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He dragged the man into the road.
“ Must have a boat. Pull me to the Cuttle Fish in twenty minutes, and I will give you a sovereign.”
“Come this way,” said the boatman. “I'll see what can be done."
He strode along the pier, beneath which the tide was running. The solitary lamps gleamed upon it, and the water could be seen curling and twisting with oily smoothness. The rain still poured down pitilessly, and the shadowy forms of vessels loomed out of the darkness.
“Mind you don't slip," said the man, descending the pier steps. “I think my pal's boat be down here. We must mind we don't get run down. I've no light.”
“ Hug the shore. I know the way,” said Cuffing. “ So do I, for that matter," said the boatman.
“ There you are ;
Cuffing was all agility. The boat was soon drifting with the tide.
• My mate and me ’ave just put a gentleman down at the Cuttle Fish. We thought as he'd come to arrange for a mill, but I dunno, I'm sure; I don't think it could be done now."
“Ah; what was he like?" asked Cuffing anxiously.
“O’, he wer a genleman, no mistake about that. An there was a time when the Cuttle Fish---why, lor' love you, the mills I've sin when I wer a boy
“Yes, no doubt,” said Cuffing ; "pull away ; I think I see the light. No-yes it is.”
“ “No it aint,” said the boatman. “That's the steam yacht Fairy; she's going out a top o' the tide; I know her lights. You won't see the Cuttle for five minutes yet, if you see it at all, for Bill Jeffs aint much call for burning lights."
“Ah, very well ; pull away, my friend; you only waste your breatn by talking, and it must be getting on for ten o'clock ; never was in such a slow train, and then there must be an infernal accident somewhere or another to delay us.”
“Yes, sir, accidents are matters ov course now, as my mate says, when a man is”
“Damn your mate," exclaimed Cuffing ; "pull!"
“Well, you might be civil. I didn't want to bring you," said the boatman, laying to with a will.
In a few minutes they were opposite the Cuttle Fish.
“Hi! Where the devil are you coming to ?" shouted Bill Jeffs, into whose boat they had run bow foremost.
“Comin' to!” said Cuffing's boatman,“ why, where should we be a coming to but to Mr. Jeffs, proprietor of the Cuttle Fish Hotel?”
“O, it's you, Dick, is it?” said Bill, taking the bow of the other boat and pulling it ashore.
“Yes, with a customer; and a damn rum customer too for that matter."
“There's your money,” said Cuffing, giving the fellow a sovereign. “You needn't land, and you needn't wait. You have a boat, Jeffs?”
“Yes, sir. Lor, Mr. Cuffing, why I'm glad to see you; but you're late," said Bill. “Now then, Dick, do as the gentleman bids you; away you go.”
“ All right, Mr. Jeffs,” said the boatman, pushing off; “I don't want to stay, don't think it."
“Yes, Jeffs, I'm late ; have the gentlemen come ?"
“ 'Spose so; I see one of them leastwise, and my lad's been a waiting this hour for 'em, and he's a waiting now.”
“Indeed,” said Cuffing, “well done ; come along; I shall be in time. I knew I should, I felt it-had a presentiment."
Cufting commenced to run through the mud.
" You'll soon tire of that, sir,” said Jeffs, sinking into the mire at every footstep.
“There is a light,” said Cuffing ; "they are there! What about the steamer ?”
“Due quarter of an hour ago; expect her here every minute." “Go back, Jeffs, and hail her.”
“Aint necessary—my lad's' there; I told the gentleman, your friend, that I'd be back by this time."
“All right, you can retire if necessary,” said Cuffing.
Knock then," said Cuffing, beating at it with his fists.
"Hi! there, open the door,” shouted Jeffs, looking up at the window.
No reply. The wind came driving right over the plain, shaking the Cuttle Fish sign, which creaked and groaned aloud.
“Damn that sign,” said Jeffs ; “ you never can hear yourself speak if there's a capful o'wind.”
Cuffing hammered and kicked at the door. “Can't you get in at the window ?” “It's the only thing that fastens well, the window,” said Jeffs,
putting his shoulder to the door, which trembled at the thrust he
“Shout once more, and then let us break in,” said Cuffing.
“ Hi! It's Bill Jeffs and Lawyer Cuffing," cried Bill, at the same time flinging a handful of mud at the window.
The sign creaked and groaned as much as to say, " It is no good, you had better burst the door open;" and the rain beat into the faces of the two men, and the wind rattled the windows.
" It's odd,” said Jeffs, taking a run at the door and forcing the lock with a crash that shook the whole place, and set the sign fairly shrieking.
Cuffing followed Jeffs into the kitchen. No one there. Upstairs. No one there.
“Yes, by God, there is !” exclaimed Jeffs, holding aloft the guttered candle. " And he's dead!”
The light flickered for a moment upon the glazed, staring eyes; the blind flapped its wings; the rain hissed at the windows ; the wind moaned down the chimney; the sign shrieked again a wild, defiant shriek; the Ostend steamer whistled its signal in the river; Jeff's boy was still waiting for Ransford.
“Curse him !” said Mr. Simon Cuffing. “And that's all I would say if I had to write his epitaph."
The sun was rising over Boulogne—the golden summer sun.
Flashing upon the sea in many a glittering beam, the harbinger of day was lighting up the windows of the distant city with its tall cathedral, its monumental folly, and its ranges of picturesque hills; Chatillon on one hand with its far-off lighthouse, on the other the ruined fort La Crêche catching the eye and helping to give artistic interest to the picture.
With what varied feelings have voyagers to this ville de plaisance, once the battlefield of so many political and historic hopes, looked upon the well-known harbour! From the great Cæsar himself, who organised his invading army on the shore there for the subjugation of Britain, to that modern Cæsar who hoped to make a similar repetition of history, what a strange story of intrigue, rapine, battle, murder, and sudden death! The same sun still rises and the sea rolls in colour of molten gold as when the first martyrs to Christianity laid down their lives in Morinia. Five hundred odd years ago there
was a wedding pageant at Boulogne equal in grandeur to our modern celebrations. Edward II. of England married Isabella of France here, and eight kings and queens and a score of princes were present at the ceremony. It is a tempting subject, this glancing back at the history of the fine old town. That Kalmat was sitting in his dreamy fashion, with a history on his knee, picturing the grand historical panorama in his mind, is, however, the only excuse to be offered even for this brief halt by the way.
The Fairy was gliding pleasantly over the calm waters. Lord St. Barnard and Kalmat were sitting on deck. The poet smoked and talked to his friend, whose eyes were fixed on the harbour.
" How earnest we all are," said the poet, “ in our affairs. How paramount they seem to be, how momentous; and yet what a short story it is, the history of our little lives.”
Lord St. Barnard looked inquiringly at his friend.
“ To place our story beside the events that have occurred in yonder historic place would seem affectation, and yet how full of romance it is, what emotion there is in it, what tremendous issues so far as we are concerned. From the subjugation of Britain to the present time Boulogne has a marvellous history—tragic, splendid, with social glimpses of modern romance that might furnish the novelist with a thousand plots; but for you and I Boulogne has only that personal interest which belongs to a persecuted woman. Her mother lies buried yonder. What a sad story, her death from smallpox and the old man's discovery of the child, his devotion to the infant, his love for the girl, and his fruitless search and lonely end in your great cruel London !”
“Indeed, you say truly, my friend ; some things in this world are terribly out of joint. My poor wife! may a kind Heaven spare her for some years of real happiness yet.”
“Amen,” said Kalmat.
“Forgive me,” said his lordship, “if I am not inclined to talk; my heart is too full when I look yonder and think of her distress, and feel that I doubted her. Aye, I did, sir; I doubted her. We might have been separated for ever but for you."
Lord St. Barnard walked to the bow of the vessel and leaned over the taffrail, watching the city that was coming nearer and nearer. Kalmat followed him with his eyes. “And I am not jealous of him," said the poet to himself. “But
“ Alas for a heart that is left forlorn!
If you live you must love ; if you love, regret -
Or better at least we could well forget.”
“Ah, my wayward singer," he said, as he repeated the favourite lines, “thou hast learnt thy sorrowful story well. It is a wailing, melancholy muse, the dame thou delightest in, melancholy as mine own; but thou hadst no taste of vengeance. From this time forth I shall leave thee, my brother, to tune the dirge of blighted love and broken hearts alone. My song shall be the song of hate, the sweet sadness of the heart, if yon other mighty singer may brook that supplement of sweet. Vengeance, rough justice, natural reprisal, life for life, I honour the Indian passion. How I hated that traitorous cur! What happiness is mixed up with his death! The Indian's joy of an enemy's scalp is no longer a mystery to me. The child of nature hath true instincts. Murder, say you, O civilised thing of neutral life and neutral passion, it is justice ! Murder, to wipe out the thing accursed, to slay the adder, to crush the fair semblance of an angel that nurses a venomous tooth, the fiend in disguise, the devil in a fair form, Vice with a mock smile of Virtue ! It is the dream of sages, the coming time when the cruel and deformed, the narrow, the dissolute, the cur, the sweating, fawning time-server shall be extinct, and when, should the evil weed be found upon the earth, it shall be a common instinct to pluck it up or cut it down, to lay it low like yonder noxious thing we have left on its back, for hollow London to reflect upon, and talk about, and write about in its narrow ways and monkey clubs."
“You seem sad, too,” said Lord St. Barnard, laying his hand upon his friend's shoulder ; "a poet, and not rejoicing over this lovely picture !"
“I am not sad, believe me," said Kalmat.
"In twenty minutes the captain says we shall be steaming between the jetties."
“And the world will be bright again for you?”
"I hope so," said Lord St. Barnard. “My dear friend, you have brought the morning.”
“ It is a cloudy one,” said Kalmat ; "you must not expect the full summer yet.”
“My wife restored to health is all I ask for now,” said his lordship. “How shall we find her, think you ?"
"Better, progressing well,” said Kalmat. “ I feel sure of it.”
“We can never hope to repay you for all your kindness, your devotion, your self-sacrifice.”
"I am repaid a hundredfold,” said Kalmat. “I feel to-day as light-hearted as I used to feel when I was a boy. A cloud has gone from my brain, a blot on my best thoughts. I breathe freely; the world is larger than it was. I am almost a happy man.”