Read CHAPTER X. - I GO ON A HONEYMOON. of The Adventures of Harry Revel , free online book, by Arthur Quiller-Couch, on ReadCentral.com.

“Sure-ly I know that voice?” said Mr. Jope.

He drew out the knife reflectively.  It relieved me to see that no blood dyed the blade.

“Oh, Mr. Jope, I was afraid you’d stabbed him!”

“’Tisn’t a him, ’tis a her.  I touched somebody up, and that’s the truth.”

“Ahoy there!” said a voice immediately overhead; and we looked up.  A round-faced man was gazing down on us from the tilted bulwarks.  “You might ha’ given us notice,” he grumbled.

“I knew ’twas soft, but not so soft as all that,” Mr. Jope explained.

“Got such a thing as a scrap o’ chalk about ye?”

“No.”

The round-faced man felt in his pocket and tossed down a piece.  “Mark a bit of a line round the place, will ye?  I’ll give it a lick of paint afore the tide rises.  It’s only right the owner should have it pointed out to him.”

“Belong to these parts?” asked Mr. Jope affably, having drawn the required circle.  “I don’t seem to remember your face.”

“No?” The man seemed to think this out at leisure.  “I was married this morning,” he said at length with an air of explanation.

“Wish ye joy.  Saltash maid?”

“Widow.  Name of Sarah Treleaven.”

“Why that’s my sister!” exclaimed Mr. Jope.

“Is it?” The round-faced man took the news without apparent surprise or emotion.  “Well, I’m married to her, any way.”

“Monstrous fine woman,” Mr. Jope observed cheerfully.

“Ay; she’s all that.  It seems like a dream.  You’d best step on board:  the ladder’s on t’other side.”

As we passed under the vessel’s stern I looked up and read her name ­ Glad Tidings, Port of Fowey.

“I’ve a-broken it to her,” our host announced, meeting us at the top of the ladder.  “She says you’re to come down.”

Down the companion we followed him accordingly and so into a small cabin occupied ­or, let me rather say, filled ­by the stoutest woman it has ever been my lot to meet.  She reclined ­in such a position as to display a pair of colossal feet, shoeless, clothed in thick worsted stockings ­upon a locker on the starboard side:  and no one, regarding her, could wonder that this also was the side towards which the vessel listed.  Her broad recumbent back was supported by a pile of seamen’s bags, almost as plethoric as herself and containing (if one might judge from a number of miscellaneous articles protruding from their distended mouths) her bridal outfit.  Unprepared as she was for a second visitor in the form of a small chimney-sweep, she betrayed no astonishment; but after receiving her brother’s kiss on either cheek bent a composed gaze on me, and so eyed me for perhaps half a minute.  Her features were not uncomely.

“O.P.,” she addressed her husband.  “Ask him, Who’s his friend?”

“Who’s your friend?” asked the husband, turning to Mr. Jope.

“Chimney-sweep,” said Mr. Jope; “leastways, so apprenticed, as I understand.”

The pair gazed at me anew.

“I asked,” said the woman at length, “because this is a poor place for chimbleys.”

“He’s in trouble,” Mr. Jope explained; “in trouble ­along o’ killing a Jew.”

“Oh no, Mr. Jope!” I cried.  “I didn’t ­”

“Couldn’t,” interrupted his sister shortly, and fell into a brown study.  “Constables after him?” she asked.

Mr. Jope nodded.

Her next utterance struck me as irrelevant, to say the least of it.  “Ben, ’tis high time you followed O.P.’s example.”

“Meaning?” queried Ben.

“O, Onesimus.  P, Pengelly.  Example, marriage.  There’s the widow Babbage, down to Dock:  she always had a hankering for you.  You’re neglecting your privileges.”

“Ever seen that boy of hers?” asked Ben in an aggrieved voice.  “No, of course you haven’t, or you wouldn’t suggest it.  And why marry me up to a widow?”

“O.P.,” said the lady, “tell him you prefer it.”

“I prefer it,” said Mr. Pengelly.

“Oh,” explained Ben, “present company always excepted, o’ course.  I wish you joy.”

“Thank ye,” the lady answered graciously.  “You shall drink the same by and by in a dish o’ tea; which I reckon will suit ye best this morning,” she added eyeing him.  “O.P., put on the kettle.”

Ben Jope winced and attempted to turn the subject.  “What’s your cargo, this trip?” he asked cheerfully.

“I didn’t write,” she went on, ignoring the question.  “O.P. took me so sudden.”

“Oh, Sarah!” Mr. Pengelly expostulated.

“You did; you know you did, you rogue!”

Mr. Pengelly took her amorous glance and turned to us.  “It seems like a dream,” he said, and went out with the kettle.

The lady resumed her business-like air.  “We sail for Looe next tide.  It’s queer now, your turning up like this.”

“Providential.  I came o’ purpose, though, to look ye up.”

“I might ha’ been a limpet.”

“Eh?”

“By the way you prised at me with that knife o’ yours.  And you call it Providence.”

Ben grinned.  “Providence or no, you’ll get this lad out o’ the way, Sarah?”

“H’m?” She considered me.  “I can’t take him home to Looe.”

“Why not?”

“Folks would talk,” she said modestly.

“’Öd rabbit it!” exclaimed Ben.  “He’s ten year old; and you were saying just now that the man took ye sudden!”

“Well, I’ll see what can be done:  but on conditions.”

“Conditions?”

“Ay, we’ll talk that over while he’s cleanin’ himself.”  She lifted her voice and called, “O.P., is that water warm?”

“Middlin’,” came O.P.’s voice from a small cuddy outside.

“Then see to the child and wash him.  Put him inside your foul-weather suit for the time, and then take his clothes out on the beach and burn ’em.  That seam’ll be the better for a lick of pitch afore the tide rises, and you can use the same fire for the caldron.”

So she dismissed me; and in the cuddy, having washed myself clean of soot, I was helped by Mr. Pengelly into a pair of trousers which reached to my neck, and a seaman’s guernsey, which descended to my knees.  My stockings I soaped, scrubbed, wrung out and laid across the companion rail to dry:  but, as it turned out, I was never to use them or my shoes again.  My sweep’s jumper, waistcoat, and breeches Mr. Pengelly carried off, to burn them.

All this while Ben Jope and his sister had been talking earnestly:  I had heard at intervals the murmur of their voices through the partition; but no distinct words save once, when Mrs. Pengelly called out to her husband to keep an eye along the beach and report the appearance of constables.  Now so ludicrous was the figure I cut in my borrowed clothes that on returning to the cabin I expected to be welcomed with laughter.  To my surprise, Ben Jope arose at once with a serious face and shook me by the hand.

“Good-bye, my lad,” he said.  “She makes it a condition.”

“You’re not leaving me, Mr. Jope!”

“Worse’n that.  I’m a-goin to marry the widow Babbage.”

“Oh, ma’am!” I appealed.

“It’ll do him good,” said Mrs. Pengelly.

“I honestly think, Sarah,” poor Ben protested, “that just now you’re setting too much store by wedlock altogether.”

“It’s my conditions with you; and you may take it or leave it, Ben.”  His sister was adamant, and he turned ruefully to go.

“And you’re doing this for me, Mr. Jope!” I caught his hand.

“Don’t ’ee mention it.  Blast the child!” He crammed his tarpaulin hat on his head.  “I don’t mean you, my lad, but t’other one.  If he makes up a rhyme ’pon me, I’ll ­I’ll ­”

Speech failed him.  He wrung my hand, staggered up the companion, and was gone.

“It’ll be the making of him,” said Mrs. Pengelly with composure.  “I don’t like the woman myself, but a better manager you wouldn’t meet.”

She remembered presently that Ben had departed without his promised dish of tea, and this seemed to suggest to her that the time had arrived for preparing a meal.  With singular dexterity and almost without shifting her posture she slipped one of the seamen’s bags from somewhere beneath her shoulders, drew it upon her lap, and produced a miscellaneous feast ­a cheek of pork, a loaf, a saffron cake; a covered jar which, being opened, diffused the fragrance of marinated pilchards; a bagful of periwinkles, a bunch of enormous radishes, a dish of cream wrapped about in cabbage-leaves, a basket of raspberries similarly wrapped; finally, two bottles of stout.

“To my mind,” she explained as she set these forth on the table beside her, each accurately in its place, and with such economy of exertion that only one hand and wrist seemed to be moving, “for my part, I think a widow-woman should be married quiet.  I don’t know what your opinion may be?”

I thought it wise to say that her opinion was also mine.

“It took place at eight o’clock this morning.”  She disengaged a pin from the front of her bodice, extracted a periwinkle from its shell, ate it, sighed, and said, “It seems years already.  I gathered these myself, so you may trust ’em.”  She disengaged another pin and handed it to me.  “We meant to be alone, but there’s plenty for three.  Now you’re here, you’ll have to give a toast ­or a sentiment,” she added.  She made this demand in form when O.P. appeared, smelling strongly of pitch, and taking his seat on the locker opposite, helped himself to marinated pilchards.

“But I don’t know any sentiments, ma’am.”

“Nonsense.  Didn’t they learn you any poetry at school?”

Most happily I bethought me of Miss Plinlimmon’s verses in my Testament ­now alas! left in the Trapps’ cottage and lost to me; and recited them as bravely as I could.

“Ah!” sighed Mrs. Pengelly, “there’s many a true word spoken in jest.  ‘Where shall we be in ten years’ time?’ Where indeed?”

“Here,” her husband cheerfully suggested, with his mouth full.

“Hush, O.P.!  You never buried a first.”

She demanded more, and I gave her Wolfe’s last words before Quebec (signed by him in Miss Plinlimmon’s Album).

    “’They run!’ ­but who?  ‘The Frenchmen!’ Such
        Was the report conveyed to the dying hero. 
     ‘Thank Heaven!’ he cried, ‘I thought as much.’ 
        In Canada the glass is frequently below zero.”

On hearing the author’s name and my description of Miss Plinlimmon, she fell into deep thought.

“I suppose, now, she’d look higher than Ben?”

I told her that, so far as I knew, Miss Plinlimmon had no desire to marry.

“She’d look higher, with her gifts, you may take my word for it.”  But a furrow lingered for some time on Mrs. Pengelly’s brow, and (I think) a doubt in her mind that she had been too precipitate.

The meal over, she composed herself to slumber; and Mr. Pengelly and I spent the afternoon together on deck, where he smoked many pipes while I scanned the shore for signs of pursuit.  But no:  the tide rose and still the foreshore remained deserted.  Above us the ferry plied lazily, and at whiles I could hear the voices of the passengers.  Nothing, even to my strained ears, spoke of excitement; and yet, in the great town beyond the hill, murder had been done and men were searching for me.  So the day dragged by.

Towards evening, as the vessel beneath us fleeted and the deck resumed its level, Mr. Pengelly began to uncover the mainsail.  I asked him if he expected any crew aboard?  For surely, thought I, he could not work this ketch of forty tons or so single-handed.

He shook his head.  “There was a boy, but I paid him off.  Sarah takes the helm from this night forth.  You wouldn’t believe it, but she can swig upon a rope too:  and as for pulling an oar ­” He went on to tell me that she had been rowing a pair of paddles when his eye first lit on her:  and I gathered that the courtship had been conducted on these waters under the gaze of Saltash, the male in one boat pursuing, the female eluding him in another, for long indomitable, but at length gracefully surrendering.

My handiness with the ropes, when I volunteered to help in hoisting sail, surprised and even perplexed him.  “But I thought you was a chimney-sweeper?” he insisted.  I told him then of my voyages with Mr. Trapp, yet without completely reassuring him.  Hitherto he had taken me on my own warrant, and Ben’s, without a trace of suspicion:  but henceforth I caught him eyeing me furtively from time to time, and overheard him muttering as he went about his preparations.

As he had promised, when the time came for hauling up our small anchor, Mrs. Pengelly emerged from the companion hatch like a geni from a bottle.  She bore two large hunches of saffron cake and handed one to each of us before moving aft to uncover the wheel.