The Last Hope
Henry Seton Merriman
Part 1 out of 6
Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Mary Meehan and Distributed Proofreaders
THE LAST HOPE
HENRY SETON MERRIMAN
"What is it thou knowest, sweet voice?" I cried.
"A hidden hope," the voice replied.
I. LE ROI EST MORT
II. VIVE LE ROI
III. THE RETURN OF "THE LAST HOPE"
IV. THE MARQUIS'S CREED
V. ON THE DYKE
VI. THE STORY OF THE CASTAWAYS
VII. ON THE SCENT
VIII. THE LITTLE BOY WHO WAS A KING
IX. A MISTAKE
X. IN THE ITALIAN HOUSE
XI. A BEGINNING
XII. THE SECRET OF GEMOSAC
XIII. WITHIN THE GATES
XIV. THE LIFTED VEIL
XV. THE TURN OF THE TIDE
XVI. THE GAMBLERS
XVII. ON THE PONT ROYAL
XVIII. THE CITY THAT SOON FORGETS
XIX. IN THE BREACH
XXI. NO. 8 RUELLE ST. JACOB
XXII. DROPPING THE PILOT
XXIII. A SIMPLE BANKER
XXIV. THE LANE OF MANY TURNINGS
XXV. SANS RANCUNE
XXVI. RETURNED EMPTY
XXVII. OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES
XXVIII. BAREBONE'S PRICE
XXIX. IN THE DARK
XXX. IN THE FURROW AGAIN
XXXI. THE THURSDAY OF MADAME DE CHANTONNAY
XXXIII. DORMER COLVILLE IS BLIND
XXXIV. A SORDID MATTER
XXXV. A SQUARE MAN
XXXVI. MRS. ST. PIERRE LAWRENCE DOES NOT UNDERSTAND
XXXVII. AN UNDERSTANDING
XXXVIII. A COUP-D'ETAT
XXXIX. "JOHN DARBY"
XL. FARLINGFORD ONCE MORE
THE LAST HOPE
LE ROI EST MORT
"There; that's it. That's where they buried Frenchman," said
Andrew--known as River Andrew. For there was another Andrew who earned
his living on the sea.
River Andrew had conducted the two gentlemen from "The Black Sailor" to
the churchyard by their own request. A message had been sent to him in
the morning that this service would be required of him, to which he had
returned the answer that they would have to wait until the evening. It
was his day to go round Marshford way with dried fish, he said; but in
the evening they could see the church if they still set their minds on
River Andrew combined the light duties of grave-digger and clerk to the
parish of Farlingford in Suffolk with a small but steady business in fish
of his own drying, nets of his own netting, and pork slain and dressed by
his own weather-beaten hands.
For Farlingford lies in that part of England which reaches seaward toward
the Fatherland, and seems to have acquired from that proximity an
insatiable appetite for sausages and pork. On these coasts the killing of
pigs and the manufacture of sausages would appear to employ the leisure
of the few, who for one reason or another have been deemed unfit for the
sea. It is not our business to inquire why River Andrew had never used
the fickle element. All that lay in the past. And in a degree he was
saved from the disgrace of being a landsman by the smell of tar and
bloaters that heralded his coming, by the blue jersey and the brown
homespun trousers which he wore all the week, and by the saving word
which distinguished him from the poor inland lubbers who had no dealings
with water at all.
He had this evening laid aside his old sou'wester--worn in fair and foul
weather alike--for his Sunday hat. His head-part was therefore official
and lent additional value to the words recorded. He spoke them, moreover,
with a dim note of aggressiveness which might only have been racy of a
soil breeding men who are curt and clear of speech. But there was more
than an East Anglian bluffness in the statement and the manner of its
delivery, as his next observation at once explained.
"Passen thinks it's over there by the yew-tree--but he's wrong. That
there one was a wash-up found by old Willem the lighthouse keeper one
morning early. No! this is where Frenchman was laid by."
He indicated with the toe of his sea-boot a crumbling grave which had
never been distinguished by a headstone. The grass grew high all over
Farlingford churchyard, almost hiding the mounds where the forefathers
slept side by side with the nameless "wash-ups," to whom they had
extended a last hospitality.
River Andrew had addressed his few remarks to the younger of his two
companions, a well-dressed, smartly set-up man of forty or thereabouts,
who in turn translated the gist of them into French for the information
of his senior, a little white-haired gentleman whom he called "Monsieur
He spoke glibly enough in either tongue, with a certain indifference of
manner. This was essentially a man of cities, and one better suited to
the pavement than the rural quiet of Farlingford. To have the gift of
tongues is no great recommendation to the British born, and River Andrew
looked askance at this fine gentleman while he spoke French. He had
received letters at the post-office under the name of Dormer Colville: a
name not unknown in London and Paris, but of which the social fame had
failed to travel even to Ipswich, twenty miles away from this mouldering
"It's getting on for twenty-five years come Michaelmas," put in River
Andrew. "I wasn't digger then; but I remember the burial well enough. And
I remember Frenchman--same as if I see him yesterday."
He plucked a blade of grass from the grave and placed it between his
"He were a mystery, he were," he added, darkly, and turned to look
musingly across the marshes toward the distant sea. For River Andrew,
like many hawkers of cheap wares, knew the indirect commercial value of
The little white-haired Frenchman made a gesture of the shoulders and
outspread hands indicative of a pious horror at the condition of this
neglected grave. The meaning of his attitude was so obvious that River
Andrew shifted uneasily from one foot to the other.
"Passen," he said, "he don't take no account of the graves. He's what you
might call a bookworm. Always a sitting indoors reading books and
pictures. Butcher Franks turns his sheep in from time to time. But along
of these tempests and the hot sun the grass has shot up a bit.
Frenchman's no worse off than others. And there's some as are fallen in
He indicated one or two graves where the mound had sunk, and suggestive
hollows were visible in the grass. "First, it's the coffin that bu'sts in
beneath the weight, then it's the bones," he added, with that grim
realism which is begotten of familiarity.
Dormer Colville did not trouble to translate these general truths. He
suppressed a yawn as he contemplated the tottering headstones of certain
master-mariners and Trinity-pilots taking their long rest in the
immediate vicinity. The churchyard lay on the slope of rising ground upon
which the village of Farlingford straggled upward in one long street.
Farlingford had once been a town of some commercial prosperity. Its story
was the story of half a dozen ports on this coast--a harbour silted up, a
commerce absorbed by a more prosperous neighbour nearer to the railway.
Below the churchyard was the wide street which took a turn eastward at
the gates and led straight down to the river-side. Farlingford Quay--a
little colony of warehouses and tarred huts--was separated from
Farlingford proper by a green, where the water glistened at high tide. In
olden days the Freemen of Farlingford had been privileged to graze their
horses on the green. In these later times the lord of the manor pretended
to certain rights over the pasturage, which Farlingford, like one man,
"A mystery," repeated River Andrew, waiting very clearly for Mr. Dormer
Colville to translate the suggestive word to the French gentleman. But
Colville only yawned. "And there's few in Farlingford as knew Frenchman
as well as I did."
Mr. Colville walked toward the church porch, which seemed to appeal to
his sense of the artistic; for he studied the Norman work with the eye of
a connoisseur. He was evidently a cultured man, more interested in a work
of art than in human story.
River Andrew, seeing him depart, jingled the keys which he carried in his
hand, and glanced impatiently toward the older man. The Marquis de
Gemosac, however, ignored the sound as completely as he had ignored River
Andrew's remarks. He was looking round him with eyes which had once been
dark and bright, and were now dimly yellow. He looked from tomb to tomb,
vainly seeking one that should be distinguished, if only by the
evidence of a little care at the hands of the living. He looked down the
wide grass-grown street--partly paved after the manner of the
Netherlands--toward the quay, where the brown river gleamed between the
walls of the weather-beaten brick buildings. There was a ship lying at
the wharf, half laden with hay; a coasting craft from some of the greater
tidal rivers, the Orwell or the Blackwater. A man was sitting on a piece
of timber on the quay, smoking as he looked seaward. But there was no one
else in sight. For Farlingford was half depopulated, and it was tea-time.
Across the river lay the marshes, unbroken by tree or hedge, barren of
even so much as a hut. In the distance, hazy and grey in the eye of the
North Sea, a lighthouse stood dimly, like a pillar of smoke. To the
south--so far as the eye could pierce the sea haze--marshes. To the
north--where the river ran between bare dykes--marshes.
And withal a silence which was only intensified by the steady hum of the
wind through the gnarled branches of the few churchyard trees which turn
a crouching back toward the ocean.
In all the world--save, perhaps, in the Arctic world--it would be hard to
find a picture emphasising more clearly the fact that a man's life is but
a small matter, and the memory of it like the seed of grass upon the wind
to be blown away and no more recalled.
The bearer of one of the great names of France stood knee-deep in the
sun-tanned grass and looked slowly round as if seeking to imprint the
scene upon his memory. He turned to glance at the crumbling church behind
him, built long ago by men speaking the language in which his own
thoughts found shape. He looked slowly from end to end of the ill-kept
burial ground, crowded with the bones of the nameless and insignificant
dead, who, after a life passed in the daily struggle to wrest a
sufficiency of food from a barren soil, or the greater struggle to hold
their own against a greedy sea, had faded from the memory of the living,
leaving naught behind them but a little mound where the butcher put his
sheep to graze.
Monsieur de Gemosac was so absorbed in his reflections that he seemed to
forget his surroundings and stood above the grave, pointed out to him by
River Andrew, oblivious to the cold wind that blew in from the sea, deaf
to the clink of the sexton's inviting keys, forgetful of his companion
who stood patiently waiting within the porch. The Marquis was a little
bent man, spare of limb, heavy of shoulder, with snow-white hair against
which his skin, brown and wrinkled as a walnut shell, looked sallow like
old ivory. His face was small and aquiline; not the face of a clever man,
but clearly the face of an aristocrat. He had the grand manner too, and
that quiet air of self-absorption which usually envelops the bearers of
Dormer Colville watched him with a good-natured patience which pointed,
as clearly as his attitude and yawning indifference, to the fact that he
was not at Farlingford for his own amusement. Presently he lounged back
again toward the Marquis and stood behind him. "The wind is cold,
Marquis," he said, pleasantly. "One of the coldest spots in England. What
would Mademoiselle say if I allowed you to take a chill?"
De Gemosac turned and looked at him over his shoulder with a smile full
of pathetic meaning. He spread out his arms in a gesture indicative of
horror at the bleakness of the surroundings; at the mournfulness of the
decaying village; the dreary hopelessness of the mouldering church and
"I was thinking, my friend," he said. "That was all. It is not surprising
... that one should think."
Colville heaved a sigh and said nothing. He was, it seemed, essentially a
sympathetic man; not of a thoughtful habit himself, but tolerant of
thought in others. It was abominably windy and cold, although the corn
was beginning to ripen; but he did not complain. Neither did he desire to
hurry his companion in any way.
He looked at the crumbling grave with a passing shadow in his clever and
worldly eyes, and composed himself to await his friend's pleasure.
In his way he must have been a philosopher. His attitude did not suggest
that he was bored, and yet it was obvious that he was eminently out of
place in this remote spot. He had nothing in common, for instance, with
River Andrew, and politely yawned that reminiscent fish-curer into
silence. His very clothes were of a cut and fashion never before seen in
Farlingford. He wore them, too, with an air rarely assumed even in the
streets of Ipswich.
Men still dressed with care at this time; for d'Orsay was not yet dead,
though his fame was tarnished. Mr. Dormer Colville was not a dandy,
however. He was too clever to go to that extreme and too wise not to be
within reach of it in an age when great tailors were great men, and it
was quite easy to make a reputation by clothes alone.
Not only was his dress too fine for Farlingford, but his personality was
not in tune with this forgotten end of England. His movements were too
quick for a slow-moving race of men; no fools, and wiser than their
midland brethren; slow because they had yet to make sure that a better
way of life had been discovered than that way in which their Saxon
forefathers had always walked.
Colville seemed to look at the world with an exploiting eye. He had a
speculative mind. Had he lived at the end of the Victorian era instead of
the beginning he might have been a notable financier. His quick glance
took in all Farlingford in one comprehensive verdict. There was nothing
to be made of it. It was uninteresting because it obviously had no
future, nor encouraged any enterprise. He looked across the marshes
indifferently, following the line of the river as it made its devious way
between high dykes to the sea. And suddenly his eye lighted. There was a
sail to the south. A schooner was standing in to the river mouth, her
sails glowing rosily in the last of the sunset light.
Colville turned to see whether River Andrew had noticed, and saw that
landsman looking skyward with an eye that seemed to foretell the early
demise of a favouring wind.
"That's 'The Last Hope,'" he said, in answer to Dormer Colville's
question. "And it will take all Seth Clubbe's seamanship to save the
tide. 'The Last Hope.' There's many a 'Hope,' built at Farlingford, and
that's the last, for the yard is closed and there's no more building
The Marquis de Gemosac had turned away from the grave, but as Colville
approached him he looked back to it with a shake of the head.
"After eight centuries of splendour, my friend," he said. "Can that be
"It is not the end," answered Colville, cheerfully, "It is only the end
of a chapter. _Le roi est mort--vive le roi!_"
He pointed with his stick, as he spoke, to the schooner creeping in
between the dykes.
VIVE LE ROI
"The Last Hope" had been expected for some days. It was known in
Farlingford that she was foul, and that Captain Clubbe had decided to put
her on the slip-way at the end of the next voyage. Captain Clubbe was a
Farlingford man. "The Last Hope" was a Farlingford built ship, and Seth
Clubbe was not the captain to go past his own port for the sake of saving
a few pounds.
"Farlingford's his nation," they said of him down at the quay. "Born and
bred here, man and boy. He's not likely to put her into a Thames dry-dock
while the slip-way's standing empty."
All the village gossips naturally connected the arrival of the two
gentlemen from London with the expected return of "The Last Hope."
Captain Clubbe was known to have commercial relations with France. It was
currently reported that he could speak the language. No one could tell
the number of his voyages backward and forward from the Bay to Bristol,
to Yarmouth, and even to Bergen, carrying salt-fish to those countries
where their religion bids them eat that which they cannot supply from
their own waters, and bringing back wine from Bordeaux and brandy from
It is not etiquette, however, on these wind-swept coasts to inquire too
closely into a man's business, and, as in other places, the talk was
mostly among those who knew the least--namely, the women. There had been
a question of repairing the church. The generation now slowly finding its
way to its precincts had discussed the matter since their childhood and
nothing had come of it.
One bold spirit put forth the suggestion that the two gentlemen were
London architects sent down by the Queen to see to the church. But the
idea fell to the ground before the assurance from Mrs. Clopton's own lips
that the old gentleman was nothing but a Frenchman.
Mrs. Clopton kept "The Black Sailor," and knew a deal more than she was
ready to tell people; which is tantamount to saying that she was a woman
in a thousand. It had leaked out, however, that the spokesman of the
party, Mr. Dormer Colville, had asked Mrs. Clopton whether it was true
that there was claret in the cellars of "The Black Sailor." And any one
having doubts could satisfy himself with a sight of the empty bottles,
all mouldy, standing in the back yard of the inn.
They were wine-merchants from France, concluded the wiseacres of
Farlingford over their evening beer. They had come to Farlingford to see
Captain Clubbe. What could be more natural! For Farlingford was proud of
Captain Clubbe. It so often happens that a man going out into the world
and making a great name there, forgets his birthplace and the rightful
claim to a gleam of reflected glory which the relations of a great
man--who have themselves stayed at home and done nothing--are always
ready to consider their due reward for having shaken their heads over him
during the earlier struggles.
Though slow of tongue, the men of Farlingford were of hospitable
inclination. They were sorry for Frenchmen, as for a race destined to
smart for all time under the recollection of many disastrous defeats at
sea. And of course they could not help being ridiculous. Heaven had made
them like that while depriving them of any hope of ever attaining to good
seamanship. Here was a foreigner, however, cast up in their midst, not by
the usual channel indeed, but by a carriage and pair from Ipswich. He
must feel lonesome, they thought, and strange. They, therefore, made an
effort to set him at his ease, and when they met him in "the street"
jerked their heads at him sideways. The upward jerk is less friendly and
usually denotes the desire to keep strictly within the limits of
acquaintanceship. To Mr. Dormer Colville they gave the upward lift of the
chin as to a person too facile in speech to be desirable.
The dumbness of the Marquis do Gemosac appealed perhaps to a race of
seafaring men very sparingly provided by nature with words in which to
clothe thoughts no less solid and sensible by reason of their terseness.
It was at all events unanimously decided that everything should be done
to make the foreigner welcome until the arrival of "The Last Hope." A
similar unanimity characterised the decision that he must without delay
be shown Frenchman's grave.
River Andrew's action and the unprecedented display of his Sunday hat on
a week-day were nothing but the outcome of a deep-laid scheme. Mrs.
Clopton had been instructed to recommend the gentlemen to inspect the
church, and the rest had been left to the wit of River Andrew, a man
whose calling took him far and wide, and gave him opportunities of speech
These opportunities tempted River Andrew to go beyond his instructions so
far as to hint that he could, if encouraged, make disclosures of interest
respecting Frenchman. Which was untrue; for River Andrew knew no more
than the rest of Farlingford of a man who, having been literally cast up
by the sea at their gates, had lived his life within those gates, had
married a Farlingford woman, and had at last gone the way of all
Farlingford without telling any who or what he was.
From sundry open cottage doors and well-laden tea-tables glances of
inquiry were directed toward the strangers' faces as they walked down the
street after having viewed the church. Some prescient females went so far
as to state that they could see quite distinctly in the elder gentleman's
demeanour a sense of comfort and consolation at the knowledge thus
tactfully conveyed to him that he was not the first of his kind to be
seen in Farlingford.
Hard upon the heels of the visitors followed River Andrew, wearing his
sou'wester now and carrying the news that "The Last Hope" was coming up
on the top of the tide.
Farlingford lies four miles from the mouth of the river, and no ship
can well arrive unexpected at the quay; for the whole village may see
her tacking up under shortened sail, heading all ways, sometimes
close-hauled, and now running free as she follows the zigzags of the
Thus, from the open door, the villagers calculated the chances of being
able to finish the evening meal at leisure and still be down at the quay
in time to see Seth Clubbe bring his ship alongside. One by one the men
of Farlingford, pipe in mouth, went toward the river, not forgetting the
kindly, sideward jerk of the head for the old Frenchman already waiting
It was nearly the top of the tide and the clear green water swelled and
gurgled round the weedy piles of the quay, bringing on its surface tokens
from the sea--shadowy jelly-fish, weed, and froth. "The Last Hope" was
quite close at hand now, swinging up in mid-stream. The sun had set and
over the marshes the quiet of evening brooded hazily. Captain Clubbe had
taken in all sail except a jib. His anchor was swinging lazily overside,
ready to drop. The watchers on the quay could note the gentle rise and
fall of the crack little vessel as the tide lifted her from behind. She
seemed to be dancing to her home like a maiden back from school. The
swing of her tapering masts spoke of the heaving seas she had left
It was characteristic of Farlingford that no one spoke. River Andrew was
already in his boat, ready to lend a hand should Captain Clubbe wish to
send a rope ashore. But it was obvious that the captain meant to anchor
in the stream for the night: so obvious that if any one on shore had
mentioned the conclusion his speech would have called for nothing but a
contemptuous glance from the steady blue eyes all round him.
It was equally characteristic of a Farlingford ship that there were no
greetings from the deck. Those on shore could clearly perceive the burly
form of Captain Clubbe, standing by the weather rigging. Wives could
distinguish their husbands, and girls their lovers; but, as these were
attending to their business with a taciturn concentration, no hand was
raised in salutation.
The wind had dropped now. For these are coasts of quiet nights and
boisterous days. The tide was almost slack. "The Last Hope" was scarcely
moving, and in the shadowy light looked like a phantom ship sailing out
of a dreamy sunset sky.
Suddenly the silence was broken, so unexpectedly, so dramatically, that
the old Frenchman, to whose nature such effects would naturally appeal
with a lightning speed, rose to his feet and stood looking with startled
eyes toward the ship. A clear strong voice had broken joyously into song,
and the words it sang were French:
"C'est le Hasard,
Qui, tot ou tard,
Ici bas nous seconde;
D'un bout du monde
A l'autre bout,
Le Hasard seul fait tout."
Not only were the words incongruous with their quaint, sadly gay air of a
dead epoch of music and poetry; but the voice was in startling contrast
to the tones of a gruff and slow-speaking people. For it was a clear
tenor voice with a ring of emotion in it, half laughter, half tears, such
as no Briton could compass himself, or hear in another without a dumb
feeling of shame and shyness.
But those who heard it on the shore--and all Farlingford was there by
this time--only laughed curtly. Some of the women exchanged a glance and
made imperfectly developed gestures, as of a tolerance understood between
mothers for anything that is young and inconsequent.
"We've gotten Loo Barebone back at any rate," said a man, bearing the
reputation of a wit. And after a long pause one or two appreciators
"You're right," and laughed good-humouredly.
The Marquis de Gemosac sat down again, with a certain effort at
self-control, on the balk of timber which had been used by some
generations of tide-watchers. He turned and exchanged a glance with
Dormer Colville, who stood at his side leaning on his gold-headed cane.
Colville's expression seemed to say:
"I told you what it would be. But wait: there is more to come."
His affable eyes made a round of the watching faces, and even exchanged a
sympathetic smile with some, as if to hint that his clothes were only
fine because he belonged to a fine generation, but that his heart was as
human as any beating under a homelier coat.
"There's Passen," said one woman to another, behind the corner of her
apron, within Colville's hearing. "It takes a deal to bring him out o'
doors nowadays, and little Sep and--Miss Miriam."
Dormer Colville heard the words. And he heard something unspoken in the
pause before the mention of the last name. He did not look at once in the
direction indicated by a jerk of the speaker's thumb, but waited until a
change of position enabled him to turn his head without undue curiosity.
He threw back his shoulders and stretched his legs after the manner of
one cramped by standing too long in one attitude.
A hundred yards farther up the river, where the dyke was wider, a
grey-haired man was walking slowly toward the quay. In front of him a boy
of ten years was endeavouring to drag a young girl toward the jetty at a
quicker pace than she desired. She was laughing at his impetuosity and
looking back toward the man who followed them with the abstraction and
indifference of a student.
Colville took in the whole picture in one quick comprehensive glance. But
he turned again as the singer on board "The Last Hope" began another
verse. The words were clearly audible to such as knew the language, and
Colville noted that the girl turned with a sudden gravity to listen to
"Un tel qu'on vantait
Par hasard etait
D'origine assez minoe;
Par hasard il plut,
Par hasard il fut
Baron, ministre, et prince."
Captain Clubbe's harsh voice broke into the song with the order to let go
the anchor. As the ship swung to the tide the steersman, who wore neither
coat nor waistcoat, could be seen idly handling the wheel still, though
his duties were necessarily at an end. He was a young man, and a gay
salutation of his unemployed hand toward the assembled people--as if he
were sure that they were all friends--stamped him as the light-hearted
singer, so different from the Farlingford men, so strongly contrasted to
his hearers, who nevertheless jerked their heads sideways in response. He
had, it seemed, rightly gauged the feelings of these cold East Anglians.
They were his friends.
River Andrew's boat was alongside "The Last Hope" now. Some one had
thrown him a rope, which he had passed under his bow thwart and now held
with one hand, while with the other he kept his distance from the tarry
side of the ship. There was a pause until the schooner felt her moorings,
then Captain Clubbe looked over the side and nodded a curt salutation to
River Andrew, bidding him, by the same gesture, wait a minute until he
had donned his shore-going jacket. The steersman was pulling on his coat
while he sought among the crowd the faces of his more familiar friends.
He was, it seemed, a privileged person, and took it for granted that he
should go ashore with the captain. He was, perhaps, one of those who
seemed to be privileged at their birth by Fate, and pass through life on
the sunny side with a light step and laughing lips.
Captain Clubbe was the first to step ashore, with one comprehensive nod
of the head for all Farlingford. Close on his heels the younger sailor
was already returning the greetings of his friends.
"Hullo, Loo!" they said; or, "How do, Barebone?" For their tongues are no
quicker than their limbs, and to this day, "How do?" is the usual
The Marquis de Gemosac, who was sitting in the background, gave a sharp
little exclamation of surprise when Barebone stepped ashore, and turned
to Dormer Colville to say in an undertone:
"Ah--but you need say nothing."
"I promised you," answered Colville, carelessly, "that I should tell you
nothing till you had seen him."
THE RETURN OF "THE LAST HOPE"
Not only France, but all Europe, had at this time to reckon with one who,
if, as his enemies said, was no Bonaparte, was a very plausible imitation
In 1849 France, indeed, was kind enough to give the world a breathing
space. She had herself just come through one of those seething years from
which she alone seems to have the power of complete recovery. Paris had
been in a state of siege for four months; not threatened by a foreign
foe, but torn to pieces by internal dissension. Sixteen thousand had been
killed and wounded in the streets. A ministry had fallen. A ministry
always does fall in France. Bad weather may bring about such a descent at
any moment. A monarchy had been thrown down--a king had fled. Another
king; and one who should have known better than to put his trust in a
Half a dozen generals had attempted to restore order in Paris and
confidence in France. Then, at the very end of 1848, the fickle people
elected this Napoleon, who was no Bonaparte, President of the new
Republic, and Europe was accorded a breathing space. At the beginning of
1849 arrangements were made for it--military arrangements--and the year
was almost quiet.
It was in the summer of the next year, 1850, that the Marquis de Gemosac
journeyed to England. It was not his first visit to the country. Sixty
years earlier he had been hurried thither by a frenzied mother, a little
pale-faced boy, not bright or clever, but destined to pass through days
of trial and years of sorrow which the bright and clever would scarcely
have survived. For brightness must always mean friction, while cleverness
will continue to butt its head against human limitations so long as men
shall walk this earth.
He had been induced to make this journey thus, in the evening of his
days, by the Hope, hitherto vain enough, which many Frenchmen had pursued
for half a century. For he was one of those who refused to believe that
Louis XVII had died in the prison of the Temple.
Not once, but many times, Dormer Colville laughingly denied any
responsibility in the matter.
"I will not even tell the story as it was told to me," he said to the
Marquis de Gemosac, to the Abbe Touvent and to the Comtesse de
Chantonnay, whom he met frequently enough at the house of his cousin,
Mrs. St. Pierre Lawrence, in that which is now the Province of the
Charente Inferieure. "I will not even tell you the story as it was told
to me, until one of you has seen the man. And then, if you ask me, I will
tell you. It is nothing to me, you understand. I am no dreamer, but a
very material person, who lives in France because he loves the sunshine,
and the cuisine, and the good, kind hearts, which no government or want
of government can deteriorate."
And Madame de Chantonnay, who liked Dormer Colville--with whom she
admitted she always felt herself in sympathy--smiled graciously in
response to his gallant bow. For she, too, was a materialist who loved
the sunshine and the cuisine; more especially the cuisine.
Moreover, Colville never persuaded the Marquis de Gemosac to come
to England. He went so far as to represent, in a realistic light,
the discomforts of the journey, and only at the earnest desire of
many persons concerned did he at length enter into the matter and
good-naturedly undertake to accompany the aged traveller.
So far as his story was concerned, he kept his word, entertaining the
Marquis on the journey and during their two days' sojourn at the humble
inn at Farlingford with that flow of sympathetic and easy conversation
which always made Madame de Chantonnay protest that he was no Englishman
at all, but all that there was of the most French. Has it not been seen
that Colville refused to translate the dark sayings of River Andrew by
the side of the grass-grown grave, which seemed to have been brought to
the notice of the travellers by the merest accident?
"I promised you that I should tell you nothing until you had seen him,"
he repeated, as the Marquis followed with his eyes the movements of the
group of which the man they called Loo Barebone formed the centre.
No one took much notice of the two strangers. It is not considered good
manners in a seafaring community to appear to notice a new-comer. Captain
Clubbe was naturally the object of universal attention. Was he not
bringing foreign money into Farlingford, where the local purses needed
replenishing now that trade had fallen away and agriculture was so sorely
hampered by the lack of roads across the marsh?
Clubbe pushed his way through the crowd to shake hands with the Rev.
Septimus Marvin, who seemed to emerge from a visionary world of his own
in order to perform that ceremony and to return thither on its
Then the majority of the onlookers straggled homeward, leaving a few
wives and sweethearts waiting by the steps, with patient eyes fixed on
the spidery figures in the rigging of "The Last Hope." Dormer Colville
and the Marquis de Gemosac were left alone, while the rector stood a few
yards away, glaring abstractedly at them through his gold-rimmed
spectacles as if they had been some strange flotsam cast up by the high
"I remember," said Colville to his companion, "that I have an
introduction to the pastor of the village, who, if I am not mistaken, is
even now contemplating opening a conversation. It was given to me by my
banker in Paris, who is a Suffolk man. You remember, Marquis, John
Turner, of the Rue Lafayette?"
"Yes--yes," answered the Marquis, absently. He was still watching the
retreating villagers, with eyes old and veiled by the trouble that they
"I will take this opportunity of presenting myself," said Colville, who
was watching the little group from the rectory without appearing to do
so. He rose as he spoke and went toward the clergyman, who was probably
much younger than he looked. For he was ill-dressed and ill-shorn, with
straggling grey hair hanging to his collar. He had a musty look, such as
a book may have that is laid on a shelf in a deserted room and never
opened or read. Septimus Marvin, the world would say, had been laid upon
a shelf when he was inducted to the spiritual cure of Farlingford. But no
man is ever laid on a shelf by Fate. He climbs up there of his own will,
and lies down beneath the dust of forgetfulness because he lacks the
heart to arise and face the business of life.
Seeing that Dormer Colville was approaching him, he came forward with a
certain scholarly ease of manner as if he had once mixed with the best on
an intellectual equality.
Colville's manners were considered perfect, especially by those who were
unable to detect a fine line said to exist between ease and too much
ease. Mr. Marvin recollected John Turner well. Ten years earlier he had,
indeed, corresponded at some length with the Paris banker respecting a
valuable engraving. Was Mr. Colville interested in engravings? Colville
confessed to a deep and abiding pleasure in this branch of art, tempered,
he admitted with a laugh, by a colossal ignorance. He then proceeded to
give the lie to his own modesty by talking easily and well of mezzotints
"But," he said, interrupting himself with evident reluctance, "I am
forgetting my obligations. Let me present to you my companion, an old
friend, the Marquis de Gemosac."
The two gentlemen bowed, and Mr. Marvin, knowing no French, proceeded to
address the stranger in good British Latin, after the manner of the
courtly divines of his day. Which Latin, from its mode of pronunciation,
was entirely unintelligible to its hearer.
In return, the rector introduced the two strangers to his niece, Miriam
"The mainstay of my quiet house," he added, with his vague and dreamy
"I have already heard of you," said Dormer Colville at once, with his
modest deference, "from my cousin, Mrs. St. Pierre Lawrence."
He seemed, as sailors say, never to be at a loose end; but to go through
life with a facile readiness, having, as it were, his hands full of
threads among which to select, with a careless affability, one that must
draw him nearer to high and low, men and women, alike.
They talked together for some minutes, and, soon after the discovery that
Mariam Liston was as good a French scholar as himself, and therefore able
to converse with the Marquis de Gemosac, Colville regretted that it was
time for them to return to their simple evening meal at "The Black
"Well," said Colville to Monsieur de Gemosac, as they walked slowly
across the green toward the inn, embowered in its simple cottage-garden,
all ablaze now with hollyhocks and poppies--"well, after your glimpse at
this man, Marquis, are you desirous to see more of him?"
"My friend," answered the Frenchman, with a quick gesture, descriptive of
a sudden emotion not yet stilled, "he took my breath away. I can think of
nothing else. My poor brain is buzzing still, and I know not what answers
I made to that pretty English girl. Ah! You smile at my enthusiasm; you
do not know what it is to have a great hope dangling before the eyes all
one's life. And that face--that face!"
In which judgment the Marquis was no doubt right. For Dormer Colville was
too universal a man to be capable of concentrated zeal upon any one
object. He laughed at the accusation.
"After dinner," he answered, "I will tell you the little story as it was
told to me. We can sit on this seat, outside the inn, in the scent of the
flowers and smoke our cigarette."
To which proposal Monsieur de Gemosac assented readily enough. For he was
an old man, and to such the importance of small things, such as dinner or
a passing personal comfort, are apt to be paramount. Moreover, he was a
remnant of that class to which France owed her downfall among the
nations; a class represented faithfully enough by its King, Louis XVI,
who procrastinated even on the steps of the guillotine.
The wind went down with the sun, as had been foretold by River Andrew,
and the quiet of twilight lay on the level landscape like sleep when the
two travellers returned to the seat at the inn door. A distant curlew was
whistling cautiously to its benighted mate, but all other sounds were
still. The day was over.
"You remember," said Colville to his companion, "that six months after
the execution of the King, a report ran through Paris and all France that
the Dillons had succeeded in rescuing the Dauphin from the Temple."
"That was in July, 1793--just fifty-seven years ago--the news reached me
in Austria," answered the Marquis.
Colville glanced sideways at his companion, whose face was set with a
stubbornness almost worthy of the tenacious Bourbons themselves.
"The Queen was alive then," went on the Englishman, half diffidently, as
if prepared for amendment or correction. "She had nearly three months to
live. The separation from her children had only just been carried out.
She was not broken by it yet. She was in full possession of her health
and energy. She was one of the cleverest women of that time. She was
surrounded by men, some of whom were frankly half-witted, others who were
drunk with excess of a sudden power for which they had had no
preparation. Others, again, were timorous or cunning. All were ignorant,
and many had received no education at all. For there are many ignorant
people who have been highly educated, Marquis."
He gave a short laugh and lighted a cigarette. "Mind," he continued,
after a pause devoted to reflection which appeared to be neither deep nor
painful, for he smiled as he gazed across the hazy marshes, "mind, I am
no enthusiast, as you yourself have observed. I plead no cause. She was
not my Queen, Marquis, and France is not my country. I endeavour to look
at the matter with the eye of common-sense and wisdom. And I cannot
forget that Marie Antoinette was at bay: all her senses, all her wit
alert. She can only have thought of her children. Human nature would
dictate such thoughts. One cannot forget that she had devoted friends,
and that these friends possessed unlimited money. Do you think, Marquis,
that any one man of that rabble was above the reach--of money?"
And Mr. Dormer Colville's reflective smile, as he gazed at the distant
sea, would seem to indicate that, after a considerable experience of men
and women, he had reluctantly arrived at a certain conclusion respecting
"No man born of woman, Marquis, is proof against bribery or flattery--or
"One can believe anything that is bad of such dregs of human-kind, my
friend," said Monsieur de Gemosac, contemptuously.
"I speak to one," continued Colville, "who has given the attention of a
lifetime to the subject. If I am wrong, correct me. What I have been told
is that a man was found who was ready, in return for a certain sum paid
down, to substitute his own son for the little Dauphin--to allow his son
to take the chance of coming alive out of that predicament. One can
imagine that such a man could be found in France at that period."
Monsieur de Gemosac turned, and looked at his companion with a sort of
"You speak as if in doubt, Monsieur Colville," he said, with a sudden
assumption of that grand manner with which his father had faced the
people on the Place de la Revolution--had taken a pinch of snuff in the
shadow of the guillotine one sunny July day. "You speak as if in doubt.
Such a man was found. I have spoken with him: I, who speak to you."
THE MARQUIS'S CREED
Dormer Colville smiled doubtfully. He was too polite, it seemed, to be
sceptical, and by his attitude expressed a readiness to be convinced as
much from indifference as by reasoning.
"It is intolerable," said the Marquis de Gemosac, "that a man of your
understanding should be misled by a few romantic writers in the pay of
"I am not misled, Marquis; I am ignorant," laughed Colville. "It is not
always the same thing."
Monsieur de Gemosac threw away his cigarette and turned eagerly toward
"Listen," he said. "I can convince you in a few words."
And Colville leaned back against the weather-worn seat with the air of
one prepared to give a post-prandial attention.
"Such a man was found as you yourself suggest. A boy was found who could
not refuse to run that great risk, who could not betray himself by
indiscreet speech--because he was dumb. In order to allay certain rumours
which were going the round of Europe, the National Convention sent three
of its members to visit the Dauphin in prison, and they themselves have
left a record that he answered none of their questions and spoke no word
to them. Why? Because he was dumb. He merely sat and looked at them
solemnly, as the dumb look. It was not the Dauphin at all. He was hidden
in the loft above. The visit of the Conventionals was not satisfactory.
The rumours were not stilled by it. There is nothing so elusive or so
vital as a rumour. Ah! you smile, my friend."
"I always give a careful attention to rumours," admitted Colville. "More
careful than that which one accords to official announcements."
"Well, the dumb boy was not satisfactory. Those who were paid for this
affair began to be alarmed. Not for their pockets. There was plenty of
money. Half the crowned heads in Europe, and all the women, were ready to
open their purses for the sake of a little boy, whose ill-treatment
appealed to their soft hearts: who in a sense was sacred, for he was
descended from sixty-six kings. No! Barras and all the other scoundrels
began to perceive that there was only one way out of the difficulty into
which they had blundered. The Dauphin must die! So the dumb boy
disappeared. One wonders whither he went and what his fate might be--"
"With so much to tell," put in Dormer Colville, musingly; "so much
It was odd how the _roles_ had been reversed. For the Marquis de Gemosac
was now eagerly seeking to convince his companion. The surest way to
persuade a man is to lead him to persuade himself.
"The only solution was for the Dauphin to die--in public. So another
substitution was effected," continued Monsieur de Gemosac. "A dying boy
from the hospital was made to play the part of the Dauphin. He was not at
all like him; for he was tall and dark--taller and darker than a son of
Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette could ever have been. The prison was
reconstructed so that the sentry on guard could not see his prisoner, but
was forced to call to him in order to make sure that he was there. It was
a pity that he did not resemble the Dauphin at all, this scrofulous
child. But they were in a hurry, and they were at their wits' ends. And
it is not always easy to find a boy who will die in a given time. This
boy had to die, however, by some means or other. It was for France, you
understand, and the safety of the Great Republic."
"One hopes that he appreciated his privilege," observed Colville,
"And he must die in public, duly certified for by persons of undoubted
integrity. They called in, at the last moment, Desault, a great doctor of
that day. But Desault was, unfortunately, honest. He went home and told
his assistant that this was not the Dauphin, and that, whoever he might
be, he was being poisoned. The assistant's name was Choppart, and this
Choppart made up a medicine, on Desault's prescription, which was an
antidote to poison."
Monsieur de Gemosac paused, and, turning to his companion, held up one
finger to command his full attention.
"Desault died, my friend, four days later, and Choppart died five days
after him, and the boy in the Temple died three days after Choppart. And
no one knows what they died of. They were pretty bunglers, those
gentlemen of the Republic! Of course, they called in others in a hurry;
men better suited to their purpose. And one of these, the citizen
Pelletan, has placed on record some preposterous lies. These doctors
certified that this was the Dauphin. They had never seen him before, but
what matter? Great care was taken to identify the body. Persons of
position, who had never seen the son of Louis XVI, were invited to visit
the Temple. Several of them had the temerity to protect themselves in the
certificate. 'We saw what we were informed was the body of the Dauphin,'
Again the old man turned, and held up his hand in a gesture of warning.
"If they wanted a witness whose testimony was without question--whose
word would have laid the whole question in that lost and forgotten grave
for ever--they had one in the room above. For the Dauphin's sister was
there, Marie Therese Charlotte, she who is now Duchess of Angouleme. Why
did they not bring her down to see the body, to testify that her brother
was dead and the line of Louis XVI ended? Was it chivalry? I ask you if
these had shown chivalry to Madame de Lamballe? to Madame Elizabeth? to
Marie Antoinette? Was it kindness toward a child of unparalleled
misfortune? I ask you if they had been kind to those whom they called the
children of the tyrant? No! They did not conduct her to that bedside,
because he who lay there was not her brother. Are we children, Monsieur,
to be deceived by a tale of a sudden softness of heart? They wished to
spare this child the pain! Had they ever spared any one pain--the
And the Marquis de Gemosac's laugh rang with a hatred which must, it
seems, outlive the possibility of revenge.
"There was to be a public funeral. Such a ceremony would have been of
incalculable value at that time. But, at the last minute, their courage
failed them. The boy was thrown into a forgotten corner of a Paris
churchyard, at nine o'clock one night, without witnesses. The spot itself
cannot now be identified. Do you tell me that that was the Dauphin? Bah!
my friend, the thing was too childish!"
"The ignorant and the unlettered," observed Colville, with the air of
making a concession, "are always at a disadvantage--even in crime."
"That the Dauphin was, in the mean time, concealed in the garret of the
Tower appears to be certain. That he was finally conveyed out of the
prison in a clothes-basket is as certain, Monsieur, as it is certain that
the sun will rise to-morrow. And I believe that the Queen knew, when she
went to the guillotine, that her son was no longer in the Temple. I
believe that Heaven sent her that one scrap of comfort, tempered as it
was by the knowledge that her daughter remained a prisoner in their
hands. But it was to her son that her affections were given. For the
Duchess never had the gift of winning love. As she is now--a cold, hard,
composed woman--so she was in her prison in the Temple at the age of
fifteen. You may take it from one who has known her all his life. And
from that moment to this--"
The Marquis paused, and made a gesture with his hands, descriptive of
space and the unknown.
"From that moment to this--nothing. Nothing of the Dauphin."
He turned in his seat and looked questioningly up toward the crumbling
church, with its square tower, stricken, years ago, by lightning; with
its grass-grown graveyard marked by stones all grey and hoary with
immense age and the passage of cold and stormy winters.
"Who knows," he added, "what may have become of him? Who can say where he
lies? For a life begun as his began was not likely to be a long one.
Though troubles do not kill. Witness myself, who am five years his
Colville looked at him in obedience to an inviting gesture of the hand;
looked as at something he did not understand, something beyond his
understanding, perhaps. For the troubles had not been Monsieur de
Gemosac's own troubles, but those of his country.
"And the Duchess?" said the Englishman at length, after a pause, "at
Frohsdorf--what does she say--or think?"
"She says nothing," replied the Marquis de Gemosac, sharply. "She is
silent, because the world is listening for every word she may utter. What
she thinks ... Ah! who knows? She is an old woman, my friend, for she is
seventy-one. Her memories are a millstone about her neck. No wonder she
is silent. Think what her life has been. As a child, three years of
semi-captivity at the Tuileries, with the mob howling round the railings.
Three and a half years a prisoner in the Temple. Both parents sent to the
guillotine--her aunt to the same. All her world--massacred. As a girl,
she was collected, majestic; or else she could not have survived those
years in the Temple, alone--the last of her family. What must her
thoughts have been, at night in her prison? As a woman, she is cold, sad,
unemotional. No one ever lived through such troubles with so little
display of feeling. The Restoration, the Hundred Days, the second
Restoration, Louis XVIII, and his flight to England; Charles X and his
abdication; her own husband, the Duc d'Angouleme--the Dauphin for many
years, the King for half an hour--these are some of her experiences. She
has lived for forty years in exile in Mittau, Memel, Warsaw, Koenigsberg,
Prague, England; and now she is at Frohsdorf, awaiting the end. You ask
me what she says? She says nothing, but she knows--she has always
known--that her brother did not die in the Temple."
"Then--" suggested Colville, who certainly had acquired the French art of
putting much meaning into one word.
"Then why not seek him? you would ask. How do you know that she has not
done so, my friend, with tears? But as years passed on, and brought no
word of him, it became less and less desirable. While Louis XVIII
continued to reign there was no reason to wish to find Louis XVII, you
understand. For there was still a Bourbon, of the direct line, upon the
throne. Louis XVIII would scarcely desire it. One would not expect him to
seek very diligently for one who would deprive him of the crown. Charles
X, knowing he must succeed his brother, was no more enthusiastic in the
search. And the Duchess d'Angouleme herself, you ask? I can see the
question in your face."
"Yet," conceded Colville. "For, after all, he was her brother."
"Yes--and if she found him, what would be the result? Her uncle would be
driven from the throne; her father-in-law would not inherit; her own
husband, the Dauphin, would be Dauphin no longer. She herself could never
be Queen of France. It is a hard thing to say of a woman--"
Monsieur de Gemosac paused for a moment in reflection.
"Yes," he said at length, "a hard thing. But this is a hard world,
Monsieur Colville, and will not allow either men or women to be angels. I
have known and served the Duchess all my life, and I confess that she has
never lost sight of the fact that, should Louis XVII be found, she
herself would never be Queen of France. One is not a Bourbon for
"One is not a stateswoman and a daughter of kings for nothing," amended
Colville, with his tolerant laugh; for he was always ready to make
allowances. "Better, perhaps, that France should be left quiet, under the
_regime_ she had accepted, than disturbed by the offer of another
_regime_, which might be less acceptable. You always remind me--you, who
deal with France--of a lion-tamer at a circus. You have a very slight
control over your performing beasts. If they refuse to do the trick you
propose, you do not press it, but pass on to another trick; and the bars
of the cage always appear to the onlooker to be very inadequate. Perhaps
it was better, Marquis, to let the Dauphin go; to pass him over, and
proceed to the tricks suitable to the momentary humour of your wild
The Marquis de Gemosac gave a curt laugh, which thrilled with a note of
that fearful joy known to those who seek to control the uncontrollable.
"At that time," he admitted, "it might be so. But not now. At that time
there lived Louis XVIII and Charles X, and his sons, the Duc d'Angouleme
and the Duc de Berri, who might reasonably be expected to have sons in
their turn. There were plenty of Bourbons, it seemed. And now--where are
they? What is left of them?"
He gave a nod of the head toward the sea that lay between him and
"One old woman, over there, at Frohsdorf, the daughter of Marie
Antoinette, awaiting the end of her bitter pilgrimage--and this Comte de
Chambord. This man who will not when he may. No, my friend, it has never
been so necessary to find Louis XVII as it is now. Necessary for
France--for the whole world. This Prince President, this last offshoot of
a pernicious republican growth, will drag us all in the mud if he gets
his way with France. And those who have watched with seeing eyes have
always known that such a time as the present must eventually come. For
France will always be the victim of a clever adventurer. We have foreseen
it, and for that reason we have treated as serious possibilities these
false Dauphins who have sprung up like mushrooms all over Europe and even
in America. And what have they proved? What have the Bourbons proved in
frustrating their frauds? That the son of Louis XVI did not die in the
Temple. That is all. And Madame herself has gathered further strength to
her conviction that the little King was not buried in that forgotten
corner of the graveyard of Sainte Marguerite. At the same time, she knows
that none of these--neither Naundorff, nor Havergault, nor Bruneau, nor
de Richemont, nor any other pretender--was her brother. No! The King,
either because he did not know he was King, or because he had had enough
of royalty, never came forward and never betrayed his whereabouts. He was
to be sought; he is still to be sought. And it is now that he is wanted."
"That is why I offer to tell you this story now. That is my reason for
bringing you to Farlingford now," said Colville, quietly. It seemed that
he must have awaited, as the wise do in this world, the propitious
moment, and should it never come they are content to forego their
purpose. He gave a light laugh and stretched out his long legs,
contemplating his strapped trousers and neat boots with the eye of a
connoisseur. "And should I be the humble means of doing a good turn to
France and others, will France--and others--remember it, I wonder.
Perhaps I hold in my hands the Hope of France, Marquis."
He paused, and lapsed for a moment into thought. It was eight o'clock,
and the long northern twilight was fading into darkness now. The bell of
Captain Clubbe's ship rang out the hour--a new sound in the stillness of
this forgotten town.
"The Last Hope," added Dormer Colville, with a queer laugh.
ON THE DYKE
Neither had spoken again when their thoughts were turned aside from that
story which Colville, instead of telling, had been called upon to hear.
For the man whose story it presumably was passed across the green ere the
sound of the ship's bell had died away. He had changed his clothes, or
else it would have appeared that he was returning to his ship. He walked
with his head thrown up, with long lithe steps, with a gait and carnage
so unlike the heavy tread of men wearing sea-boots all their working
days, that none would have believed him to be born and bred in
Farlingford. For it is not only in books that history is written, but in
the turn of a head, in the sound of a voice, in the vague and dreamy
thoughts half formulated by the human mind 'twixt sleeping and waking.
Monsieur de Gemosac paused, with his cigarette held poised halfway to his
lips, and watched the man go past, while Dormer Colville, leaning back
against the wall, scanned him sideways between lowered lids.
It would seem that Barebone must have an appointment. He walked without
looking about him, like one who is late. He rather avoided than sought
the greeting of a friend from the open cottage-doors as he passed on. On
reaching the quay he turned quickly to the left, following the path that
led toward the dyke at the riverside.
"He is no sailor at heart," commented Colville. "He never even glanced at
"And yet it was he who steered the ship in that dangerous river."
"He may be skilful in anything he undertakes," suggested Colville, in
explanation. "It is Captain Clubbe who will tell us that. For Captain
Clubbe has known him since his birth, and was the friend of his father."
They sat in silence watching the shadowy figure on the dyke, outlined
dimly against the hazy horizon. He was walking, still with haste as if to
a certain destination, toward the rectory buried in its half circle of
crouching trees. And already another shadow was hurrying from the house
to meet him. It was the boy, little Sep Marvin, and in the stillness of
the evening his shrill voice could be heard in excited greeting.
"What have you brought? What have you brought?" he was crying, as he ran
toward Barebone. They seemed to have so much to say to each other that
they could not wait until they came within speaking distance. The boy
took Barebone's hand, and turning walked back with him to the old house
peeping over the dyke toward the sea. He could scarcely walk quietly, for
joy at the return of his friend, and skipped from side to side, pouring
out questions and answering them himself as children and women do.
But Barebone gave him only half of his attention and looked before him
with grave eyes, while the boy talked of nests and knives. Barebone
was looking toward the garden, concealed like an entrenchment behind
the dyke. It was a quiet evening, and the rector was walking slowly
backward and forward on the raised path, made on the dyke itself, like a
ship-captain on his quarter-deck, with hands clasped behind his bent back
and eyes that swept the horizon at each turn with a mechanical monotony.
At one end of the path, which was worn smooth by the Reverend Septimus
Marvin's pensive foot, the gleam of a white dress betrayed the presence
of his niece, Miriam Liston.
"Ah, is that you?" asked the rector, holding out a limp hand. "Yes. I
remember Sep was allowed to sit up till half-past eight in the hope that
you might come round to see us. Well, Loo, and how are you? Yes--yes."
And he looked vaguely out to sea, repeating below his breath the words
"Yes--yes" almost in a whisper, as if communing secretly with his own
thoughts out of hearing of the world.
"Of course I should come round to see you," answered Barebone. "Where
else should I go? So soon as we had had tea and I could change my clothes
and get away from that dear Mrs. Clubbe. It seems so strange to come back
here from the racketing world--and France is a racketing world of its
own--and find everything in Farlingford just the same."
He had shaken hands with the rector and with Miriam Liston as he spoke,
and his speech was not the speech of Farlingford men at all, but rather
of Septimus Marvin himself, of whose voice he had acquired the ring of
education, while adding to it a neatness and quickness of enunciation
which must have been his own; for none in Suffolk could have taught it to
"Just the same," he repeated, glancing at the book Miriam had laid aside
for a moment to greet him and had now taken up again. "That book must be
very large print," he said, "for you to be able to read by this light."
"It is large print," answered the girl, with a friendly laugh, as she
returned to it.
"And you are still resolved to be a sailor?" inquired Marvin, looking at
him with kind eyes for ever asleep, it would appear, in some long slumber
which must have been the death of one of the sources of human energy--of
ambition or of hope.
"Until I find a better calling," answered Loo Barebone, with his eager
laugh. "When I am away I wonder how any can be content to live in
Farlingford and let the world go by. And when I am here I wonder how any
can be so foolish as to fret and fume in the restless world while he
might be sitting quietly at Farlingford."
"Ah," murmured the rector, musingly, "you are for the world. You, with
your capacities, your quickness for learning, your--well, your lightness
of heart, my dear Loo. That goes far in the great world. To be light of
heart--to amuse. Yes, you are for the world. You might do something
"And nothing in Farlingford?" inquired Barebone, gaily; but he turned, as
he spoke, and glanced once more at Miriam Liston as if in some dim way
the question could not be answered by any other. She was absorbed in her
book again. The print must indeed have been large and clear, for the
twilight was fading fast.
She looked up and met his glance with direct and steady eyes of a clear
grey. A severe critic of that which none can satisfactorily define--a
woman's beauty--would have objected that her face was too wide, and her
chin too square. Her hair, which was of a bright brown, grew with a
singular strength and crispness round a brow which was serene and square.
In her eyes there shone the light of tenacity, and a steady purpose. A
student of human nature must have regretted that the soul looking out of
such eyes should have been vouchsafed to a woman. For strength and
purpose in a man are usually exercised for the good of mankind, while in
a woman such qualities must, it would seem, benefit no more than one man
of her own generation, and a few who may follow her in the next.
"There is nothing," she said, turning to her book again, "for a man to do
"And for a woman--?" inquired Barebone, without looking at her.
"There is always something--everywhere."
And Septimus Marvin's reflective "Yes--yes," as he paused in his walk and
looked seaward, came in appropriately as a grave confirmation of Miriam's
"Yes--yes," he repeated, turning toward Barebone, who stood listening to
the boy's chatter. "You find us as you left us, Loo. Was it six months
ago? Ah! How time flies when one remains stationary. For you, I dare say,
it seems more."
"For me--oh yes, it seems more," replied Barebone, with his gay laugh,
and a glance toward Miriam.
"A little older," continued the rector. "The church a little mouldier.
Farlingford a little emptier. Old Godbold is gone--the last of the
Godbolds of Farlingford, which means another empty cottage in the
"I saw it as I came down," answered Barebone. "They look like last year's
nests--those empty cottages. But you have been all well, here at the
rectory, since we sailed? The cottages--well, they are only cottages
Miriam's eyes were raised for a moment from her book.
"Is it like that they talk in France?" she asked. "Are those the
sentiments of the great republic?"
Barebone laughed aloud.
"I thought I could make you look up from your book," he answered.
"One has merely to cast a slur upon the poor--your dear poor of
Farlingford--and you are up in arms in an instant. But I am not the
person to cast a slur, since I am one of the poor of Farlingford myself,
and owe it to charity--to the charity of the rectory--that I can read and
"But it came to you very naturally," observed Marvin, looking vaguely
across the marshes to the roofs of the village, "to suggest that those
who live in cottages are of a different race of beings--"
He broke off, following his own thoughts in silence, as men soon learn to
do who have had no companion by them capable of following whithersoever
they may lead.
"Did it?" asked Barebone, sharply. He turned to look at his old friend
and mentor with a sudden quick distress. "I hope not. I hope it did not
sound like that. For you have never taught me such thoughts, have you?
Quite the contrary. And I cannot have learned it from Clubbe."
He broke off with a laugh of relief, for he had perceived that Septimus
Marvin's thoughts were already elsewhere.
"Perhaps you are right," he added, turning to Miriam. "It may be that one
should go to a republic in order to learn--once for all--that all men are
"You say it with so much conviction," was the retort, "that you must have
known it before."
"But I do not know it. I deny such knowledge. Where could I have learned
such a principle?"
He spread out his arms in emphatic denial. For he was quick in all his
gestures--quick to laugh or be grave--quick, with the rapidity of a woman
to catch a thought held back by silence or concealed in speech.
Marvin merely looked at him with a dreamy smile and lapsed again into
those speculations which filled his waking moments; for the business of
life never received his full attention. He contemplated the world from
afar off, and was like that blind man at Bethsaida who saw men as trees
walking, and rubbed his eyes and wondered. He turned at the sound of the
church clock and looked at his son, whose attitude towards Barebone was
that of an admiring younger brother.
"Sep," he said, "your extra half-hour has passed. You will have time
tomorrow and for many days to come to exchange views with Loo."
The boy was old before his time, as the children of elderly parents
"Very well," he said, with a grave nod. "But you must not tell Loo where
those young herons are after I am gone to bed."
He went slowly toward the house, looking back suspiciously from time to
"Herons? no. Why should I? Where are they?" muttered Mr. Marvin, vaguely,
and he absent-mindedly followed his son, leaving Miriam Liston sitting in
the turf shelter, built like an embrasure in the dyke, and Barebone
standing a little distance from her, looking at her.
A silence fell upon them--the silence that follows the departure of a
third person when those who are left behind turn a new page. Miriam laid
her book upon her lap and looked across the river now slowly turning to
its ebb. She did not look at Barebone, but her eyes were conscious of his
proximity. Her attitude, like his, seemed to indicate the knowledge that
this moment had been inevitable from the first, and that there was no
desire on either part to avoid it or to hasten its advent.
"I had a haunting fear as we came up the river," he said at length,
quietly and with an odd courtesy of manner, "that you might have gone
away. That is the calamity always hanging over this quiet house."
He spoke with the ease of manner which always indicates a long
friendship, or a close _camaraderie_, resulting from common interests or
a common endeavour.
"Why should I go away?" she asked.
"On the other hand, why should you stay?"
"Because I fancy I am wanted," she replied, in the lighter tone which he
had used. "It is gratifying to one's vanity, you know, whether it be true
"Oh, it is true enough. One cannot imagine what they would do without
He was watching Septimus Marvin as he spoke. Sep had joined him and was
walking gravely by his side toward the house. They were ill-assorted.
"But there is a limit even to self-sacrifice and--well, there is another
world open to you."
She gave a curt laugh as if he had touched a topic upon which they would
"Oh--yes," he laughed. "I leave myself open to a _tu quoque_, I know.
There are other worlds open to me also, you would say."
He looked at her with his gay and easy smile; but she made no answer, and
her resolute lips closed together sharply. The subject had been closed by
some past conversation or incident which had left a memory.
"Who are those two men staying at 'The Black Sailor?'" she asked,
changing the subject, or only turning into a by-way, perhaps. "You saw
She seemed to take it for granted that he should have seen them, though
he had not appeared to look in their direction.
"Oh--yes. I saw them, but I do not know who they are. I came straight
here as soon as I could."
"One of them is a Frenchman," she said, taking no heed of the excuse
given for his ignorance of Farlingford news.
"The old man--I thought so. I felt it when I looked at him. It was
perhaps a fellow feeling. I suppose I am a Frenchman after all. Clubbe
always says I am one when I am at the wheel and let the ship go off the
Miriam was looking along the dyke, peering into the gathering darkness.
"One of them is coming toward us now," she said, almost warningly. "Not
the Marquis de Gemosac, but the other--the Englishman."
"Confound him," muttered Barebone. "What does he want?"
And to judge from Mr. Dormer Colville's pace it would appear that he
chiefly desired to interrupt their _tete-a-tete_.
THE STORY OF THE CASTAWAYS
When River Andrew stated that there were few at Farlingford who knew more
of Frenchman than himself, it is to be presumed that he spoke by the
letter, and under the reserve that Captain Clubbe was not at the moment
For Captain Clubbe had known Frenchman since boyhood.
"I understand," said Dormer Colville to him two or three days after the
arrival of "The Last Hope," "that the Marquis de Gemosac cannot do better
than apply to you for some information he desires to possess. In fact, it
is on that account that we are here."
The introduction had been a matter requiring patience. For Captain Clubbe
had not laid aside in his travels a certain East Anglian distrust of the
unknown. He had, of course, noted the presence of the strangers when he
landed at Farlingford quay, but his large, immobile face had betrayed no
peculiar interest. There had been plenty to tell him all that was known
of Monsieur de Gemosac and Dormer Colville, and a good deal that was only
surmised. But the imagination of even the darksome River Andrew failed to
soar successfully under the measuring blue eye, and the total lack of
comment of Captain Clubbe.
There was, indeed, little to tell, although the strangers had been seen
to go to the rectory in quite a friendly way, and had taken a glass of
sherry in the rector's study. Mrs. Clacy was responsible for this piece
of news, and her profession giving her the _entree_ to almost every back
door in Farlingford enabled her to gather news at the fountain-head. For
Mrs. Clacy went out to oblige. She obliged the rectory on Mondays, and
Mrs. Clubbe, with what was technically described as the heavy wash, on
Tuesdays. Whatever Mrs. Clacy was asked to do she could perform with a
rough efficiency. But she always undertook it with reluctance. It was
not, she took care to mention, what she was accustomed to, but she would
do it to oblige. Her charge was eighteen-pence a day with her dinner, and
(she made the addition with a raised eyebrow, and the resigned sigh of
one who takes her meals as a duty toward those dependent on her) a bit of
tea at the end of the day.
It was on a Wednesday that Dormer Colville met Captain Clubbe face
to face in the street, and was forced to curb his friendly smile and
half-formed nod of salutation. For Captain Clubbe went past him with a
rigid face and steadily averted eyes, like a walking monument. For there
was something in the captain's deportment dimly suggestive of stone, and
the dignity of stillness. His face meant security, his large limbs a
slow, sure action.
Colville and Monsieur de Gemosac were on the quay in the afternoon at
high tide when "The Last Hope" was warped on to the slip-way. All
Farlingford was there too, and Captain Clubbe carried out the difficult
task with hardly any words at all from a corner of the jetty, with Loo
Barebone on board as second in command.
Captain Clubbe could not fail to perceive the strangers, for they stood a
few yards from him, Monsieur de Gemosac peering with his yellow eyes
toward the deck of "The Last Hope," where Barebone stood on the
forecastle giving the orders transmitted to him by a sign from his
taciturn captain. Colville seemed to take a greater interest in the
proceedings, and noted the skill and precision of the crew with the air
of a seaman.
Presently, Septimus Marvin wandered down the dyke and stood irresolutely
at the far corner of the jetty. He always approached his flock with
diffidence, although they treated him kindly enough, much as they treated
such of their own children as were handicapped in the race of life by
some malformation or mental incapacity.
Colville approached him and they stood side by side until "The Last Hope"
was safely moored and chocked. Then it was that the rector introduced the
two strangers to Captain Clubbe. It being a Wednesday, Clubbe must have
known all that there was to know, and more, of Monsieur de Gemosac and
Dormer Colville; for Mrs. Clacy, it will be remembered, obliged Mrs.
Clubbe on Tuesdays. Nothing, however, in the mask-like face, large and
square, of the ship-captain indicated that he knew aught of his new
acquaintances, or desired to know more. And when Colville frankly
explained their presence in Farlingford, Captain Clubbe nodded gravely
and that was all.
"We can wait, however, until a more suitable opportunity presents
itself," Colville hastened to add. "You are busy, as even a landsman can
perceive, and cannot be expected to think of anything but your vessel
until the tide leaves her high and dry."
He turned and explained the situation to the Marquis, who shrugged his
shoulders impatiently as if at the delay. For he was a southerner, and
was, perhaps, ignorant of the fact that in dealing with any born on the
shores of the German Ocean nothing is gained and, more often than not,
all is lost by haste.
"You hear," Colville added, turning to the Captain, and speaking in a
curter manner; for so strongly was he moved by that human kindness which
is vaguely called sympathy that his speech varied according to his
listener. "You hear the Marquis only speaks French. It is about a
fellow-countryman of his buried here. Drop in and have a glass of wine
with us some evening; to-night, if you are at liberty."
"What I can tell you won't take long," said Clubbe, over his shoulder;
for the tide was turning, and in a few minutes would be ebbing fast.
"Dare say not. But we have a good bin of claret at 'The Black Sailor,'
and shall be glad of your opinion on it."
Clubbe nodded, with a curt laugh, which might have been intended to
deprecate the possession of any opinion on a vintage, or to express his
disbelief that Dormer Colville desired to have it.
Nevertheless, his large person loomed in the dusk of the trees soon after
sunset, in the narrow road leading from his house to the church and the
Monsieur de Gemosac and his companion were sitting on the bench outside
the inn, leaning against the sill of their own parlour-window, which
stood open. The Captain had changed his clothes, and now wore those in
which he went to church and to the custom-house when in London or other
"There walks a just man," commented Dormer Colville, lightly, and no
longer word could have described Captain Clubbe more aptly. He would
rather have stayed in his own garden this evening to smoke his pipe in
contemplative silence. But he had always foreseen that the day might come
when it would be his duty to do his best by Loo Barebone. He had not
sought this opportunity, because, being a wise as well as a just man, he
was not quite sure that he knew what the best would be.
He shook hands gravely with the strangers, and by his manner seemed to
indicate his comprehension of Monsieur de Gemosac's well-turned phrases
of welcome. Dormer Colville appeared to be in a silent humour, unless
perchance he happened to be one of those rare beings who can either talk
or hold their tongues as occasion may demand.
"You won't want me to put my oar in, I see," observed he, tentatively, as
he drew forward a small table whereon were set three glasses and a bottle
of the celebrated claret.
"I can understand French, but I don't talk it," replied the Captain,
"And if I interpret as we go along, we shall sit here all night, and get
very little said."
Colville explained the difficulty to the Marquis de Gemosac, and agreed
with him that much time would be saved if Captain Clubbe would be kind
enough to tell in English all that he knew of the nameless Frenchman
buried in Farlingford churchyard, to be translated by Colville to
Monsieur de Gemosac at another time. As Clubbe understood this, and
nodded in acquiescence, there only remained to them to draw the cork and
light their cigars.
"Not much to tell," said Clubbe, guardedly. "But what there is, is no
secret, so far as I know. It has not been told because it was known long
ago, and has been forgotten since. The man's dead and buried, and there's
an end of him."
"Of him, yes, but not of his race," answered Colville.
"You mean the lad?" inquired the Captain, turning his calm and steady
gaze to Colville's face. The whole man seemed to turn, ponderously and
steadily, like a siege-gun.
"That is what I meant," answered Colville. "You understand," he went on
to explain, as if urged thereto by the fixed glance of the clear blue
eye--"you understand, it is none of my business. I am only here as the
Marquis de Gemosac's friend. Know him in his own country, where I live
most of the time."
"Frenchman was picked up at sea fifty-five years ago this July," he
narrated, bluntly, "by the 'Martha and Mary' brig of this port. I was
apprentice at the time. Frenchman was a boy with fair hair and a womanish
face. Bit of a cry-baby I used to think him, but being a boy myself I was
perhaps hard on him. He was with his--well, his mother."
Captain Clubbe paused. He took the cigar from his lips and carefully
replaced the outer leaf, which had wrinkled. Perhaps he waited to be
asked a question. Colville glanced at him sideways and did not ask it.
"Dark night," the Captain continued, after a short silence, "and a heavy
sea, about mid-channel off Dieppe. We sighted a French fishing-boat
yawing about abandoned. Something queer about her, the skipper thought.
Those were queer times in France. We hailed her, and getting no answer
put out a boat and boarded her. There was nobody on board but a woman and
a child. Woman was half mad with fear. I have seen many afraid, but never
one like that. I was only a boy myself, but I remember thinking it wasn't
the sea and drowning she was afraid of. We couldn't find out the smack's
name. It had been painted out with a tar-brush, and she was half full
of water. The skipper took the woman and child off, and left the
fishing-smack as we found her yawing about--all sail set. They reckoned
she would founder in a few minutes. But there was one old man on board,
the boatswain, who had seen many years at sea, who said that she wasn't
making any water at all, because he had been told to look for the leak
and couldn't find it. He said that the water had been pumped into her so
as to waterlog her; and it was his belief that she had not been abandoned
many minutes, that the crew were hanging about somewhere near in a boat
waiting to see if we sighted her and put men on board."
Mr. Dormer Colville was attending to the claret, and pressed Captain
Clubbe by a gesture of the hand to empty his glass.
"Something wrong somewhere?" he suggested, in a conversational way.
"By daylight we were ramping up channel with three French men-of-war
after us," was Captain Clubbe's comprehensive reply. "As chance had it,
the channel squadron hove in sight round the Foreland, and the Frenchmen
turned and left us."
Clubbe marked a pause in his narrative by a glass of claret, taken at one
draught like beer.
"Skipper was a Farlingford man, name of Doy," he continued. "Long as he
lived he was pestered by inquiries from the French government respecting
a Dieppe fishing-smack supposed to have been picked up abandoned at sea.
He had picked up no fishing-smack, and he answered no letters about it.
He was an old man when it happened, and he died at sea soon after my
indentures expired. The woman and child were brought here, where
nobody could speak French, and, of course, neither of them could speak
any English. The boy was white-faced and frightened at first, but he
soon picked up spirit. They were taken in and cared for by one and
another--any who could afford it. For Farlingford has always bred
seafaring men ready to give and take."
"So we were told yesterday by the rector. We had a long talk with him in
the morning. A clever man, if--"
Dormer Colville did not complete the remark, but broke off with a sigh.
He had no doubt seen trouble himself. For it is not always the ragged and
unkempt who have been sore buffeted by the world, but also such as have a
clean-washed look almost touching sleekness.
"Yes," said Clubbe, slowly and conclusively. "So you have seen the
"Of course," Colville remarked, cheerfully, after a pause; for we cannot
always be commiserating the unfortunate. "Of course, all this happened
before his time, and Monsieur de Gemosac does not want to learn from
hearsay, you understand, but at first hand. I fancy he would, for
instance, like to know when the woman, the--mother died."
Clubbe was looking straight in front of him. He turned in his
disconcerting, monumental way and looked at his questioner, who had
imitated with a perfect ingenuousness his own brief pause before the word
mother. Colville smiled pleasantly at him.
"I tell you frankly, Captain," he said, "it would suit me better if she
wasn't the mother."
"I am not here to suit you," murmured Captain Clubbe, without haste or
"No. Well, let us say for the present that she was the mother. We can
discuss that another time. When did she die?"
"Seven years after landing here."
Colville made a mental calculation and nodded his head with satisfaction
at the end of it. He lighted another cigarette.
"I am a business man, Captain," he said at length. "Fair dealing and a
clean bond. That is what I have been brought up to. Confidence for
confidence. Before we go any further--" He paused and seemed to think
before committing himself. Perhaps he saw that Captain Clubbe did not
intend to go much further without some _quid pro quo_. "Before we go any
further, I think I may take it upon myself to let you into the Marquis's
confidence. It is about an inheritance, Captain. A great inheritance
and--well, that young fellow may well be the man. He may be born to
greater things than a seafaring life, Captain."
"I don't want any marquis to tell me that," answered Clubbe, with his
slow judicial smile. "For I've brought him up since the cradle. He's been
at sea with me in fair weather and foul--and he is not the same as us."
ON THE SCENT
Dormer Colville attached so much importance to the Captain's grave jest
that he interpreted it at once to Monsieur de Gemosac.
"Captain Clubbe," he said, "tells us that he does not need to be informed
that this Loo Barebone is the man we seek. He has long known it."
Which was a near enough rendering, perhaps, to pass muster in the hearing
of two persons imperfectly acquainted with the languages so translated.
Then, turning again to the sailor, he continued:
"Monsieur de Gemosac would naturally wish to know whether there were
papers or any other means of identification found on the woman or the
"There were a few papers. The woman had a Roman Catholic Missal in her
pocket, and the child a small locket with a miniature portrait in it."
"Of the Queen Marie Antoinette?" suggested Colville, quickly.
"It may well have been. It is many years since I saw it. It was faded
enough. I remember that it had a fall, and would not open afterward. No
one has seen it for twenty-five years or so."
"The locket or the portrait?" inquired Colville, with a light laugh, with
which to disclaim any suggestion of a cross-examination.
"And the locket?"
"My wife has it somewhere, I believe."
Colville gave an impatient laugh. For the peaceful air of Farlingford had
failed to temper that spirit of energy and enterprise which he had
acquired in cities--in Paris, most likely. He had no tolerance for quiet
ways and a slow, sure progress, such as countrymen seek, who are so
leisurely that the years slide past and death surprises them before they
have done anything in the world but attend to its daily demand for a
"Ah!" he cried, "but all that must be looked into if we are to do
anything for this young fellow. You will find the Marquis anxious to be
up and doing at once. You go so slowly in Farlingford, Captain. The world
is hurrying on and this chance will be gone past before we are ready. Let
us get these small proofs of identity collected together as soon as
possible. Let us find that locket. But do not force it open. Give it to
me as it is. Let us find the papers."
"There are no papers," interrupted Captain Clubbe, with a calm
deliberation quite untouched by his companion's hurry.
"No; for Frenchman burnt them before my eyes."
Dormer Colville meditated for a moment in silence. Although his manner
was quick, he was perhaps as deliberate in his choice of a question as
was Captain Clubbe in answering it.
"Why did he do that? Did he know who he was? Did he ever say anything to
you about his former life--his childhood--his recollections of France?"
"He was not a man to say much," answered Clubbe, himself no man to repeat
Colville had been trying for some time to study the sailor's face,
quietly through his cigar smoke.
"Look here, Captain," he said, after a pause. "Let us understand each
other. There is a chance, just a chance, that we can prove this Loo
Barebone to be the man we think him, but we must all stand together. We
must be of one mind and one purpose. We four, Monsieur de Gemosac, you,
Barebone, and my humble self. I fancy--well, I fancy it may prove to be
worth our while."
"I am willing to do the best I can for Loo," was the reply.
"And I am willing to do the best I can for Monsieur de Gemosac, whose
heart is set on this affair. And," Colville added, with his frank laugh,
"let us hope that we may have our reward; for I am a poor man myself, and
do not like the prospect of a careful old age. I suppose, Captain, that
if a man were overburdened with wealth he would scarcely follow a
seafaring life, eh?"
"Then there is money in it?" inquired Clubbe, guardedly.
"Money," laughed the other. "Yes--there is money for all concerned, and
Captain Clubbe had been born and bred among a people possessing little
wealth and leading a hard life, only to come to want in old age. It was
natural that this consideration should carry weight. He was anxious to do
his best for the boy who had been brought up as his own son. He could
think of nothing better than to secure him from want for the rest of his
days. There were many qualities in Loo Barebone which he did not
understand, for they were quite foreign to the qualities held to be
virtues in Farlingford; such as perseverance and method, a careful
economy, and a rigid common sense. Frenchman had brought these strange
ways into Farlingford when he was himself only a boy of ten, and they had
survived his own bringing up in some of the austerest houses in the town,
so vitally as to enable him to bequeath them almost unchastened to his
As has been noted, Loo had easily lived down the prejudices of his own
generation against an un-English gaiety, and inconsequence almost
amounting to emotion. And nothing is, or was in the solid days before
these trumpet-blowing times, so unwelcome in British circles as emotion.
Frenchman had no doubt prepared the way for his son; but the
peculiarities of thought and manner which might be allowed to pass in a
foreigner would be less easily forgiven in Loo, who had Farlingford blood
in his veins. For his mother had been a Clubbe, own cousin, and, as
gossips whispered, once the sweetheart of Captain Clubbe himself and
daughter of Seth Clubbe of Maiden's Grave, one of the largest farmers on
"It cannot be for no particular purpose that the boy has been created so
different from any about him," Captain Clubbe muttered, reflectively, as
he thought of Dormer Colville's words. For he had that simple faith in an
Almighty Purpose, without which no wise man will be found to do business
on blue water.
"It is strange how a man may be allowed to inherit from a grandfather he
has never seen a trick of manner, or a face which are not the manner or
face of his father," observed Colville, adapting himself, as was his
habit, to the humour of his companion. "There must, as you suggest, be
some purpose in it. God writes straight on crooked lines, Captain."
Thus Dormer Colville found two points of sympathy with this skipper of a
slow coaster, who had never made a mistake at sea nor done an injustice
to any one serving under him; a simple faith in the Almighty Purpose and
a very honest respect for money. This was the beginning of a sort of
alliance between four persons of very different character which was to
influence the whole lives of many.
They sat on the tarred seat set against the weather-beaten wall of "The
Black Sailor" until darkness came stealing in from the sea with the quiet
that broods over flat lands, and an unpeopled shore. Colville had many
questions to ask and many more which he withheld till a fitter occasion.
But he learnt that Frenchman had himself stated his name to be Barebone
when he landed, a forlorn and frightened little boy, on this barren
shore, and had never departed from that asseveration when he came to
learn the English language and marry an English wife. Captain Clubbe told
also how Frenchman, for so he continued to be called long after his real
name had been written twice in the parish register, had soon after his
marriage destroyed the papers carefully preserved by the woman whom he
never called mother, though she herself claimed that title.
She had supported herself, it appeared, by her needle, and never seemed
to want money, which led the villagers to conclude that she had some
secret store upon which to draw when in need. She had received letters
from France, which were carefully treasured by her until her death, and
for long afterward by Frenchman, who finally burnt all at his marriage,
saying that he was now an Englishman and wanted to retain no ties with
France. At this time, Clubbe remembered, Louis XVIII was firmly
established on the throne of France, the Restoration--known as the
Second--having been brought about by the Allied Powers with a high hand
after the Hundred Days and the final downfall of Napoleon.
Frenchman may well have known that it might be worth his while to return
to France and seek fortune there; but he never spoke of this knowledge
nor made reference to the recollections of his childhood, which cast a
cold reserve over his soul and steeped it with such a deadly hatred of
France and all things French, that he desired to sever all memories that
might link him with his native country or awake in the hearts of any
children he should beget the desire to return thither.
A year after his marriage his wife died, and thus her son, left to the
care of a lonely and misanthropic father, was brought up a Frenchman
after all, and lisped his first words in that tongue.
"He lived long enough to teach him to speak French and think like a
Frenchman, and then he died," said Captain Clubbe--"a young man reckoning
by years, but in mind he was an older man than I am today."
"And his secret died with him?" suggested Dormer Colville, looking at the
end of his cigar with a queer smile. But Captain Clubbe made no answer.
"One may suppose that he wanted it to die with him, at all events," added
"You are right," was the reply, a local colloquialism in common use, as a
clincher to a closed argument or an unwelcome truth. Captain Clubbe rose
as he spoke and intimated his intention of departing, by jerking his head
sideways at Monsieur de Gemosac, who, however, held out his hand with a
Frenchman's conscientious desire to follow the English custom.
"I'll be getting home," said Clubbe, simply. As he spoke he peered across
the marsh toward the river, and Colville, following the direction of his
gaze, saw the black silhouette of a large lug-sail against the eastern
sky, which was softly grey with the foreglow of the rising moon.
"What is that?" asked Colville.
"That's Loo Barebone going up with the sea-breeze. He has been down to
the rectory. He mostly goes there in the evening. There is a creek, you
know, runs down from Maiden's Grave to the river."
"Ah!" answered Colville, thoughtfully, almost as if the creek and the
large lug-sail against the sky explained something which he had not
"I thought he might have come with you this evening," he added, after a
pause. "For I suppose everybody in Farlingford knows why we are here. He
does not seem very anxious to seek his fortune in France."
"No," answered Clubbe, lifting his stony face to the sky and studying the
little clouds that hovered overhead awaiting the moon. "No--you are
Then he turned with a jerk of the head and left them. The Marquis de
Gemosac watched him depart, and made a gesture toward the darkness of the
night, into which he had vanished, indicative of a great despair.
"But," he exclaimed, "they are of a placidity--these English. There is
nothing to be done with them, my friend, nothing to be done with such men
as that. Now I understand how it is that they form a great nation. It is
merely because they stand and let you thump them until you are tired, and
then they proceed to do what they intended to do from the first."
"That is because we know that he who jumps about most actively will be
the first to feel fatigue, Marquis," laughed Colville, pleasantly. "But
you must not judge all England from these eastern people. It is here that
you will find the concentrated essence of British tenacity and
stolidity--the leaven that leavens the whole."
"Then it is our misfortune to have to deal with these concentrated
English--that is all."
The Marquis shrugged his shoulders with that light despair which is
incomprehensible to any but men of Latin race.
"No, Marquis! there you are wrong," corrected Dormer Colville, with a
sudden gravity, "for we have in Captain Clubbe the very man we want--one
of the hardest to find in this chattering world--a man who will not say
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