and he resumed in feeble gasping sentences, "Thank ye, my dear; I've
brought up the two guineas, but you've a-made me swallow my quid o'
baccy. Hows'ever, you meant it for the best. And that's what I had
a mind to say to ye all." His voice grew firmer - "You're a pleasant
lot, and we've spent the time very lively and sociable, and you done
this here last service to Bill in a way that brings tears to my eyes.
Still, if you won't mind my saying it, a little of ye lasts a long
time, and I'm going home to live clean. So here's wishing all well,
Not one of the party seemed to resent this dismissal. The women
laughed hilariously and called him a darling. There was a smacking
exchange of kisses; and the coaches, having been packed at length,
started for home to the strains of the cornet and a chorus of cheers.
Mr. Jope sprang in beside me, and leaning out of the farther window,
waved his neckerchief for a while, then pensively readjusted it, and
called to the driver -
The driver, after a moment, turned heavily in his seat, and answered,
"I tell ye, I want to drive to St. Budeaux, by Saltash Ferry."
"And _I_ tell _you_, 'Get out!' St. Budeaux? The idea!"
"Why, what's wrong with St. Budeaux?"
"Oh, I'm not goin' to _argue_ with you," said the driver. "I'm goin'
And he began to turn his horse's head. Mr. Jope sprang out upon the
roadway. The driver, with sudden and unexpected agility, dropped
off - on the other side.
"Look here, it's grindin' the faces of the poor!" he pleaded,
"It _will_ be," assented Mr. Jope grimly.
"I been up all night: at a ball."
"If it comes to that, so've I: at Symonds's."
"Mine was at Admiralty House," said the driver. "I wasn' dancin'."
"What about the horse?"
"The horse? the ho - Oh, I take your meanin'! The horse is all right:
he's a fresh one. Poor I may be," he announced inconsecutively,
"but I wouldn' live the life of one of them there women of fashion,
not for a million of money." He ruminated for a moment. "Did I
say a million?"
"Well I don't wishaggerate. I don't, if you understand me,
wish - to - exaggerate: so we'll put it at half a million."
"All right: jump up!"
To my astonishment, no less than to Mr. Jope's (who had scarcely time
to skip back into the coach), the man scrambled up to his seat
without more ado, flicked his whip, and began to urge the horse
forward. At the end of five minutes or so, however, he pulled up
just as abruptly.
"Eh?" Mr. Jope put forth his head. "Ah, I see - public-house!"
He alighted, and entered; returned with a pot of porter in one hand
and a glass of brandy in the other; dexterously tipped half the
brandy into the porter, and handed up the mixture. The driver took
it down at one steady draught.
The pot and glass were returned and we jogged on again. We were now
well beyond the outskirts of Stoke and between dusty hedges over
which the honeysuckle trailed. Butterflies poised themselves and
flickered beside us, and the sun, as it climbed, drew up from the
land the fragrance of freshly mown hay and mingled it with the stuffy
odour of the coach. By and by we halted again, by another roadside
inn, and again Mr. Jope fetched forth and administered insidious
"If this is going to last," said the charioteer dreamily, "may I have
strength to see the end o't!"
I did not catch this prayer, but Mr. Jope reported it to me as he
resumed his seat, with an ill-timed laugh. The fellow, who had been
gathering up his reins, lurched round suddenly and gazed in through
the glass front.
"You was sayin'?" he demanded.
"Nothing," answered Mr. Jope hastily. "I was talking to myself,
"The point is, Am I, or am I not, an objic of derision?"
"If you don't drive on this moment, I'll step around and punch your
"Tha's all right. Tha's right as ninepence. It's not much I arsk -
only to have things clear." He drove on.
We halted at yet another public-house - I remember its name, the Half
a Face - and must have journeyed a mile or so beyond it when the end
came. We had locked wheels in the clumsiest fashion with a
hay-wagon; and the wagoner, who had quartered to give us room and to
spare, was pardonably wroth. Mr. Jope descended, pacified him, and
stepped around to the back of the coach, the hinder axle of which, a
moment later, I felt gently lifted beneath me and slewed clear of the
"My word, mister, but you've a tidy strength!" exclaimed the wagoner.
"No more than you, my son - if so much: 'tain't the strength, but the
application. That's 'Nelson's touch.' Ever heard of it?"
"I've heard of _him_, I should hope. Look y' here, mister, did you
ever know him? Honour bright, now!"
"Friends, my son: dear, dear friends! And the gentleman 'pon the
box, there, drunk some of the very rum he was brought home in.
He's never recovered it."
"And to think of my meeting you!"
"Ay, 'tis a small world," agreed Mr. Jope cheerfully: "like a cook's
galley, small and cosy and no time to chat in it. Now then, my
The driver, who from the moment of the mishap had remained comatose,
shook his reins feebly and we jogged forward. But this was his last
effort. At the next sharp bend in the road he lurched suddenly,
swayed for a moment, and toppled to earth with a thud. The horse
came to a halt.
Mr. Jope was out in a moment. He glanced up and down the road.
"Tumble out, youngster! There's no one in sight."
"Is - is he hurt?"
"Blest if _I_ know." He stooped over the prostrate body. "Hurt?" he
asked, and after a moment reported, "No, I reckon not: talkin' in his
sleep, more like - for the only word I can make out is 'Jezebel.'
That don't help us much, do it?" He scanned the road again.
"There's only one thing to do. I can't drive ye: I never steered yet
with the tiller lines in front - it al'ays seemed to me un-Christian.
We must take to the fields. I used to know these parts, and by the
bearings we can't be half a mile above the ferry. Here, through that
gate to the left!"
We left the man lying and his horse cropping the hedgerow a few paces
ahead; and struck off to the left, down across a field of young corn
interspersed with poppies. The broad estuary shone at our feet, with
its beaches uncovered - for the tide was low - and across its crowded
shipping I marked and recognised (for Mr. Trapp had often described
them to me) a line of dismal prison-hulks, now disused, moored head
to stern off a mudbank on the farther shore.
"Plain sailing, my lad," panted Mr. Jope, as the cornfield threw up
its heat in our faces. "See, yonder's Saltash!" He pointed up the
river to a small town which seemed to run toppling down a steep hill
and spread itself like a landslip at the base. "I got a sister
living there, if we can only fetch across; a very powerful woman;
widowed, and sells fish."
We took an oblique line down the hillside, and descended, some two or
three hundred yards below the ferry, upon a foreshore firm for the
most part and strewn with flat stones, but melting into mud by the
water's edge. A small trading ketch lay there, careened as the tide
had left her; but at no great angle, thanks to her flat-bottomed
build. A line of tattered flags, with no wind to stir them, led down
from the truck of either mast, and as we drew near I called Mr.
Jope's attention to an immense bunch of foxgloves and pink valerian
on her bowsprit end.
"Looks like a wedding, don't it?" said he; and turning up his clean
white trousers he strolled down to the water's edge for a closer
look. "Scandalous," he added, examining her timbers.
He pointed with his finger. "Rotten as touch"; and he pensively drew
out an enormous clasp-knife. "A man ought to be fined for treating
human life so careless. See here!"
He drove the knife at a selected spot, and the blade sank in to the
From the interior, prompt on the stroke, arose a faint scream.
I GO ON A HONEYMOON.
"Sure-ly I know that voice?" said Mr. Jope.
He drew out the knife reflectively. It relieved me to see that no
blood dyed the blade.
"Oh, Mr. Jope, I was afraid you'd stabbed him!"
"'Tisn't a him, 'tis a her. I touched somebody up, and that's the
"Ahoy there!" said a voice immediately overhead; and we looked up.
A round-faced man was gazing down on us from the tilted bulwarks.
"You might ha' given us notice," he grumbled.
"I knew 'twas soft, but not so soft as all that," Mr. Jope explained.
"Got such a thing as a scrap o' chalk about ye?"
The round-faced man felt in his pocket and tossed down a piece.
"Mark a bit of a line round the place, will ye? I'll give it a lick
of paint afore the tide rises. It's only right the owner should have
it pointed out to him."
"Belong to these parts?" asked Mr. Jope affably, having drawn the
required circle. "I don't seem to remember your face."
"No?" The man seemed to think this out at leisure. "I was married
this morning," he said at length with an air of explanation.
"Wish ye joy. Saltash maid?"
"Widow. Name of Sarah Treleaven."
"Why that's my sister!" exclaimed Mr. Jope.
"Is it?" The round-faced man took the news without apparent surprise
or emotion. "Well, I'm married to her, any way."
"Monstrous fine woman," Mr. Jope observed cheerfully.
"Ay; she's all that. It seems like a dream. You'd best step on
board: the ladder's on t'other side."
As we passed under the vessel's stern I looked up and read her name -
_Glad Tidings, Port of Fowey_.
"I've a-broken it to her," our host announced, meeting us at the top
of the ladder. "She says you're to come down."
Down the companion we followed him accordingly and so into a small
cabin occupied - or, let me rather say, filled - by the stoutest woman
it has ever been my lot to meet. She reclined - in such a position
as to display a pair of colossal feet, shoeless, clothed in thick
worsted stockings - upon a locker on the starboard side: and no one,
regarding her, could wonder that this also was the side towards
which the vessel listed. Her broad recumbent back was supported by a
pile of seamen's bags, almost as plethoric as herself and containing
(if one might judge from a number of miscellaneous articles
protruding from their distended mouths) her bridal outfit.
Unprepared as she was for a second visitor in the form of a small
chimney-sweep, she betrayed no astonishment; but after receiving her
brother's kiss on either cheek bent a composed gaze on me, and so
eyed me for perhaps half a minute. Her features were not uncomely.
"O.P.," she addressed her husband. "Ask him, Who's his friend?"
"Who's your friend?" asked the husband, turning to Mr. Jope.
"Chimney-sweep," said Mr. Jope; "leastways, so apprenticed, as I
The pair gazed at me anew.
"I asked," said the woman at length, "because this is a poor place
"He's in trouble," Mr. Jope explained; "in trouble - along o' killing
"Oh no, Mr. Jope!" I cried. "I didn't - "
"Couldn't," interrupted his sister shortly, and fell into a brown
study. "Constables after him?" she asked.
Mr. Jope nodded.
Her next utterance struck me as irrelevant, to say the least of it.
"Ben, 'tis high time you followed O.P.'s example."
"Meaning?" queried Ben.
"O, Onesimus. P, Pengelly. Example, marriage. There's the
widow Babbage, down to Dock: she always had a hankering for you.
You're neglecting your privileges."
"Ever seen that boy of hers?" asked Ben in an aggrieved voice.
"No, of course you haven't, or you wouldn't suggest it. And why
marry me up to a widow?"
"O.P.," said the lady, "tell him you prefer it."
"I prefer it," said Mr. Pengelly.
"Oh," explained Ben, "present company always excepted, o' course.
I wish you joy."
"Thank ye," the lady answered graciously. "You shall drink the same
by and by in a dish o' tea; which I reckon will suit ye best this
morning," she added eyeing him. "O.P., put on the kettle."
Ben Jope winced and attempted to turn the subject. "What's your
cargo, this trip?" he asked cheerfully.
"I didn't write," she went on, ignoring the question. "O.P. took me
"Oh, Sarah!" Mr. Pengelly expostulated.
"You did; you know you did, you rogue!"
Mr. Pengelly took her amorous glance and turned to us. "It seems
like a dream," he said, and went out with the kettle.
The lady resumed her business-like air. "We sail for Looe next tide.
It's queer now, your turning up like this."
"Providential. I came o' purpose, though, to look ye up."
"I might ha' been a limpet."
"By the way you prised at me with that knife o' yours. And you call
Ben grinned. "Providence or no, you'll get this lad out o' the way,
"H'm?" She considered me. "I can't take him home to Looe."
"Folks would talk," she said modestly.
"'Od rabbit it!" exclaimed Ben. "He's ten year old; and you were
saying just now that the man took ye sudden!"
"Well, I'll see what can be done: but on conditions."
"Ay, we'll talk that over while he's cleanin' himself." She lifted
her voice and called, "O.P., is that water warm?"
"Middlin'," came O.P.'s voice from a small cuddy outside.
"Then see to the child and wash him. Put him inside your
foul-weather suit for the time, and then take his clothes out on the
beach and burn 'em. That seam'll be the better for a lick of pitch
afore the tide rises, and you can use the same fire for the caldron."
So she dismissed me; and in the cuddy, having washed myself clean of
soot, I was helped by Mr. Pengelly into a pair of trousers which
reached to my neck, and a seaman's guernsey, which descended to my
knees. My stockings I soaped, scrubbed, wrung out and laid across
the companion rail to dry: but, as it turned out, I was never to use
them or my shoes again. My sweep's jumper, waistcoat, and breeches
Mr. Pengelly carried off, to burn them.
All this while Ben Jope and his sister had been talking earnestly: I
had heard at intervals the murmur of their voices through the
partition; but no distinct words save once, when Mrs. Pengelly called
out to her husband to keep an eye along the beach and report the
appearance of constables. Now so ludicrous was the figure I cut in
my borrowed clothes that on returning to the cabin I expected to be
welcomed with laughter. To my surprise, Ben Jope arose at once with
a serious face and shook me by the hand.
"Good-bye, my lad," he said. "She makes it a condition."
"You're not leaving me, Mr. Jope!"
"Worse'n that. I'm a-goin to marry the widow Babbage."
"Oh, ma'am!" I appealed.
"It'll do him good," said Mrs. Pengelly.
"I honestly think, Sarah," poor Ben protested, "that just now you're
setting too much store by wedlock altogether."
"It's my conditions with you; and you may take it or leave it, Ben."
His sister was adamant, and he turned ruefully to go.
"And you're doing this for me, Mr. Jope!" I caught his hand.
"Don't 'ee mention it. Blast the child!" He crammed his tarpaulin
hat on his head. "I don't mean you, my lad, but t'other one.
If he makes up a rhyme 'pon me, I'll - I'll - "
Speech failed him. He wrung my hand, staggered up the companion, and
"It'll be the making of him," said Mrs. Pengelly with composure.
"I don't like the woman myself, but a better manager you wouldn't
She remembered presently that Ben had departed without his promised
dish of tea, and this seemed to suggest to her that the time had
arrived for preparing a meal. With singular dexterity and almost
without shifting her posture she slipped one of the seamen's bags
from somewhere beneath her shoulders, drew it upon her lap, and
produced a miscellaneous feast - a cheek of pork, a loaf, a saffron
cake; a covered jar which, being opened, diffused the fragrance of
marinated pilchards; a bagful of periwinkles, a bunch of enormous
radishes, a dish of cream wrapped about in cabbage-leaves, a basket
of raspberries similarly wrapped; finally, two bottles of stout.
"To my mind," she explained as she set these forth on the table
beside her, each accurately in its place, and with such economy
of exertion that only one hand and wrist seemed to be moving,
"for my part, I think a widow-woman should be married quiet. I don't
know what _your_ opinion may be?"
I thought it wise to say that her opinion was also mine.
"It took place at eight o'clock this morning." She disengaged a pin
from the front of her bodice, extracted a periwinkle from its shell,
ate it, sighed, and said, "It seems years already. I gathered these
myself, so you may trust 'em." She disengaged another pin and handed
it to me. "We meant to be alone, but there's plenty for three.
Now you're here, you'll have to give a toast - or a sentiment," she
added. She made this demand in form when O.P. appeared, smelling
strongly of pitch, and taking his seat on the locker opposite, helped
himself to marinated pilchards.
"But I don't know any sentiments, ma'am."
"Nonsense. Didn't they learn you any poetry at school?"
Most happily I bethought me of Miss Plinlimmon's verses in my
Testament - now alas! left in the Trapps' cottage and lost to me; and
recited them as bravely as I could.
"Ah!" sighed Mrs. Pengelly, "there's many a true word spoken in jest.
'Where shall we be in ten years' time?' Where indeed?"
"Here," her husband cheerfully suggested, with his mouth full.
"Hush, O.P.! You never buried a first."
She demanded more, and I gave her Wolfe's last words before Quebec
(signed by him in Miss Plinlimmon's Album).
"'They run!' - but who? 'The Frenchmen!' Such
Was the report conveyed to the dying hero.
'Thank Heaven!' he cried, 'I thought as much.'
In Canada the glass is frequently below zero."
On hearing the author's name and my description of Miss Plinlimmon,
she fell into deep thought.
"I suppose, now, she'd look higher than Ben?"
I told her that, so far as I knew, Miss Plinlimmon had no desire to
"She'd look higher, with her gifts, you may take my word for it."
But a furrow lingered for some time on Mrs. Pengelly's brow, and
(I think) a doubt in her mind that she had been too precipitate.
The meal over, she composed herself to slumber; and Mr. Pengelly and
I spent the afternoon together on deck, where he smoked many pipes
while I scanned the shore for signs of pursuit. But no: the tide
rose and still the foreshore remained deserted. Above us the ferry
plied lazily, and at whiles I could hear the voices of the
passengers. Nothing, even to my strained ears, spoke of excitement;
and yet, in the great town beyond the hill, murder had been done and
men were searching for me. So the day dragged by.
Towards evening, as the vessel beneath us fleeted and the deck
resumed its level, Mr. Pengelly began to uncover the mainsail.
I asked him if he expected any crew aboard? For surely, thought I,
he could not work this ketch of forty tons or so single-handed.
He shook his head. "There was a boy, but I paid him off. Sarah
takes the helm from this night forth. You wouldn't believe it, but
she can swig upon a rope too: and as for pulling an oar - "
He went on to tell me that she had been rowing a pair of paddles when
his eye first lit on her: and I gathered that the courtship had been
conducted on these waters under the gaze of Saltash, the male in one
boat pursuing, the female eluding him in another, for long
indomitable, but at length gracefully surrendering.
My handiness with the ropes, when I volunteered to help in hoisting
sail, surprised and even perplexed him. "But I thought you was a
chimney-sweeper?" he insisted. I told him then of my voyages with
Mr. Trapp, yet without completely reassuring him. Hitherto he had
taken me on my own warrant, and Ben's, without a trace of suspicion:
but henceforth I caught him eyeing me furtively from time to time,
and overheard him muttering as he went about his preparations.
As he had promised, when the time came for hauling up our small
anchor, Mrs. Pengelly emerged from the companion hatch like a _geni_
from a bottle. She bore two large hunches of saffron cake and handed
one to each of us before moving aft to uncover the wheel.
The sails drew as we got the anchor on board; and by the time O.P.
and I had done sluicing the hawser clean of the mud it brought up, we
were working down the Hamoaze with a light and baffling wind, but
carrying a strong tide under us. Evening fell with a warm yellow
haze: the banks slipping past us grew dim and dimmer: here and there
a light shone among the long-shore houses. I felt more confident,
and no longer concealed myself as we tacked under the sterns of the
great ships at anchor or put about when close alongside.
As we cleared Devil's Point and had our first glimpse of the grey
line where night was fast closing down on open sea, I noted a certain
relaxation in Mr. Pengelly, as if he too had been feeling the strain.
He began to chat with me. The wind, he said, was backing and we
might look for this spell of weather to break up before long.
Once past the Rame we should be right as ninepence and might run down
the coast on a soldier's wind: it would stiffen a bit out yonder
unless he was mistaken. He pulled out his pipe and lit it.
Aft loomed the bulk of Mrs. Pengelly at the wheel. Save for a call
now and again to warn us that the helm was down, to put about, she
steered in silence. And she steered admirably.
We had opened the lights of Cawsand and were heading in towards it on
the port tack when, as O.P. smoked and chatted and I watched the
spark of the Eddystone growing and dying, her voice reached us, low
"There's a boat coming. Get below, boy!"
Sure enough as I scrambled for the hatchway in a flutter, someone
hailed us out of the darkness.
"Ahoy!" O.P. called back, after a moment, into the darkness.
"What's your name?"
"The _Glad Tidings_, of Looe, and thither bound. Who be you?"
"Water-guard. Is that you speaking, Mr. Pengelly?"
"Ay, sure. Anything the matter?"
"Seen such a thing as the body of a young chimney-sweep on your way
down? Age, ten or thereabouts. There's one missing."
"You don't say so! Drowned?"
His wife having put about, Mr. Pengelly obligingly hauled a sheet or
two to windward, and brought the _Glad Tidings_ almost to a
standstill, allowing the boat to come close alongside.
"Drowned?" he asked again.
"Worse than that," said the officer's voice (and it sounded
dreadfully close); "there's been murder committed, and the child was
in the house at the time. The belief is, he's been made away with."
"Save us all! Murder? Whereto?"
"On the Barbican - an old Jew there, called Rodriguez. Who's that
you've got at the helm?"
"Never knew ye was married."
"Nor did I, till this mornin'."
"Eh? Wish ye luck, I'm sure; and you, ma'am, likewise!"
"Thank ye, Mr. Tucker," answered the lady. "The same to you and many
of 'em - which by that I don't mean wives."
"Good Lord, is that _you_, Sally? Well, I'm jiggered! And I owe you
ninepence for that last pair of flatfish you sold me!"
"Tenpence," said Mrs. Pengelly. "But I can trust a gentleman.
Where d'ye say this here murder was committed?"
"I don't wonder at anything happening there. They're a stinking lot.
Why don't ye s'arch the shipping there and in Cattewater?"
"We've been s'arching all day. And now the constables are off
towards Stoke - it seems a child answering all particulars was seen in
that direction this morning."
"That don't look like being made away with."
"In a case like this," answered Mr. Tucker sagely, "as often as not
there's wheels within wheels. Well, I won't detain ye. Good-night,
I heard the creak of thole-pins as the rowers gave way, and the wash
of oars as the boat shot off into the dark. Mr. Pengelly sent me a
low whistle and I crept forth.
"Hear what they said?" he asked.
"They - they didn't give much trouble."
"Depends what you call trouble." He seemed slightly hurt in his
feelings, and added, with asperity and obvious truth, "Carry it off
how you will, a honeymoon's a honeymoon, and a man doesn't expect to
be interrupted with questions about a sweep's apprentice."
"Stand by!" cautioned the voice aft, low and firm as before.