Page:Yule Logs.djvu/374

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and, in response to my hail, rounded to on our lee quarter, lowered her single lateen sail, and launched a boat from her gangway, in which her skipper, with two hands as boat's crew, presently pulled alongside us. The man—a bare-footed, decidedly unclean, and rather disreputable-looking Frenchman, attired in a suit of once white nankin, topped by a broad-brimmed straw hat—appeared to be labouring under much ill-repressed excitement as he climbed our low side and stepped in on deck, casting quick, anxious glances about him as he did so. When, however, his gaze encountered me I was wearing my uniform cap at the moment—his anxiety appeared to subside to a considerable extent, and he at once doffed his hat as he made me a sweeping bow, exclaiming at the same time—

"Bon jour, monsieur! Have I ze honour to address an officer of Grand Bretagne?"

"Yes, sir, you have, if you choose to put the matter that way," I replied. "This vessel is his Britannic Majesty's schooner Curlew, late the Don Cristoval; and my name is Farmer. Am I correct in supposing that you have boarded me because you stand in need of assistance?"

"Ah, oui, monsieur, it is so," was the reply, given with much gesticulation. "I have been hoping to fall in wiz a Breetish man-o'-war evaire since I have sailed from ze Congo; it is two day since. Saire"—here the fellow's excitement began to grow upon him again—"I desire revenge! I have been rob, saire, by one rascal pirate who come alongside my leetle sheep, as I sail out of ze Congo; he board me, saire, with un bateau full of men, arm to ze teeth, as you Angleesh say, and he take from me all my cargo of ivory and caoutchouc, leaving me wiz only my leetle eighty barrel of palm-oil. Saire, I am ruin unless you will get back my ivory and caoutchouc for me!"