In the Roar of the Sea/Chapter 54

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In the Roar of the Sea by Sabine Baring-Gould
Chapter 54

CHAPTER LIV.


SQUAB PIE.


Next morning, at an early hour, Judith, attended by Mr. Zachary Menaida, appeared at the rectory of St. Enodoc. She was deadly pale, but there was decision in her face. She asked to see Mr. Desiderius Mules in his study, and was shown into what had, in her father's days, been the pantry.

Mr. Menaida had a puzzled look in his watery eyes. He had been up all night, and indeed it had been a night in which few in the neighborhood had slept, excepting Mr. Mules, who knew nothing of what had happened. The smugglers, alarmed by the fire at Othello Cottage, and by the party collected by Mr. Menaida to guard the descent to the beach, had not ventured to force their way to the cave. The Black Prince, finding that no signal was made from the ledge above the cave, suspected mischief, heaved anchor and bore away. The stupefied members of the Preventive service were conveyed to the nearest cottages, and there left to recover. As for Othello Cottage, it was a blazing and smoking mass of fire, and till late on the following day could not be searched. There was no fire-engine anywhere near; nor would a fire-engine have availed to save either the building or its contents.

When Mr. Mules appeared, Judith said in a quiet but firm tone, "I have come to sign the register. Mr. Menaida is here. I do it willingly, and with no constraint."

"Thank you. This is most considerate to my feelings. I wish all my flock would obey my advice as you are now doing," said the rector, and produced the book, which Judith signed with trembling hand.

Mr. Desiderius was quite ignorant of the events of the night. He had no idea that at that time Captain Coppinger was dead.

It was not till some days later that Judith understood why, at the last moment, with death before his eyes, Coppinger had urged on her this ratification of her marriage. It was not till his will was found, that she understood his meaning. He had left to her, as his wife, everything that he possessed. No one knew of any relatives that he had, for no one knew whence he came. No one ever appeared to put in a claim against the widow.

On the second day the remains of the burnt cottage were cleared away, and then the body of Cruel Coppinger was found, fearfully charred, and disfigured past recognition. There were but two persons who knew that this blackened corpse belonged to the long dreaded captain, and these were Judith and Oliver. When the burnt body was cleared from the charred fragments of clothing that were about it one article was discovered uninjured. About his throat Coppinger had worn a silk handkerchief, and this as well as the collar of his coat had preserved his neck and the upper portion of his chest from injury such as had befallen the rest of his person. And when the burnt kerchief was removed, and the singed cloth of the coat -collar, there was discovered round the throat a narrow black band, and sewn into this band, one golden thread of hair, encircling the neck.


Are our readers acquainted with that local delicacy entitled, in Cornwall and Devon, Squab Pie? To enlighten the ignorant, it shall be described. First, however, we premise that of squab pies there are two sorts: Devonian squab and Cornish squab. The Cornish squab differs from the Devonian squab in one particular; that shall be specified presently.

How to Make a Squab Pie.—Take half a pound of veal, cut into nice square pieces, and put a layer of them at the bottom of a pie-dish. Sprinkle over these a portion of herbs, spices, seasoning, lemon-peel, and the yolks of eggs cut in slices; cut a quarter of a pound of boiled ham very thin, and put in a layer of this. Take half a pound of mutton cut into nice pieces, and put a layer of them on the top of the veal. Sprinkle as before with herbs and spices. Take half a pound of beef, cut into nice pieces, and put a layer of them on top of the mutton. Sprinkle as before with herbs and spices. Cut up half a dozen apples very fine, also half a dozen onions, mix, and proceed to ram the onions and apples into every perceivable crevice. Take half a dozen pilchards, remove the bones, chop up and strew the whole pie with pilchards. Then fill up with clotted cream, till the pie-dish will hold no more. (For Cornish squab add, treated in like manner, a cormorant.) Proceed to lay a puff paste on the edge of the dish. Then insert a tablespoon and stir the contents, till your arm aches. Cover with crust or ornament it with leaves, brush it over with the yolk of an egg, and bake in a well-heated oven for one or one and a half hour, or longer, should the pie be very large (two in the case of a Cornish squab, and the cormorant very tough).

In one word, a squab pie is a scrap pie. So is the final chapter of a three-volume novel. It is made up, from the first word to the last, of scraps of all kinds, toothsome and the reverse.

Now let the reader observe—he has been already supplied with scraps. He has learned the result of Mr. Menaida's collecting men to assist him against the smugglers. Also of his expedition along with Judith to the rectory of St. Enodoc. Also he has heard the provisions of Captain Coppinger's will; also that this will was not contested. He has also heard of the recovery of the Captain's body from the burnt cottage.

Is not this a collection of scraps cut very small? But there are more, of a different character, with which this chapter will be made up, before the pie-crust closes over it with a nourishing " Finis" to ornament it.

Mr. Scantlebray had lost his wife, who had been an ailing woman for some years, and being a widower, cast about his eyes for a second wife, after the way of widowers. There was not the excuse of a young family needing a prudent housewife to manage the children, for Mr. Scantlebray had only one daughter, who had been allotted by her father and by popular opinion to Captain Coppinger, but had failed to secure him. Mr. Scantlebray, though an active man, had not amassed much money, and if he could add to his comforts, provide himself with good eating and good drinking, by marrying a woman with money, he was not averse to so doing. Now, Mr. Scantlebray had lent a ready ear to the voice of rumor which made Miss Dionysia Trevisa the heiress who had come in for all the leavings of that rich old spinster, Miss Ceely, of St. Austell, and Mr. Scantlebray gave credit to this rumor, and acting on it, proposed to and was accepted by Miss Dionysia.

Now when, after marriage, Mr. Scantlebray found out that the sweet creature he had taken to his side was worth under a quarter of the sum he had set down at the lowest figure, at which he could endure her, and when the late Miss Trevisa, now the second Mrs. Scantlebray, learned from her husband's lips that he had married her only for her money, and not for her good looks or for any good quality she was supposed to be endowed with, the reader, knowing something of the characters of these two persons, may conjecture, if he please, what sort of scenes ensued daily between them, and it may be safely asserted that the bitterest enemies of either could not have desired for each a more unenviable lot than was theirs.

Very shortly after the death of Captain Coppinger, Judith and Jamie left Bristol in a vessel, with Uncle Zachie, bound for Lisbon. Oliver Menaida had gone to Oporto before, to make arrangements for his father. It was settled that Judith and her brother should live with the old man, and that the girl should keep house for him. Oliver would occupy his old quarters, that belonged to the firm in which he was a partner.

It is a strange thing—but after the loss of Coppinger Judith's mind reverted much to him, she thought long and tenderly of his considerations for her, his patience with her, his forbearance, his gentleness toward her, and of his intense and enduring love. His violence she forgot, and she put down the crimes he had committed to evil association, or to an irregulated, undisciplined conscience, excusable in a measure in one who had not the advantages she had enjoyed, of growing up under the eye of a blameless, honorable, and right-minded father.

In the Consistory Court of Canterbury is a book of the marriages performed at the Oporto factory, by the English chaplain resident there. It begins in the year 1788 and ends in 1807. The author has searched this volume in vain for a marriage between Oliver Menaida and Judith Coppinger. If such a marriage did take place, it must have been after 1807, but the book of register of marriages later than this date is not to be found in the Consistory Court.

Were they married?

On inquiry at St. Enodoc no information has been obtained, for neither Judith nor the Menaidas had any relatives there with whom they communicated. If Mrs. Scantlebray ever heard, she said nothing, or, at all events, nothing she said concerning them has been remembered.

Were they ever married?

That question the reader must decide as he likes.






FINIS.