|The Tory Lover -- Contents|
The Tory Lover by Sarah Orne Jewett
THE CAPTAIN GIVES AN ORDER
"But see how they turn their backs and go out of the city, and how merrily and joyfully they take the road to Paris."
The captain was dressed in his best uniform, fresh from its tailor's wrappings, with all his bright lace and gilt buttons none the worse for sea damp. With manners gay enough to match, he bade good-morning to whoever appeared, and paced his twelve steps forward and back on the quarter-deck like the lucky prince in a fairy story. Something had happened to make a new pleasure; at any rate, Mr. Paul Jones was high above any sense of displeasure, and well content with the warm satisfaction of his own thoughts.
Presently this cheerful captain sent a ship's boy to command the presence of Mr. Wallingford, and Mr Wallingford came promptly in answer to the summons. There was so evident a beginning of some high official function that the lieutenant, not unfamiliar with such affairs, became certain that the mayor and corporation of Nantes must be expected to breakfast, and lent himself not unwillingly to the play.
"You will attend me to Paris, sir," announced the commander. "I shall wait the delays of our Commissioners no longer. 'If you want a good servant, go yourself,' as our wise adviser, Poor Richard, has well counseled us. I mean to take him at his word. Can you be ready within the hour, Mr. Wallingford? 'T is short notice for you, but I have plenty left of my good Virginia money to serve us on our way. The boat awaits us."
Wallingford made his salute, and hastened below; his heart beat fast with pleasure, being a young heart, and the immediate world of France much to its liking. The world of the Ranger appeared to grow smaller day by day, and freedom is ever a welcome gift.
When the lieutenant reached his berth the captain's arrangements had preceded him: there was a sailor already waiting with the leather portmanteau which Wallingford had brought to sea. The old judge, his father, had carried it on many an errand of peace and justice, and to the son it brought a quick reminder of home and college journeys, and a young man's happy anticipations. The sight of it seemed to change everything, stained though this old enchanter's wallet might be with sea water, and its brasses green with verdigris. The owner beheld it with complete delight; as for the sailor, he misunderstood a sudden gesture, and thought he was being blamed.
"Cap'n ordered it up, sir; never demeaned hisself to say what for," apologized Cooper.
"Take hold now and stow these things I give you," said the excited lieutenant. "Trouble is, every man on board this ship tries to be captain. Don't wrap those boots in my clean linen!"
"I ain't no proper servant; takes too much l'arnin'," protested Cooper good-naturedly, seeing that the young squire was in a happy frame. "Our folks was all content to be good farmers an' live warm on their own land, till I took up with follerin' the sea. Lord give me help to get safe home this time, an' I won't take the chances no more. A ship's no place for a Christian."
Wallingford's mind was stretched to the task of making sudden provision for what might not be a short absence; he could hear the captain's impatient tramp on the deck overhead.
"I expect old Madam, your lady mother, and my sister Susan was the last ones to pack your gear for you?" ventured this friend of many years, in a careful voice, and Wallingford gave him a pat on the shoulder for answer.
"We'll speed matters by this journey to Paris, if all goes well," he replied kindly. "Keep the men patient; there are stirrers-up of trouble aboard that can do the crew more harm than the captain, if they get their way. You'll soon understand everything. France cannot yet act freely, and we must take long views."
"Wish 't I was to home now," mourned Cooper gloomily.
"Don't fear!" cried Wallingford gayly, though 't was but a pair of days since he himself had feared everything, and carried a glum face for all the crew to see. "Good-day, Cooper. If anything should happen to me, you must carry back word!" he added, with boyish bravado.
"Lord bless you!" said Cooper. "I figur' me darin' to go nigh the gre't house with any bad tidin's o' you! Marm Susan'd take an' scalp me, 's if I'd been the fust to blame." At which they laughed together, and hurried to the deck.
"'T is high time!" blustered the captain; but once in the boat, he became light-hearted and companionable. It was as if they had both left all their troubles behind them.
"There's Simpson and Sargent and that yellow-faced Dickson leaning over the side to look after us and think how well they can spare us both," grumbled Paul Jones. "I can see them there, whether I turn my head or not. I've set them stints enough for a fortnight, and named this day week for our return. Lay out! lay out!" cried the captain. "Give way, my lads!" and settled himself in the boat.
The wind was fresh; the waves splashed into the gig as they toiled steadily up the river. The walls of the old castle looked grim and high, as they came under the city. In the cathedral abode the one thing that was dear to Wallingford's heart in this strange place, - the stately figure of Anne of Brittany, standing at her mother's feet by the great Renaissance tomb. She wore a look like Mary Hamilton when she was most serious, so calm and sweet across the brow. The young officer had discovered this lovely queen, and her still lovelier likeness, on a dark and downcast day, and had often been grateful since for the pleasure of beholding her; he now sent a quick thought into the cathedral from the depths of his fond heart.
The two travelers, in their bright uniforms, hurried up through the busy town to a large inn, where the captain had ordered his post horses to be ready. Bretons and Frenchmen both cheered them as they passed the market place: the errand of the Ranger was well known, and much spending-money had made most of her ship's company plenty of friends ashore. They took their seats in the post chaise, not without disappointment on Wallingford's part, who had counted upon riding a good French horse to Paris instead of jolting upon stiff springs. There was more than one day, however; the morning was fresh and bright, and there were too many mercies beside to let a man groan over anything.
The thought now struck Wallingford, as if he were by far the elder man, that they might well have worn their every-day clothes upon the journey, but he had not the heart to speak. The captain wore such an innocent look of enjoyment, and of frankly accepting the part of a proven hero and unprotested great man.
"I must order a couple of suits of new uniform from one of their best tailors," said Mr. Paul Jones, only half conscious of his listener. One moment the hardened man of affairs and rough sea bully, at the next one saw him thus; frank, compassionate of others, and amused by small pleasures, - the sentimental philosopher who scattered largess of alms like a royal prince all along the white French roads.
"I go north by Rennes and Vitré, and to Paris by Alençon. I am told the roads are good, and the worst inns passable, while the best are the best," said the little captain, dropping the last of his lofty manner of the quarter-deck, and turning to his companion with a most frank air of good-fellowship. "We can return by the Loire. I hear that we can come by barge from Orléans to Nantes in four days, lying in the river inns by night. I have no love for the road I was so sorry on last month, or the inns that stood beside it."
The young men sat straight-backed and a little pompous in the post chaise, with their best cocked hats bobbing and turning quickly toward each other in the pleasures of conversation. Was this the same Paul Jones who so vexed his ship with bawling voice and harsh behavior, this quiet, gay-hearted man of the world, who seemed to play the princely traveler even more easily than he crowded sail on the Ranger all across the stormy seas, - the flail of whose speech left nobody untouched? He was so delightful at that moment, so full of charming sympathy and keenest observation, that all private grievances must have been dissolved into the sweet French air and the blue heaven over their heads.
"There were others of my officers who might well go to Paris, but I wanted the right gentleman with me now," explained the captain with frankness. "'T is above all a gentleman's place when court matters are in hand. You have some acquaintance with their language, too, which is vastly important. I blessed Heaven last time for every word I knew; 't was most of it hard learnt in my early days, when I was a sailor before the mast, and had but a single poor book to help me. No man can go much in the world over here without his French. And you know Paris, too, Mr. Wallingford, while I am almost a stranger in the streets. I cared not where I was, in my late distresses, though I had longed to see the sights of Paris all my life! My whole heart is in the journey now, tiresome though we may find many a day's long leagues."
"'T is some years since I lived there for a month," said Wallingford modestly; but a vision of all the pleasure and splendor of the great city rose to his mind's eye.
"I have suffered unbelievable torture on that petty ship!" exclaimed Paul Jones suddenly, waving his hand toward the harbor they were fast leaving out of sight. "Now for the green fields of France and for the High Commissioners at Paris! I wish to God my old auntie Jean MacDuff, that was fain to be prood o' me, could see me with my two postilions on the road, this day." And such was the gayety of the moment, and the boyish pride of the little sailor, that his companion fairly loved him for the wish, and began to think tenderly of his own dear love, and of his mother waiting and watching by the riverside at home.
"'Vitré,'" he repeated presently, with fresh expectation, - "'t is a name I know well, but I cannot call to mind the associations; of the town of Rennes I do not remember to have heard."
"I wish that I could have fallen in with their great admiral, Bailli Suffren," said the captain, leaning back in the post chaise, and heaving a sigh of perfect content. "We know not where he sails the sea; but if it chanced that he were now on his way to the fleet at Brest, or going up to Paris from the sea, like ourselves, and we chanced to meet at an inn, how I should beg the honor of his acquaintance! The King ought to put a sailor like that beside him on his throne; as for Bailli Suffren, he has served France as well as any man who ever lived. Look, there are two poor sailors of another sort, fresh from their vessel, too! See how wide they tread from balancing on the decks; they have been long at sea, poor devils!" he grumbled, as the post chaise overtook a forlorn pair of seamen, each carrying a loose bundle on his back. They were still young men, but their faces looked disappointed and sad. Seeing that the captain fumbled in his waistcoat pocket, Wallingford did the same, and two bright louis d'or flew through the morning air and dropped at the sailors' feet. They gave a shout of joy, and the two young lords in the post chaise passed gayly on.
"They'll sit long at the next inn," said Captain Paul Jones. "They were thin as those salt fish we shipped for the voyage, at Newcastle."
"A prime dun fish is a dainty not to be despised," urged Wallingford, true to his local traditions.
"'T is either a dainty, or a cedar shingle well preserved in brine, which is eatable by no man," pronounced the captain, speaking with the authority of an epicure. "We must now deal with their best French dishes while we stay in Paris. Mr. Franklin will no doubt advise us in regard to their best inns. I was careless of the matter in my first visit."
"'T was Poor Richard himself said, 'A fat kitchen makes a lean will,'" laughed Wallingford, "but he is a great man for the proprieties."
"But see how they turn their backs and go out of the city, and how merrily and joyfully they take the road to Paris": This passage appears in Cervantes, Don Quixote (p. 180), though it varies according to translation.
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If you want a good servant: See Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac, 1758, for "If you would have your business done, go; if not, send." (Research: Gabe Heller)
In "John Paul Jones." (Harper's Monthly, July 1855, 154) this incident is reported, but it takes place later in 1778, when Jones decides to appeal directly to the King of France for command of a ship to continue fighting the British.
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good Virginia money: Evan Thomas, in John Paul Jones 2003, shows that Jones had no "good Virginia money" to spend in France (See Chapter 5). Jewett's statement depends upon Augustus Buell's fictional account of Jones's inheritance from his brother. Jones was living on and funding the Ranger and crew primarily from money the American Commissioners had borrowed and on prize money Jones had gained over the previous year.
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Anne of Brittany, standing at her mother's feet by the great Renaissance tomb: Anne de Bretagne (1477-1514) was duchess of Brittany and twice queen consort of France; she devoted her life to safeguarding the autonomy of Brittany within the kingdom of France. Her parents were Duke Francis II of Brittany and Margaret of Foix. A patron of artists and poets, Anne commissioned a Book of Hours that is one of the most beautiful of French manuscripts. She commissioned Jean Perréal to design and Colombe to execute the tomb of her parents (completed 1507) in Nantes Cathedral of Saint Pierre. Modern descriptions of the tomb do not indicate that Anne herself is represented as part of it, though one might easily interpret the grouping as including her. On the sarcophagus lie the figures of Duke Frances II and Margaret. At the four corners of the monument are statues of the cardinal virtues: Justice, Temperance, Fortitude and Prudence. One might interpret one of the virtues are respresenting Anne. (Research: Travis Feltman)
In the following photograph of the tomb of Frances II, the figure standing on the right would be at the feet of Margaret, and so it is likely the figure Roger refers to as reminding him of Mary. (Photographs by Graham Frater)
Tomb of Francis II
Saint Pierre Cathedral, Nantes
Modern bronze of Anne of Bretagne
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for every word I knew: Evan Thomas, in John Paul Jones 2003, asserts that Jones spoke virtually no French when he arrived on the Ranger (see p. 103).
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bright louis d'or: French gold coins.
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A fat kitchen makes a lean will: See Benjamin Franklin, "The Way to Wealth," 1758. (Research: Gabe Heller).
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