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Martin Hyde, The Duke's Messenger by John Masefield

Part 3 out of 4

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there be no one here? Is he going to steal the letters to submit
them to somebody ashore?"

I was pretty sure that there was somebody shut up in the ship who
was concerned in the theft with Barlow. I cannot tell what made
me so sure. I had deceived the captain so easily that I despised
him. I did not give him credit for any intelligence whatsoever.
Perhaps that was the reason. Then it came over me with a cold
wave of dismay that perhaps the woman Aurelia was on board,
hidden somewhere, but active for mischief. I remembered that
scrap of conversation from the inn-balcony. I wondered if that
secret mission mentioned then was to concern me in any way. What
was it, I wondered, that was put into her pocket by her father as
she stood crying there, just above me? If she were on board, then
I must indeed look to myself, for she was probably too cunning a
creature to be deceived by my forgeries. The very thought of
having her in the ship with me was uncomfortable. I felt that I
must find some more subtle hiding-place for my letters than I had
found hitherto. I may have idealized the woman, in my alarm, into
a miracle of shrewdness. At any rate I knew that she would be a
much more dangerous opponent than Captain Barlow, the jocular
donkey who allowed himself to be fooled by a schoolboy who was in
his power. I knew, too, that she would probably search me other
letters, whether my ciphered blinds deceived her or not. She was
not one so easily satisfied as a merchant skipper; besides, she
had now two scores against me, as well as excellent reason to
think me a sharp young man.

Presently, after half an hour's absence, the captain came back
with the satchel, evidently very pleased with himself. He seemed
to find pleasure in the sight of my pretended distress. "Why," he
said, with a grin; "you've not eaten your orange."

"No, sir," I said, "I'm not very hungry just after breakfast."

"Why, then," he answered, "you must keep it for your dinner. Look
how nice I've mended your strap for you."

"Thank you very much, sir," I said. "But thought that you were
going to do it here. You were going to teach me how to do it."

"Well, it's done now, isn't it?" he replied. "It's done pretty
good, too. I'll teach you how to sew some other time. I suppose
they don't learn you that, where you go to school?"

"No, sir," I said, "they don't."

"Ah," he said, picking up the book. "You're a great one for your
book, I see. There's very good reading in a book like that."

"Yes," I said, looking at the mended strap. "There is. How very
neatly you've mended the strap, sir. Thank you very much."

He looked at me with a look which said, very plainly, "You've got
a fine nerve, my lad, to pretend in that way."

I could see from his manner during the next few minutes that he
wished to keep me from examining the satchel flap. No doubt he
thought that I was on tenter-hooks all the time, to look to see
if the precious letters had been disturbed. At last, in a very
easy way, after slinging the strap round my shoulder, I pulled
out my handkerchief, intending to put it into the satchel as into
an extra pocket.

"I'm going up on deck, sir," I said. "May I take the book with

As he said that I might, I swiftly opened the satchel, to pop the
book in. I could feel that he watched my face mighty narrowly all
the time. No doubt I looked guilty enough to convince him of his
cleverness. I had no more than a second's peep at the flap, but
that was quite enough to show me that it had been tampered with.
I had finished off my work that morning with an even neatness.
The bold Captain Barlow had left two ends of thread sticking out
from the place where he had ended his stitch. Besides, my thread
had been soaped, to make it work more easily. The thread in the
flap now was plainly not soaped; it was fibrous to the touch, not
sleeked down, as mine had been.

When I went on deck, I found the ship driving fast down Channel,
making an excellent passage. I took up my place by the
mizzen-rigging, near which there were no seamen at work, so that
I could puzzle out a new hiding-place for my letters. I noticed,
as I stood there, that some men were getting a boat over the
side.: It seemed a queer thing to be doing in the Channel, so far
from the port to which we were bound; but I did not pay much
attention to it at the time, as I was very anxious. I was
wondering what in the world I could do with the pistol cartridges
which I had made that morning. I feared Aurelia. For all that I
could tell she was looking at me as I stood there, guessing, from
my face, that I had other letters upon me. It did not occur to me
that my anxiety might be taken for grief at having the satchel
searched. At last it came into my head that Aurelia, if she were
in the ship, would follow up that morning's work promptly, before
I could devise a fresh hiding-place. At any rate I felt pretty
sure that I should not be much out of that observation until the
night. It came into my head that the next attack would be upon my
boots; for in those days secret agents frequently hid their
papers above a false boot-sole, or stitched them into the double
leather where the beckets, or handles, joined the leg of the boot
at the rim.

Sure enough, I had not been very long on deck when the ship's boy
appeared before me. He was an abject looking lad, like most
ship's boys. I suppose no one would become a ship's boy until he
had proved himself unfit for life anywhere else. Personally, I
had rather be a desert savage than a ship's boy. My experience on
La Reina was enough to sicken me of such a life forever. This
barquentine's boy came up to me, as I have said.

"Sir," he said, "can I take away your boots to black, please?"

"No," I answered, "my boots don't want blacking. I grease them

"Please, sir," he said, "do let me take them away, sir."

"No," I said. "I grease them myself, thank you." I thought that
this would end the business; but no such matter.

"Please, sir," he said, "I wish you would let me take them away.
The captain'll wale me if I don't. He gave me orders, sir."

"Don't call me 'sir,'" I said. "I'll see the captain myself."

I walked quickly to the companion-way, below which (listening to
us, like the creature he was) sat the captain, carving the end of
a stick.

"Please, sir," I said, "I've already greased my boots this
morning. I always grease them." (I had only had them about twelve
hours.) "If I blacked them they'd get so dry that they would

"All right. All right, boy," he answered. "I forgot you wore
soft-leather boots. They're the kind they buy up to make salt
beef of at the Navy Yard." He grinned in my face, as though he
were pleased; but a few minutes later, when I had gone forward, I
heard him thrashing the wretched boy, because he had failed to
get the boots from me for him.

I soon found that I was pretty closely watched. If I went forward
to the fo'c's'le, I found myself dogged by the ship's boy, who
was blubbering from his whipping, poor lad, as though his heart
would break. In between his sobs, he tried to tell me the use of
everything forward, which was trying to me, as I knew more than
he knew. If I went aft, the mate would come rolling up, to ask me
if I could hear the dog-fish bark yet. If I went below the
captain got on to my tracks at once. He was by far the worst of
the three: the other two were only obeying his orders. I went
into my cabin hoping to get rid of him there; but no, it was no
use. In he came, too, with the excuse that he wished to see if I
had enough clothes on my bunk. It was more worrying than words
can tell. All the time I wondered whether he would end by
knocking me senseless so that he might search my boots at his
ease. I had the fear of that strongly on me. I was tempted, yet
feared, to drive him from me by threatening him with my pistol.
His constant dogging of me was intolerable. But had I threatened
him, he would have had an excuse for maltreating me. My duty was
to save the letters, not to worry about my own inconveniences.
Often, since then, I have suffered agonies of remorse at not
giving up the letters meekly. Had I done so, I might, who knows,
have saved some two thousand lives. Well. We are all agents of a
power greater than ourselves. Though I was, it may be, doing
wrong then, I was doing wrong unwittingly. Had things happened
only a little differently, my wrong would have turned out a
glorious right. The name of Martin Hyde would have been in the
history books. He watched me narrowly as I took off my waistcoat
(pretending to be too hot), nor did he forget to eye the
waistcoat. "See here," he said. "Do you know how a sailor folds a
waistcoat? Give it to me now. I'll show you." He snatched it from
my hands with that rudeness which, in a boorish nature, passes
for fun; he only wished to feel it over so that if any letter
were sewn within it he might hear the paper crackle. The sailor's
way of folding a waistcoat, as shown by him then, was just the
way which bent all the cloth in folds. He seemed to be much
disgusted at hearing no crackling as he folded it. I could have
laughed outright at his woeful face, had I been less anxious. Had
he been worth his salt as a spy he would have lulled all my
suspicions to sleep before beginning to search for letters.
Instead of that he went to work as crudely as a common footpad..


After I had taken off my waistcoat, I went out into the
'tweendecks, then into the grand cabin, then into the space below
the booms. He followed me everywhere, keeping me under
observation, till I was tempted to tell him where the letters
were, so as to have a little peace. At first he kept telling me
stories, or making bad jokes; but very soon he grew weary of
pretending; he became surly. At this point I asked him which was
his cabin. He glowered at me for asking such a question, but he
pointed it out to me. It was a cabin no larger than my own, on
the opposite (that is the port) side of the 'tweendecks. I took
the opportunity (it was a bold stroke, evidently displeasing to
him) of looking in; for to tell the truth I had a suspicion that
he slept in the grand cabin, on the top of the locker. I thought
that the stateroom had another inmate. When I looked into it I
expected to find myself in Aurelia's presence. I did not want to
see her; but I wished very eagerly to know if she were in the
ship or not. The stateroom was empty, but the bunk, which had
been slept in, was not yet made up.

I do not know how much longer he would have dogged me about the
ship. To my great joy he was called from me by the mate, who
cried down the hatchway, bidding him come up at once, as there
was "something in sight." Captain Barlow evidently wanted me to
come on deck with him; but I was resolute. I said I would stop
below to have another try at his stories. He went on deck
surlily, saying something about "You wait," or "You whelp," I
could not catch his exact words. He turned at the hatchway to see
where I had gone. I had expected this move, so when he looked, he
saw me entering the grand cabin, just as I had said. I watched
him through the crack in the hinge; for I fully expected him to
return suddenly. As he did not return on the instant, I darted
into my own cabin just long enough to drop the letter cartridges
into an old tin slush-pot which was stowed in the locker below
the bunk. I had noted it in the early morning when I had done my
sewing. I pressed the cartridges into the slush, till they were
all hidden. In another instant of time the pot was back in the
locker among the other oddments while I was back in the cabin
hard at work at my sermons. I was conscious that the captain
glanced through the skylight at me. No doubt what he saw
reassured him. For the moment I felt perfectly safe.

About half an hour later, I heard a great noise of hauling on
deck, followed by the threshing of our sails, as though they had
suddenly come aback. I knew enough of the sea to know that if we
were tacking there would be other orders, while, if the helmsman
had let the ship come aback by accident I should have heard the
officers rating him. I heard neither nor orders; something else
was happening. A glance out of the stern windows showed me that
the ship was no longer under way. She was not moving through the
water. It struck me that I had better go on deck to see what was
the matter. When I reached the deck I found that the barquentine
was hove-to (that is, held motionless by a certain arrangement of
the sails) about half a mile from a small full-rigged ship which
had hove-to likewise. The barquentine's boat was rapidly pulling
towards this full-rigged ship, with Captain Barlow sitting in the
stern-sheets. The ship was a man-of-war; for she flew the St.
George's banner, as well as a pennant. Her guns were pointing
through her ports, eight bright brass guns to a broadside. She
was waiting there, heaving in huge stately heaves, for Captain
Barlow's message.

Now I had had alarms enough since I entered the Duke's service;
but I confess this sight of the man-of-war daunted me worse than
any of them. I knew that Captain Barlow had stopped her, so that
he might hand over my letters to her captain; that was easily
guessed The next question was, would the captain insist on taking
the messenger to be examined in person. It was that which scared
me worst. I had heard frightful tales about political prisoners.
They were shut up in the Tower dungeons, away below the level of
the Thames. They were examined there by masked magistrates who
wrung the truth from them by the "bootikins," which squeezed the
feet, or by the thumbscrews, which twisted the thumbs. My feet
seemed to grow red-hot when I thought of that horror. I knew only
too well that my youth would not save me. James the Second was
never moved by pity towards a beaten enemy. I watched the arrival
of the boat at the ship's side, with the perspiration running
down my face. I began to understand, now, what was meant by the
words high treason. I saw all the majesty of the English Navy,
all the law, all the noble polity of England, arrayed to judge a
boy to death, for a five minutes' prank. They would drag me on a
hurdle to Tyburn, as soon as torture had made me tell my tale.

But enough of my state of mind. I saw Captain Barlow go up the
ship's gangway, where an officer no doubt received him. Very soon
afterwards he came down the gangway again, half followed by some
one who seemed to be ordering him. His boat then shoved off for
the barquentine. The man-of-war got under way again by swinging
her great mainyard smartly about. The smother at her bows gleamed
whiter at the very instant, as she gathered way. It was a blessed
sight to me, after my suspense, I assure you; but I did not
understand it till later. I learned later on that Captain Barlow
was one of a kind of men very common in those troublous times. He
was hedging, or trimming. He was quite willing to make money by
selling the Duke's plans to the King; but he had the sense to see
that the Duke's party might succeed, in which case the King's
favour would not be worth much. So his treason to the Duke
stopped short of the betrayal of men attached in any way to the
Monmouth party. He would betray letters, when he could lay his
hands on them unobserved; but he was not going to become an open
enemy to the Duke until he knew that the Duke's was the losing
side; then he would betray men fast enough. Until then, he would
receive the trust of both factions, in order to betray a portion
of the confidence received from them.

The day dragged by for me somehow, uncomfortably, under the
captain's eye. It was one of the longest days I have ever known.
It sickened me utterly of the life of adventure to which I now
seemed pledged. I vowed that if I had the chance I would write to
my uncle from Mr. Blick's house, begging to be received back.
That seemed to be the only way of escape possible to me. It did
not seem hopeful; but it gave me some solace to think of it. I
longed to be free from these terrors. You don't know what an
adventurous life is. I will tell you. It is a life of sordid
unquiet, pursued without plan, like the life of an animal. Have
you seen a dog trying to cross a busy street? There is the
adventurer. Or the rabbit on the cliff, in his state of continual
panic; he, too, lives the adventurous life. What does the world
owe to the adventurer? But there. I become impatient. One patient
hero in his garret is worth all these silly fireworks put

One thing more happened on that day. The breeze freshened all the
afternoon till by bedtime it blew what is called a fresh gale.
Captain Barlow drove his ship till she shook to her centre, not
because he liked (like many sailors) to show his vessel's paces;
but because he sat at his bottle too long after dinner. He was
half drunk by supper time, too drunk to take the sail off her, so
we drove on down Channel, trusting to the goodness of the gear.
There would have been a pretty smash-up if we had had to alter
our course hurriedly. As it was we were jumping like a young
colt, in a welter of foam, with two men at the tiller, besides a
gang on the tackles. I never knew any ship to bound about so
wildly. I passed the evening after supper on deck, enjoying the
splendour of that savage leaping rush down Channel, yet just a
little nervous at the sight of our spars buckling under the
strain. The captain was drunk before dark; we could hear him
banging the table with his bottle. The mate, who was on the poop
with me, kept glancing from the spars to the skylight; he was
getting frightened at the gait we were going. "Young man," he
said, "d'ye know the sailor's catechism?"

"No, sir," I answered. "Well," he said, "it's short but sweet,
like a ration of rum. What is the complete duty of a sailorman?
You don't know? It's this. OBEY ORDERS, IF YOU BREAK OWNERS. My
orders are not to take off sail till Mr. drunken Barlow sees fit.
You'll see a few happenings aloft just now if he don't see fit
soon." Just at that instant she gave a lurch which sent one of
the helmsmen flying. The mate leaped to his place with an angry
exclamation. "Another man to the helm," he cried. "You, boy. Run
below. Tell the captain she'll be dismasted in another five
minutes." He was in the right of it. A blind man could have told
that the ship was being over-driven. I ran down, as eager as the
mate to put an end to the danger.

When I went below, I found the captain in my cabin, rummaging
everywhere. He had flung out the contents of the lockers, my
bedclothes, everything, in a jumble on the deck, which, in a
drunken aimless way he was examining by the light of a couple of
dip candles, stuck to the edge of the bunk. It was not a time to
mind about that. "Sir," I said, "the ship is sinking. Come on
deck, sir; take the sail off. The mate says the ship is sinking."

"Eh," said the captain furiously. "You young spy. I command this
ship. What's the sail got to do with you?" He glared at me in
drunken anger.

"You young whelp," he cried, grabbing me by the collar. "Where
are your letters? Eh? Where've you hid your letters?"

At that instant, there came a more violent gust in the fierceness
of wind which drove us. The ship gave a "yank;" there is no other
word to express the frightful shock of her movement. She lay down
on her lee beam ends with a crash of breaking crockery. Casks
broke loose in the hold; gear fell from aloft; the captain was
flung under me against the ship's side. The deck beneath us
sloped up like a roof. In the roar of water rushing down the
hatch I remember thinking that the Day of Judgment was come.
Yells on deck mingled with all the uproar; I heard something thud
like a sledge-hammer on the ship's side. The captain picked
himself up holding his head, which was all one gore of blood from
the crack against the ship's side. "Beam ends," he said stupidly.
"Beam ends. Yes. Yes." He was dazed; he did not know what he
said; but some sort of sailor's instinct told him that he was
wanted on deck. At any rate he went out, pulling himself up the
steep deck with a cleverness which I had not expected. He left me
clutching the ledge of the bunk, staring up at the door away
above me, while the wreck of my belongings banged about at my
feet. I thought it was all over with the ship; but I was not
scared at the prospect of death; only a little sickish from the
shock of that sudden sweeping over. I found a fascination in the
horrible open door, the black oblong hole in the air through
which the captain had passed. I waited for the sea to pour down
it. I expected to see a clear mass of water with fish in it;
something quite calm, something beautiful, not the noisy horror
of the sea outside. I suppose I waited like that for a full
minute before the roar of the squall grew less. Then I told
myself that I must go on deck; that the danger would be less,
looking it in the face, than down there in the cabin. It was not
pleasant to go on deck, any more than it is pleasant to go
downstairs at two in the morning to look for burglars, but it was
better to be moving than staying still. I clenched my fist upon
the only dip which remained alight (the other was somewhere in
the jumble under my feet). Then, catching hold of the door-hook I
pulled myself up to the door, where I steadied myself for a
moment. While I stood there I had a horrible feeling of the ship
having died under my feet. She had been leaping so gallantly only
five minutes before. Now she lay with her heart broken, while the
seas beat her with great thumps.

Two battle-lanterns lit the after 'tweendecks. There was a great
heap of staved in casks, slopping about in an inch or two of
water, all along that side, thrown there by the smash. I could
hear the men yelling on deck. Captain Barlow was swearing in loud
shouts. I could hear all this in the lull of the squall. I heard
more than that, as I stood listening. I heard the faint crying
out of a woman's voice from the steward's pantry (next door to
the captain's cabin) on the opposite side, across the steep,
tipped up slippery decks. At first I thought it must be the poor
cat; but as the wind passed, letting me hear more clearly, I
recognized that it was a woman's voice, crying out there in the
darkness with a note of pain. I did not think of Aurelia. She
never entered my head. All that I thought was "Poor creature!
What a place for a woman!" The ship was jerking, you might almost
call it gasping, as the seas struck her; it was no easy job to
climb along that roof-slope of the deck with nothing to hold on
by. I got across somehow, partly by luck, partly by fingernails.
I even managed to open the pantry door, which was another
difficulty, as it opened inwards, into the cabin. As I opened it,
a suck of wind blew out my light. There I was in the dark, with a
hurt woman, in a ship which for all I knew, might sink with all
hands in twenty seconds. It is queer; I didn't mind the ship
sinking. What I disliked was being in the dark with an unknown
somebody who whimpered.

"Are you much hurt?" I asked. "Hold on a minute. I'll strike a
light." I shut myself into the cabin, so as to keep out the
draught. My feet kicked among the steward's crockery. It was as
dark in that cubby-hole as in a grave. The unknown person,
probably fearing me, thinking me some rough drunken sailor, was
crying out now more in terror than in pain. She was begging me
not to hurt her. I probably frightened her a good deal by not
replying. The tinder box took up all my attention for a good
couple of minutes. A tinder box is not a thing to get light by
hurriedly. You try some day, to see how quickly you can light a
candle by one. When I got the candle lit, I thought of the
battle-lanterns swinging outside all the time. I might have saved
myself all that trouble by using a little common sense. Well.
Wait till you stand as I stood, with your heart in your boots,
down in a pit of death, you'll see how much common sense will
remain in your fine brains.

When the flame took hold of the wick, so that I could look about
me, I saw the lady Aurelia lying among the smashed up gear to
leeward. She had been lying down, reading in a sort of bunk which
had been rigged up for her on the locker-top. The shock had flung
her clean out of the bunk on to the deck. At the same moment an
avalanche of gear had fetched to leeward. A cask had rolled on to
her left hand, pinning her down to the deck, while a box of
bottles had cut the back of her head. A more complete picture of
misery you could not hope to see. There was all the ill-smelling
jumble of steward's gear, tumbled in a heap of smash, soaking in
the oil from the fallen lamp. There was a good deal of blood
about. Aurelia was lying in all the debris half covered with
salted fish from one of the capsized casks. They looked like huge
leaves. She seemed to have been buried under them, like a babe in
the wood. She grew calm when she saw me. "There are candles under
the bunk," she said. "Light two or three. Tell me what has

I did not answer till I had lighted three or four more candles.
"The ship's on her beam ends," I said. "It's the captain's fault.
But never mind that. I must get you out. Are you badly hurt, do
you think?"

"I'm all right," she said with a gasp. "But it's being pinned in
here. I thought I was going to be pinned down while I was being

"Shut your eyes, please," I said. "Bite your lip. It'll hurt, I'm
afraid, getting this cask off your hand. Are you ready. Now." I
did it as gently as I could; but it made me turn all cold to
think of the hand under all that weight.

"Can you withdraw your hand, now?" I asked, tilting the cask as
far up as I could.

"No," she said. "Look out. I'll roll out." In another two seconds
she was sitting up among the crockery with her face deathly white
against the bulkhead; she had fainted. There was a water-carafe
on a bracket up above my head. I splashed her face with water
from it till she rallied. She came to herself with a little
hysterical laugh, at the very instant when something giving way
aloft let the ship right herself again. "Hold on a minute," I
said. "Take this water. Now drink a little. I'll be back in a
moment." The ship was rolling drunkenly in the trough of the sea;
but I made a nimble rush to the cabin, where the captain's cruet
of brandy bottles still swung from a hook in the beams. I ran
back to her with a bottle of brandy. There were a few unbroken
mugs in the pantry, so I gave her a drink of brandy, which
brought the colour back to her cheeks. While she sat there, in
the mess of gear which slid about as the ship rolled, I got a
good big jug of water from the scuttle-butt in the 'tweendecks. I
nipped on deck with it to ask the mate for some balsam, an
excellent cure for cuts which most sailors carry to sea with
them. There was mess enough on deck in all conscience. I found
the foretopmast gone over the side, in a tangle of torn rope at
which all hands were furiously hacking. The mate was on the
fo'c'sle hacking at some gear with a tomahawk. I did not see the

"Mr. mate," I cried. "I want some balsam, quick."

"Get out of this," he shouted. "Get out of this. I can't attend
to your hurts. Don't come bothering here."

"It's for the lady," I said, "the lady down below."

"In my chest. Look in my chest till," he said. "Now stand dear.
I've trouble enough without ladies in the case. Are you all
clear, you, aft there?"

"All gone here, sir," the men shouted back. "Shall we sling a
bowline over the foot?"

"No," he shouted. "Look out. She's going."

For just a second I saw the mass of spar all tangled up with sail
rise up on a wave as it drifted past. I found myself wondering
why we had all been in the shadow of death only a couple of
minutes before. There was no thought of danger now. I ran below
for the balsam, which I found without difficulty.


I took what handkerchiefs I could find into the pantry with me.
"There's no danger," I said. "The ship's all right. How are you
now? Let me give you some more brandy." I gave her a little more
brandy; then I helped her on to the top of the locker. Pouring
out some water into the basin I bathed the cut on her head. It
was a clean long cut which would probably have gone through the
bone had not her hair been so thick. I dressed it as well as I
could with balsam, then bound it tightly up with a white
handkerchief. The hand was a good deal more, difficult to manage;
it was nastily crushed; though no bones were broken. The wrist
was so much swollen that I had to cut open the sleeve of her
man's riding jacket. Then I bathed the hand with cold water mixed
with vinegar (which I had heard was cooling) till I felt that the
time had come to bandage it, so that the patient might lie down
to rest. She had been much shaken by her fall. I don't think it
ever once occurred to me to think of her as my enemy. I felt too
much pity for her, being hurt, like that. "Look here," I said.
"You'll have to wear that arm in a sling. I'll bandage it up for
you nicely." She bore my surgery like the hero she was; it didn't
look very wonderful when it was done; but she said that the pain
was a good deal soothed. That was not the end though. I had to
change cabins with her, since I could not let a hurt woman sleep
in that bunk in the pantry; she might so easily be flung from it
a second time. So I shifted her things into my cabin, where I
made all tidy for her. As for the precious slush can, I stowed
that carefully away, at the back of some lumber in one of the
pantry lockers, where it would not be found. Altogether, it took
me about twenty minutes to make everything ready, by which time
the little accident on deck had been forgotten, except by those
who had to do the work of sending up a new topmast; a job which
kept all hands busy all night. The ship was making a steady three
knots. under her reduced sail when I helped Aurelia across to her
new room. There was no more thought of danger.

As I paused at the cabin door, to ask if there was anything more
which I could do for her, the lady turned to me.

"What is your name?" she asked. I am ashamed to say that I
hesitated, being half inclined to give her a false name; for my
time of secret service had given me a thorough distrust of pretty
nearly everybody. She noticed my hesitation. "As a friend to
another friend," she added. "Life isn't all the King's service."

"My name is Martin Hyde," I said.

"Mine is Aurelia," she replied, "Aurelia Carew. Will you remember
that?" I told her that I should certainly remember that. "We seem
to have met before," she said, "more than once."

"Yes," I answered, smiling. She, too, smiled, but she quickly
became grave again.

"Mr. Martin Hyde," she said, with a little catch in her voice,
"we two are in opposite camps. But I don't know. After this, it's
difficult. I warn you." Here she stopped, quite unable to go on.
"I can't," she continued, more to herself than to me, "I can't.
They oughtn't to have put this on me. They oughtn't. They
oughtn't." She laid her unhurt hand on my shoulder for a moment.
"Let me warn you," she said earnestly, "that you're in danger."

"In danger from you?" I asked.

"Don't ask me more," she said, "I hate myself for telling you
even that. Oh, it's terrible to have to do it. Go now. Don't ask
me more. But I had to warn you. But I can't do it myself." I did
not know what to make of this; but I gathered that her task
(whatever it was) from which she had shrunk so bitterly in the
Dutch town only the night before, was now to be deputed to
another, probably to the captain, perhaps to the Dartmouth
justices. I did not like the thought; but I thanked her for
warning me, it was generous of her to warn me. I took out the
dagger with which she had tried to stab me. "You said we were in
opposite camps, Miss Carew," I said. "But I wouldn't like to keep
this. I mean I wouldn't like to think that we were enemies,
really." I daresay I said other foolish things as well, at the
same time.

"Yes, keep it," she said. "I couldn't bear to have it again. But
be warned. Don't trust me. While we're in opposite camps you be
warned. For I'm your enemy, then, when you least expect it."

Nothing much happened the next day until the evening, by which
time we were off the Isle of Wight. With the aid of the mate, I
doctored Aurelia's hand again; that was the only memorable event
of the day. In the evening, the captain (who had been moody from
his drunkenness of the night before) asked me to sing to him in
the great cabin. I was surprised at the request; but I knew a few
ballads, so I sang them to him. While I was singing, Aurelia
entered the cabin; she sat down on one of the lockers below the
great window. She looked very white, in the gloom there. She did
not speak to me; but sat there restlessly, coughing in a dry
hacking way, as though one of her ribs had been broken in the
fall. I lowered my voice when I noticed this, as I was afraid
that my singing might annoy her; I thought that she was suffering
from her wound. The captain told me to pipe up; as he couldn't
hear what my words were. I asked Aurelia if my singing worried
her; but instead of answering she left the cabin for a few
minutes. When she came back, she sat with her face in her hand,
seemingly in great pain. I sang all the ballads known to me. When
I had finished, the captain grunted a note of approval. "Well,"
he said, "so there's your ballads. That's your treat. Now you
shall have mine." A little gong hung in the cabin. He banged upon
it to summon his boy, who came in trembling, as he always did,
expecting to be beaten before he went out. "Bring in a jug of
cool water," he said. "Then fetch them limes I bought." As the
boy went out, the captain turned to me with a grin. "Did you ever
drink Turk's sherbet?" he said.

"No," I answered. "I've never even heard of it. What is it?"

"Why," he said, "it's a drink the heathen Turks make out of
citron. A powder which fizzes. I got some of it last autumn when
I made a voyage to Scanderoon. It's been too cold ever since to
want to drink any, as it's a summer drink mostly. Now you shall
have some." He took down some tumblers from the rack in which
they stood. "Here's glasses," he said. "Now the sherbet is in
this bottle here." He produced a pint glass bottle from one of
the lockers. It was stopped with a wooden plug, carved in the
likeness of a Turk's head. It was about three parts full of a
whitish powder. A label on the side of the bottle gave directions
for its preparation.

When the boy returned with his tray, the captain squeezed the
juice of half a lime into each of the three tumblers. "That's the
first thing," he said. "Lime juice. Now the water." He poured
water into each glass, till they were nearly full. "White of egg
is said to make it better," he said to me. "But at sea I guess we
must do without that. Now then. You're the singer, so you drink
first. Be ready to drink it while it fizzes; for then it's at its
best. Are you ready?" I was quite ready, so the captain filled
his spoon with the soft white powder. Glancing round at Aurelia I
saw that she had covered her eyes with her hand. "Won't Miss
Carew drink first?" I asked.

"I don't want any," she said in a low voice. Before I could speak
another word the captain had poured his heaped spoonful of powder
into my glass. "Stir it up, boy," he cried. "Down with it while
it fizzes." Aurelia rose to her feet, catching her breath

I remember a pleasant taste, as though all of the fruits of the
world had been crushed together into a syrup; then a mist surged
all about me, the cabin became darker, the captain seemed to grow
vast, till his body filled the room. My legs melted from me. I
was one little wavering flame blowing about on great waves.
Something was hard upon my head. The captain's hand (I could
feel) was lifting my eyelid. I heard him say "That's got him."
Instantly a choir of voices began to chant "That's got him," in
roaring, tumultuous bursts of music. Then the music became, as it
were, present, but inaudible; there were waves of sound all round
me, but my ears were deafened to them. I had been put out of
action by some very powerful drug, I remember no more of that
evening's entertainment. I was utterly unconscious.

I came to, very sick, some time in the night. I was in the bunk
in the pantry; but far too helpless in my misery to rise, or to
take an account of time. I lay half-conscious till the morning,
when I fell into a deep sleep, which lasted, I may say, till the
evening; for I did not feel sufficiently awake to get up until
about half-past five. When I did get up, I felt so tottery that I
could hardly keep my feet. Someone, I supposed that it was
Aurelia, had placed a metal brandy flask, with a paper roll
containing hard-boiled eggs, on my wash-hand-stand. I took a gulp
of the brandy. In the midst of my sickness I remember the shame
of it; the shame of being drugged by those two; for I knew that I
had been drugged; the shame of having given up like that, at the
moment when I had the cards in my hand; all the cards. I was
locked into the pantry; all my clothes were gone. I found myself
dressed in a sailor's serge-shirt. All my other property had
vanished. I remember crying as I shook at the door to open it; it
was too strong for me, in my weak state. As I wrestled with the
door, I heard the dry rattling out of the cable. We had come to
anchor; we were in Dartmouth; perhaps in a few minutes I should
be going ashore. Looking through the port-hole, I saw a great
steep hill rising up from the water, with houses clinging to its
side, like barnacles on the side of a rock. I could see people
walking on the wharf. I could see a banner blowing out from a

A few more gulps of brandy brought me to myself I was safe
anyhow; my cartridges had not been found. I dropped them one by
one into the metal-flask. Whatever happened, no one would look
for them there. Then I banged at the door again, trying to make
people hear. Nobody paid any attention to me; I might have spared
myself the trouble. Long afterwards, I learned that I was
detained while Captain Barlow spoke to a magistrate about me,
asking if I might be "questioned," that is, put to the
thumbscrews, till it could be learned whether I carried a verbal
message to my uncle, Mr. Blick. The magistrate to whom he first
applied was one of the Monmouth faction as it happened, so my
thumbs escaped; but I had a narrow escape later, as you shall
hear. About an hour after the ship came to anchor, the cabin-door
was opened by a sailor, who flung in an armful of clothes to me,
without speaking a word. They were mostly not my own clothes; the
boots were not mine; my own boots, I guessed, had been cut to
pieces in the letter-hunt. All the clothes which were mine had
had the seams ripped up. All my cartridges had been taken. About
half of my money was gone. The only things untouched were the
weapons in the belt. I laughed to myself to think how little
reward they had had for all their baseness. They had stooped to
the methods of the lowest kind of thieves, yet they had failed.
They had not found my letters. My joy was not very real; I was
too wretched for that. Looking back at it all long after, I think
that the hardest thing to bear was Aurelia's share in the work. I
had not thought that Aurelia would join in tricking me in that
way. But while I thought bitterly of her deceit, I thought of her
tears on the balcony in the Dutch city. After all, she had been
driven into it by that big bully of a man. I forgave her when I
thought of him; he was the cause of it all. A brute he must have
been to force her into such an action. Presently the mate came
down with orders to me to leave the ship at once. I asked him for
my own clothes; but he told me sharply to be thankful for what I
had, since I'd done no work to earn them; by work he meant the
brainless manual work done by people like himself. So going on
deck I called a boatman, who for twopence put me ashore on the
Kingswear side of the river. He gave me full directions for
finding Mr. Blick's house, telling me that in another five
minutes I should come to it, if I followed my nose. As I started
from the landing place I looked back at the barquentine, where I
had had so many adventures. She was lying at anchor at a little
distance from the Dartmouth landing place, making a fair show,
under her flag, in spite of her jury foretopmast. As I looked,
the boatman jogged my elbow, pointing across the river to the
strip of road which edges the stream. "A young lady waving to
you," he said. Sure enough a lady was waving to me. I supposed
that it was Aurelia, asking pardon, trying to show me that we
parted friends. I would not wave at first; I was surly; but after
about a minute I waved my hat to her. Then I set off up the road
to Mr. Blick's. Ten minutes later, I was in Mr. Blick's house,
telling him all that I have now told you.

Mr. Blick kept me in his house for a day or two less than four
weeks, when business took him to Exeter. I went with him; for he
gave out that he was taking me to school there, as his dead
sister had wished. His real reason was to pass the word through
the country that King Monmouth was coming. He was one of the few
men in full knowledge of the Duke's plans; but as we went about
from town to town, spreading the word among the faithful, I saw
that the Duke was expected by vast numbers of the country folk.
Our clients were not much among the gentry; they hung by
themselves, as, in this country, they always will, in times of
popular stir. But among the poorer people, such as small farmers,
or common labouring men, we were looked for as men sent from on
high. At more than one little quiet village, when we went into
the inn-parlour, we saw the men looking at us, half frightened,
half expectant, as though we, being strangers, must needs have
news of the King for whom they longed. Often some publican or
maltster would tell us that Gyle (their name for the unfortunate
Argyle, then a defeated man in Scotland, if not already put to
death for his rebellion) was taken, looking at us carefully as he
spoke, for fear lest we should be of the wrong side. Then, if we
seemed sympathetic, he would tell us how perhaps another would
have better luck elsewhere. After that, we would tell our news.
It was dangerous work, though, carrying that message across the
country. In many of the towns we found guards of the Devon red
regiment of militia. I am quite sure that if Mr. Blick had not
had me by his. side, as an excellent excuse for travelling to
Exeter, he would have been lodged in gaol as a suspicious
character. The soldiers had arrested many travellers already; the
gaols were full. King James's great man in those parts, the Earl
of Albemarle, knew very well that something was in the air; but
as he was a great lord the hearts of the poor were hidden from
him. He had no guess of what was planning. In a way, the Duke's
affairs were very well planned. The eastern end of Devon, all
Somerset, with the western end of Dorset, were all ripe to rise,
directly he appeared. They knew that he was coming; they were
prepared to join him; they knew at about what time he would come,
at about a fortnight from hay-harvest. Already, quite unknown to
the authorities, we had men picked out to carry the news of the
landing to different parts of the country. So far, I think, the
Duke's affairs were well planned. But though we had all this
enthusiasm in three counties, besides promises of similar risings
in London, we were in no real case to take the field. Our
adherents, however numerous, however brave, were only a mob, when
all is said; they were not an army. The Duke thought that the
regular army, or at least some regiments of it, would desert to
him, as happened some years later, when the great Prince William
did what my master attempted. But my master forgot that he had
neither the arms nor the officers to make his faction a likely
body for regular troops to join.


We spread the tidings as far as Exeter, where Mr. Blick made some
pretence of handing me over to a schoolmaster, one Hubble, a
red-faced, cheery clergyman, one of the most ardent rebels on our
side. Indeed, the clergymen everywhere supported us, as defenders
of the Protestant faith, which that dastard James would have
destroyed. Mr. Hubble made some excuse for not taking me in at
the instant; but gave us letters of introduction to people in
towns further on, so that we could pass the militia without
difficulty, to give the news in western Dorset. So after waiting
for a little while in Exeter, gathering all the news we could of
the whereabouts of the troops of militia, we pushed on eastward,
by way of Sidmouth, to the big town of Dorchester. As we came
east, we found the militia very much more suspicious than they
had been on the western side of Exeter. At every little town we
found a strong guard so placed that no one could enter without
passing under the captain's eye. We were brought before militia
captains some two or three times a day. Sometimes we were
searched; sometimes, if the captain happened to be drunk, we were
bullied with threats of the gaol. Mr. Blick in these cases always
insisted on being brought before the magistrate, to whom he would
tell a fine indignant tale, saying what a shame it was that he
could not take his orphan nephew peaceably to school, without
being suspected of complicity in a rebellion. He would then show
Mr. Hubble's letters, or some other papers signed by the
Dartmouth magistrates. These always cleared our characters, so
that we were allowed to proceed; but I did not like the way in
which our descriptions were taken. Once on our journey, shortly
after we had left Sidmouth, where the soldiers had been very
suspicious, we turned out of the highway to leave word at a town
called Seaton. We spread the watchword at several villages near
the sea, before we came to Seaton, so that we were rather late in
arriving. Thinking no wrong, we put up at one of the inns in
Seaton, intending to pass the night there. We were at supper in
our inn, when some yeomanry rode up to the door, to ask the
landlord if an elderly man had passed that way with a boy. The
landlord, who was a good deal scared by the soldiers, showed the
captain in to us at once. We were quite as much scared to see him
as the landlord had been. The captain of the soldiers was the
very man who had given us such a searching examination in
Sidmouth that morning.

"Well," he said to Mr. Blick, "I thought you were going to
Dorchester. What brings you here?" "Sir," said Mr. Blick, "we've
been so much interrupted by soldiers that we hoped to travel away
from the main-roads."

"Well, sir," said the captain, "I've had you watched. Since you
left Sidmouth, you've been into every inn upon the road,
listening to a lot of seditious talk about Argyle. That's not my
point, though. You gave out to me that you were going to
Dorchester. Instead of that you slink off the Dorchester road at
the first opportunity. You will have to explain yourself to my
superiors. You're under arrest."

"Sir," said Mr. Blick, "I am sorry that you should think ill of
me. We will gladly come with you to answer for our conduct to the
authorities. But while the horses are being saddled, perhaps you
will join us at supper. Landlord, bring a couple of bottles more.
The captain sups with us."

But though the captain drank his couple of bottles of port, he
did not become any gentler with us. As soon as supper was over we
had to ride on again, with the troopers all round us.

"Sir," said Mr. Blick, "may I ask you where we are going with

"Axminster," said the captain.

"Well. That's on my way," said Mr. Blick.

"It'll probably end your way, for some time," said the captain.

"I'm perfectly willing to abide by the decision of the
authorities," Mr. Blick answered calmly. "But what is the meaning
of all these soldiers everywhere? I've asked the people; but
nobody seems able to give a straight answer."

"I think you know what the soldiers mean well enough," answered
the captain. "If you hadn't known you wouldn't have turned out of
the highway."

At about midnight we reached Axminster. We were taken before a
couple of officers who sat at work by candlelight over a mass of
papers, in an upper chamber of an inn. They had a wild air of
having been without sleep for some time. Their muddy riding boots
were drying in front of the fire. They had a map of the
countryside before them, all stuck about with little flags, some
red, some yellow, to show where the different troops of militia
were stationed. After saluting these officers, the captain made
his report about us, saying that we were suspicious persons, who
had started from Sialmouth, towards Dorchester. He had waited to
receive word from the troops stationed along the highway of our
arrival at various points upon the road; but, failing to hear
about us, he had searched for us, with the result that he had
found us at Seaton, some miles out of our way. The officers
questioned us closely about our plans, making notes of what we
said. They kept referring to a book of letters, as though to
verify what we said. Mr. Blick's answers made them take a
favourable view of us; but they told him in a friendly way that
the officer had done right to arrest us. They complimented the
captain on his zeal. Meanwhile, they said, since we were going to
Dorchester, we could not object to going with a military escort.
A troop of cavalry was to start in a couple of hours; we could go
with that.

We were in Dorchester for a few days, always under the eye of the
soldiers. It was a bustling, suspicious time full of false
alarms. Mr. Blick told me that the message "King Golden Cap.
After six one," meant that the Duke was to be expected off Golden
Cap, a cliff a few miles from Lyme Regis, any day after the first
of the sixth month. He was on tenter-hooks to be in Lyme to greet
him on his arrival; but this he could not hope to do. We were
watched too carefully to be able to get away to a place upon the
sea-coast. We had to be very careful how we sent our secret
message abroad into the country. I have never known a time so
full of alarms. People would ride in to the town at night with
word that Monmouth was landed, or that there was fighting all
along the coast, or that King James was dead. The drums would
beat; the cavalry would come out clattering. People would be
crying out. The loyal would come to their doorsteps ready to fly
further inland. Every night, if one lay awake, one could hear the
noise of spades in back gardens where misers were burying their
money. Then, every day, one would see the troopers coming in,
generally two at a time, with a suspected man led by a cord
knotted to his two thumbs. Dorchester gaol was full of suspected
people, who were kept in prison indefinitely, without trial, in
very great discomfort. King James was afraid, he did not really
know of what, so he took measures not so much to prevent trouble
as to avenge his own fear. Mr. Blick used to send me to the
prison every morning with loaves of fresh bread for the

At last, after midnight, in the night of the 11th of June, a
memorable day for the West, riders came in with news which
destroyed the night's rest of the town. Monmouth had landed at
Lyme the evening before, after sailing about in sight of the town
all day. That was news indeed. It made a strange uproar in the
streets. The trumpets blew from every inn-door to summons the
billeted soldiers. Officers ran about bawling for their
sergeants; the sergeants hurried about with lanterns, rousing the
men from where they slept. All the streets were full of cavalry
men trying to form in the crowd. At last, when they were formed,
a trumpet sounded, making everyone keep silence. Then in the
stillness an officer shouted out an order, which no one, save a
soldier, could understand. Instantly the kettle-drums began to
pound; the swords jingled; the horses whinnied, tossing up their
heads. The soldiers trotted off smartly towards Bridport, leaving
the town strangely quiet, strangely scared, to discuss the great
news from Lyme.

I was watching the crowd at my bed-room window when the horsemen
trotted off. While I stood looking at them, Mr. Blick ran
upstairs, bidding me to come down at once, as now there was a
chance to get to Lyme. "Come quick," he said. "The troops are
gone. We must follow on their tracks. It'll be too late later in
the morning." In less than twenty minutes we were trotting after
the soldiers at a good pace, passing some scores of men on foot
who were hurrying, as they said, to see the battle. Mr. Blick
wore a sword which clattered as he rode. The people hearing the
noise thought that he was an officer, perhaps a colonel, riding
with his servant. Many of the men asked him where the battle was
to be, whether it would begin before daylight, whether Monmouth
was come with the French, all sorts of questions, to which we
answered at random. In the light summer night we had a fair view
of things. When we dismounted to lead our horses up or down the
steep hills of that road, the straggling sight-seers came all
round us as we walked, to hear what we had to tell. We could see
their faces all about us, strange in the dusk, like ghosts, not
like real men. At the top of one hill, Mr. Blick warned them to
look out for themselves. He told them that before morning the
highway would be patrolled by troops who would take them in
charge as suspicious characters trying to join Monmouth, which
actually happened the next day when the militia officers realized
that war had begun. His words scared off a number ,of them; but
many kept on as they were going, to see the great battle, which,
they said, would begin as soon as it was light.

When the sun began to peep, we turned off the highway in order to
avoid Bridport, which we passed a little after dawn. A few miles
further on we felt that we could turn into the road again as we
were safe from the militia at that distance. Then, feeling happy
at the thought of the coming contest, which, we felt sure, would
be won by our side, we pressed our tired nags over the brook
towards the steep hill which separates Charmouth from Lyme.

It was early morning, about five o'clock, when we came to
Charmouth; but the little town was as busy as though it were noon
on fair-day. The street was crowded. People were coming in from
all the countryside. A man was haranguing the crowd from a
horseless waggon drawn up at an inn. The horses had no doubt been
pressed into Monmouth's service some hours before. I should think
that there must have been three hundred people listening to the
orator. Men, already half drunk, with green boughs in their hats,
were marching about the town in uneven companies, armed with
clubs torn from the hedges. Weeping women followed them, trying
to persuade their sons or husbands to come home. Other men were
bringing out horses from private stables. People were singing.
One man, leaning out of a window, kept on firing his pistol as
fast as he could load. Waving men cheered from the hill above.
The men in the town cheered back. There was a great deal of noisy
joking everywhere. They cheered us as we rode through them,
telling us that Monmouth had arms for all. One poor woman begged
Mr. Blick to tell her man to come home, as without him the
children would all starve. The crowd groaned at her; but Mr.
Blick stopped them, calling the husband, who was in a sad
state of drunken vainglory, to leave the ranks in which he tried
to march. "We don't want fathers of families," he cried. "We want
these tight young bachelors. They're the boys." Indeed, the tight
young bachelors felt that this was the case, so the woman got her
man again; lucky she was to get him. As far as I could judge, the
crowd imagined us to be great officers; at any rate our coming
drew away the listeners from the waggon. They came flocking to
our heels as though we were the Duke himself. A drummer beat up a
quickstep; the crowd surged forward. We marched across the fields
to Lyme, five hundred strong. One of the men, plucking a sprig of
hawthorn from the hedge, asked me to wear it in my hat as the
Duke's badge, which I did. He called me "Captain." "Captain," he
said. "We had a brush with them already, this morning, along the
road here. Two on 'em were killed. They didn't stay for no more."
So fighting had begun then, the civil war had taken its first
fruits of life. There could be no more shillyshallying; we had
put our hands to a big business. In spite of the noise of the
march, my spirits were rather dashed by the thought of those two
men, lying dead somewhere on the road behind us, killed by their
own countrymen.

We are said to be a sober people; but none of those who saw Lyme
that morning would have had much opinion of our sobriety.
Charmouth had been disorderly; Lyme was uproarious. Outside the
town, in one of the fields above the church, we were stopped by
a guard of men who all wore white scarves on their arms, as well
as green sprays in their hats. They stopped us, apparently,
because their captain wished to exercise them in military
customs. They were evidently raw to the use of arms. They handled
their muskets like spades. "Be you for Monmouth, masters?" they
asked us, grinning. When we said that we were, this very
unmilitary guard told us to pass on. "Her've got arms for all,"
they said. "The word be 'Fear nothing but God.'" Some of them
joked with friends among our party. They waved their muskets to


Inside the town, there was great confusion.Riotous men were
foraging, that is, plundering from private houses, pretending
that they did so at the Duke's orders. The streets were full of
people, nearly all of them men, the green boughs in their hats.
On the beach two long lines of men with green scarves on their
arms were being drilled by an officer. Horses were picketed in a
long line up the main street; they were mostly very poor
cart-stock, ill-provided, as I learned afterwards, with harness.
Men were bringing hay to them from whatever haystack was nearest.
From time to time, there came a loud booming of guns, above the
ringing of the church bells. Three ships in the bay, one of them
La Reina, were firing salutes as they hoisted their colours. It
was all like a very noisy fair or coronation day. It had little
appearance of an armed invasion. We found the Duke busy with Mr.
Jermyn enlisting men in a field above the town.

"That's not Mr. Jermyn. That's Lord Grey," Mr. Blick said, on
hearing me exclaim. "Mr. Jermyn's only the name he goes by. He's
my Lord now, you must remember."

Just then the Duke caught sight of us riding up. He took us for
local gentry, coming in to volunteer. He came smiling to welcome
us. It must have been a shrewd disappointment to him to find that
we were not what he thought. All his hopes were in the gentry,
poor man. By the time we were on our feet with our hats off he
had turned his back upon us as though to speak to Lord Grey, but
really, I believe, to hide his chagrin. When he turned to us
again both of them welcomed us, saying that there was work enough
for all, in enlisting men, making out billets, etc. So without
more ado we gave our horses to the ostlers at an inn. Mr. Blick
at once began to blarney the standers-by into joining, while I,
sitting at a little table, in the open air, wrote out copies of a
letter addressed to the local gentry. My copies were carried from
Lyme by messengers that afternoon but, alas for my master, they
did not bring many gentry to us.

Now while I was writing at the table, under the great flapping
standard, with the Duke, in his purple coat, walking about in
front of me, I had a pretty full view of the crowd which ringed
us in. We were circled about by a crowd of gaping admirers; from
whom, every minute, Mr. Blick, or the Duke, or Lord Grey, would
select a sheepish grinning man to serve under our colours. Among
the crowd I noticed a little old lame man with a long white
beard. He was a puppet-man, who was making the people laugh by
dancing his puppets almost under the Duke's nose. As he jerked
the puppet-strings, he played continually on his pan-pipes the
ribald tune of "Hey, boys, up go we," then very popular. The Duke
spoke to him once; but he did not answer, only bowed very low,
with his hat off, which made the people think him an idiot or a
jester. They laughed heartily at him. After a bit, it occurred.
to me that this old puppet-shaker always crept into the ring
(with his hat off to receive alms) whenever the Duke spoke aside
to Lord Grey, or to some other officer. I watched him narrowly to
make sure, because something in his manner made me suspect that
he was trying to catch what our leaders said to each other. I
tried to recall where I had seen the old man; for I had seen him
before. He had been at Exeter on the day we set out for Sidmouth,
so much I remembered clearly; but looking at him carefully, with
my head full of memories of faces, it seemed to me that he had
been at Dorchester also. Surely an old man, lame in the left leg
like this man, had gone down a narrow lane in front of me in
Dorchester. I had not thought of it in Dorchester; but I thought
of it now, with a feeling that it was strange to meet again thus
in Lyme. I took good stock of the man, wondering if he were a
spy. He was a dirty old man enough. His dirty fingers poked
through ragged mittens. His cheeks were all swathed up in a
woollen comforter. I made the mistake of looking at him so hard
that I made him look at me. Seeing that I was staring at him,
with a face full of suspicion, he walked boldly up to me, holding
out his hat for my charity. We stared at each other, while he
blew a blast on his pan-pipes, at which everybody laughed.

"Come, come, boy," said Lord Grey to me, "we want those letters
done. Never mind about the puppets. Here, old man" (giving him a
penny), "you take yourself off now. Or are you going to enlist?"

The people laughed again at this, while the old man, after a
flourish of his hat to me, piped up lively quickstep, called
"Jockeys to the Fair."

He disappeared after this. I did not see him again until our
troubles began, later in the morning. I was finishing off the
last of my letters, when some of our scouts rode in to make a
grave report to the Duke. They had ridden in pretty hard, their
horses were lathered all over. They themselves were in an
internal lather; for they had just had their first sight of war.
They had come into touch (so they declared) with the whole of
Albemarle's militia, marching out to attack them. On being
questioned, it turned out that they had heard this from an
excited labourer who had run to them with the news, as they stood
guard in a roadside field a few miles out of Lyme. They
themselves had seen nothing, but the news seemed so probable that
the Duke acted on it. He sent me off at once with a message to a
clever, handsome gentleman who was in charge of the cavalry in
the street. It was in giving the message that I saw the old man
again. He was them limping up the street on the. Sidmouth road,
going fast, in spite of his lameness. I gave my message to the
captain, who commanded his trumpeter to call to arms. The
trumpeter blew nobly; but the sight of the confusion afterwards
showed me how little raw troops can be trusted. There was a hasty
scramble for horses rather than a setting forth. Some men
quarreled over weapons; others wrestled with harness; others ran
about wildly, asking what was happening, was it to be a battle,
what did blowing .on the trumpet mean? Some few, thinking the
worst, got wisdom in those few moments. They took horses from the
ranks, but instead of forming up with the regiments, they
galloped off home, having had enough of soldiering at the first
order. The foot behaved rather better, knowing, perhaps, that if
they fought they would be behind hedges, in some sort of shelter.
Even so, they seemed a raw lot of clumsy bumpkins as they marched
up. Many of them were in ploughmen's smock-frocks; hardly any of
them had any sense of handling their guns. They had drums with
them, which beat up a quickstep, giving each man of them a high
sense of his importance, especially if he had been drinking.
People in the roadway cheered them, until they heard that there
was to be a battle. Those who were coming in to join us found it
a reason for hesitation.

After a lot of confusion, the army drew out of Lyme along the
Sidmouth road, followed by a host of sightseers. Some of the best
mounted rode on ahead at a trot, under the handsome man, Mr.
Fletcher, who was their captain. I followed on with the
foot-soldiers, who marched extremely slowly. They halted at their
own discretion; nor did they seem to understand that orders given
were to be obeyed. What they liked, poor fellows, was to see the
women admiring them. The march up the hill out of Lyme was a long
exhibition of vanity, the women waving their handkerchiefs, the
men putting on all sorts of airs, jetting like gamecocks. When we
got up to the top of the hill, I saw the old lame puppet-man,
sitting on the edge of the wild, unenclosed, gorse-covered
common-land which stretches away towards the town of Axminster.
He was watching us with deep interest. Our men were spreading out
into line upon this common. The horse was ranging on, bobbing
about, far ahead. The foot were looking about eagerly as they got
out of the ranks in which they had marched; but they could see no
trace of any enemy. I caught sight of the Duke four hundred yards
away, a little figure sitting alone on his horse, in front of
half a dozen others. They were all scanning the country, all the
way round. Presently I called out that I saw the enemy. Half a
dozen cavalry were riding up a combe far off. But they were our
own men, not the militia. They were some of our scouts riding off
as "feelers" to spy out Albemarle's position. All the time that
we were up there on the hill, the little old man portered about
among the men, now listening to what they had to say, now asking
the soldiers to look at his pretty puppets. When the returning
scouts brought word that no troops were near us, so that we were
free to march back again, he was still there, packing up his
puppets in tarred canvas, as though about to march off to the
next market-town. We marched past him, as he sat in the heather.
I passed quite close to him, staring at him hard, for to tell the
truth he was on my mind. I was suspicious of him. He took off his
hat to me, with a smile; but he did not speak. Then my troops
swung round, down the hill, leaving him alone there, watching the
men pass.

Other things put him out of my mind during the afternoon. I was
kept busy writing orders to scouts; for we were sending out
scouts in every direction, partly to protect us from surprise,
partly to direct new recruits to our headquarters. Mr. Blick, who
knew the ground dictated the letters, helped by Mr. Fletcher, who
studied a big map with great attention; I was writing all that
afternoon. Lyme grew noisier during the day, as the recruits
became more drunk. Many steady men turned away from us when they
saw our disorder. I myself had been brought up to abhor
drunkenness. I found the state of drunken uproar very terrible. I
feared that such an army would never achieve any great deed. I
thought that such sin would be punished. Our soldiers were not
behaving like knights sworn to a good cause; but like boors at a
fair. That day we lost our only good officer, Mr. Fletcher.

I have spoken of this gentleman. He was in command of the horse
under Lord Grey. He was a much better soldier than my Lord; a
better officer, too; a better man. Now in the day's confusion,
with everything topsy turvy, the Duke's messenger, "Old Dare,"
rode into Lyme from Taunton, where he had galloped the day before
to spread the news of our arrival. This Dare was a
quick-tempered, not very clever, popular man with a great deal of
influence in the countryside. On his way back to us from Taunton,
someone lent, or gave, him a very fine horse. It may have been
meant as a gift to the Duke; I do not know. Anyhow Old Dare rode
in on this horse with letters from Taunton, which he handed to
Mr. Fletcher to give to the Duke. Fletcher, our cavalry
commander, had as yet no horse; so seeing the splendid charger on
which Old Dare rode, he ordered Old Dare to give it up to him. He
was the real commander of the army, with a military right, if no
real right, to take what horse he liked from any subordinate
officer. But Old Dare, like so many of our men, had no knowledge
of what soldier's discipline meant. He saw, in Fletcher, a
gentleman with whom he had lived as an equal for the last
fortnight. He was not going to give up his horse like that; not
he. Fletcher (speaking sharply) told him to obey without further
words, at which Dare in a sudden flush of temper struck him with
his riding switch. Fletcher was not a patient man. He could not
let an act of gross mutiny pass unpunished, nor would he suffer
an insult. He shot Dare dead upon the spot, in full view of some
hundreds of us. It was all done in an instant. There was Dare
lying dead, never to stir again. There was Fletcher, our only
soldier, with a smoking pistol in his hand, thinking that he had
taught the army a lesson in obedience. There was the army all
about him, flocking round in a swarm, not looking at it as a
military punishment but as a savage murder, for which he deserved
to be hanged. Then the Duke hastened up to make things quiet,
before the army avenged their friend. He drew Fletcher aside,
though the people murmured at him for speaking to a murderer. He
was unnerved by Fletcher's act. He had no great vitality. Sudden
crises such as this unnerved him, by using up his forces. A
crisis of this kind (a small thing in a great rebellion) was
often enough to keep his brain from considering other, more
important, more burning questions concerning the entire army. The
end of this business was as unhappy as its beginning. Fletcher,
our only soldier, was sent aboard the frigate in which the Duke
had sailed from Holland. When the tide served, she set sail with
him for Corunna in Spain. With him she carried all our hopes of
success, together with a quantity of stores which would have been
of use later in the expedition. As I left the Cobb, or pier,
which makes Lyme harbour, I saw the little lame puppet-man
turning away from the beach with a company of men who wore our
green boughs. For a few steps I hurried towards him, so that I
might overhear what he was saying; I made so sure that he was a
spy. Mr. Blick, to whom I told my fears, bade me not to worry
myself. "Why, boy," he said, "there are five hundred spies in
Lyme; but they can't hurt us. Before they can get off to tell our
enemies all about us there won't be any enemies left. We shall be
marching at once. We shall drive everything before us." He spoke
with such confidence that I believed him; yet the old man
troubled me, for all that. When you see a face continually, at a
time when you are excited, you connect the face with your
excitement; it troubles your nerves.

The day wore by with all the unreality of a day of confusion. I
was kept at work until the light was gone; then served at the
Duke's table while he supped, then snatched a hurried supper
while he talked with his officers. After supper, I had to go from
billet to billet, looking for people whom the officers wished to
see. Something very important was in the air. The discussion in
the inn's great room was the first serious council of the war.
About eleven o'clock, Lord Grey came out of the room, telling me
to follow him. We went out into the street, where presently our
men began to fall in, four or five abreast, about a hundred ranks
of them. A few cavalry came, too, but not enough, I heard Lord
Grey say, not enough to do any good with. In spite of all the
efforts of those who loved us (by efforts I mean the robbing of
farm-stables) we were very short of horses. Those which we had
were not good; they were cart, not saddle-horses, unused to the
noise of guns. Still, such as they were, they formed up in the
street ahead of the foot. The force took a long time to form; for
the men kept saying that they had forgotten something, their
powder-horn, their cartridges, their guns, even. Then they had to
run back to their billets to fetch whatever it was, while those
who remained behind, puzzled at the movement so late at night,
when they wished to sleep, began to get nervous. They began to
ask where it was that we were going, was it to Axminster, or to


Word was passed about that we were going to surprise the militia
at Bridport at dawn. We were told to keep quiet on the march,
after passing Charmouth, as the night was so still that we should
be heard far off. We did not know how near the Bridport outposts
might come to us under cover of the night. "You come with us,
Martin," said Lord Grey: "Take a horse. If we win Bridport you'll
have to gallop back with the news." I was made a little nervous
by the thought of going into battle so soon; but gulping down my
fears I mounted a marsh-mare which stood near the inn door. I
hoped sincerely that no militia bullet would find any part of
either of us. Then the drums began to play us out of the town
with their morning roll. A fife whined out, going down to our
marrows with its shrillness. Lights showed at the windows. We saw
dark heads framed in yellow patches. People called to us. In the
door of the great inn stood Monmouth; his face seemed very white
in the glare of the torches. He raised his hand to us as we
passed him. The last thing I noticed of the town, for I rode in
the rear with Lord Grey, were the ranks passing the lamp on the
town hall. They came up to it in waves, their cloaks showing in
glimmer for an instant. Then they passed on into the night,
sliding forwards slowly with a steady roll, like the moving of
waves to the shore.

We were a long time riding; so long that the dawn was on us by
the time we were within shot of the enemy. I don't remember very
much about the ride, except that it was unreal, very unreal; for
the mists came down, blotting the world from us, so that we rode
in a swirl of cold grey, amid a noise of dropping. When we got to
the top of the long hill after Chideock I was bidden halt at a
cross-roads, with a waggon full of ammunition, while the force
moved on to the attack. The hills were showing up clearly above
the mist; but the valley lay like a sea, a great grey formless
level, like some world of the ghosts. The troops passed down in
it, moving pretty briskly, lest the mist should lift before they
were in position. Most of them knew the country, so that they
could well walk confidently; but their quickness had something
nervous in it, as though they were ill at ease. Very soon they
were out of sight, out of hearing, swallowed up in the fog.

I waited a long time (as it seemed) up there at the cross-roads.
After a long wait I rode a little down the hill, from sheer
anxiety. I pulled up in a bank of cloud, through which I could
see dimly, in the growing light, for about a dozen yards. I was
leaning well forward, listening for the sound of shooting, when
something made me look down. Someone was standing at my side,
slipping something into my pocket. It gave me a start. I clutched
at the person. It was the old lame puppet-man who had been at
Lyme the day before. "Latter for ee," he said in a whisper. "Read
en, unless you'm a fool." His hand pressed lightly on my bridle
hand for an instant; then he ducked sideways swiftly into the
wilderness of ferny gorse at the side of the road, where I could
not hope to follow him, even if the mist had not hidden him.
Something in the voice, something in the lightness of the touch
startled me into the knowledge. As he ducked, it came over me
that this old man was Aurelia disguised, come to spy upon us, but
bent, also, on giving me a warning, some little kind word of
advice, at the beginning of my lord's war. I ought to have
recognized her before. I had been blind. She had been under my
eyes the whole day, yet I had never once suspected, no one, of
all that army, had suspected. She had been disguised by a
master-hand. She had played her part like a great actress. It was
terrible to think of the risk she was running. One man's
suspicion, in a time of war, would have been enough to give her
to a horrible death. I tried to follow her into the jungle into
which she had vanished; but my horse would not face the furze. I
tried hard to see her, but it was no use; the tangle was too
thick; she had gone. I called out to her softly; but I got no
answer; only, at some little distance away, I heard a twig snap
under a passer's foot.

In a momentary clearing of the mist, I pulled out my letter. It
was written in a fine, firm hand, with signature. It was a short,
purposeful letter, which kept sharply to the point. It only
contained two lines. "Your Duke's cause is hopeless. He has no
possible chance. Take the Axminster road to safety." That was the
whole letter. It gave me a feeling of uneasiness; but it did not
tempt me to desert. I thought that if I deserted I might very
well be tortured into betraying all that I knew of the Duke's
plans, while I doubted very much whether the Duke's body- servant
would find mercy from the merciless, frightened King. What was I
to do, even if I escaped from the King's party? I was too young
for any employment worthy of my station in life. I had neither
the strength nor the skill for manual labour. Who would employ a
boy of my age on a farm or in a factory? All that I could hope
would be to get away to sea, to a life which I had already found
loathsome. As to going back to my uncle's house, I doubt if I
would have gone, even had I had the certainty of getting to it
safely. When a boy has once taken to an adventurous life, nothing
but very ill health will drive him back to home-life. Yet there
was the thought of Aurelia. Somehow the thought of her was a
stronger temptation than any fear of defeat. I would have liked
to have seen that old enemy of mine again.

I was thinking over the letter, wondering what would come to the
Duke's cause, when the valley below me began to ring with firing.
A heavy fire had begun there. It thundered in a long roll, which
died down, momentarily, into single sputterings through which one
could hear shouting. About twenty minutes after the beginning of
the shots, when all the party on the hill-top were edging nearer
to the battle, taking a few steps at a time, on tenter-hooks to
be engaged, we heard a great gallop of horses' hoofs coming to us
at full tilt. At first we were scared by this, for the noise was
tremendous, too great, we inexperienced soldiers thought, to be
caused by our little troop of cavalry. We thought that it was the
Bridport militia charging down on us, after destroying our
friends. The mist by this time was all blowing clear, though
wisps of it clung along the hedgerows in unreal rolling folds.
The day above was breaking in the sultry blue summer dimness. We
could see, I suppose, for a quarter of a mile, straight down the

We had swung round, facing towards Lyme, when the noise of the
hoofs first came to us. When the turn of the road showed us a
squad of cavalry coming to us at the charge, led by half a dozen
riderless horses, we waited for no more. We spurred up our nags
in a panic, till we, too, were going full tilt for Lyme, shouting
out as we went any nonsense which came to our heads. We were in a
panic fear; I believe that the horses in some way felt it too. We
galloped back to Chideock as though we were chased by witches,
while the gun-firing at Bridport steadily grew less, till at last
it stopped altogether. At Chideock, some of the cavalry came up
with us. They were our own men, our own troop of horse, not an
enemy after all. The riderless horses were a few of the militia
charges which had been seized from a cavalry outpost to the west
of the town. We had bolted from our own crazy terror. But we were
not the only fleers. Our cavalry had bolted first, at the first
volley outside the town. It is unjust to say that they were
afraid. Lord Grey was not a coward; our men had stout hearts
enough; but they had not reckoned on the horses. The first
discharge of guns scared the horses almost frantic. They swung
about out of action in a couple of seconds. Another volley made
them all bolt. It was when they were bolting that the men began
to grow alarmed. Fear is a contagious thing; it seems to pass
from spirit to spirit, like a flame along a powder train, till
perhaps a whole army feels it. Our horsemen pulled up among us in
Chideock in as bad a scare as you ever saw; it was twenty minutes
before they dared walk back to find out what had happened to the
foot at Bridport, after their retreat.

Our foot came back very angry with the horse. They had fired away
a lot of powder to very little purpose, before orders reached
them, bidding them retire. They had not wished to retire; but at
last they had done so sullenly, vowing to duck Lord Grey for
deserting them. We had taken about a dozen horses without
harness, instead of the two hundred equipped chargers which we
had promised ourselves.

We had killed a few of the militia, so everybody said; but in the
confusion of the powder-smoke who could say how many? They were
certain that none of our own men had been killed; but in a force
so newly raised, who could say for certain which were our own
men? As a matter of fact several of our men had been taken by the
royalists, which is as much as to say that they had been killed.
Altogether the affair had been a hopeless failure from the very
beginning. The foot had learned to despise the horse. The horses
had learned to be afraid of gun-fire. The cavalrymen had learned
to despise Lord Grey. The militia had learned to despise us. The
only valuable lesson that our men had learned was that a battle
was not so terrible a thing. You knelt down, fired your gun,
shouted, borrowed your neighbour's drinking bottle, took a long
swig, then fired again, with more shouting, till somebody clapped
you on the shoulder with orders to come away. But this lesson,
precious as it was did not console our men for their beating.
They were cross with the long night-march as well as with Lord
Grey's desertion. We dragged our way back to Lyme very slowly,
losing a good fifty of our number by desertion. They slipped away
home, after falling out of the ranks to rest. They had had enough
of fighting for the Duke; they were off home. The officers were
strict at first, trying to stop these desertions; but the temper
of the men was so bad that at last they gave it up, hoping that
some at least would stay. That was another evil consequence of
fighting for the crown with an undisciplined mob; they could
sustain defeat as ill as they could use victory. We did not trail
into Lyme until after noon; for we marched like snails, fearing
that the militia would follow us. When we got into camp, the men
flung their arms from them, careless of the officer's orders. All
that they wanted was sleep (we had eaten a late breakfast at
Charmouth), they were not going to do any more soldier's foolery
of drill, or sentry-go. As for Lord Grey, whom everybody called a
coward, the Duke could not cashier him, because he was the best
officer remaining to us. Poor Fletcher, who might have made
something of our cavalry, was by this time far away at sea. The
other officers had shown their incapacity that morning. For my
own part, I chose out a snug billet on a hearthrug in the George
Inn, where I slept very soundly for several hours. While I slept,
the Duke held a melancholy council to debate what could be done.

They say that he ought to have marched that morning to Exeter,
where Lord Albemarle's militia (all of them ripe for rebellion)
would have joined him.

Exeter or Bristol, one or the other, would have been a fine plume
in his cap, a strong, fortified town, full of arms, where he
could have established himself firmly. I do not know why he
decided against marching to Exeter. He may have had bad reports
of troops being on the road waiting for him; or he may have
thought that his friends (who were plentiful on the Bristol road)
would rally to him as soon as he appeared. He was deceived by
those protesting gentry, his friends, who had welcomed him so
warmly only a few months before. He thought that all the
countryside was ready to join him. He had been deceived, as
perhaps a cleverer man would have been deceived, by the warmth of
his welcome on his earlier visit. An Englishman is always polite
to a Duke when he meets him in a friendly gathering. But when the
Duke says, "Lend me all your ready money, together with your
horses, or rather give them to me, since I am the King," his
politeness leaves him; he gets away to London to warn the police
as fast as his horse will take him. Thus it was with the Duke's
friends scattered about along the main-road from Lyme to Bristol.

I know not who persuaded the Duke to march; probably it was Grey;
it may have been Venner; it may have been a momentary mad
resolution caused by a glass of wine. They say that he was solemn
about it, as though he expected to fail. Perhaps he would have
gone back to Holland if the ship had been still in the harbour,
but of course she had gone away. He would not go in La Reina; for
she was sluggish from barnacles, having been long un-careened.
The Channel at this time was full of ships looking for him; how
he escaped them when he sailed from Holland I cannot think. He
hesitated for a long time, poor man, before deciding; no man
could have acted more like a Stuart, at such a time. When the
decision was made he gave word to start early on the following
morning. But this I did not know till one A.M, when Lord Grey
routed me out from my berth on the hearth-rug, so that I might go
from house to house, calling up our officers.

I suppose that all our officers were out of bed by two o'clock,
yet it took them eight hours to get their men together, into some
sort of order. We were hardly ready for the road at ten A.M. when
the drums beat up to play us out of the town. As I was the Duke's
servant, I was allowed to ride by my master; I daresay people
thought that I was the young Prince. We marched up the hill
gaily, with a multitude flocking all about us, but there were
many of that crowd who looked doubtfully at my master's sad face,
thinking that he looked over-melancholy for a conquering king.

We marched out of Lyme into a valley, through a sort of suburb
called Uplyme. After that we marched steadily up hill, a long
climb of two miles, having a great view of the countryside on our
left hand. Our right was shut from us by a wooded hill. It was a
warm, sunny June day: the grass just ripe for hay harvest; the
country at its best; everything at its full flower, so that you
wondered at the world's abundance. We sent out scouts, when we
were about a mile from Lyme; but when we were at the top of the
hill we could see for ourselves, without putting scouts abroad.
We could see horsemen on the high ground away to the left, two or
three hundred of them. Besides these there were some companies of
foot drawn up in good order in the fields outside Axminster, at
some distance from the town. When this army caught sight of us,
it began to file off towards the town, as though to dispute it
with us, so our advanced guard pushed on to drive them out of it.
The sight of so many men in order, was a very moving one. To see
them advance their colours, to see the light on the shifting
steel, to hear the low beating hum of the feet was stirring to
the heart. Word ran along the line that there was going to be a
battle. Our foot left the road, so as to spread out into line in
the open, where they could take up positions behind hedges. I was
sent back to the rear at this instant, to order up the ammunition
waggons, so that I missed some part of the operations; but I
shall never forget how confidently our men spread out; they
marched as though they were going into the fields for partridges.
The drums began again, to hearten them, but there was no need for
drums in that company; they began to sing of their own accord,
making a noise which drowned the drums altogether. I gave my
orders to the ammunition waggons, which were blocked in a jumble
of sightseers, camp-followers, etc., etc., so that they could
hardly move. The drivers got me to charge my horse through the
mob to make a path, which I did, with a good deal of pain to
myself, for the people thus thrust aside struck at me. The
drivers struck out at them in return; we had a little fight of
our own, while Axminster was being won.


The next thing which I remember was coming out of the mob with
the waggons just behind me, going at a smart pace to a position
on the army's right. The road was pretty full of all sorts of
people; but as we shouted for them to clear the way, they made a
lane for us. I saw the Duke's little clump of staff-officers on a
pitch of rising ground, but there was no firing; only a noise of
many voices singing. Just as we were about to turn off the road
into the fields behind our right wing, I saw the little old lame
puppet-man sitting on a donkey by the ditch at the side of the
road. I shouted to the drivers to pass on, which they did, at
full tilt, while I drew rein by the old man's side. "Aurelia," I
said, "this is no place for you. Do get away from here before
they find you out."

"Why," she said, very calmly, in the broad burring man's voice
which she imitated so exactly. "I be come 'ere to find you out.
You'm going to your death, boy. You get out of this 'ere army
afore you're took. I tell ee thy Duke be a doomed man. Look at
en's face. Why, boy, there be eleven thousand soldiers a-marching
to put er down. You've only a got a quarter of that lot. Come out
of en, boy. Do-an't ee be led wrong." I was touched by her kind
thought for me; she was risking her life for me for the second
time, but in the hurry of the moment I could not put words
together to thank her.

"Aurelia," I said, "I can't talk to you now. Only get out of
this. Don't stay here. I'm all right."

"No, Martin," she said, in her ordinary voice, "you're not all
right. Come out of this. Slip away tonight to Newenham Abbey. It
be over there, not more than a couple of miles. Oh, come, come. I
can't bear to see you going away to certain death. I KNOW that
this force cannot win."

"Yes, Aurelia," I answered. "But I'm not going to be a hang-back
for all that. I'm not going to be a coward. You risk a horrible
death, only to tell me not to do the same. You wouldn't give up a
cause you believed in, merely because it was dangerous. I'll
stick by my master, Aurelia. Don't try to tempt me."

She would have said more; she would perhaps have persuaded me
from my heroics, had not the guns begun firing. That broke the
spell with a vengeance; nothing could be done after that. I shook
up my horse, hardly pausing to say "God bless you." In another
minute she was out of sight, while I was cantering off to the
extreme right wing with the Duke's orders to his officers to cut
in on the road to Chard. As I rode along, behind the scattered
line of our men, I could see the rolls of smoke from the firing
on the left. The men on the right were not firing, but being raw
troops they were edging little by little towards the firing, in
which I do not doubt they longed to be, for the sake of the
noise. They say now that the Duke threw away this battle at
Axminster. He could have cut Albemarle's troops to pieces had he
chosen to do so. They made a pretty bold front till we were
within gunfire of them, when they all scattered off to the town
pell-mell. While they were in the town, we could have cut them
off from the Chard road, which would have penned them in while we
worked round to seize the bridges. After that, one brisk assault
would have made the whole batch of them surrender. Some of our
officers galloped from our right wing (where I was) to see how
the land lay, before leading off their men as I had brought them
word. A few of them fired their pistols, when they came to the
road, which was enough to make the right wing double forward to
support them without orders. In a minute about a thousand of us
were running fast after our officers, while the Duke's aides
charged down to stop us. He had decided not to fight, probably
thinking that it would do his cause no good by killing a lot of
his subjects so early in his reign. We know now that had he made
one bold attack that morning, the whole of Albemarle's force,
with the exception of a few officers, would have declared for
him. In other words we should have added to our army about a
thousand drilled armed men who knew the country through which we
were to pass. By not fighting, we discouraged our own army, who
grumbled bitterly when they found their second battle as
ineffectual as the fight at Bridport.

I remember next that I saw the whole of Albemarle's troops flying
for their lives along the Chard road, flinging away their weapons
as they ran. They had the start of us; but a resolute captain
could have brought them to a stand, by pushing forward his
cavalry. However "a bridge of gold to a flying foe" is a good
saying. We let them go. When our cavalry advanced (to keep them
on the move, not to fight with them) they passed the time in
collecting what the militia had flung away; about four thousand
pounds' worth of soldiers' stores, chiefly uniforms. I went
forward with the horse on that occasion. I picked up altogether
about a dozen muskets, which I gave to some of our men who were
armed only with clubs. Then I rode back to report myself ready
for service to my master, who was getting ready for camp,
thinking that his men had done enough for one day.

It was a sad waste of time. A rough camp was formed. We went no
further for that time. About half a precious day was wasted,
which might have brought us nearly to Taunton under a resolute
man, sworn to conquer. Some of our men went out to forage, which
they did pretty roughly. It was theft with violence, coloured
over by some little touch of law. The farmers who were unpopular
thereabouts had their cattle driven off; their ricks carted off;
their horses stolen; their hen-roosts destroyed. We were like an
army of locusts, eating up everything as we passed. Our promises
to pay, when the King came to his own, were really additional
insult; for the people robbed knew only too well how Stuart kings
kept their promises. One strange thing I saw that night. The men
who were cooking their newly stolen beef at the camp-fires kept
crying out for camp-kettles in which to boil the joints. We had
no camp-kettles; but an old man came forward to the Duke's
quarters to ask if he might show the men how to cook their meat
without kettles. The Duke at once commanded him to show us how
this might be done. Like most useful inventions, it was very
simple. It was one of those things which are forgotten as life
becomes civilised, but for want of which one may perish when one
returns to barbarity, as in war. The old man began by placing
stout poles in tripods over the camp-fires, lashing them firmly
at the top with faggot-binders. Then he took the hide of one of
the slaughtered cattle, gathering it up at the corners, so as to
form a sort of bag. He cut some long narrow strips from the hide
of the legs, with which to tie the four corners together. Then he
lashed the four corners to the tripod, so that the bag hung over
the fire.

"There," he said. "There is your kettle. Now put water into en.
Boil thy victuals in er. That be a soldier's camp-kettle. You can
carry your kettle on your beef till you be ready for en."

Indeed, it proved to be a very good kind of a kettle after one
got used to the nastiness of it, though the smell of burning hair
from the kettles was disgusting. To this day, I have only to
singe a few hairs in a candle to bring back to my mind's eye that
first day in camp at Axminster, the hill, the valley ringed in by
combes, the noise of the horses, the sputtering of the fires of
green wood, the many men passing about aimlessly, wondering at
the ease of a soldier's life after the labour of spring
ploughing. It was a wonderful sight, that first camp of ours; but
the men for the most part grumbled at not fighting; they wanted
to be pushing on, to seize the city of Bristol, instead of
camping there. How did they know, they said, that the weather
would keep fine? How were we to march with all our ten baggage
waggons if the weather turned wet, so that the roads became
muddy? The roads in those parts became deep quagmires in rainy
weather. A light farmer's market cart might go in up to the axles
after a day's steady rain. To march through such roads would
break the men's hearts quicker than any quantity of fighting,
however disastrous. Thus they grumbled about the camp-fires,
while I bustled over the Duke's dinner, in the intervals of
running errands for the colonel.

That evening, after the summer dusk had come, but before the army
had settled to sleep, I heard an old man, one of our cavalrymen,
talking to another trooper. "Ah," he said, "I was fighting in the
old wars under Oliver. I've seen wars enough. You mark my words,
boy, this army won't do much. We've not got enough men, for one
thing. We could have had fourteen thousand or more if he'd
thought to bring muskets for en. We've not got cavalry, that's
another thing. When us do come face to face with all the King's
men us shall be sore put to it for want of a few trusty horses.
Horsemen be the very backbones of armies in the field. Then, boy,
we not got any captains, that's worst of all. The Duke's no
captain. If he'd been a captain her'd have fought this morning.
Them others aren't captains neither, none of them. Besides, what
are they doing sitting down in camp like this when we ought to be
marching? Us ought to be marching. Marching all night, never
setting down once, marching in two armies, one to Exeter, one to
Bristol. Us'd 'ave the two towns by late tomorrow night if us was
under old Oliver. It'll take us a week to get to Bristol at this
rate. By that time it will be full of troops, as well as secured
by ships. As for us, by that time we shall have troops all round
us, not to speak of club-men."

"Ah," said the younger man. "What be club-men, gaffer?"

"You'll know soon enough what club-men are," the old man
answered, "if there's any more of this drunken dirty robbery I
saw this afternoon. Those thieves who stole the farmer's cattle
would have been shot in Oliver's time. They'd have cast lots on a
drum in sight of all on us, drawn up. The men who got the low
numbers would have been shot. The captains would have pistolled
them where they stood. If this robbing goes on, all the farmers
will club together to defend themselves, making a sort of second
army for us to fight against. That is what club-men means. It's
not a nice thing to fight in a country where there are club-men
all round you. No, boy. So what with all this, boy, I be going to
creep out of this 'ere army. I do-an't like the look of things,
nor I do-an't like the way things are done. If you take a old
man's advice you'll come too."

"Noa," said the honest oaf, "I be agoin' to vight. I be a-goin'
to London town to be a girt sol-dier."

"Ah," said the old man, shortly, "you be a vule, Tummas. Wish ee
good day, maister." Then the old man turned sharply on his heel
to leave the camp, which he did easily enough, for he knew
several of the sentries. Even if he had not known them, it would
have made little difference, because our sentries were so lax
that the camp was always swarming with strangers. Women came to
see their husbands or sweethearts. Boys came out of love of
mischief. Men came out of curiosity, or out of some wish to see
things before they decided which side to take. Our captains were
never sure at night how many of their men would turn up at muster
the next morning.

After the old man had deserted, I sat down on the high ground
above the camp, in the earthen battery where our four little guns
were mounted. I was oppressed with a sad feeling that we were all
marching to death. The old man's words, "we shall have troops all
round us," rang in my head, till I could have cried. My mind was
full of terrible imaginings. I saw our army penned up in a little
narrow valley where the roads were quagmires, so that our guns
were stuck in the mud, our horses up to their knees, our men
floundering. On the hills all round us I saw the King's armies,
fifty thousand strong, marching to music under the colours,
firing, then wheeling, forming with a glint of pikes, bringing up
guns at a gallop, shooting us down, while we in the mud tried to
form. I knew that the end of it all would be a little clump of
men round the Duke, gathered together on a hillock, holding out
to the last. The men would be dropping as the shot struck them.
The wounded would waver, letting their pike-points drop. Then'
there would come a whirling of cavalry, horses' eyes in the
smoke, bright iron horse-shoes gleaming, swords crashing down on
us, an eddy of battle which would end in a hush as the last of us
died. I saw all these pictures in my brain, as clearly as one
sees in a dream. You must not wonder that I looked over the misty
fields towards Newenham Abbey with a sort of longing to be there,
well out of all the war. It was only a mile from me. I could slip
away so easily. I was not bound to stay where I was, to share in
the misery caused by my leader's want of skill. Then I remembered
how my father had believed in the right of the Duke's cause. He
would have counselled me to stay, I thought. It seemed to me, in
the dusk of the night, that my father was by me, urging me to
stay. The thought was very blessed; it cleared away all my
troubles as though they had not been. I decided to look no more
towards Newenham; but to go on by the Duke's side to whatever
fortune the wars might bring us. Somehow, the feeling that my
father was by me, made me sure that we were marching to victory.
I went to my quarters comforted, sure of sleeping contentedly.

Like the rest of us, I had to sleep in the open, without any more
shelter than a horse-cloth. Even the Duke was without a tent that
night. He slept in camp with us, to set an example to his men,
though he might well have gone to some house in the town. I liked
the notion of sleeping out in the open. In fine warm summer
weather, when the dew is not too heavy, it is pleasant, until a
little before the dawn, when one feels uneasy, for some reason,
as though an enemy were coming. Perhaps our savage ancestors, the
earliest ancient Britons, who lived in hill-camps, high up, with
their cattle round them, expected the attacks of their enemies
always at a little before the dawn; so that, in time, the entire
race learned to be wakeful then, lest the enemy should catch the
slumberers, with flint-axe heads in the skull. It may be that to
this day we feel the fear felt by so many generations of our
ancestors. On this first night in camp, I found that many of the
men were sleeping uneasily, for they did not know the secret of
sleeping in the open. They did not know that to sleep comfortably
in the open one must dig a little hole in the ground, about as
big as a porridge bowl, to receive one's hipbone. If you do this,
you sleep at ease, feeling nothing of the hardness of the bed. If
you fail to do it, you wake all bruised, after a wretched night's
tumbling; you ache all the next day.

After grubbing up a hollow with my knife, I swathed myself in my
blanket with a saddle for pillow. I watched the stars for a
while, as they drifted slowly over me. The horses stamped,
shaking their picket-ropes. The sentries walked their rounds, or
came to the camp-fires to call their reliefs. The night was full
of strange noises. The presence of so many sleeping men was
strange. It was very beautiful, very solemn. It gave one a kind
of awe to think that thus so many famous armies had slept before
the battles of the world, before Pharsalia, before Chalons,
before Hstings. Presently the murmuring became so slight that I
fell asleep, forgetting everything, only turning uneasily from
time to time, to keep the cool night wind from blowing on my
cheeks so as to wake me.

It must have been two in the morning when I was wakened by some
armed men, evidently our sentries, who rolled me over without

"Wake up, young master," they said, grinning. "You'm wanted. You
be to get up to go a errand. You be a soldier now. You does your
sleeping in peace-times when you be a soldier," I sat up blinking
my eyes, in the early light, thinking how nice t'other forty
winks would be.

"Heigho," I yawned. "All right. I'm awake. What is it? What's the

"Lord Grey be a wanting you, young master," said one of the men.
"Down there, where them horses be in the road." I picked myself
up at that, wishing for a basin of water into which I might shove
my head.

"Yes, yes," I said. "Thank you. I'll go down." I left my blanket
where it was, as I expected to be back in a few minutes. I walked
down hill out of the camp to the road where the horses stood;
there were four horses, two of them mounted. The mounted men were
regular country bumpkins, with green sprays in their hats, like
the rest of our men; but their horses were pretty good, much
better than most of those we had. One of them was a stocky old
cob, which was no doubt to be mine. The other was a beast with
handsome harness for Lord Grey. "Alas," I thought. "No more sleep
for me. I've got to ride. I wonder where we are going." The men
touched their hats to me; for as I was in the Duke's retinue I
was much respected. Some of them no doubt thought I was a
princeling or little lord.

"Where are we going?" I asked the troopers.

"Going scouting out towards Colyton yonder, sir," said one of
them. "Us be to pick up his Lordship in the town."


I wondered when I was to get breakfast; but I knew Lord Grey well
enough to know that he was not a man to go willingly without food
for more than a few hours at a time. Breakfast I should have
presently, nor would it be skin-boiled beef, smelling of singed
hair. So I mounted my cob with a good will. The first trooper
rode by my side, the other waited for a moment to examine the
feet of Lord Grey's charger. He trotted after us, leading the
riderless horse, some fifty yards behind us. We trotted smartly
through Axminster, where we set the dogs barking. People sprang
from their beds when they heard us, fearing that we were an army
coming to fight. We cantered out of the town over the river,
heading towards a hilly country, which had few houses upon it. I
looked back after leaving Axminster, to see if Lord Grey wanted
me. He had mounted his horse somewhere in the town; but he was
now a couple of hundred yards behind us, riding' with a third
man, whom I judged to be Colonel Foukes, by his broad white
regimental scarf. After we had gone a few miles, we came to a
cross-roads where my guide bade me halt to wait for orders.
The others had pulled up, too. I could see Lord Grey examining a
map, while his horse sidled about across the road. The trooper
who had been riding with him, joined us after a while, telling us
to take the road to our right, which would take us, he said,
towards Taunton. We were to keep our eyes skinned, he said, for
any sign of armed men coming on the high-road from Honiton, so as
to threaten our left flank. The gentlemen were going to scout
towards the sea. At eight o'clock, if we had seen no trace of any
armed force coming, we were to make for Chard, where we should
find the Duke's army. We were to examine the roads for any signs
of troops having passed recently towards Taunton. We were to
enquire of the country people, if troops were abroad in that
countryside, what troops they might be, how led, how equipped,
etc. If we came across any men anxious to join the Duke we were
to send them on to Chard or Ilminster, on the easterly road to
Taunton. We were to ride without our green boughs, he said; so
before starting on our road we flung them into the ditches. Lord
Grey waved his hand to us, as he turned away with his friend. We
took off our hats in reply, hardly in a soldierly salute; then we
set off at a walk along the Taunton road. It is a lonely road
leading up to the hills, a straight Roman road, better than any
roads laid in England at that time; but a road which strikes
horror into one, the country through which it runs is so bleak.

By about six o'clock (according to one of the troopers, who
judged by the height of the sun) we were in a clump of firs high
up on a hill, looking over a vast piece of eastern Devon. We had
scouted pretty closely all round Honiton, examining the country
people, without hearing of any troops. We were now looking out
for some gleam upon a road, some rising of dust over a hedge,
some scattering of birds even, any sign of men advancing, which
might be examined more closely. The morning was bright; but the
valleys had mist upon them, which would soon turn to the
quivering blue June heat-haze. The land lay below us, spread out
in huge folds; the fields, all different colours, looked like the
counties on a map; we could see the sea, we could see the gleam
of a little river. We could see Axminster far to the east of us;
but the marching army was out of sight, somewhere on the Chard
high-road. After scanning pretty well all around us, I caught
sight of moving figures on the top of one of the combes to south
of us. We all looked hard at the place, trying to make out more
of them. They were nearly a mile from us. They seemed to be
standing there as sentries. At first we thought that they must be
people with Lord Grey; but as we could see no horses we decided
that they could not be. One of the men said that as far as:i,'l
he'd heard tell like, the combe on which they stood was what they
call a camp, where soldiers lived in the old time. He didn't know
much more about it; but he said that he thought we ought to
examine it, like, before riding on to some inn where we could

The other man seemed to think so, too; but when we came to talk
over the best way of doing our espials, we were puzzled. We
should be seen at once if we went to them directly. We might be
suspected if we approached them on horseback. If the men went,
they might be detained, because, for all that we knew, the combe
might be full of militia. So I said I had better go, since no one
would suspect a boy. To this the men raised a good many
objections, looking at each other suspiciously, plainly asking
questions with their raised eyebrows. I thought at the time that
they were afraid of sending me into a possible danger, because I
was a servant attached to the Duke's person. However, when I said
that I would go on foot, taking all precautions, they agreed
grudgingly to let me go.

I crept along towards this combe on foot, as though I were going
bird's nesting. I beat along by the hedges, keeping out of sight
behind them, till I was actually on the combe's north slope,
climbing up to the old earthwork on the top. I took care to climb
the slope at a place where there was no sentry, which was, of
course, not only the steepest bit of the hill but covered with
gorse clumps, through which I could scarcely thrust my way. Up
towards the top the gorse was less plentiful; there were immense
foxgloves, ferns, little marshy tufts where rushes grew, little
spots of wet bright green moss. Yellow-hammers drawled their
pretty tripping notes to me, not starting away, even when I
passed close to them. All the beauty of June was on the earth
that day; the beauty of everything in that intense blue haze was

The top of the combe was very steep, steeper than any of the
ascent, because it had been built up like an outer wall by the

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