At least so thought Lance Penwith as he hurried home, pondering upon his cousin's words, and asking himself whether he was not doing wrong by associating with these fisher-folk on the cliff.
"I must tell father," he said to himself. "I ought to tell him," he said; and then he began thinking of what it meant, the severe punishment of pretty well every man in the cluster of cottages, some being sent to prison, the younger men to serve in King George's men-of-war; and ever since he could remember, they had all been to him the kindest friends.
" I can't help it," said Lance to himself, after a weary sleepless night; " I don't feel as if I could go and tell tales. I'm not sure; and if I was wrong, and these men were punished for what they did not do, I should never be happy again."
Lance had made up his mind that he would have no more to do with the people down by the cliff, for he felt now that they were not honest. But there was a bitter feeling of disappointment in coming to this resolve; for it had been so pleasant to get away from the refinements of home with its choice cookery, plate, glass, and fine linen, to the boisterous welcome he always had at Old Poltree's neat cottage. How delicious the baked hake was, and how luscious the conger pie!—though they were as nothing to the split and grilled fish he caught himself; and Hezz's mother was always ready to cook for the two boys.
And now it was all over; but still he might go and climb to the steep edge, from whence he could look down on the whitewashed cottages, the busy harbour, and the boats.