The little cluster of white, thatched houses stood close together for company, but discreetly turned their faces away from one another so that no man overlooked or interfered with his neighbour.
Gard found himself in a large room which occupied the whole middle portion of the house and served as kitchen and common room for the family.
The floor was of trodden earth—hard and dry as cement, with a strip of boarding round the sides and in front of the fire-place. Heavy oaken beams ran across the roof from which depended a great hanging rack littered with all kinds of household odds and ends. Along the beams of the roof on hooks hung two long guns. One end of the room was occupied by a huge fire-place, in one corner of which stood a new iron cooking range, and alongside it a heap of white ashes and some smouldering sticks of gorse under a big black iron pot filled the room with the fragrance of wood smoke. In the opposite side of the fire-place was an iron door closing the great baking oven, and above it ran a wide mantel-shelf on which stood china dogs and glass rolling-pins and a couple of lamps.
A well-scrubbed white wooden table was set ready for supper. On a very ancient-looking black oak stand—cupboard below and shelves above—was ranged a vast assortment of crockery ware, and on the walls hung potbellied metal jugs and cans which shone like silver.
Two doors led to the other rooms of the house, one of them wide open.
One corner of the room was occupied by a great wooden bin eight feet square, filled with dried bracken. On the wide flat side, which looked like a form, a woman and a girl were sitting when the two men entered.
Hamon introduced them briefly as his wife and daughter, and, comely women as Gard had been accustomed to in his own country of Cornwall, there was something about these two, and especially about the younger of the two, which made him of a sudden more than satisfied with the somewhat doubtful venture to which he had bound himself—set a sudden homely warmth in his heart, and made him feel the richer for being there—made him, in fact, glad that he had come.
And yet there was nothing in their reception of him that justified the feeling.
They nodded, indeed, in answer to his bow, but neither their faces nor their manner showed any special joy at his coming.
But that made no difference to him. They were there, and the mere sight of the girl’s fine mobile face and large dark blue eyes was a thing to be grateful for.
“You’ll be wanting your supper,” said Hamon.
“At your own time, please,” said the young man, looking towards Mrs. Hamon. “I am really not very hungry”—though truth to tell he well might have been, for the food on the brig had left much to be desired even to one who had been a sailorman himself.
“It is our usual time,” said Mrs. Hamon, “and it is all ready. Will you please to sit there.”