“It doesn’t matter,” he said, “the more imagination the better. It’d be a thundering good thing for you.”
His assurance was amazing, but it was past supper-time, and hunger getting the better of my curiosity, I bade him good-night. When I looked back, he was still there, on the edge of his boat, gazing at the sea. A queer sort of bird altogether, but attractive somehow.
Nobody mentioned him that evening; but once old Ford, after staring a long time at Pasiance, muttered a propos of nothing, “Undutiful children!” She was softer than usual; listening quietly to our talk, and smiling when spoken to. At bedtime she went up to her grand-father, without waiting for the usual command, “Come and kiss me, child.”
Dan did not stay to supper, and he has not been here since. This morning I asked Mother Hopgood who Zachary Pearse was. She’s a true Devonian; if there’s anything she hates, it is to be committed to a definite statement. She ambled round her answer, and at last told me that he was “son of old Cap’en Jan Pearse to Black Mill. ’Tes an old family to Dartymouth an’ Plymouth,” she went on in a communicative outburst. “They du say Francis Drake tuke five o’ they Pearses with ’en to fight the Spaniards. At least that’s what I’ve heard Mr. Zachary zay; but Ha-apgood can tell yu.” Poor Hopgood, the amount of information she saddles him with in the course of the day! Having given me thus to understand that she had run dry, she at once went on:
“Cap’en Jan Pearse made a dale of ventures. He’s old now—they du say nigh an ’undred. Ha-apgood can tell yu.”
“But the son, Mrs. Hopgood?”
Her eyes twinkled with sudden shrewdness: She hugged herself placidly.
“An’ what would yu take for dinner to-day? There’s duck; or yu might like ‘toad in the hole,’ with an apple tart; or then, there’s—Well! we’ll see what we can du like.” And off she went, without waiting for my answer.
To-morrow is Wednesday. I shan’t be sorry to get another look at this fellow Pearse....
“Friday, 29th July.
.......Why do you ask me so many questions, and egg me on to write about these people instead of minding my business? If you really want to hear, I’ll tell you of Wednesday’s doings.
It was a splendid morning; and Dan turned up, to my surprise—though I might have known that when he says a thing, he does it. John Ford came out to shake hands with him, then, remembering why he had come, breathed loudly, said nothing, and went in again. Nothing was to be seen of Pasiance, and we went down to the beach together.
“I don’t like this fellow Pearse, George,” Dan said to me on the way; “I was fool enough to say I’d go, and so I must, but what’s he after? Not the man to do things without a reason, mind you.”
I remarked that we should soon know.