Uncle Bernac eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 171 pages of information about Uncle Bernac.

When I had risen from my knees, the first thing that I did was to put my purse into the inner pocket of my coat.  I had taken it out in order to give a gold piece to the sailor who had handed me ashore, though I have little doubt that the fellow was both wealthier and of more assured prospects than myself.  I had actually drawn out a silver half-crown, but I could not bring myself to offer it to him, and so ended by giving a tenth part of my whole fortune to a stranger.  The other nine sovereigns I put very carefully away, and then, sitting down upon a flat rock just above high water mark, I turned it all over in my mind and weighed what I should do.  Already I was cold and hungry, with the wind lashing my face and the spray smarting in my eyes, but at least I was no longer living upon the charity of the enemies of my country, and the thought set my heart dancing within me.  But the castle, as well as I could remember, was a good ten miles off.  To go there now was to arrive at an unseemly hour, unkempt and weather-stained, before this uncle whom I had never seen.  My sensitive pride conjured up a picture of the scornful faces of his servants as they looked out upon this bedraggled wanderer from England slinking back to the castle which should have been his own.  No, I must seek shelter for the night, and then at my leisure, with as fair a show of appearances as possible, I must present myself before my relative.  Where then could I find a refuge from the storm?

You will ask me, doubtless, why I did not make for Etaples or Boulogne.  I answer that it was for the same reason which forced me to land secretly upon that forbidding coast.  The name of de Laval still headed the list of the proscribed, for my father had been a famous and energetic leader of the small but influential body of men who had remained true at all costs to the old order of things.  Do not think that, because I was of another way of thinking, I despised those who had given up so much for their principles.  There is a curious saint-like trait in our natures which draws us most strongly towards that which involves the greatest sacrifice, and I have sometimes thought that if the conditions had been less onerous the Bourbons might have had fewer, or at least less noble, followers.  The French nobles had been more faithful to them than the English to the Stuarts, for Cromwell had no luxurious court or rich appointments which he could hold out to those who would desert the royal cause.  No words can exaggerate the self-abnegation of those men.  I have seen a supper party under my father’s roof where our guests were two fencing-masters, three professors of language, one ornamental gardener, and one translator of books, who held his hand in the front of his coat to conceal a rent in the lapel.  But these eight men were of the highest nobility of France, who might have had what they chose to ask if they would only consent to forget the past, and to throw themselves heartily into the new order of

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Uncle Bernac from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.