“Certainly. Sign, please,” says Talleyrand, tearing the leaf out.

‘“But that’s the order to return the brig,” says Boney. “Is that necessary? Why should I lose a good ship? Haven’t I lost enough ships already?”

‘Talleyrand didn’t answer any of those questions. Then Boney sidled up to the table and jabs his pen into the ink. Then he shies at the paper again:

“My signature alone is useless,” he says. “You must have the other two Consuls as well. Sieyes and Roger Ducos must sign. We must preserve the Laws.”

‘“By the time my friend presents it,” says Talleyrand, still looking out of window, “only one signature will be necessary.”

‘Boney smiles. “It’s a swindle,” says he, but he signed and pushed the paper across.

‘“Give that to the President of the Prize Court at Le Havre,” says Talleyrand, “and he will give you back your ship.

I will settle for the cargo myself. You have told me how much it cost. What profit did you expect to make on it?”

‘Well, then, as man to man, I was bound to warn him that I’d set out to run it into England without troubling the Revenue,

and so I couldn’t rightly set bounds to my profits.’

‘I guessed that all along,’ said Puck.