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D’arfet’s Vengeance
by [?]

“Martin!” he called in a high broken voice. “Martin!”

A little man of my own country, very yellow and foxy, came running out, and the pair talked together for a moment before advancing towards me.

“Your Excellency,” the interpreter began, “this is a gentleman of England who desires that you will dine with him to-day. His name is Master Thomas d’Arfet, and he has some questions to put to you, of your country, in private.”

“D’Arfet?” I mused: and as my brows went up at the name I caught the old gentleman watching me with an eye which was sharp enough within its dulled rim. “Will you answer that I am at his service, but on the one condition that he comes ashore and dines with me.”

When this was reported at first Master d’Arfet would have none of it, but rapped his staff on the desk and raised a score of objections in his scolding voice. Since I could understand none of them, I added very firmly that it was my rule; that he could be carried up to my house on a litter without an ache of his bones; and, in short, that I must either have his promise or leave the ship.

He would have persisted, I doubt not; but it is ill disputing through an interpreter, and he ended by giving way with a very poor grace. So ashore we rowed him with the man Martin, and two of my guard conveyed him up the hill in a litter, on which he sat for all the world like a peevish cross’d child. In my great airy dining-room he seemed to cool down and pick up his better humour by degrees. He spoke but little during the meal, and that little was mainly addressed to Martin, who stood behind his chair: but I saw his eyes travelling around the panelled walls and studying the portraits, the furniture, the neat table, the many comforts which it clearly astonished him to find on this forsaken island. Also he as clearly approved of the food and of my wine of Malmsey. Now and then he would steal a look at my wife Beatrix, or at one or the other of my three daughters, and again gaze out at the sea beyond the open window, as though trying to piece it all together into one picture.

But it was not until the womenfolk had risen and retired that he unlocked his thoughts to me. And I hold even now that his first question was a curious one.

“Dom Bartholomew Perestrello, are you a happy man?”

Had it come from his own lips it might have found me better prepared: but popped at me through the mouth of an interpreter, a servant who (for all his face told) might have been handing it on a dish, his question threw me out of my bearings.

“Well, Sir,” I found myself answering, “I hope you see that I have much to thank God for.” And while this was being reported to him I recalled with a twinge my dejected thoughts of the morning. “I have made many mistakes,” I began again.

But without seeming to hear, Master d’Arfet began to dictate to Martin, who, after a polite pause to give me time to finish if I cared to, translated in his turn.

“I have told you my name. It is Thomas d’Arfet, and I come from Bristol. You have heard my name before?”

I nodded, keeping my eyes on his.

“I also have heard of you, and of the two captains in whose company you discovered these islands.”

I nodded again. “Their names,” said I, “are John Gonsalvez Zarco and Tristram Vaz. You may visit them, if you please, on the greater island, which they govern between them.”

He bent his head. “The fame of your discovery, Sir, reached England some years ago. I heard at the time, and paid it just so much heed as one does pay to the like news–just so much and no more. The manner of your discovery of the greater island came to my ears less than a twelvemonth ago, and then but in rumours and broken hints. Yet here am I, close on my eightieth year, voyaging more than half across the world to put those broken hints together and resolve my doubts. Tell me”–he leaned forward over the table, peering eagerly into my eyes–“there was a tale concerning the island–concerning a former discovery–“