“You will, at all events, be free to try, will you not?”
“That is a self-evident proposition, Willis, and, so far as that goes, I have no objection to adopt the alternative of prison fare. What say you, minister?”
“As for myself,” replied the missionary, “a little additional hardship may do me good, for the Scriptures say: Suffering purifieth the soul.”
“We shall, therefore, resign our paroles, Willis; but bear in mind that it is much easier to get into prison than to get out.”
“Leave the getting out to me, captain; where there’s a will there’s always a way.”
“Do you think,” whispered the captain to Fritz, “that Willis is all right in his upper story?”
Fritz shook his head, which, in the ordinary acceptation of the sign, means, I really do not know.
WILLIS PROVES THAT THE ONLY WAY TO BE FREE IS TO GET SENT TO PRISON—AN ESCAPE—A DISCOVERY—PROMOTIONS—SOMNAMBULISM.
Three weeks after the events narrated in the foregoing chapter, the thrice-rescued produce of Oceania had been converted into the current coin of the empire.
The greater portion of the proceeds was placed at the disposal of Willis, to facilitate him in procuring the means of returning to New Switzerland. He—like connoisseurs who buy up seemingly worthless pictures, because they have detected, or fancy they have detected, some masterly touches rarely found on modern canvas—had bought, not a ship, but the remains of what had once been one. This he obtained for almost nothing, but he knew the value of his purchase. The carcass was refitted under his own eye, and, when it left the ship-yard, looked as if it had been launched for the first time. The timbers were old; but the cabins and all the internal fittings were new; a few sheets of copper and the paint-brush accomplished the rest. When the mast was fitted in, and the new sails bent, the little sloop looked as jaunty as a nautilus, and, according to Willis himself, was the smartest little craft that ever hoisted a union-jack.
Whether the captain and the missionary still entertained the belief that the Pilot’s wits had gone a wool-gathering or not, certain it is that they had followed his instructions, in so far as to relinquish their parole, and thus to lose their personal liberty. They were both securely locked up in one of the rooms or cells of the old palace or castle of Francois I., which was then, and perhaps is still, used as the state prison of Havre de Grace. This fortalice chiefly consists of a battlemented round tower, supported by strong bastions, and pierced, here and there, by small windows, strongly barred. The foot of the tower is bathed by the sea, which, as Willis afterwards remarked, was not only a favor granted to the tower, but likewise an obligation conferred upon themselves.