“Do not cross the marsh,” continued Monk: “you will have money in your pocket, and there are in the marsh some Scottish ambuscaders I have placed there. Those people are very intractable; they understand but very little of the language which you speak, although it appears to me to be composed of three languages. They might take from you what I have given you, and, on your return to your country, you would not fail to say that General Monk has two hands, the one Scottish, and the other English; and that he takes back with the Scottish hand what he has given with the English hand.”
“Oh! general, I shall go where you like, be sure of that,” said the fisherman, with a fear too expressive not to be exaggerated. “I only wish to remain here, if you will allow me to remain.”
“I readily believe you,” said Monk, with an imperceptible smile, “but I cannot, nevertheless, keep you in my tent.”
“I have no such wish, my lord, and desire only that your lordship should point out where you will have me posted. Do not trouble yourself about us — with us a night soon passes away.”
“You shall be conducted to your bark.”
“As your lordship pleases. Only, if your lordship would allow me to be taken back by a carpenter, I should be extremely grateful.”
“Because the gentlemen of your army, in dragging my boat up the river with a cable pulled by their horses, have battered it a little upon the rocks of the shore, so that I have at least two feet of water in my hold, my lord.”
“The greater reason why you should watch your boat, I think.”
“My lord, I am quite at your orders,” said the fisherman; “I shall empty my baskets where you wish; then you will pay me, if you please to do so; and you will send me away, if it appears right to you. You see I am very easily managed and pleased, my lord.”
“Come, come, you are a very good sort of fellow,” said Monk, whose scrutinizing glance had not been able to find a single shade in the clear eye of the fisherman. “Holloa, Digby!” An aid-de-camp appeared. “You will conduct this good fellow and his companions to the little tents of the canteens, in front of the marshes, so that they will be near their bark, and yet will not sleep on board to-night. What is the matter, Spithead?”
Spithead was the sergeant from whom Monk had borrowed a piece of tobacco for his supper. Spithead having entered the general’s tent without being sent for, had drawn this question from Monk.
“My lord,” said he, “a French gentleman has just presented himself at the outposts and wishes to speak to your honor.”
All this was said, be it understood, in English; but, notwithstanding, it produced a slight emotion in the fisherman, which Monk, occupied with his sergeant, did not remark.
“Who is the gentleman?” asked Monk.
“My lord,” replied Spithead, “he told it me; but those devils of French names are so difficult to pronounce for a Scottish throat, that I could not retain it. I believe, however, from what the guards say, that it is the same gentleman who presented himself yesterday at the halt, and whom your honor would not receive.”