“Then I’ll wish you good-day, monsieur. I must try elsewhere,” and I dropped into my seat and pulled away down the little roadstead.
Monsieur Torode was still leaning over the wall, and watching me fixedly, when I turned the corner of the outer ridge of rocks and crept away through the mazy channels towards Peter Port. When I got farther out, and could get an occasional glimpse of the rampart, he was still leaning on it and was still staring out at me just as I had left him.
HOW I WENT OUT WITH JOHN OZANNE
There was no difficulty in finding John Ozanne. I made out his burly figure and red-whiskered face on the harbour wall before I had passed Castle Cornet, and heard his big voice good-humouredly roaring to the men at work in the rigging of a large schooner that lay alongside.
He greeted me with great goodwill.
“Why, surely, Phil,” he said very heartily, in reply to my request. “It’s not your grandfather’s boy I would be refusing, and it’s a small boat that won’t take in one more. What does the old man say to your going?”
“He’s willing, or I wouldn’t be here.”
“That’s all right, then. What do you think of her?”
We were standing on the harbour wall, looking down on the schooner on which the riggers were busy renewing her standing gear.
“A good staunch boat, I should say. What can you get out of her?”
“Ten easy with these new spars, and she can come up as close as any boat I’ve ever seen—except maybe yon black snake of Torode’s,”—with a jerk of the head towards Herm. “Seen her?”
“Yes, I’ve seen her. How’s she in bad weather?”
“Wet, I should say. We can stand a heap more than she can.”
“When do you expect to get off?”
“Inside a week. Come along and have a drink. It’s dry work watching these fellows.”
So we went along to the cafe just behind us, and it was while we were sitting there, sipping our cider, and I was telling him of my last voyage and after-journeyings, that a man came in and slapped down on the table in front of us a printed bill which, as it turned out afterwards, concerned us both more nearly than we knew.
“Ah!” said John Ozanne, “I’d heard of that. If we happen across him we’ll pick up that five thousand pounds or we’ll know the reason why.”
It was a notice sent out by one John Julius Angerstein, of Lloyds in the City of London, on behalf of the merchants and shipowners there, offering a reward of five thousand pounds for the capture, or proof of the destruction, of a French privateer which had for some time past been making great play with British shipping in the Channel and Bay of Biscay. She was described as a schooner of one hundred and fifty tons or thereabouts, black hull with red streak, carrying an unusually large crew and unusually heavy metal. She flew a white flag with a red hand on it, her red figure-head was said to represent the same device, and she was known by the name of La Main Rouge.