown sincerity
without coquetry, loyalty without selfishness. He knew well that she had
been his champion in dark days, that he had received far more from her
than he had ever given--even of friendship. In his own absorbing love
for Guida Landresse, during long years he had been unconsciously blind
to a devotion which had lived on without hope, without repining, with
untiring cheerfulness.

In those three days spent on the top of the Perch Rock how blithe garcon
Carterette had been! Danger had seemed nothing to her. She had the
temper of a man in her real enjoyment of the desperate chances of life.
He had never seen her so buoyant; her animal spirits had never leapt
so high. And yet, despite the boldness which had sent her to the top
of Perch Rock with him, there had been in her whole demeanour a frank
modesty free from self-consciousness. She could think for herself, she
was sure of herself, and she would go to the ends of the earth for him.
Surely he had not earned such friendship, such affection.

He recalled how, the night before, as he sat by their little camp-fire,
she had come and touched him on the shoulder, and, looking down at him,
said:

“I feel as if I was beginning my life all over again, don’t you, Maitre
Ranulph?”

Her black eyes had been fixed on his, and the fire in them was as bright
and full of health and truth as the fire at his feet.

And he had answered her: “I think I feel that too, garcon Carterette.”

To which she had replied: “It isn’t hard to forget here--not so very
hard, is it?”

She did not mean Guida, nor what he had felt for Guida, but rather the
misery of the past. He had nodded his head in reply, but had not spoken;
and she, with a quick: “A bi’tot,” had taken her blanket and gone to
that portion of the rock set apart for her own. Then he had sat by the
fire thinking through the long hours of night until the sun rose. That
day Richambeau had sent his flag of truce, and the end of their stay on
Perch Rock was come.

Yes, he would marry Carterette. Yet he was not disloyal, even in memory.
What had belonged to Guida belonged to her for ever, belonged to a past
life with which henceforth he should have naught to do. What had sprung
up in his heart for Carterette belonged to the new life. In this
new land there was work to do--what might he not accomplish here? He
realised that within one life a man may still live several lives,
each loyal and honest after its kind. A fate stronger than himself had
brought him here; and here he would stay with fate. It had brought him
to Carterette, and who could tell what good and contentment might not
yet come to him, and how much to her!

That evening he went to Carterette and asked her to be his wife. She
turned pale, and, looking up into his eyes with a kind of fear, she said
brokenly:

“It’s not because you feel you must? It’s not because you know I love
you, Ranulph--is it? It’s not for that alone?”

“It is because I want you, garcon Carterette,” he answered tenderly,
“because life will be nothing without you.”

“I am so happy--par made, I am so happy!” she answered, and she hid her
face on his breast.



CHAPTER XLI

Detricand, Prince of Vaufontaine, was no longer in the Vendee. The whole
of Brittany was in the hands of the victorious Hoche, the peasants were
disbanded, and his work for a time at least was done.

On the same day of that momentous scene in the Cohue Royale when
Guida was vindicated, Detricand had carried to Granville the Comtesse
Chantavoine, who presently was passed over to the loving care of her
kinsman General Grandjon-Larisse. This done, he proceeded to England.

From London he communicated with Grandjon-Larisse, who applied himself
to secure from the Directory leave for the Chouan chieftain to return
to France, with amnesty for his past “rebellion.” This was got at last
through the influence of young Bonaparte himself. Detricand was free now
to proceed against Philip.

He straightway devoted himself to a thing conceived on the day that
Guida was restored to her rightful status as a wife. His purpose now
was to wrest from Philip the duchy of Bercy. Philip was heir by adoption
only, and the inheritance had been secured at the last by help of a
lie--surely his was a righteous cause!

His motives had not their origin in hatred of Philip alone, nor in
desire for honours and estates for himself, nor in racial antagonism,
for had he not been allied with England in this war against the
Government? He hated Philip the man, but he hated still more Philip the
usurper who had brought shame to the escutcheon of Bercy. There was also
at work another and deeper design to be shown in good time. Philip had
retired from the English navy, and gone back to his duchy of Bercy.
Here he threw himself into the struggle with the Austrians against the
French. Received with enthusiasm by the people, who as yet knew little
or nothing of the doings in the Cohue Royale, he now took over command
of the army and proved himself almost as able in the field as he had
been at sea. Of these things Detricand knew, and knew also that the
lines were closing in round the duchy; that one day soon Bonaparte would
send a force which should strangle the little army and its Austrian
allies. The game then would be another step nearer the end. Free to move
at will, he visited the Courts of Prussia, Russia, Spain, Italy,
and Austria, and laid before them his claims to the duchy, urging an
insistence on its neutrality, and a trial of his cause against Philip.
Ceaselessly, adroitly, with persistence and power, he toiled towards his
end, the way made easier by tales told of his prowess in the Vendee. He
had offers without number to take service in foreign armies, but he was
not to be tempted. Gossip of the Courts said that there was some strange
romance behind this tireless pursuit of an inheritance, but he paid no
heed. If at last there crept over Europe wonderful tales of Detricand’s
past life in Jersey, of the real Duchesse de Bercy, and of the new
Prince of Vaufontaine, Detricand did not, or feigned not to, hear them;
and the Comtesse Chantavoine had disappeared from public knowledge. The
few who guessed his romance were puzzled to understand his cause: for
if he dispossessed Philip, Guida must also be dispossessed. This,
certainly, was not lover-like or friendly.

But Detricand was not at all puzzled; his mind and purpose were clear.
Guida should come to no injury through him--Guida who, as they left
the Cohue Royale that day of days, had turned on him a look of heavenly
trust and gratitude; who, in the midst of her own great happenings,
found time to tell him by a word how well she knew he had kept his
promise to her, even beyond belief. Justice for her was now the supreme
and immediate object of his life. There were others ready also to care
for France, to fight for her, to die for her, to struggle towards the
hour when the King should come to his own; but there was only one man
in the world who could achieve Guida’s full justification, and that was
himself, Detricand of Vaufontaine.

He was glad to turn to the Chevalier’s letters from Jersey. It was from
the Chevalier’s lips he had learned the whole course of Guida’s life
during the four years of his absence from the island. It was the
Chevalier who drew for him pictures of Guida in her new home, none
other than the house of Elie Mattingley, which the Royal Court having
confiscated now handed over to her as an act of homage. The little world
of Jersey no longer pointed the finger of scorn at Guida Landresse de
Landresse, but bent the knee to Princess Guida d’Avranche.

Detricand wrote many letters to the Chevalier, and they with their
cheerful and humorous allusions were read aloud to Guida--all save one
concerning Philip. Writing of himself to the Chevalier on one occasion,
he laid bare with a merciless honesty his nature and his career.
Concerning neither had he any illusions.

   I do not mistake myself, Chevalier [he wrote], nor these late doings
   of mine. What credit shall I take to myself for coming to place and
   some little fame? Everything has been with me: the chance of
   inheritance, the glory of a cause as hopeless as splendid, and more
   splendid because hopeless; and the luck of him who loads the dice--
   for all my old comrades, the better men, are dead, and I, the least
   of them all, remain, having even outlived the cause. What praise
   shall I take for this? None--from all decent fellows of the earth,
   none at all. It is merely laughable that I should be left, the
   monument of a sacred loyalty greater than the world has ever known.

   I have no claims--But let me draw the picture, dear Chevalier. Here
   was a discredited, dissolute fellow whose life was worth a pin to
   nobody. Tired of the husks and the swine, and all his follies grown
   stale by over-use, he takes the advice of a good gentleman, and
   joins the standard of work and sacrifice. What greater luxury shall
   man ask? If this be not running the full scale of life’s enjoyment,
   pray you what is? The world loves contrasts. The deep-dyed sinner
   raising the standard of piety is picturesque. If, charmed by his
   own new virtues, he is constant in his enthusiasm, behold a St.
   Augustine! Everything is with the returned prodigal--the more so if
   he be of the notorious Vaufontaines, who were ever saints turned
   sinners, or sinners turned saints.

   Tell me, my good friend, where is room for pride in me? I am
   getting far more out of life than I deserve; it is not well that you
   and others should think better of me than I do of myself. I do not
   pretend that I dislike it, it is as balm to me. But it would seem
   that the world is monstrously unjust. One day when I’m grown old--I
   cannot imagine what else Fate has spared me for--I shall write the
   Diary of a Sinner, the whole truth. I shall tell how when my
   peasant fighters were kneeling round me praying for success, even
   thanking God for me, I was smiling in my glove--in scorn of myself,
   not of them, Chevalier, no,--no, not of them! The peasant’s is the
   true greatness. Everything is with the aristocrat; he has to kick
   the great chances from his path; but the peasant must go hunting
   them in peril. Hardly snatching sustenance from Fate, the peasant
   fights into greatness; the aristocrat may only win to it by
   rejecting Fate’s luxuries. The peasant never escapes the austere
   teaching of hard experience, the aristocrat the languor of good
   fortune. There is the peasant and there am I. Voila! enough of
   Detricand of Vaufontaine.... The Princess Guida and the
   child, are they--

So the letter ran, and the Chevalier read it aloud to Guida up to the
point where her name was writ. Afterwards Guida would sit and think of
what Detricand had said, and of the honesty of nature that never allowed
him to deceive himself. It pleased her also to think she had in some
small way helped a man to the rehabilitation of his life. He had
said that she had helped him, and she believed him; he had proved the
soundness of his aims and ambitions; his career was in the world’s
mouth.

The one letter the Chevalier did not read to Guida referred to Philip.
In it Detricand begged the Chevalier to hold himself in readiness to
proceed at a day’s notice to Paris.

So it was that when, after months of waiting, the Chevalier suddenly
left St. Heliers to join Detricand, Guida did not know the object of his
journey. All she knew was that he had leave from the Directory to visit
Paris. Imagining this to mean some good fortune for him, with a light
heart she sent him off in charge of Jean Touzel, who took him to St.
Malo in the Hardi Biaou, and saw him safely into the hands of an escort
from Detricand.



CHAPTER XLII

Three days later there was opened in one of the chambers of the
Emperor’s palace at Vienna a Congress of four nations--Prussia, Russia,
Austria, and Sardinia. Detricand’s labours had achieved this result at
last. Grandjon-Larisse, his old enemy in battle, now his personal
friend and colleague in this business, had influenced Napoleon, and the
Directory through him, to respect the neutrality of the duchy of Bercy,
for which the four nations of this Congress declared. Philip himself
little knew whose hand had secured the neutrality until summoned to
appear at the Congress, to defend his rights to the title and the duchy
against those of Detricand Prince of Vaufontaine. Had he known that
Detricand was behind it all he would have fought on to the last gasp of
power and died on the battle-field. He realised now that such a fate
was not for him--that he must fight, not on the field of battle like a
prince, but in a Court of Nations like a doubtful claimant of sovereign
honours.

His whole story had become known in the duchy, and though it begot no
feeling against him in war-time, now that Bercy was in a neutral zone
of peace there was much talk of the wrongs of Guida and the Countess
Chantavoine. He became moody and saturnine, and saw few of his subjects
save the old Governor-General and his whilom enemy, now his friend,
Count Carignan Damour. That at last he should choose to accompany him to
Vienna the man who had been his foe during the lifetime of the old Duke,
seemed incomprehensible. Yet, to all appearance, Damour was now Philip’s
zealous adherent. He came frankly repenting his old enmity, and though
Philip did not quite believe him, some perverse temper, some obliquity
of vision which overtakes the ablest minds at times, made him almost
eagerly accept his new partisan. One thing Philip knew: Damour had no
love for Detricand, who indeed had lately sent him word that for his
work in sending Fouche’s men to attempt his capture in Bercy, he would
have him shot, if the Court of Nations upheld his rights to the duchy.
Damour was able, even if Damour was not honest. Damour, the able, the
implacable and malignant, should accompany him to Vienna.

The opening ceremony of the Congress was simple, but it was made notable
by the presence of the Emperor of Austria, who addressed a few words
of welcome to the envoys, to Philip, and, very pointedly, to the
representative of the French Nation, the aged Duc de Mauban, who, while
taking no active part in the Congress, was present by request of the
Directory. The Duke’s long residence in Vienna and freedom from share in
the civil war in France had been factors in the choice of him when the
name was submitted to the Directory by General Grandjon-Larisse, upon
whom in turn it had been urged by Detricand.

The Duc de Mauban was the most marked figure of the Court, the Emperor
not excepted. Clean shaven, with snowy linen and lace, his own natural
hair, silver white, tied in a queue behind, he had large eloquent
wondering eyes that seemed always looking, looking beyond the thing
he saw. At first sight of him at his court, the Emperor had said: “The
stars have frightened him.” No fanciful supposition, for the Duc
de Mauban was as well known an astronomer as student of history and
philanthropist.

When the Emperor mentioned de Mauban’s name Philip wondered where he had
heard it before. Something in the sound of it was associated with
his past, he knew not how. He had a curious feeling too that those
deliberate, searching dark eyes saw the end of this fight, this battle
of the strong. The face fascinated him, though it awed him. He admired
it, even as he detested the ardent strength of Detricand’s face, where
the wrinkles of dissipation had given way to the bronzed carven look of
the war-beaten soldier.

It was fair battle between these two, and there was enough hatred in the
heart of each to make the fight deadly. He knew--and he had known since
that day, years ago, in the Place du Vier Prison--that Detricand loved
the girl whom he himself had married and dishonoured. He felt also that
Detricand was making this claim to the duchy more out of vengeance than
from desire to secure the title for himself. He read the whole deep
scheme: how Detricand had laid his mine at every Court in Europe to
bring him to this pass.

For hours Philip’s witnesses were examined, among them the officers of
his duchy and Count Carignan Damour. The physician of the old Duke of
Bercy was examined, and the evidence was with Philip. The testimony of
Dalbarade, the French ex-Minister of Marine, was read and considered.
Philip’s story up to the point of the formal signature by the old Duke
was straightforward and clear. So far the Court was in his favour.

Detricand, as natural heir of the duchy, combated each step in the
proceedings from the stand-point of legality, of the Duke’s fatuity
concerning Philip, and his personal hatred of the House of Vaufontaine.
On the third day, when the Congress would give its decision, Detricand
brought the Chevalier to the palace. At the opening of the sitting
he requested that Damour be examined again. The Count was asked
what question had been put to Philip immediately before the deeds of
inheritance were signed. It was useless for Damour to evade the point,
for there were other officers of the duchy present who could have told
the truth. Yet this truth, of itself, need not ruin Philip. It was no
phenomenon for a prince to have one wife unknown, and, coming to the
throne, to take to himself another more exalted.

Detricand was hoping that the nice legal sense of mine and thine should
be suddenly weighted in his favour by a prepared tour de force. The
sympathies of the Congress were largely with himself, for he was of
the order of the nobility, and Philip’s descent must be traced through
centuries of yeoman blood; yet there was the deliberate adoption by the
Duke to face, with the formal assent of the States of Bercy, but little
lessened in value by the fact that the French Government had sent its
emissaries to Bercy to protest against it. The Court had come to a point
where decision upon the exact legal merits of the case was difficult.

After Damour had testified to the question the Duke asked Philip when
signing the deeds at Bercy, Detricand begged leave to introduce another
witness, and brought in the Chevalier. Now he made his great appeal.
Simply, powerfully, he told the story of Philip’s secret marriage with
Guida, and of all that came after, up to the scene in the Cohue Royale
when the marriage was proved and the child given back to Guida; when
the Countess Chantavoine, turning from Philip, acknowledged to Guida
the justice of her claim. He drove home the truth with bare unvarnished
power--the wrong to Guida, the wrong to the Countess, the wrong to the
Dukedom of Bercy, to that honour which should belong to those in high
estate. Then at the last he told them who Guida was: no peasant girl,
but the granddaughter of the Sieur Larchant de Mauprat of de Mauprats of
Chambery: the granddaughter of an exile indeed, but of the noblest blood
of France.

The old Duc de Mauban fixed his look on him intently, and as the story
proceeded his hand grasped the table before him in strong emotion. When
at last Detricand turned to the Chevalier and asked him to bear witness
to the truth of what he had said, the Duke, in agitation, whispered to
the President.

All that Detricand had said moved the Court powerfully, but when the
withered little flower of a man, the Chevalier, told in quaint brief
sentences the story of the Sieur de Mauprat, his sufferings, his exile,
and the nobility of his family, which had indeed, far back, come of
royal stock, and then at last of Guida and the child, more than one
member of the Court turned his head away with misty eyes.

It remained for the Duc de Mauban to speak the word which hastened and
compelled the end. Rising in his place, he addressed to the Court a few
words of apology, inasmuch as he was without real power there, and then
he turned to the Chevalier.

“Monsieur le chevalier,” said he, “I had the honour to know you in
somewhat better days for both of us. You will allow me to greet you here
with my profound respect. The Sieur Larchant de Mauprat”--he turned to
the President, his voice became louder--“the Sieur de Mauprat was my
friend. He was with me upon the day I married the Duchess Guidabaldine.
Trouble, exile came to him. Years passed, and at last in Jersey I saw
him again. It was the very day his grandchild was born. The name given
to her was Guidabaldine--the name of the Duchese de Mauban. She was
Guidabaldine Landresse de Landresse, she is my godchild. There is no
better blood in France than that of the de Mauprats of Chambery, and the
grandchild of my friend, her father being also of good Norman blood, was
worthy to be the wife of any prince in Europe. I speak in the name of
our order, I speak for Frenchmen, I speak for France. If Detricand,
Prince of Vaufontaine, be not secured in his right of succession to the
dukedom of Bercy, France will not cease to protest till protest hath
done its work. From France the duchy of Bercy came. It was the gift of
a French king to a Frenchman, and she hath some claims upon the courtesy
of the nations.”

For a moment after he took his seat there was absolute silence. Then
the President wrote upon a paper before him, and it was passed to each
member of the Court sitting with him. For a moment longer there was
nothing heard save the scratching of a quill. Philip recalled that day
at Bercy when the Duke stooped and signed his name upon the deed of
adoption and succession three times-three fateful times.

At last the President, rising in his place, read the pronouncement
of the Court: that Detricand, Prince of Vaufontaine, be declared true
inheritor of the duchy of Bercy, the nations represented here confirming
him in his title.

The President having spoken, Philip rose, and, bowing to the Congress
with dignity and composure, left the chamber with Count Carignan Damour.

As he passed from the portico into the grounds of the palace, a figure
came suddenly from behind a pillar and touched him on the arm. He turned
quickly, and received upon the face a blow from a glove.

The owner of the glove was General Grandjon-Larisse.



CHAPTER XLIII

“You understand, monsieur?” said Grandjon-Larisse.

“Perfectly--and without the glove, monsieur le general,” answered Philip
quietly. “Where shall my seconds wait upon you?” As he spoke he turned
with a slight gesture towards Damour.

“In Paris, monsieur, if it please you.”

“I should have preferred it here, monsieur le general--but Paris, if it
is your choice.”

“At 22, Rue de Mazarin, monsieur.” Then he made an elaborate bow to
Philip. “I bid you good-day, monsieur.”

“Monseigneur, not monsieur,” Philip corrected. “They may deprive me of
my duchy, but I am still Prince Philip d’Avranche. I may not be robbed
of my adoption.”

There was something so steady, so infrangible in Philip’s composure now,
that Grandjon-Larisse, who had come to challenge a great adventurer, a
marauder of honour, found his furious contempt checked by some integral
power resisting disdain. He intended to kill Philip--he was one of the
most expert swordsmen in France--yet he was constrained to respect a
composure not sangfroid and a firmness in misfortune not bravado. Philip
was still the man who had valiantly commanded men; who had held of the
high places of the earth. In whatever adventurous blood his purposes
had been conceived, or his doubtful plans accomplished, he was still,
stripped of power, a man to be reckoned with: resolute in his course
once set upon, and impulsive towards good as towards evil. He was never
so much worth respect as when, a dispossessed sovereign with an empty
title, discountenanced by his order, disbarred his profession, he held
himself ready to take whatever penalty now came.

In the presence of General Grandjon-Larisse, with whom was the might of
righteous vengeance, he was the more distinguished figure. To Philip
now there came the cold quiet of the sinner, great enough to rise above
physical fear, proud enough to say to the world: “Come, I pay the debt I
owe. We are quits. You have no favours to give, and I none to take. You
have no pardon to grant, and I none to ask.”

At parting Grandjon-Larisse bowed to Philip with great politeness, and
said: “In Paris then, monsieur le prince.”

Philip bowed his head in assent.

When they met again, it was at the entrance to the Bois de Boulogne near
the Maillot gate.

It was a damp grey morning immediately before sunrise, and at first
there was scarce light enough for the combatants to see each other
perfectly, but both were eager and would not delay.

As they came on guard the sun rose. Philip, where he stood, was full in
its light. He took no heed, and they engaged at once. After a few passes
Grandjon-Larisse said: “You are in the light, monseigneur; the sun
shines full upon you,” and he pointed to the shade of a wall near by.
“It is darker there.”

“One of us must certainly be in the dark-soon,” answered Philip grimly,
but he removed to the wall. From the first Philip took the offensive.
He was more active, and he was quicker and lighter of fence than his
antagonist. But Grandjon-Larisse had the surer eye, and was invincibly
certain of hand and strong of wrist. At length Philip wounded his
opponent slightly in the left breast, and the seconds came forward to
declare that honour was satisfied. But neither would listen or heed;
their purpose was fixed to fight to the death. They engaged again, and
almost at once the Frenchman was slightly wounded in the wrist. Suddenly
taking the offensive and lunging freely, Grandjon-Larisse drove Philip,
now heated and less wary, backwards upon the wall. At last, by a
dexterous feint, he beat aside Philip’s guard and drove the sword
through his right breast at one fierce lunge.

With a moan Philip swayed and fell forward into the arms of Damour,
still grasping his weapon. Grandjon-Larisse stooped to the injured man.
Unloosing his fingers from the sword, Philip stretched up a hand to his
enemy.

“I am hurt to death,” he said. “Permit my compliments to the best
swordsman I have ever known.” Then with a touch of sorry humour he
added: “You cannot doubt their sincerity.”

Grandjon-Larisse was turning away when Philip called him back. “Will
you carry my profound regret to the Countess Chantavoine?” he whispered.
“Say that it lies with her whether Heaven pardon me.”

Grandjon-Larisse hesitated an instant, then answered:

“Those who are in heaven, monseigneur, know best what Heaven may do.”

Philip’s pale face took on a look of agony. “She is dead--she is dead!”
 he gasped.

Grandjon-Larisse inclined his head, then after a moment, gravely said:

“What did you think was left for a woman--for a Chantavoine? It is not
the broken heart that kills, but broken pride, monseigneur.”

So saying, he bowed again to Philip and turned upon his heel.



CHAPTER XLIV

Philip lay on a bed in the unostentatious lodging in the Rue de
Vaugirard where Damour had brought him. The surgeon had pronounced the
wound mortal, giving him but a few hours to live. For long after he
was gone Philip was silent, but at length he said “You heard what
Grandjon-Larisse said--It is broken pride that kills, Damour.” Then he
asked for pen, ink, and paper. They were brought to him. He tried the
pen upon the paper, but faintness suddenly seized him, and he fell back
unconscious.

When he came to himself he was alone in the room. It was cold and
cheerless--no fire on the hearth, no light save that flaring from a lamp
in the street outside his window. He rang the bell at his hand. No one
answered. He called aloud: “Damour! Damour!”

Damour was far beyond earshot. He had bethought him that now his place
was in Bercy, where he might gather up what fragments of good fortune
remained, what of Philip’s valuables might be secured. Ere he had fallen
back insensible, Philip, in trying the pen, had written his own name on
a piece of paper. Above this Damour wrote for himself an order upon the
chamberlain of Bercy to enter upon Philip’s private apartments in the
castle; and thither he was fleeing as Philip lay dying in the dark room
of the house in the Rue de Vaugirard.

The woman of the house, to whose care Philip was passed over by Damour,
had tired of watching, and had gone to spend one of his gold pieces for
supper with her friends.

Meanwhile in the dark comfortless room, the light from without
flickering upon his blanched face, Philip was alone with himself,
with memory, and with death. As he lay gasping, a voice seemed to ring
through the silent room, repeating the same words again and again--and
the voice was his own voice. It was himself--some other outside self of
him--saying, in tireless repetition: “May I die a black, dishonourable
death, abandoned and alone, if ever I deceive you. I should deserve that
if I deceived you, Guida!... “ “A black, dishonourable death, abandoned
and alone”: it was like some horrible dirge chanting in his ear.

Pictures flashed before his eyes, strange imaginings. Now he was passing
through dark corridors, and the stone floor beneath was cold--so cold!
He was going to some gruesome death, and monks with voices like his own
voice were intoning: “Abandoned and alone. Alone--alone--abandoned and
alone.”... And now he was fighting, fighting on board the Araminta.
There was the roar of the great guns, the screaming of the carronade
slides, the rattle of musketry, the groans of the dying, the shouts of
his victorious sailors, the crash of the main-mast as it fell upon
the bulwarks. Then the swift sissing ripple of water, the thud of the
Araminta as she struck, and the cold chill of the seas as she went down.
How cold was the sea--ah, how it chilled every nerve and tissue of his
body!

He roused to consciousness again. Here was still the blank cheerless
room, the empty house, the lamplight flaring through the window upon his
stricken face, upon the dark walls, upon the white paper lying on the
table beside him.

Paper--that was it--he must write, he must write while he had strength.
With the last courageous effort of life, his strenuous will forcing the
declining powers into obedience for a final combat, he drew the paper
near, and began to write. The light flickered, wavered, he could just
see the letters that he formed--no more.

   Guida [he began], on the Ecrehos I said to you: “If I deceive you
   may I die a black, dishonourable death, abandoned and alone!” It
   has all come true. You were right, always right, and I was always
   wrong. I never started fair with myself or with the world. I was
   always in too great a hurry; I was too ambitious, Guida. Ambition
   has killed me, and it has killed her--the Comtesse. She is gone.
   What was it he said--if I could but remember what Grandjon-Larisse
   said--ah yes, yes!--after he had given me my death-wound, he said:
   “It is not the broken heart that kills, but broken pride.” There is
   the truth. She is in her grave, and I am going out into the dark.

He lay back exhausted for a moment, in desperate estate. The body was
fighting hard that the spirit might confess itself before the vital
spark died down for ever. Seizing a glass of cordial near, he drank of
it. The broken figure in its mortal defeat roused itself again, leaned
over the paper, and a shaking hand traced on the brief piteous record of
a life.

   I climbed too fast. Things dazzled me. I thought too much of
   myself--myself, myself was everything always; and myself has killed
   me. In wanton haste I came to be admiral and sovereign duke, and it
   has all come to nothing--nothing. I wronged you, I denied you,
   there was the cause of all. There is no one to watch with me now to
   the one moment of life that counts. In this hour the clock of time
   fills all the space between earth and heaven. It will strike soon--
   the awful clock. It will soon strike twelve: and then it will be
   twelve of the clock for me always--always.

   I know you never wanted revenge on me, Guida, but still you have it
   here. My life is no more now than vraic upon a rock. I cling, I
   cling, but that is all, and the waves break over me. I am no longer
   an admiral, I am no more a duke--I am nothing. It is all done. Of
   no account with men I am going to my judgment with God. But you
   remain, and you are Princess Philip d’Avranche, and your son--your
   son--will be Prince Guilbert d’Avranche. But I can leave him
   naught, neither estates nor power. There is little honour in the
   title now. So it may be you will not use it. But you will have a
   new life: with my death happiness may begin again for you. That
   thought makes death easier. I was never worthy of you, never. I
   understand myself now, and I know that you have read me all these
   years, read me through and through. The letter you wrote me, never
   a day or night has passed but, one way or another, it has come home
   to me.

There was a footfall outside his window. A roysterer went by in the
light of the flaring lamp. He was singing a ribald song. A dog ran
barking at his heels. The reveller turned, drew his sword, and ran the
dog through, then staggered on with his song. Philip shuddered, and with
a supreme effort bent to the table again, and wrote on.

   You were right: you were my star, and I was so blind with
   selfishness and vanity I could not see. I am speaking the truth to
   you now, Guida. I believe I might have been a great man if I had
   thought less of myself and more of others, more of you. Greatness,
   I was mad for that, and my madness has brought me to this desolate
   end--alone. Go tell Maitresse Aimable that she too was a good
   prophet. Tell her that, as she foresaw, I called your name in
   death, and you did not come. One thing before all: teach your boy
   never to try to be great, but always to live well and to be just.
   Teach him too that the world means better by him than he thinks, and
   that he must never treat it as his foe; he must not try to force its
   benefits and rewards. He must not approach it like the highwayman.
   Tell him never to flatter. That is the worst fault in a gentleman,
   for flattery makes false friends and the flatterer himself false.
   Tell him that good address is for ease and courtesy of life, but it
   must not be used to one’s secret advantage as I have used mine to
   mortal undoing. If ever Guilbert be in great temptation, tell him
   his father’s story, and read him these words to you, written, as you
   see, with the cramped fingers of death.

He could scarcely hold the pen now, and his eyes were growing dim.

   ... I am come to the end of my strength. I thought I loved
   you, Guida, but I know now that it was not love--not real love. Yet
   it was all a twisted manhood had to give. There are some things of
   mine that you will keep for your son, if you forgive me dead whom
   you despised living. Detricand Duke of Bercy will deal honourably
   by you. All that is mine at the Castle of Bercy he will secure to
   you. Tell him I have written it so; though he will do it of
   himself, I know. He is a great man. As I have gone downwards he
   has come upwards. There has been a star in his sky too. I know it,
   I know it, Guida, and he--he is not blind. The light is going, I
   cannot see. I can only--

He struggled fiercely for breath, but suddenly collapsed upon the table,
and his head fell forward upon the paper; one cheek lying in the wet
ink of his last written words, the other, cold and stark, turned to
the window. The light from the lamp without flickered on it in gruesome
sportiveness. The eyes stared and stared from the little dark room out
into the world. But they did not see.

The night wore on. At last came a knocking, knocking at the door-tap!
tap! tap! But he did not hear. A moment of silence, and again came a
knocking--knocking--knocking...!



CHAPTER XLV

The white and red flag of Jersey was flying half-mast from the Cohue
Royale, and the bell of the parish church was tolling. It was Saturday,
but little business was being done in the Vier Marchi. Chattering people
were gathered at familiar points, and at the foot of La Pyramide a large
group surrounded two sailor-men just come from Gaspe, bringing news of
adventuring Jersiais--Elie Mattingley, Carterette and Ranulph Delagarde.
This audience quickly grew, for word was being passed on from one
little group to another. So keen was interest in the story told by the
home-coming sailors, that the great event which had brought them to the
Vier Marchi was, for the moment, almost neglected.

Presently, however, a cannon-shot, then another, and another, roused
the people to remembrance. The funeral cortege of Admiral Prince Philip
d’Avranche was about to leave the Cohue Royale, and every eye was turned
to the marines and sailors lining the road from the court-house to the
church.

The Isle of Jersey, ever stubbornly loyal to its own--even those whom
the outside world contemned or cast aside--jealous of its dignity
even with the dead, had come to bury Philip d’Avranche with all good
ceremony. There had been abatements to his honour, but he had been a
strong man and he had done strong things, and he was a Jerseyman born, a
Norman of the Normans. The Royal Court had judged between him and Guida,
doing tardy justice to her, but of him they had ever been proud; and
where conscience condemned here, vanity commended there. In any event
they reserved the right, independent of all non-Jersiais, to do what
they chose with their dead.

For what Philip had been as an admiral they would do his body reverence
now; for what he had done as a man, that belonged to another tribunal.
It had been proposed by the Admiral of the station to bury him from his
old ship, the Imperturbable, but the Royal Court made its claim, and so
his body had lain in state in the Cohue Royale. The Admiral joined hands
with the island authorities. In both cases it was a dogged loyalty.
The sailors of England knew Philip d’Avranche as a fighter, even as the
Royal Court knew him as a famous and dominant Jerseyman. A battle-ship
is a world of its own, and Jersey is a world of its own. They neither
knew nor cared for the comment of the world without; or, knowing,
refused to consider it.

When the body of Philip was carried from the Cohue Royale signals were
made to the Imperturbable in the tide-way. From all her ships in company
forty guns were fired funeral-wise and the flags were struck halfmast.

Slowly the cortege uncoiled itself to one long unbroken line from the
steps of the Cohue Royale to the porch of the church. The Jurats in
their red robes, the officers, sailors, and marines, added colour to the
pageant. The coffin was covered by the flag of Jersey with the arms of
William the Conqueror in the canton. Of the crowd some were curious,
some stoical; some wept, some essayed philosophy.

“Et ben,” said one, “he was a brave admiral!”

“Bravery was his trade,” answered another: “act like a sheep and you’ll
be eaten by the wolf.”

“It was a bad business about her that was Guida Landresse,” remarked a
third.

“Every man knows himself, God knows all men,” snuffled the fanatical
barber who had once delivered a sermon from the Pompe des Brigands.

“He made things lively while he lived, ba su!” droned the jailer of the
Vier Prison. “But he has folded sails now.”

“Ma fe, yes, he sleeps like a porpoise now, and white as a wax he looked
up there in the Cohue Royale,” put in a centenier standing by.

A voice came shrilly over the head of the centenier. “As white as you’ll
look yellow one day, bat’d’lagoule! Yellow and green, oui-gia--yellow
like a bad apple, and cowardly green as a leek.” This was Manon Moignard
the witch.

“Man doux d’la vie, where’s the Master of Burials?” babbled the jailer.
“The apprentice does the obs’quies to-day.”

“The Master’s sick of a squinzy,” grunted the centenier. “So
hatchet-face and bundle-o’-nails there brings dust to dust, amen.”

All turned now to the Undertaker’s Apprentice, a grim, saturnine figure
with his grey face, protuberant eyes, and obsequious solemnity, in which
lurked a callous smile. The burial of the great, the execution of
the wicked, were alike to him. In him Fate seemed to personify life’s
revenges, its futilities, its calculating ironies. The flag-draped
coffin was just about to pass, and the fanatical barber harked back
to Philip. “They say it was all empty honours with him afore he died
abroad.”

“A full belly’s a full belly if it’s only full of straw,” snapped Manon
Moignard.

“Who was it brought him home?” asked the jailer. “None that was born
on Jersey, but two that lived here,” remarked Maitre Damian, the
schoolmaster from St. Aubins.

“That Chevalier of Champsavoys and the other Duc de Bercy,” interposed
the centenier.

Maitre Damian tapped his stick upon the ground, and said oracularly: “It
is not for me to say, but which is the rightful Duke and which is not,
there is the political question!”

“Pardi, that’s it,” answered the centenier. “Why did Detricand Duke turn
Philip Duke out of duchy, see him killed, then fetch him home to Jersey
like a brother? Ah, man pethe benin, that’s beyond me!

“Those great folks does things their own ways; oui-gia,” remarked the
jailer.

“Why did Detricand Duke go back to France?” asked Maitre Damian, cocking
his head wisely; “why did he not stay for obsequies--he?”

“That’s what I say,” answered the jailer, “those great folks does things
their own ways.”

“Ma fistre, I believe you,” ejaculated the centenier. “But for the
Chevalier there, for a Frenchman, that is a man after God’s own
heart--and mine.”

“Ah then, look at that,” said Manon Moignard, with a sneer, “when one
pleases you and God it is a ticket to heaven, diantre!”

But in truth what Detricand and the Chevalier had done was but of human
pity. The day after the duel, Detricand had arrived in Paris to proceed
thence to Bercy. There he heard of Philip’s death and of Damour’s
desertion. Sending officers to Bercy to frustrate any possible designs
of Damour, he, with the Chevalier, took Philip’s body back to Jersey,
delivering it to those who would do it honour.

Detricand did not see Guida. For all that might be said to her now the
Chevalier should be his mouthpiece. In truth there could be no better
mouthpiece for him. It was Detricand--Detricand--Detricand, like a
child, in admiration and in affection. If Guida did not understand all
now, there should come a time when she would understand. Detricand would
wait. She should find that he was just, that her honour and the honour
of her child were safe with him.

As for Guida, it was not grief she felt in the presence of this tragedy.
No spark of love sprang up, even when remembrance was now brought to
its last vital moment. But a fathomless pity stirred her heart, that
Philip’s life had been so futile and that all he had done was come to
naught. His letter, blotched and blotted by his own dead cheek, she read
quietly. Yet her heart ached bitterly--so bitterly that her face became
pinched with pain; for here in this letter was despair, here was the
final agony of a broken life, here were the last words of the father
of her child to herself. She saw with a sudden pang that in writing of
Guilbert he only said your child, not ours. What a measureless distance
there was between them in the hour of his death, and how clearly the
letter showed that he understood at last!

The evening before the burial she went with the Chevalier to the Cohue
Royale. As she looked at Philip’s dead face bitterness and aching
compassion were quieted within her. The face was peaceful--strong. There
was on it no record of fret or despair. Its impassive dignity seemed to
say that all accounts had been settled, and in this finality there
was quiet; as though he had paid the price, as though the long account
against him in the markets of life was closed and cancelled, and the
debtor freed from obligation for ever. Poignant impulses in her stilled,
pity lost its wounding acuteness. She shed no tears, but at last she
stretched out her hand and let it rest upon his forehead for a moment.

“Poor Philip!” she said.

Then she turned and slowly left the room, followed by the Chevalier, and
by the noiseless Dormy Jamais, who had crept in behind them. As Dormy
Jamais closed the door, he looked back to where the coffin lay, and in
the compassion of fools he repeated Guida’s words:

“Poor Philip!” he said.

Now, during Philip’s burial, Dormy Jamais sat upon the roof of the Cohue
Royale, as he had done on the day of the Battle of Jersey, looking down
on the funeral cortege and the crowd. He watched it all until the ruffle
of drums at the grave told that the body was being lowered--four ruffles
for an admiral.

As the people began to disperse and the church bell ceased tolling,
Dormy turned to another bell at his elbow, and set it ringing to call
the Royal Court together. Sharp, mirthless, and acrid it rang:

Chicane--chicane! Chicane--chicane! Chicane--chicane!



IN JERSEY-A YEAR LATER



CHAPTER XLVI

“What is that for?” asked the child, pointing. Detricand put the watch
to the child’s ear. “It’s to keep time. Listen. Do you hear it-tic-tic,
tic-tic?”’

The child nodded his head gleefully, and his big eyes blinked with
understanding. “Doesn’t it ever stop?” he asked.

“This watch never stops,” replied Detricand. “But there are plenty of
watches that do.”

“I like watches,” said the child sententiously.

“Would you like this one?” asked Detricand.

The child drew in a gurgling breath of pleasure. “I like it. Why doesn’t
mother have a watch?”

The man did not answer the last question. “You like it?” he said again,
and he nodded his head towards the little fellow. “H’m, it keeps good
time, excellent time it keeps,” and he rose to meet the child’s mother,
who having just entered the room, stood looking at them. It was
Guida. She had heard the last words, and she glanced towards the watch
curiously. Detricand smiled in greeting, and said to her: “Do you
remember it?” He held up the watch.

She came forward eagerly. “Is it--is it that indeed, the watch that the
dear grandpethe--?”

He nodded and smiled. “Yes, it has never once stopped since the moment
he gave it me in the Vier-Marchi seven years ago. It has had a charmed
existence amid many rough doings and accidents. I was always afraid of
losing it, always afraid of an accident to it. It has seemed to me that
if I could keep it things would go right with me, and things come out
right in the end. Superstition, of course, but I lived a long time in
Jersey. I feel more a Jerseyman than a Frenchman sometimes.”

Although his look seemed to rest but casually on her face, it was
evident he was anxious to feel the effect of every word upon her, and
he added: “When the Sieur de Mauprat gave me the watch he said, ‘May no
time be ill spent that it records for you.’”

“Perhaps he knows his wish was fulfilled,” answered Guida.

“You think, then, that I’ve kept my promise?”

“I am sure he would say so,” she replied warmly.

“It isn’t the promise I made to him that I mean, but the promise I made
to you.”

She smiled brightly. “You know what I think of that. I told you long
ago.” She turned her head away, for a bright colour had come to her
cheek. “You have done great things, Prince,” she added in a low tone.

He flashed a look of inquiry at her. To his ear there was in her voice
a little touch--not of bitterness, but of something, as it were, muffled
or reserved. Was she thinking how he had robbed her child of the chance
of heritage at Bercy? He did not reply, but, stooping, put the watch
again to the child’s ear. “There you are, monseigneur!”

“Why do you call him monseigneur?” she asked. “Guilbert has no title to
your compliment.”

A look half-amused, half-perplexed, crossed over Detricand’s face. “Do
you think so?” he said musingly. Stooping once more, he said to the
child: “Would you like the watch?” and added quickly, “you shall have it
when you’re grown up.”

“Do you really mean it?” asked Guida, delighted; “do you really mean to
give him the grandpethe’s watch one day?”

“Oh yes, at least that--one day. But I have something more,” he added
quickly--“something more for you;” and he drew from his pocket a
miniature set in rubies and diamonds. “I have brought you this from the
Duc de Mauban--and this,” he went on, taking a letter from his pocket,
and handing it with the gift. “The Duke thought you might care to have
it. It is the face of your godmother, the Duchess Guidabaldine.”

Guida looked at the miniature earnestly, and then said a little
wistfully: “How beautiful a face--but the jewels are much too fine for
me! What should one do here with rubies and diamonds? How can I thank
the Duke!”

“Not so. He will thank you for accepting it. He begged me to say--as you
will find by his letter to you--that if you will but go to him upon a
visit with this great man here”--pointing to the child with a smile--“he
will count it one of the greatest pleasures of his life. He is too old
to come to you, but he begs you to go to him--the Chevalier, and you,
and Guilbert here. He is much alone now, and he longs for a little of
that friendship which can be given by but few in this world. He counts
upon your coming, for I said I thought you would.”

“It would seem so strange,” she answered, “to go from this cottage of
my childhood, to which I have come back in peace at last--from this
kitchen, to the chateau of the Duc de Mauban.”

“But it was sure to come,” he answered. “This kitchen to which I come
also to redeem my pledge after seven years, it belongs to one part of
your life. But there is another part to fulfil,”--he stooped and passed
his hands over the curls of the child, “and for your child here you
should do it.”

“I do not find your meaning,” she said after a moment’s deliberation. “I
do not know what you would have me understand.”

“In some ways you and I would be happier in simple surroundings,” he
replied gravely, “but it would seem that to play duly our part in the
world, we must needs move in wider circles. To my mind this kitchen is
the most delightful spot in the world. Here I took a fresh commission of
life. I went out, a sort of battered remnant, to a forlorn hope; and now
I come back to headquarters once again--not to be praised,” he added
in an ironical tone, and with a quick gesture of almost boyish
shyness--“not to be praised; only to show that from a grain of decency
left in a man may grow up some sheaves of honest work and plain duty.”

“No, it is much more than that, it is much, much more than that,” she
broke in.

“No, I am afraid it is not,” he answered; “but that is not what I wished
to say. I wished to say that for monseigneur here--”

A little flash of anger came into her eyes. “He is no monseigneur, he is
Guilbert d’Avranche,” she said bitterly. “It is not like you to mock my
child, Prince. Oh, I know you mean it playfully,” she hurriedly added,
“but--but it does not sound right to me.”

“For the sake of monseigneur the heir to the duchy of Bercy,” he added,
laying his hand upon the child’s head, “these things your devout friends
suggest, you should do, Princess.”

Her clear unwavering eye looked steadfastly at him, but her face turned
pale.

“Why do you call him monseigneur the heir to the duchy of Bercy?” she
said almost coldly, and with a little fear in her look too.

“Because I have come here to tell you the truth, and to place in your
hands the record of an act of justice.”

Drawing from his pocket a parchment gorgeous with seals, he stooped,
and taking the hands of the child, he placed it in them. “Hold it tight,
hold it tight, my little friend, for it is your very own,” he said to
the child with cheerful kindliness. Then stepping back a little, and
looking earnestly at Guida, he added with a motion of the hand towards
the child:

“You must learn the truth from him.”

“Oh, what can you mean--what can you mean?” she exclaimed. Dropping upon
her knees, and running an arm round the child, she opened the parchment
and read.

“What--what right has he to this?” she cried in a voice of dismay.
“A year ago you dispossessed his father from the duchy. Ah, I do not
understand it! You--only you are the Duc de Bercy.”

Her eyes were shining with a happy excitement and tenderness. No such
look had been in them for many a day. Something that had long slept was
waking in her, something long voiceless was speaking. This man brought
back to her heart a glow she had never thought to feel again, the glow
of the wonder of life and of a girlish faith.

“I am only Detricand of Vaufontaine,” he answered. “What, did you--could
you think that I would dispossess your child? His father was the adopted
son of the Duc de Bercy. Nothing could wipe that out, neither law nor
nations. You are always Princess Guida, and your child is always Prince
Guilbert d’Avranche--and more than that.”

His voice became lower, his war-beaten face lighted with that fire and
force which had made him during years past a figure in the war records
of Europe.

“I unseated Philip d’Avranche,” he continued, “because he acquired the
duchy through--a misapprehension; because the claims of the House of
Vaufontaine were greater. We belonged; he was an alien. He had a right
to his adoption, he had no right to his duchy--no real right in the
equity of nations. But all the time I never forgot that the wife of
Philip d’Avranche and her child had rights infinitely beyond his own.
All that he achieved was theirs by every principle of justice. My plain
duty was to win for your child that succession belonging to him by all
moral right. When Philip d’Avranche was killed, I set to work to do for
your child what had been done by another for Philip d’Avranche. I have
made him my heir. When he is of age I shall abdicate from the duchy in
his favour. This deed, countersigned by the Powers that dispossessed his
father, secures to him the duchy when he is old enough to govern.”

Guida had listened like one in a dream. A hundred feelings possessed
her, and one more than all. She suddenly saw all Detricand’s goodness to
her stretch out in a long line of devoted friendship, from this day
to that far-off hour seven years before, when he had made a vow to
her--kept how nobly! Devoted friendship--was it devoted friendship
alone, even with herself? In a tumult of emotions she answered him
hurriedly. “No, no, no, no! I cannot accept it. This is not justice,
this is a gift for which there is no example in the world’s history.”

“I thought it best,” he went on quietly, “to govern Bercy myself during
these troubled years. So far its neutrality has been honoured, but
who can tell what may come! As a Vaufontaine it is my duty to see that
Bercy’s interests are duly protected amidst the troubles of Europe.”

Guida got to her feet now and stood looking dazedly at the parchment in
her hand. The child, feeling himself neglected, ran out into the garden.

There was moisture in Guida’s eyes as she presently said: “I had not
thought that any man could be so noble--no, not even you.”

“You should not doubt yourself so,” he answered meaningly. “I am the
work of your hands. If I have fought my way back to reputable life
again--”

He paused, and took from his pocket a handkerchief. “This was the gage,”
 he said, holding it up. “Do you remember the day I came to return it to
you, and carried it off again?”

“It was foolish of you to keep it,” she answered softly, “as foolish of
you as to think that I shall accept for my child these great honours.”

“But suppose the child in after years should blame you?” he answered
slowly and with emphasis. “Suppose that Guilbert should say, What right
had you, my mother, to refuse what was my due?”

This was the question she had asked herself long, long ago. It smote her
heart now. What right had she to reject this gift of Fate to her child?

Scarcely above a whisper she replied: “Of course he might say that, but
how, oh, how should we simple folk, he and I, be fitted for these high
places--yet? Now that what I desired all these years for him has come, I
have not the courage.”

“You have friends to help you in all you do,” he answered meaningly.

“But friends cannot always be with one,” she answered.

“That depends upon the friends. There is one friend of yours who has
known you for eighteen years. Eighteen years’ growth should make a
strong friendship--there was always friendship on his part at least. He
can be a still stronger and better friend. He comes now to offer you
the remainder of a life for which your own goodness is the guarantee. He
comes to offer you a love of which your own soul must be the only judge,
for you have eyes that see and a spirit that knows. The Chevalier needs
you, and the Duc de Mauban needs you, but Detricand of Vaufontaine needs
you a thousand times more.”

“Oh, hush--but no, you must not!” she broke in, her face all crimson,
her lips trembling.

“But yes, I must,” he answered quickly. “You find peace here, but it is
the peace of inaction. It dulls the brain, and life winds in upon itself
wearily at the last. But out there is light and fire and action and the
quick-beating pulse, and the joy of power wisely used, even to the end.
You come of a great people, you were born to great things; your child
has rights accorded now by every Court of Europe. You must act for him.
For your child’s sake, for my sake come out into the great field of life
with me--as my wife, Guida.”

She turned to him frankly, she looked at him steadfastly, the colour in
her face came and went, but her eyes glowed with feeling.

“After all that has happened?” she asked in a low tone.

“It could only be because of all that has happened,” he answered.

“No, no, you do not understand,” she said quickly, a great pain in her
voice. “I have suffered so, these many, many years! I shall never be
light-hearted again. And I am not fitted for such high estate. Do you
not see what you ask of me--to go from this cottage to a palace?”

“I love you too well to ask you to do what you could not. You must trust
me,” he answered, “you must give your life its chance, you must--”

“But listen to me,” she interjected with breaking tones; “I know as
surely as I know--as I know the face of my child, that the youth in
me is dead. My summer came--and went--long ago. No, no, you do not
understand--I would not make you unhappy. I must live only to make my
child happy. That love has not been marred.”

“And I must be judge of what is for my own happiness. And for yours--if
I thought my love would make you unhappy for even one day, I should not
offer it. I am your lover, but I am also your friend. Had it not been
for you I might have slept in a drunkard’s grave in Jersey. Were it not
for you, my bones would now be lying in the Vendee. I left my peasants,
I denied myself death with them to serve you. The old cause is gone. You
and your child are now my only cause--”

“You make it so hard for me,” she broke in. “Think of the shadows from
the past always in my eyes, always in my heart--you cannot wear the
convict’s chain without the lagging footstep afterwards.”

“Shadows--friend of my soul, how should I dare come to you if there had
never been shadows in your life! It is because you--you have suffered,
because you know, that I come. Out of your miseries, the convict’s
lagging step, you say? Think what I was. There was never any wrong in
you, but I was sunk in evil depths of folly--”

“I will not have you say so,” she interrupted; “you never in your life
did a dishonourable thing.”

“Then again I say, trust me. For, on the honour of a Vaufontaine, I
believe that happiness will be yours as my wife. The boy, you see how he
and I--”

“Ah, you are so good to him!”

“You must give me chance and right to serve him. What else have you or
I to look forward to? The honours of this world concern us little.
The brightest joys are not for us. We have work before us, no rainbow
ambitions. But the boy--think for him---” he paused.

After a little, she held out her hand towards him. “Good-bye,” she said
softly.

“Good-bye--you say good-bye to me!” he exclaimed in dismay.

“Till--till to-morrow,” she answered, and she smiled. The smile had a
little touch of the old archness which was hers as a child, yet, too,
a little of the sadness belonging to the woman. But her hand-clasp was
firm and strong; and her touch thrilled him. Power was there, power with
infinite gentleness. And he understood her; which was more than all.

He turned at the door. She was standing very still, the parchment with
the great seals yet in her hand. Without speaking, she held it out to
him, as though uncertain what to do with it.

As he passed through the doorway he smiled, and said:

“To-morrow--to-morrow!”



EPILOGUE

St. John’s Eve had passed. In the fields at Bonne-Nuit Bay the
“Brow-brow! ben-ben!” of the Song of the Cauldron had affrighted the
night; riotous horns, shaming the blare of a Witches’ Sabbath, had been
blown by those who, as old Jean Touzel said, carried little lead under
their noses. The meadows had been full of the childlike islanders
welcoming in the longest day of the year. Mid-summer Day had also come
and gone, but with less noise and clamour, for St. John’s Fair had been
carried on with an orderly gaiety--as the same Jean Touzel said, like
a sheet of music. Even the French singers and dancers from St. Malo had
been approved in Norman phrases by the Bailly and the Jurats, for now
there was no longer war between England and France, Napoleon was at St.
Helena, and the Bourbons were come again to their own.

It had been a great day, and the roads were cloudy with the dust of
Mid-summer revellers going to their homes. But though some went many
stayed, camping among the booths, since the Fair was for tomorrow and
for other to-morrows after. And now, the day’s sport being over, the
superstitious were making the circle of the rock called William’s Horse
in Boulay Bay, singing the song of William, who, with the fabled sprig
of sacred mistletoe, turned into a rock the kelpie horse carrying him to
death.

There was one boat, however, which putting out into the Bay did not bear
towards William’s Horse, but, catching the easterly breeze, bore away
westward towards the point of Plemont. Upon the stern of the boat was
painted in bright colours, Hardi Biaou. “We’ll be there soon after
sunset,” said the grizzled helmsman, Jean Touzel, as he glanced from the
full sail to the setting sun.

Neither of his fellow-voyagers made reply, and for a time there was
silence, save for the swish of the gunwale through the water. But at
last Jean said:

“Su’ m’n ame, but it is good this, after that!” and he jerked his head
back towards the Fair-ground on the hill. “Even you will sleep to-night,
Dormy Jamais, and you, my wife of all.”

Maitresse Aimable shook her great head slowly on the vast shoulders, and
shut her heavy eyelids. “Dame, but I think you are sleeping now--you,”
 Jean went on.

Maitresse Aimable’s eyes opened wide, and again she shook her head.

Jean looked a laugh at her through his great brass-rimmed spectacles and
added:

“Ba su, then I know. It is because we go to sleep in my hut at Plemont
where She live so long. I know, you never sleep there.”

Maitresse Aimable shook her head once more, and drew from her pocket a
letter.

At sight of it Dormy Jamais crawled quickly over to where the Femme de
Ballast sat, and, ‘reaching out, he touched it with both hands.

“Princess of all the world--bidemme,” he said, and he threw out his arms
and laughed.

Two great tears were rolling down Maitresse Aimable’s cheeks.

“How to remember she, ma fuifre!” said Jean Touzel. “But go on to the
news of her.”

Maitresse Aimable spread the letter out and looked at it lovingly. Her
voice rose slowly up like a bubble from the bottom of a well, and she
spoke.

“Ah man pethe benin, when it come, you are not here, my Jean. I take it
to the Greffier to read for me. It is great news, but the way he read so
sour I do not like, ba su! I see Maitre Damian the schoolmaster pass my
door. I beckon, and he come. I take my letter here, I hold it close to
his eyes. ‘Read on that for me, Maitre Damian--you,’ I say. O my good,
when he read it, it sing sweet like a song, pergui! Once, two, three
times I make him read it out--he has the voice so soft and round, Maitre
Damian there.”

“Glad and good!” interrupted Jean. “What is the news, my wife? What is
the news of highnesss--he?”

Maitresse Aimable smiled, then she tried to speak, but her voice broke.

“The son--the son--at last he is the Duke of Bercy. E’fin, it is all
here. The new King of France, he is there at the palace when the child
which it have sleep on my breast, which its mother I have love all the
years, kiss her son as the Duke of Bercy.”

“Ch’est ben,” said Jean, “you can trust the good God in the end.”

Dormy Jamais did not speak. His eyes were fastened upon the north, where
lay the Paternoster Rocks. The sun had gone down, the dusk was creeping
on, and against the dark of the north there was a shimmer of fire--a
fire that leapt and quivered about the Paternoster Rocks.

Dormy pointed with his finger. Ghostly lights or miracle of Nature,
these fitful flames had come and gone at times these many years, and now
again the wonder of the unearthly radiance held their eyes.

“Gatd’en’ale, I don’t understand you--you!” said Jean, speaking to the
fantastic fires as though they were human.

“There’s plenty things we see we can’t understand, and there’s plenty
we understand we can’t never see. Ah bah, so it goes!” said Maitresse
Aimable, and she put Guida’s letter in her bosom.

       .......................

Upon the hill of Plemont above them, a stone taken from the chimney of
the hut where Guida used to live, stood upright beside a little grave.
Upon it was carved:

                BIRIBI,
               Fidele ami
              De quels jours!

In the words of Maitresse Aimable, “Ah bah, so it goes.” FINIS

NOTE: IT is possible that students of English naval history may find
in the life of Philip d’Avranche, as set forth in this book, certain
resemblances to the singular and long forgotten career of the young
Jerseyman, Philip d’Auvergne of the “Arethusa,” who in good time became
Vice-Admiral of the White and His Serene Highness the Duke of Bouillon.

Because all the relatives and direct descendants of Admiral Prince
Philip d’Auvergne are dead, I am the more anxious to state that, apart
from one main incident, the story here-before written is not taken from
the life of that remarkable man. Yet I will say also that I have drawn
upon the eloquence, courage, and ability of Philip d’Auvergne to make
the better part of Philip d’Avranche, whose great natural fault, an
overleaping ambition, was the same fault that brought the famous Prince
Admiral to a piteous death in the end.

In any case, this tale has no claim to be called a historical novel.



JERSEY WORDS AND PHRASES

WITH THEIR EQUIVALENTS IN ENGLISH OR FRENCH

  A bi’tot = a bientot.
  Achocre = dolt, ass.
  Ah bah! (Difficult to render in English, but meaning much the same as
    “Well! well!”)
  Ah be! = eh bien.
  Alles kedainne = to go quickly, to skedaddle.
  Bachouar = a fool.
  Ba su! = bien sur.
  Bashin = large copper-lined stew-pan.
  Batd’lagoule = chatterbox.
  Bedgone = shortgown or deep bodice of print.
  Beganne = daft fellow.
  Biaou = beau.
  Bidemme! = exclamation of astonishment.
  Bouchi = mouthful.
  Bilzard = idiot.
  Chelin = shilling.
  Ch’est ben = c’est bien.
  Cotil = slope of a dale.
  Coum est qu’on etes?        }
  Coum est qu’ou vos portest? } Comment vous portez-vous!
  Couzain or couzaine = cousin.
  Crasset = metal oil-lamp of classic shape.
  Critchett = cricket.
  Diantre = diable.
  Dreschiaux = dresser.
  E’fant = enfant.
  E’fin = enfin.
  Eh ben = eh bien.
  Esmanus = scarecrow.
  Es-tu gentiment? = are you well?
  Et ben = and now.
  Gache-a-penn! = misery me!
  Gaderabotin! = deuce take it!
  Garche = lass.
  Gatd’en’ale! = God be with us!
  Grandpethe = grandpere.
  Han = kind of grass for the making of ropes, baskets, etc.
  Hanap = drinking-cup.
  Hardi = very.
  Hus = lower half of a door. (Doors of many old Jersey houses were
  divided horizontally, for protection against cattle, to let out the
  smoke, etc.)
  Je me crais; je to crais; je crais ben! = I believe it; true for you; I
                      well believe it!
  Ma fe!     }
  Ma fistre! }= ma foi!
  Ma fuifre! }
  Mai grand doux! = but goodness gracious!
  Man doux! = my good, oh dear! (Originally man Dieu!)
  Man doux d’la vie! = upon my life!
  Man gui, mon pethe! = mon Dieu, mon pere!
  Man pethe benin! = my good father!
  Marchi = marche.
  Mogue = drinking-cup.
  Nannin; nannin-gia! = no; no indeed!
  Ni bouf ni baf  } Expression of absolute negation, untranslatable.
  Ni fiche ni bran }
  Oui-gia! = yes indeed!
  Par made = par mon Dieu.
  Pardi!     }
  Pardingue! }= old forms of par Dieul
  Pergui!    }
  Pend’loque = ragamuffin.
  Queminzolle = overcoat.
  Racllyi = hanging rack from the rafters of a kitchen.
  Respe d’la compagnie! = with all respect for present company.
  Shale ben = very well.
  Simnel = a sort of biscuit, cup-shaped, supposed to represent unleavened
      bread, specially eaten at Easter.
  Soupe a la graisse = very thin soup, chiefly made of water, with a few
           vegetables and some dripping.
  Su’ m’n ame = sur mon ame!
  Tcheche? = what’s that you say?
  Trejous = toujours.
  Tres-ba = tres bien.
  Veille = a wide low settle. (Probably from lit de fouaille.) Also
    applied to evening gatherings, when, sitting cross-legged on the
    veille, the neighbours sang, talked, and told stories.
  Verges = the land measure of Jersey, equal to forty perches. Two and a
      quarter vergees are equivalent to the English acre.
  Vier = vieux.
  Vraic = a kind of sea-weed.


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     Egregious egotism of young love there are only two identities
     Follow me; if I retreat, kill me; if I fall, avenge me
     Futility of goodness, the futility of all
     He felt things, he did not study them
     Her voice had the steadiness of despair
     If women hadn’t memory, she answered, they wouldn’t have much
     It is not the broken heart that kills, but broken pride
     It is easy to repent when our pleasures have palled
     It’s the people who try to be clever who never are
     Joy of a confessional which relieves the sick heart
     Kissed her twice on the cheek--the first time in fifteen years
     Knew the lie of silence to be as evil as the lie of speech
     Lilt of existence lulling to sleep wisdom and tried experience
     Lonely we come into the world, and lonely we go out of it
     Never to be content with superficial reasons and the obvious
     No news--no trouble
     Often, we would rather be hurt than hurt
     People who are clever never think of trying to be
     Queer that things which hurt most can’t be punished by law
     Rack of secrecy, the cruelest inquisition of life
     Sacrifice to the god of the pin-hole
     Sardonic pleasure in the miseries of the world
     Sympathy, with curiousness in their eyes and as much inhumanity
     Thanked him in her heart for the things he had left unsaid
     There was never a grey wind but there’s a greyer
     There is something humiliating in even an undeserved injury
     Uses up your misery and makes you tired (Work)
     War is cruelty, and none can make it gentle
     We care so little for real justice
     What fools there are in the world





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