“Their object, it turned out, was merely to warn us not to pass the battery, or the chances were five to one that the Englishman would capture us. In no way discomposed, my friend maintained that we (he passed me off as his son) must either fish or starve; that we had come a long distance, knew every inch of the coast, and ran no danger. He backed this up by bribing the soldiers with our whole morning’s catch, and in the end they contented themselves by insisting that we should wait under the battery until nightfall and so depart. And this we did: but in the meanwhile, pretending our anxiety to avoid her, we cross-questioned the soldiers so precisely on the Englishman’s bearings that, when darkness fell and we slipped our anchor, we ran straight down on her without the slightest difficulty. She was the Agile sloop of twenty-four guns, and from her deck I waved good-bye to the fisherman, scarcely more delighted by my safety than he by his napoleons, which in my gratitude I had raised to fifteen.
“The Agile landed me in Plymouth without mishap: and so end my adventures. I ought to add, however, that, though my own conscience held no reproach for my trick upon Marmont, I sought and obtained permission from the War Office to select a prisoner of my own rank and exchange him with France; and with him I sent a precise account, which will afford some amusement to the Duke of Ragusa’s enemies if he happen to have any at headquarters. You, my cousin, will doubtless consider this mere supererogation, but I should be glad of the reverend Doctor’s opinion.”
“We will reserve this,” said the Doctor, “as Question Number Five.”
“And you promptly reshipped for Lisbon, followed the army to Salamanca, and resumed your work?” said I.
“Even so: but I suspect that these adventures have rattled me. I am not the man I was: else I had not succumbed so easily to a mere coup-de-soleil. Will the reverend Doctor complete the narrative by describing how he found me?”
“In a ditch,” said the reverend Doctor placidly. “My college was destroyed: my beloved Salamanca in ruins. ‘To a philosopher,’ said I, ’all the world is a home; but especially such wine-vaults as are found in Rueda.’ I saddled, therefore, my mule; loaded her with a very few books and still fewer sticks of furniture; more frugal even than Juvenal’s friend Umbricius,