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   Chapter 2 SURPRISING THE FRENCHMAN.

Frank Merriwell's Nobility; Or, The Tragedy of the Ocean Tramp By Burt L. Standish Characters: 7591

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


"Bah! Ze American boy, he make me-what you call eet?-vera tired!"

Frank turned quickly and saw the speaker standing near the rail not far away. He was a man between thirty-five and forty years of age, dressed in a traveling suit, and having a pointed black beard. He was smoking.

An instant feeling of aversion swept over Merry. He saw the person was a supercilious Frenchman, critical, sneering, insolent, a man intolerant with everything not of France and the French.

This man was speaking to another person, who seemed to be a servant or valet, and who was very polite and fawning in all his retorts.

"Ah! look at ze collectshung on ze pier," continued the sneering speaker. "Someone say zey belong to ze great American college. Zey act like zey belong to ze-ze-what you call eet?-ze menageray. Zey yell, shout, jump-act like ze lunatic."

"It is possible, monsieur," said Frank, with a grim smile, "that they are copying their manners after Frenchmen at a Dreyfus demonstration."

The foreigner turned haughtily and stared at Frank. Then he shrugged his shoulders, turned away and observed to his companion:

"Jes' like all ze Americans-ah!-what eez ze word?-fresh."

The other man bowed and rubbed his hands together.

"Haw!" grunted Browning, lazily. "How do you like that, Frank?"

"Oh, I don't mind it," murmured Merry. "I consider the source from which it came, and regard it as of no consequence."

Diamond was glaring at the Frenchman, for it made his hot Southern blood boil to hear a foreigner criticize anything American. Like all youthful Americans, his great admiration and love for his own country made him intolerant of criticism.

Frank had a cooler head, and he was not so easily ruffled.

Rattleton was unable to express his feelings.

Tutor Maybe looked somewhat perturbed, for he was an exceedingly mild and peaceable man, and the slightest suggestion of trouble was enough to agitate him.

But the Frenchman did not deign to look toward Frank again, and it seemed that all danger of trouble was past.

The "Eagle" sailed slowly down the harbor, signaling now and then to other boats.

Frank, Jack, Bruce and Harry formed a fine quartette, and they sang:

"Soon we'll be in London town;

Sing, my lads, yo! heave, my lads, ho!

And see the queen, with her golden crown;

Heave, my lads, yo-ho!"

The Frenchman made an impatient gesture, and showed annoyance, which caused Frank to laugh.

Behind them Brooklyn Bridge spanned the river, looking slender and graceful, like a thing hung in the air by delicate threads.

Close at hand were Governor's Island and the Statue of Liberty. The Frenchman was pointing it out.

"Ze greatest work of art in all America,"' he declared, enthusiastically; "an' France give zat to America. Ze Americans nevare think to put eet zere themselves. France do more for America zan any ozare nation, but ze Americans forget. Zey forget Lafayette. Zey forget France make it possibul for zem to conquaire Engalande an' get ze freedom zey ware aftaire. An' now zey-zey-what you call eet?-toady to Engalande. Zey pretende to love ze Engaleesh. Bah! Uncale Sam an' John Bull both need to have some of ze conaceit taken out away from zem."

"It would take more than France, Spain, Italy and all the rest of the dago nations to do the job!" spluttered Harry Rattleton, who could not keep still longer.

"Maurel," said the Frenchman, speaking to his companion, "t'row ze insolent dog ovareboard!"

"Oui, monsieur!"

Quick as thought the man sprang toward Harry, as if determined to execute the command of his master.

He did not put his hands on Rattleton, for Frank was equally swift in his movements, and blocked the fellows' way, coolly saying:

"I wouldn't try it if I were you."

"

Out of ze way!" snarled the man, who was an athlete in build. "If you don't, I put you ovare, too!"

"I don't think you will."

"Put him ovare, Maurel," ordered the Frenchman, with deadly coolness.

The athletic servant clutched Frank, but, with a twist and a turn, Merry broke the hold instantly, kicked the fellow's feet from beneath him, and dropped him heavily to the deck.

Bruce Browning stooped and picked the man up as if he were an infant. Every year seemed to add something to the big collegian's wonderful strength, and now the astounded Frenchman found himself unable to wiggle.

Browning held the man over the rail turning to Frank to ask:

"Shall I give him a bath, Merriwell?"

"I think you hadn't better," laughed Frank. "Perhaps he can't swim, and-"

"He can swim or sink," drawled Bruce. "It won't make any difference if he sinks. Only another insolent Frenchman out of the way."

The master was astounded. Up to that moment he had regarded the young Americans as scarcely more than boys and he had fancied his athletic servant could easily frighten them. Instead of that, something quite unexpected by him had happened.

The astounded servant showed signs of terror, but in vain he struggled. He was helpless in the clutch of the giant collegian.

The master seemed about to interfere, but Frank Merriwell confronted him in a manner that spoke as plainly as words.

"Out of ze way!" snarled the man.

"Speaking to me?" inquired Merry, lifting his eyebrows.

"Oui! oui!"

"I am sorry, but I can't accommodate you till my friend gets through with your servant, who was extremely fresh, like most Frenchmen."

"Zis to me!"

"Yes."

"Sare, I am M. Rouen Montfort, an' I-"

"It makes no difference to me if you are the high mogul of France. You are on the deck of an English vessel, and you are dealing with Americans."

The Frenchman flung his cigar aside and seemed to feel for a weapon.

Frank stood there quietly, his eyes watching every movement.

"If you have what you are seeking about your person," he said, with perfect calmness, "I advise you not to draw it. If you do, as sure as you are sailing down New York harbor, I'll fling you over the rail, weapon and all!"

That was business, and it was not boasting. Frank actually meant to throw the man into the water if he drew a weapon.

M. Rouen Montfort paused and stared at Frank Merriwell, beginning to understand that he was not dealing with an ordinary youth.

"Fool!" he panted. "You geeve me ze eensult I will haf your life!"

"You have already insulted me, my friends and everything American. It's your turn to take a little of the medicine."

"Eef we were een France-"

"Which we are not. We are still in America, the land of the free. But I don't care to have a quarrel with you. Bruce put the fellow down. If he minds his business in the future, don't throw him overboard."

"All right," grunted the big fellow; "but I was just going to drop him in the wet."

He put the man down, and the fellow seemed undecided what to do.

Harry Rattleton laughed.

"Now wake a talk-no, I mean take a walk," he cried. "It will be a good thing for your health."

"Come, Maurel," said the master, with an attempt at dignity; "come away from ze fellows!"

Maurel was glad enough to do so. He had thought to frighten the youths without the least trouble, but had been handled with such ease that even after it was all over he wondered how it could have happened.

M. Montfort walked away with great dignity, and Maurel followed, talking savagely and swiftly in French.

"Well, it wasn't very hard to settle them," grinned Browning.

"But we have not settled them," declared Frank. "There will be further trouble with M. Rouen Montfort and his man Maurel."

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