“Shouldn’t think of it,” says Captain Cornelisz; “they’re best Nankin, and they’re yours. Anything else?”
“Well, if I might ask the loan of a pair of your breeches till to-morrow. They seem to me a bit fuller in the seat than mine, and let alone being handy to carry the china in, they’ll be a kind of disguise. For, to tell the truth, I don’t want to be seen in Polperro streets to be mixed up with this business, and my legs be so bandy that in any ordinary small clothes there’s no mistaking me, even in the dark.”
So the Van der Werf’s boat landed Jacka that night in pitch darkness half a mile west of the haven, where a ridge of rock gives shelter from the easterly swell. And just half an hour later, as Mary Polly turned in her sleep, she heard a stone trickle down the cliff at the back of the cottage and drop thud! into the yard under her window. She sat bolt upright in bed. “There’s some villain of a thief after my Minorca’s eggs,” said she.
Another stone trickled and fell. Like the woman of spirit she was, she jumped out of bed, crept downstairs to the kitchen, picked up the broom, and listened, with her hand on the latch of the back-door.
She heard the scrape of a toe-plate on the wall outside.
This was too much. “You mean, sneakin’, snivellin’, pilferin’, egg-stealin’ highwayman!” cries she, and lets fly.
Well, sir, the sugar basin was scat to atoms, but the teapot, as you see, didn’ suffer more than a chip. The wonder was, she stayed her hand at the second stroke, old Jacka being in no position to defend himself or explain. In later days when she invited her friends to tea, she used to put it down to instinct. “Something warned me,” she’d say. But that’s how the teapot came into our family.
REPORTED TALE OF A SMUGGLER, A REVENUE CUTTER, AND AN OFFICIOUS MINISTER.
You have heard tell, of course, of Captain John Carter, the famous smuggler of Prussia Cove, and his brothers Harry, Francis, and Charles, and Captain Will Richards, “Tummels,” Carpenter Hosking, Uncle Billy, and the rest of the Cove boys; likewise of old Nan Leggo and Bessie Bussow that kept the Kiddlywink there? Well, well, I see our youngsters going to school nowadays with their hair brushed, and I hear them singing away inside the classroom for all the world as if they were glad to grow up and pay taxes; and it makes me wonder if they can be the children of that old-fangled race. Sometimes I think it’s high time for me to go. There was a newspaper fellow down here when the General Walker came ashore, and, after asking a lot of questions, he put the case in a nutshell. “You’re a link with the past,” he said; “that’s what you are.” I don’t know if he invented the expression, or if he picked it up somewhere and used it on me, but it’s a terrible clever one.