Part 1 out of 8
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H. Rider Haggard
The more unpronounceable of the Aztec names are shortened in many
instances out of consideration for the patience of the reader; thus
'Popocatapetl' becomes 'Popo,' 'Huitzelcoatl' becomes 'Huitzel,'
&c. The prayer in Chapter xxvi. is freely rendered from
Jourdanet's French translation of Fray Bernardino de Sahagun's
History of New Spain, written shortly after the conquest of Mexico
(Book VI, chap. v.), to which monumental work and to Prescott's
admirable history the author of this romance is much indebted. The
portents described as heralding the fall of the Aztec Empire, and
many of the incidents and events written of in this story, such as
the annual personation of the god Tezcatlipoca by a captive
distinguished for his personal beauty, and destined to sacrifice,
are in the main historical. The noble speech of the Emperor
Guatemoc to the Prince of Tacuba uttered while they both were
suffering beneath the hands of the Spaniards is also authentic.
My dear Jebb,
Strange as were the adventures and escapes of Thomas Wingfield,
once of this parish, whereof these pages tell, your own can almost
equal them in these latter days, and, since a fellow feeling makes
us kind, you at least they may move to a sigh of sympathy. Among
many a distant land you know that in which he loved and fought,
following vengeance and his fate, and by your side I saw its relics
and its peoples, its volcans and its valleys. You know even where
lies the treasure which, three centuries and more ago, he helped to
bury, the countless treasure that an evil fortune held us back from
seeking. Now the Indians have taken back their secret, and though
many may search, none will lift the graven stone that seals it, nor
shall the light of day shine again upon the golden head of
Montezuma. So be it! The wealth which Cortes wept over, and his
Spaniards sinned and died for, is for ever hidden yonder by the
shores of the bitter lake whose waters gave up to you that ancient
horror, the veritable and sleepless god of Sacrifice, of whom I
would not rob you--and, for my part, I do not regret the loss.
What cannot be lost, what to me seem of more worth than the dead
hero Guatemoc's gems and jars of gold, are the memories of true
friendship shown to us far away beneath the shadow of the
Slumbering Woman,* and it is in gratitude for these that I ask
permission to set your name within a book which were it not for you
would never have been written.
I am, my dear Jebb,
Always sincerely yours,
H. RIDER HAGGARD.
DITCHINGHAM, NORFOLK, October 5, 1892.
To J. Gladwyn Jebb, Esq.
Worn out prematurely by a life of hardship and extraordinary
adventure, Mr. Jebb passed away on March 18, 1893, taking with him
the respect and affection of all who had the honour of his
friendship. The author has learned with pleasure that the reading
of this tale in proof and the fact of its dedication to himself
afforded him some amusement and satisfaction in the intervals of
H. R. H.
March 22, 1893.
* The volcano Izticcihuatl in Mexico.
I WHY THOMAS WINGFIELD TELLS HIS TALE
II. OF THE PARENTAGE OF THOMAS WINGFIELD
III. THE COMING OF THE SPANIARD
IV. THOMAS TELLS HIS LOVE
V. THOMAS SWEARS AN OATH
VI. GOOD-BYE, SWEETHEART
VII. ANDRES DE FONSECA
VIII. THE SECOND MEETING
IX. THOMAS BECOMES RICH
X. THE PASSING OF ISABELLA DE SIGUENZA
XI. THE LOSS OF THE CARAK
XII. THOMAS COMES TO SHORE
XIII. THE STONE OF SACRIFICE
XIV. THE SAVING OF GUATEMOC
XV. THE COURT OF MONTEZUMA
XVI. THOMAS BECOMES A GOD
XVII. THE ARISING OF PAPANTZIN
XVIII. THE NAMING OF THE BRIDES
XIX. THE FOUR GODDESSES
XX. OTOMIE'S COUNSEL
XXI. THE KISS OF LOVE
XXII. THE TRIUMPH OF THE CROSS
XXIII. THOMAS IS MARRIED
XXIV. THE NIGHT OF FEAR
XXV. THE BURYING OF MONTEZUMA'S TREASURE
XXVI. THE CROWNING OF GUATEMOC
XXVII. THE FALL OF TENOCTITLAN
XXVIII. THOMAS IS DOOMED
XXIX. DE GARCIA SPEAKS HIS MIND
XXX. THE ESCAPE
XXXI. OTOMIE PLEADS WITH HER PEOPLE
XXXII. THE END OF GUATEMOC
XXXIII. ISABELLA DE SIGUENZA IS AVENGED
XXXIV. THE SIEGE OF THE CITY OF PINES
XXXV. THE LAST SACRIFICE OF THE WOMEN OF THE OTOMIE
XXXVI. THE SURRENDER
XXXVIII. OTOMIE'S FAREWELL
XXXIX. THOMAS COMES BACK FROM THE DEAD
WHY THOMAS WINGFIELD TELLS HIS TALE
Now glory be to God who has given us the victory! It is true, the
strength of Spain is shattered, her ships are sunk or fled, the sea
has swallowed her soldiers and her sailors by hundreds and by
thousands, and England breathes again. They came to conquer, to
bring us to the torture and the stake--to do to us free Englishmen
as Cortes did by the Indians of Anahuac. Our manhood to the slave
bench, our daughters to dishonour, our souls to the loving-kindness
of the priest, our wealth to the Emperor and the Pope! God has
answered them with his winds, Drake has answered them with his
guns. They are gone, and with them the glory of Spain.
I, Thomas Wingfield, heard the news to-day on this very Thursday in
the Bungay market-place, whither I went to gossip and to sell the
apples which these dreadful gales have left me, as they hang upon
Before there had been rumours of this and of that, but here in
Bungay was a man named Young, of the Youngs of Yarmouth, who had
served in one of the Yarmouth ships in the fight at Gravelines, aye
and sailed north after the Spaniards till they were lost in the
Little things lead to great, men say, but here great things lead to
little, for because of these tidings it comes about that I, Thomas
Wingfield, of the Lodge and the parish of Ditchingham in the county
of Norfolk, being now of a great age and having only a short time
to live, turn to pen and ink. Ten years ago, namely, in the year
1578, it pleased her Majesty, our gracious Queen Elizabeth, who at
that date visited this county, that I should be brought before her
at Norwich. There and then, saying that the fame of it had reached
her, she commanded me to give her some particulars of the story of
my life, or rather of those twenty years, more or less, which I
spent among the Indians at that time when Cortes conquered their
country of Anahuac, which is now known as Mexico. But almost
before I could begin my tale, it was time for her to start for
Cossey to hunt the deer, and she said it was her wish that I should
write the story down that she might read it, and moreover that if
it were but half as wonderful as it promised to be, I should end my
days as Sir Thomas Wingfield. To this I answered her Majesty that
pen and ink were tools I had no skill in, yet I would bear her
command in mind. Then I made bold to give her a great emerald that
once had hung upon the breast of Montezuma's daughter, and of many
a princess before her, and at the sight of it her eyes glistened
brightly as the gem, for this Queen of ours loves such costly
playthings. Indeed, had I so desired, I think that I might then
and there have struck a bargain, and set the stone against a title;
but I, who for many years had been the prince of a great tribe, had
no wish to be a knight. So I kissed the royal hand, and so tightly
did it grip the gem within that the knuckle joints shone white, and
I went my ways, coming back home to this my house by the Waveney on
that same day.
Now the Queen's wish that I should set down the story of my life
remained in my mind, and for long I have desired to do it before
life and story end together. The labour, indeed, is great to one
unused to such tasks; but why should I fear labour who am so near
to the holiday of death? I have seen things that no other
Englishman has seen, which are worthy to be recorded; my life has
been most strange, many a time it has pleased God to preserve it
when all seemed lost, and this perchance He has done that the
lesson of it might become known to others. For there is a lesson
in it and in the things that I have seen, and it is that no wrong
can ever bring about a right, that wrong will breed wrong at last,
and be it in man or people, will fall upon the brain that thought
it and the hand that wrought it.
Look now at the fate of Cortes--that great man whom I have known
clothed with power like a god. Nearly forty years ago, so I have
heard, he died poor and disgraced in Spain; he, the conqueror--yes,
and I have learned also that his son Don Martin has been put to the
torture in that city which the father won with so great cruelties
for Spain. Malinche, she whom the Spaniards named Marina, the
chief and best beloved of all the women of this same Cortes,
foretold it to him in her anguish when after all that had been,
after she had so many times preserved him and his soldiers to look
upon the sun, at the last he deserted her, giving her in marriage
to Don Juan Xaramillo. Look again at the fate of Marina herself.
Because she loved this man Cortes, or Malinche, as the Indians
named him after her, she brought evil on her native land; for
without her aid Tenoctitlan, or Mexico, as they call it now, had
never bowed beneath the yoke of Spain--yes, she forgot her honour
in her passion. And what was her reward, what right came to her of
her wrongdoing? This was her reward at last: to be given away in
marriage to another and a lesser man when her beauty waned, as a
worn-out beast is sold to a poorer master.
Consider also the fate of those great peoples of the land of
Anahuac. They did evil that good might come. They sacrificed the
lives of thousands to their false gods, that their wealth might
increase, and peace and prosperity be theirs throughout the
generations. And now the true God has answered them. For wealth
He has given them desolation, for peace the sword of the Spaniard,
for prosperity the rack and the torment and the day of slavery.
For this it was that they did sacrifice, offering their own
children on the altars of Huitzel and of Tezcat.
And the Spaniards themselves, who in the name of mercy have wrought
cruelties greater than any that were done by the benighted Aztecs,
who in the name of Christ daily violate His law to the uttermost
extreme, say shall they prosper, shall their evil-doing bring them
welfare? I am old and cannot live to see the question answered,
though even now it is in the way of answering. Yet I know that
their wickedness shall fall upon their own heads, and I seem to see
them, the proudest of the peoples of the earth, bereft of fame and
wealth and honour, a starveling remnant happy in nothing save their
past. What Drake began at Gravelines God will finish in many
another place and time, till at last Spain is of no more account
and lies as low as the empire of Montezuma lies to-day.
Thus it is in these great instances of which all the world may
know, and thus it is even in the life of so humble a man as I,
Thomas Wingfield. Heaven indeed has been merciful to me, giving me
time to repent my sins; yet my sins have been visited on my head,
on me who took His prerogative of vengeance from the hand of the
Most High. It is just, and because it is so I wish to set out the
matter of my life's history that others may learn from it. For
many years this has been in my mind, as I have said, though to
speak truth it was her Majesty the Queen who first set the seed.
But only on this day, when I have heard for certain of the fate of
the Armada, does it begin to grow, and who can say if ever it will
come to flower? For this tidings has stirred me strangely,
bringing back my youth and the deeds of love and war and wild
adventure which I have been mingled in, fighting for my own hand
and for Guatemoc and the people of the Otomie against these same
Spaniards, as they have not been brought back for many years.
Indeed, it seems to me, and this is no rare thing with the aged, as
though there in the far past my true life lay, and all the rest
were nothing but a dream.
From the window of the room wherein I write I can see the peaceful
valley of the Waveney. Beyond its stream are the common lands
golden with gorse, the ruined castle, and the red roofs of Bungay
town gathered about the tower of St. Mary's Church. Yonder far
away are the king's forests of Stowe and the fields of Flixton
Abbey; to the right the steep bank is green with the Earsham oaks,
to the left the fast marsh lands spotted with cattle stretch on to
Beccles and Lowestoft, while behind me my gardens and orchards rise
in terraces up the turfy hill that in old days was known as the
Earl's Vineyard. All these are about me, and yet in this hour they
are as though they were not. For the valley of the Waveney I see
the vale of Tenoctitlan, for the slopes of Stowe the snowy shapes
of the volcanoes Popo and Iztac, for the spire of Earsham and the
towers of Ditchingham, of Bungay, and of Beccles, the soaring
pyramids of sacrifice gleaming with the sacred fires, and for the
cattle in the meadows the horsemen of Cortes sweeping to war.
It comes back to me; that was life, the rest is but a dream. Once
more I feel young, and, should I be spared so long, I will set down
the story of my youth before I am laid in yonder churchyard and
lost in the world of dreams. Long ago I had begun it, but it was
only on last Christmas Day that my dear wife died, and while she
lived I knew that this task was better left undone. Indeed, to be
frank, it was thus with my wife: She loved me, I believe, as few
men have the fortune to be loved, and there is much in my past that
jarred upon this love of hers, moving her to a jealousy of the dead
that was not the less deep because it was so gentle and so closely
coupled with forgiveness. For she had a secret sorrow that ate her
heart away, although she never spoke of it. But one child was born
to us, and this child died in infancy, nor for all her prayers did
it please God to give her another, and indeed remembering the words
of Otomie I did not expect that it would be so. Now she knew well
that yonder across the seas I had children whom I loved by another
wife, and though they were long dead, must always love unalterably,
and this thought wrung her heart. That I had been the husband of
another woman she could forgive, but that this woman should have
borne me children whose memory was still so dear, she could not
forget if she forgave it, she who was childless. Why it was so,
being but a man, I cannot say; for who can know all the mystery of
a loving woman's heart? But so it was. Once, indeed, we
quarrelled on the matter; it was our only quarrel.
It chanced that when we had been married but two years, and our
babe was some few days buried in the churchyard of this parish of
Ditchingham, I dreamed a very vivid dream as I slept one night at
my wife's side. I dreamed that my dead children, the four of them,
for the tallest lad bore in his arms my firstborn, that infant who
died in the great siege, came to me as they had often come when I
ruled the people of the Otomie in the City of Pines, and talked
with me, giving me flowers and kissing my hands. I looked upon
their strength and beauty, and was proud at heart, and, in my
dream, it seemed as though some great sorrow had been lifted from
my mind; as though these dear ones had been lost and now were found
again. Ah! what misery is there like to this misery of dreams,
that can thus give us back our dead in mockery, and then departing,
leave us with a keener woe?
Well, I dreamed on, talking with my children in my sleep and naming
them by their beloved names, till at length I woke to look on
emptiness, and knowing all my sorrow I sobbed aloud. Now it was
early morning, and the light of the August sun streamed through the
window, but I, deeming that my wife slept, still lay in the shadow
of my dream as it were, and groaned, murmuring the names of those
whom I might never see again. It chanced, however, that she was
awake, and had overheard those words which I spoke with the dead,
while I was yet asleep and after; and though some of this talk was
in the tongue of the Otomie, the most was English, and knowing the
names of my children she guessed the purport of it all. Suddenly
she sprang from the bed and stood over me, and there was such anger
in her eyes as I had never seen before nor have seen since, nor did
it last long then, for presently indeed it was quenched in tears.
'What is it, wife?' I asked astonished.
'It is hard,' she answered, 'that I must bear to listen to such
talk from your lips, husband. Was it not enough that, when all men
thought you dead, I wore my youth away faithful to your memory?
though how faithful you were to mine you know best. Did I ever
reproach you because you had forgotten me, and wedded a savage
woman in a distant land?'
'Never, dear wife, nor had I forgotten you as you know well; but
what I wonder at is that you should grow jealous now when all cause
is done with.'
'Cannot we be jealous of the dead? With the living we may cope,
but who can fight against the love which death has completed,
sealing it for ever and making it immortal! Still, THAT I forgive
you, for against this woman I can hold my own, seeing that you were
mine before you became hers, and are mine after it. But with the
children it is otherwise. They are hers and yours alone. I have
no part nor lot in them, and whether they be dead or living I know
well you love them always, and will love them beyond the grave if
you may find them there. Already I grow old, who waited twenty
years and more before I was your wife, and I shall give you no
other children. One I gave you, and God took it back lest I should
be too happy; yet its name was not on your lips with those strange
names. My dead babe is little to you, husband!'
Here she choked, bursting into tears; nor did I think it well to
answer her that there was this difference in the matter, that
whereas, with the exception of one infant, those sons whom I had
lost were almost adolescent, the babe she bore lived but sixty
Now when the Queen first put it in my mind to write down the
history of my life, I remembered this outbreak of my beloved wife;
and seeing that I could write no true tale and leave out of it the
story of her who was also my wife, Montezuma's daughter, Otomie,
Princess of the Otomie, and of the children that she gave me, I let
the matter lie. For I knew well, that though we spoke very rarely
on the subject during all the many years we passed together, still
it was always in Lily's mind; nor did her jealousy, being of the
finer sort, abate at all with age, but rather gathered with the
gathering days. That I should execute the task without the
knowledge of my wife would not have been possible, for till the
very last she watched over my every act, and, as I verily believe,
divined the most of my thoughts.
And so we grew old together, peacefully, and side by side, speaking
seldom of that great gap in my life when we were lost to each other
and of all that then befell. At length the end came. My wife died
suddenly in her sleep in the eighty-seventh year of her age. I
buried her on the south side of the church here, with sorrow
indeed, but not with sorrow inconsolable, for I know that I must
soon rejoin her, and those others whom I have loved.
There in that wide heaven are my mother and my sister and my sons;
there are great Guatemoc my friend, last of the emperors, and many
other companions in war who have preceded me to peace; there, too,
though she doubted of it, is Otomie the beautiful and proud. In
the heaven which I trust to reach, all the sins of my youth and the
errors of my age notwithstanding, it is told us there is no
marrying and giving in marriage; and this is well, for I do not
know how my wives, Montezuma's daughter and the sweet English
gentlewoman, would agree together were it otherwise.
And now to my task.
OF THE PARENTAGE OF THOMAS WINGFIELD
I, Thomas Wingfield, was born here at Ditchingham, and in this very
room where I write to-day. The house of my birth was built or
added to early in the reign of the seventh Henry, but long before
his time some kind of tenement stood here, which was lived in by
the keeper of the vineyards, and known as Gardener's Lodge.
Whether it chanced that the climate was more kindly in old times,
or the skill of those who tended the fields was greater, I do not
know, but this at the least is true, that the hillside beneath
which the house nestles, and which once was the bank of an arm of
the sea or of a great broad, was a vineyard in Earl Bigod's days.
Long since it has ceased to grow grapes, though the name of the
'Earl's Vineyard' still clings to all that slope of land which lies
between this house and a certain health-giving spring that bubbles
from the bank the half of a mile away, in the waters of which sick
folks come to bathe even from Norwich and Lowestoft. But sheltered
as it is from the east winds, to this hour the place has the
advantage that gardens planted here are earlier by fourteen days
than any others in the country side, and that a man may sit in them
coatless in the bitter month of May, when on the top of the hill,
not two hundred paces hence, he must shiver in a jacket of
The Lodge, for so it has always been named, in its beginnings
having been but a farmhouse, faces to the south-west, and is built
so low that it might well be thought that the damp from the river
Waveney, which runs through the marshes close by, would rise in it.
But this is not so, for though in autumn the roke, as here in
Norfolk we name ground fog, hangs about the house at nightfall, and
in seasons of great flood the water has been known to pour into the
stables at the back of it, yet being built on sand and gravel there
is no healthier habitation in the parish. For the rest the
building is of stud-work and red brick, quaint and mellow looking,
with many corners and gables that in summer are half hidden in
roses and other creeping plants, and with its outlook on the
marshes and the common where the lights vary continually with the
seasons and even with the hours of the day, on the red roofs of
Bungay town, and on the wooded bank that stretches round the
Earsham lands; though there are many larger, to my mind there is
none pleasanter in these parts. Here in this house I was born, and
here doubtless I shall die, and having spoken of it at some length,
as we are wont to do of spots which long custom has endeared to us,
I will go on to tell of my parentage.
First, then, I would set out with a certain pride--for who of us
does not love an ancient name when we happen to be born to it?--
that I am sprung from the family of the Wingfields of Wingfield
Castle in Suffolk, that lies some two hours on horseback from this
place. Long ago the heiress of the Wingfields married a De la
Pole, a family famous in our history, the last of whom, Edmund,
Earl of Suffolk, lost his head for treason when I was young, and
the castle passed to the De la Poles with her. But some offshoots
of the old Wingfield stock lingered in the neighbourhood, perchance
there was a bar sinister on their coat of arms, I know not and do
not care to know; at the least my fathers and I are of this blood.
My grandfather was a shrewd man, more of a yeoman than a squire,
though his birth was gentle. He it was who bought this place with
the lands round it, and gathered up some fortune, mostly by careful
marrying and living, for though he had but one son he was twice
married, and also by trading in cattle.
Now my grandfather was godly-minded even to superstition, and
strange as it may seem, having only one son, nothing would satisfy
him but that the boy should be made a priest. But my father had
little leaning towards the priesthood and life in a monastery,
though at all seasons my grandfather strove to reason it into him,
sometimes with words and examples, at others with his thick cudgel
of holly, that still hangs over the ingle in the smaller sitting-
room. The end of it was that the lad was sent to the priory here
in Bungay, where his conduct was of such nature that within a year
the prior prayed his parents to take him back and set him in some
way of secular life. Not only, so said the prior, did my father
cause scandal by his actions, breaking out of the priory at night
and visiting drinking houses and other places; but, such was the
sum of his wickedness, he did not scruple to question and make mock
of the very doctrines of the Church, alleging even that there was
nothing sacred in the image of the Virgin Mary which stood in the
chancel, and shut its eyes in prayer before all the congregation
when the priest elevated the Host. 'Therefore,' said the prior, 'I
pray you take back your son, and let him find some other road to
the stake than that which runs through the gates of Bungay Priory.'
Now at this story my grandfather was so enraged that he almost fell
into a fit; then recovering, he bethought him of his cudgel of
holly, and would have used it. But my father, who was now nineteen
years of age and very stout and strong, twisted it from his hand
and flung it full fifty yards, saying that no man should touch him
more were he a hundred times his father. Then he walked away,
leaving the prior and my grandfather staring at each other.
Now to shorten a long tale, the end of the matter was this. It was
believed both by my grandfather and the prior that the true cause
of my father's contumacy was a passion which he had conceived for a
girl of humble birth, a miller's fair daughter who dwelt at
Waingford Mills. Perhaps there was truth in this belief, or
perhaps there was none. What does it matter, seeing that the maid
married a butcher at Beccles and died years since at the good age
of ninety and five? But true or false, my grandfather believed the
tale, and knowing well that absence is the surest cure for love, he
entered into a plan with the prior that my father should be sent to
a monastery at Seville in Spain, of which the prior's brother was
abbot, and there learn to forget the miller's daughter and all
other worldly things.
When this was told to my father he fell into it readily enough,
being a young man of spirit and having a great desire to see the
world, otherwise, however, than through the gratings of a monastery
window. So the end of it was that he went to foreign parts in the
care of a party of Spanish monks, who had journeyed here to Norfolk
on a pilgrimage to the shrine of our Lady of Walsingham.
It is said that my grandfather wept when he parted with his son,
feeling that he should see him no more; yet so strong was his
religion, or rather his superstition, that he did not hesitate to
send him away, though for no reason save that he would mortify his
own love and flesh, offering his son for a sacrifice as Abraham
would have offered Isaac. But though my father appeared to consent
to the sacrifice, as did Isaac, yet his mind was not altogether set
on altars and faggots; in short, as he himself told me in after
years, his plans were already laid.
Thus it chanced that when he had sailed from Yarmouth a year and
six months, there came a letter from the abbot of the monastery in
Seville to his brother, the prior of St. Mary's at Bungay, saying
that my father had fled from the monastery, leaving no trace of
where he had gone. My grandfather was grieved at this tidings, but
said little about it.
Two more years passed away, and there came other news, namely, that
my father had been captured, that he had been handed over to the
power of the Holy Office, as the accursed Inquisition was then
named, and tortured to death at Seville. When my grandfather heard
this he wept, and bemoaned himself that his folly in forcing one
into the Church who had no liking for that path, had brought about
the shameful end of his only son. After that date also he broke
his friendship with the prior of St. Mary's at Bungay, and ceased
his offerings to the priory. Still he did not believe that my
father was dead in truth, since on the last day of his own life,
that ended two years later, he spoke of him as a living man, and
left messages to him as to the management of the lands which now
And in the end it became clear that this belief was not ill-
founded, for one day three years after the old man's death, there
landed at the port of Yarmouth none other than my father, who had
been absent some eight years in all. Nor did he come alone, for
with him he brought a wife, a young and very lovely lady, who
afterwards was my mother. She was a Spaniard of noble family,
having been born at Seville, and her maiden name was Donna Luisa de
Now of all that befell my father during his eight years of
wandering I cannot speak certainly, for he was very silent on the
matter, though I may have need to touch on some of his adventures.
But I know it is true that he fell under the power of the Holy
Office, for once when as a little lad I bathed with him in the
Elbow Pool, where the river Waveney bends some three hundred yards
above this house, I saw that his breast and arms were scored with
long white scars, and asked him what had caused them. I remember
well how his face changed as I spoke, from kindliness to the hue of
blackest hate, and how he answered speaking to himself rather than
'Devils,' he said, 'devils set on their work by the chief of all
devils that live upon the earth and shall reign in hell. Hark you,
my son Thomas, there is a country called Spain where your mother
was born, and there these devils abide who torture men and women,
aye, and burn them living in the name of Christ. I was betrayed
into their hands by him whom I name the chief of the devils, though
he is younger than I am by three years, and their pincers and hot
irons left these marks upon me. Aye, and they would have burnt me
alive also, only I escaped, thanks to your mother--but such tales
are not for a little lad's hearing; and see you never speak of
them, Thomas, for the Holy Office has a long arm. You are half a
Spaniard, Thomas, your skin and eyes tell their own tale, but
whatever skin and eyes may tell, let your heart give them the lie.
Keep your heart English, Thomas; let no foreign devilments enter
there. Hate all Spaniards except your mother, and be watchful lest
her blood should master mine within you.'
I was a child then, and scarcely understood his words or what he
meant by them. Afterwards I learned to understand them but too
well. As for my father's counsel, that I should conquer my Spanish
blood, would that I could always have followed it, for I know that
from this blood springs the most of such evil as is in me. Hence
come my fixedness of purpose or rather obstinacy, and my powers of
unchristian hatred that are not small towards those who have
wronged me. Well, I have done what I might to overcome these and
other faults, but strive as we may, that which is bred in the bone
will out in the flesh, as I have seen in many signal instances.
There were three of us children, Geoffrey my elder brother, myself,
and my sister Mary, who was one year my junior, the sweetest child
and the most beautiful that I have ever known. We were very happy
children, and our beauty was the pride of our father and mother,
and the envy of other parents. I was the darkest of the three,
dark indeed to swarthiness, but in Mary the Spanish blood showed
only in her rich eyes of velvet hue, and in the glow upon her cheek
that was like the blush on a ripe fruit. My mother used to call me
her little Spaniard, because of my swarthiness, that is when my
father was not near, for such names angered him. She never learned
to speak English very well, but he would suffer her to talk in no
other tongue before him. Still, when he was not there she spoke in
Spanish, of which language, however, I alone of the family became a
master--and that more because of certain volumes of old Spanish
romances which she had by her, than for any other reason. From my
earliest childhood I was fond of such tales, and it was by bribing
me with the promise that I should read them that she persuaded me
to learn Spanish. For my mother's heart still yearned towards her
old sunny home, and often she would talk of it with us children,
more especially in the winter season, which she hated as I do.
Once I asked her if she wished to go back to Spain. She shivered
and answered no, for there dwelt one who was her enemy and would
kill her; also her heart was with us children and our father. I
wondered if this man who sought to kill my mother was the same as
he of whom my father had spoken as 'the chief of the devils,' but I
only answered that no man could wish to kill one so good and
Ah! my boy,' she said, 'it is just because I am, or rather have
been, beautiful that he hates me. Others would have wedded me
besides your dear father, Thomas.' And her face grew troubled as
though with fear.
Now when I was eighteen and a half years old, on a certain evening
in the month of May it happened that a friend of my father's,
Squire Bozard, late of the Hall in this parish, called at the Lodge
on his road from Yarmouth, and in the course of his talk let it
fall that a Spanish ship was at anchor in the Roads, laden with
merchandise. My father pricked up his ears at this, and asked who
her captain might be. Squire Bozard answered that he did not know
his name, but that he had seen him in the market-place, a tall and
stately man, richly dressed, with a handsome face and a scar upon
At this news my mother turned pale beneath her olive skin, and
muttered in Spanish:
'Holy Mother! grant that it be not he.'
My father also looked frightened, and questioned the squire closely
as to the man's appearance, but without learning anything more.
Then he bade him adieu with little ceremony, and taking horse rode
away for Yarmouth.
That night my mother never slept, but sat all through it in her
nursing chair, brooding over I know not what. As I left her when I
went to my bed, so I found her when I came from it at dawn. I can
remember well pushing the door ajar to see her face glimmering
white in the twilight of the May morning, as she sat, her large
eyes fixed upon the lattice.
'You have risen early, mother,' I said.
'I have never lain down, Thomas,' she answered.
'Why not? What do you fear?'
'I fear the past and the future, my son. Would that your father
About ten o'clock of that morning, as I was making ready to walk
into Bungay to the house of that physician under whom I was
learning the art of healing, my father rode up. My mother, who was
watching at the lattice, ran out to meet him.
Springing from his horse he embraced her, saying, 'Be of good
cheer, sweet, it cannot be he. This man has another name.'
'But did you see him?' she asked.
'No, he was out at his ship for the night, and I hurried home to
tell you, knowing your fears.'
'It were surer if you had seen him, husband. He may well have
taken another name.'
'I never thought of that, sweet,' my father answered; 'but have no
fear. Should it be he, and should he dare to set foot in the
parish of Ditchingham, there are those who will know how to deal
with him. But I am sure that it is not he.'
'Thanks be to Jesu then!' she said, and they began talking in a low
Now, seeing that I was not wanted, I took my cudgel and started
down the bridle-path towards the common footbridge, when suddenly
my mother called me back.
'Kiss me before you go, Thomas,' she said. 'You must wonder what
all this may mean. One day your father will tell you. It has to
do with a shadow which has hung over my life for many years, but
that is, I trust, gone for ever.'
'If it be a man who flings it, he had best keep out of reach of
this,' I said, laughing, and shaking my thick stick.
'It is a man,' she answered, 'but one to be dealt with otherwise
than by blows, Thomas, should you ever chance to meet him.'
'May be, mother, but might is the best argument at the last, for
the most cunning have a life to lose.'
'You are too ready to use your strength, son,' she said, smiling
and kissing me. 'Remember the old Spanish proverb: "He strikes
hardest who strikes last."'
'And remember the other proverb, mother: "Strike before thou art
stricken,"' I answered, and went.
When I had gone some ten paces something prompted me to look back,
I know not what. My mother was standing by the open door, her
stately shape framed as it were in the flowers of a white creeping
shrub that grew upon the wall of the old house. As was her custom,
she wore a mantilla of white lace upon her head, the ends of which
were wound beneath her chin, and the arrangement of it was such
that at this distance for one moment it put me in mind of the
wrappings which are placed about the dead. I started at the
thought and looked at her face. She was watching me with sad and
earnest eyes that seemed to be filled with the spirit of farewell.
I never saw her again till she was dead.
THE COMING OF THE SPANIARD
And now I must go back and speak of my own matters. As I have
told, it was my father's wish that I should be a physician, and
since I came back from my schooling at Norwich, that was when I had
entered on my sixteenth year, I had studied medicine under the
doctor who practised his art in the neighbourhood of Bungay. He
was a very learned man and an honest, Grimstone by name, and as I
had some liking for the business I made good progress under him.
Indeed I had learned almost all that he could teach me, and my
father purposed to send me to London, there to push on my studies,
so soon as I should attain my twentieth year, that is within some
five months of the date of the coming of the Spaniard.
But it was not fated that I should go to London.
Medicine was not the only thing that I studied in those days,
however. Squire Bozard of Ditchingham, the same who told my father
of the coming of the Spanish ship, had two living children, a son
and a daughter, though his wife had borne him many more who died in
infancy. The daughter was named Lily and of my own age, having
been born three weeks after me in the same year. Now the Bozards
are gone from these parts, for my great-niece, the granddaughter
and sole heiress of this son, has married and has issue of another
name. But this is by the way.
From our earliest days we children, Bozards and Wingfields, lived
almost as brothers and sisters, for day by day we met and played
together in the snow or in the flowers. Thus it would be hard for
me to say when I began to love Lily or when she began to love me;
but I know that when first I went to school at Norwich I grieved
more at losing sight of her than because I must part from my mother
and the rest. In all our games she was ever my partner, and I
would search the country round for days to find such flowers as she
chanced to love. When I came back from school it was the same,
though by degrees Lily grew shyer, and I also grew suddenly shy,
perceiving that from a child she had become a woman. Still we met
often, and though neither said anything of it, it was sweet to us
Thus things went on till this day of my mother's death. But before
I go further I must tell that Squire Bozard looked with no favour
on the friendship between his daughter and myself--and this, not
because he disliked me, but rather because he would have seen Lily
wedded to my elder brother Geoffrey, my father's heir, and not to a
younger son. So hard did he grow about the matter at last that we
two might scarcely meet except by seeming accident, whereas my
brother was ever welcome at the Hall. And on this account some
bitterness arose between us two brothers, as is apt to be the case
when a woman comes between friends however close. For it must be
known that my brother Geoffrey also loved Lily, as all men would
have loved her, and with a better right perhaps than I had--for he
was my elder by three years and born to possessions. It may seem
indeed that I was somewhat hasty to fall into this state, seeing
that at the time of which I write I was not yet of age; but young
blood is nimble, and moreover mine was half Spanish, and made a man
of me when many a pure-bred Englishman is still nothing but a boy.
For the blood and the sun that ripens it have much to do with such
matters, as I have seen often enough among the Indian peoples of
Anahuac, who at the age of fifteen will take to themselves a bride
of twelve. At the least it is certain that when I was eighteen
years of age I was old enough to fall in love after such fashion
that I never fell out of it again altogether, although the history
of my life may seem to give me the lie when I say so. But I take
it that a man may love several women and yet love one of them the
best of all, being true in the spirit to the law which he breaks in
Now when I had attained nineteen years I was a man full grown, and
writing as I do in extreme old age, I may say it without false
shame, a very handsome youth to boot. I was not over tall, indeed,
measuring but five feet nine inches and a half in height, but my
limbs were well made, and I was both deep and broad in the chest.
In colour I was, and my white hair notwithstanding, am still
extraordinarily dark hued, my eyes also were large and dark, and my
hair, which was wavy, was coal black. In my deportment I was
reserved and grave to sadness, in speech I was slow and temperate,
and more apt at listening than in talking. I weighed matters well
before I made up my mind upon them, but being made up, nothing
could turn me from that mind short of death itself, whether it were
set on good or evil, on folly or wisdom. In those days also I had
little religion, since, partly because of my father's secret
teaching and partly through the workings of my own reason, I had
learned to doubt the doctrines of the Church as they used to be set
out. Youth is prone to reason by large leaps as it were, and to
hold that all things are false because some are proved false; and
thus at times in those days I thought that there was no God,
because the priest said that the image of the Virgin at Bungay wept
and did other things which I knew that it did not do. Now I know
well that there is a God, for my own story proves it to my heart.
In truth, what man can look back across a long life and say that
there is no God, when he can see the shadow of His hand lying deep
upon his tale of years?
On this sad day of which I write I knew that Lily, whom I loved,
would be walking alone beneath the great pollard oaks in the park
of Ditchingham Hall. Here, in Grubswell as the spot is called,
grew, and indeed still grow, certain hawthorn trees that are the
earliest to blow of any in these parts, and when we had met at the
church door on the Sunday, Lily said that there would be bloom upon
them by the Wednesday, and on that afternoon she should go to cut
it. It may well be that she spoke thus with design, for love will
breed cunning in the heart of the most guileless and truthful maid.
Moreover, I noticed that though she said it before her father and
the rest of us, yet she waited to speak till my brother Geoffrey
was out of hearing, for she did not wish to go maying with him, and
also that as she spoke she shot a glance of her grey eyes at me.
Then and there I vowed to myself that I also would be gathering
hawthorn bloom in this same place and on that Wednesday afternoon,
yes, even if I must play truant and leave all the sick of Bungay to
Nature's nursing. Moreover, I was determined on one thing, that if
I could find Lily alone I would delay no longer, but tell her all
that was in my heart; no great secret indeed, for though no word of
love had ever passed between us as yet, each knew the other's
hidden thoughts. Not that I was in the way to become affianced to
a maid, who had my path to cut in the world, but I feared that if I
delayed to make sure of her affection my brother would be before me
with her father, and Lily might yield to that to which she would
not yield if once we had plighted troth.
Now it chanced that on this afternoon I was hard put to it to
escape to my tryst, for my master, the physician, was ailing, and
sent me to visit the sick for him, carrying them their medicines.
At the last, however, between four and five o'clock, I fled, asking
no leave. Taking the Norwich road I ran for a mile and more till I
had passed the Manor House and the church turn, and drew near to
Ditchingham Park. Then I dropped my pace to a walk, for I did not
wish to come before Lily heated and disordered, but rather looking
my best, to which end I had put on my Sunday garments. Now as I
went down the little hill in the road that runs past the park, I
saw a man on horseback who looked first at the bridle-path, that at
this spot turns off to the right, then back across the common lands
towards the Vineyard Hills and the Waveney, and then along the road
as though he did not know which way to turn. I was quick to notice
things--though at this moment my mind was not at its swiftest,
being set on other matters, and chiefly as to how I should tell my
tale to Lily--and I saw at once that this man was not of our
He was very tall and noble-looking, dressed in rich garments of
velvet adorned by a gold chain that hung about his neck, and as I
judged about forty years of age. But it was his face which chiefly
caught my eye, for at that moment there was something terrible
about it. It was long, thin, and deeply carved; the eyes were
large, and gleamed like gold in sunlight; the mouth was small and
well shaped, but it wore a devilish and cruel sneer; the forehead
lofty, indicating a man of mind, and marked with a slight scar.
For the rest the cavalier was dark and southern-looking, his
curling hair, like my own, was black, and he wore a peaked
By the time that I had finished these observations my feet had
brought me almost to the stranger's side, and for the first time he
caught sight of me. Instantly his face changed, the sneer left it,
and it became kindly and pleasant looking. Lifting his bonnet with
much courtesy he stammered something in broken English, of which
all that I could catch was the word Yarmouth; then perceiving that
I did not understand him, he cursed the English tongue and all
those who spoke it, aloud and in good Castilian.
'If the senor will graciously express his wish in Spanish,' I said,
speaking in that language, 'it may be in my power to help him.'
'What! you speak Spanish, young sir,' he said, starting, 'and yet
you are not a Spaniard, though by your face you well might be.
Caramba! but it is strange!' and he eyed me curiously.
'It may be strange, sir,' I answered, 'but I am in haste. Be
pleased to ask your question and let me go.'
'Ah!' he said, 'perhaps I can guess the reason of your hurry. I
saw a white robe down by the streamlet yonder,' and he nodded
towards the park. 'Take the advice of an older man, young sir, and
be careful. Make what sport you will with such, but never believe
them and never marry them--lest you should live to desire to kill
Here I made as though I would pass on, but he spoke again.
'Pardon my words, they were well meant, and perhaps you may come to
learn their truth. I will detain you no more. Will you graciously
direct me on my road to Yarmouth, for I am not sure of it, having
ridden by another way, and your English country is so full of trees
that a man cannot see a mile?'
I walked a dozen paces down the bridle-path that joined the road at
this place, and pointed out the way that he should go, past
Ditchingham church. As I did so I noticed that while I spoke the
stranger was watching my face keenly and, as it seemed to me, with
an inward fear which he strove to master and could not. When I had
finished again he raised his bonnet and thanked me, saying,
'Will you be so gracious as to tell me your name, young Sir?'
'What is my name to you?' I answered roughly, for I disliked this
man. 'You have not told me yours.'
'No, indeed, I am travelling incognito. Perhaps I also have met a
lady in these parts,' and he smiled strangely. 'I only wished to
know the name of one who had done me a courtesy, but who it seems
is not so courteous as I deemed.' And he shook his horse's reins.
'I am not ashamed of my name,' I said. 'It has been an honest one
so far, and if you wish to know it, it is Thomas Wingfield.'
'I thought it,' he cried, and as he spoke his face grew like the
face of a fiend. Then before I could find time even to wonder, he
had sprung from his horse and stood within three paces of me.
'A lucky day! Now we will see what truth there is in prophecies,'
he said, drawing his silver-mounted sword. 'A name for a name;
Juan de Garcia gives you greeting, Thomas Wingfield.'
Now, strange as it may seem, it was at this moment only that there
flashed across my mind the thought of all that I had heard about
the Spanish stranger, the report of whose coming to Yarmouth had
stirred my father and mother so deeply. At any other time I should
have remembered it soon enough, but on this day I was so set upon
my tryst with Lily and what I should say to her, that nothing else
could hold a place in my thoughts.
'This must be the man,' I said to myself, and then I said no more,
for he was on me, sword up. I saw the keen point flash towards me,
and sprang to one side having a desire to fly, as, being unarmed
except for my stick, I might have done without shame. But spring
as I would I could not avoid the thrust altogether. It was aimed
at my heart and it pierced the sleeve of my left arm, passing
through the flesh--no more. Yet at the pain of that cut all
thought of flight left me, and instead of it a cold anger filled
me, causing me to wish to kill this man who had attacked me thus
and unprovoked. In my hand was my stout oaken staff which I had
cut myself on the banks of Hollow Hill, and if I would fight I must
make such play with this as I might. It seems a poor weapon indeed
to match against a Toledo blade in the hands of one who could
handle it well, and yet there are virtues in a cudgel, for when a
man sees himself threatened with it, he is likely to forget that he
holds in his hand a more deadly weapon, and to take to the guarding
of his own head in place of running his adversary through the body.
And that was what chanced in this case, though how it came about
exactly I cannot tell. The Spaniard was a fine swordsman, and had
I been armed as he was would doubtless have overmatched me, who at
that age had no practice in the art, which was almost unknown in
England. But when he saw the big stick flourished over him he
forgot his own advantage, and raised his arm to ward away the blow.
Down it came upon the back of his hand, and lo! his sword fell from
it to the grass. But I did not spare him because of that, for my
blood was up. The next stroke took him on the lips, knocking out a
tooth and sending him backwards. Then I caught him by the leg and
beat him most unmercifully, not upon the head indeed, for now that
I was victor I did not wish to kill one whom I thought a madman as
I would that I had done, but on every other part of him.
Indeed I thrashed him till my arms were weary and then I fell to
kicking him, and all the while he writhed like a wounded snake and
cursed horribly, though he never cried out or asked for mercy. At
last I ceased and looked at him, and he was no pretty sight to see--
indeed, what with his cuts and bruises and the mire of the
roadway, it would have been hard to know him for the gallant
cavalier whom I had met not five minutes before. But uglier than
all his hurts was the look in his wicked eyes as he lay there on
his back in the pathway and glared up at me.
'Now, friend Spaniard,' I said, 'you have learned a lesson; and
what is there to hinder me from treating you as you would have
dealt with me who had never harmed you?' and I took up his sword
and held it to his throat.
'Strike home, you accursed whelp!' he answered in a broken voice;
'it is better to die than to live to remember such shame as this.'
'No,' I said, 'I am no foreign murderer to kill a defenceless man.
You shall away to the justice to answer for yourself. The hangman
has a rope for such as you.'
'Then you must drag me thither,' he groaned, and shut his eyes as
though with faintness, and doubtless he was somewhat faint.
Now as I pondered on what should be done with the villain, it
chanced that I looked up through a gap in the fence, and there,
among the Grubswell Oaks three hundred yards or more away, I caught
sight of the flutter of a white robe that I knew well, and it
seemed to me that the wearer of that robe was moving towards the
bridge of the 'watering' as though she were weary of waiting for
one who did not come.
Then I thought to myself that if I stayed to drag this man to the
village stocks or some other safe place, there would be an end of
meeting with my love that day, and I did not know when I might find
another chance. Now I would not have missed that hour's talk with
Lily to bring a score of murderous-minded foreigners to their
deserts, and, moreover, this one had earned good payment for his
behaviour. Surely thought I, he might wait a while till I had done
my love-making, and if he would not wait I could find a means to
make him do so. Not twenty paces from us the horse stood cropping
the grass. I went to him and undid his bridle rein, and with it
fastened the Spaniard to a small wayside tree as best I was able.
'Now, here you stay,' I said, 'till I am ready to fetch you;' and I
turned to go.
But as I went a great doubt took me, and once more I remembered my
mother's fear, and how my father had ridden in haste to Yarmouth on
business about a Spaniard. Now to-day a Spaniard had wandered to
Ditchingham, and when he learned my name had fallen upon me madly
trying to kill me. Was not this the man whom my mother feared, and
was it right that I should leave him thus that I might go maying
with my dear? I knew in my breast that it was not right, but I was
so set upon my desire and so strongly did my heartstrings pull me
towards her whose white robe now fluttered on the slope of the Park
Hill, that I never heeded the warning.
Well had it been for me if I had done so, and well for some who
were yet unborn. Then they had never known death, nor I the land
of exile, the taste of slavery, and the altar of sacrifice.
THOMAS TELLS HIS LOVE
Having made the Spaniard as fast as I could, his arms being bound
to the tree behind him, and taking his sword with me, I began to
run hard after Lily and caught her not too soon, for in one more
minute she would have turned along the road that runs to the
watering and over the bridge by the Park Hill path to the Hall.
Hearing my footsteps, she faced about to greet me, or rather as
though to see who it was that followed her. There she stood in the
evening light, a bough of hawthorn bloom in her hand, and my heart
beat yet more wildly at the sight of her. Never had she seemed
fairer than as she stood thus in her white robe, a look of amaze
upon her face and in her grey eyes, that was half real half
feigned, and with the sunlight shifting on her auburn hair that
showed beneath her little bonnet. Lily was no round-checked
country maid with few beauties save those of health and youth, but
a tall and shapely lady who had ripened early to her full grace and
sweetness, and so it came about that though we were almost of an
age, yet in her presence I felt always as though I were the
younger. Thus in my love for her was mingled some touch of
'Oh! it is you, Thomas,' she said, blushing as she spoke. 'I
thought you were not--I mean that I am going home as it grows late.
But say, why do you run so fast, and what has happened to you,
Thomas, that your arm is bloody and you carry a sword in your
'I have no breath to speak yet,' I answered. 'Come back to the
hawthorns and I will tell you.'
'No, I must be wending homewards. I have been among the trees for
more than an hour, and there is little bloom upon them.'
'I could not come before, Lily. I was kept, and in a strange
manner. Also I saw bloom as I ran.'
'Indeed, I never thought that you would come, Thomas,' she
answered, looking down, 'who have other things to do than to go out
maying like a girl. But I wish to hear your story, if it is short,
and I will walk a little way with you.'
So we turned and walked side by side towards the great pollard
oaks, and by the time that we reached them, I had told her the tale
of the Spaniard, and how he strove to kill me, and how I had beaten
him with my staff. Now Lily listened eagerly enough, and sighed
with fear when she learned how close I had been to death.
'But you are wounded, Thomas,' she broke in; 'see, the blood runs
fast from your arm. Is the thrust deep?'
'I have not looked to see. I have had no time to look.'
'Take off your coat, Thomas, that I may dress the wound. Nay, I
will have it so.'
So I drew off the garment, not without pain, and rolled up the
shirt beneath, and there was the hurt, a clean thrust through the
fleshy part of the lower arm. Lily washed it with water from the
brook, and bound it with her kerchief, murmuring words of pity all
the while. To say truth, I would have suffered a worse harm
gladly, if only I could find her to tend it. Indeed, her gentle
care broke down the fence of my doubts and gave me a courage that
otherwise might have failed me in her presence. At first, indeed,
I could find no words, but as she bound my wound, I bent down and
kissed her ministering hand. She flushed red as the evening sky,
the flood of crimson losing itself at last beneath her auburn hair,
but it burned deepest upon the white hand which I had kissed.
'Why did you do that, Thomas?' she said, in a low voice.
Then I spoke. 'I did it because I love you, Lily, and do not know
how to begin the telling of my love. I love you, dear, and have
always loved as I always shall love you.'
'Are you so sure of that, Thomas?' she said, again.
'There is nothing else in the world of which I am so sure, Lily.
What I wish to be as sure of is that you love me as I love you.'
For a moment she stood quiet, her head sunk almost to her breast,
then she lifted it and her eyes shone as I had never seen them
'Can you doubt it, Thomas?' she said.
And now I took her in my arms and kissed her on the lips, and the
memory of that kiss has gone with me through my long life, and is
with me yet, when, old and withered, I stand upon the borders of
the grave. It was the greatest joy that has been given to me in
all my days. Too soon, alas! it was done, that first pure kiss of
youthful love--and I spoke again somewhat aimlessly.
'It seems then that you do love me who love you so well.'
'If you doubted it before, can you doubt it NOW?' she answered very
softly. 'But listen, Thomas. It is well that we should love each
other, for we were born to it, and have no help in the matter, even
if we wished to find it. Still, though love be sweet and holy, it
is not all, for there is duty to be thought of, and what will my
father say to this, Thomas?'
'I do not know, Lily, and yet I can guess. I am sure, sweet, that
he wishes you to take my brother Geoffrey, and leave me on one
'Then his wishes are not mine, Thomas. Also, though duty be
strong, it is not strong enough to force a woman to a marriage for
which she has no liking. Yet it may prove strong enough to keep a
woman from a marriage for which her heart pleads--perhaps, also, it
should have been strong enough to hold me back from the telling of
'No, Lily, the love itself is much, and though it should bring no
fruit, still it is something to have won it for ever and a day.'
'You are very young to talk thus, Thomas. I am also young, I know,
but we women ripen quicker. Perhaps all this is but a boy's fancy,
to pass with boyhood.'
'It will never pass, Lily. They say that our first loves are the
longest, and that which is sown in youth will flourish in our age.
Listen, Lily; I have my place to make in the world, and it may take
a time in the making, and I ask one promise of you, though perhaps
it is a selfish thing to seek. I ask of you that you will be
faithful to me, and come fair weather or foul, will wed no other
man till you know me dead.'
'It is something to promise, Thomas, for with time come changes.
Still I am so sure of myself that I promise--nay I swear it. Of
you I cannot be sure, but things are so with us women that we must
risk all upon a throw, and if we lose, good-bye to happiness.'
Then we talked on, and I cannot remember what we said, though these
words that I have written down remain in my mind, partly because of
their own weight, and in part because of all that came about in the
And at last I knew that I must go, though we were sad enough at
parting. So I took her in my arms and kissed her so closely that
some blood from my wound ran down her white attire. But as we
embraced I chanced to look up, and saw a sight that frightened me
enough. For there, not five paces from us, stood Squire Bozard,
Lily's father, watching all, and his face wore no smile.
He had been riding by a bridle-path to the watering ford, and
seeing a couple trespassing beneath the oaks, dismounted from his
horse to hunt them away. Not till he was quite near did he know
whom he came to hunt, and then he stood still in astonishment.
Lily and I drew slowly apart and looked at him. He was a short
stout man, with a red face and stern grey eyes, that seemed to be
starting from his head with anger. For a while he could not speak,
but when he began at length the words came fast enough. All that
he said I forget, but the upshot of it was that he desired to know
what my business was with his daughter. I waited till he was out
of breath, then answered him that Lily and I loved each other well,
and were plighting our troth.
'Is this so, daughter?' he asked.
'It is so, my father,' she answered boldly.
Then he broke out swearing. 'You light minx,' he said, 'you shall
be whipped and kept cool on bread and water in your chamber. And
for you, my half-bred Spanish cockerel, know once and for all that
this maid is for your betters. How dare you come wooing my
daughter, you empty pill-box, who have not two silver pennies to
rattle in your pouch! Go win fortune and a name before you dare to
look up to such as she.'
'That is my desire, and I will do it, sir,' I answered.
'So, you apothecary's drudge, you will win name and place, will
you! Well, long before that deed is done the maid shall be safely
wedded to one who has them and who is not unknown to you.
Daughter, say now that you have finished with him.'
'I cannot say that, father,' she replied, plucking at her robe.
'If it is not your will that I should marry Thomas here, my duty is
plain and I may not wed him. But I am my own and no duty can make
me marry where I will not. While Thomas lives I am sworn to him
and to no other man.'
'At the least you have courage, hussey,' said her father. 'But
listen now, either you will marry where and when I wish, or tramp
it for your bread. Ungrateful girl, did I breed you to flaunt me
to my face? Now for you, pill-box. I will teach you to come
kissing honest men's daughters without their leave,' and with a
curse he rushed at me, stick aloft, to thrash me.
Then for the second time that day my quick blood boiled in me, and
snatching up the Spaniard's sword that lay upon the grass beside
me, I held it at the point, for the game was changed, and I who had
fought with cudgel against sword, must now fight with sword against
cudgel. And had it not been that Lily with a quick cry of fear
struck my arm from beneath, causing the point of the sword to pass
over his shoulder, I believe truly that I should then and there
have pierced her father through, and ended my days early with a
noose about my neck.
'Are you mad?' she cried. 'And do you think to win me by slaying
my father? Throw down that sword, Thomas.'
'As for winning you, it seems that there is small chance of it;' I
answered hotly, 'but I tell you this, not for the sake of all the
maids upon the earth will I stand to be beaten with a stick like a
'And there I do not blame you, lad,' said her father, more kindly.
'I see that you also have courage which may serve you in good
stead, and it was unworthy of me to call you "pill-box" in my
anger. Still, as I have said, the girl is not for you, so be gone
and forget her as best you may, and if you value your life, never
let me find you two kissing again. And know that to-morrow I will
have a word with your father on this matter.'
'I will go since I must go,' I answered, 'but, sir, I still hope to
live to call your daughter wife. Lily, farewell till these storms
'Farewell, Thomas,' she said weeping. 'Forget me not and I will
never forget my oath to you.'
Then taking Lily by the arm her father led her away.
I also went away--sad, but not altogether ill-pleased. For now I
knew that if I had won the father's anger, I had also won the
daughter's unalterable love, and love lasts longer than wrath, and
here or hereafter will win its way at length. When I had gone a
little distance I remembered the Spaniard, who had been clean
forgotten by me in all this love and war, and I turned to seek him
and drag him to the stocks, the which I should have done with joy,
and been glad to find some one on whom to wreak my wrongs. But
when I came to the spot where I had left him, I found that fate had
befriended him by the hand of a fool, for there was no Spaniard but
only the village idiot, Billy Minns by name, who stood staring
first at the tree to which the foreigner had been made fast, and
then at a piece of silver in his hand.
'Where is the man who was tied here, Billy?' I asked.
'I know not, Master Thomas,' he answered in his Norfolk talk which
I will not set down. 'Half-way to wheresoever he was going I
should say, measured by the pace at which he left when once I had
set him upon his horse.'
'You set him on his horse, fool? How long was that ago?'
'How long! Well, it might be one hour, and it might be two. I'm
no reckoner of time, that keeps its own score like an innkeeper,
without my help. Lawks! how he did gallop off, working those long
spurs he wore right into the ribs of the horse. And little wonder,
poor man, and he daft, not being able to speak, but only to bleat
sheeplike, and fallen upon by robbers on the king's roads, and in
broad daylight. But Billy cut him loose and caught his horse and
set him on it, and got this piece for his good charity. Lawks! but
he was glad to be gone. How he did gallop!'
'Now you are a bigger fool even than I thought you, Billy Minns,' I
said in anger. 'That man would have murdered me, I overcame him
and made him fast, and you have let him go.'
'He would have murdered you, Master, and you made him fast! Then
why did you not stop to keep him till I came along, and we would
have haled him to the stocks? That would have been sport and all.
You call me fool--but if you found a man covered with blood and
hurts tied to a tree, and he daft and not able to speak, had you
not cut him loose? Well, he's gone, and this alone is left of
him,' and he spun the piece into the air.
Now, seeing that there was reason in Billy's talk, for the fault
was mine, I turned away without more words, not straight homewards,
for I wished to think alone awhile on all that had come about
between me and Lily and her father, but down the way which runs
across the lane to the crest of the Vineyard Hills. These hills
are clothed with underwood, in which large oaks grow to within some
two hundred yards of this house where I write, and this underwood
is pierced by paths that my mother laid out, for she loved to walk
here. One of these paths runs along the bottom of the hill by the
edge of the pleasant river Waveney, and the other a hundred feet or
more above and near the crest of the slope, or to speak more
plainly, there is but one path shaped like the letter O, placed
thus [symbol of O laying on its side omitted], the curved ends of
the letter marking how the path turns upon the hill-side.
Now I struck the path at the end that is furthest from this house,
and followed that half of it which runs down by the river bank,
having the water on one side of it and the brushwood upon the
other. Along this lower path I wandered, my eyes fixed upon the
ground, thinking deeply as I went, now of the joy of Lily's love,
and now of the sorrow of our parting and of her father's wrath. As
I went, thus wrapped in meditation, I saw something white lying
upon the grass, and pushed it aside with the point of the
Spaniard's sword, not heeding it. Still, its shape and fashioning
remained in my mind, and when I had left it some three hundred
paces behind me, and was drawing near to the house, the sight of it
came back to me as it lay soft and white upon the grass, and I knew
that it was familiar to my eyes. From the thing, whatever it might
be, my mind passed to the Spaniard's sword with which I had tossed
it aside, and from the sword to the man himself. What had been his
business in this parish?--an ill one surely--and why had he looked
as though he feared me and fallen upon me when he learned my name?
I stood still, looking downward, and my eyes fell upon footprints
stamped in the wet sand of the path. One of them was my mother's.
I could have sworn to it among a thousand, for no other woman in
these parts had so delicate a foot. Close to it, as though
following after, was another that at first I thought must also have
been made by a woman, it was so narrow. But presently I saw that
this could scarcely be, because of its length, and moreover, that
the boot which left it was like none that I knew, being cut very
high at the instep and very pointed at the toe. Then, of a sudden,
it came upon me that the Spanish stranger wore such boots, for I
had noted them while I talked with him, and that his feet were
following those of my mother, for they had trodden on her track,
and in some places, his alone had stamped their impress on the sand
blotting out her footprints. Then, too, I knew what the white rag
was that I had thrown aside. It was my mother's mantilla which I
knew, and yet did not know, because I always saw it set daintily
upon her head. In a moment it had come home to me, and with the
knowledge a keen and sickening dread. Why had this man followed my
mother, and why did her mantilla lie thus upon the ground?
I turned and sped like a deer back to where I had seen the lace.
All the way the footprints went before me. Now I was there. Yes,
the wrapping was hers, and it had been rent as though by a rude
hand; but where was she?
With a beating heart once more I bent to read the writing of the
footsteps. Here they were mixed one with another, as though the
two had stood close together, moving now this way and now that in
struggle. I looked up the path, but there were none. Then I cast
round about like a beagle, first along the river side, then up the
bank. Here they were again, and made by feet that flew and feet
that followed. Up the bank they went fifty yards and more, now
lost where the turf was sound, now seen in sand or loam, till they
led to the bole of a big oak, and were once more mixed together,
for here the pursuer had come up with the pursued.
Despairingly as one who dreams, for now I guessed all and grew mad
with fear, I looked this way and that, till at length I found more
footsteps, those of the Spaniard. These were deep marked, as of a
man who carried some heavy burden. I followed them; first they
went down the hill towards the river, then turned aside to a spot
where the brushwood was thick. In the deepest of the clump the
boughs, now bursting into leaf, were bent downwards as though to
hide something beneath. I wrenched them aside, and there, gleaming
whitely in the gathering twilight was the dead face of my mother.
THOMAS SWEARS AN OATH
For a while I stood amazed with horror, staring down at the dead
face of my beloved mother. Then I stooped to lift her and saw that
she had been stabbed, and through the breast, stabbed with the
sword which I carried in my hand.
Now I understood. This was the work of that Spanish stranger whom
I had met as he hurried from the place of murder, who, because of
the wickedness of his heart or for some secret reason, had striven
to slay me also when he learned that I was my mother's son. And I
had held this devil in my power, and that I might meet my May, I
had suffered him to escape my vengeance, who, had I known the
truth, would have dealt with him as the priests of Anahuac deal
with the victims of their gods. I understood and shed tears of
pity, rage, and shame. Then I turned and fled homewards like one
At the doorway I met my father and my brother Geoffrey riding up
from Bungay market, and there was that written on my face which
caused them to ask as with one voice:
'What evil thing has happened?'
Thrice I looked at my father before I could speak, for I feared
lest the blow should kill him. But speak I must at last, though I
chose that it should be to Geoffrey my brother. 'Our mother lies
murdered yonder on the Vineyard Hill. A Spanish man has done the
deed, Juan de Garcia by name.' When my father heard these words
his face became livid as though with pain of the heart, his jaw
fell and a low moan issued from his open mouth. Presently he
rested his hand upon the pommel of the saddle, and lifting his
ghastly face he said:
'Where is this Spaniard? Have you killed him?'
'No, father. He chanced upon me in Grubswell, and when he learned
my name he would have murdered me. But I played quarter staff with
him and beat him to a pulp, taking his sword.'
'Ay, and then?'
'And then I let him go, knowing nothing of the deed he had already
wrought upon our mother. Afterwards I will tell you all.'
'You let him go, son! You let Juan de Garcia go! Then, Thomas,
may the curse of God rest upon you till you find him and finish
that which you began to-day.'
'Spare to curse me, father, who am accursed by my own conscience.
Turn your horses rather and ride for Yarmouth, for there his ship
lies and thither he has gone with two hours' start. Perhaps you
may still trap him before he sets sail.'
Without another word my father and brother wheeled their horses
round and departed at full gallop into the gloom of the gathering
They rode so fiercely that, their horses being good, they came to
the gates of Yarmouth in little more than an hour and a half, and
that is fast riding. But the bird was flown. They tracked him to
the quay and found that he had shipped a while before in a boat
which was in waiting for him, and passed to his vessel that lay in
the Roads at anchor but with the most of her canvas set. Instantly
she sailed, and now was lost in the night. Then my father caused
notice to be given that he would pay reward of two hundred pieces
in gold to any ship that should capture the Spaniard, and two
started on the quest, but they did not find her that before morning
was far on her way across the sea.
So soon as they had galloped away I called together the grooms and
other serving men and told them what had chanced. Then we went
with lanterns, for by now it was dark, and came to the thick
brushwood where lay the body of my mother. I drew near the first,
for the men were afraid, and so indeed was I, though why I should
fear her lying dead who living had loved me tenderly, I do not
know. Yet I know this, that when I came to the spot and saw two
eyes glowering at me and heard the crash of bushes as something
broke them, I could almost have fallen with fear, although I knew
well that it was but a fox or wandering hound haunting the place of
Still I went on, calling the others to follow, and the end of it
was that we laid my mother's body upon a door which had been lifted
from its hinges, and bore her home for the last time. And to me
that path is still a haunted place. It is seventy years and more
since my mother died by the hand of Juan de Garcia her cousin, yet
old as I am and hardened to such sad scenes, I do not love to walk
that path alone at night.
Doubtless it was fancy which plays us strange tricks, still but a
year ago, having gone to set a springe for a woodcock, I chanced to
pass by yonder big oak upon a November eve, and I could have sworn
that I saw it all again. I saw myself a lad, my wounded arm still
bound with Lily's kerchief, climbing slowly down the hill-side,
while behind me, groaning beneath their burden, were the forms of
the four serving men. I heard the murmur of the river and the wind
that seventy years ago whispered in the reeds. I saw the clouded
sky flawed here and there with blue, and the broken light that
gleamed on the white burden stretched upon the door, and the red
stain at its breast. Ay, I heard myself talk as I went forward
with the lantern, bidding the men pass to the right of some steep
and rotten ground, and it was strange to me to listen to my own
voice as it had been in youth. Well, well, it was but a dream, yet
such slaves are we to the fears of fancy, that because of the dead,
I, who am almost of their number, do not love to pass that path at
At length we came home with our burden, and the women took it
weeping and set about their task with it. And now I must not only
fight my own sorrows but must strive to soothe those of my sister
Mary, who as I feared would go mad with grief and horror. At last
she sobbed herself into a torpor, and I went and questioned the men
who sat round the fire in the kitchen, for none sought their beds
that night. From them I learned that an hour or more before I met
the Spaniard, a richly-dressed stranger had been seen walking along
the church-path, and that he had tied his horse among some gorse
and brambles on the top of the hill, where he stood as though in
doubt, till my mother came out, when he descended and followed her.
Also I learned that one of the men at work in the garden, which is
not more than three hundred paces from where the deed was done,
heard cries, but had taken no note of them, thinking forsooth that
it was but the play of some lover from Bungay and his lass chasing
each other through the woods, as to this hour it is their fashion
to do. Truly it seemed to me that day as though this parish of
Ditchingham were the very nursery of fools, of whom I was the first
and biggest, and indeed this same thought has struck me since
concerning other matters.
At length the morning came, and with it my father and brother, who
returned from Yarmouth on hired horses, for their own were spent.
In the afternoon also news followed them that the ships which had
put to sea on the track of the Spaniard had been driven back by bad
weather, having seen nothing of him.
Now I told all the story of my dealings with the murderer of my
mother, keeping nothing back, and I must bear my father's bitter
anger because knowing that my mother was in dread of a Spaniard, I
had suffered my reason to be led astray by my desire to win speech
with my love. Nor did I meet with any comfort from my brother
Geoffrey, who was fierce against me because he learned that I had
not pleaded in vain with the maid whom he desired for himself. But
he said nothing of this reason. Also that no drop might be lacking
in my cup, Squire Bozard, who came with many other neighbours to
view the corpse and offer sympathy with my father in his loss, told
him at the same time that he took it ill that I should woo his
daughter against his wish, and that if I continued in this course
it would strain their ancient friendship. Thus I was hit on every
side; by sorrow for my mother whom I had loved tenderly, by longing
for my dear whom I might not see, by self-reproach because I had
let the Spaniard go when I held him fast, and by the anger of my
father and my brother. Indeed those days were so dark and bitter,
for I was at the age when shame and sorrow sting their sharpest,
that I wished that I were dead beside my mother. One comfort
reached me indeed, a message from Lily sent by a servant girl whom
she trusted, giving me her dear love and bidding me to be of good
At length came the day of burial, and my mother, wrapped in fair
white robes, was laid to her rest in the chancel of the church at
Ditchingham, where my father has long been set beside her, hard by
the brass effigies that mark the burying place of Lily's
forefather, his wife, and many of their children. This funeral was
the saddest of sights, for the bitterness of my father's grief
broke from him in sobs and my sister Mary swooned away in my arms.
Indeed there were few dry eyes in all that church, for my mother,
notwithstanding her foreign birth, was much loved because of her
gentle ways and the goodness of her heart. But it came to an end,
and the noble Spanish lady and English wife was left to her long
sleep in the ancient church, where she shall rest on when her
tragic story and her very name are forgotten among men. Indeed
this is likely to be soon, for I am the last of the Wingfields
alive in these parts, though my sister Mary has left descendants of
another name to whom my lands and fortune go except for certain
gifts to the poor of Bungay and of Ditchingham.
When it was over I went back home. My father was sitting in the
front room well nigh beside himself with grief, and by him was my
brother. Presently he began to assail me with bitter words because
I had let the murderer go when God gave him into my hand.
'You forget, father,' sneered Geoffrey, 'Thomas woos a maid, and it
was more to him to hold her in his arms than to keep his mother's
murderer safely. But by this it seems he has killed two birds with
one stone, he has suffered the Spanish devil to escape when he knew
that our mother feared the coming of a Spaniard, and he has made
enmity between us and Squire Bozard, our good neighbour, who
strangely enough does not favour his wooing.'
'It is so,' said my father. 'Thomas, your mother's blood is on
I listened and could bear this goading injustice no longer.
'It is false,' I said, 'I say it even to my father. The man had
killed my mother before I met him riding back to seek his ship at
Yarmouth and having lost his way; how then is her blood upon my
hands? As for my wooing of Lily Bozard, that is my matter,
brother, and not yours, though perhaps you wish that it was yours
and not mine. Why, father, did you not tell me what you feared of
this Spaniard? I heard some loose talk only and gave little
thought to it, my mind being full of other things. And now I will
say something. You called down God's curse upon me, father, till
such time as I should find this murderer and finish what I had
begun. So be it! Let God's curse rest upon me till I do find him.
I am young, but I am quick and strong, and so soon as may be I
start for Spain to hunt him there till I shall run him down or know
him to be dead. If you will give me money to help me on my quest,
so be it--if not I go without. I swear before God and by my
mother's spirit that I will neither rest nor stay till with the
very sword that slew her, I have avenged her blood upon her
murderer or know him dead, and if I suffer myself to be led astray
from the purpose of this oath by aught that is, then may a worse
end than hers overtake me, may my soul be rejected in heaven, and
my name be shameful for ever upon the earth!'
Thus I swore in my rage and anguish, holding up my hand to heaven
that I called upon to witness the oath.
My father looked at me keenly. 'If that is your mind, son Thomas,
you shall not lack for money. I would go myself, for blood must be
wiped out with blood, but I am too broken in my health; also I am
known in Spain and the Holy Office would claim me there. Go, and
my blessing go with you. It is right that you should go, for it is
through your folly that our enemy has escaped us.'
'Yes, it is right that he should go,' said Geoffrey.
'You say that because you wish to be rid of me, Geoffrey,' I
answered hotly, 'and you would be rid of me because you desire to
take my place at the side of a certain maid. Follow your nature
and do as you will, but if you would outwit an absent man no good
shall come to you of it.'
'The girl is to him who can win her,' he said.
'The girl's heart is won already, Geoffrey. You may buy her from
her father but you can never win her heart, and without a heart she
will be but a poor prize.'
'Peace! now is no time for such talk of love and maids,' said my
father, 'and listen. This is the tale of the Spanish murderer and
your mother. I have said nothing of it heretofore, but now it must
out. When I was a lad it happened that I also went to Spain
because my father willed it. I went to a monastery at Seville, but
I had no liking for monks and their ways, and I broke out from the
monastery. For a year or more I made my living as I best might,
for I feared to return to England as a runaway. Still I made a
living and not a bad one, now in this way and now in that, but
though I am ashamed to say it, mostly by gaming, at which I had
great luck. One night I met this man Juan de Garcia--for in his
hate he gave you his true name when he would have stabbed you--at
play. Even then he had an evil fame, though he was scarcely more
than a lad, but he was handsome in person, set high in birth, and
of a pleasing manner. It chanced that he won of me at the dice,
and being in a good humour, he took me to visit at the house of his
aunt, his uncle's widow, a lady of Seville. This aunt had one
child, a daughter, and that daughter was your mother. Now your
mother, Luisa de Garcia, was affianced to her cousin Juan de
Garcia, not with her own will indeed, for the contract had been
signed when she was only eight years old. Still it was binding,
more binding indeed than in this country, being a marriage in all
except in fact. But those women who are thus bound for the most
part bear no wife's love in their hearts, and so it was with your
mother. Indeed she both hated and feared her cousin Juan, though I
think that he loved her more than anything on earth, and by one
pretext and another she contrived to bring him to an agreement that
no marriage should be celebrated till she was full twenty years of
age. But the colder she was to him, the more was he inflamed with
desire to win her and also her possessions, which were not small,
for like all Spaniards he was passionate, and like most gamesters
and men of evil life, much in want of money.
'Now to be brief, from the first moment that your mother and I set
eyes on each other we loved one another, and it was our one desire
to meet as often as might be; and in this we had no great
difficulty, for her mother also feared and hated Juan de Garcia,
her nephew by marriage, and would have seen her daughter clear of
him if possible. The end of it was that I told my love, and a plot
was made between us that we should fly to England. But all this
had not escaped the ears of Juan, who had spies in the household,
and was jealous and revengeful as only a Spaniard can be. First he
tried to be rid of me by challenging me to a duel, but we were
parted before we could draw swords. Then he hired bravos to murder
me as I walked the streets at night, but I wore a chain shirt
beneath my doublet and their daggers broke upon it, and in place of
being slain I slew one of them. Twice baffled, de Garcia was not
defeated. Fight and murder had failed, but another and surer means
remained. I know not how, but he had won some clue to the history
of my life, and of how I had broken out from the monastery. It was
left to him, therefore, to denounce me to the Holy Office as a
renegade and an infidel, and this he did one night; it was the
night before the day when we should have taken ship. I was sitting
with your mother and her mother in their house at Seville, when six
cowled men entered and seized me without a word. When I prayed to
know their purpose they gave no other answer than to hold a
crucifix before my eyes. Then I knew why I was taken, and the
women ceased clinging to me and fell back sobbing. Secretly and
silently I was hurried away to the dungeons of the Holy Office, but
of all that befell me there I will not stop to tell.
'Twice I was racked, once I was seared with hot irons, thrice I was
flogged with wire whips, and all this while I was fed on food such
as we should scarcely offer to a dog here in England. At length my
offence of having escaped from a monastery and sundry blasphemies,
so-called, being proved against me, I was condemned to death by
'Then at last, when after a long year of torment and of horror, I
had abandoned hope and resigned myself to die, help came. On the
eve of the day upon which I was to be consumed by flame, the chief
of my tormentors entered the dungeon where I lay on straw, and
embracing me bade me be of good cheer, for the church had taken
pity on my youth and given me my freedom. At first I laughed
wildly, for I thought that this was but another torment, and not
till I was freed of my fetters, clothed in decent garments, and set
at midnight without the prison gates, would I believe that so good
a thing had befallen me through the hand of God. I stood weak and
wondering outside the gates, not knowing where to fly, and as I
stood a woman glided up to me wrapped in a dark cloak, who
whispered "Come." That woman was your mother. She had learned of
my fate from the boasting of de Garcia and set herself to save me.
Thrice her plans failed, but at length through the help of some
cunning agent, gold won what was denied to justice and to mercy,
and my life and liberty were bought with a very great sum.
'That same night we were married and fled for Cadiz, your mother
and I, but not her mother, who was bedridden with a sickness. For
my sake your beloved mother abandoned her people, what remained to
her of her fortune after paying the price of my life, and her
country, so strong is the love of woman. All had been made ready,
for at Cadiz lay an English ship, the "Mary" of Bristol, in which
passage was taken for us. But the "Mary" was delayed in port by a
contrary wind which blew so strongly that notwithstanding his
desire to save us, her master dared not take the sea. Two days and
a night we lay in the harbour, fearing all things not without
cause, and yet most happy in each other's love. Now those who had
charge of me in the dungeon had given out that I had escaped by the
help of my master the Devil, and I was searched for throughout the
country side. De Garcia also, finding that his cousin and
affianced wife was missing, guessed that we two were not far apart.
It was his cunning, sharpened by jealousy and hate, that dogged us
down step by step till at length he found us.
'On the morning of the third day, the gale having abated, the
anchor of the "Mary" was got home and she swung out into the
tideway. As she came round and while the seamen were making ready
to hoist the sails, a boat carrying some twenty soldiers, and
followed by two others, shot alongside and summoned the captain to
heave to, that his ship might be boarded and searched under warrant
from the Holy Office. It chanced that I was on deck at the time,
and suddenly, as I prepared to hide myself below, a man, in whom I
knew de Garcia himself, stood up and called out that I was the
escaped heretic whom they sought. Fearing lest his ship should be
boarded and he himself thrown into prison with the rest of his
crew, the captain would then have surrendered me. But I, desperate
with fear, tore my clothes from my body and showed the cruel scars
that marked it.
"'You are Englishmen," I cried to the sailors, "and will you
deliver me to these foreign devils, who am of your blood? Look at
their handiwork," and I pointed to the half-healed scars left by
the red-hot pincers; "if you give me up, you send me back to more
of this torment and to death by burning. Pity my wife if you will
not pity me, or if you will pity neither, then lend me a sword that
by death I may save myself from torture."
'Then one of the seamen, a Southwold man who had known my father,
called out: "By God! I for one will stand by you, Thomas Wingfield.
If they want you and your sweet lady they must kill me first," and
seizing a bow from the rack he drew it out of its case and strung
it, and setting an arrow on the string he pointed it at the
Spaniards in the boat.
'Then the others broke into shouts of:
'"If you want any man from among us, come aboard and take him, you
torturing devils," and the like.
'Seeing where the heart of the crew lay, the captain found courage
in his turn. He made no answer to the Spaniards, but bade half of
the men hoist the sails with all speed, and the rest make ready to
keep off the soldiers should they seek to board us.
'By now the other two boats had come up and fastened on to us with
their hooks. One man climbed into the chains and thence to the
deck, and I knew him for a priest of the Holy Office, one of those
who had stood by while I was tormented. Then I grew mad at the
thought of all that I had suffered, while that devil watched,
bidding them lay on for the love of God. Snatching the bow from
the hand of the Southwold seaman, I drew the arrow to its head and
loosed. It did not miss its mark, for like you, Thomas, I was
skilled with the bow, and he dived back into the sea with an
English yard shaft in his heart.
'After that they tried to board us no more, though they shot at us
with arrows, wounding one man. The captain called to us to lay
down our bows and take cover behind the bulwarks, for by now the
sails began to draw. Then de Garcia stood up in the boat and
cursed me and my wife.
'"I will find you yet," he screamed, with many Spanish oaths and
foul words. "If I must wait for twenty years I will be avenged
upon you and all you love. Be assured of this, Luisa de Garcia,
hide where you will, I shall find you, and when we meet, you shall
come with me for so long as I will keep you or that shall be the
hour of your death."
'Then we sailed away for England, and the boats fell astern.
'My sons, this is the story of my youth, and of how I came to wed
your mother whom I have buried to-day. Juan de Garcia has kept his
'Yet it seems strange,' said my brother, 'that after all these
years he should have murdered her thus, whom you say he loved.
Surely even the evilest of men had shrunk from such a deed!'
'There is little that is strange about it,' answered my father.
'How can we know what words were spoken between them before he
stabbed her? Doubtless he told of some of them when he cried to
Thomas that now they would see what truth there was in prophecies.
What did de Garcia swear years since?--that she should come with
him or he would kill her. Your mother was still beautiful,
Geoffrey, and he may have given her choice between flight and
death. Seek to know no more, son'--and suddenly my father hid his
face in his hands and broke into sobs that were dreadful to hear.
'Would that you had told us this tale before, father,' I said so
soon as I could speak. 'Then there would have lived a devil the
less in the world to-day, and I should have been spared a long
Little did I know how long that journey would be!
Within twelve days of the burial of my mother and the telling of
the story of his marriage to her by my father, I was ready to start
upon my search. As it chanced a vessel was about to sail from
Yarmouth to Cadiz. She was named the 'Adventuress,' of one hundred
tons burden, and carried wool and other goods outwards, purposing
to return with a cargo of wine and yew staves for bows. In this
vessel my father bought me a passage. Moreover, he gave me fifty
pounds in gold, which was as much as I would risk upon my person,
and obtained letters from the Yarmouth firm of merchants to their
agents in Cadiz, in which they were advised to advance me such sums
as I might need up to a total of one hundred and fifty English
pounds, and further to assist me in any way that was possible.
Now the ship 'Adventuress' was to sail on the third day of June.
Already it was the first of that month, and that evening I must
ride to Yarmouth, whither my baggage had gone already. Except one
my farewells were made, and yet that was the one I most wished to
make. Since the day when we had sworn our troth I had gained no
sight of Lily except once at my mother's burial, and then we had
not spoken. Now it seemed that I must go without any parting word,
for her father had sent me notice that if I came near the Hall his
serving men had orders to thrust me from the door, and this was a
shame that I would not risk. Yet it was hard that I must go upon
so long a journey, whence it well might chance I should not return,
and bid her no goodbye. In my grief and perplexity I spoke to my
father, telling him how the matter stood and asking his help.
'I go hence,' I said, 'to avenge our common loss, and if need be to
give my life for the honour of our name. Aid me then in this.'
'My neighbour Bozard means his daughter for your brother Geoffrey,
and not for you, Thomas,' he answered; 'and a man may do what he
wills with his own. Still I will help you if I can, at the least
he cannot drive me from his door. Bid them bring horses, and we
will ride to the Hall.'
Within the half of an hour we were there, and my father asked for
speech with its master. The serving man looked at me askance,
remembering his orders, still he ushered us into the justice room
where the Squire sat drinking ale.
'Good morrow to you, neighbour,' said the Squire; 'you are welcome
here, but you bring one with you who is not welcome, though he be
'I bring him for the last time, friend Bozard. Listen to his
request, then grant it or refuse it as you will; but if you refuse
it, it will not bind us closer. The lad rides to-night to take
ship for Spain to seek that man who murdered his mother. He goes
of his own free will because after the doing of the deed it was he
who unwittingly suffered the murderer to escape, and it is well
that he should go.'
'He is a young hound to run such a quarry to earth, and in a
strange country,' said the Squire. 'Still I like his spirit and
wish him well. What would he of me?'
'Leave to bid farewell to your daughter. I know that his suit does
not please you and cannot wonder at it, and for my own part I think
it too early for him to set his fancy in the way of marriage. But
if he would see the maid it can do no harm, for such harm as there
is has been done already. Now for your answer.'
Squire Bozard thought a while, then said:
'The lad is a brave lad though he shall be no son-in-law of mine.
He is going far, and mayhap will return no more, and I do not wish
that he should think unkindly of me when I am dead. Go without,
Thomas Wingfield, and stand under yonder beech--Lily shall join you
there and you may speak with her for the half of an hour--no more.
See to it that you keep within sight of the window. Nay, no
thanks; go before I change my mind.'
So I went and waited under the beech with a beating heart, and
presently Lily glided up to me, a more welcome sight to my eyes
than any angel out of heaven. And, indeed, I doubt if an angel
could have been more fair than she, or more good and gentle.
'Oh! Thomas,' she whispered, when I had greeted her, 'is this true
that you sail oversea to seek the Spaniard?'