Part 2 out of 7
"Why didn't you call me?" Peters said reproachfully.
"It was of no good getting two of us hit, Peters; and as long as
I could stand to steer I was better there than you."
Ned came running aft as the news was passed along that the captain
was wounded, and threw himself on his knees by his father's side.
"Bear up, Ned; bear up like a man," his father said. "I am hit
hard, but I don't know that it is to death. But even if it is, it
is ten thousand times better to die in battle with the Spaniards
than to be hung like a dog, which would have befallen me and perhaps
all of us if they had taken us."
By Peters' directions a mattress was now brought up, and the captain
carried down to his cabin. There was no thought on board now of the
pursuers astern, or of possible danger lying ahead. The news that
Captain Martin was badly wounded damped all the feelings of triumph
and enthusiasm which the crew had before been feeling at the success
with which they had eluded the Spaniard while heavily punishing
her. As soon as the captain was laid on a sofa Peters examined the
wound. It was right in front of the leg, some four inches above
"There is nothing to be done for it," Captain Martin said. "It has
smashed the bone, I am sure."
"I am afraid it has, captain," Peters said ruefully; "and it is no
use my saying that it has not. I think, sir, we had best put in at
Enkhuizen. We are not above four or five miles from it now, and we
shall find surgeons there who will do all they can for you."
"I think that will be the best plan, Peters."
The orders were given at once, and the ship's course altered, and
half an hour later the lights of Enkhuizen were seen ahead.
They dropped anchor a short distance off the port, and then lit
some torches and waved them.
"The firing is sure to have been heard," Peters said, "and they
will be sending off to know what is going on, otherwise there would
have been small chance of getting in tonight."
As the mate anticipated, the sound of oars was soon heard, and a
large boat rowed out towards them. It stopped at a distance of a
hundred yards, and there was a shout of "What ship is that?"
"The English brig Good Venture. We pray you to allow us to bring our
captain, who has been sorely wounded by the Spaniards, on shore."
"What has been the firing we have heard? We could see the flashes
across the water."
"We have been twice engaged," Peters shouted; "first with two
Spanish galleys, and then with a large ship of war, which we beat
off with heavy loss."
"Well done, Englishmen!" the voice exclaimed, and the boat at once
rowed out to the brig. "You cannot come in tonight," the Dutch
official said, "for the chain is up across the harbour, and the
rule is imperative and without exception; but I will gladly take
your captain on shore, and he shall have, I promise you, the best
surgical aid the town can give him. Is he the only one hurt?"
"One of the men has been injured with a splinter, but he needs but
bandaging and laying up for a few days. We have had a shot or two
through our bulwarks, and the sails are riddled. The captain's son
is below with him; he acts as second mate, and will tell you all
about this affair into which we were forced."
"Very well; we will take him ashore with us then. There is quite
an excitement there. The news that a sea fight was going on brought
all the citizens to the walls."
The mattress upon which Captain Martin was lying was brought out
and lowered carefully into the stern of the boat. Ned took his
seat beside it, and the boat pushed off. Having passed the forts
they entered the port and rowed to the landing place. A number of
citizens, many of them carrying torches, were assembled here.
"What is the news?" a voice asked as the boat approached.
"It is an English ship, burgomaster. She has been hotly engaged;
first with Spanish galleys, and then with a warship, which was
doubtless the one seen beating up this afternoon. She sank one of
the galleys and beat off the ship." A loud cheer broke from the
crowd. When it subsided the official went on: "I have the English
captain and his son on board. The captain is sorely wounded, and
I have promised him the best medical aid the town can give him."
"That he shall have," the burgomaster said. "Let him be carried to
my house at once. Hans Leipart, do you hurry on and tell my wife
to get a chamber prepared instantly. You have heard who it is, and
why he is coming, and I warrant me she will do her best to make the
brave Englishman comfortable. Do two others of you run to Doctors
Zobel and Harreng, and pray them to hasten to my house. Let a
stretcher be fetched instantly from the town hall."
As soon as the stretcher was brought the mattress was placed on it,
and six of the sailors carried it on shore. The crowd had by this
time greatly increased, for the news had rapidly spread. Every
head was bared in token of sympathy and respect as the litter was
brought up. The crowd fell back and formed a lane, and, led by the
burgomaster, the sailors carried the wounded man into the town. He
was taken upstairs to the room prepared for him, and the surgeons
were speedily in attendance. Medicine in those days was but a
primitive science, but the surgery, though rough and rude, was far
ahead of the sister art. Wars were of such constant occurrence that
surgeons had ample opportunity for practice; and simple operations
such as the amputation of limbs, were matters of very common
occurrence. It needed but a very short examination by the two surgeons
to enable them to declare that the leg must at once be amputated.
"The bone appears to be completely smashed," one of them said.
"Doubtless the ball was fired at a very short distance." A groan
burst from Ned when he heard the decision.
"I knew that it would be so, Ned," his father said. "I never doubted
it for a moment. It is well that I have been able to obtain aid so
speedily. Better a limb than life, my boy. I did not wince when I
was hit, and with God's help I can stand the pain now. Do you go
away and tell the burgomaster how it all came about, and leave me
with these gentlemen.
As soon as Ned had left the room, sobbing in spite of his efforts
to appear manly, the captain said: "Now, gentlemen, since this must
be done, I pray you to do it without loss of time. I will bear it
as best I can, I promise you; and as three or four and twenty years
at sea makes a man pretty hard and accustomed to rough usage, I
expect I shall stand it as well as another."
The surgeons agreed that there was no advantage in delay, and
indeed that it was far better to amputate it before fever set in.
They therefore returned home at once for their instruments, the
knives and saws, the irons that were to be heated white hot to stop
the bleeding, and the other appliances in use at the time. Had Ned
been aware that the operation would have taken place so soon, he
would have been unable to satisfy the curiosity of the burgomaster
and citizens to know how it had happened that an English trader had
come to blows with the Spaniards; but he had no idea that it would
take place that night, and thought that probably some days would
elapse before the surgeons finally decided that it was necessary
to amputate it.
One of the surgeons had, at the captain's request, called the
burgomaster aside as he left the house, and begged him to keep the
lad engaged in conversation until he heard from him that all was
over. This the burgomaster willingly promised to do; and as many
of the leading citizens were assembled in the parlour to hear the
news, there was no chance of Ned's slipping away.
"Before you begin to tell us your story, young sir, we should be
glad to know how it is that you speak our language so well; for
indeed we could not tell by your accent that you are not a native
of these parts, which is of course impossible, seeing that your
father is an Englishman and captain of the ship lying off there."
"My mother comes from near here," Ned said. "She is the daughter of
Mynheer Plomaert, who lived at Vordwyk, two miles from Amsterdam.
She went over to England when she married my father, but when he
was away on his voyages she always spoke her own language to us
children, so that we grew to speak it naturally as we did English."
Ned then related the news that met them on their arrival at his
grandfather's home, and the exclamation of fury on the part of his
"It is a common enough story with us here," the burgomaster said,
"for few of us but have lost friends or relatives at the hands
of these murderous tyrants of ours. But to you, living in a free
land, truly it must have been a dreadful shock; and I wonder not
that your father's indignation betrayed him into words which, if
overheard, might well cost a man his life in this country."
"They were overheard and reported," Ned said; and then proceeded to
relate the warning they had received, the measures they had taken
to get off unperceived, the accidental meeting with the guard boat
and the way in which it had been sunk, the pursuit by the galleys
and the fight with them, and then the encounter with the Spanish
ship of war.
"And you say your father never relaxed his hold of the tiller when
struck!" the burgomaster said in surprise. "I should have thought
he must needs have fallen headlong to the ground."
"He told me," Ned replied, "that at the moment he was hit he was
pushing over the tiller, and had his weight partly on that and
partly on his other leg. Had it been otherwise he would of course
have gone down, for he said that for a moment he thought his leg
had been shot off."
When Ned finished his narrative the burgomaster and magistrates
were loud in their exclamations of admiration at the manner in
which the little trader had both fought and deceived her powerful
"It was gallantly done indeed," the burgomaster said. "Truly it
seems marvellous that a little ship with but twenty hands should
have fought and got safely away from the Don Pedro, for that was
the ship we saw pass this afternoon. We know her well, for she has
often been in port here before we declared for the Prince of Orange
a month ago. The beggars of the sea themselves could not have done
better, -- could they, my friends? though we Dutchmen and Zeelanders
believe that there are no sailors that can match our own."
The story had taken nearly an hour to tell, and Ned now said:
"With your permission, sir, I will now go up to my father again."
"You had best not go for the present," the burgomaster said. "The
doctor asked me to keep you with me for awhile, for that he wished
his patient to be entirely undisturbed. He is by his bedside now,
and will let me know at once if your father wishes to have you with
A quarter of an hour later a servant called the burgomaster out.
The surgeon was waiting outside.
"It is finished," he said, "and he has borne it well. Scarce a
groan escaped him, even when we applied the hot irons; but he is
utterly exhausted now, and we have given him an opiate, and hope
that he will soon drop off to sleep. My colleague will remain with
him for four hours, and then I will return and take his place. You
had best say nothing to the lad about it. He would naturally want
to see his father; we would much rather that he should not. Therefore
tell him, please, that his father is dropping off to sleep, and
must not on any account be disturbed; and that we are sitting up
with him by turns, and will let him know at once should there be
any occasion for his presence."
Ned was glad to hear that his father was likely to get off to
sleep; and although he would gladly have sat up with him, he knew
that it was much better that he should have the surgeon beside him.
The burgomaster's wife, a kind and motherly woman, took him aside
into a little parlour, where a table was laid with a cold capon,
some manchets of bread, and a flask of the burgomaster's best wine.
As Ned had eaten nothing since the afternoon, and it was now past
midnight, he was by no means sorry to partake of some refreshment.
When he had finished he was conducted to a comfortable little chamber
that had been prepared for him, and in spite of his anxiety about
his father it was not long before he fell asleep.
The sun was high before he awoke. He dressed himself quickly and
went downstairs, for he feared to go straight to his father's room
lest he might be sleeping.
"You have slept well," the burgomaster's wife said with a smile;
"and no wonder, after your fatigues. The surgeon has just gone,
and I was about to send up to wake you, for he told me to tell you
that your father had passed a good night, and that you can now see
Ned ran upstairs, and turning the handle of the door very quietly
entered his father's room. Captain Martin was looking very pale,
but Ned thought that his face had not the drawn look that had marked
it the evening before.
"How are you, my dear father?"
"I am going on well, Ned; at least so the doctors say. I feel I
shall be but a battered old hulk when I get about again; but your
mother will not mind that, I know."
"And do the doctors still think that they must take the leg off?"
Ned asked hesitatingly.
"That was their opinion last night, Ned, and it was my opinion too;
and so the matter was done off hand, and there is an end of it."
"Done offhand?" Ned repeated. "Do you mean" -- and he hesitated.
"Do I mean that they have taken it off? Certainly I do, Ned. They
took it off last night while you were downstairs in the burgomaster's
parlour; but I thought it would be much better for you not to know
anything about it until this morning. Yes, my boy, thank God, it
is all over! I don't say that it wasn't pretty hard to bear; but
it had to be done, you know, and the sooner it was over the better.
There is nothing worse than lying thinking about a thing."
Ned was too affected to speak; but with tears streaming down his
cheeks, leant over and kissed his father. The news had come as a
shock to him, but it seemed to have lifted a weight from his mind.
The worst was over now; and although it was terrible to think that
his father had lost his leg, still this seemed a minor evil after
the fear that perhaps his life might be sacrificed. Knowing that his
father should not be excited, or even talk more than was absolutely
necessary, Ned stayed but a few minutes with him, and then hurried
off to the ship, where, however, he found that the news that the
captain's leg had been amputated, and that the doctors hoped that
he would go on well, had been known some hours before; as Peters
had come on shore with the first dawn of daylight for news, and
heard from the burgomaster's servant that the amputation had taken
place the evening before, and an hour later had learned from the
lips of the doctor who had been watching by the captain's bedside,
that he had passed a fairly good night, and might so far be considered
to be doing well.
"What do you think we had better do, Master Ned? Of course it will
be for the captain to decide; but in these matters it is always
best to take counsel beforehand. For although it is, of course,
what he thinks in the matter will be done, still it may be that
we might direct his thoughts; and the less thinking he does in his
present state the better."
"What do you mean as to what is to be done, Peters?"
"Well, your father is like to be here many weeks; indeed, if I said
many months I don't suppose it would be far from the truth. Things
never go on quite smooth. There are sure to be inflammations,
and fever keeps on coming and going; and if the doctor says three
months, like enough it is six."
"Of course I shall stay here and nurse him, Peters."
"Well, Master Ned, that will be one of the points for the captain
to settle. I do not suppose he will want the Good Venture to be
lying idle all the time he is laid up; and though I can sail the
ship, the trading business is altogether out of my line. You know
all the merchants he does business with, going ashore, as you most
always do with him; I doubt not that you could fill his place and
deal with them just the same as if he was here."
"But I cannot leave him at present."
"No, no, Master Ned; no one would think of it. Now, what I have
been turning over in my mind is, that the best thing for the captain
and for you and your good mother is that I should set sail in the
Venture without the loss of a day and fetch her over. If the wind
is reasonable, and we have good luck, we may be back in ten days
or so. By that time the captain may be well enough to think where
we had better go for a cargo, and what course had best be taken
about things in general."
"I think that would certainly be the best plan, Peters; and I will
suggest it to my father at once. He is much more likely to go on
well if my mother is with him, and she would be worrying sadly at
home were she not by his side. Besides, it will be well for her
to have something to occupy her, for the news of what has befallen
her father and brothers will be a terrible blow to her. If I put
it in that way to him I doubt not that he will agree to the plan;
otherwise, he might fear to bring her out here in such troubled
times, for there is no saying when the Spaniards will gather their
army to recover the revolted cities, or against which they will
first make their attempts. I will go back at once, and if he be
awake I will tell him that you and I agree that it will be best
for you to sail without loss of an hour to fetch my mother over,
and that we can then put off talking about other matters until the
Ned at once went back to his father's bedroom. He found the captain
had just awoke from a short sleep.
"Father, I do not want to trouble you to think at present, but will
tell you what Master Peters and I, who have been laying our heads
together, concluded is best to be done. You are likely to be laid
up here for some time, and it will be far the best plan for the
Good Venture to sail over and fetch mother to nurse you."
"I shall get on well enough, Ned. They are kindly people here; and
regarding our fight with the Spaniards as a sign of our friendship
and goodwill towards them, they will do all in their power for me."
"Yes, father, I hope, indeed, that you will go on well; and I am
sure that the good people here will do their best in all ways for
you, and of course I will nurse you to the best of my power, though,
indeed, this is new work for me; but it was not so much you as
mother that we were thinking of. It will be terrible for her when
the news comes that her father and brothers are all killed, and that
you are lying here sorely wounded. It will be well nigh enough to
drive her distraught. But if she were to come over here at once
she would, while busying about you, have less time to brood over
her griefs; and, indeed, I see not why she should be told what has
happened at Vordwyk until she is here with you, and you can break
it to her. It will come better from your lips, and for your sake
she will restrain her grief."
"There is a great deal in what you say, Ned, and, indeed, I long
greatly to have her with me; but Holland is no place at present
to bring a woman to, and I suppose also that she would bring the
girls, for she could not well leave them in a house alone. There
are plenty of friends there who would be glad to take them in; but
that she could decide upon herself. However, as she is a native
here she will probably consider she may well run the same risks as
the rest of her countrywomen. They remain with their fathers and
husbands and endure what perils there may be, and she will see no
reason why she should not do the same."
"What we propose is that the Venture should set sail at once and
fetch my mother over, and the girls, if she sees fit to bring them.
I shall of course stay here with you until the brig returns, and
by that time you will, I hope, be strong enough to talk over what
had best be done regarding the ship and business generally."
"Well, have your way, Ned. At present I cannot think over things
and see what is best; so I will leave the matter in your hands, and
truly I should be glad indeed to have your mother here with me."
Well content to have obtained the permission Ned hurried from the
"Has the burgomaster returned?" he asked when he reached the lower
"He has just come in, and I was coming up to tell you that dinner
"Is it eleven o'clock already?" Ned exclaimed. "I had no idea it
was so late." He entered the room and bowed to the burgomaster and
"Worshipful sir," he said, "I have just obtained leave from my
father to send our ship off to London to fetch hither my mother to
come to nurse him. I trust that by the time she arrives he will be
able to be moved, and then they will take lodgings elsewhere, so
as not to trespass longer upon your great kindness and hospitality."
"I think that it is well that your mother should come over," the
burgomaster said; "for a man who has had the greater part of his
leg taken off cannot be expected to get round quickly. Besides,
after what you told us last night about the misfortune that has
befallen her family, it were best that she should be busied about
her husband, and so have little time to brood over the matter. As
to hospitality, it would be strange indeed if we should not do all
that we could for a brave man who has been injured in fighting our
common enemy. Send word to your mother that she will be as welcome
as he is, and that we shall be ready in all respects to arrange
whatever she may think most convenient and comfortable. And now
you had best sit down and have your meal with us. As soon as it is
over I will go down with you to the wharf, and will do what I can
to hasten the sailing of your ship. I don't think," he went on, when
they had taken their seats at table, "that there is much chance
of her meeting another Spaniard on her way out to sea, for we have
news this morning that some ships of the beggars have been seen
cruising off the entrance, and the Spaniards will be getting under
shelter of their batteries at Amsterdam. I hear they are expecting
a fleet from Spain to arrive soon to aid in their operations against
our ports. However, I have little fear that they will do much by
sea against us. I would we could hold our own as well on the land
as we can on the water."
Ned found the meal extremely long and tedious, for he was fretting
to be off to hasten the preparations on board the Good Venture,
and he was delighted when at last the burgomaster said:
"Now, my young friend, we will go down to the wharf together."
But although somewhat deliberate, the burgomaster proved a valuable
assistant. When he had told Ned that he would do what he could to
expedite the sailing of the ship, the lad had regarded it as a mere
form of words, for he did not see how he could in any way expedite
her sailing. As soon, however, as they had gone on board, and
Ned had told Peters that the captain had given his consent to his
sailing at once, the burgomaster said: "You can scarce set sail
before the tide turns, Master Peters, for the wind is so light that
you would make but little progress if you did. From what Master
Martin tells me you came off so hurriedly from Amsterdam that you
had no time to get ballast on board. It would be very venturesome
to start for a voyage to England unless with something in your
hold. I will give orders that you shall be furnished at once with
sandbags, otherwise you would have to wait your turn with the other
vessels lying here; for ballast is, as you know, a rare commodity
in Holland, and we do not like parting even with our sand hills.
In the meantime, as you have well nigh six hours before you get
under way, I will go round among my friends and see if I cannot
procure you a little cargo that may pay some of the expenses of
Accordingly the burgomaster proceeded at once to visit several of
the principal merchants, and, representing that it was the clear
duty of the townsfolk to do what they could for the men who had
fought so bravely against the Spaniards, he succeeded in obtaining
from them a considerable quantity of freight upon good terms; and
so zealously did he push the business that in a very short time
drays began to arrive alongside the Good Venture, and a number of
men were speedily at work in transferring the contents to her hold,
and before evening she had taken on board a goodly amount of cargo.
Ned wrote a letter to his mother telling her what had taken place,
and saying that his father would be glad for her to come over to
be with him, but that he left it to her to decide whether to bring
the girls over or not. He said no word of the events at Vordwyk;
but merely mentioned they had learned that a spy had denounced his
father to the Spaniards as having used expressions hostile to the
king and the religious persecutions, and that on this account he
would have been arrested had he not at once put to sea. Peters was
charged to say nothing as to what he had heard about the Plomaerts
unless she pressed him with questions. He was to report briefly
that they were so busy with the unloading of the ship at Amsterdam
that Captain Martin had only once been ashore, and leave it to be
inferred that he only landed to see the merchants to whom the cargo
"Of course, Peters, if my mother presses you as to whether any
news has been received from Vordwyk, you must tell the truth; but
if it can be concealed from her it will be much the best. She will
have anxiety enough concerning my father."
"I will see," Peters said, "what can be done. Doubtless at first
she will be so filled with the thought of your father's danger
that she will not think much of anything else; but on the voyage
she will have time to turn her thoughts in other directions, and she
is well nigh sure to ask about her father and brothers. I shall be
guided in my answers by her condition. Mistress Martin is a sensible
woman, and not a girl who will fly into hysterics and rave like a
"It may be too, she will feel the one blow less for being so taken
up with the other; however, I will do the best I can in the matter,
Master Ned. Truly your friend the burgomaster is doing us right
good service. I had looked to lose this voyage to England, and that
the ten days I should be away would be fairly lost time; but now,
although we shall not have a full hold, the freight will be ample
to pay all expenses and to leave a good profit beside."
As soon as the tide turned the hatches were put on, the vessel was
warped out from her berth, and a few minutes later was under sail.
Ned had been busy helping to stow away the cargo as fast as it
came on board, twice running up to see how his father was getting
on. Each time he was told by the woman whom the burgomaster had
now engaged to act as nurse, that he was sleeping quietly. When he
returned after seeing the Good Venture fairly under way, he found
on peeping quietly into the room that Captain Martin had just woke.
"I have had a nice sleep, Ned," he said, as the lad went up to his
bedside. "I see it is already getting dark. Has the brig sailed?"
"She has just gone out of port, father. The wind is light and it
was no use starting until tide turned; although, indeed, the tides
are of no great account in these inland waters. Still, we had to
take some ballast on board as our hold was empty, and they might
meet with storms on their way home; so they had to wait for that.
But, indeed, after all, they took in but little ballast, for the
burgomaster bestirred himself so warmly in our favour that the
merchants sent down goods as fast as we could get them on board,
and short as the time was, the main hold was well nigh half full
before we put on the hatches; so that her voyage home will not be
without a good profit after all."
"That is good news, Ned; for although as far as I am concerned the
money is of no great consequence one way or the other, I am but
part owner, and the others might well complain at my sending the
ship home empty to fetch my wife instead of attending to their
"I am sure they would not have done that, father, seeing how well
you do for them, and what good money the Venture earns. Why, I
have heard you say she returns her value every two years. So that
they might well have gone without a fortnight's earnings without
"I don't suppose they would have murmured, Ned, for they are all
good friends of mine, and always seem well pleased with what I do
for them. Still, in matters of business it is always well to be
strict and regular; and I should have deemed it my duty to have
calculated the usual earnings of the ship for the time she was
away, and to have paid my partners their share as if she had been
trading as usual. It is not because the ship is half mine and that
I and my partners make good profit out of her, that I have a right
to divert her from her trade for my own purposes. As you say, my
partners might be well content to let me do so; but that is not
the question, I should not be content myself.
"We should always in business work with a good conscience, being
more particular about the interests of those who trust us than of
our own. Indeed, on the bare ground of expediency it is best to do
so; for then, if misfortune happens, trade goes bad, or your vessel
is cast away, they will make good allowance for you, knowing that
you are a loser as well as they, and that at all times you have
thought as much of them as of yourself. Lay this always to heart,
lad. It is unlikely that I shall go to sea much more, and ere long
you will be in command of the Good Venture. Always think more of
the interests of those who trust you than of your own.
"They have put their money into the ship, relying upon their
partner's skill and honesty and courage. Even at a loss to yourself
you should show them always that this confidence is not misplaced.
Do your duty and a little more, lad. Most men do their duty. It is
the little more that makes the difference between one man and the
other. I have tried always to do a little more, and I have found
my benefit from it in the confidence and trust of my partners in
the ship, and of the merchants with whom I do business. However, I
am right glad that the ship is not going back empty. I shall reckon
how much we should have received for the freight that was promised
me at Amsterdam, then you will give me an account of what is to be
paid by the merchants here. The difference I shall make up, as is
only right, seeing that it is entirely from my own imprudence in
expressing my opinion upon affairs particular to myself, and in
no way connected with the ship, that I was forced to leave without
taking in that cargo."
Ned listened in silence to his father's words, and resolved to
lay to heart the lessons they conveyed. He was proud of the high
standing and estimation in which his father was held by all who
knew him, and he now recognized fully for the first time how he
had won that estimation. It was not only that he was a good sailor,
but that in all things men were assured that his honour could
be implicitly relied upon, and that he placed the interest of his
employers beyond his own.
After the first day or two Ned could see but little change in his
father's condition; he was very weak and low, and spoke but seldom.
Doubtless his bodily condition was aggravated now by the thought
that must be ever present to him -- that his active career was
terminated. He might, indeed, be able when once completely cured
to go to sea again, but he would no longer be the active sailor he
had been; able to set an example of energy to his men when the winds
blew high and the ship was in danger. And unless fully conscious
that he was equal to discharging all the duties of his position,
Captain Martin was not the man to continue to hold it.
Ned longed anxiously for the return of the Good Venture. He knew
that his mother's presence would do much for his father, and that
whatever her own sorrows might be she would cheer him. Captain
Martin never expressed any impatience for her coming; but when
each morning he asked Ned, the first thing, which way the wind was
blowing, his son knew well enough what he was thinking of. In the
meantime Ned had been making inquiries, and he arranged for the
hire of a comfortable house, whose inhabitants being Catholics,
had, when Enkhuizen declared for the Prince of Orange, removed
to Amsterdam. For although the Prince insisted most earnestly and
vigorously that religious toleration should be extended to the
Catholics, and that no one should suffer for their religion, all were
not so tolerant; and when the news arrived of wholesale massacres
of Protestants by Alva's troops, the lower class were apt to rise
in riot, and to retaliate by the destruction of the property of
the Catholics in their towns.
Ned had therefore no difficulty in obtaining the use of the house,
on extremely moderate terms, from the agent in whose hands its
owner had placed his affairs in Enkhuizen. The burgomaster's wife
had at his request engaged two female servants, and the nurse
would of course accompany her patient. The burgomaster and his wife
had both protested against any move being made; but Ned, although
thanking them earnestly for their hospitable offer, pointed out that
it might be a long time before his father could be about, that it
was good for his mother to have the occupation of seeing to the
affairs of the house to divert her thoughts from the sick bed, and,
as it was by no means improbable that she would bring his sisters
with her, it would be better in all respects that they should have
a house of their own. The doctors having been consulted, agreed
that it would be better for the wounded man to be among his own
people, and that no harm would come of removing him carefully to
"A change, even a slight one, is often a benefit," they agreed;
"and more than counterbalances any slight risk that there may be
in a patient's removal from one place to another, providing that
it be gently and carefully managed."
Therefore it was arranged that as soon as the Good Venture was seen
approaching, Captain Martin should be carried to his new abode, where
everything was kept prepared for him, and that his wife should go
direct to him there.
On the ninth morning after the departure of the brig Ned was up
as soon as daylight appeared, and made his way to the walls. The
watchman there, with whom he had had several talks during the last
two days, said:
"There is a brig, hull down, seaward, and I should say that she is
about the size of the one you are looking for. She looks, too, as
if she were heading for this port."
"I think that is she," Ned said, gazing intently at the distant
vessel. "It seems to me that I can make out that her jib is lighter
in colour than the rest of her canvas. If that is so I have no
doubt about its being the Good Venture, for we blew our jib away
in a storm off Ostend, and had a new one about four months ago."
"That is her then, young master," the watchman said, shading his
eyes and looking intently at the brig. "Her jib is surely of lighter
colour than the rest of her canvas."
With this confirmation Ned at once ran round to the house he had
taken, and told the servants to have fires lighted, and everything
in readiness for the reception of the party.
"My father," he said, "will be brought here in the course of an
hour or so. My mother will arrive a little later."
Ned then went round to the doctor, who had promised that he would
personally superintend the removing of his patient, and would bring
four careful men and a litter for his conveyance. He said that
he would be round at the burgomaster's in half an hour. Ned then
went back to his father. Captain Martin looked round eagerly as he
"Yes, father," Ned said, answering the look; "there is a brig in
sight, which is, I am pretty sure, the Good Venture. She will be
in port in the course of a couple of hours. I have just been round
to Doctor Harreng, and he will be here in half an hour with the
litter to take you over to the new house."
Captain Martin gave an exclamation of deep thankfulness, and then
lay for some time with his eyes closed, and spoke but little until
the arrival of the doctor and the men with the litter.
"You must first of all drink this broth that has just been sent up
for you," the surgeon said, "and then take a spoonful of cordial.
It will be a fatigue, you know, however well we manage it; and you
must be looking as bright and well as you can by the time your good
wife arrives, else she will have a very bad opinion of the doctors
Captain Martin did as he was ordered. The men then carefully raised
the mattress with him upon it, and placed it upon the litter.
"I think we will cover you up altogether," the doctor said, "as we
go along through the streets. The morning air is a good deal keener
than the atmosphere of this room, and you won't want to look about."
The litter was therefore completely covered with a blanket, and
was then lifted and taken carefully down the broad staircase and
through the streets. The burgomaster's wife had herself gone on
before to see that everything was comfortably prepared, and when
the bed was laid down on the bedstead and the blanket turned back
Captain Martin saw a bright room with a fire burning on the hearth,
and the burgomaster's wife and nurse beside him, while Ned and the
doctor were at the foot of the bed.
"You have not suffered, I hope, in the moving, Captain Martin?"
the burgomaster's wife asked.
"Not at all," he said. "I felt somewhat faint at first, but the
movement has been so easy that it soon passed off. I was glad my
head was covered, for I do not think that I could have stood the
sight of the passing objects."
"Now you must drink another spoonful of cordial," the doctor said,
"and then lie quiet. I shall not let you see your wife when she
arrives if your pulse is beating too rapidly. So far you have been
going on fairly, and we must not have you thrown back."
"I shall not be excited," Captain Martin replied. "Now that I
know the vessel is in sight I am contented enough; but I have been
fearing lest the brig might fall in with a Spaniard as she came
through the islands, and there would be small mercy for any on board
had she been detected and captured. Now that I know she is coming
to port safely, I can wait quietly enough. Now, Ned, you can be
off down to the port."
The doctor went out with Ned and charged him strictly to impress
upon his mother the necessity for self restraint and quiet when
she saw her husband.
"I am not over satisfied with his state," he said, "and much will
depend on this meeting. If it passes off well and he is none the
worse for it tomorrow, I shall look to see him mend rapidly; but
if, on the other hand, he is agitated and excited, fever may set
in at once, and in that case, weak as he is, his state will be very
"I understand, sir, and will impress it upon my mother; but I do
not think you need fear for her. Whatever she feels she will, I am
sure, carry out your instructions."
Ned went down to the port. He found that the brig was but a quarter
of a mile away. He could make out female figures on board, and knew
that, as he had rather expected would be the case, his mother had
brought his sisters with her. Jumping into a boat he was rowed off
to the vessel, and climbing the side was at once in his mother's
arms. Already he had answered the question that Peters had shouted
before he was halfway from the shore, and had replied that his father
was going on as well as could be expected. Thus when Ned leapt on
board his mother and the girls were in tears at the relief to the
anxiety that had oppressed them during the voyage lest they should
at its end find they had arrived too late.
"And he is really better?" were Mrs. Martin's first words as she
released Ned from her embrace.
"I don't know that he is better, mother, but he is no worse. He
is terribly weak; but the doctor tells me that if no harm comes to
him from his agitation in meeting you, he expects to see him mend
rapidly. He has been rather fretting about your safety, and I think
that the knowledge that you are at hand has already done him good.
His voice was stronger when he spoke just before I started than
it has been for some days. Only, above all things, the doctor says
you must restrain your feelings and be calm and quiet when you first
meet him. And now, girls, how are you both?" he asked turning to
them. "Not very well, I suppose; for I know you have always shown
yourselves bad sailors when you have come over with mother."
"The sea has not been very rough," Janet said; "and except when we
first got out to sea we have not been ill."
"What are you going to do about the girls?" Mrs. Martin asked. "Of
course I must go where your father is, but I cannot presume upon
the kindness of strangers so far as to quarter the girls upon them."
"That is all arranged, mother. Father agreed with me that it would
not be pleasant for any of you being with strangers, and I have
therefore taken a house; and he has just been moved there, so you
will have him all to yourself."
"That is indeed good news," Mrs. Martin said. "However kind people
are, one is never so comfortable as at home. One is afraid of
giving trouble, and altogether it is different. I have heard all
the news, my boy. Master Peters tried his best to conceal it from
me, but I was sure by his manner that there was something wrong.
It was better that I should know at once," she went on, wiping her
eyes. "Terrible as it all is, I have scarce time to think about
it now when my mind is taken up with your father's danger. And it
hardly came upon me even as a surprise, for I have long felt that
some evil must have befallen them or they would have assuredly
managed to send me word of themselves before now."
By this time the Good Venture had entered the port, and had drawn
up close beside one of the wharves. As soon as the sails were lowered
and the warps made fast, Peters directed three of the seamen to
bring up the boxes from the cabin, and to follow him. Ned then led
the way to the new house.
"I will go up first, mother, and tell them that you have come."
Mrs. Martin quietly removed her hat and cloak, followed Ned upstairs,
and entered her husband's room with a calm and composed face.
"Well, my dear husband," she said almost cheerfully, "I have come
to nurse you. You see when you get into trouble it is us women that
you men fall back upon after all."
The doctor, who had retired into the next room when he heard that
Mrs. Martin had arrived, nodded his head with a satisfied air. "She
will do," he said. "I have not much fear for my patient now."
Ned, knowing that he would not be wanted upstairs for some time,
went out with Peters after the baggage had been set down in the
"So you had a fine voyage of it, Peters?"
"We should have been better for a little more wind, both coming and
going," the mate said; "but there was nothing much to complain of."
"You could not have been long in the river then, Peters?"
"We were six and thirty hours in port. We got in at the top of tide
on Monday morning, and went down with the ebb on Tuesday evening.
First, as in duty bound, I went to see our good dame and give her
your letter, and answer her questions. It was a hard business that,
and I would as lief have gone before the queen herself to give
her an account of things as to have gone to your mother. Of course
I hoisted the flag as we passed up the river. I knew that some of
them were sure to be on watch at Rotherhithe, and that they would
run in and tell her that the Good Venture was in port again. I had
rather hoped that our coming back so soon might lead her to think
that something was wrong, for she would have known that we could
scarce have gone to Amsterdam and discharged, loaded up again, and
then back here, especially as the wind had been light ever since
she sailed. And sure enough the thought had struck her; for when
I caught sight of the garden gate one of your sisters was there on
the lookout, and directly she saw me she ran away in. I hurried on
as fast as I could go then, for I knew that Mistress Martin would
be sorely frightened when she heard that it was neither your father
nor you. As I got there your mother was standing at the door. She
was just as white as death. 'Cheer up, mistress,' I said as cheery
as I could speak. 'I have bad news for you, but it might have been
a deal worse. The captain's got a hurt, and Master Ned is stopping
to nurse him.'
"She looked at me as if she would read me through. 'That's the
truth as I am a Christian man, mistress,' I said. 'It has been a
bad business, but it might have been a deal worse. The doctor said
that he was doing well.' Then your mother gave a deep sigh, and
I thought for a moment she was going to faint, and ran forward to
catch her; but she seemed to make an effort and straighten herself
up, just as I have seen the brig do when a heavy sea has flooded
her decks and swept all before it.
"'Thanks be to the good God that he is not taken from me,' she
said. 'Now I can bear anything. Now, Peters, tell me all about it.'
" 'I ain't good at telling a story, Mistress Martin,' I said; 'but
here is Master Ned's letter. When you have read that maybe I can
answer questions as to matters of which he may not have written. I
will stand off and on in the garden, ma'am, and then you can read
it comfortable like indoors, and hail me when you have got to the
bottom of it.' It was not many minutes before one of your sisters
called me in. They had all been crying, and I felt more uncomfortable
than I did when those Spanish rascals gave us a broadside as I went
in, for I was afraid she would so rake me with questions that she
would get out of me that other sad business; and it could hardly
be expected that even the stoutest ship should weather two such
storms, one after the other.
"'I don't understand it all, Master Peters,' she said, 'for my son
gives no good reason why the Spaniards should thus have attacked an
English ship; but we can talk of that afterwards. All that matters
at present is, that my husband has been wounded and has lost his
leg, and lies in some danger; for although Ned clearly makes the
best of it, no man can suffer a hurt like that without great risk
of life. He wishes me to go over at once. As to the girls, he says
I can take them with me or leave them with a friend here. But they
wish, as is natural, greatly to go; and it were better for all
reasons that they did so. Were they left here they would be in
anxiety about their father's state, and as it may be long before he
can be moved I should not like to leave them in other charge than
my own. When will you be ready to sail again?"
"'I shall be ready by tomorrow evening's tide, Mistress Martin,' I
said. 'I have cargo on board that I must discharge, and must have
carpenters and sailmakers on board to repair some of the damages
we suffered in this action. I do not think I can possibly be ready
to drop down the river before high water tomorrow, which will be
about six o'clock. I will send a boat to the stairs here at half
past five to take you and your trunks on board.'
"'We shall be ready,' she said. 'As Ned says that my husband is well
cared for in the house of the burgomaster, and has every comfort
and attention, there is nothing I need take over for him.' I said
that I was sure he had all he could require, and that she need take
no trouble on that score; and then said that with her permission
I would go straight back on board again, seeing there was much to
do, and that it all came on my shoulders just at present.
"I had left the bosun in charge, and told him to get the hatches
off and begin to get up the cargo as soon as he had stowed the
sails and made all tidy; for I had not waited for that, but had
rowed ashore as soon as the anchor was dropped. So without going
back to the brig I crossed the river and landed by the steps at
the bridge, and took the letters to the merchants for whom I had
goods, and prayed them to send off boats immediately, as it was
urgent for me to discharge as soon as possible; then I went to the
merchants whose names you had given me, and who ship goods with
us regularly, to tell them that the Venture was in port but would
sail again tomorrow evening, and would take what cargo they could
get on board for Enkhuizen or any of the seaward ports, but not
for Amsterdam or other places still in the hands of the Spaniards.
"Then I went to the lord mayor and swore an information before
him to lay before the queen and the council that the Spaniards had
wantonly, and without offence given, attacked the Good Venture and
inflicted much damage upon her, and badly wounded her captain; and
would have sunk her had we not stoutly defended ourselves and beat
them off. I was glad when all that was over, Master Ned; for, as
you know, I know nought about writing. My business is to sail the
ship under your father's orders; but as to talking with merchants
who press you with questions, and seem to think that you have nought
to do but to stand and gossip, this is not in my way, and I wished
sorely that you had been with me, and could have taken all this
business into your hands.
"Then I went down to the wharves, and soon got some carpenters at
work to mend the bulwarks and put some fresh planks on the deck
where the shot had ploughed it up. Luckily enough I heard of a man
who had some sails that he had bought from the owners of a ship
which was cast away down near the mouth of the river. They were a
little large for the Venture; but I made a bargain with him in your
father's name, and got them on board and set half a dozen sailmakers
to work upon them, and they were ready by the next afternoon. The
others will do again when they have got some new cloths in, and a
few patches; but if we had gone out with a dozen holes in them the
first Spaniard who saw us, and who had heard of our fight with the
Don Pedro, would have known us at once.
"I was thankful, I can tell you, when I got on board again. Just
as I did so some lighters came out, and we were hard at work till
dusk getting out the cargo. The next morning at daylight fresh
cargo began to come out to us, and things went on well, and would
have gone better had not people come on board pestering me with
questions about our fight with the Spaniards. And just at noon two
of the queen's officers came down and must needs have the whole
story from beginning to end; and they had brought a clerk with
them to write it down from my lips. They said we had done right
gallantly, and that no doubt I should be wanted the next day at
the royal council to answer other questions touching the affair.
You may be sure I said no word about the fact that in six hours we
should be dropping down the river; for like enough if I had they
would have ordered me not to go, and as I should have gone whether
they had or not -- seeing that Captain Martin was looking for his
wife, and that the mistress was anxious to be off -- it might have
led to trouble when I got back again.
"By the afternoon we had got some thirty tons of goods on board,
and although that is but a third of what she would carry, I was well
content that we had done so much. After the new sails had come on
board I had put a gang to work to bend them, and had all ready and
the anchor up just as the tide turned. We had not dropped down many
hundred yards when the boat with Mistress Martin and your sisters
came alongside; and thankful I was when it came on dark and we
were slipping down the river with a light southwesterly wind, for
I had been on thorns all the afternoon lest some messenger might
arrive from the council with orders for me to attend there. I did
not speak much to your mother that evening, for it needs all a
man's attention to work down the river at night.
"The next morning I had my breakfast brought up on deck instead
of going down, for, as you may guess, I did not want to have your
mother questioning me; but presently your sister came up with a
message to me that Mistress Martin would be glad to have a quarter
of an hour's conversation with me as soon as duty would permit me
to leave deck. So after awhile I braced myself up and went below,
but I tell you that I would rather have gone into action again with
the Don Pedro. She began at once, without parley or courtesies, by
firing a broadside right into me.
"'I don't think, Master Peters, that you have told me yet all there
is to be told.'
"That took me between wind and water, you see. However, I made a
shift to bear up.
"'Well, Mistress Martin,' says I, 'I don't say as I have given you
all particulars. I don't know as I mentioned to you as Joe Wiggins
was struck down by a splinter from the longboat and was dazed for
full two hours, but he came round again all right, and was fit for
duty next day.'
"Mrs. Martin heard me quietly, and then she said:
"'That will not do, John Peters; you know well what I mean. You
need not fear to tell me the news; I have long been fearing it.
My husband is not one to talk loosely in the streets and to bring
upon himself the anger of the Spaniards. He must have had good
cause before he said words that spoken there would place his life
in peril. What has happened at Vordwyk?"
"Well, Master Ned, I stood there as one struck stupid. What was there
to say? I am a truthful man, but I would have told a lie if I had
thought it would have been any good. But there she was, looking
quietly at me, and I knew as she would see in a moment whether
I was speaking truth or not. She waited quiet ever so long and at
last I said:
"'The matter is in this wise, Mistress Martin. My orders was I was
to hold my tongue about all business not touching the captain or
the affairs of this ship. When you sees the captain it's for you
to ask him questions, and for him to answer if he sees right and
good to do so.'
"She put her hand over her face and sat quiet for some time, and
when she looked up again her eyes were full of tears and her cheeks
wet; then she said in a low tone:
"'All, Peters, -- are they all gone?'
"Well, Master Ned, I was swabbing my own eyes; for it ain't in a
man's nature to see a woman suffering like that, and so quiet and
brave, without feeling somehow as if all the manliness had gone out
of him. I could not say nothing. What could I say, knowing what the
truth was? Then she burst out a-crying and a-sobbing, and I steals
off without a word, and goes on deck and sets the men a-hauling at
the sheets and trimming the sails, till I know there was not one
of them but cussed me in his heart and wished that the captain was
"Mistress Martin did not say no word about it afterwards. She came
up on deck a few times, and asked me more about the captain, and
how he looked, and what he was doing when he got his wound. And
of course I told her all about it, full and particular, and how he
had made every one else lie down, and stood there at the tiller as
we went under the stern of the Spaniard, and that none of us knew
he was hit until it was all over; and how we had peppered them with
our four carronades, and all about it. But mostly she stopped down
below till we hauled our wind and headed up the Zuider Zee towards
"Well, now it is all over, Peters," Ned said, "there is no doubt
that it is better she should have heard the news from you instead
of my father having to tell her."
"I don't deny that that may be so, Master Ned, now that it is all
over and done; but never again will John Peters undertake a job
where he is got to keep his mouth shut when a woman wants to get
something out of him. Lor' bless you, lad, they just see right
through you; and you feel that, twist and turn as you will, they
will get it out of you sooner or later. There, I started with
my mind quite made up that orders was to be obeyed, and that your
mother was to be kept in the dark about it till she got here; and
I had considered with myself that in such a case as this it would
be no great weight upon my conscience if I had to make up some kind
of a yarn that would satisfy her; and yet in three minutes after
she got me into that cabin she was at the bottom of it all."
"You see, she has been already very uneasy at not hearing for so
long from her father and brothers, Peters; and that and the fact
that my father had spoken openly against the Spanish authorities
set her upon the track, and enabled her to put the questions
straightforwardly to you."
"I suppose that was it, sir. And now, has the captain said anything
about what is going to be done with the ship till he gets well?"
"Nothing whatever, Peters. He has spoken very little upon any
subject. I know he has been extremely anxious for my mother to
arrive, though he has said but little about it. I fancy that for
the last few days he has not thought that he should recover. But the
doctor told me I must not be uneasy upon that ground, for that he
was now extremely weak, and men, even the bravest and most resolute
when in health, are apt to take a gloomy view when utterly weak and
prostrate. His opinion was that my mother's coming would probably
cheer him up and enable him to rally.
"I think, too, that he has been dreading having to tell her the
terrible news about her father and brothers; and now he knows that
she is aware of that it will be a load off his mind. Besides, I
know that for his sake she will be cheerful and bright, and with
her and the girls with him, he will feel as if at home. The doctor
told me that the mind has a great influence over the body, and
that a man with cheerful surroundings had five chances to one as
against one amongst strangers, and with no one to brighten him up.
I have no doubt that as soon as he gets a little stronger he will
arrange what is to be done with the brig, but I am sure it will be
a long time before he can take the command again himself."
"Ay, I fear it will be," Peters agreed. "It is a pity you are not
four or five years older, Master Ned. I do not say that I couldn't
bring the ship into any port in Holland; for, having been sailing
backwards and forwards here, man and boy, for over thirty years, I
could do so pretty nigh blindfold. But what is the good of bringing
a ship to a port if you have not got the head to see about getting
a cargo for her, and cannot read the bills of lading, or as much
as sign your name to a customs list.
"No, Master Ned, I am not fit for a captain, that is quite certain.
But though I would not mind serving under another till your father
is fit to take charge again, I could not work on board the Venture
under another for good. I have got a little money saved up, and
would rather buy a share in a small coaster and be my own master
there. After serving under your father for nigh twenty years, I
know I should not get on with another skipper nohow."
"Well, Peters, it is no use talking it over now, because I have
no idea what my father's decision will be. I hope above all things
that he will be able to take command again, but I have great doubts
in my own mind whether he will ever do so. If he had lost the leg
below the knee it would not so much have mattered; but as it is,
with the whole leg stiff, he would have great difficulty in getting
about, especially if the ship was rolling in a heavy sea."
John Peters shook his head gravely, for this was the very thing
he had turned in his mind over and over again during the voyage to
and from England.
"Your cargo is not all for this place, I suppose, Peters?"
"No, sir. Only two or three tons which are down in the forehold
together are for Enkhuizen, the rest are for Leyden and the Hague.
I told the merchants that if they put their goods on board I must
sail past the ports and make straight on to Enkhuizen; for that
first of all I must bring Mistress Martin to the captain, but that
I would go round and discharge their goods as soon as I had brought
her here. It was only on these terms I agreed to take the cargo."
"That will do very well, Peters. I will go on board with you at
once, and see to whom your goods are consigned here, and warn them
to receive them at once. You will get them on shore by tonight,
and then tomorrow I will sail with you to Leyden and the Hague,
and aid you in getting your cargo into the right hands there. Now
that my mother and the girls are here my father will be able to
spare me. We can be back here again in four or five days, and by
that time I hope he will be so far recovered as to be able to think
matters over, and come to some decision as to the future management
of the brig. Of course if he wishes me to stay on board her I shall
obey his orders, whether you or another are the captain."
"Why, of course, you will remain on board, Master Ned. What else
should you do?"
"Well, Peters, my own mind is set upon joining the Prince of
Orange, and fighting against the Spaniards. Before I sailed from
home I told my sisters that was what I was longing to do, for I
could scarce sleep for thinking of all the cruelties and massacres
that they carried out upon the people of the Netherlands, who are,
by my mother's side, my kinsfolk. Since then I have scarce thought
of aught else. They have murdered my grandfather and uncles and one
of my aunts; they have shot away my father's leg, and would have
taken his life had he not escaped out of their hands; so that what
was before a longing is now a fixed idea, and if my father will
but give me permission, assuredly I will carry it out.
"There are many English volunteers who have already crossed the
sea to fight against these murderers, although unconnected by ties
of blood as I am, and who have been brought here to fight solely
from pity and horror, and because, as all know, Spain is the enemy
of England as well as of the Netherlands, and would put down our
freedom and abolish our religion as she has done here. I know that
my wishes, in this as in all other matters, must give way to those
of my father. Still I hope he may be moved to consent to them."
Ned thought it better to allow his father and mother to remain
quietly together for some time, and did not therefore return to
the house until twelve o'clock, when he knew that dinner would be
prepared; for his mother was so methodical in her ways that everything
would go on just as at home directly she took charge of the affairs
of the house. He went up for a few minutes before dinner, and was
struck with the change in the expression of his father's face.
There was a peaceful and contented look in his eyes, and it almost
seemed to Ned that his face was less hollow and drawn than before.
Ned told him that it would be necessary for the brig to go round to
Leyden and the Hague, and that Peters had proposed that he should
go with him to see the merchants, and arrange the business parts
of the affair.
"That will do very well," Captain Martin said. "You are young,
Ned, to begin having dealings with the Dutch merchants, but when
you tell them how it comes that I am not able to call upon them
myself, they will doubtless excuse your youth."
"Do you wish us to take any cargo there, father, if we can get
Captain Martin did not answer for some little time, then he said:
"No, Ned, I think you had best return here in the ship. By that time
I shall, I hope, be capable of thinking matters over, and deciding
upon my arrangements for the future. When is Peters thinking of
"By tomorrow morning's tide, sir. He said that he could be ready
perhaps by this evening; but that unless you wished it otherwise
he would not start till tomorrow's tide, as he will thereby avoid
going out between the islands at night."
"That will be the best way, Ned. If the winds are fair he will be
at the Hague before nightfall."
The day after his return Ned took an opportunity of speaking to his
mother as to his wish to take service with the Prince of Orange,
and to aid in the efforts that the people of the Netherlands were
making to free themselves from their persecutors. His mother, as
he feared would be the case, expressed a strong opposition to his
"You are altogether too young, Ned, even if it were a matter that
"It does concern me, mother. Are you not Dutch? And though I was
born in England and a subject of the queen, it is natural I should
feel warmly in the matter; besides we know that many English are
already coming over here to help. Have not the Spanish killed my
relations, and unless they are driven back they will altogether
exterminate the Protestants of the Netherlands? Have they not
already been doomed to death regardless of age and sex by Philip's
proclamation? and do not the Spaniards whenever they capture a town
slay well nigh all within it?"
"That is all true enough," his mother agreed; "but proves in no
way that you are a fit age to meddle in the affair."
"I am sixteen, mother; and a boy of sixteen who has been years at
sea is as strong as one of eighteen brought up on land. You have
told me yourself that I look two or three years older than I am,
and methinks I have strength to handle pike and axe."
"That may be perfectly true," said Mrs. Martin, "but even supposing
all other things were fitting, how could we spare you now when
your father will be months before he can follow his trade on the
sea again, even if he is ever able to do so?"
"That is the thing, mother, that weighs with me. I know not what my
father's wishes may be in that respect, and of course if he holds
that I can be of use to him I must give up my plan; but I want you
at any rate to mention it to him. And I pray you not to add your
objections, but to let him decide on the matter according to his
"There will be no occasion for me to add objections, Ned. I do not
think your father will listen to such a mad scheme for a moment."
It was not until three or four days later that Mrs. Martin, seeing
that her husband was stronger and better, and was taking an interest
in what passed in the house, fulfilled her promise to Ned by telling
his father of his wishes.
"You must not be angry with him," she said when she had finished;
"for he spoke beautifully, and expressed himself as perfectly willing
to yield his wishes to yours in the matter. I told him, of course,
that it was a mad brained scheme, and not to be thought of. Still,
as he was urgent I should lay it before you, I promised to do so."
Captain Martin did not, as his wife expected, instantly declare
that such a plan was not to be thought of even for a moment, but
lay for some time apparently turning it over in his mind.
"I know not quite what to say," he said at length.
"Not know what to say?" his wife repeated in surprise. "Why, husband,
you surely cannot for a moment think of allowing Ned to embark in
so wild a business."
"There are many English volunteers coming over; some of them not
much older, and not so fit in bodily strength for the work as Ned.
He has, too, the advantage of speaking the language, and can pass
anywhere as a native. You are surprised, Sophie, at my thinking of
this for a moment."
"But what would you do without him?" she exclaimed in astonishment.
"That is what I have been thinking as I lay here. I have been
troubled what to do with Ned. He is too young yet to entrust with
all the business of the ship, and the merchants here and at home
would hesitate in doing business with a lad. Moreover, he is too
young to be first mate on board the brig. Peters is a worthy man and
a good sailor, but he can neither read nor write and knows nought
of business; and, therefore, until I am able, if I ever shall be,
to return to the Good Venture, I must have a good seaman as first
mate, and a supercargo to manage the business affairs of the
ship. Were Ned four years older he could be at once first mate and
supercargo. There, you see your objection that I need him falls to
the ground. As to other reasons I will think them over, and speak
to you another time."
THE PRINCE OF ORANGE
Mistress Martin was much troubled in her mind by what seemed to
her the unaccountable favour with which her husband had received
Ned's proposal. She did not, however, allow any trace of this
feeling to escape her, nor did she mention to Ned that she had as
yet spoken as to his wishes to his father. The next day Captain
Martin himself renewed the subject.
"I told you yesterday, Sophie, why in my opinion Ned would at
present be of little aid to me in the matter of the brig, and may
even go further in that respect and say that I think for a time it
will be just as well that he were not on board. Having no established
position there would be no special duties for him to perform. Now,
I have made a point of telling him all about the consignments and
the rates of freight, and have encouraged him always to express
his opinion freely on these matters in order that his intelligence
might thereby be quickened; but if he so expressed himself to the
supercargo the latter might well take offence and difficulties
arise, therefore before you spoke to me I had quite resolved that it
would be best he should sail no more in the Good Venture until old
enough to come in and take the place of second mate and supercargo,
but that I would place him with some captain of my acquaintance,
under whom he would continue to learn his duty for the next three
or four years."
"That is a good reason, doubtless, husband, why Ned should not sail
in the Venture, but surely no reason at all why he should carry
out this mad fancy of his."
"No reason, I grant you, wife; but it simply shows that it happens
at this moment we can well spare him. As to the main question, it
is a weighty one. Other young Englishmen have come out to fight for
the Netherlands with far less cause than he has to mix themselves
up in its affairs. Moreover, and this principally, it is borne
strongly upon my mind that it may be that this boy of ours is called
upon to do good service to Holland. It seems to me wife," he went
on, in answer to the look of astonishment upon his wife's face,
"that the hand of Providence is in this matter.
"I have always felt with you a hatred of the Spaniards and a deep
horror at the cruelties they are perpetrating upon this unhappy
people, and have thought that did the queen give the order for war
against them I would gladly adventure my life and ship in such an
enterprise; further than that I have not gone. But upon that day
when I heard the news of your father and brothers' murder I took
a solemn oath to heaven of vengeance against their slayers, and
resolved that on my return to England I would buy out my partners
in the Good Venture, and with her join the beggars of the sea and
wage war to the death against the Spaniards. It has been willed
otherwise, wife. Within twenty-four hours of my taking that oath
I was struck down and my fighting powers were gone forever.
"My oath was not accepted. I was not to be an instrument of
God's vengeance upon these murderers. Now, our son, without word
or consultation with me, feels called upon to take up the work I
cannot perform. It happens strangely that he can for the next two
or three years be well spared from his life at sea. That the boy
will do great feats I do not suppose; but he is cool and courageous,
for I marked his demeanour under fire the other day. And it may
be that though he may do no great things in fighting he may be
the means in saving some woman, some child, from the fury of the
Spaniards. If he saved but one, the next three years of his life
will not have been misspent."
"But he may fall -- he may be killed by the Spaniards!" Mistress
Martin said in great agitation.
"If it be the will of God, wife, not otherwise. He is exposed to
danger every time he goes to sea. More than once since he first
came on board, the Venture has been in dire peril; who can say that
her next voyage may not be her last. However, I decide nothing now;
tomorrow I will speak to the boy myself and gather from his words
whether this is a mere passing fancy, natural enough to his age and
to the times, or a deep longing to venture his life in the cause
of a persecuted people whose blood runs in his veins, and who have
a faith which is his own and ours."
Mrs. Martin said no more; her husband's will had, since she married,
been in all matters of importance law to her, and was more so than
ever now that he lay weak and helpless. His words and manner too
had much impressed her. Her whole sympathies were passionately with
her countrymen, and the heavy losses she had so recently sustained
had added vastly to her hatred of the Spaniards. The suggestion,
too, of her husband that though Ned might do no great deeds as a
soldier he might be the means of saving some woman or child's life,
appealed to her womanly feelings.
She had girls of her own, and the thought that one of like age
might possibly be saved from the horrors of the sack of a city by
Ned's assistance appealed to her with great force. She went about
the house for the rest of the day subdued and quiet. Ned was puzzled
at her demeanour, and had he not seen for himself that his father
was progressing satisfactorily he would have thought that some
relapse had taken place, some unfavourable symptom appeared. But
this was clearly not the reason, and he could only fancy that now
his mother's anxiety as to his father's state was in some degree
abating, she was beginning to feel the loss of her father and
brothers all the more.
That the request she had promised to make in his name to his father
had anything to do with the matter did not enter his mind. Indeed,
he had begun to regret that he had made it. Not that his intense
longing to take service against the Spaniards was in any way abated,
but he felt it was selfish, now that he might for the first time
be of real use to his parents, for him thus to propose to embark
in adventures on his own account. He had asked his mother to put
the matter before his father, but he had scarce even a hope the
latter would for a moment listen to the proposal. The next morning
after breakfast, as he was about to start for a stroll to the wharf
to have a talk with Peters, his mother said to him quietly: "Put
aside your cap, Ned, your father wishes to speak to you."
She spoke so gravely that Ned ascended the stairs in some perturbation
of spirit. Doubtless she had spoken to his father, and the latter
was about to rate him severely for his folly in proposing to
desert his duty, and to embark in so wild an adventure as that he
had proposed. He was in no way reassured by the grave tone in which
his father said:
"Place that chair by my bedside, Ned, and sit down; my voice is
not strong and it fatigues me to speak loud. And now," he went on,
when Ned with a shamefaced expression had seated himself by the
bedside, "this desire that your mother tells me of to fight against
the Spaniards for a time in the service of the Prince of Orange,
how did it first come to you?"
"Ever since I heard the terrible story of the persecutions here,"
Ned replied. "I said to myself then that when I came to be a man I
would take revenge for these horrible murders. Since then the more
I have heard of the persecutions that the people here have suffered
in the cause of their religion, the more I have longed to be able
to give them such aid as I could. I have spoken of it over and over
again to my sisters; but I do not think that I should ever have
ventured to put my desire into words, had it not been for the
terrible news we learnt at Vordwyk. Now, however, that they have
killed my grandfather and uncles and have wounded you, I long more
than ever to join the patriots here; and of course the knowledge
that many young Englishmen were coming out to Brill and Flushing
as volunteers added to my desire. I said to myself if they who are
English are ready to give their lives in the cause of the Hollanders,
why should not I, who speak their language and am of their blood?"
"You have no desire to do great deeds or to distinguish yourself?"
Captain Martin asked.
"No, father; I have never so much as thought of that. I could not
imagine that I, as a boy, could be of any great service. I thought
I might, perhaps, being so young, be able to be of use in passing
among the Spaniards and carrying messages where a man could not
get through. I thought sometimes I might perhaps carry a warning
in time to enable women to escape with their children from a town
that was about to be beleaguered, and I hoped that if I did stand
in the ranks to face the Spaniards I should not disgrace my nation
and blood. I know, father, that it was presumptuous for me to think
that I could be of any real use; and if you are against it I will,
of course, as I told my mother, submit myself cheerfully to your
"I am glad to see, Ned, that in this matter you are actuated by
right motives, and not moved by any boyish idea of adventure or of
doing feats of valour. This is no ordinary war, my boy. There is
none of the chivalry of past times in the struggle here. It is one
of life and death -- grim, earnest, and determined. On one side
is Philip with the hosts of Spain, the greatest power in Europe,
determined to crush out the life of these poor provinces, to stamp
out the religion of the country, to leave not one man, woman, or
child alive who refuses to attend mass and to bow the knee before
the Papist images; on the other side you have a poor people tenanting
a land snatched from the sea, and held by constant and enduring
labour, equally determined that they will not abjure their religion,
that they will not permit the Inquisition to be established among
them, and ready to give lives and homes and all in the cause
of religious liberty. They have no thought of throwing off their
allegiance to Spain, if Spain will but be tolerant. The Prince
of Orange issues his orders and proclamations as the stadtholder
and lieutenant of the king, and declares that he is warring for
Philip, and designs only to repel those who, by their persecution
and cruelty, are dishonouring the royal cause.
"This cannot go on forever, and in time the Netherlands will be
driven to entreat some other foreign monarch to take them under his
protection. In this war there is no talk of glory. Men are fighting
for their religion, their homes, their wives and families. They
know that the Spaniards show neither quarter nor mercy, and that
it is scarce more than a question between death by the sword and
death by torture and hanging. There is no mercy for prisoners. The
town that yields on good conditions is sacked and destroyed as is
one taken by storm, for in no case have the Spaniards observed the
conditions they have made, deeming oaths taken to heretics to be
in no way binding on their consciences.
"Thus, Ned, those who embark upon this war engage in a struggle in
which there is no honour nor glory, nor fame nor reward to be won,
but one in which almost certain death stares them in the face, and
which, so far as I can see, can end only in the annihilation of
the people of this country, or in the expulsion of the Spaniards.
I do not say that there is no glory to be gained; but it is not
personal glory. In itself, no cause was ever more glorious than
that of men who struggle, not to conquer territory, not to gather
spoil, not to gratify ambition, but for freedom, for religion, for
hearth and home, and to revenge the countless atrocities inflicted
upon them by their oppressors. After what I have said, do you still
wish to embark upon this struggle?"
"I do wish it, father," Ned said firmly. "I desire it above all
things, if you and my mother can spare me."
Captain Martin then repeated to Ned the reasons that he had given
his wife for consenting to his carrying out his wishes: the fact
that there was no place for him at present on board the Good Venture,
the oath of vengeance upon the Spaniards that he had taken, and
his impression that although he himself could not carry out that
oath, its weight had been transferred to his son, whose desire to
take up the work he had intended to carry out, just at this moment,
seemed to him to be a special design of Providence.
"Now Ned," he concluded, "you understand the reasons that sway
me in giving my consent to your desire to do what you can for the
cause of religion and liberty. I do not propose that you should
at present actually take up arms that I question if you are strong
enough to wield. I will pray the burgomaster to give you letters
of introduction to the Prince, saying you are a young Englishman
ready and desirous of doing all that lies in your power for the
cause; that you speak the language as a native, and will be ready
to carry his messages wheresoever he may require them to be sent;
that you can be relied upon to be absolutely faithful, and have
entered the cause in no light spirit or desire for personal credit
or honour, but as one who has suffered great wrong in the loss of
near relatives at the hands of the Spaniards, and is wishful only
of giving such services as he can to the cause.
"It may be that coming with such recommendation the Prince will
see some way in which he can turn your services to account. And now
leave me, my boy. I am wearied with all this talking; and although
I deem that it is not my duty to withstand your wishes, it is no
slight trial to see my only son embark in so terrible and perilous
an adventure as this. But the cause I regard as a sacred one, and
it seems to me that I have no right to keep you from entering upon
it, as your mind lies that way."
Ned left the room greatly impressed with his father's words. He was
glad indeed that the permission he had asked for had been granted,
and that he was free to devote himself to the cause so dear to
most Englishmen, and doubly so to him from his relations with the
country. Sailing backwards and forwards to the various ports in
the Netherlands, and able to hold intercourse with all he met, he
had for years been listening to tales of atrocity and horror, until
he had come to regard the Spaniards as human monsters, and to long
with all his heart and strength to be able to join the oppressed
people against their tyrants.
Now he had got permission to do so. But he felt more than he had
done before the serious nature of the step which he was taking; and
although he did not for a moment regret the choice he had made, he
was conscious of its importance and of the solemn nature of the
duties he took upon himself in thus engaging in the struggle between
the Netherlands and Spain. He passed the room where his mother was
sitting, went over and kissed her, and then taking his cap passed
out into the street and mounted the ramparts, where he could think
undisturbed. His father's words had not shaken his determination,
although they had depressed his enthusiasm; but as he paced up and
down, with the fresh air from the sea blowing upon his cheek, the
feeling of youth and strength soon sent the blood dancing through
his veins again. His cheeks flushed, and his eyes brightened.
"There is honour and glory in the struggle," he said. "Did not the
people, old and young, pour out to the Crusades to wrest Jerusalem
from the hands of the infidels? This is a more glorious task. It is
to save God's followers from destruction; to succour the oppressed;
to fight for women and children as well as for men. It is a holier
and nobler object than that for which the Crusaders fought. They
died in hundreds of thousands by heat, by famine, thirst, and the
swords of the enemy. Few of those who fought ever returned home
to reap glory for their deeds; but there was honour for those who
fell. And in the same spirit in which even women and children left
their homes, and went in crowds to die for the Holy Sepulchre, so
will I venture my life for religion and freedom here."
An hour later he returned home; he could see that his mother had
"Mother," he said, "I trust you will not grieve over this. I have
been thinking how the women of the early days sent their husbands
and sons and lovers to fight for the Holy Sepulchre. I think that
this cause is an even greater and more noble one; and feel sure
that though you may be anxious, you will not grudge me to do my
best for our religion and country people."
"Truly I think it is a holy cause, my boy; and after what your
father has said, I would not if I could say nay. I can only pray
that heaven will bless and keep you, and one day restore you to
me. But you will not be always fighting, Ned. There is no saying
how long the struggle may last; and if I let you go, it is with
the promise that at one-and-twenty at the latest you will return
to us, and take your place again as your father's right hand and
"I promise you, mother, that then, or if at any time before that
you write and say to me come home, I will come."
"I am content with that," his mother said.
That afternoon Ned told Peters what had been decided, and the
following morning the latter had a long talk with Captain Martin,
who directed him to apply to the other owners of the ship to appoint
him an able first mate, and also to choose one of their clerks in
whom they had confidence to sail in the vessel as supercargo.
"The doctors tell me, Peters, that in two or three months I may be
able to return home and to get about on crutches; but they advise
me that it will be at least another four months before I can strap
on a wooden leg and trust my weight to it. When I can do that, I
shall see how I can get about. You heard from Ned last night that
he is going to enter as a sort of volunteer under the Prince of
"Yes, he told me, Captain Martin. He is a lad of spirit; and if I
were fifteen years younger I would go with him."
"He is young for such work yet," Captain Martin said doubtfully.
"He is a strong youth, Captain Martin, and can do a man's work. His
training at sea has made him steady and cool; and I warrant me, if
he gets into danger, he will get out again if there is a chance.
I only hope, Captain Martin, that the brush we have had with the
Spaniards will not be our last, and that we too may be in the way
of striking a blow at the Spaniards."
"I hope that we may, Peters," Captain Martin said earnestly. "My
mind is as much bent upon it as is Ned's; and I will tell you what
must at present be known only to yourself, that I have made up my
mind that if I recover, and can take command of the Good Venture
again, I will buy up the other shares, so that I can do what I like
with her without accounting to any man. I need not do so much on
board as I used to do, but will get you a good second mate, and will
myself only direct. Then we will, as at present, trade between London
and the Netherlands; but if, as is likely enough, the Spaniards
and Hollanders come to blows at sea, or the prince needs ships to
carry troops to beleaguered towns, then for a time we will quit
trading and will join with the Good Venture, and strike a blow at
"That is good hearing, Captain Martin," Peters said, rubbing his
hands. "I warrant me you will not find one of the crew backward
at that work, and for my part I should like nothing better than to
tackle a Spaniard who does not carry more than two or three times
our own strength. The last fellow was a good deal too big for us,
but I believe if we had stuck to him we should have beaten him in
the end, big as he was."
"Perhaps we might, Peters; but the ship was not mine to risk then,
and we had cargo on board. If, in the future, we meet a Spaniard
when the ship is mine to venture, and our hold is clear, the Good
Venture shall not show him her stern I warrant you, unless he be
big enough to eat us."
On the following day the Good Venture set sail for England, and the
burgomaster having received a message from Captain Martin, praying
him to call upon him, paid him a visit. Captain Martin unfolded his
son's plans to him, and prayed him to furnish him with a letter to
the prince recommending him as one who might be trusted, and who
was willing to risk his life upon any enterprise with which he
might intrust him. This the burgomaster at once consented to do.
"Younger lads than he," he said, "have fought stoutly on the walls
of some of our towns against the Spaniards; and since such is his
wish, I doubt not he will be able to do good service. All Holland
has heard how your ship beat off the Don Pedro; and the fact that
the lad is your son, and took part in the fight, will at once
commend him to the prince. All Englishmen are gladly received; not
only because they come to fight as volunteers on our side, but as
a pledge that the heart of England is with us, and that sooner or
later she will join us in our struggle against Spain. And doubtless,
as you say, the fact that the lad is by his mother's side one of
us, and that he can converse in both our language and yours with
equal ease, is greatly in his favour. Tomorrow I will furnish him
with letters to the prince, and also to two or three gentlemen of
my acquaintances, who are in the prince's councils."
When the burgomaster had left, Captain Martin called Ned in.
"Now, you are going as a volunteer, Ned, and for a time, at any
rate, there must be no question of pay; you are giving your services
and not selling them. In the first place you must procure proper
attire, in which to present yourself to the prince; you must also
purchase a helmet, breast and back pieces, with sword and pistols.
As for money, I shall give you a purse with sufficient for your
present needs, and a letter which you can present to any of the
merchants in the seaports with whom we have trade, authorizing you
to draw upon me, and praying them to honour your drafts. Do not
stint yourself of money, and do not be extravagant. Your needs
will be small, and when serving in a garrison or in the field you
will, of course, draw rations like others. I need not give you a
list of the merchants in the various towns, since you already know
them, and have been with me at many of their places of business.
"In regard to your actions, I say to you do not court danger, but
do not avoid it. The cause is a good one, and you are risking your
life for it; but remember also that you are an only son, and there
are none to fill your place if you fall. Therefore be not rash;
keep always cool in danger, and if there is a prospect of escape
seize it promptly. Remember that your death can in no way benefit
Holland, while your life may do so; therefore do not from any
mistaken sense of heroism throw away your life in vain defence, when
all hope of success is over, but rather seek some means of escape
by which, when all is lost, you can manage to avoid the vengeance
of the Spaniards. I fear that there will be many defeats before
success can be obtained, for there is no union among the various
states or cities.
"Holland and Zeeland alone seem in earnest in the cause, though
Friesland and Guelderland will perhaps join heartily; but these
provinces alone are really Protestant, in the other the Catholics
predominate, and I fear they will never join heartily in resistance
to Spain. How this narrow strip of land by the sea is to resist
all the power of Spain I cannot see; but I believe in the people
and in their spirit, and am convinced that sooner than fall again
into the grasp of the Inquisition they will open the sluices and
let the sea in over the country they have so hardly won from it,
and will embark on board ship and seek in some other country that
liberty to worship God in their own way that is denied them here."
It was not necessary to purchase many articles of clothing, for
the dress of the people of Holland differed little from that of the
English. Ned bought a thick buff jerkin to wear under his armour,
and had little difficulty in buying steel cap, breast and back piece,
sword and pistols; for the people of Holland had not as yet begun
to arm generally, and many of the walls were defended by burghers
in their citizen dress, against the mail clad pikemen of Spain.
Three days later Ned took a tearful farewell of his family, and
set sail in a small vessel bound for Rotterdam, where the Prince
of Orange at present was. The voyage was made without adventure,
and upon landing Ned at once made his way to the house occupied by
the prince. There were no guards at the gate, or any sign of martial
pomp. The door stood open, and when Ned entered a page accosted
him and asked his business.
"I have letters for the prince," he said, "which I pray you to hand
to him when he is at leisure."
"In that case you would have to wait long," the page replied,
"for the prince is at work from early morning until late at night.
However, he is always open of access to those who desire to see
him, therefore if you will give me the name of the writer of the
letter you bear I will inform him, and you can then deliver it
yourself." A minute later Ned was shown into the presence of the
man who was undoubtedly the foremost of his age.
Born of a distinguished family, William of Orange had been brought
up by a pious mother, and at the age of twelve had become a page in
the family of the Emperor Charles. So great was the boy's ability,
that at fifteen he had become the intimate and almost confidential
friend of the emperor, who was a keen judge of merit.
Before he reached the age of twenty-one he was named commander in
chief of the army on the French frontier. When the Emperor Charles
resigned, the prince was appointed by Philip to negotiate a treaty
with France, and had conducted these negotiations with extreme ability.
The prince and the Duke of Alva remained in France as hostages for
the execution of the treaty. Alva was secretly engaged in arranging
an agreement between Philip and Henry for the extirpation of
Protestantism, and the general destruction of all those who held
that faith. The French king, believing that the Prince of Orange
was also in the secret, spoke to him one day when out hunting freely
on the subject, and gave him all the details of the understanding
that had been entered into for a general massacre of the Protestants
throughout the dominions of France and Spain.
The Prince of Orange neither by word or look indicated that all
this was new to him, and the king remained in ignorance of how
completely he had betrayed the plans of himself and Philip. It
was his presence of mind and reticence, while listening to this
astounding relation, that gained for the Prince of Orange the title
of William the Silent. Horror struck at the plot he had discovered,
the prince from that moment threw himself into the cause of the
Protestants of the Netherlands, and speedily became the head of the
movement, devoting his whole property and his life to the object.
So far it had brought him only trials and troubles.
His estate and that of his brothers had been spent in the service;
he had incurred enormous debts; the armies of German mercenaries
he had raised had met with defeat and ruin; the people of the
Netherlands, crushed down with the apathy of despair, had not lifted
a finger to assist the forces that had marched to their aid. It
was only when, almost by an accident, Brill had been captured by
the sea beggars, that the spark he had for so many years been trying
to fan, burst into flame in the provinces of Holland and Zeeland.
The prince had been sustained through his long and hitherto fruitless
struggle by a deep sense of religion. He believed that God was with
him, and would eventually save the people of the Netherlands from
the fate to which Philip had doomed them. And yet though an ardent
Protestant, and in an age when Protestants were well nigh as bigoted
as Catholics, and when the idea of religious freedom had scarce
entered into the minds of men, the prince was perfectly tolerant,
and from the first insisted that in all the provinces over which
he exercised authority, the same perfect freedom of worship should
be granted to the Catholics that he claimed for the Protestants in
the Catholic states of the Netherlands.
He had not always been a Protestant. When appointed by Philip
stadtholder of Holland, Friesland, and Utrecht he had been a moderate
Catholic. But his thoughts were but little turned to religious
subjects, and it was as a patriot and a man of humane nature that
he had been shocked at the discovery that he had made, of the
determination of the kings of France and Spain to extirpate the
Protestants. He used this knowledge first to secretly urge the
people of the Netherlands to agitate for the removal of the Spanish
troops from the country; and although he had secret instructions
from Philip to enforce the edicts against all heretics with vigour,
he avoided doing so as much as was in his power, and sent private
warnings to many whom he knew to be in danger of arrest.
As Governor of the Netherlands at the age of twenty-six, he was
rich, powerful, and of sovereign rank. He exercised a splendid
hospitality, and was universally beloved by the whole community for
the charm of his manner and his courtesy to people of all ranks.
Even at this period the property which he had inherited from
his father, and that he had received with his first wife, Anne of
Egmont, the richest heiress of the Netherlands, had been seriously
affected by his open handed hospitality and lavish expenditure.
His intellect was acknowledged to be of the highest class. He had
extraordinary adroitness and capacity for conducting state affairs.
His knowledge of human nature was profound. He had studied deeply,
and spoke and wrote with facility Latin, French, German, Flemish,
The epithet Silent was in no way applicable to his general character.
He could be silent when speech was dangerous, but at other times
he was a most cheerful and charming companion, and in public the
most eloquent orator and the most brilliant controversialist of his
age. Thirteen years had passed since then, thirteen years spent
in incessant troubles and struggles. The brilliant governor of
Philip in the Netherlands had for years been an exile; the careless
Catholic had become an earnest and sincere Protestant; the wealthy
noble had been harassed with the pecuniary burdens he had undertaken
in order to raise troops for the rescue of his countrymen.
He had seen his armies defeated, his plans overthrown, his countrymen
massacred by tens of thousands, his co-religionists burnt, hung,
and tortured, and it was only now that the spirit of resistance
was awakening among his countrymen. But misfortune and trial had
not soured his temper; his faith that sooner or later the cause
would triumph had never wavered. His patience was inexhaustible,
his temper beyond proof. The incapacity of many in whom he had
trusted, the jealousies and religious differences which prevented
anything like union between the various states, the narrowness
and jealousy even of those most faithful to the cause, would have
driven most men to despair.
Upon his shoulders alone rested the whole weight of the struggle.
It was for him to plan and carry out, to negotiate with princes,
to organize troops, to raise money, to compose jealousies, to rouse
the lukewarm and appeal to the waverers. Every detail, great and
small, had to be elaborated by him. So far it was not the Netherlands,
it was William of Orange alone who opposed himself to the might of
the greatest power in Europe.
Such was the prince to whom Ned Martin was now introduced, and it was
with a sense of the deepest reverence that he entered the chamber.
He saw before him a man looking ten years older than he really
was; whose hair was grizzled and thin from thought and care, whose
narrow face was deeply marked by the lines of anxiety and trouble,
but whose smile was as kindly, whose manner as kind and gracious
as that which had distinguished it when William was the brilliant
young stadtholder of the Emperor Philip.
A DANGEROUS MISSION
"I hear you have a letter for me from my good friend the burgomaster
of Enkhuizen," the Prince of Orange said, as Ned with a deep
reverence approached the table at which he was sitting. "He sends
me no ill news, I hope?"
"No, your excellency," Ned said. "It is on a matter personal to
myself that he has been good enough to write to you, and I crave
your pardon beforehand for occupying your time for a moment with
so unimportant a subject."
The prince glanced at him keenly as he was speaking, and saw that
the young fellow before him was using no mere form of words, but
that he really felt embarrassed at the thought that he was intruding
upon his labours. He opened the letter and glanced down it.
"Ah! you are English," he said in surprise. "I thought you a
countryman of mine."
"My mother is from Holland, sir," Ned replied; "and has brought me
up to speak her language as well as my father's, and to feel that
Holland is my country as much as England."
"And you are the son of the English captain who, lately, as I heard,
being stopped in his passage down the Zuider Zee by the Spanish ship
Don Pedro, defended himself so stoutly that he inflicted great loss
and damage upon the Spaniard, and brought his ship into Enkhuizen
without further damage than a grievous wound to himself. The
burgomaster tells me that you are anxious to enter my service as a
volunteer, and that you have the permission of your parents to do
"Many of your brave compatriots are already coming over; and I am
glad indeed of their aid, which I regard as an omen that England
will some day bestir herself on our behalf. But you look young for
such rough work, young sir. I should not take you for more than
"I am not yet eighteen, sir," Ned said, although he did not think
it necessary to mention that he still wanted two years to that age.
"But even children and women have aided in the defence of their
"It is somewhat strange," the prince said, "that your parents
should have countenanced your thus embarking in this matter at so
young an age."
"The Spaniards have murdered my grandfather, three of my uncles, and
an aunt; and my father would, had it not been that he is disabled
by the wound he received, and which has cost him the loss of a leg,
have himself volunteered," Ned replied. "But, sir, if you think
me too young as yet to fight in the ranks, my father thought that
you might perhaps make use of me in other ways. I have sailed
up every river in the Netherlands, having been for the last five
years in my father's ship trading with these ports, and know their
navigation and the depth of water. If you have letters that you
want carried to your friends in Flanders, and would intrust them
to me, I would deliver them faithfully for you whatever the risk;
and being but a boy, could pass perhaps where a man would be
suspected. I only ask, sir, to be put to such use as you can make
of me, whatever it may be, deeming my life but of slight account
in so great and good a cause."
"No man can offer more," the prince said kindly. "I like your face,
young sir, and can see at once that you can be trusted, and that
you have entered upon this matter in a serious spirit. Your father
has proved himself to be a brave fighter and a skilful sailor, and
I doubt not that you are worthy of him. Your youth is no drawback
in my eyes, seeing that I myself, long before I reached your age,
was mixed up in state affairs, and that the Emperor Charles, my
master, did not disdain to listen to my opinions. I accept your
offer of service in the name of the Netherlands; and deeming that,
as you say, you may be of more service in the way of which you
have spoken than were I to attach you to one of the regiments I am
raising, I will for the present appoint you as a volunteer attached
to my own household, and, trust me, I will not keep you long in
He touched a bell and the page entered. "Take this gentleman," he
said, "to Count Nieuwenar, and tell him that he is to have rank as
a gentleman volunteer, and will at present remain as a member of
my household, and be treated as such."
With a kindly nod he dismissed Ned, who was so affected by the
kindness of manner of the prince that he could only murmur a word
or two of thanks and assurance of devotion. One of the burgomaster's
letters, of which Ned was the bearer, was to Count Nieuwenar, the
prince's chamberlain, and when the page introduced him to that
officer with the message the prince had given him, Ned handed to
him the burgomaster's letter. The count ran his eye down it.
"My friend the burgomaster speaks highly in your praise, young
sir," he said; "and although it needed not that since the prince
himself has been pleased to appoint you to his household, yet I am
glad to receive so good a report of you. All Holland and Zeeland
have been talking of the gallant fight that your father's ship made
against the Spaniard; and though I hear that the Queen of England
has made remonstrances to the Spanish Ambassador as to this attack
upon an English ship, methinks that it is the Spaniards who suffered
most in the affair."