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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Battle Of The Strong: A Romance Of Two Kingdoms - Chapter 40
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The Battle Of The Strong: A Romance Of Two Kingdoms - Chapter 40 Post by :Preston Category :Long Stories Author :Gilbert Parker Date :May 2012 Read :2443

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The Battle Of The Strong: A Romance Of Two Kingdoms - Chapter 40

CHAPTER XL

DURING ONE YEAR LATER

The day that saw Guida's restitution in the Cohue Royale brought but further trouble to Ranulph Delagarde. The Chevalier had shown him the lost register of St. Michael's, and with a heart less heavy, he left the island once more. Intending to join Detricand in the Vendee, he had scarcely landed at St. Malo when he was seized by a press-gang and carried aboard a French frigate commissioned to ravage the coasts of British America. He had stubbornly resisted the press, but had been knocked on the head, and there was an end on it.

In vain he protested that he was an Englishman. They laughed at him. His French was perfect, his accent Norman, his was a Norman face--evidence enough. If he was not a citizen of France he should be, and he must be. Ranulph decided that it was needless to throw away his life. It was better to make a show of submission. So long as he had not to fight British ships, he could afford to wait. Time enough then for him to take action. When the chance came he would escape this bondage; meanwhile remembering his four years' service with the artillery at Elizabeth Castle, he asked to be made a gunner, and his request was granted.

The Victoire sailed the seas battle-hungry, and presently appeased her appetite among Dutch and Danish privateers. Such excellent work did Ranulph against the Dutchmen, that Richambeau, the captain, gave him a gun for himself, and after they had fought the Danes made him a master-gunner. Of the largest gun on the Victoire Ranulph grew so fond that at last he called her ma couzaine.

Days and weeks passed, until one morning came the cry of "Land! Land!" and once again Ranulph saw British soil--the tall cliffs of the peninsula of Gaspe. Gaspe--that was the ultima Thule to which Mattingley and Carterette had gone.

Presently, as the Victoire came nearer to the coast, he could see a bay and a great rock in the distance, and, as they bore in now, the rock seemed to stretch out like a vast wall into the gulf. As he stood watching and leaning on ma couzaine, a sailor near him said that the bay and the rock were called Perce.

Perce Bay--that was the exact point for which Elie Mattingley and Carterette had sailed with Sebastian Alixandre. How strange it was! He had bidden Carterette good-bye for ever, yet fate had now brought him to the very spot whither she had gone.

The Rock of Perce was a wall, three hundred feet high, and the wall was an island that had once been a long promontory like a battlement, jutting out hundreds of yards into the gulf. At one point it was pierced by an archway. It was almost sheer; its top was flat and level. Upon the sides there was no verdure; upon the top centuries had made a green field. The wild geese as they flew northward, myriad flocks of gulls, gannets, cormorants, and all manner of fowl of the sea, had builded upon the summit until it was rich with grass and shrubs. The nations of the air sent their legions here to bivouac, and the discord of a hundred languages might be heard far out to sea, far in upon the land. Millions of the races of the air swarmed there; at times the air above was darkened by clouds of them. No fog-bell on a rock-bound coast might warn mariners more ominously than these battalions of adventurers on the Perce Rock.

No human being had ever mounted to this eyrie. Generations of fishermen had looked upon the yellowish-red limestone of the Perce Rock with a valorous eye, but it would seem that not even the tiny clinging hoof of a chamois or wild goat might find a foothold upon the straight sides of it.

Ranulph was roused out of the spell Perce cast over him by seeing the British flag upon a building by the shore of the bay they were now entering. His heart gave a great bound. Yes, it was the English flag defiantly flying. And more--there were two old 12 pounders being trained on the French squadron. For the first time in years a low laugh burst from his lips.

"O mai grand doux," he said in the Jersey patois, "only one man in the world would do that. Only Elie Mattingley!"

At that moment, Mattingley now issued from a wooden fishing-shed with Sebastian Alixandre and three others armed with muskets, and passed to the little fort on which flew the British and Jersey flags. Ranulph heard a guffaw behind. Richambeau, the captain, confronted him.

"That's a big splutter in a little pot, gunner," said he. He put his telescope to his eye. "The Lord protect us," he cried, "they're going to fight my ship!" He laughed again till the tears came. "Son of Peter, but it is droll that--a farce au diable! They have humour, these fisher-folk, eh, gunner?"

"Mattingley will fight you just the same," answered Ranulph coolly.

"Oh ho, you know these people, my gunner?" asked Richambeau.

"All my life," answered Ranulph, "and, by your leave, I will tell you how."

Not waiting for permission, after the manner of his country, he told Richambeau of his Jersey birth and bringing up, and how he was the victim of the pressgang.

"Very good," said Richambeau. "You Jersey folk were once Frenchmen, and now that you're French again, you shall do something for the flag. You see that 12-pounder yonder to the right? Very well, dismount it. Then we'll send in a flag of truce, and parley with this Mattingley, for his jests are worth attention and politeness. There's a fellow at the gun--no, he has gone. Dismount the right-hand gun at one shot. Ready now. Get a good range."

The whole matter went through Ranulph's mind as the captain spoke. If he refused to fire, he would be strung up to the yardarm; if he fired and missed, perhaps other gunners would fire, and once started they might raze the fishing-post. If he dismounted the gun, the matter would probably remain only a jest, for such as yet Richambeau regarded it.

Ranulph ordered the tackle and breechings cast away, had off the apron, pricked a cartridge, primed, bruised the priming, and covered the vent. Then he took his range steadily, quietly. There was a brisk wind blowing from the south--he must allow for that; but the wind was stopped somewhat in its course by the Perch Rock--he must allow for that.

All was ready. Suddenly a girl came running round the corner of the building.

It was Carterette. She was making for the right-hand gun. Ranulph started, the hand that held the match trembled.

"Fire, you fool, or you'll kill the girl!" cried Richambeau.

Ranulph laid a hand on himself as it were. Every nerve in his body tingled, his legs trembled, but his eye was steady. He took the sight once more coolly, then blew on the match. Now the girl was within thirty feet of the gun.

He quickly blew on the match again, and fired. When the smoke cleared away he saw that the gun was dismounted, and not ten feet from it stood Carterette looking at it dazedly.

He heard a laugh behind him. There was Richambeau walking away, telescope under arm, even as the other 12-pounder on shore replied impudently to the gun he had fired.

"A good aim," he heard Richambeau say, jerking a finger backward towards him.

Was it then? said Ranulph to himself; was it indeed? Ba su, it was the last shot he would ever fire against aught English, here or elsewhere.

Presently he saw a boat drawing away with the flag of truce in the hands of a sous-lieutenant. His mind was made up; he would escape to-night. His place was there beside his fellow-countrymen. He motioned away the men of the gun. He would load ma couzaine himself for the last time.

As he sponged the gun he made his plans. Swish-swash the sponge-staff ran in and out--he would try to steal away at dog-watch. He struck the sponge smartly on ma couzaine's muzzle, cleansing it--he would have to slide into the water like a rat and swim very softly to the shore. He reached for a fresh cartridge, and thrust it into the throat of the gun, and as the seam was laid downwards he said to himself that he could swim under water, if discovered as he left the Victoire. As he unstopped the touch-hole and tried with the priming-wire whether the cartridge was home, he was stunned by a fresh thought.

Richambeau would send a squad of men to search for him, and if he was not found they would probably raze the Post, or take its people prisoners. As he put the apron carefully on ma couzaine, he determined that he could not take refuge with the Mattingleys. Neither would it do to make for the woods of the interior, for still Richambeau might revenge himself on the fishing-post. What was to be done? He turned his eyes helplessly on Perce Rock.

As he looked, a new idea came to him. If only he could get to the top of that massive wall, not a hundred fleets could dislodge him. One musket could defeat the forlorn hope of any army. Besides, if he took refuge on the rock, there could be no grudge against Perce village or the Mattingleys, and Richambeau would not injure them.

He eyed the wall closely. The blazing sunshine showed it up in a hard light, and he studied every square yard of it with a telescope. At one point the wall was not quite perpendicular. There were also narrow ledges, lumps of stone, natural steps and little pinnacles which the fingers could grip and where man might rest. Yes, he would try it.

It was the last quarter of the moon, and the neaptide was running low when he let himself softly down into the water from the Victoire. The blanket tied on his head held food kept from his rations, with stone and flint and other things. He was not seen, and he dropped away quietly astern, getting clear of the Victoire while the moon was partially obscured.

Now it was a question when his desertion would be discovered. All he asked was two clear hours. By that time the deed would be done, if he could climb Perce Rock at all.

He touched bottom. He was on Perce sands. The blanket on his head was scarcely wetted. He wrung the water out of his clothes, and ran softly up the shore. Suddenly he was met by a cry of Qui va la! and he stopped short at the point of Elie Mattingley's bayonet. "Hush!" said Ranulph, and gave his name.

Mattingley nearly dropped his musket in surprise. He soon knew the tale of Ranulph's misfortunes, but he had not yet been told of his present plans when there came a quick footstep, and Carterette was at her father's side. Unlike Mattingley, she did drop her musket at the sight of Ranulph. Her lips opened, but at first she could not speak--this was more than she had ever dared hope for, since those dark days in Jersey. Ranulph here! She pressed her hands to her heart to stop its throbbing.

Presently she was trembling with excitement at the story of how Ranulph had been pressed at St. Malo, and, all that came after until this very day.

"Go along with Carterette," said Mattingley. "Alixandre is at the house; he'll help you away into the woods."

As Ranulph hurried away with Carterette, he told her his design. Suddenly she stopped short, "Ranulph Delagarde," she said vehemently, "you can't climb Perch Rock. No one has ever done it, and you must not try. Oh, I know you are a great man, but you mustn't think you can do this. You will be safe where we shall hide you. You shall not climb the rock-ah no, ba su!"

He pointed towards the Post. "They wouldn't leave a stick standing there if you hid me. No, I'm going to the top of the rock."

"Man doux terrible!" she said in sheer bewilderment, and then was suddenly inspired. At last her time had come.

"Pardingue," she said, clutching his arm, "if you go to the top of Perch Rock, so will I!"

In spite of his anxiety he almost laughed.

"But see--but see," he said, and his voice dropped; "you couldn't stay up there with me all alone, garcon Carterette. And Richambeau would be firing on you too!"

She was very angry, but she made no reply, and he continued quickly:

"I'll go straight to the rock now. When they miss me there'll be a pot boiling, you may believe. If I get up," he added, "I'll let a string down for a rope you must get for me. Once on top they can't hurt me.... Eh ben, A bi'tot, gargon Carterette!"

"O my good! O my good!" said the girl with a sudden change of mood. "To think you have come like this, and perhaps--" But she dashed the tears from her eyes, and bade him go on.

The tide was well out, the moon shining brightly. Ranulph reached the point where, if the rock was to be scaled at all, the ascent must be made. For a distance there was shelving where foothold might be had by a fearless man with a steady head and sure balance. After that came about a hundred feet where he would have to draw himself up by juttings and crevices hand over hand, where was no natural pathway. Woe be to him if head grew dizzy, foot slipped, or strength gave out; he would be broken to pieces on the hard sand below. That second stage once passed, the ascent thence to the top would be easier; for though nearly as steep, it had more ledges, and offered fair vantage to a man with a foot like a mountain goat. Ranulph had been aloft all weathers in his time, and his toes were as strong as another man's foot, and surer.

He started. The toes caught in crevices, held on to ledges, glued themselves on to smooth surfaces; the knees clung like a rough-rider's to a saddle; the big hands, when once they got a purchase, fastened like an air-cup.

Slowly, slowly up, foot by foot, yard by yard, until one-third of the distance was climbed. The suspense and strain were immeasurable. But he struggled on and on, and at last reached a sort of flying pinnacle of rock, like a hook for the shields of the gods.

Here he ventured to look below, expecting to see Carterette, but there was only the white sand, and no sound save the long wash of the gulf. He drew a horn of arrack from his pocket and drank. He had two hundred feet more to climb, and the next hundred would be the great ordeal.

He started again. This was travail indeed. His rough fingers, his toes, hard as horn almost, began bleeding. Once or twice he swung quite clear of the wall, hanging by his fingers to catch a surer foothold to right or left, and just getting it sometimes by an inch or less. The tension was terrible. His head seemed to swell and fill with blood: on the top it throbbed till it was ready to burst. His neck was aching horribly with constant looking up, the skin of his knees was gone, his ankles bruised. But he must keep on till he got to the top, or until he fell.

He was fighting on now in a kind of dream, quite apart from all usual feelings of this world. The earth itself seemed far away, and he was toiling among vastnesses, himself a giant with colossal frame and huge, sprawling limbs. It was like a gruesome vision of the night, when the body is an elusive, stupendous mass that falls into space after a confused struggle with immensities. It was all mechanical, vague, almost numb, this effort to overcome a mountain. Yet it was precise and hugely expert too; for though there was a strange mist on the brain, the body felt its way with a singular certainty, as might some molluscan dweller of the sea, sensitive like a plant, intuitive like an animal. Yet at times it seemed that this vast body overcoming the mountain must let go its hold and slide away into the darkness of the depths.

Now there was a strange convulsive shiver in every nerve--God have mercy, the time was come!... No, not yet. At the very instant when it seemed the panting flesh and blood would be shaken off by the granite force repelling it, the fingers, like long antennae, touched horns of rock jutting out from ledges on the third escarpment of the wall. Here was the last point of the worst stage of the journey. Slowly, heavily, the body drew up to the shelf of limestone, and crouched in an inert bundle. There it lay for a long time.

While the long minutes went by, a voice kept calling up from below; calling, calling, at first eagerly, then anxiously, then with terror. By and by the bundle of life stirred, took shape, raised itself, and was changed into a man again, a thinking, conscious being, who now understood the meaning of this sound coming up from the earth below--or was it the sea? A human voice had at last pierced the awful exhaustion of the deadly labour, the peril and strife, which had numbed the brain while the body, in its instinct for existence, still clung to the rocky ledges. It had called the man back to earth--he was no longer a great animal, and the rock a monster with skin and scales of stone.

"Ranulph! Maitre Ranulph! Ah, Ranulph!" called the voice.

Now he knew, and he answered down: "All right, all right, garche Carterette!"

"Are you at the top?"

"No, but the rest is easy."

"Hurry, hurry, Ranulph. If they should come before you reach the top!"

"I'll soon be there."

"Are you hurt, Ranulph?"

"No, but my fingers are in rags. I am going now. A bi'tot, Carterette!"

"Ranulph!"

"'Sh, 'sh, do not speak. I am starting."

There was silence for what seemed hours to the girl below. Foot by foot the man climbed on, no less cautious because the ascent was easier, for he was now weaker. But he was on the monster's neck now, and soon he should set his heel on it: he was not to be shaken off.

At last the victorious moment came. Over a jutting ledge he drew himself up by sheer strength and the rubber-like grip of his lacerated fingers, and now he lay flat and breathless upon the ground.

How soft and cool it was! This was long sweet grass touching his face, making a couch like down for the battered, wearied body. Surely such travail had been more than mortal. And what was this vast fluttering over his head, this million-voiced discord round him, like the buffetings and cries of spirits welcoming another to their torment? He raised his head and laughed in triumph. These were the cormorants, gulls, and gannets on the Perch Rock.

Legions of birds circled over him with cries so shrill that at first he did not hear Carterette's voice calling up to him. At last, however, remembering, he leaned over the cliff and saw her standing in the moonlight far below.

Her voice came up to him indistinctly because of the clatter of the birds. "Maitre Ranulph! Ranulph!" She could not see him, for this part of the rock was in shadow.

"Ah bah, all right!" he said, and taking hold of one end of the twine he had brought, he let the roll fall. It dropped almost at Carterette's feet. She tied to the end of it three loose ropes she had brought from the Post. He drew them up quickly, tied them together firmly, and let the great coil down. Ranulph's bundle, a tent and many things Carterette had brought were drawn up.

"Ranulph! Ranulph!" came Carterette's voice again.

"Garcon Carterette!"

"You must help Sebastian Alixandre up," she said.

"Sebastian Alixandre--is he there? Why does he want to come?"

"That is no matter," she called softly. "He is coming. He has the rope round his waist. Pull away!" It was better, Ranulph thought to himself, that he should be on Perch Rock alone, but the terrible strain had bewildered him, and he could make no protest now.

"Don't start yet," he called down; "I'll pull when all's ready."

He fell back from the edge to a place in the grass where, tying the rope round his body, and seating himself, he could brace his feet against a ledge of rock. Then he pulled on the rope. It was round Carterette's waist!

Carterette had told her falsehood without shame, for she was of those to whom the end is more than the means. She began climbing, and Ranulph pulled steadily. Twice he felt the rope suddenly jerk when she lost her footing, but it came in evenly still, and he used a nose of rock as a sort of winch.

The climber was nearly two-thirds of the way up when a cannon-shot boomed out over the water, frightening again the vast covey of birds which shrieked and honked till the air was a maelstrom of cries. Then came another cannon-shot.

Ranulph's desertion was discovered. The fight was begun between a single Jersey shipwright and a French war-ship.

His strength, however, could not last much longer. Every muscle of his body had been strained and tortured, and even this lighter task tried him beyond endurance. His legs stiffened against the ledge of rock, the tension numbed his arms. He wondered how near Alixandre was to the top. Suddenly there was a pause, then a heavy jerk. Love of God--the rope was shooting through his fingers, his legs were giving way! He gathered himself together, and then with teeth, hands, and body rigid with enormous effort, he pulled and pulled. Now he could not see. A mist swam before his eyes. Everything grew black, but he pulled on and on.

He never knew how the climber reached the top. But when the mist cleared away from his eyes, Carterette was bending over him, putting rum to his lips.

"Carterette-garcon Carterette!" he murmured, amazed. Then as the truth burst upon him he shook his head in a troubled sort of way.

"What a cat I was!" said Carterette. "What a wild cat I was to make you haul me up! It was bad for me with the rope round me, it must have been awful for you, my poor esmanus--poor scarecrow Ranulph."

Scarecrow indeed he looked. His clothes were nearly gone, his hair was tossed and matted, his eyes bloodshot, his big hands like pieces of raw meat, his feet covered with blood.

"My poor scarecrow!" she repeated, and she tenderly wiped the blood from his face where his hands had touched it. Meanwhile bugle-calls and cries of command came up to them, and in the first light of morning they could see French officers and sailors, Mattingley, Alixandre, and others, hurrying to and fro.

When day came clear and bright, it was known that Carterette as well as Ranulph had vanished. Mattingley shook his head stoically, but Richambeau on the Victoire was as keen to hunt down one Jersey-Englishman as he had ever been to attack an English fleet. More so, perhaps.

Meanwhile the birds kept up a wild turmoil and shrieking. Never before had any one heard them so clamorous. More than once Mattingley had looked at Perch Rock curiously, but whenever the thought of it as a refuge came to him, he put it away. No, it was impossible.

Yet, what was that? Mattingley's heart thumped. There were two people on the lofty island wall--a man and a woman. He caught' the arm of a French officer near him. "Look, look!" he said. The officer raised his glass.

"It's the gunner," he cried and handed the glass to the old man.

"It's Carterette," said Mattingley in a hoarse voice. "But it's not possible. It's not possible," he added helplessly. "Nobody was ever there. My God, look at it--look at it!"

It was a picture indeed. A man and a woman were outlined against the clear air, putting up a tent as calmly as though on a lawn, thousands of birds wheeling over their heads, with querulous cries.

A few moments later, Elie Mattingley was being rowed swiftly to the Victoire, where Richambeau was swearing viciously as he looked through his telescope. He also had recognised the gunner.

He was prepared to wipe out the fishing-post if Mattingley did not produce Ranulph--well, "here was Ranulph duly produced and insultingly setting up a tent on this sheer rock, with some snippet of the devil," said Richambeau, and defying a great French war-ship. He would set his gunners to work. If he only had as good a marksman as Ranulph himself, the deserter should drop at the first shot "death and the devil take his impudent face!"

He was just about to give the order when Mattingley was brought to him. The old man's story amazed him beyond measure.

"It is no man, then!" said Richambeau, when Mattingley had done. "He must be a damned fly to do it. And the girl--sacre moi! he drew her up after him. I'll have him down out of that though, or throw up my flag," he added, and turning fiercely, gave his orders.

For hours the Victoire bombarded the lonely rock from the north. The white tent was carried away, but the cannon-balls flew over or merely battered the solid rock, the shells were thrown beyond, and no harm was done. But now and again the figure of Ranulph appeared, and a half-dozen times he took aim with his musket at the French soldiers on the shore. Twice his shots took effect; one man was wounded, and one killed. Then whole companies of marines returned a musketry fire at him, to no purpose. At his ease he hid himself in the long grass at the edge of the cliff, and picked off two more men.

Here was a ridiculous thing: one man and a slip of a girl fighting and defying a battle-ship. The smoke of battle covered miles of the great gulf. Even the seabirds shrieked in ridicule.

This went on for three days at intervals. With a fine chagrin Richambeau and his men saw a bright camp-fire lighted on the rock, and knew that Ranulph and the girl were cooking their meals in peace. A flag-staff too was set up, and a red cloth waved defiantly in the breeze. At last Richambeau, who had watched the whole business from the deck of the Victoire, burst out laughing, and sent for Elie Mattingley. "Come, I've had enough," said Richambeau.

"There never was a wilder jest, and I'll not spoil the joke. He has us on his toasting-fork. He shall have the honour of a flag of truce."

And so it was that the French battle-ship sent a flag of truce to the foot of Perch Rock, and a French officer, calling up, gave his captain's word of honour that Ranulph should suffer nothing at the hands of a court-martial, and that he should be treated as an English prisoner of war, not as a French deserter.

There was no court-martial. After Ranulph, at Richambeau's command, had told the tale of the ascent, the Frenchman said:

"No one but an Englishman could be fool enough to try such a thing, and none but a fool could have had the luck to succeed. But even a fool can get a woman to follow him, and so this flyaway followed you, and--"

Carterette made for Richambeau as though to scratch his eyes out, but Ranulph held her back. "--And you are condemned, gunner," continued Richambeau dryly, "to marry the said maid before sundown, or be carried out to sea a prisoner of war." So saying, he laughed, and bade them begone to the wedding.

Ranulph left Richambeau's ship bewildered and perturbed. For hours he paced the shore, and at last his thoughts began to clear. The new life he had led during the last few months had brought many revelations. He had come to realise that there are several sorts of happiness, but that all may be divided into two kinds: the happiness of doing good to ourselves, and that of doing good to others. It opened out clearly to him now as he thought of Carterette in the light of Richambeau's coarse jest.

For years he had known in a sort of way that Carterette preferred him to any other man. He knew now that she had remained single because of him. For him her impatience had been patience, her fiery heart had spilled itself in tenderness for his misfortunes. She who had lightly tossed lovers aside, her coquetry appeased, had to himself shown sincerity without coquetry, loyalty without selfishness. He knew well that she had been his champion in dark days, that he had received far more from her than he had ever given--even of friendship. In his own absorbing love for Guida Landresse, during long years he had been unconsciously blind to a devotion which had lived on without hope, without repining, with untiring cheerfulness.

In those three days spent on the top of the Perch Rock how blithe garcon Carterette had been! Danger had seemed nothing to her. She had the temper of a man in her real enjoyment of the desperate chances of life. He had never seen her so buoyant; her animal spirits had never leapt so high. And yet, despite the boldness which had sent her to the top of Perch Rock with him, there had been in her whole demeanour a frank modesty free from self-consciousness. She could think for herself, she was sure of herself, and she would go to the ends of the earth for him. Surely he had not earned such friendship, such affection.

He recalled how, the night before, as he sat by their little camp-fire, she had come and touched him on the shoulder, and, looking down at him, said:

"I feel as if I was beginning my life all over again, don't you, Maitre Ranulph?"

Her black eyes had been fixed on his, and the fire in them was as bright and full of health and truth as the fire at his feet.

And he had answered her: "I think I feel that too, garcon Carterette."

To which she had replied: "It isn't hard to forget here--not so very hard, is it?"

She did not mean Guida, nor what he had felt for Guida, but rather the misery of the past. He had nodded his head in reply, but had not spoken; and she, with a quick: "A bi'tot," had taken her blanket and gone to that portion of the rock set apart for her own. Then he had sat by the fire thinking through the long hours of night until the sun rose. That day Richambeau had sent his flag of truce, and the end of their stay on Perch Rock was come.

Yes, he would marry Carterette. Yet he was not disloyal, even in memory. What had belonged to Guida belonged to her for ever, belonged to a past life with which henceforth he should have naught to do. What had sprung up in his heart for Carterette belonged to the new life. In this new land there was work to do--what might he not accomplish here? He realised that within one life a man may still live several lives, each loyal and honest after its kind. A fate stronger than himself had brought him here; and here he would stay with fate. It had brought him to Carterette, and who could tell what good and contentment might not yet come to him, and how much to her!

That evening he went to Carterette and asked her to be his wife. She turned pale, and, looking up into his eyes with a kind of fear, she said brokenly:

"It's not because you feel you must? It's not because you know I love you, Ranulph--is it? It's not for that alone?"

"It is because I want you, garcon Carterette," he answered tenderly, "because life will be nothing without you."

"I am so happy--par made, I am so happy!" she answered, and she hid her face on his breast.

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The Battle Of The Strong: A Romance Of Two Kingdoms - Chapter 39 The Battle Of The Strong: A Romance Of Two Kingdoms - Chapter 39

The Battle Of The Strong: A Romance Of Two Kingdoms - Chapter 39
CHAPTER XXXIXThe bell on the top of the Cohue Royale clattered like the tongue of a scolding fishwife. For it was the fourth of October, and the opening of the Assise d'Heritage. This particular session of the Court was to proceed with unusual spirit and importance, for after the reading of the King's Proclamation, the Royal Court and the States were to present the formal welcome of the island to Admiral Prince Philip d'Avranche, Duc de Bercy; likewise to offer a bounty to all Jerseymen enlisting under him. The island was en fete. There had not been such a year of
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