The Money Master
By Gilbert Parker

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Chapter III: “To-Morrow”

The rest came to-morrow. When the Antoine struck the sunken iceberg she was not more than one hundred and twenty miles from the coast of Gaspe. She had not struck it full on, or she would have crumpled up, but had struck and glanced, mounting the berg, and sliding away with a small gaping wound in her side, broken internally where she had been weakest. Her condition was one of extreme danger, and the captain was by no means sure that he could make the land. If a storm or a heavy sea came on, they were doomed.

As it was, with all hands at the pumps the water gained on her, and she moaned and creaked and ached her way into the night with no surety that she would show a funnel to the light of another day. Passengers and crew alike worked, and the few boats were got ready to lower away when the worst should come to the worst. Below, with the crew, the little moneymaster of St. Saviour’s worked with an energy which had behind it some generations of hardy qualities; and all the time he refused to be downcast. There was something in his nature or in his philosophy after all. He had not much of a voice, but it was lusty and full of good feeling; and when cursing began, when a sailor even dared to curse his baptism–the crime of crimes to a Catholic mind–Jean Jacques began to sing a cheery song with which the habitants make vocal their labours or their playtimes:

                   “A Saint-Malo, beau port de mer,
                    Trois gros navir’s sont arrives,
                    Trois gros navir’s sont arrives
                    Charges d’avoin’, charges de ble.
                    Charges d’avoin’, charges de ble:
                    Trois dam’s s’en vont les marchander.”

And so on through many verses, with a heartiness that was a good antidote to melancholy, even though it was no specific for a shipwreck. It played its part, however; and when Jean Jacques finished it, he plunged into that other outburst of the habitant’s gay spirits, ’Bal chez Boule’:

              “Bal chez Boule, bal chez Boule,
               The vespers o’er, we’ll away to that;
               With our hearts so light, and our feet so gay,
               We’ll dance to the tune of ’The Cardinal’s Hat’
               The better the deed, the better the day
               Bal chez Boule, bal chez Boule!”

And while Jean Jacques worked “like a little French pony,” as they say in Canada of every man with the courage to do hard things in him, he did not stop to think that the scanty life-belts had all been taken, and that he was a very poor swimmer indeed: for, as a child, he had been subject to cramp, and so had made the Beau Cheval River less his friend than would have been useful now.

He realized it, however, soon after daybreak, when, within a few hundred yards of the shores of Gaspe, to which the good Basque captain had been slowly driving the Antoine all night, there came the cry, “All hands on deck!” and “Lower the boats!” for the Antoine’s time had come, and within a hand-reach of shore almost she found the end of her rickety life. Not more than three-fourths of the passengers and crew were got into the boats. Jean Jacques was not one of these; but he saw Carmen Dolores and her father safely bestowed, though in different boats. To the girl’s appeal to him to come he gave a nod of assent, and said he would get in at the last moment; but this he did not do, pushing into the boat instead a crying lad of fifteen, who said he was afraid to die.

So it was that Jean Jacques took to the water side by side with the Basque captain, when the Antoine groaned and shook, and then grew still, and presently, with some dignity, dipped her nose into the shallow sea and went down.

“The rest of the story to-morrow,” Jean Jacques had said when the vessel struck the iceberg the night before; and so it was.

The boat in which Carmen had been placed was swamped not far from shore, but she managed to lay hold of a piece of drifting wreckage, and began to fight steadily and easily landward. Presently she was aware, however, of a man struggling hard some little distance away to the left of her, and from the tousled hair shaking in the water she was sure that it was Jean Jacques.

So it proved to be; and thus it was that, at his last gasp almost, when he felt he could keep up no longer, the wooden seat to which Carmen clung came to his hand, and a word of cheer from her drew his head up with what was almost a laugh.

“To think of this!” he said presently when he was safe, with her swimming beside him without support, for the wooden seat would not sustain the weight of two. “To think that it is you who saves me!” he again declared eloquently, as they made the shore in comparative ease, for she was a fine swimmer.

“It is the rest of the story,” he said with great cheerfulness and aplomb as they stood on the shore in the morning sun, shoeless, coatless, but safe: and she understood.

There was nothing else for him to do. The usual process of romance had been reversed. He had not saved her life, she had saved his. The least that he could do was to give her shelter at the Manor Cartier yonder at St. Saviour’s, her and, if need be, her father. Human gratitude must have play. It was so strong in this case that it alone could have overcome the Norman caution of Jean Jacques, and all his worldly wisdom (so much in his own eyes). Added thereto was the thing which had been greatly stirred in him at the instant the Antoine struck; and now he kept picturing Carmen in the big living-room and the big bedroom of the house by the mill, where was the comfortable four-poster which had come from the mansion of the last Baron of Beaugard down by St. Laurent.

Three days after the shipwreck of the Antoine, and as soon as sufficient finery could be got in Quebec, it was accomplished, the fate of Jean Jacques. How proud he was to open his cheque-book before the young Spanish maid, and write in cramped, characteristic hand a cheque for a hundred dollars or so at a time! A moiety of this money was given to Sebastian Dolores, who could scarcely believe his good fortune. A situation was got for him by the help of a good abbe at Quebec, who was touched by the tale of the wreck of the Antoine, and by the no less wonderful tale of the refugees of Spain, who naturally belonged to the true faith which “feared God and honoured the King.” Sebastian Dolores was grateful for the post offered him, though he would rather have gone to St. Saviour’s with his daughter, for he had lost the gift of work, and he desired peace after war. In other words, he had that fatal trait of those who strive to make the world better by talk and violence, the vice of indolence.

But when Jean Jacques and his handsome bride started for St. Saviour’s, the new father-in-law did not despair of following soon. He would greatly have enjoyed the festivities which, after all, did follow the home-coming of Jean Jacques Barbille and his Spanische; for while they lacked enthusiasm because Carmen was a foreigner, the romance of the story gave the whole proceedings a spirit and interest which spread into adjoining parishes: so that people came to mass from forty miles away to see the pair who had been saved from the sea.

And when the Quebec newspapers found their way into the parish, with a thrilling account of the last hours of the Antoine; and of Jean Jacques’ chivalrous act in refusing to enter a boat to save himself, though he was such a bad swimmer and was in danger of cramp; and how he sang Bal chez Boule while the men worked at the pumps; they permitted the apres noces of M’sieu’ and Madame Jean Jacques Barbille to be as brilliant as could be, with the help of lively improvisation. Even speech-making occurred again in an address of welcome some days later. This was followed by a feast of Spanish cakes and meats made by the hands of Carmen Dolores, “the lady saved from the sea"–as they called her; not knowing that she had saved herself, and saved Jean Jacques as well. It was not quite to Jean Jacques’ credit that he did not set this error right, and tell the world the whole exact truth.

Etext Editor’s Bookmarks:

Air of certainty and universal comprehension
Always calling to something, for something outside ourselves
Came of a race who set great store by mothers and grandmothers
Grove of pines to give a sense of warmth in winter
Grow more intense, more convinced, more thorough, as they talk
He admired, yet he wished to be admired
Inclined to resent his own insignificance
Lyrical in his enthusiasms
No man so simply sincere, or so extraordinarily prejudiced
Of those who hypnotize themselves, who glow with self-creation
Spurting out little geysers of other people’s cheap wisdom
Untamed by the normal restraints of a happy married life


Epilogue: Introduction  •  Chapter I: The Grand Tour of Jean Jacques Barbille  •  Chapter II: “The Rest of the Story To-Morrow”  •  Chapter III: “To-Morrow”  •  Chapter IV: Thirteen Years After and the Clerk of the Court Tells a Story  •  Chapter V: The Clerk of the Court Ends His Story  •  Chapter VI: Jean Jacques Had Had a Great Day  •  Chapter VII: Jean Jacques Awakes From Sleep  •  Chapter VIII: The Gate in the Wall  •  Chapter IX: “Moi-Je Suis Philosophe”  •  Chapter X: “Quien Sabe"–who Knows!  •  Chapter XI: The Clerk of the Court Keeps a Promise  •  Chapter XII: The Master-Carpenter Has a Problem  •  Chapter XIII: The Man From Outside  •  Chapter XIV: “I Do Not Want to Go”  •  Chapter XV: Bon Marche  •  Chapter XVI: Misfortunes Come Not Singly  •  Chapter XVII: His Greatest Asset  •  Chapter XVIII: Jean Jacques Has An Offer  •  Chapter XIX: Sebastian Dolores Does Not Sleep  •  Chapter XX: “Au ’Voir, M’Sieu’ Jean Jacques”  •  Chapter XXI: If She Had Known in Time  •  Epilogue - Chapter XXII: Bells of Memory  •  Chapter XXIII: Jean Jacques Has Work to Do  •  Chapter XXIV: Jean Jacques Encamped  •  Chapter XXV: What Would You Have Done?  •  Etext Editor’s Bookmarks For “The Money Master”, Complete:

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The money master;: Being the curious history of Jean Jacques Barbille, his labours, his loves, and his ladies,
By Gilbert Parker
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