the army. I, too, should love to hear the cannon ; but I am a
husband and soon shall be a parent. Kiss me and trust me.
The details shall be forwarded to you very soon. You will ask
' What is the end ? ' I can tell you. This comedy will be in
four acts. The girl's aunt is old and eats too much, and drinks
too much. My mother is also old and at death's door. When
they vanish, I vanish too. The basket-works of Ursule Chaperon
arc worth thousands of francs. I sell them and bring the money
294 THE FOLK AFIELD
to you to spend. Am I not a great man ? Next week my brother
goes away ; and when he has gone I will run up to Paris at once
to see you and tell you all about the fun. Borrow a little
money from the butcher if you are hard up. I shall bring
plenty when I come. — Your joy, ' Pierrotin.'
Denis read the letter very slowly and carefully, then
he turned to Madame Moreau.
" I suppose you do not much like this plan } " he
" Like it ! The man must be mad ! I love him
with all my heart and soul. Still I say that he must be
mad. He ought to be looked after. He is getting
very good wages where he works, and we were perfectly
happy and contented. Then — this. He was always
romantic and wild about the girls, and very fond of the
theatre. But real life ! You cannot do things like this
in real life,"
" You seem to me to be a most sensible woman,"
said Denis. " No, it is no more than the truth. You
cannot do things like this."
" Have you any control over him } Shall I come
and plead with your mother } How is his cough .? "
" You might come and see my mother after your
family begins. You will be welcome. In the meantime,
there are certain things that I must do. This letter,
from my point of view, is different to what it must seem
to you. That is rather too subtle for you to understand,
perhaps .-* Well, I am glad to have read it. His cough
is quite cured, I believe."
" Will you help me, monsieur } "
" Yes, I will. You see, if Jacques Moreau stops
here, he must go to the army. He makes a mistake in
his letter. I am not at all anxious to win glory in
PIERROTIN " FROM PARIS 295
battle. I am a vine-grower. Well, the thing to do
seems very easy. You go straight back to Paris and see
the people who employ your husband, and tell them
that he will return to his work next Monday morning."
" God bless you for evermore if you can do this ! "
" I can. It is not right to say unkind things of a
man to his wife ; still, your husband has faults."
" I know it ; but how he loves, monsieur ! "
" Yes ; but this is France. People cannot marry
two wives in France. He is very fortunate to have one
like you. I will see about the trains. You will be
obliged to travel all night."
"That is nothing if you can promise that * Pierrotin '
will come back next week."
" Does he keep you short of money ."• "
" Never. He is the best of husbands, though not
the best of men, apparently. But poetry is poetry, dear
"This is a matter of prose, madame."
"And how can I thank you ?"
" Well, you may wish me joy. I am going to be
married at Ascensiontide. As to this letter, I will keep
it for the present."
" You will be happy. You are the sort to be happy
and make a woman happy for a long time. You are not
" The great thing in life is not to go too fast.
Romance is only another word for doing things in too
much of a hurry. Suzanne is a pretty name. I hope
that we shall be good friends,"
He went to ascertain particulars at the booking-
" There is a train in less than an hour, and I will
296 THE FOLK AFIELD
pay for your ticket, if you are sure you are strong enough
to travel all night," he said. " Have no more fear for
your * Pierrotin.' I will send you a present with him."
" Send him. That is the best present you can
send. Then I shall always pray for you."
Presently he saw her into the train and bought two
large bags of food and fruit for her.
DENIS MOREAU moved through the next few
days of his life as a steam-roller moves over
stones. His method was the method of a wave with a
child's sand-castle. Only the brothers ever knew the
truth. " Pierrotin " returned to his work in two days,
and at Ascensiontide Natalie married the vine-grower.
It was not until six months later that " Pierrotin "
wrote and announced his own marriage as a thing of the
past. But he did not specify dates concerning it.
The mother of the sons spent a whole day with
Suzanne's photograph in her hands.
" ' Pierrotin's ' wife is a much finer girl than Natalie,"
she said to Denis.
" Suzanne is certainly a very fine girl," he answered.
PETE AND PETE
THEY sat together forward, under scant shadows,
while the dirty little coaster, Star of Bethlehem,
lay nearly becalmed in the Caribbean. Her sails
flapped idly ; hot air danced over the deck and along
the bulwarks ; away on the port bow extended a
scattered panorama of the Grenadines. Each little islet
shone, dotted grey or golden, against the deep sapphire
of the sea, and silver surges twinkled at the lonely ram-
parts of them. Here and there, aboard, a spar creaked
lazily, or a block went chip, chip, as the Star of
Bethlehem, laden heavily, rolled on a swell. The sun
blazed over the foreyard-arm and the heat was tre-
mendous, but Pete and Pete basked in it and loved it.
Neither saw necessity for a straw of head-covering ;
indeed, Pete the greater wore no clothes at all. He
sat watching Pete the less ; anon he put forth a small
black hand for a banana ; then, with forehead puckered
into a world of wrinkles and furrows, he inspected his
namesake's work ; and later, tired of squatting in the
sun, hopped on to the bulwark and up the mizzen
Pete the greater was a brown monkey, the treasured
property of the skipper ; and Pete the less, now clean-
ing some flying-fish for the cook, was a negro boy, the
300 THE FOLK AFIELD
treasured property of nobody — a small lad, with tattered
trousers, from beneath which stuck clumsy naked toes,
a lean body, more of which appeared than was hidden
by the rags of his shirt, and great black eyes like a
dog's. He was, in fact, a very dog-like boy. When
the men cursed him, as mostly happened, he cowered,
and hung his head, and slunk away, sometimes showing
a canine tooth ; when they were in merry mood he
frisked and fawned and went mad with delight. But
the chance seldom offered. He had a grim master,
and an awful responsibility in the shape of Pete the
greater, for a ship's monkey in the tropics commands
a deal of attention. This active beast, under God and
the skipper, was Pete's " boss." The sailors said that
he always touched his wool to it, and everybody knew
that he talked to it for hours at a time. When the lad
first came aboard. Skipper Spicer put the matter in a
" See here, nig — this monkey's your pigeon ; you've
just got to watch it, and feed it, and think of it all the
time. And bear in mind that he's a darned sight more
valuable than anything else aboard this ship. So keep
your weather eye lifting, and remember there'll be
blazing hell round here if any harm comes to Pete."
" I's call Pete too, massa," the boy answered, grin-
ning at what struck him as a grand joke.
" Are you .'' Well, you'll sing second, sonny, and
you'll wish you'd never been born oftener than you
draw breath in a day if you don't get pals with Pete
number one. There he is, sittin' on the hatch. An'
you've got to watch him all the time — all the time,
Then the negro went in fear to make friends with
PETE AND PETE 301
the monkey, and succeeded beyond his expectations ;
but Pete the greater was capricious, and Pete the less
found his " pigeon " aboard the Star of Bethlehem no
bed of roses. For that matter, the rest of the hands
suffered too. Spicer was an old man blighted by
sorrow and affliction, impossible to please, and bad to
sail with. John Bent, mate of the ship, had known his
captain in past years when the sun shone on him. Bent
pretended to some philosophy, with a forcible way of
putting facts ; and when, therefore, the rest of the little
crew grumbled at their old man, he explained the posi-
tion from his former knowledge.
" Nature filled the sweep with the milk o' human
kindness ; then she up and sent a thunderstorm of
trouble and turned it sour. I've sailed on and off with
him these ten year, an' I've knowed when he kep' his foot
on his temper, an' were a very tidy member of society.
But after his missis died and his kid died, then he —
what had married old and was wrapped up in the
woman an' the child, as came to him in his age — why,
then he cast off all holds, and chucked religion, and
wished he could see the wide world in hell, and done
his little best to help send it there. Men gets that way
when things turn contrariwise. Skipper'll die in a
tantrum, I judge. One of them black veins, as
wriggles on his fore'ead when his dander's up, '11 go
pop some day. Not but what there's vartue hid in him
But Ben's shipmates — three mongrel negroes and
two Englishmen — failed to find the buried treasure.
Spicer never varied. Only the man Bent and the
monkey Pete could pull with him. The rest of the
crew suffered variously, for the captain, though no
302 THE FOLK AFIELD
longer young, was tough and very powerful. He had
outbursts of passion that presented a sorry sight for
gods and a painful spectacle for men. Such paroxysms,
as his mate prophesied, seemed likely enough to end life
for him some day ; and even more likely to end life
The negro boy scraped out his flying-fish and cut
off their tails and wings, then he peeled a pannikin of
sweet potatoes and talked to his charge.
" Massa Pete," he said gravely, " you's a dam lucky
gem'man, sar — de mose lucky gem'man aboard de Star
Beflem. You frens wif cap'n a'ways. He nebber sharp
wid you — nebber ; but he dat sharp wid me, sar, dat
I's sore all ober de back all de time. I fink you might
say word to cap'n for me, Massa Pete, for I's mighty
kind nigger to you, sar."
The monkey was chewing another banana. It
stripped off the rind with quick, black fingers, filled its
mouth, stuffed its cheeks, and then munched and
munched and looked at Pete with the glimmering dawn
of conscious intelligence that lights the eye of the ape.
It held its head on one side as though thinking and
weighing each word, and Pete felt quite convinced that
it understood him. The boy himself was ten years old.
He had entered the world undesired, and knew little of
it, save that sugar-cane was sweet in the mouth but
hard to come by honestly. Pete the greater lived in
his master's cabin, and Pete the less often heard the
skipper talking to him. If the captain could exchange
ideas with his monkey, surely a nigger might do so ;
and it comforted the boy to chatter out his miseries and
empty his heart to the beast. None else on board had
time or inclination to attend to him.
PETE AND PETE 303
So Pete talked to Pete.
" I jus' wish you was me and me was you, sar, for
I has berry bad time aboard dis boat, but you has all
b'nana an' no work — an' — an' — dont be so spry, Massa
Pete ! One dese days you run 'long dem spars too
often and fall in de sea to marse shark. Den what de
boss do wid me ? "
It happened that Bent was lying full sprawl behind
a hatchway, smoking and grinning, as he listened to
these remarks. Now he popped up a small head with
red eyes and a red beard,
" He'd skin you, nig, and then throw you after the
monkey," he answered.
" I guess he would, sar."
" So keep alive. Why, you might as well steal the
old man's watch as let that there animile get adrift."
The skipper came on deck at this moment, and
both Petes saw him at the same moment. One touched
his wool and ambled forward to the galley ; the other
came down the ratlines head first, and leapt chattering
to his favourite perch on the captain's shoulder. Spicer
had owned the monkey five years. It belonged once
to his mulattress wife ; and when she was dying she
mentioned it and made it over to him. That and his
old turnip watch were the only treasures he had left in the
world. With his brown wife and little home in Tobago
the man had been happy, but the first baby killed its
mother, and dying also, left a wrecked life behind.
Spicer cared for nothing now, and consequently feared
nothing. It is their interest on earth, not the stake in
eternity, that makes sane men cowards.
THE Star of Bethlehem, delayed by light winds, was
some days overdue at Trinidad, and the skipper
exploded in successive volcanoes from dawn till dusk, f
He was always in a rage, and, as Bent observed :
** If this sight o' energy, and cussing and swearing
and to-helling the ship's comp'ny, was only shoved into ■;'
the elements, I judge we'd have had a whole gale o' I
wind by now. The old man '11 bust 'is biler, sure as \
death, 'fore he s done with it."
But the winds kept baffling, and oaths did not
mend them, nor yet blows, nor yet occasional football
with Pete the boy. There is no reason to suppose that
Mr Spicer disliked Pete overmuch — not more than he
hated any boy ; but he was old-fashioned and altogether
brutal, and he absolutely needed something to kick at |
times. Moreover, a kick does not show on a negro, |
and Spicer supposed that it was the only way of vexing |
them, or of making it clear that you disagree with %
Once the mate ventured to intercede by virtue of %
his long acquaintance,
" We're old pals, cap'n," he said, " and meanin' no
disrespect, it's like this 'ere — you're killin' that little
black devil. 'E's small, and you do welt that 'ard. It
don't show ; if it did, maybe you'd feel sorter struck to
find how you've rubbed it in. It's only because he's a
good boy I mention it. If he was a bad 'un, then I'd
say, ' lather on,' and I'd help. But he minds his
PETE AND PETE 305
"Which you'd better do likewise," growled the
" All right, boss, sorry I spoke, meanin' no offence.
Only it's generally allowed now, by them as have studied
the subjic, that nigs is human, same as us, and has
workin' souls also."
" Drivel and rot ! I don't have none of that twaddle
aboard this ship — balderdash all of it, to frighten women
and get the money out of men. I know — nobody
better'n me — 'cause I was a psalm-singer myself among
the best. And what's come of it .? There ain't no
God — not in these latitoods anyway, else why did He
play it so low down on me .'' If there's any manner o'
God at all, He killed my wife and my child for fun,
and I don't take no stock in a God as 'ud do that. I'll
rip forrard my own way now till He calls for my
cheques, which He's quite welcome to, any time —
damn Him ! "
" You might 'a jined that poor lady and your infant
somewheers, if you'd gone on banking aloft as regular
as you always have below."
" As to heaven," said the skipper, " that's no mighty
catch, if there is such a place. I never did fancy bawl-
ing ' shanties ' on a golden shore for ever, not even in
the old days. 'Pears to me that's a job as 'ud get deep
on the nerves after a cent'ry or two."
Bent sniffed. The same idea had struck him.
" Maybe it's dull, but it's reckoned a high jinks of
a place alongside the billet you're always alludin' to.
There's a golden shore, you bet ; and that's the pint,
askin' pardon again, for niggers will get a show up there
— same as us."
" Not them ? If there is a golden shore, as I for
306 THE FOLK AFIELD
one don't b'lieve, they wont make no Margate beach of
it anyhow. Niggers ain't got souls, and if they have,
it's only enough to take 'em to hell, and chance it.
Swine like them's lucky to go anywhere."
Bent thought of the late Mrs Spicer. To have
hinted that black blood flowed in her veins would have
been a dangerous venture. But he scratched his red
beard and raised a terrific mental problem. If white
folks had souls and black folks had none, what sort of
eternity awaited the millions of mongrel people that
filled the world ?
" Nobody's got a soul, no mor'n my monkey, so
there's a end of the argument," said Spicer.
" Soul or none, 'e's a deal of sense for sartin," ad-
mitted the mate, " a 'mazin' deal of sense. An' he
takes kind to t'other Pete. If 'e could talk now, I bet
he'd say to give the boy a chance, off and on, to get a
whole skin over his bones for a change."
" Which if he did," answered the other, " I should
say to him same as I do to you : to mind his own job."
But the men were friends in twenty-four hours ;
for that night a fair wind came up out of the sea, the
Star of Bethlehem skipped along in very creditable
fashion, and Spicer thawed.
" Darn the old tub, she makes some of they new-
fangled boats look silly yet ! " he said complaisantly to
Bent, as, a day later, they lumbered through the Dragon's
Teeth to Port of Spain.
After leaving Trinidad, the little coaster proceeded
to Tobago for a cargo of cocoanuts, and the crew viewed
that circumstance with gratification, for the most heavy-
witted amongst them never failed to notice how a visit
to his old home softened Spicer. On this occasion, as
PETE AND PETE 307
upon past trips, the palm-crowned mountains of Tobago
brought a measure of peace into the skipper's heart,
whilst a fair wind and a good cargo tended to improve
that blissful condition. All hands reaped benefit, and to
Dick Bent the captain grew absolutely communicative.
They walked the deck together one morning on the
homeward passage to Barbados, and Spicer lifted a corner
of the curtain that hid his past.
" Then it was good to live like ; but when my
missis chucked it, and took the baby along with her,
life changed colour. Now there's only two things in
all creation I care a red cent about. One's a beast,
t'other an old gold watch — pretty mean goods to set
your heart on, but all as I've got in the whole
" It's a mighty fine watch," said Bent.
" It is, and chain too, for that matter. I was lookin'
at 'em in my cabin only half an hour past." He
brightened as he thought of the trinket, and continued :
" I doubt there's many better'n me would fancy that
chain across their bellies, but she — "
" Lord deliver us, look aft ! " sang out the mate
suddenly, interrupting and pointing to the hatch of the
Spicer's monkey had just hopped up on deck, and
from his black paw hung the skipper's watch and chain.
Pete the greater ambled along towards the bulwark, and
a sweat burst from his master's face as he called to the
brute in a strange voice. But Pete was perverse. He
reached the bulwark and the skipper's nerve died in
him, while Bent dared not take a step towards hastening
the pending catastrophe or identifying himself there-
with. It was a trying moment as the monkey made
308 THE FOLK AFIELD
for a perch on the mizzen rigging, and while he careered
forward on all fours, the watch bumped, bumped against
the ship's side.
The sound brought the blood with a rush to
Skipper Spicer's head. Patience was no virtue of his
at best, and he jumped forward with a smothered curse.
The man had his hand within six inches of the watch,
when Pete squeaked and dropped it into the sea.
There was a splash, a gleam of gold, and the treasure
sank, flashing and twinkling down through the blue.
It dwindled to a bright, submerged snake, then
vanished for ever. A great gust of passion shook the
man and tied his tongue. He tried to swear, but
could only hiss and growl like an angry beast. Then
he seized the monkey by the scruff of the neck as it
jumped for his shoulder, shook it, and flung it over-
board with a hurtling shower of oaths. A red light
Winded him ; he felt his temples bursting, and he
reeled away below, not stopping to see a small brov/n
head rise from the foam of the splash where Pete had
fallen. The monkey fought for it, as one may see a
rat driven off shipboard into deep water. Two terrified
eyes gazed upwards at his home, while the Star of
Bethlehem swept by him ; his red mouth opened with a
little scream, and his black paws began beating the
water hard as he fell astern. Presently Pete sank for
the first time. Then he came up again slowly to finish
his brief fight for life.
But the skipper saw nothing. He only felt the
blood beating through his head as he flung himself on
his bunk, face downwards. For a moment he believed
that death had gripped him ; but the threatened evil
passed, and his consciousness did not depart. Then
PETE AND PETE 309
thoughts came and flooded his brains with abomination
of desolation. He lay with his bald head on his arms,
and turned his mind back to the smart stone cottage
under palms at Tobago. He remembered so much,
and every shaft of memory brought him back with a
round turn to the present. There was the lemon-tree
with Pete's perch in it. His wife had loved the
monkey. He could see her now kissing its little nose.
And she had died with the gold watch ticking under
her head. Her wedding-ring was upon the chain of it.
She had tried to put it on his little finger before she
went, but it would not get over the second joint, so she
had slipped it upon the watch-chain. Now God in
heaven alone could tell what loathsome fish was nosing
it under the sea. And her monkey, her last gift to him,
a live meal for a shark — his work ! The wide world re-
mained to him, empty — save for thoughts of what he had
No educated soul can realise the blank and the
bitterness in this man's mind. He himself never guessed
a quarter of what his vanished treasures had really
been to him — never, until now — when they were both
gone. And the poison and sting of it lay in know-
ledge that his own demonian temper was responsible
He lay heedless of time for near three hours.
Then he sat up and looked round the cabin, a worn,
old man. As he did so the door opened. Bent's small
head peeped in, and he spoke :
" Fit as a fiddle, boss ; only a flea or two missing."
Then the mate shut the cabin door again. But he
left something behind. Pete the greater chattered and
jumped to his perch in the corner, and from there on to
310 THE FOLK AFIELD
his master's berth. He was dry, warm, and much as
usual apparently ; and he bore no malice whatever.
Spicer glared, and his breath caught in his throat.
Then he grabbed the brute to him till it squeaked,
while its owner began to snuffle and swear grateful
oaths. A tear dropped upon the flat nose of his friend ;
but Pete the greater had suffered enough from salt water
for one day.
There was only one soul aboard the Star of
Bethlehem who would have gone into a shark-haunted
sea to save a monkey ; but that soul did not think twice
about it. He came on deck too late to see the catas-
trophe, though in time to note Pete the greater in the
jaws of death. Had he known how the monkey came
into the Caribbean, he might have doubted the pro-
priety of attempting a rescue ; but he did not know,
and so he joined it. The boy could swim like a duck,
and as Bent lowered a boat smartly, and the sharks
stayed upon Nature's business elsewhere, it was not
long before Pete and Pete came aboard together. But,
meantime, their master on his bunk did not even know
that the ship had been hove to.
They emptied the water out of Pete the monkey,
and gave Pete the negro some rum. Both were jolly in
an hour ; and it is recorded that Skipper Spicer chose to
take peculiar views of the gravity of this trivial incident.
It seems certain, at least, that henceforth he seldom
kicked his cabin-boy oftener than once a day. Which
fact alone argued a very real increase of prosperity for
Pete the less.
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