I had no cause to complain of my treatment on board the Josephine after that. The life was far less rigorous than on our own ships, and the living far more ample. If only I could have sent word of my welfare to those at home, who must by this time, I knew, be full of fears for me, I could have been fairly content. The future, indeed, was full of uncertainty, but it is that at best, and my heart was set on escape the moment the chance offered.
I went about my work with the rest, and took a certain pride in showing them how a British seaman could do his duty. Our curious introduction had given Captain Duchatel an interest in me. I often caught his eye upon me, and now and again he dropped me a word which was generally a cheerful challenge as to my resolution, and I always replied in kind. Recollections of those days crowd my mind as I look back on them, but they are not what I set out to tell, and greater matters lay just ahead.
With wonderful luck, and perhaps by taking a very outside course, we escaped the British cruisers, and arrived safely in Martinique, and there we lay for close on four months, with little to do but be in readiness for attacks which never came.
The living was good. Fresh meat and fruit were abundant, and we were allowed ashore in batches. And so the time passed pleasantly enough, but for the fact that one was an exile, and that those at home must be in sorrow and suspense, and had probably long since given up all hope of seeing their wanderer again. For this time was not as the last. They would expect news of us within a few weeks of our sailing, and the utter disappearance of the Swallow could hardly leave them ground for hope.
HOW THE JOSEPHINE CAME HOME
I had ample time to look my prospects in the face while we kept watch and ward on Martinique, and no amount of looking improved them.
My greatest hope was to return to French and English waters in the Josephine. I could perhaps have slipped away into the island, but that would in no way have furthered my getting home, rather would it have fettered me with new and tighter bonds. For in the end I must have boarded some English ship and been promptly pressed into the service, and that was by no means what I wanted. It was my own Island of Sercq I longed for, and all that it held and meant for me.
I saw clearly that if at any time we came to a fight with a British warship, and were captured, I must become either prisoner of war as a Frenchman, or pressed man as an Englishman. Neither position held out hope of a speedy return home, but, of the two, I favoured the first as offering perhaps the greater chances.
As the weeks passed into months, all of the same dull pattern, I lost heart at times, thinking of all that might be happening at home.