John Ozanne folded the bill methodically and stowed it safely away in his pocket-book.
“It’d be a fortune if we caught him full,” he said thoughtfully. “They say he takes no prizes. Just helps himself to what he wants like a highwayman, and then sheers off and looks out for another. Rare pickings he must have had among some of those fat East Indiamen. Here’s to our falling in with him!” and we clicked our mugs on that right hopefully.
“What weight do we carry?” I asked, in view of the Frenchman’s heavy guns, our own not being yet mounted.
“Four eighteens a-side, and one twenty-four forward and one aft. There’ll be some chips flying if we meet him, but we’ll do our best to close his fist and stop his grabbing. You’re wanting to get back? Come over day after to-morrow and give me a hand. I’ll be glad of your help;” and I dropped into my boat and pulled out into the wind, and ran up my lug for home.
“So you saw Torode himself, Phil? And what is he like?” asked my grandfather, as I told them the day’s doings.
“Big, black, grim-looking fellow. Just what you’d expect. On the whole I’m not sorry I’m going with John Ozanne. He seems pleased to have me too, and that’s something.”
“I’d much sooner think of you with him,” said my mother. “I know nothing of Monsieur Torode, but nobody seems to like him.”
George Hamon said much the same thing, and spoke highly of John Ozanne as a cautious seaman, which I well knew him to be.
Jeanne Falla laughed heartily when I told her of my visit to Brecqhou, which I did very fully.
“Mon Gyu, Phil, mon gars, but you’re getting on! And you told her to her face before them all that you wanted to marry her? It’s as odd a style of wooing as ever I heard.”
“Well, you see, I wanted there to be no mistake about it, Aunt Jeanne. If I don’t see Carette again before I leave, she will know how the land lies at all events. If she takes to young Torode while I’m away it’s because she likes him best.”
“And she,—Carette,—what did she say to it?”
“She didn’t say anything.”
“Tuts! How did she look, boy? A girl tells more with her face and her eyes than with her tongue, even when they say opposite things.”
“I’m not sure how she took it, Aunt Jeanne. How would you have taken it, now?”
“Ma fe! It would depend,” she laughed, her old face creasing up with merriment. “If it was Monsieur Right I wouldn’t have minded maybe, though I might be a bit taken aback at the newest way in courting.”
“Well, I thought she looked something like that. And then, afterwards, I wasn’t sure she wasn’t angry about it. I don’t know. I’ve had so little to do with girls, you see.”
“And you’d not know much more, however much you’d had. You’re only a boy still, mon gars.”
“Well, I’m going to do a man’s work, and it’s for Carette I’m going to do it. Put in a good word for me while I’m away, won’t you now, Aunt Jeanne? Carette is more to me than anything else in the world.”