“You don’t tell me that the Vicar is here, too?” I asked, prepared at this time to be surprised at nothing.
“He is not, lad, though I pleaded with him very earnestly to come, being, as you may guess, put to my wits’ end by your father’s message.”
“But how, then, have you managed?”
“Pretty well, Prosper—pretty well. But come and see for yourself. The Gauntlet lies at her old anchorage—or so Captain Pomery tells me—and ’tis but a step down the creek to where my boat is waiting.”
We walked down beside the stream, my uncle, as we went, asking a score of questions about our adventures and about my father and his plans—questions which I was in no state of mind to answer coherently. But this mattered the less since he had no leisure to listen to my answers.
I felt, as I said just now, ready to be surprised at nothing. But in this I was mistaken, as I found when we rounded the corner by the creek’s head, and my eyes fell on a boat waiting, a stone’s throw from the landing-place, and on the crew that manned her.
“Good Lord!” I cried, and stood at a halt.
They were seven—six rowers and a coxswain—and all robed in russet gowns that reached to their ankles. The Trappist monks!
OF MY FATHER’S ANABASIS; AND THE DIFFERENT TEMPERS OF AN ENGLISH GENTLEMAN AND A WILD SHEEP OF CORSICA.
“Bright thoughts, clear deeds, constancy, fidelity, bounty, and generous honesty are the gems of noble minds; wherein (to derogate from none) the true heroick English Gentleman hath no peer.”—SIR THOMAS BROWNE.
“La domesticite n’a eu aucune influence sur le developpement intellectuel des mouflons que nous avons possedes. . . . Les hommes ne les effrayaient plus; il semblait meme que ces animaux eussent acquis plus de confiance dans leur force en apprenant a nous connaitre. Sans doute on ne peut point conclure de quelques individus a l’espece entiere; mais on peut assurer sans rien hasarder, que le mouflon tient une des dernieres places parmis les mammiferes quant a l’intelligence.—” SAINT-HILIAR ET CUVIER, Histoire Naturelle des Mammiferes.
“You will find them very good fighters,” said my uncle. “The most of them, as I understand from Dom Basilio, were soldiers at one time or another before they embraced their present calling.”
“But the devil of it is,” said I, “how you contrived to enlist ’em?”
My uncle stood still and rubbed the back of his head. “I don’t know, Prosper, that I used any arguments. I just put the case to them; through Dom Basilio, you understand.”
“In other words, you made them an eloquent speech.”
“I did nothing of the sort,” he corrected me hastily. “In the first place because I have never made a speech and couldn’t manage one if I tried; and next, because it is against their rules. I just put the case to Dom Basilio. All the credit belongs to him.”