“Madame will be glad,” interrupted the clergyman again, who had heard Christian’s story at the inquest,—“Madame will be glad”—he addressed Miss Bracy, who, as he was dimly aware, had been standing throughout with face averted, staring up at the far-away cliffs. “The young man’s last thoughts—”
But Christian was not to be denied. He had told the story a score of times during the last three days, and had assured himself by every evidence that he could tell it effectively. He was something of an egoist, too, and the climax he had in mind was that of his own emotions in recrossing the fatal couloir ropeless, with shaking knees, haunted by the Englishman’s last cry.
“Such a strange cry,” he persisted. “His eyes were on mine for a moment . . . then they turned from me to the couloir and the great space below, It was then he uttered it, stretching out his hands as the rope pulled him forward—yet not as one afraid. ‘Mother!’ he cried: just that, and only once—’Mother!’”
Mr. Frank looked up sharply, and turned his head towards Miss Bracy. The clergyman and the guide also had their eyes on her, the latter waiting for the effect of his climax.
“It must be a consolation to you—” the clergyman began to mumble.
But Miss Bracy did not turn. Mr. Frank withdrew his eyes from her and fixed them again on the gaudy tablecloth. She continued to stare up at he clean ice-fields, the pencilled cliffs. She did not even move.
So Bassett was avenged.
A REPORTED TALE OF A DUTCHMAN AND A PRIVATEER
Yes, a heap of folks have admired that teapot. Hundreds of pounds we must have been offered for it, first and last, since the night my wife’s grandfather, Captain John Tackabird—or Cap’n Jacka, as he was always called—brought it into the family over the back-garden wall, and his funny little wife went for him with the broom-handle. Poor souls, they were always a most affectionate couple, and religious too, but not much to look at; and when he took and died of a seizure in the Waterloo year she wasn’t long in following.
Ay, ay—very pleasant in their lives! though not what you would call lovely. I’ve heard that, through being allowed by his mother to run too soon, Tackabird’s legs grew up so bandy, the other children used to drive their hoops between them. And next, at fifteen, what must he do but upset a bee-skip! A bee stung him, and all his hair came off, and for three parts of his natural life be went about as bald as an egg. To cap everything, he’d scarcely began courting when he lost his left eye in a little job with the preventive men; but none of this seemed to make any difference to the woman. Peters her maiden name was—Mary Polly Peters; a little figure with beady black eyes. She believed that all Captain Jacka’s defects would be set right in another world, though not to hinder her recognising him; and meantime the more he got chipped about the more she doted on what was left of the man.