Old Fires and Profitable Ghosts eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 245 pages of information about Old Fires and Profitable Ghosts.

It was a minute later, perhaps, that I began to suspect that July was hit, for she allowed the jib to shake and seemed to be running right up into the wind.  The stern swung round and I strained my eyes to catch a glimpse of her.  At that moment a third volley rattled out, a bullet shore through the peak halliards, and the mainsail came down with a run.  It was all over.

The preventive men cheered and pulled with a will.  I saw them run alongside, clamber into the cutter, and lift the fallen sail.

And that was all.  There was no one on board, alive or dead.  Whilst the canvas hid her, in the swift two minutes between the boat’s putting about and her running up into the wind, July Constantine must have lifted her lover’s body overboard and followed it to the bottom of the sea, There is no other explanation; and of the bond that knit these two together there is, when I ask myself candidly, no explanation at all, unless I give more credence than I have any wish to give to the wild tale which Joseph Laquedem told me.  I have told you the facts, my friend, and leave them to your judgment.

[1] The legend is that as Christ left the judgment hall on His way to Calvary, Kartophilus smote Him, saying, “Man, go quicker!” and was answered, “I indeed go quickly; but thou shalt tarry till I come again.”

PRISONERS OF WAR

A REPORTED TALE OF ARDEVORA

You’ve heard tell, I dare say, about Landlord Cummins and Billy Bosistow, and the great jealousy there was between them.  No?  Well, I see you going about Ardevora, and making a study of us; and I know you can read, because I’ve seen you doing it down to the Institute.  But sometimes, when I ask you a simple little question like that, you force me to wonder what you’ve been doing with yourself all these years.  Why, it got into the Law Courts!

I know all about it, being related to them both after a fashion, as you might say.  Landlord Cummins—­he that used to keep the Welcome Home—­ married an aunt of mine on my mother’s side, and that’s part of the story.  The boys used to call him “Calves-in-front,” because of his legs being put on in an unusual manner, which made him walk slow all his days, and that’s another part of the story.  And Billy Bosistow, or Uncle Billy, was my father’s father’s’ stepson.  You needn’t take any trouble to get that clear in your mind, because our family never owned him after he came home from the French war prisons and took up with his drinking habits; and that comes into the story, too.

As it happens, the occasion that took their quarrel into the Law Courts is one of the first things I can remember.  It was in the year ’twenty-five.  Landlord Cummins, by dint of marrying a woman with means (that was my aunt), and walking the paths of repute for eleven years with his funny-shaped calves, got himself elected Mayor of the Borough.  You may suppose it was a proud day for him.  In those times the borough used to pay the mayor a hundred pounds a year to keep up appearances, and my mother had persuaded my father to hire a window for Election Day opposite the Town Hall, so that she might have the satisfaction of seeing so near a relative in his robes of dignity.

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Old Fires and Profitable Ghosts from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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