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

CHAPTER 13

AN INTERVIEW

No human creature stirred to go or come,
  No face looked forth from shut or open casement,
No chimney smoked, there was no sign of home
  From parapet to basement—­Hood

And so the days went on, until there came to be but two nights more before we were to leave our cave.  Now I have said that the delay chafed us, because we were impatient to get at the treasure; but there was something else that vexed me and made me more unquiet with every day that passed.  And this was that I had resolved to see Grace before I left these parts, and yet knew not how to tell it to Elzevir.  But on this evening, seeing the time was grown so short, I knew that I must speak or drop my purpose, and so spoke.

We were sitting like the sea-birds on the ledge outside our cave, looking towards St. Alban’s Head and watching the last glow of sunset.  The evening vapours began to sweep down Channel, and Elzevir shrugged his shoulders.  ‘The night turns chill,’ he said, and got up to go back to the cave.  So then I thought my time was come, and following him inside said: 

’Dear Master Elzevir, you have watched over me all this while and tended me kinder than any father could his son; and ’tis to you I owe my life, and that my leg is strong again.  Yet I am restless this night, and beg that you will give me leave to climb the shaft and walk abroad.  It is two months and more that I have been in the cave and seen nothing but stone walls, and I would gladly tread once more upon the Down.’

‘Say not that I have saved thy life,’ Elzevir broke in; ’’twas I who brought thy life in danger; and but for me thou mightst even now be lying snug abed at Moonfleet, instead of hiding in the chambers of these rocks.  So speak not of that, but if thou hast a mind to air thyself an hour, I see little harm in it.  These wayward fancies fall on men as they get better of sickness; and I must go tonight to that ruined house of which I spoke to thee, to fetch a pocket compass Master Ratsey was to put there.  So thou canst come with me and smell the night air on the Down.’

He had agreed more readily than I looked for, and so I pushed the matter, saying: 

’Nay, master, grant me leave to go yet a little farther afield.  You know that I was born in Moonfleet, and have been bred there all my life, and love the trees and stream and very stones of it.  And I have set my heart on seeing it once more before we leave these parts for good and all.  So give me leave to walk along the Down and look on Moonfleet but this once, and in this ploughboy guise I shall be safe enough, and will come back to you tomorrow night’

He looked at me a moment without speaking; and all the while I felt he saw me through and through, and yet he was not angry.  But I turned red, and cast my eyes upon the ground, and then he spoke: 

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