Page:In the Roar of the Sea.djvu/234

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ment. Gambling, smuggling, and poaching, my dear, are in the blood. A man brings the love of adventure, the love of running a risk, into the world with him. If I had been made by my wife to swear when I married never to touch a musical instrument, I might out of love for her have sworn, but I could not have kept my oath. And you—if you vowed to keep your fingers from needle and thread, and saw your gown in rags, or your husband's linen frayed—would find an irresistible itch in the finger ends to mend and hem, and you would do it, in spite of your vows. So with a gambler, a poacher, and a smuggler, the instinct, the passion is in them and is irresistible. Don't impose any promise on Captain Cruel, it will not influence him."

"They tell me he is a wrecker."

"What do you mean by a wrecker? We are all wreckers, after a storm, when a merchantman has gone to pieces on the rocks, and the shore is strewn with prizes. I have taken what I could, and I see no harm in it When the sea throws treasures here and there, it is a sin not to take them up and use them and be thankful."

"I do not mean that. I mean that he has been the means of luring ships to their destruction."

"Of that I know nothing. Stories circulate whenever there is a wreck not in foul weather or with a wind on shore. But who can say whether they be true or false?"

"And about that man, Wyvill. Did he kill him?"

"There also I can say nothing, because I know nothing. All that can be said about the matter is that the Preventive man Wyvill was found at sea—or washed ashore without his head. A shark may have done it, and sharks have been found off our coast. I cannot tell. There is not a shadow of evidence that could justify an indictment. All that can be stated that makes against Coppinger is that the one is a smuggler, the other was a Preventive man, and that the latter was found dead and with his head off, an unusual circumstance, but not sufficient to show that he had been decapitated by any man, nor that the man who decapitated him was Coppinger."

Then Mr. Menaida started up: "And—you sell yourself to this man for Jamie?"

"Yes, uncle, to make a man of Jamie."