“Already in China?” asked Sylvestre, at the sight of those grotesque figures in pigtails.
“Bless you, no, not yet,” they told him; “have a little more patience.”
It was only Singapore. He went up into his mast-top again, to avoid the black dust tossed about by the breeze, while the coal was feverishly heaped up in the bunkers from little baskets.
One day, at length, they arrived off a land called Tourane, where the Circe was anchored, to blockade the port. This was the ship to which Sylvestre had been long ago assigned, and he was left there with his bag.
On board he met with two mates from home, Icelanders, who were captains of guns for the time being. Through the long, hot, still evenings, when there was no work to be done, they clustered on deck apart from the others, to form together a little Brittany of remembrances.
Five months he passed there in inaction and exile, locked up in the cheerless bay, with the feverish desire to go out and fight and slay, for change’s sake.
CHAPTER XI—A CURIOUS RENCONTRE
In Paimpol again, on the last day of February, before the setting-out for Iceland. Gaud was standing up against her room door, pale and still. For Yann was below, chatting to her father. She had seen him come in, and indistinctly heard his voice.
All through the winter they never had met, as if some invincible fate always had kept them apart.
After the failure to find him in her walk to Pors-Even, she had placed some hope on the Pardon des Islandais where there would be many chances for them to see and talk to one another, in the market-place at dusk, among the crowd.
But on the very morning of the holiday, though the streets were already draped in white and strewn with green garlands, a hard rain had fallen in torrents, brought from the west by a soughing wind; never had so black a sky shadowed Paimpol. “What a pity! the boys won’t come over from Ploubazlanec now,” had moaned the lasses, whose sweethearts dwelt there. And they did not come, or else had gone straight into the taverns to drink together.
There had been no processions or strolls, and she, with her heart aching more than ever, had remained at her window the whole evening listening to the water streaming over the roofs, and the fishers’ noisy songs rising and falling out of the depths of the taverns.
For the last few days she had been expecting this visit, surmising truly that old Gaos would send his son to terminate the business concerning the sale of the boat, as he did not care to come into Paimpol himself. She determined then that she would go straight to him, and, unlike other girls, speak out frankly, to have her conscience clear on the subject. She would reproach him with having sought her out and having abandoned her like a man without honour. If it were only stubbornness, timidity, his great