“Oh yes,” said I, “gentlemen galore, and heaps of little beardless monks lie stacked in my poor house yonder. Bring them forth, good sir, and leave more room for me.”
He led the way to search, but the others seemed unwilling, having good trust in him that I counterfeited, and all that might afford a hiding-place in the hut was opened and turned about—nay, the very holy rest of the chapel was disturbed as search was made, walls and wainscot rapped, cupboards forced, and stones prised up, the while I stood at ease peeling a light cane that I had cut from the wood.
“Now, good brothers,” said I, lightly, as they stood at fault in the midst of the chapel, “are you satisfied I am no concealer of other men’s property or persons hereabout?”
“Yea, we will press on,” said one of them. “They have taken to the caves like enough, and we shall have a week’s ‘rabbiting.’”
“Then I wish you good morn,” said I, “with a word of thanks for turning out in your zeal much old stuff of mine that I thought was lost and gone.”
Glad was I indeed to see my three guests break into the forest opposite. So, with a thick staff for my luggage, I took the path that led straight to St. Pierre Port, six miles away. Without let or hindrance I passed on, imitating as I could the easy gait of Father Augustine, and taking care to greet all I met, of all conditions, who were about on their business that autumn morning, with such jests or merry speeches as I could muster.
Now, I have said already that Le Grand Sarrasin, save for his enmity to Abbot Michael, had as yet showed no unfriendly disposition to our islanders, except where they thwarted or marred his designs.
Therefore no ill had happed to St Pierre Port, its fishing, or its carriage of necessary things, or of persons. And though that heathen fortress could be seen towering up there miles away upon the hill, the good burghers of St. Pierre, finding their daily business not interrupted, made but little grievance of Le Grand Sarrasin’s presence.
Wary of running into trouble, they jogged an easy way. Their boats came in and out. Their bales were landed and embarked. Nay, I have heard that it was their wont to hush the voices in their states council that were for craving succour of the duke, regarding one ruler, so long as he whipped not their backs too hard, as equal to another.
So I went into St. Pierre as into no besieged town, and without hindrance of any made my way through the winding streets to the harbour, where I hoped to hear of passage to Normandy. And the good father had told me of one Le Patourel, that would assist me to embark. This was a man not too well known to him, for too close acquaintance in this case were dangerous to me, but one doubtless ready to serve the priest if need be.
So I sought out this Le Patourel, as it appeared an honest trader, who took me without doubt for that I seemed. To my joy I found that a vessel, but just finished lading, would start in a short space for St. Malo, and the skipper was willing for certain silver pieces to take me for his passenger. These I paid down out of a sufficient purse Des Bois had pressed upon me, and with a light and joyous heart tarried on the quay.