Toll for the brave,
The grave that are no more;
All sunk beneath the wave
Fast by their native shore—Cowper
The night was cold, and I had nothing on me save breeches and boots, and those drenched with the sea, and had been wrestling with the surf so long that there was little left in me. Yet once I clutched the rope I clung to it for very life, and in a minute found myself in the midst of the beachmen. I heard them shout again, and felt strong hands seize me, but could not see their faces for a mist that swam before my eyes, and could not speak because my throat and tongue were cracked with the salt water, and the voice would not come. There was a crowd about me of men and some women, and I spread out my hands, blindly, to catch hold of them, but my knees failed and let me down upon the beach. And after that I remember only having coats flung over me, and being carried off out of the wind, and laid in warmest blankets before a fire. I was numb with the cold, my hair was matted with the salt, and my flesh white and shrivelled, but they forced liquor into my mouth, and so I lay in drowsy content till utter weariness bound me in sleep.
It was a deep and dreamless sleep for hours, and when it left me, gently and as it were inch by inch, I found I was still lying wrapped in blankets by the fire. Oh, what a vast and infinite peace was that, to lie there half-asleep, yet wake enough to know that I had slipped my prison and the pains of death, and was a free man here in my native place! At last I shifted myself a little, growing more awake; and opening my eyes saw I was not alone, for two men sat at a table by me with glasses and a bottle before them.
'He is coming-to,' said one, 'and may live yet to tell us who he is, and from what port his craft sailed.'
'There has been many a craft,' the other said, 'has sailed for many a port, and made this beach her last; and many an honest man has landed on it, and never one alive in such a sea. Nor would this one be living either, if it had not been for that other brave heart to stand by and save him. Brave heart, brave heart,' he said over to himself. 'Here, pass me the bottle or I shall get the vapours. 'Tis good against these early chills, and I have not been in this place for ten years past, since poor Elzevir was cut adrift.'
I could not see the speaker's face from where I lay upon the floor, yet seemed to know his voice; and so was fumbling in my weakened mind to put a name to it, when he spoke of Elzevir, and sent my thoughts flying elsewhere.
'Elzevir,' I said, 'where is Elzevir?' and sat up to look round, expecting to see him lying near me, and remembering the wreck more clearly now, and how he had saved me with that last shove forward on the beach. But he was not to be seen, and so I guessed that his great strength had brought him round quicker than had my youth, and that he was gone back to the beach.
'Hush,' said one of the men at the table, 'lie down and get to sleep again'; and then he added, speaking to his comrade: 'His brain is wandering yet: do you see how he has caught up my words about Elzevir?'
'No,' I struck in, 'my head is clear enough; I am speaking of Elzevir Block. I pray you tell me where he is. Is, he well again?' They got up and stared at one another and at me, when I named Elzevir Block, and then I knew the one that spoke for Master Ratsey only greyer than he was.
'Who are you?' he cried, 'who talk of Elzevir Block.'
'Do you not know me, Master Ratsey?' and I looked full in his face. 'I am John Trenchard, who left you so long ago. I pray you tell me where is Master Block?'
Master Ratsey looked as if he had seen a ghost, and was struck dumb at first: but then ran up and shook me by the hand so warmly that I fell back again on my pillow, while he poured out questions in a flood. How had I fared, where had I been, whence had I come? until I stopped him, saying: 'Softly, kind friend, and I will answer; only tell me first, where is Master Elzevir?'
'Nay, that I cannot say,' he answered, 'for never a soul has set eyes on Elzevir since that summer morning we put thee and him ashore at Newport.'
'Oh, fool me not!' I cried out, chafing at his excuses; 'I am not wandering now. 'Twas Elzevir that saved me in the surf last night. 'Twas he that landed with me.'
There was a look of sad amaze that came on Ratsey's face when I said that; a look that woke in me an awful surmise. 'What!' cried he, 'was that Master Elzevir that dragged thee through the surf?'
'Ay, 'twas he landed with me, 'twas he landed with me,' I said; trying, as it were, to make true by repeating that which I feared was not the truth. There was a minute's silence, and then Ratsey spoke very softly: 'There was none landed with you; there was no soul saved from that ship alive save you.'
His words fell, one by one, upon my ear as if they were drops of molten lead. 'It is not true,' I cried; 'he pulled me up the beach himself, and it was he that pushed me forward to the rope.'
'Ay, he saved thee, and then the under-tow got hold of him and swept him down under the curl. I could not see his face, but might have known there never was a man, save Elzevir, could fight the surf on Moonfleet beach like that. Yet had we known 'twas he, we could have done no more, for many risked their lives last night to save you both. We could have done no more.' Then I gave a great groan for utter anguish, to think that he had given up the safety he had won for himself, and laid down his life, there on the beach, for me; to think that he had died on the threshold of his home; that I should never get a kind look from him again, nor ever hear his kindly voice.
It is wearisome to others to talk of deep grief, and beside that no words, even of the wisest man, can ever set it forth, nor even if we were able could our memory bear to tell it. So I shall not speak more of that terrible blow, only to say that sorrow, so far from casting my body down, as one might have expected, gave it strength, and I rose up from the mattress where I had been lying. They tried to stop me, and even to hold me back, but for all I was so weak, I pushed them aside and must needs fling a blanket round me and away back to the beach.
The morning was breaking as I left the Why Not?, for 'twas in no other place but that I lay, and the wind, though still high, had abated. There were light clouds crossing the heaven very swiftly, and between them patches of clear sky where the stars were growing paler before the dawn. The stars were growing paler; but there was another star, that shone out from the Manor woods above the village, although I could not see the house, and told me Grace, like the wise virgins, kept her lamp alight all night. Yet even that light shone without lustre for me then, for my heart was too full to think of anything but of him who had laid down his life for mine, and of the strong kind heart that was stilled for ever.
'Twas well I knew the way, so sure of old, from Why Not? to beach; for I took no heed to path or feet, but plunged along in the morning dusk, blind with sorrow and weariness of spirit. There was a fire of driftwood burning at the back of the beach, and round it crouched a group of men in reefing jackets and sou'westers waiting for morning to save what they might from the wreck; but I gave them a wide berth and so passed in the darkness without a word, and came to the top of the beach. There was light enough to make out what was doing. The sea was running very high, but with the falling wind the waves came in more leisurely and with less of broken water, curling over in a tawny sweep and regular thunderous beat all along the bay for miles. There was no sign left of the hull of the Aurungzebe, but the beach was strewn with so much wreckage as one would have thought could never come from so small a ship. There were barrels and kegs, gratings and hatch-covers, booms and pieces of masts and trucks; and beside all that, the heaving water in-shore was covered with a floating mask of broken match-wood, and the waves, as they curled over, carried up and dashed down on the pebble planks and beams beyond number. There were a dozen or more of men on the seaward side of the beach, with oilskins to keep the wet out, prowling up and down the pebbles to see what they could lay their hands on; and now and then they would run down almost into the white fringe, risking their lives to save a keg as they had risked them to save their fellows last night—as they had risked their lives to save ours, as Elzevir had risked his life to save mine, and lost it there in the white fringe.
I sat down at the top of the beach, with elbows on knees, head between hands, and face set out to sea, not knowing well why I was there or what I sought, but only thinking that Elzevir was floating somewhere in that floating skin of wreck-wood, and that I must be at hand to meet him when he came ashore. He would surely come in time, for I had seen others come ashore that way. For when the Bataviaman went on the beach, I stood as near her as our rescuers had stood to us last night, and there were some aboard who took the fatal leap from off her bows and tried to battle through the surf. I was so near them I could mark their features and read the wild hope in their faces at the first, and then the under-tow took hold of them, and never one that saved his life that day. And yet all came to beach at last, and I knew them by their dead faces for the men I had seen hoping against hope 'twixt ship and shore; some naked and some clothed, some bruised and sorely beaten by the pebbles and the sea, and some sound and untouched—all came to beach at last.
So I sat and waited for him to come; and none of the beach-walkers said anything to me, the Moonfleet men thinking I came from Ringstave, and the Langton men that I belonged to Moonfleet; and both that I had marked some cask at sea for my own and was waiting till it should come in. Only after a while Master Ratsey joined me, and sitting down by me, begged me to eat bread and meat that he had brought. Now I had little heart to eat, but took what he gave me to save myself from his importunities, and having once tasted was led by nature to eat all, and was much benefited thereby. Yet I could not talk with Ratsey, nor answer any of his questions, though another time I should have put a thousand to him myself; and he seeing 'twas no good sat by me in silence, using a spy-glass now and again to make out the things floating at sea. As the day grew the men left the fire at the back of the beach, and came down to the sea-front where the waves were continually casting up fresh spoil. And there all worked with a will, not each one for his own hand, but all to make a common hoard which should be divided afterwards.
Among the flotsam moving outside the breakers I could see more than one dark ball, like black buoys, bobbing up and down, and lifting as the wave came by: and knew them for the heads of drowned men. Yet though I took Ratsey's glass and scanned all carefully enough, I could make nothing of them, but saw the pinnace floating bottom up, and farther out another boat deserted and down to her gunwale in the water. 'Twas midday before the first body was cast up, when the sky was breaking a little, and a thin and watery sun trying to get through, and afterwards three other bodies followed. They were part of the pinnace's crew, for all had the iron ring on the left wrist, as Ratsey told me, who went down to see them, though he said nothing of the branded 'Y', and they were taken up and put under some sheeting at the back of the beach, there to lie till a grave should be made ready for them.
Then I felt something that told me he was coming and saw a body rolled over in the surf, and knew it for the one I sought. 'Twas nearest me he was flung up, and I ran down the beach, caring nothing for the white foam, nor for the under-tow, and laid hold of him: for had he not left the rescue-line last night, and run down into the surf to save my worthless life? Ratsey was at my side, and so between us we drew him up out of the running foam, and then I wrung the water from his hair, and wiped his face and, kneeling down there, kissed him.
When they saw that we had got a body, others of the men came up, and stared to see me handle him so tenderly. But when they knew, at last, I was a stranger and had the iron ring upon my wrist, and a 'Y' burned upon my cheek, they stared the more; until the tale went round that I was he who had come through the surf last night alive, and this poor body was my friend who had laid down his life for me. Then I saw Ratsey speak with one and another of the group, and knew that he was telling them our names; and some that I had known came up and shook me by the hand, not saying anything because they saw my heart was full; and some bent down and looked in Elzevir's face, and touched his hands as if to greet him. Sea and stones had been merciful with him, and he showed neither bruise nor wound, but his face wore a look of great peace, and his eyes and mouth were shut. Even I, who knew where 'twas, could scarcely see the 'Y' mark on his cheek, for the paleness of death had taken out the colour of the scar, and left his face as smooth and mellow-white as the alabaster figures in Moonfleet church. His body was naked from the waist up, as he had stripped for jumping from the brig, and we could see the great broad chest and swelling muscles that had pulled him out of many a desperate pass, and only failed him, for the first and last time so few hours ago.
They stood for a little while looking in silence at the old lander who had run his last cargo on Moonfleet beach, and then they laid his arms down by his side, and slung him in a sail, and carried him away. I walked beside, and as we came down across the sea-meadows, the sun broke out and we met little groups of schoolchildren making their way down to the beach to see what was doing with the wreck. They stood aside to let us go by, the boys pulling their caps and the girls dropping a curtsy, when they knew that it was a poor drowned body passing; and as I saw the children I thought I saw myself among them, and I was no more a man, but just come out from Mr. Glennie's teaching in the old almshouse hall.
Thus we came to the Why Not? and there set him down. The inn had not been let, as I learned afterwards, since Maskew died; and they had put a fire in it last night for the first time, knowing that the brig would be wrecked, and thinking that some might come off with their lives and require tending. The door stood open, and they carried him into the parlour, where the fire was still burning, and laid him down on the trestle-table, covering his face and body with the sail. This done they all stood round a little while, awkwardly enough, as not knowing what to do; and then slipped away one by one, because grief is a thing that only women know how to handle, and they wanted to be back on the beach to get what might be from the wreck. Last of all went Master Ratsey, saying, he saw that I would as lief be alone, and that he would come back before dark.
So I was left alone with my dead friend, and with a host of bitterest thoughts. The room had not been cleaned; there were spider-webs on the beams, and the dust stood so thick on the window-panes as to shut out half the light. The dust was on everything: on chairs and tables, save on the trestle-table where he lay. 'Twas on this very trestle they had laid out David's body; 'twas in this very room that this still form, who would never more know either joy or sorrow, had bowed down and wept over his son. The room was just as we had left it an April evening years ago, and on the dresser lay the great backgammon board, so dusty that one could not read the lettering on it; 'Life is like a game of hazard; the skilful player will make something of the worst of throws'; but what unskillful players we had been, how bad our throws, how little we had made of them!
'Twas with thoughts like this that I was busy while the short afternoon was spent, and the story went up and down the village, how that Elzevir Block and John Trenchard, who left so long ago, were come back to Moonfleet, and that the old lander was drowned saving the young man's life. The dusk was creeping up as I turned back the sail from off his face and took another look at my lost friend, my only friend; for who was there now to care a jot for me? I might go and drown myself on Moonfleet beach, for anyone that would grieve over me. What did it profit me to have broken bonds and to be free again? what use was freedom to me now? where was I to go, what was I to do? My friend was gone.
So I went back and sat with my head in my hands looking into the fire, when I heard someone step into the room, but did not turn, thinking it was Master Ratsey come back and treading lightly so as not to disturb me. Then I felt a light touch on my shoulder, and looking up saw standing by me a tall and stately woman, girl no longer, but woman in the full strength and beauty of youth. I knew her in a moment, for she had altered little, except her oval face had something more of dignity, and the tawny hair that used to fly about her back was now gathered up. She was looking down at me, and let her hand rest on my shoulder. 'John,' she said, 'have you forgotten me? May I not share your sorrow? Did you not think to tell me you were come? Did you not see the light, did you not know there was a friend that waited for you?'
I said nothing, not being able to speak, but marvelling how she had come just in the point of time to prove me wrong to think I had no friend; and she went on:
'Is it well for you to be here? Grieve not too sadly, for none could have died nobler than he died; and in these years that you have been away, I have thought much of him and found him good at heart, and if he did aught wrong 'twas because others wronged him more.'
And while she spoke I thought how Elzevir had gone to shoot her father, and only failed of it by a hair's-breadth, and yet she spoke so well I thought he never really meant to shoot at all, but only to scare the magistrate. And what a whirligig of time was here, that I should have saved Elzevir from having that blot on his conscience, and then that he should save my life, and now that Maskew's daughter should be the one to praise Elzevir when he lay dead! And still I could not speak.
And again she said: 'John, have you no word for me? have you forgotten? do you not love me still? Have I no part in your sorrow?'
Then I took her hand in mine and raised it to my lips, and said, 'Dear Mistress Grace, I have forgotten nothing, and honour you above all others: but of love I may not speak more to you—nor you to me, for we are no more boy and girl as in times past, but you a noble lady and I a broken wretch'; and with that I told how I had been ten years a prisoner, and why, and showed her the iron ring upon my wrist, and the brand upon my cheek.
At the brand she stared, and said, 'Speak not of wealth; 'tis not wealth makes men, and if you have come back no richer than you went, you are come back no poorer, nor poorer, John, in honour. And I am rich and have more wealth than I can rightly use, so speak not of these things; but be glad that you are poor, and were not let to profit by that evil treasure. But for this brand, it is no prison name to me, but the Mohunes' badge, to show that you are theirs and must do their bidding. Said I not to you, Have a care how you touch the treasure, it was evilly come by and will bring a curse with it? But now, I pray you, with a greater earnestness, seeing you bear this mark upon you, touch no penny of that treasure if it should some day come back to you, but put it to such uses as Colonel Mohune thought would help his sinful soul.'
With that she took her hand from mine and bade me 'good night', leaving me in the darkening room with the glow from the fire lighting up the sail and the outline of the body that lay under it. After she was gone I pondered long over what she had said, and what that should mean when she spoke of the treasure one day coming back to me: but wondered much the most to find how constant is the love of woman, and how she could still find a place in her heart for so poor a thing as I. But as to what she said, I was to learn her meaning this very night.
Master Ratsey had come in and gone again, not stopping with me very long, because there was much doing on the beach; but bidding me be of good cheer, and have no fear of the law; for that the ban against me and the head-price had been dead for many a year. 'Twas Grace had made her lawyers move for this, refusing herself to sign the hue and cry, and saying that the fatal shot was fired by misadventure. And so a dread which was just waking was laid to rest for ever; and when Ratsey went I made up the fire, and lay down in the blankets in front of it, for I was dog-tired and longed for sleep. I was already dozing, but not asleep, when there was a knock at the door, and in walked Mr. Glennie. He was aged, and stooped a little, as I could see by the firelight, but for all that I knew him at once, and sitting up offered him what welcome I could.
He looked at me curiously at first, as taking note of the bearded man that had grown out of the boy he remembered, but gave me very kindly greeting, and sat down beside me on a bench. First, he lifted the sail from the dead body, and looked at the sleeping face. Then he took out a Common Prayer reading the Commendamus over the dead, and giving me spiritual comfort, and lastly, he fell to talking about the past. From him I learnt something of what had happened while I was away, though for that matter nothing had happened at all, except a few deaths, for that is the only sort of change for which we look in Moonfleet. And among those who had passed away was Miss Arnold, my aunt, so that I was another friend the less, if indeed I should count her a friend: for though she meant me well, she showed her care with too much strictness to let me love her, and so in my great sorrow for Elzevir I found no room to grieve for her.
Whether from the spiritual solace Mr. Glennie offered me, or whether from his pointing out how much cause for thankfulness I had in being loosed out of prison and saved from imminent death, certain it was I felt some assuagement of grief, and took pleasure in his talk.
'And though I may by some be reprehended,' he said, 'for presuming to refer to profane authors after citing Holy Scripture, yet I cannot refrain from saying that even the great poet Homer counsels moderation in mourning, "for quickly," says he, "cometh satiety of chilly grief".'
After this I thought he was going, but he cleared his throat in such a way that I guessed he had something important to say, and he drew a long folded blue paper from his pocket. 'My son,' he said, opening it leisurely and smoothing it out upon his knee, 'we should never revile Fortune, and in speaking of Fortune I only use that appellation in our poor human sense, and do not imply that there is any Chance at all but what is subject to an over-ruling Providence; we should never, I say, revile Fortune, for just at that moment when she appears to have deserted us, she may be only gone away to seek some richest treasure to bring back with her. And that this is so let what I am about to read to you prove; so light a candle and set it by me, for my eyes cannot follow the writing in this dancing firelight.'
I took an end of candle which stood on the mantelpiece and did as he bid me, and he went on: 'I shall read you this letter which I received near eight years ago, and of the weightiness of it you shall yourself judge.'
I shall not here set down that letter in full, although I have it by me, but will put it shortly, because it was from a lawyer, tricked with long-winded phrases and spun out as such letters are to afford cover afterwards for a heavier charge. It was addressed to the Reverend Horace Glennie, Perpetual Curate of Moonfleet, in the County of Dorset, England, and written in English by Heer Roosten, Attorney and Signariat of the Hague in the Kingdom of Holland. It set forth that one Krispijn Aldobrand, jeweller and dealer in precious stones, at the Hague, had sent for Heer Roosten to draw a will for him. And that the said Krispijn Aldobrand, being near his end, had deposed to the said Heer Roosten, that he, Aldobrand, was desirous to leave all his goods to one John Trenchard, of Moonfleet, Dorset, in the Kingdom of England. And that he was moved to do this, first, by the consideration that he, Aldobrand, had no children to whom to leave aught, and second, because he desired to make full and fitting restitution to John Trenchard, for that he had once obtained from the said John a diamond without paying the proper price for it. Which stone he, Aldobrand, had sold and converted into money, and having so done, found afterwards both his fortune and his health decline; so that, although he had great riches before he became possessed of the diamond, these had forthwith melted through unfortunate ventures and speculations, till he had little remaining to him but the money that this same diamond had brought.
He therefore left to John Trenchard everything of which he should die possessed, and being near death begged his forgiveness if he had wronged him in aught. These were the instructions which Heer Roosten received from Mr. Aldobrand, whose health sensibly declined, until three months later he died. It was well, Heer Roosten added, that the will had been drawn in good time, for as Mr. Aldobrand grew weaker, he became a prey to delusions, saying that John Trenchard had laid a curse upon the diamond, and professing even to relate the words of it, namely, that it should 'bring evil in this life, and damnation in that which is to come.' Nor was this all, for he could get no sleep, but woke up with a horrid dream, in which, so he informed Heer Roosten, he saw continually a tall man with a coppery face and black beard draw the bed-curtains and mock him. Thus he came at length to his end, and after his death Heer Roosten endeavoured to give effect to the provision of the will, by writing to John Trenchard, at Moonfleet, Dorset, to apprise him that he was left sole heir. That address, indeed, was all the indication that Aldobrand had given, though he constantly promised his attorney to let him have closer information as to Trenchard's whereabouts, in good time. This information was, however, always postponed, perhaps because Aldobrand hoped he might get better and so repent of his repentance. So all Heer Roosten had to do was to write to Trenchard at Moonfleet, and in due course the letter was returned to him, with the information that Trenchard had fled that place to escape the law, and was then nowhere to be found. After that Heer Roosten was advised to write to the minister of the parish, and so addressed these lines to Mr. Glennie.
This was the gist of the letter which Mr. Glennie read, and you may easily guess how such news moved me, and how we sat far into the night talking and considering what steps it was best to take, for we feared lest so long an interval as eight years having elapsed, the lawyers might have made some other disposition of the money. It was midnight when Mr. Glennie left. The candle had long burnt out, but the fire was bright, and he knelt a moment by the trestle-table before he went out.
'He made a good end, John,' he said, rising from his knees, 'and I pray that our end may be in as good cause when it comes. For with the best of us the hour of death is an awful hour, and we may well pray, as every Sunday, to be delivered in it. But there is another time which those who wrote this Litany thought no less perilous, and bade us pray to be delivered in all time of our wealth. So I pray that if, after all, this wealth comes to your hand you may be led to use it well; for though I do not hold with foolish tales, or think a curse hangs on riches themselves, yet if riches have been set apart for a good purpose, even by evil men, as Colonel John Mohune set apart this treasure, it cannot be but that we shall do grievous wrong in putting them to other use. So fare you well, and remember that there are other treasures besides this, and that a good woman's love is worth far more than all the gold and jewels of the world—as I once knew.' And with that he left me.
I guessed that he had spoken with Grace that day, and as I lay dozing in front of the fire, alone in this old room I knew so well, alone with that silent friend who had died to save me, I mourned him none the less, but yet sorrowed not as one without hope.
What need to tell this tale at any more length, since you may know, by my telling it, that all went well? for what man would sit down to write a history that ended in his own discomfiture? All that great wealth came to my hands, and if I do not say how great it was, 'tis that I may not wake envy, for it was far more than ever I could have thought. And of that money I never touched penny piece, having learnt a bitter lesson in the past, but laid it out in good works, with Mr. Glennie and Grace to help me. First, we rebuilt and enlarged the almshouses beyond all that Colonel John Mohune could ever think of, and so established them as to be a haven for ever for all worn-out sailors of that coast. Next, we sought the guidance of the Brethren of the Trinity, and built a lighthouse on the Snout, to be a Channel beacon for sea-going ships, as Maskew's match had been a light for our fishing-boats in the past. Lastly, we beautified the church, turning out the cumbrous seats of oak, and neatly pewing it with deal and baize, that made it most commodious to sit in of the Sabbath. There was also much old glass which we removed, and reglazed all the windows tight against the wind, so that what with a high pulpit, reading-desk, and seat for Master Clerk and new Commandment boards each side of the Holy Table, there was not a church could vie with ours in the countryside. But that great vault below it, with its memories, was set in order, and then safely walled up, and after that nothing was more ever heard of Blackbeard and his lost Mohunes. And as for the landers, I cannot say where they went; and if a cargo is still run of a dark night upon the beach, I know nothing of it, being both Lord of the Manor and Justice of the Peace.
The village, too, renewed itself with the new almshouses and church. There were old houses rebuilt and fresh ones reared, and all are ours, except the Why Not? which still remains the Duchy Inn. And that was let again, and men left the Choughs at Ringstave and came back to their old haunt, and any shipwrecked or travel-worn sailor found board and welcome within its doors.
And of the Mohune Hospital—for that was what the alms-houses were now called—Master Glennie was first warden, with fair rooms and a full library, and Master Ratsey head of the Bedesmen. There they spent happier days, till they were gathered in the fullness of their years; and sleep on the sunny side of the church, within sound of the sea, by that great buttress where I once found Master Ratsey listening with his ear to ground. And close beside them lies Elzevir Block, most faithful and most loved by me, with a text on his tombstone: 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend,' and some of Mr. Glennie's verses.
And of ourselves let me speak last. The Manor House is a stately home again, with trim lawns and terraced balustrades, where we can sit and see the thin blue smoke hang above the village on summer evenings. And in the Manor woods my wife and I have seen a little Grace and a little John and little Elzevir, our firstborn, play; and now our daughter is grown up, fair to us as the polished corners of the Temple, and our sons are gone out to serve King George on sea and land. But as for us, for Grace and me, we never leave this our happy Moonfleet, being well content to see the dawn tipping the long cliff-line with gold, and the night walking in dew across the meadows; to watch the spring clothe the beech boughs with green, or the figs ripen on the southern wall: while behind all, is spread as a curtain the eternal sea, ever the same and ever changing. Yet I love to see it best when it is lashed to madness in the autumn gale, and to hear the grinding roar and churn of the pebbles like a great organ playing all the night. 'Tis then I turn in bed and thank God, more from the heart, perhaps, than, any other living man, that I am not fighting for my life on Moonfleet Beach. And more than once I have stood rope in hand in that same awful place, and tried to save a struggling wretch; but never saw one come through the surf alive, in such a night as he saved me.