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D’arfet’s Vengeance
by [?]

You may see, therefore, that I had little to comfort me as I paced before my house that morning. I was Governor of an impoverished rock on which I had wasted the toil and thought of eight good years of my prime: my title was hereditary, but I had in those days no son to inherit it. And when I considered the fortune I had exchanged for this, and my pleasant days in Dom Henry’s service at Sagres, I accused myself for the most miserable among men.

Now, at the north-western angle of my house, and a little below the terrace where I walked, there grew a plantation of dragon-trees, one of the few left upon the island. Each time this sentry-walk of mine brought me back to the angle I would halt before turning and eye the trees, sourly pondering on our incredible folly. For, on my first coming they had grown everywhere, and some with trunks great enough to make a boat for half a dozen men: but we had cut them down for all kinds of uses, whenever a man had wanted wood for a shield or a bushel for his corn, and now they scarce grew fruit enough to fatten the hogs. It was standing there and eyeing my dragon-trees that over the tops of them I caught sight of the pinnace plying towards the island. I remember clearly what manner of day it was; clear and fresh, the sea scarce heaving, but ruffled under a southerly breeze. The small vessel, though well enough handled, made a sorry leeway by reason of her over-tall sides, and lost so much time at every board through the labour of lowering and rehoisting her great lateen yard that I judged it would take her three good hours before she came to anchor in the port below.

I could not find that she had any hostile appearance, yet–as my duty was–sent down word to the guard to challenge her business before admitting her; and a little before nine o’clock I put on my coat and walked down to the haven to look after this with my own eyes. I arrived almost at the moment when she entered and her crew, with sail partly lowered, rounded her very cleverly up in the wind.

The guard-boat put off at once and boarded her; and by-and-by came back with word that the pinnace was English (which by this time I had guessed), by name the George of Bristol, and owned by an Englishman of quality, who, by reason of his extreme age, desired of my courtesy that I would come on board and confer with him. This at first I was unwilling to risk: but seeing her moored well under the five guns of our fort, and her men so far advanced with the furling of her big sail that no sudden stroke of treachery could be attempted except to her destruction, I sent word to the gunners to keep a brisk look-out, and stepping into the boat was pulled alongside.

At the head of the ladder there met me an aged gentleman, lean and bald and wrinkled, with narrow eyes and a skin like clear vellum. For all the heat of the day he wore a furred cloak which reached to his knees; also a thin gold chain around his neck: and this scrag neck and the bald head above it stood out from his fur collar as if they had been a vulture’s. By his dress and the embroidered bag at his girdle, and the clasps of his furred shoes, I made no doubt he was a rich man; and he leaned on an ebony staff or wand capped with a pretty device of ivory and gold.

He stood thus, greeting me with as many bobs of the head as a bird makes when pecking an apple; and at first he poured out a string of salutations (I suppose) in English, a language with which I have no familiarity. This he perceived after a moment, and seemed not a little vexed; but covering himself and turning his back shuffled off to a door under the poop.