Jean Le Marchant of Brecqhou had prospered in his business, I knew. His six stalwart sons had been too busy contributing to that prosperity to acquire any great book-learning. They were all excellent sailors, bold free-traders, and somewhat overbearing to their fellows. It was only slowly that the idea came to me that the blood that was in them might be of a different shade and kind from that which flowed so temperately in our cool Sercq veins.
It was much thinking of Carette and her ever-growing beauty and accomplishments which brought me to that. Truly there was no girl in all Sercq like her, nor on Guernsey I would wager, and her father and brothers also were very different from the other Island men. As likely as not they were French, come over to escape the troubles. That would account for many things, and the idea, once in my mind, took firm root there. Sometime, when opportunity offered, I would ask Jeanne Falla. She would certainly know all about her own husband’s family. Whether she would tell me was quite another matter.
Up to now, you see, Carette, as Carette, had sufficed, but now Carette was growing out of herself and her surroundings, and it was the why and wherefore of this that my thoughts went in search of. For if Carette grew out of her surroundings she might grow beyond me, and it behoved me to see to it, for she had grown to be a part of my life, and life without her would be a poor thing indeed.
And all these things I used to turn over and over in my heart during the sultry night-watches in the West Indies, when the heat lightnings gleamed incessantly all round the horizon, and it was too hot to sleep even when off duty; and during the grimmer watches round about Newfoundland, with the fog as thick as wool inside and outside one, and the smell of the floating bergs in the air; and most of all when we were plunging homeward as fast as we could make it, and the call of Carette drew my heart faster than my body, till my body fairly ached for sight and sound of her.
HOW AUNT JEANNE GAVE A PARTY
It was on my return from my fourth voyage—in the brig Sarnia—that things began to happen.
The voyage had been a disastrous one all through. We had bad weather right across to the Indies, and had to patch up there as best we could. It was when we were slowly making our way north that a hurricane, such as those seas know, caught us among the Bahamas and brought us to a sudden end.
The ship had been badly strained already on the voyage out, and the repairs had been none too well done. Our masts went like carrots and we were rolling helplessly in the grip of the storm, pumping doggedly but without hope against seams that gaped like a sieve, when the Providence that rules even hurricanes flung us high on a sandy coast and left us there to help ourselves.