What could I do but thank them, and yield myself with all despatch into their hands, to be turned by means of razor and paint, of cunning dye, still nearer like the priest of St. Apolline? In the end, as I drew the good father’s cowl around my pate, and essayed to imitate his careless stride and easy gait, they both swore that the good saint himself, were he to escape from the skies and visit his earthly shrine, would be hard put to it to know which was his own priest and which the counterfeit.
But ere this the sun was up, and there were sounds of fishermen already moving in the bay below. We knew that by this time our escape must be discovered, and so with hurried counsel my friends betook themselves away—at least, they were with me at one moment, and then of a sudden, like dreams, were lost to my sight. And I, as it were to try the strength of my disguise, went down for a short space among the huts of the fisher-people.
There goodman and goodwife alike gave me friendly greeting, and I cheerily told them they must spare me for one sennight, if that might be; whereupon the children, running up, stayed further question, and in a moment I, in my long, sober cloak, was a war-horse, or a crazy bull at the least, that went ramping among their blue-eyed chivalry, carrying little affright, but rather earning peals of merry laughter.
Of my second setting forth for Normandy, and in what guise I took passage.
I next prepared to start on my journey to St. Pierre Port; and, before I went, I tarried for awhile in the rude chapel of St Apolline, to say a prayer for myself and those good men whom it was in my heart to succour. But, my prayers ended, I must fare forth. And lo! even as I turned to leave the chapel, I heard the sound of hasty steps and voices, and already three of the pirates were in the yard, singing out—
“Come forth, master priest, and help us find our quarry!”
How my heart rapped as I made myself seen of them at the gate, and, with a gay face, fetched out a merry inquiry—
“What seek you, early birds, so soon afield?”
Never face and attitude surely so belied the man within; for, indeed, I doubted if my legs would bear me, and my poor heart, as I spoke, went rap, rap!
“Now, hast thou seen two runaways by thy gate this morning, master priest—one a stalwart, dangerous fellow, the other a measly, monkish lad? And, prithee, see thou speak the truth.”
I assured them lightly none had passed save the fishers to their boats, and they seemed satisfied, till one, looking more keenly than the rest, came near to me, and, with a suspicious gesture, cried out—
“And thou hast not got them hidden up thy wide sleeve, good priestling? Come, we will search with a good will thy parsonage.”
My heart leapt again. But I managed to ring out a laugh that sounded careless—