(Masterpieces of British Fiction)

Kerry’s uncle, Sir Valentine MacFarlane, lord of Destiny Bay, with his great fan-shaped red beard that came to his waist, was the courtliest and most hospitable of men. In twenty minutes, he had persuaded the old Duke of la Mentera and his grandson that he could not allow Spanish royalty to stay at the Widow McGinty’s village hotel when there was plenty of room at Destiny Bay. With the simplicity that comes with great age, the Duke said that his life had been full of many turnings; now he was on the last path, and he had come hoping to find a treasure chest, said to have been lost when one of his ancestors was killed off the Irish coast after Drake’s defeat of the Armada. His grandson must be provided for; he had nowhere else to turn.

Aunt Jenepher, beautiful, blind, but seeming to see people better than anyone, said that the Duke and Don Anthony, his grandson, were noble and good, and she treated them with that kindness of hers that went straight to the heart.

A short time later, the Duke died, leaving his girlish-looking grandson to the MacFarlanes’ several cares—the courtliness of Uncle Valentine, the trust of his valet, James Carabine, the kindness of Aunt Jenepher, and Kerry’s companionship. That friendship was not always pleasing to Don Anthony, since he could not bear to see their prizefights or cockfights, although he was beside himself with joy at their horse races; but it was Jenico for whom the boy conceived a hero worship.

Jenico was not a large man like Uncle Valentine, but he had the look of burnished strength that made women try to get his attention, and he was innately courteous, although his mind might be a thousand miles away. His home was near Destiny Bay and nearer Spanish Men’s Rest, the spot where the Spaniards were buried after their ships had been wrecked. For a long time, the bees and birds had shunned the place, and it was a chill on the heart to go there; but when Jenico and Kerry took Don Anthony to Spanish Men’s Rest, they heard the bees and birds again, and the place seemed sunnier.

Jenico, trying to get the boy’s mind off the settlement of the grandfather’s estate, finally asked him to take off with him on a trip to the Atlas Mountains. The boy was flattered and obviously wanted to go but begged off. Shortly after, as the three walked near the river, Jenico and Kerry decided to go swimming. Jenico went on ahead, and Kerry could see his head like that of a sleek seal in the waves. When Kerry started to strip, Don Anthony begged him not to take off his clothes. Jenico laughed and told Kerry to strip the boy and throw him in. Kerry headed for the boy. Don Anthony flashed a knife and then ducked away. As Kerry turned to follow him, Uncle Valentine appeared, roaring that there was once a time when a lady could be trusted...

(The entire section is 1150 words.)