But M. Ferraud was not so ill that he was unable to steal from his cabin at half after nine, at night, without even the steward being aware of his departure. It can not be said that he roamed about the deck, for whenever he moved it was in the shadow, and always forward. By and by voices drifted down the wind. One he knew and expected, Breitmann’s; of the other he was not sure, though the French he spoke was of classic smoothness. M. Ferraud was exceedingly interested. He had been waiting for this meeting. Only a phrase or two could be heard distinctly. But words were not necessary. What he desired above all things was a glimpse of this Frenchman’s face. After several minutes Breitmann went aft. M. Ferraud stepped out cautiously, and luck was with him. The sailor to whom Breitmann had spoken so earnestly was lolling against the rail, in the act of lighting a cigarette. The light from the match was feeble, but it sufficed the keen eyes of the watcher. He gasped a little. Strong hands indeed! Here in the garb of a common sailor, was one of the foremost Orleanists in France!
A QUESTION FROM KEATS
Breitmann and the admiral usually worked from ten till luncheon, unless it was too stormy; and then the admiral took the day off. The business under hand was of no great moment; it was rather an outlet for the admiral’s energy, and gave him something to look forward to as each day came round. Many a morning he longed for the quarter-deck of his old battle-ship; the trig crew and marines lined up for inspection; the revelries of the foreign ports; the great manoeuvres; the target practice. Never would his old heart swell again under the full-dress uniform nor his eyes sparkle under the plume of his rank. He was retired on half-pay. Only a few close friends knew how his half-pay was invested. There remained perhaps ten of the old war-crew, and among them every Christmas the admiral’s half-pay was divided. This and his daughter were the two unalloyed joys of his life.
Since his country had no further use for him, and as it was as necessary as air to his lungs that he tread the deck of a ship, he had purchased the Laura; and, when he was not stirring up the bones of dead pirates, he was at Cowes or at Brest or at Keil or on the Hudson, wherever the big fellows indulged in mimic warfare.
“That will be all this morning, Mr. Breitmann,” he said, rising and looking out of the port-hole.
“Very well, sir. I believe that by the time we make Corsica we shall have the book ready for the printers. It is very interesting.”
“Much obliged. You have been a good aid. As you know, I am writing this rubbish only because it is play and passable mental exercise.”
“I do not agree with you there,” returned the secretary, with his pleasant smile. “The book will be really a treasure of itself. It is far more interesting than any romance.”