The Buccaneer Chief: A Romance of the Spanish Main

The Buccaneer Chief: A Romance of the Spanish Main

Author:
Gustave Aimard
Author:
Gustave Aimard
Format:
epub
language:
English

%title插图%num
Author: Aimard, Gustave, 1818-1883
Buccaneers — Fiction
The Buccaneer Chief: A Romance of the Spanish Main

A Romance of the Spanish Main

BY

GUSTAVE AIMARD

AUTHOR OF SMUGGLER CHIEF, STRONG HAND, ETC.

 

 

 

LONDON
WARD AND LOCK, 158, FLEET STREET
MDCCCLXIV

CONTENTS.
I. THE HOSTELRY OF THE COURT OF FRANCE
II. A FAMILY SCENE
III. THE ARREST
IV. THE ISLE OF SAINTE MARGUERITE
V. A BACKWARD GLANCE
VI. LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
VII. DESPAIR
VIII. THE PRISONER
IX. MAJOR DE L’OURSIÈRE
X. THE SEAGULL LUGGER
XI. FRANCE, FAREWELL!
XII. THE BEGINNING OF THE ADVENTURE
XIII. THE COUNCIL OF THE FILIBUSTERS
XIV. THE SECOND PROPOSAL
XV. THE SPY
XVI. THE SLAVE SALE
XVII. THE ENLISTMENT
XVIII. NEVIS
XIX. THE EXPEDITION
XX. THE HATTO
XXI. THE MAJOR-DOMO’S STORY
XXII. ACROSS COUNTRY
XXIII. COMPLICATIONS
XXIV. PORT MARGOT
XXV. FRAY ARSENIO
XXVI. THE CONSEQUENCES OF A MEETING
XXVII. THE ORGANIZATION OF THE COLONY
XXVIII. THE FLIGHT FROM THE HATTO
XXIX. EVENTS ACCUMULATE
XXX. THE EXTERMINATOR

CHAPTER I.

THE HOSTELRY OF THE COURT OF FRANCE.


Although the Seine, from Chanceaux, its fountainhead, to Havre, where it falls into the sea, is not more than four hundred miles in length, still, in spite of this comparatively limited course, this river is one of the most important in the world; for, from the days of Cæsar up to the present, it has seen all the great social questions which have agitated modern times decided on its banks.

Tourists, artists, and travellers, who go a long distance in search of scenery, could not find anything more picturesque or more capriciously diversified than the winding banks of this river, which is skirted by commercial towns and pretty villages, coquettishly arranged on the sides of verdant valleys, or half disappearing in the midst of dense clumps of trees.

It is in one of these villages, situated but a few leagues from Paris, that our story began, on March 26th, 1641.

This village, whose origin dates back to the earliest period of the French Monarchy, was at that time pretty nearly what it is now; differing in this respect from all the hamlets that surround it, it has remained stationary; on seeing it you might fancy that centuries have not passed as far as it is concerned. When the neighbouring hamlets became villages, and were finally transformed into large towns, it continually decreased, so that its population at the present day scarce attains the amount of four hundred inhabitants.

And yet its situation is most happy: traversed by a stream and bordered by a river, possessing an historic castle, and forming an important station on one of the railway lines, it seemed destined to become an industrial centre, the more so because its inhabitants are industrious and intelligent.

But there is a spell upon the place. The great landowners who have succeeded each other in the country, and who mostly grew rich in the political commotions, or by risky speculations, have tacitly agreed to impede in every possible way the industrial aspirations of the population—have ever egotistically sacrificed public interest to their private advantage.

Thus the historic castle to which we alluded has fallen into the hands of a man who, sprung from nothing, and feeling himself stifled within its walls, allows them to crumble away before the effects of time, and, to save the expense of a gardener, sows oats in the majestic alleys of a park, designed by Le Nôtre, whose grand appearance strikes with admiration the traveller, who sees it at a distance as he is borne past in the train.

The same thing is going on in the whole of this unhappy hamlet, which is condemned to die of inanition in the midst of the abundance of its neighbours.

This village was composed at the period of our narrative of a single long narrow street, which ran down from the top of a scarped hill, crossed a small rivulet, and terminated only a few yards from the Seine.

This street, through its entire length, was bordered by low, ugly tenements, pressing closely together, as if for mutual support, and mostly serving as pothouses for the waggoners and other people who at this period, when the great network of the French royal roads had not yet been made, continually passed through this village, and sought shelter there for the night.

The top of the street was occupied by a very wealthy, religious community, next to which stood a large building hidden at the end of a spacious garden, and serving as hostelry for the wealthy personages whom their business or pleasure brought to this place, which was surrounded for ten leagues round by sumptuous seigneurial mansions.

There was nothing externally to cause this building to be recognized as an inn; a low gateway gave access to the garden, and it was not till the traveller had gone along the whole of the latter that he found himself in front of the house.

It had, however, another entrance, looking out on a road but little frequented at the time, and which was employed by horses and coaches, when the traveller had succeeded in obtaining the landlord’s leave to put up there.

Although this house, as we said, was a hostelry, its owner did not admit everybody who proposed to lodge there; on the contrary, he was very difficult in the choice of his guests, asserting, rightly or wrongly, that a hostelry, which had been honoured on several occasions by the presence of the King and the Cardinal Minister, must not serve as an asylum either for vagabonds or nightbirds.

In order to justify the right he claimed, the landlord had, a few months previously, had the arms of France daubed on a metal plate by a strolling painter, and inscribed under it in golden letters—”The Court of France.” This sign he put up over his door.

This inn enjoyed a great reputation, not only in the country, but in all the surrounding provinces, and even as far as Paris—a reputation, we are bound to add, well deserved, for if mine host was particular in the choice of his lodgers, when the latter had succeeded in gaining admission he treated them, men and beasts, with a peculiar care, that had something paternal about it.

Although it was getting on for the end of March, and, according to the almanac, ‘Spring had begun some days previously,’ the cold was nipping, the rime-laden trees stood out sadly against the leaden sky, and a thick, hardened layer of snow covered the ground for some depth.

Although it was about ten o’clock at night, it was light, and the moon, floating in russet clouds, profusely shed her sickly beams, which rendered it almost as light as day.

All were asleep in the village, or, at least, seemed to be so; the Court of France alone emitted a light through its ground floor barred windows, which proved that somebody was still up there.

Still, the inn did not offer shelter to any traveller.

All those who during the day, and since nightfall, had presented themselves, had been mercilessly turned away by the landlord, a stout man, with a rubicund face, intelligent features, and a crafty smile, who was walking at this moment with an air of preoccupation up and down his immense kitchen, every now and then casting an absent glance at the preparations for supper, one portion of which was roasting before a colossal fireplace, whilst the rest was being got ready by a master cook and several assistants.

A middle-aged, short, plump woman, suddenly burst into the kitchen, and addressed the landlord, who had turned round at the noise.

“Is it true,” she asked, “Master Pivois, that you have ordered the dais room to be got ready, as Mariette declares?”

Master Pivois drew himself up.

“What did Mariette tell you?” he enquired, sternly.

“Well, she told me to prepare the best bedroom.”

“Which is the best bedroom, Dame Tiphaine?”

“The dais room, master, since it is the one in which His Majesty—”

“In that case,” mine host interrupted her, in a peremptory tone, “prepare the dais room.”

“Still, master,” Dame Tiphaine ventured—who possessed a certain amount of credit in the house, in the first place, as legitimate spouse of the landlord himself, and then, again, through sundry very marked traits of character—”with all the respect I owe you, it seems to me—”

“With all the respect I owe you,” he exclaimed, stamping his foot passionately, “you’re a fool, my good creature, obey my orders, and do not trouble me further!”

Dame Tiphaine comprehended that her lord and master was not in a humour that evening for being contradicted. Like a prudent woman, she bowed her head and withdrew, reserving to herself the right of taking a startling revenge at a future date for the sharp reprimand she had received.

Doubtless satisfied with his display of authority, Master Pivois, after taking a triumphant glance at his subordinates, who were surprised at this unusual act of vigour, though they did not dare show it, walked toward a door that led into the garden; but at the moment when he laid his hand on the key, this door, vigorously thrust from the outside, opened right in the face of the startled landlord, who tottered back to the middle of the room, and a man entered the kitchen.

“At last!” the stranger said, joyously, as he threw his plumed hat on a table and took off his cloak. “By heaven! I almost found myself in a desert.”

And before mine host, who was growing more and more astounded at his cool behaviour, had the time to oppose it, he took a chair, and comfortably installed himself in the chimney corner.

The newcomer appeared to be not more than twenty-five years of age; long black curls fell in disorder on his shoulders; his marked features were noble and intelligent; his black eyes, full of fire, announced courage, and the habit of commanding; his countenance had a certain stamp of grandeur, tempered by the cordial smile that played round his wide mouth, full of brilliantly white teeth; his red, and rather swollen lips, were adorned, according to the fashion of the day, with a most carefully waxed moustache, while his square chin, indicative of obstinacy, was covered by a long royale.

His dress, while not rich, was, however, becoming—cut with taste, and affected a certain military air, which was rendered more marked by the brace of pistols the stranger carried in his belt, and the long iron-handled sword that hung at his side.

Altogether, his lofty stature, and muscular, well-developed person, and the air of audacity spread all over him, rendered him one of those men, the breed of whom was so common at the period, and who at the first glance contrived to claim from people with whom accident brought them in contact that respect to which, whether justly or unjustly, they believed they had a right.

In the meanwhile, the landlord, who had slightly recovered from the emotion and surprise he had experienced at what he almost regarded as a violation of his domicile, advanced a few steps toward the stranger, and while bowing lower than he had intended, and doffing his cotton nightcap before the flashing glance the other bent on him, he stammered, in anything but a steady voice—

“My lord—”

But the latter interrupted him without ceremony.

“Are you the landlord?” he asked, sharply.

“Yes,” Master Pivois grunted, as he drew himself up, feeling quite constrained at answering when he was preparing to question.

“Very good,” the stranger continued; “look after my horse, which I left I know not where in your garden; have him put in the stable, and tell the ostler to wash his withers with a little vinegar and water, for I am afraid he has hurt himself a little.”

These words were uttered so carelessly, that the landlord stood utterly confounded, unable to utter a syllable.

“Well,” the stranger continued, at the expiration of a moment, with a slight frown, “what are you doing here, ass, instead of obeying my orders?”

Master Pivois, completely subdued, turned on his heels, and left the room, tottering like a drunken man.

The stranger looked after him with a smile, and then turned to the waiting-men, who were whispering together, and taking side-glances at him.

“Come and wait on me,” he said; “place a table here before me near the fire, and bring me some supper—make haste, s’death, or I shall die of hunger!”

The waiting-men, delighted in their hearts at playing their master a trick, did not let the order be repeated; in a second a table was brought up, the cloth laid, and, on re-entering the room, the landlord found the stranger in the act of carving a magnificent partridge.

Master Pivois assumed at the sight all the colours of the rainbow—at first pale, he turned so red that a fit of apoplexy might be apprehended, so vivid was his emotion.

“By Heaven,” he exclaimed, stamping his foot angrily, “that is too much.”

“What?” the stranger asked, as he raised his head and wiped his moustache; “What is the matter with you, my good man?”

“Matter, indeed!” mine host growled.

“By the way, is my horse in the stable?”

“Your horse, your horse,” the other grumbled, “as if that is troubling me.”

“What is it then, if you please, master mine?” the stranger asked, as he poured out a bumper which he conscientiously drained to the last drop. “Ah,” he said, “it is Jurançon; I recognise it.”

This indifference and this coolness raised the landlord’s anger to the highest pitch, and caused him to forget all prudence.

“Cogswounds,” he said, boldly seizing the bottle, “it is a strange piece of impudence thus to enter an honest house without the owner’s permission; decamp at once, my fine gentleman, unless you wish harm to befall you, and seek a lodging elsewhere, for, as far as I am concerned, I cannot and will not give you one.”

The stranger had not moved a feature during this harangue; he had listened to Master Pivois without displaying the slightest impatience: when the landlord at length held his tongue, he threw himself back in his chair, and looked him fixedly in the face.

“Listen to me in your turn, master,” he said to him, “and engrave these words deeply on your narrow brain: this house is an inn, is it not? Hence it must be open without hesitation to every stranger who comes here for food and lodging with money in his pocket. I am aware that you claim the right of only receiving such persons as you think proper; if there are people who put up with that, it is their business, but for my part, I do not intend to do so. I feel comfortable here, so I remain, and shall remain as long as I think proper; I do not prevent you from swindling me, for that is your duty as a landlord, and I have no right to object; but, if I am not served politely and dexterously—if you do not give me a proper bedroom to spend the night in—in a word, if you do not perform the duties of hospitality toward me in the way I expect, I promise to pull down your signboard, and hang you up in its place, on the slightest infraction you are guilty of. And now I suppose you understand me?” he added, squeezing the other’s hand so hard that the poor fellow uttered a yell of agony, and went tottering against the kitchen wall: “Serve me, then, and let us have no more argument, for you would not get the best of the quarrel if you picked one with me.”

And without paying further attention to the landlord, the traveller continued his interrupted supper.

It was all over with the landlord’s attempted resistance; he felt himself vanquished, and did not attempt a struggle which had now become impossible. Confused and humiliated, he only thought of satisfying this strange guest who had installed himself by main force in the house.

The traveller did not in any way abuse his victory; satisfied with having obtained the result he desired, he did not take the slightest liberty.

The result was that gradually, from one concession to another—the one offering, the other not refusing—they became on the best possible terms; and toward the end of the supper, mine host and the traveller found themselves, without knowing how, the most affectionate friends in the world.

They were talking together. First of the rain and fine weather, the dearness of provisions, the king’s illness, and that of his Eminence the Cardinal; then, growing gradually bolder, Master Pivois poured out a huge bumper of wine for his improvised guest, and collected all his courage.

“Do you know, my good gentleman,” he said to him suddenly, shaking his head with an air of contrition, “that you are fearfully in my way?”

“Stuff!” the stranger answered, as he tossed off the contents of his glass, and shrugged his shoulders, “Are we coming back to the old story of just now? I thought that settled long ago.”

“Alas! I would it were so for everybody as it is for me.”

“What do you mean?”

“Pray do not get into a passion, sir,” the landlord continued timidly; “I have not the slightest intention of insulting you.”

“In that case explain yourself in the Fiend’s name, my master, and come frankly to the point; I do not understand what others beside yourself have to do in the matter.”

“That is just the difficulty,” said Master Pivois, scratching his head.

“Speak, zounds! I am not an ogre; what is it that causes you such anxiety?”

The landlord saw that he must out with it, and fear giving him courage, he bravely made up his mind.

“Monseigneur,” he said, honestly, “believe me that I am too much the man of the world to venture to act with rudeness to a gentleman of your importance—”

Download This eBook
This book is available for free download!

评论

普人特福的博客cnzz&51la for wordpress,cnzz for wordpress,51la for wordpress
The Buccaneer Chief: A Romance of the Spanish Main
Free Download
Free Book