Moonfleet eBook

J. Meade Falkner
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 250 pages of information about Moonfleet.

For a long time after all had gone, Elzevir sat at the table with his head between his hands, and I kept quiet also, both because I was myself sorry that we were to be sent adrift, and because I wished to show Elzevir that I felt for him in his troubles.  But the young cannot enter fully into their elders’ sorrows, however much they may wish to, and after a time the silence palled upon me.  It was getting dusk, and the candle which bore itself so bravely through auction and lease-sealing burnt low in the socket.  A minute later the light gave some flickering flashes, failings, and sputters, and then the wick tottered, and out popped the flame, leaving us with the chilly grey of a March evening creeping up in the corners of the room.  I could bear the gloom no longer, but made up the fire till the light danced ruddy across pewter and porcelain on the dresser.  ‘Come, Master Block,’ I said, ’there is time enough before May Day to think what we shall do, so let us take a cup of tea, and after that I will play you a game of backgammon.’  But he still remained cast down, and would say nothing; and as chance would have it, though I wished to let him win at backgammon, that so, perhaps, he might get cheered, yet do what I would that night I could not lose.  So as his luck grew worse his moodiness increased, and at last he shut the board with a bang, saying, in reference to that motto that ran round its edge, ’Life is like a game of hazard, and surely none ever flung worse throws, or made so little of them as I.’

CHAPTER 8

THE LANDING

Let my lamp at midnight hour
Be seen in some high lonely tower—­Milton

Maskew got ugly looks from the men, and sour words from the wives, as he went up through the village that afternoon, for all knew what he had done, and for many days after the auction he durst not show his face abroad.  Yet Damen of Ringstave and some others of the landers’ men, who made it their business to keep an eye upon him, said that he had been twice to Weymouth of evenings, and held converse there with Mr. Luckham of the Excise, and with Captain Henning, who commanded the troopers then in quarters on the Nothe.  And by degrees it got about, but how I do not know, that he had persuaded the Revenue to strike hard at the smugglers, and that a strong posse was to be held in readiness to take the landers in the act the next time they should try to run a cargo.  Why Maskew should so put himself about to help the Revenue I cannot tell, nor did anyone ever certainly find out; but some said ’twas out of sheer wantonness, and a desire to hurt his neighbours; and others, that he saw what an apt place this was for landing cargoes, and wished first to make a brave show of zeal for the Excise, and afterwards to get the whole of the contraband trade into his own hands.  However that may be, I think he was certainly in league with the Revenue men, and more than once I saw him on the Manor

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Moonfleet from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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