Katharine Sarah Macquoid.

Lost Rose. And other stories (Volume 1) online

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A pink flush spread over Fifine 's face as she
read: *' Monsieur Alphonse Theophile Dusecq
has the honour to present his compliments to



A STORY OF M ALINES. 123

Madame Popot, and he has also the honour of
refusing the condescension of an alliance with
her niece, Mademoiselle Josephine le Due.
He comprehends that he has been sought, not
for himself, but for what he possesses, and
this idea is so repugnant to his lofty estimate
of marriage that he must request Madame
Popot to inform Mademoiselle le Due that
she must for ever give up the hope of
becoming the wife of Monsieur Dusecq. He
could say much more, but Madame Popot's
own reflections will fully explain anything
he may have omitted."

Madame hardly waited for the end.

'^ Ah, Fifine, what is this ? what hast thou
done ? See what thy folly has worked ; such
a marriage as never again can fall to thee,"
and she broke into a torrent of reproaches.
She held out her hand for the letter, and read
it as carefully as her anger would allow, and
then she burst out again.

** Married for himself, the little bloated
glutton ! He expected it, did he ! Aha !
I had a suspicion of his insolence when he
refused this morning to eat the omelette I
had prepared with my own hands for his



124 FIFINE:

greasy little stomach. Lofty notions, has
he, the little stunted ape ; and he dares to
insinuate that I, Elise Popot, imagined that
my niece Fifine would marry him for love,
— the imbecile butter-tub ! "

She embraced the wondering Fifine, and
then sat thinking. But the conscience of La
mere Jacqueline was troubled : come what
would, she must tell sister Popot the truth.
*^ Go upstairs, Fifine,'' she said. Meekly
and faintly at first, but with an earnestness
that gave strength to her voice as she pro-
ceeded, La mere Jacqueline related her in-
terview with Monsieur Dusecq. Madame
Popot's face grew very red ; but when her
sister described the chefs anger and repeated
his message, her lips parted suddenly, and
she fell back in her chair in a hearty fit of
laughter. She laughed so long and so loud
that Fifine came down to see what could
have caused the unexpected merriment.
Poor Fifine was in a mood to laugh and
cry all at once ; her head was in such a
wiiirl that she could not yet realise what had
been happening to her.

" The old peacock ! Allons, Fifine, my



A STORY OF M ALINES, 125

child, I tell thee what we will do : we will
be even with this fine pretendu of thine.
And besides, I have brought thee a wedding
present — see here, a watch with a picture
on the back. Aha ! it is worth being
married for, is it not, little one ? But
what is to be done ? It is necessary that
thou shouldst be married ; and the next
thing is to find a husband."

Fifine knelt doT\TL by her aunt.

'' My aunt, thou hast been all goodness
to me, and I would do anything to show my
gratitude, but, forgive me, I see now it would
be a sin to marry anyone but Michel. Even
Monsieur Dusecq's letter shows me that I can-
not only sacrifice myself. I cannot make my
husband happy unless I love him."

She rose up pale, but not trembling.
Come what would, she knew Madame Popot
would never let her mother starve, and for
herself it was better to endure any hardship
than to commit wilful sin.

Her aunt looked at her steadily. '' You
were sent upstairs just now^, Fifine : I do not
know why you came down without leave. Go
up again." Her voice was as sharp as vinegar.



126 FIFINE:

All this while La mere Jacqueline had sat
crouched in her corner. She was still sadly
exliausted, and Madame Popot's severe voice
seemed to end her hopes for Fifine's happi-
ness. Her eyes followed the girl as she
went upstairs.

To her surprise, Madame rose up as soon
as Fifine was out of sight, and came across
the room like a snail, holding her chair
behind her.

Arrived at her sister, she set the chair
down beside her, and rolled into it.

** Now then, sister Jacqueline, I have a
few words to say to thee ; only understand,
they are not to be told to the little simple-
ton upstairs. In the first place, then,
thou hast acted like a heroic fool. "Was
it thy part to meddle in affairs which I had
arranged ? And then the risk, Ciel ! the
risk. I may send thee out in a chair with
bearers of my own choosing, who are re-
warded for their labour, but for thee to trust
thyself to gamins, who carry thee for their
amusement, Ciel ! it is a mercy they did
not play pitch-and-toss with thee into the
canal. Why, thou art trembling from head



A STORY OF MALINES. 127

to foot ; ah, ma foi ! it is a Quixotism not
to be equalled."

And Madame got up out of her chair,
and going to a small imperceptible cup-
board, produced thence two ^'petits verres" of
cognac.

The cognac being drunk, after a feeble
remonstrance from La mere Jacqueline,
Madame Popot carried away the glasses,
reseated herself, and putting her lips close
to her sister's ear, went on with the con-
versation in whispers. At last she rose from
her chair. '^ We will punish the vain little
fool," and she put her finger on her lips.

La mere Jacqueline obeyed her sister's
injunction of secrecy.

The results of the conversation were these :
— Two days after, Madame Popot and her
friend, the chief grocer in the quaint little
town, went up to the railway station, and
there solemnly became securities for the good
conduct and sobriety of Michel van Oorst,
who gained the post which had been refused
him ; and a month afterwards, when Jacque-
line had recovered from the illness that fol-
lowed her brave venture for her dauo^hter's



128 FIFINE: A STORY OF M ALINES.

happiness, Fifine, looking prettier than ever
in white muslin, with her gold watch at her
side, stood beside Michel van Oorst in the
Cathedral of St. Eumbold, and, in the pre-
sence of her aunt and La mere Jacqueline,
promised to take him to her wedded husband
till death should them part.



THE JOHN HAEEIS



VOL. I.



THE JOHN HAEEIS.



*' T'VE been thinkin', sir, you'd like to lie^.r
of how we gave chase to a slaver off
the east coast of Africa in the year '59."

I nodded assent. I had made the acquaint-
ance of my friend Jack Pembridge on the day
I reached Broadstairs, and since then I had
walked out several times to Kingsgate to have
a chat wdth him about his life on board a
man-o'-war. Jack was a splendid -looking,
muscular fellow, about six feet high, with
handsome blue eyes ; his tawny mane and
whiskers matched his skin so nearly in colour,
that he looked a perfect embodiment of tropi-
cal sunshine. He had taken service in the
Preventive Force at Kingsgate for a time,
as his wife did not want him to go to sea
again. The last time I had seen him I asked
him to search his memory for a yarn against
my next visit, as I meant to go up and see



132 THE JOHN HARRIS.

the lifeboat, and when he saw me he greeted
me with this sentence.

Jack was standing by the lifeboat house
when I reached him, but he seemed to think
this an unfit place for story-telling.

** Come round, sir," he said, ** to the lee-
side of Neptune's Tower ; there's a seat there,
snug in the sunshine."

So there was ; and, as he had evidently
preconcerted this arrangement, he began at
once without any preface, except to say in
answer to my question that his ship's name
at the time was Her Majesty's steamer

*'We was cruising about in the Bight —
we'd none on us been ashore for three year
— for you see, sir, there's a deal of fever on
the coast, and it wouldn't do ; general ways,
ships takes it turn and turn about to go
ashore at St. Helena; but somehow we hadn't
done it, and our Cap'n — he was a rare good
one — I suppose he guessed we felt it tightish
work — tho' I don't think none of us did, for
we was all comfortable among ourselves. He
used to give us leave — the Cap'n did — when
the country people comed down to the shore



THE JOHN HARRIS. 133

— as they do at some 0' the places with eggs
and cheese and such like — he used to say,
* Go ashore, lads, and buy what you like,'
and if we brought a cask o' brandy back he
never said nothin'; he always locked it up
you know," said Jack, looking as serious as
his usual expression of broad good-humour
permitted, '^ and served it us out in rations
extra after supper, and then we used to have
singin' and dancin' and jokin' ; bless your
heart, sir, we were as jolly . It was par-
ticular so for me, for you see there was only
the Cap'n, the master, and a midshipman —
both these last was boys, so — tho' I was only
a petty hofficer — cox'en of the longboat — the
Cap'n he looked to me for eveiy think, you
know, sir — not but what he was rare and
kind to all — but I had a'most all the same as
quarter-deck hojBficer.

'' Well, sir, one day we was at Whydar,
when a missionary comes aboard and tells
the Cap'n if he'll give him forty pound
he'll put him in the way of a slaver —
for you see, sir, the slavers is mostly taken
thro' the reports of the missionaries, sir.
Well, the Cap'n he sent for the hofficers and



134 THE JOHN HARRIS.

they talked it over, and it was settled that
the missionary — he was a black 'un — should
be paid the money if the slaver was taken, and
the contrairy if it wasn't. So then he told
us that she was a brigantine sailing under the
'Merikin colours and calling herself the John
Harris ; she had on'y lately come in, and he
knew she hadn't loaded yet. Next morning
v/e got orders from the Admiral's ship to go
up to Lagos ; so off we goes, the risk being .
that the slaver might have taken in her cargo
afore we comed back, you see, sir. Well, we
wasn't long at Lagos — we'd left a boat to
watch her — and as soon as we comes back
there she was, sure enough, with the 'Merikin
flag flying.

^*Well, sir, as soon as our Cap'n see this
he tells me to man a boat, and off he goes to
hold a parley with the 'Merikin skipper — only
the Cap'n and the midshipman goes on deck,
and we stays below in the boat. Presently I
looks up and I sees peeping over at me a face
I know'd, a mate I'd served with on board
the Britannia,

'' ' Hullo, mate,' says I, 'I thinks I knows
vour face.'



THE JOHN HARRIS. 135

** * I knows youm, if you don't know mine,'
he says, grinning.

**'Your name's Freeman, ain't it?' says I.

** * Well, it is,' says he — and then he grins
at me again.

'* ' What are you doin' here ? ' says I.

** * Oh, we've on'y got a small cargo,' says
he, * and we've nearly got rid of it.'

** * All ready to take in the live un, eh ? '
says I.

** * That's nothing to you nor me,' says he,
quite short.

** I saw I should get nothing more out of
him. Presently the Cap'n comes down and
tells us to pull back to the ship.

'^ * I can't make nothing out of her, Pem-
bridge,' he whispers ; * she's not loaded yet,
anyhow.'

*' Well, I was terrible oneasy, because I
feels sure she was after no good ; but, as the
Cap'n said, we'd no proof to warrant us in
taking any proceedings again her. For you
see, sir, that was before this 'Merikin war,
and the 'Merikins didn't allow no right of
search, so if the Cap'n had opened her
hatches and she'd turned out no slaver at all.



136 THE JOHN HARRIS,

why their government ud brought a haction
against our'n and our Cap'n ud ha' lost his
commission.

** "Well, sir, on and off we went on cruising
thereabouts for some weeks, never once losing
sight of the Jolm Harris.

'' She dropped down to St. Thomas's after
a bit and filled all her water-casks, but she
seemed so quiet and take-it-easy about it, that
some on us begun to feel terrible puzzled ;
we'd noticed that she'd had a lot o' planks
aboard of her, all ready to make a slave deck,
but she'd sent these all ashore now. You
know, sir, if they don't ship the darkies as
soon as old King Dahomey 's got 'em ready,
why he claims 'em and makes the skipper
buy 'em all over again.

'*Well, all on a sudden one Saturday even-
ing we missed her — she was gone right
clean from under our noses. Well, the Cap'n
was terrible vexed, for you see, sir, we
thought she'd perhaps taken her cargo in and
was off safe enough to Cuba ; so he sends
two crew boys ashore to inquire of the mis-
sionary what gived us information. Well, sir,
the crew boys didn't come back, nor the boat



THE JOHN HARRIS. 137

neither — it was plain enough they'd been put
in prison to stop their laying informations.

** We was precious wild to think we'd lost
her after all, for you see, supposin' she hadn't
loaded, we didn't know where she was agoing
to take 'em in, so we didn't know where to
look for her.

''Well, the next day was Sunday — it was
a misty, hazy sort of weather — I was keeping
watch while they wa^ at church below, and I
just thought I'd get up in the cross-trees and
have a look out, — and I'm blow'd if I didn't
ketch sight on her some way down the coast
at a place called Ambrosette. Down I goes
and whispers the Cap'n —

" ' Sir,' says I, ' there's the Jolin Harris.*

'' ' Where ? ' says he.

*' ' Down at Ambrosette; she's a gettin' 'em
in. She won't be there long, sir,' says I.

'' Well, the Cap'n he cuts chm'ch precious
short, and up he comes to the cross-trees.

'* ' That's her, sure enough,' says he, after
he'd taken a squint at her thro' the glass.

'' But he wouldn't have the steam got up at
once, because he wanted, you see, to let her
ship her cargo. Against it was dusk we was



138 THE JOHN HARRIS.

all ready, and then down we steamed at a
tremenjious rate.

''Well, we was all looking forrard, all on
us — it had come on a bit hazy — bending our
eyes in one direction and specting to ketch
sight on her ivery minute, for you see, sir,
we'd no suspicions that she was off — when on
a sudden one of our crew who'd been ill and
was setting for hair on a coil of ropes in the
stern, he calls out, ' There she is — there's the
John Harris ! *

'* There she was behind us. Why, sir,
we'd passed her in the fog, which had just
lifted off now ; and if that invalid seaman
hadn't happened to be looking otherways to
what the rest on us was, we'd ha' lost her
altogether.

*' Well, the Cap'n he calls out, ' Ease her,
stop her ! ' and our ship was soon swung
round within hail of the slaver. The fog had
cleared off now. You see, sir, in them seas
it's never what you may call dark, and we'd
soon got near enough to be sure of her.

''But the Cap'n wouldn't meddle with her
till daylight. That came soon, and then he
hails her : ' What ship's that ? '



THE JOHN HARRIS. 139

*' * What ship are you ? ' came the answer.

** * That's enough, sir/ says I, * that shows
what she is ; and, lookye here, sir, the John
Harris is painted out now.'

'* ^ How can you be sure of that ? ' says
the Doctor.

*' * Sure, sir?' says I, *why I sees the fresh
paint.' You see, sir, I always had a credit
for sharp sight.

*^ Well, the Cap'n sends the two officers and
the gunner in one boat, and me and a file of
marines in another ; but I was not to go on
board unless Mr. Walkinshaw — that was the
master's name — signalled to me to do so.
However, sir, as we lay alongside in the boat,
I was sure we was all right, for I could smell
'em, sir — smell 'em through the timbers, as

plain . Well, after they'd had some

palaver with the skipper, Mr. Walkinshaw
he comes to the side and beckons me up.

*' * It's all right, Pembridge,' he whis-
pers.

*^ * Yes, sir,' says I, * right enough, she's
right full on 'em.'

" * Oh, I think not,' he says, looking quite
surprised : * the skipper shows his papers all



I40 THE JOHN HARRIS.

right and fair. I don't think there's any



m



'* ^Well, sir/ says I, * I've got just upon
four pound in my locker, and I don't mind
betting you that there four pound that she's
right full on 'em. Why, sir, put your nose
down here — can't you smell 'em ? '

** * No, Pemhridge, I can't,' says he, 'no
more can the others. What reason have you
for suspicion ? '

'' I felt terrible mid, but you see, sir, they
was hofficers and I was man, and you see
they'd been havin' a cigar with the skipper,
and he'd been making himself pleasant, and
those young gents is easy got over.

'''Well, sir,' says I, 'when we went
aboard at Whydar she'd got a lot o' crew boys.
Where's the crew boys now ? Then she's got
all her water-casks on deck. Why's that for,
but to give room below ? and most of all, sir ,
I smell 'em.'

" Well, the man I named Freeman was the
mate, and he looked black enough at me, for
he saw I know'd what I was about ; and
there was another mate named Thomas — a
most hawful character he was, to be sure —



THE JOHN HARRIS. 141

the hoaths he used when he see me and the
hofficers talkin' together was tremenjious —
them 'Merikins is terrible 'andy with hoaths,
you know, sir.

'' Well, Mr. Walkinshaw he says some-
thing to the skipper about crew boys, and
says Freeman, ^ Here they lies, safe enough,'
and he lifts up a sail on deck, and reg'lar
shows 'em to us — a heap of darkies all lying
huddled together.

'^ ' Here they are, sir,' says I, 'now you
see 'em.'

** ' See w^hat ? ' says the gunner ; ' those
are the crew boys.'

'* Well, sir, it was no use : they'd done us
for that time. Over we goes, and rows back
to our ship, and the officers goes up to the
Cap'n with their stoiy. Well, the men was
rare and wild ; them as had been ^^ith me in
the boat had told the rest, and they all begins
a-hurging 0' me to go up to the Cap'n and
tell him my suspicions.

" ' Quiet,' says I, ' you let the Cap'n
alone ; he'll send for me when he wants me.'

'' Sure enough, there was a 'ue and cry for
me presently, and up I goes to the Cap'n.



142 THE JOHN HARRIS.

** '"Well, Pembridge/ says he, * and what
do you say now ? '

" ' Say, sir ? Why, she's full on 'em.'

** * Well,' says he, and he looks terrible
perplexed, ' you're only a seaman, and these
are hofficers. What are the reasons o' your
suspicions, Pembridge ? '

*' * Well, sir,' says I, * I'm that sure, that,
with the Cap'n's leave, I'll lay four pound —
and that's all I've got left — against any o'
these genl'm, that she's right full. Why,
sir, I've got three causes of suspicions. In
the first place, didn't you notice, when you
and me went aboard, or rather when you
went aboard and I stayed below, that she'd
plenty of crew boys ? '

'**Well,' says our skipper, * I've heard
about that, and these gentlemen say the crew
boys was accounted for '

'' ' Cap'n,' says I, * in course I can't swear
to knowin' them darkies one from another,
but my belief is them weren't crew boys as
we saw just now. Then, sir, she's got all
her water-casks full, on deck, not below, sir.
Why's that for ? Then, sir, you remember as
well as I do, that she had two anchors when



THE JOHN HARRIS. 143

you went aboard — now she's got but one.
Why's that, sir? because she saw us a-comin'
in the dark, and she slipped her anchor
to get off quicker. Why did she do that
for?'

" The Cap'n he was terrible perplexed, but
instead of going aboard himself along 0' me
that same afternoon, he says he'd go down to
Ambrosette. He knew there was a large
Nova Scotia barque lying there, which must
have seen all that had been going on, and
he'd make inquiries. Now here, sir, was the
folly. As it was, it was a dead calm. We
could move along because of our steam, but
she lay as dead as a log ; but, thinks I to
myself, as we steams off, if a breeze springs
up in the night, we sha'n't see no more of the
John Harris. By the time we gets down to
Ambrosette it had got late, and the Cap'n
wouldn't let me go aboard the Nova Scotia.
He said they would all be abed, and I must
wait till daylight.

*^It was an hawful sort 0' risk, as you
know, sir, to lay alongside all night, and to
feel if a breeze sprung up we hadn't the ghost
of a chance left ; for I knowed fast enough,



144 THE JOHN HARRIS,

if once the John E arris got a fair start the
game was up.

** You may be sure I never slept a wink all
night, and as soon as there was a glimmer of
what might be called daylight, down I goes
to the Cap'n, rouses him up, and gets his leave
to go aboard. The Cap'n said perhaps they
might refuse to give informations, and in that
case I was to overhaul their log-book, which
in course, as you knows, sir, they hadn't no
right to refuse. Well, I goes aboard, sir, and
there was no one up, only one seaman, I
asked him if he'd seen the John Harris
down at Ambrosette lately, and he said
' Yes, till the evening before yesterday ; '
but when I comes to further questions, he
declines to hanswer, cos, you see, sir, the
Dahomey people would have nothink to
do with them, if so be as they gived in-
formations.

^* ^Well,* says I, ^ can I see your log-
book ? '

^' ' See it and welcome,' says he.

*' And according I looks, and finds, ^Brigan-
tine, named John Harris ; had connection with
twenty canoes.'



THE JOHN HARRIS. 145

*^'A11 right,' thinks I, and didn't I get
back quick to the Spitfire,

'' 'All right, sir,' I says to the Cap'n, and
tells him of the canoes, and back we steams
tremenjious fast, and after some time we
catches sight on her. She'd moved a little,
but the calm lay deader than ever.

** The Cap'n he hails her again, and the
skipper, I s'pose, he thinks as how it's all up
now.

*' ■ It's no good, Cap'n,' says he, ' you can
come and take 'em ; I've ^got five hundred
for you.'

** Now the bosun and I had had a talk as
we was steaming up from Ambrosette, and he
said we should miss her after all, he was
positive.

'' ' Not a bit of it,' says I. ' I'll lay yon
a pound that we board her and take her by
twelve o'clock.'

" ' Done,' says the bosun.

** The Cap'n he tells us to man the
pinnace and the longboat,[and all the rest of
'em, and to come with him to the ship.

*' Well, as soon as we goes aboard, the
skipper he turns sulky, and he says —

VOL. I. L



146 THE JOHN HARRIS.

*^ ' I don't know what you mean; you came
aboard yesterday, and no fault found. What
the doose do you mean by poking here again ?
You have been a-takin' informations/

'*'Well;' says our Cap'n, 'but our sus-
picions is strong agin you, and I must open
your hatches.'

*' Oh ! if you'd seen the way how the
skipper stormed : and as to that there second
mate, Thomas, he threatened to take my life
if I stayed aboard.

'''You stop that,' says I, for he swore
terrible hard ; his hoaths were tremenjious ; I
can swear, but I never hear sich hoaths !

" ' Lookye here,' says he, with a string
of 'em, ' I've got somethink as'll settle you
easy.'

" And he pulls out a six-barrel revolver.
"'Now keep quiet,' says I; 'I'm not
here to be threated by you ; two can do
that,' and I pulls out my revolver ; for we're
allowed to carry 'em, sir, on such-like dooty,
' and perhaps I shall get first chance.'

" Just then the Cap'n he beckons our
carpenter up out of the boat. 'Bring up
your hax,' says he, ' we'll soon have the



THE JOHN HARRIS, i47

'atches open.' For they fastens 'em down,
sir, as soon as they've got the darkies safe
aboard.

'' ' I protest agin it/ said the skipper.

** ' No need for that/ whispers Freeman to
me, * jest you draw them bolts.'

*' Lor' bless you, sir ! the minute Idrawed
the bolts and upped with the hatches, there
they was, all with their mouths hopen like so
many young birds, a cravin' for hair, you
know, sir.

" So the skipper he gives up then, and he
says —

'' Well, Cap'n, didn't I tell you I'd got five
hundred for you ? "

'' Well, I was for hauling down the flag,
but the Cap'n he says to me, ' You leave it
alone. Jack; let 'em do it theirselves, we'll
nab it presently.'

*' Would you believe it, sir, they hauls it
down on a sudden, and rolls it up with a
couple o' bolts in it, and chucks it overboard,
just to prevent our getting it.

*' The skipper he says presently, ''What
are you going to do with me, Cap'n ? ' he
says.



148 THE JOHN HARRIS.

** So the Cap'n asked where he'd like to go
to, and he says * Sierra Leone/ and they all
says * Sierra Leone.'

** Well, we left some men in charge, and
when we gets back to our shij) (I ought to
tell you, sir, that the flag was hauled down a
quarter before twelve, so I won my wager*
fairly), I says to our skipper, ' Cap'n,' says
I, * you'll excuse me speaking, but are you
a-going to leave the skipper and them two big
fellows o' mates along, and only three of us ?
Why, sir, they'd circumwent us somehow, for
they've got the doose's own cunning.'

"'You wait a bit,' said the Cap'n ; so he
gives me and Corporal Best our instructions,


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