So far as the agreement with my father went that was concluded, as my twelve months had already expired; but what I was puzzled about was how I should stand with Johnson. It seemed to me that he expected me to remain alone on the island for the specified time—six months—but what was I to do now man Friday had arrived? I puzzled over the matter a long time, and then came to the conclusion that win or lose I would stay on the island another summer, and whether I transgressed the contract or not, I would retain Ducas, as it would be very pleasant to have a companion, and if I was by so doing breaking the contract, must abide by the consequences.
I next interviewed Alec Ducas, and found that between his sea engagements he had assisted in gardening and the usual routine of farm work, beside which, being a thorough seaman, he could make his own clothes and boots, consequently mine; in fact, could turn his hand to anything, as only a sailor can.
“Well, Ducas, I am going to stay here for another six months; you have seen the resources of the house and island, and can judge best, if you think you would rather stay here than go over to St. Peter Port in prospect of getting another vessel. What do you say, would you rather go or stay?”
To this he made reply, his face beaming with delight,
“Well, sir, I have not much of a mind to make up, but if you will allow me to stay and help you, nothing will give me greater pleasure; in fact, such a life is the one I crave. There is liberty for a man here, and plenty of work to be done, and I have ample health and strength to do it, so if you will say ‘Yes,’ I will take up my quarters with you.”
He spoke very good English, but with a decidedly foreign accent (which sounded very pleasant to me, more so as he had a very musical voice), and was a plain spoken man, one who called a spade a spade, and made no nonsense about it.
“Very well, Alec,” said I; “then you stay, and I trust we may get along happily together.”
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WORK AND SONG—SUNDAY SERVICE—BUILD A LARGER BOAT, THE “ANGLO-FRANC”—COLLECTING WRECKAGE—COMMENCE A JETTY—OUR COOKERY—BLASTING OPERATIONS—THE OPENING BANQUET.
During the remainder of March we worked away merrily in the garden and in the fields on the top of the island. I was really astonished at the work we could get through in a day, Alec, myself, and the donkey. Alec laughed at my plough and the cart, and together we made some improvements in them. We also improved the lower path right round the island, by cutting away the furze and undergrowth; with spade and pick we made it broader in the narrowest parts, and by filling the inequalities, made it comfortable to walk upon.
Alec was a wonder for singing; in fact he was warbling all day long over his work, and I must say he had rather a nice tenor voice, just such as an Englishman would expect a Frenchman to possess. His repertoire of songs was large, and embraced both ancient and modern, sacred and secular, French and English; so there was plenty of variety.