Master d’Arfet waited while Martin translated; then he put out a hand for his staff, found it, turned on his heel and tottered from the room, the interpreter following with a face which had altered nothing during our whole discourse.
* * * * *
Master d’Arfet sailed at daybreak, having declined Gonsalvez’ offer to show him the grave. My old friend insisted that I must stay a week with him, and from the terrace before his house we watched the English pinnace till she rounded the point to eastward and disappeared.
“After all,” said I, “we treated him hardly.”
But Gonsalvez said: “A husk of a man! All the blood in him sour! And yet,” he mused, “the husk kept him noble after a sort.”
And he led me away to the warm slopes to see how his young vines were doing.
MARGERY OF LAWHIBBET
A Story of 1644
I pray God to deal gently with my sister Margery Lantine; that the blood of her twin-brother Mark, though it cry out, may not prevail against her on the Day of Judgment.
We three were all the children of Ephraim Lantine, a widower, who owned and farmed (as I do to-day) the little estate of Lawhibbet on the right shore of the Fowey River, above the ford which crosses to St. Veep. The whole of our ground slopes towards the river; as also does the neighbour estate of Lantine, sometime in our family’s possession, but now and for three generations past yielding us only its name. Three miles below us the river opens into Fowey Harbour, with Fowey town beside it and facing across upon the village of Polruan, and a fort on either shore to guard the entrance. Three miles above us lies Lostwithiel, a neat borough, by the bridge of which the tidal water ceases. But the traffic between these two towns passes behind us and out of sight, by the high-road which after climbing out of Lostwithiel runs along a narrow neck of land dividing our valley from Tywardreath Bay. This ridge comes to its highest and narrowest just over the chimneys of Lawhibbet, and there the old Britons once planted an earthwork overlooking the bay on one hand and the river-passage on the other. Castle Dore is its name; a close of short smooth turf set within two circular ramparts and two fosses choked with brambles. Thither we children climbed, whether to be alone with our games—for I do not suppose my father entered the earthwork twice in a year, and no tillage ever disturbed it, though we possessed a drawerful of coins ploughed up from time to time in the field outside—or to watch the sails in the bay and the pack-horses jingling along the ridge, which contracted until it came abreast of us and at once began to widen towards Fowey and the coast; so that it came natural to feign ourselves robbers sitting there in our fastness and waiting to dash out upon the rich convoys as they passed under our noses.