Part 4 out of 5
'It's all right,' Una called up the stairs. 'We found him, Sam.
Does his mother know?'
'He's come off by himself. She'll be justabout crazy,'
'Then I'll run down street and tell her.' Una darted off.
'Thank you, Miss Una. Would you like to see how we're
mendin' the bell-beams, Mus' Dan?'
Dan hopped up, and saw young Sam lying on his stomach in a
most delightful place among beams and ropes, close to the five
great bells. Old Mr Kidbrooke on the floor beneath was planing a
piece of wood, and Jimmy was eating the shavings as fast as they
came away. He never looked at Jimmy; Jimmy never stopped
eating; and the broad gilt-bobbed pendulum of the church clock
never stopped swinging across the white-washed wall of the
Dan winked through the sawdust that fell on his upturned face.
'Ring a bell,' he called.
, I mustn't do that, but I'll buzz one of 'em a bit for you,' said
Sam. He pounded on the sound-bow of the biggest bell, and
waked a hollow groaning boom that ran up and down the tower
like creepy feelings down your back. just when it almost began to
hurt, it died away in a hurry of beautiful sorrowful cries, like a
wine-glass rubbed with a wet finger. The pendulum clanked -
one loud clank to each silent swing.
Dan heard Una return from Mrs Kidbrooke's, and ran down to
fetch her. She was standing by the font staring at some one who
kneeled at the Altar-rail.
'Is that the Lady who practises the organ?' she whispered.
'No. She's gone into the organ-place. Besides, she wears
black,' Dan replied.
The figure rose and came down the nave. It was a white-haired
man in a long white gown with a sort of scarf looped low on the
neck, one end hanging over his shoulder. His loose long sleeves
were embroidered with gold, and a deep strip of gold embroidery
waved and sparkled round the hem of his gown.
'Go and meet him,' said Puck's voice behind the font. 'It's
'Wilfrid who?' said Dan. 'You come along too.'
'Wilfrid - Saint of Sussex, and Archbishop of York. I shall wait
till he asks me.' He waved them forward. Their feet squeaked on
the old grave-slabs in the centre aisle. The Archbishop raised one
hand with a pink ring on it, and said something in Latin. He was
very handsome, and his thin face looked almost as silvery as his
thin circle of hair.
'Are you alone?' he asked.
'Puck's here, of course,' said Una. 'Do you know him?'
'I know him better now than I used to.' He beckoned over
Dan's shoulder, and spoke again in Latin. Puck pattered forward,
holding himself as straight as an arrow. The Archbishop smiled.
'Be welcome,' said he. 'Be very welcome.'
'Welcome to you also, O Prince of the church,' Puck replied.
The Archbishop bowed his head and passed on, till he glimmered
like a white moth in the shadow by the font.
'He does look awfully princely,' said Una. 'Isn't he coming
'Oh yes. He's only looking over the church. He's very fond of
churches,' said Puck. 'What's that?'
The Lady who practices the organ was speaking to the blower-
boy behind the organ-screen. 'We can't very well talk here,' Puck
whispered. 'Let's go to Panama Corner.'
He led them to the end of the south aisle, where there is a slab of
iron which says in queer, long-tailed letters: ORATE P. ANNEMA JHONE COLINE.
The children always called it Panama Corner.
The Archbishop moved slowly about the little church, peering
at the old memorial tablets and the new glass windows. The Lady
who practises the organ began to pull out stops and rustle hymn-
books behind the screen.
'I hope she'll do all the soft lacey tunes - like treacle on
porridge,' said Una.
'I like the trumpety ones best,' said Dan. 'Oh, look at Wilfrid!
He's trying to shut the Altar-gates!'
'Tell him he mustn't,' said Puck, quite seriously.
He can't, anyhow,' Dan muttered, and tiptoed out of Panama
Corner while the Archbishop patted and patted at the carved gates
that always sprang open again beneath his hand.
'That's no use, sir,' Dan whispered. 'Old Mr Kidbrooke says
Altar-gates are just the one pair of gates which no man can shut.
He made 'em so himself.'
The Archbishop's blue eyes twinkled. Dan saw that he knew all
'I beg your pardon,' Dan stammered - very angry with Puck.
'Yes, I know! He made them so Himself.' The Archbishop
smiled, and crossed to Panama Corner, where Una dragged up a
certain padded arm-chair for him to sit on.
The organ played softly. 'What does that music say?'he asked.
Una dropped into the chant without thinking: '"O all ye
works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord; praise him and magnify him
for ever." We call it the Noah's Ark, because it's all lists of things
- beasts and birds and whales, you know.'
'Whales?' said the Archbishop quickly.
'Yes - "O ye whales, and all that move in the waters,"' Una
hummed - '"Bless ye the Lord." It sounds like a wave turning
over, doesn't it?'
'Holy Father,' said Puck with a demure face, 'is a little seal also
"one who moves in the water"?'
'Eh? Oh yes - yess!' he laughed. 'A seal moves wonderfully in
the waters. Do the seal come to my island still?'
Puck shook his head. 'All those little islands have been
'Very possible. The tides ran fiercely down there. Do you
know the land of the Sea-calf, maiden?'
'No - but we've seen seals - at Brighton.'
'The Archbishop is thinking of a little farther down the coast.
He means Seal's Eye - Selsey - down Chichester way - where he
converted the South Saxons,' Puck explained.
'Yes - yess; if the South Saxons did not convert me,' said the
Archbishop, smiling. 'The first time I was wrecked was on that
coast. As our ship took ground and we tried to push her off, an old
fat fellow of a seal, I remember, reared breast-high out of the
water, and scratched his head with his flipper as if he were saying:
"What does that excited person with the pole think he is doing'"I
was very wet and miserable, but I could not help laughing, till the
natives came down and attacked us.'
'What did you do?' Dan asked.
'One couldn't very well go back to France, so one tried to make
them go back to the shore. All the South Saxons are born
wreckers, like my own Northumbrian folk. I was bringing over a
few things for my old church at York, and some of the natives laid
hands on them, and - and I'm afraid I lost my temper.'
'it is said -' Puck's voice was wickedly meek -'that there was a
Eh, but I must ha' been a silly lad.' Wilfrid spoke with a sudden
thick burr in his voice. He coughed, and took up his silvery tones
again. 'There was no fight really. My men thumped a few of
them, but the tide rose half an hour before its time, with a strong
wind, and we backed off. What I wanted to say, though, was, that
the seas about us were full of sleek seals watching the scuffle. My
good Eddi - my chaplain - insisted that they were demons. Yes -
yess! That was my first acquaintance with the South Saxons and
'But not the only time you were wrecked, was it?' said Dan.
'Alas, no! On sea and land my life seems to have been one long
shipwreck.' He looked at the Jhone Coline slab as old Hobden
sometimes looks into the fire. 'Ah, well!'
'But did you ever have any more adventures among the seals?"
said Una, after a little.
'Oh, the seals! I beg your pardon. They are the important
things. Yes - yess! I went back to the South Saxons after twelve -
fifteen - years. No, I did not come by water, but overland from
my own Northumbria, to see what I could do. It's little one can do
with that class of native except make them stop killing each other
and themselves -'
'Why did they kill themselves?' Una asked, her chin in her hand.
'Because they were heathen. When they grew tired of life (as if
they were the only people!) they would jump into the sea . They
called it going to Wotan. It wasn't want of food always - by any
means. A man would tell you that he felt grey in the heart, or a
woman would say that she saw nothing but long days in front of
her; and they'd saunter away to the mud-flats and - that would be
the end of them, poor souls, unless one headed them off. One had
to run quick, but one can't allow people to lay hands on themselves
because they happen to feel grey. Yes - yess - Extraordinary
people, the South Saxons. Disheartening, sometimes. ... What does
that say now?' The organ had changed tune again.
'Only a hymn for next Sunday,' said Una. '"The Church's
One Foundation." Go on, please, about running over the mud. I
should like to have seen you.'
'I dare say you would, and I really could run in those days.
Ethelwalch the King gave me some five or six muddy parishes by
the sea, and the first time my good Eddi and I rode there we saw a
man slouching along the slob, among the seals at Manhood End.
My good Eddi disliked seals - but he swallowed his objections
and ran like a hare.'
'For the same reason that I did. We thought it was one of our
people going to drown himself. As a matter of fact, Eddi and I
were nearly drowned in the pools before we overtook him. To
cut a long story short, we found ourselves very muddy, very
breathless, being quietly made fun of in good Latin by a very
well-spoken person. No - he'd no idea of going to Wotan. He was
fishing on his own beaches, and he showed us the beacons and
turf-heaps that divided his land from the church property. He
took us to his own house, gave us a good dinner, some more than
good wine, sent a guide with us into Chichester, and became one
of my best and most refreshing friends. He was a Meon by
descent, from the west edge of the kingdom; a scholar educated,
curiously enough, at Lyons, my old school; had travelled the
world over, even to Rome, and was a brilliant talker. We found
we had scores of acquaintances in common. It seemed he was a
small chief under King Ethelwalch, and I fancy the King was
somewhat afraid of him. The South Saxons mistrust a man who
talks too well. Ah! Now, I've left out the very point of my story.
He kept a great grey-muzzled old dog-seal that he had brought up
from a pup. He called it Padda - after one of my clergy. It was
rather like fat, honest old Padda. The creature followed him
everywhere, and nearly knocked down my good Eddi when we
first met him. Eddi loathed it. It used to sniff at his thin legs and
cough at him. I can't say I ever took much notice of it (I was not
fond of animals), till one day Eddi came to me with a circumstantial
account of some witchcraft that Meon worked. He would
tell the seal to go down to the beach the last thing at night, and
bring him word of the weather. When it came back, Meon might
say to his slaves, "Padda thinks we shall have wind tomorrow.
Haul up the boats!" I spoke to Meon casually about the story, and
'He told me he could judge by the look of the creature's coat
and the way it sniffed what weather was brewing. Quite possible.
One need not put down everything one does not understand to
the work of bad spirits - or good ones, for that matter.' He
nodded towards Puck, who nodded gaily in return.
'I say so,' he went on, 'because to a certain extent I have been
made a victim of that habit of mind. Some while after I was settled
at Selsey, King Ethelwalch and Queen Ebba ordered their people
to be baptized. I fear I'm too old to believe that a whole nation can
change its heart at the King's command, and I had a shrewd
suspicion that their real motive was to get a good harvest. No rain
had fallen for two or three years, but as soon as we had finished
baptizing, it fell heavily, and they all said it was a miracle.'
'And was it?' Dan asked.
'Everything in life is a miracle, but' - the Archbishop twisted
the heavy ring on his finger - 'I should be slow - ve-ry slow
should I be - to assume that a certain sort of miracle happens
whenever lazy and improvident people say they are going to turn
over a new leaf if they are paid for it. My friend Meon had sent his
slaves to the font, but he had not come himself, so the next time I
rode over - to return a manuscript - I took the liberty of asking
why. He was perfectly open about it. He looked on the King's
action as a heathen attempt to curry favour with the Christians'
God through me the Archbishop, and he would have none of it.
'"My dear man," I said, "admitting that that is the case, surely
you, as an educated person, don't believe in Wotan and all the
other hobgoblins any more than Padda here?" The old seal was
hunched up on his ox-hide behind his master's chair.
'"Even if I don't," he said, "why should I insult the memory of
my fathers' Gods? I have sent you a hundred and three of my
rascals to christen. Isn't that enough?"
'"By no means," I answered. "I want you."
'"He wants us! What do you think of that, Padda?" He pulled
the seal's whiskers till it threw back its head and roared, and he
pretended to interpret. "No! Padda says he won't be baptized yet
awhile. He says you'll stay to dinner and come fishing with me
tomorrow, because you're over-worked and need a rest."
'"I wish you'd keep yon brute in its proper place," I said, and
Eddi, my chaplain, agreed.
'"I do," said Meon. "I keep him just next my heart. He can't
tell a lie, and he doesn't know how to love any one except me. It
'ud be the same if I were dying on a mud-bank, wouldn't it,
'"Augh! Augh!" said Padda, and put up his head to be scratched.
'Then Meon began to tease Eddi: "Padda says, if Eddi saw his
Archbishop dying on a mud-bank Eddi would tuck up his gown
and run. Padda knows Eddi can run too! Padda came into Wittering
Church last Sunday - all wet - to hear the music, and Eddi ran out."
'My good Eddi rubbed his hands and his shins together, and
flushed. "Padda is a child of the Devil, who is the father of lies!"
he cried, and begged my pardon for having spoken. I forgave him.
'"Yes. You are just about stupid enough for a musician," said
Meon. "But here he is. Sing a hymn to him, and see if he can stand
it. You'll find my small harp beside the fireplace."
'Eddi, who is really an excellent musician, played and sang for
quite half an hour. Padda shuffled off his ox-hide, hunched
himself on his flippers before him, and listened with his head
thrown back. Yes - yess! A rather funny sight! Meon tried not to
laugh, and asked Eddi if he were satisfied.
'It takes some time to get an idea out of my good Eddi's head.
He looked at me.
'"Do you want to sprinkle him with holy water, and see if he
flies up the chimney? Why not baptize him?" said Meon.
'Eddi was really shocked. I thought it was bad taste myself.
'"That's not fair," said Meon. "You call him a demon and a
familiar spirit because he loves his master and likes music, and
when I offer you a chance to prove it you won't take it. Look here!
I'll make a bargain. I'll be baptized if you'll baptize Padda too.
He's more of a man than most of my slaves."
'"One doesn't bargain - or joke - about these matters," I said.
He was going altogether too far.
'"Quite right," said Meon; "I shouldn't like any one to joke
about Padda. Padda, go down to the beach and bring us
'My good Eddi must have been a little over-tired with his day's
work. "I am a servant of the church," he cried. "My business is to
save souls, not to enter into fellowships and understandings with
'"Have it your own narrow way," said Meon. "Padda, you
needn't go." The old fellow flounced back to his ox-hide at once.
'"Man could learn obedience at least from that creature," said
Eddi, a little ashamed of himself. Christians should not curse.
'"Don't begin to apologise Just when I am beginning to like
you," said Meon. "We'll leave Padda behind tomorrow - out of
respect to your feelings. Now let's go to supper. We must be up
early tomorrow for the whiting."
'The next was a beautiful crisp autumn morning - a weather-
breeder, if I had taken the trouble to think; but it's refreshing to
escape from kings and converts for half a day. We three went by
ourselves in Meon's smallest boat, and we got on the whiting near
an old wreck, a mile or so off shore. Meon knew the marks to a
yard, and the fish were keen. Yes - yess! A perfect morning's
fishing! If a Bishop can't be a fisherman, who can?' He twiddled
his ring again. 'We stayed there a little too long, and while we
were getting up our stone, down came the fog. After some
discussion, we decided to row for the land. The ebb was just
beginning to make round the point, and sent us all ways at once
like a coracle.'
'Selsey Bill,' said Puck under his breath. 'The tides run
something furious there.'
'I believe you,' said the Archbishop. 'Meon and I have spent a
good many evenings arguing as to where exactly we drifted. All I
know is we found ourselves in a little rocky cove that had sprung
up round us out of the fog, and a swell lifted the boat on to a ledge,
and she broke up beneath our feet. We had just time to shuffle
through the weed before the next wave. The sea was rising.
'"It's rather a pity we didn't let Padda go down to the beach
last night," said Meon. "He might have warned us this was coming."
'"Better fall into the hands of God than the hands of demons,"
said Eddi, and his teeth chattered as he prayed. A nor'-west breeze
had just got up - distinctly cool.
'"Save what you can of the boat," said Meon; "we may need
it," and we had to drench ourselves again, fishing out stray
'What for?' said Dan.
'For firewood. We did not know when we should get off. Eddi
had flint and steel, and we found dry fuel in the old gulls' nests and
lit a fire. It smoked abominably, and we guarded it with boat-
planks up-ended between the rocks. One gets used to that sort of
thing if one travels. Unluckily I'm not so strong as I was. I fear I
must have been a trouble to my friends. It was blowing a full gale
before midnight. Eddi wrung out his cloak, and tried to wrap me
in it, but I ordered him on his obedience to keep it. However, he
held me in his arms all the first night, and Meon begged his
pardon for what he'd said the night before - about Eddi, running
away if he found me on a sandbank, you remember.
'"You are right in half your prophecy," said Eddi. "I have
tucked up my gown, at any rate." (The wind had blown it over
his head.) "Now let us thank God for His mercies."
'"Hum!" said Meon. "If this gale lasts, we stand a very fair
chance of dying of starvation."
'"If it be God's will that we survive, God will provide," said Eddi.
"At least help me to sing to Him." The wind almost whipped the
words out of his mouth, but he braced himself against a rock and
'I'm glad I never concealed my opinion - from myself - that
Eddi was a better man than I. Yet I have worked hard in my time -
very hard! Yes - yess! So the morning and the evening were our
second day on that islet. There was rain-water in the rock-pools,
and, as a churchman, I knew how to fast, but I admit we were
hungry. Meon fed our fire chip by chip to eke it out, and they
made me sit over it, the dear fellows, when I was too weak to
object. Meon held me in his arms the second night, just like a
child. My good Eddi was a little out of his senses, and imagined
himself teaching a York choir to sing. Even so, he was beautifully
patient with them.
'I heard Meon whisper, "If this keeps up we shall go to our
Gods. I wonder what Wotan will say to me. He must know I
don't believe in him. On the other hand, I can't do what Ethelwalch
finds so easy - curry favour with your God at the last
minute, in the hope of being saved - as you call it. How do you
'"My dear man," I said, "if that is your honest belief, I take it
upon myself to say you had far better not curry favour with any
God. But if it's only your Jutish pride that holds you back, lift me
up, and I'll baptize you even now."
'"Lie still," said Meon. "I could judge better if I were in my
own hall. But to desert one's fathers' Gods - even if one doesn't
believe in them - in the middle of a gale, isn't quite - What would
you do yourself?"
'I was lying in his arms, kept alive by the warmth of his big,
steady heart. It did not seem to me the time or the place for subtle
arguments, so I answered, "No, I certainly should not desert my
God." I don't see even now what else I could have said.
'"Thank you. I'll remember that, if I live," said Meon, and I
must have drifted back to my dreams about Northumbria and
beautiful France, for it was broad daylight when I heard him
calling on Wotan in that high, shaking heathen yell that I detest so.
'"Lie quiet. I'm giving Wotan his chance," he said. Our dear
Eddi ambled up, still beating time to his imaginary choir.
'"Yes. Call on your Gods," he cried, "and see what gifts they
will send you. They are gone on a journey, or they are hunting."
'I assure you the words were not out of his mouth when old
Padda shot from the top of a cold wrinkled swell, drove himself
over the weedy ledge, and landed fair in our laps with a rock-cod
between his teeth. I could not help smiling at Eddi's face. "A
miracle! A miracle!" he cried, and kneeled down to clean the cod.
'"You've been a long time finding us, my son," said Meon.
"Now fish - fish for all our lives. We're starving, Padda."
'The old fellow flung himself quivering like a salmon backward
into the boil of the currents round the rocks, and Meon said,
"We're safe. I'll send him to fetch help when this wind drops. Eat
and be thankful."
'I never tasted anything so good as those rock-codlings we took
from Padda's mouth and half roasted over the fire. Between his
plunges Padda would hunch up and purr over Meon with the
tears running down his face. I never knew before that seals could
weep for joy - as I have wept.
'"Surely," said Eddi, with his mouth full, "God has made the
seal the loveliest of His creatures in the water. Look how Padda
breasts the current! He stands up against it like a rock; now watch
the chain of bubbles where he dives; and now - there is his wise
head under that rock-ledge! Oh, a blessing be on thee, my little
'"You said he was a child of the Devil!" Meon laughed.
'"There I sinned," poor Eddi answered. "Call him here, and I
will ask his pardon. God sent him out of the storm to humble me,
'"I won't ask you to enter into fellowships and understandings
with any accursed brute," said Meon, rather unkindly. "Shall we
say he was sent to our Bishop as the ravens were sent to your
'"Doubtless that is so," said Eddi. "I will write it so if I live to
'"No - no!" I said. "Let us three poor men kneel and thank
God for His mercies."
'We kneeled, and old Padda shuffled up and thrust his head
under Meon's elbows. I laid my hand upon it and blessed him. So
'"And now, my son," I said to Meon, "shall I baptize thee?"
'"Not yet," said he. "Wait till we are well ashore and at home.
No God in any Heaven shall say that I came to him or left him
because I was wet and cold. I will send Padda to my people for a
boat. Is that witchcraft, Eddi?"
'"Why, no. Surely Padda will go and pull them to the beach by
the skirts of their gowns as he pulled me in Wittering Church to
ask me to sing. Only then I was afraid, and did not understand,"
'"You are understanding now," said Meon, and at a wave of
his arm off went Padda to the mainland, making a wake like a
war-boat till we lost him in the rain. Meon's people could not
bring a boat across for some hours; even so it was ticklish work
among the rocks in that tideway. But they hoisted me aboard, too
stiff to move, and Padda swam behind us, barking and turning
somersaults all the way to Manhood End!'
'Good old Padda!' murmured Dan.
'When we were quite rested and re-clothed, and his people had
been summoned - not an hour before - Meon offered himself to
'Was Padda baptized too?' Una asked.
'No, that was only Meon's joke. But he sat blinking on his
ox-hide in the middle of the hall. When Eddi (who thought I
wasn't looking) made a little cross in holy water on his wet
muzzle, he kissed Eddi's hand. A week before Eddi wouldn't
have touched him. That was a miracle, if you like! But seriously, I
was more glad than I can tell you to get Meon. A rare and splendid
soul that never looked back - never looked back!' The Arch-
bishop half closed his eyes.
'But, sir,' said Puck, most respectfully, 'haven't you left out
what Meon said afterwards?' Before the Bishop could speak he
turned to the children and went on: 'Meon called all his fishers and
ploughmen and herdsmen into the hall and he said: "Listen, men!
Two days ago I asked our Bishop whether it was fair for a man to
desert his fathers' Gods in a time of danger. Our Bishop said it
was not fair. You needn't shout like that, because you are all
Christians now. My red war-boat's crew will remember how
near we all were to death when Padda fetched them over to the
Bishop's islet. You can tell your mates that even in that place, at
that time, hanging on the wet, weedy edge of death, our Bishop, a
Christian, counselled me, a heathen, to stand by my fathers'
Gods. I tell you now that a faith which takes care that every man
shall keep faith, even though he may save his soul by breaking
faith, is the faith for a man to believe in. So I believe in the
Christian God, and in Wilfrid His Bishop, and in the Church that
Wilfrid rules. You have been baptized once by the King's orders. I
shall not have you baptized again; but if I find any more old
women being sent to Wotan, or any girls dancing on the sly
before Balder, or any men talking about Thun or Lok or the rest, I
will teach you with my own hands how to keep faith with the
Christian God. Go out quietly; you'll find a couple of beefs on the
beach." Then of course they shouted "Hurrah!" which meant
"Thor help us!" and - I think you laughed, sir?'
'I think you remember it all too well,' said the Archbishop,
smiling. 'It was a joyful day for me. I had learned a great deal on
that rock where Padda found us. Yes - yess! One should deal
kindly with all the creatures of God, and gently with their
masters. But one learns late.'
He rose, and his gold-embroidered sleeves rustled thickly.
The organ cracked and took deep breaths.
'Wait a minute,' Dan whispered. 'She's going to do the
trumpety one. It takes all the wind you can pump. It's in Latin, sir.'
'There is no other tongue,' the Archbishop answered.
'It's not a real hymn,' Una explained. 'She does it as a treat after
her exercises. She isn't a real organist, you know. She just comes
down here sometimes, from the Albert Hall.'
'Oh, what a miracle of a voice!' said the Archbishop.
It rang out suddenly from a dark arch of lonely noises - every
word spoken to the very end:
'Dies Irae, dies illa,
Solvet saeclum in favilla,
Teste David cum Sibylla.'
The Archbishop caught his breath and moved forward.
The music carried on by itself a while.
'Now it's calling all the light out of the windows,' Una whispered
'I think it's more like a horse neighing in battle,' he whispered
back. The voice continued:
'Tuba mirum spargens sonum
Per sepulchre regionum.'
Deeper and deeper the organ dived down, but far below its
deepest note they heard Puck's voice joining in the last line:
'Coget omnes ante thronum.'
As they looked in wonder, for it sounded like the dull jar of one
of the very pillars shifting, the little fellow turned and went out
through the south door.
'Now's the sorrowful part, but it's very beautiful.' Una found
herself speaking to the empty chair in front of her.
'What are you doing that for?' Dan said behind her. 'You spoke
so politely too.'
'I don't know ... I thought -' said Una. 'Funny!'
''Tisn't. It's the part you like best,' Dan grunted.
The music had turned soft - full of little sounds that chased each
other on wings across the broad gentle flood of the main tune. But
the voice was ten times lovelier than the music.
'Recordare Jesu pie,
Quod sum causa Tuae viae,
Ne me perdas illi die!'
There was no more. They moved out into the centre aisle.
'That you?' the Lady called as she shut the lid. 'I thought I
heard you, and I played it on purpose.'
'Thank you awfully,' said Dan. 'We hoped you would, so we
waited. Come on, Una, it's pretty nearly dinner-time.'
Song of the Red War-Boat
Shove off from the wharf-edge! Steady!
Watch for a smooth! Give way!
If she feels the lop already
She'll stand on her head in the bay.
It's ebb - it's dusk - it's blowing,
The shoals are a mile of white,
But (snatch her along!) we're going
To find our master tonight.
For we hold that in all disaster
Of shipwreck, storm, or sword,
A man must stand by his master
When once he had pledged his word!
Raging seas have we rowed in,
But we seldom saw them thus;
Our master is angry with Odin -
Odin is angry with us!
Heavy odds have we taken,
But never before such odds.
The Gods know they are forsaken,
We must risk the wrath of the Gods!
Over the crest she flies from,
Into its hollow she drops,
Crouches and clears her eyes from
The wind-torn breaker-tops,
Ere out on the shrieking shoulder
Of a hill-high surge she drives.
Meet her! Meet her and hold her!
Pull for your scoundrel lives!
The thunder bellow and clamour
The harm that they mean to do;
There goes Thor's Own Hammer
Cracking the dark in two!
Close! But the blow has missed her,
Here comes the wind of the blow!
Row or the squall'll twist her
Broadside on to it! - Row!
Hearken, Thor of the Thunder!
We are not here for a jest -
For wager, warfare, or plunder,
Or to put your power to test.
This work is none of our wishing -
We would stay at home if we might -
But our master is wrecked out fishing,
We go to find him tonight.
For we hold that in all disaster -
As the Gods Themselves have said -
A man must stand by his master
Till one of the two is dead.
That is our way of thinking,
Now you can do as you will,
While we try to save her from sinking,
And hold her head to it still.
Bale her and keep her moving,
Or she'll break her back in the trough ...
Who said the weather's improving,
And the swells are taking off?
Sodden, and chafed and aching,
Gone in the loins and knees -
No matter - the day is breaking,
And there's far less weight to the seas!
Up mast, and finish baling -
In oars, and out with the mead -
The rest will be two-reef sailing ...
That was a night indeed!
But we hold that in all disaster
(And faith, we have found it true!)
If only you stand by your master,
The Gods will stand by you!
A DOCTOR OF MEDICINE
An Astrologer's Song
To the Heavens above us
Oh, look and behold
The planets that love us
All harnessed in gold!
What chariots, what horses,
Against us shall bide
While the Stars in their courses
Do fight on our side?
All thought, all desires,
That are under the sun,
Are one with their fires,
As we also are one;
All matter, all spirit,
All fashion, all frame,
Receive and inherit
Their strength from the same.
(Oh, man that deniest
All power save thine own,
Their power in the highest
Is mightily shown.
Not less in the lowest
That power is made clear.
Oh, man, if thou knowest,
What treasure is here!)
Earth quakes in her throes
And we wonder for why!
But the blind planet knows
When her ruler is nigh;
And, attuned since Creation,
To perfect accord,
She thrills in her station
And yearns to her Lord.
The waters have risen,
The springs are unbound -
The floods break their prison,
And ravin around.
No rampart withstands 'em,
Their fury will last,
Till the Sign that commands 'em
Sinks low or swings past.
Through abysses unproven,
And gulfs beyond thought,
Our portion is woven,
Our burden is brought.
Yet They that prepare it,
Whose Nature we share,
Make us who must bear it
Well able to bear.
Though terrors o'ertake us
We'll not be afraid,
No Power can unmake us
Save that which has made.
Nor yet beyond reason
Nor hope shall we fall -
All things have their season,
And Mercy crowns all.
Then, doubt not, ye fearful -
The Eternal is King -
Up, heart, and be cheerful,
And lustily sing:
What chariots, what horses,
Against us shall bide
While the Stars in their courses
Do fight on our side?
A Doctor of Medicine
They were playing hide-and-seek with bicycle lamps after tea.
Dan had hung his lamp on the apple tree at the end of the hellebore
bed in the walled garden, and was crouched by the gooseberry
bushes ready to dash off when Una should spy him. He saw her
lamp come into the garden and disappear as she hid it under her
cloak. While he listened for her footsteps, somebody (they both
thought it was Phillips the gardener) coughed in the corner of the
'All right,' Una shouted across the asparagus; 'we aren't
hurting your old beds, Phippsey!'
She flashed her lantern towards the spot, and in its circle of light
they saw a Guy Fawkes-looking man in a black cloak and a
steeple-crowned hat, walking down the path beside Puck. They
ran to meet him, and the man said something to them about rooms
in their head. After a time they understood he was warning them
not to catch colds.
'You've a bit of a cold yourself, haven't you?' said Una, for he
ended all his sentences with a consequential cough. Puck laughed.
'Child,' the man answered, 'if it hath pleased Heaven to afflict
me with an infirmity -'
'Nay, nay,' Puck struck In, 'the maid spoke out of kindness. I
know that half your cough is but a catch to trick the vulgar; and
that's a pity. There's honesty enough in you, Nick, without
rasping and hawking.'
'Good people' - the man shrugged his lean shoulders - 'the
vulgar crowd love not truth unadorned. Wherefore we philosophers
must needs dress her to catch their eye or - ahem! - their ear.'
'And what d'you think of that?' said Puck solemnly to Dan.
'I don't know,' he answered. 'It sounds like lessons.'
'Ah - well! There have been worse men than Nick Culpeper to
take lessons from. Now, where can we sit that's not indoors?'
'In the hay-mow, next to old Middenboro,' Dan suggested.
'He doesn't mind.'
'Eh?' Mr Culpeper was stooping over the pale hellebore
blooms by the light of Una's lamp. 'Does Master Middenboro
need my poor services, then?'
'Save him, no!' said Puck. 'He is but a horse - next door to an
ass, as you'll see presently. Come!'
Their shadows jumped and slid on the fruit-tree walls. They
filed out of the garden by the snoring pig-pound and the crooning
hen-house, to the shed where Middenboro the old lawn-mower
pony lives. His friendly eyes showed green in the light as they set
their lamps down on the chickens' drinking-trough outside, and
pushed past to the hay-mow. Mr Culpeper stooped at the door.
'Mind where you lie,' said Dan. 'This hay's full of hedge-
'In! in!' said Puck. 'You've lain in fouler places than this, Nick.
Ah! Let us keep touch with the stars!' He kicked open the top of
the half-door, and pointed to the clear sky. 'There be the planets
you conjure with! What does your wisdom make of that wandering
and variable star behind those apple boughs?'
The children smiled. A bicycle that they knew well was being
walked down the steep lane.
'Where?' Mr Culpeper leaned forward quickly. 'That? Some
'Wrong, Nick,' said Puck. ''Tis a singular bright star in Virgo,
declining towards the house of Aquarius the water-carrier, who
hath lately been afflicted by Gemini. Aren't I right, Una?'
Mr Culpeper snorted contemptuously.
'No. It's the village nurse going down to the Mill about some
fresh twins that came there last week. Nurse,' Una called, as
the light stopped on the flat, 'when can I see the Morris twins? And
how are they?'
'Next Sunday, perhaps. Doing beautifully,' the Nurse called
back, and with a ping-ping-ping of the bell brushed round the corner.
'Her uncle's a vetinary surgeon near Banbury,' Una explained,
and if you ring her bell at night, it rings right beside her bed -not
downstairs at all. Then she 'umps up - she always keeps a pair of
dry boots in the fender, you know - and goes anywhere she's
wanted. We help her bicycle through gaps sometimes. Most of
her babies do beautifully. She told us so herself.'
'I doubt not, then, that she reads in my books,' said Mr
Culpeper quietly. 'Twins at the Mill!' he muttered half aloud.
"And again He sayeth, Return, ye children of men." '
'Are you a doctor or a rector?' Una asked, and Puck with a
shout turned head over heels in the hay. But Mr Culpeper was
quite serious. He told them that he was a physician-astrologer -a
doctor who knew all about the stars as well as all about herbs for
medicine. He said that the sun, the moon, and five Planets, called
Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Saturn, and Venus, governed everybody
and everything in the world. They all lived in Houses - he
mapped out some of them against the dark with a busy forefinger -
and they moved from House to House like pieces at draughts;
and they went loving and hating each other all over the skies. If
you knew their likes and dislikes, he said, you could make them
cure your patient and hurt your enemy, and find out the secret
causes of things. He talked of these five Planets as though they
belonged to him, or as though he were playing long games
against them. The children burrowed in the hay up to their chins,
and looked out over the half-door at the solemn, star-powdered
sky till they seemed to be falling upside down into it, while Mr
Culpeper talked about 'trines' and 'oppositions' and 'conjunctions'
and 'sympathies' and 'antipathies' in a tone that just
A rat ran between Middenboro's feet, and the old pony stamped.
'Mid hates rats,' said Dan, and passed him over a lock of hay. 'I
'Divine Astrology tells us,' said Mr Culpeper. 'The horse,
being a martial beast that beareth man to battle, belongs naturally
to the red planet Mars - the Lord of War. I would show you him,
but he's too near his setting. Rats and mice, doing their businesses
by night, come under the dominion of our Lady the Moon. Now
between Mars and Luna, the one red, t'other white, the one hot
t'other cold and so forth, stands, as I have told you, a natural
antipathy, or, as you say, hatred. Which antipathy their creatures
do inherit. Whence, good people, you may both see and hear your
cattle stamp in their stalls for the self-same causes as decree the
passages of the stars across the unalterable face of Heaven! Ahem!'
Puck lay along chewing a leaf. They felt him shake with
laughter, and Mr Culpeper sat up stiffly.
'I myself" said he, 'have saved men's lives, and not a few
neither, by observing at the proper time - there is a time, mark
you, for all things under the sun - by observing, I say, so small a
beast as a rat in conjunction with so great a matter as this dread
arch above us.' He swept his hand across the sky. 'Yet there are
those,' he went on sourly, 'who have years without knowledge.'
'Right,' said Puck. 'No fool like an old fool.'
Mr Culpeper wrapped his cloak round him and sat still while
the children stared at the Great Bear on the hilltop.
'Give him time,' Puck whispered behind his hand. 'He turns
like a timber-tug - all of a piece.'
'Ahem!' Mr Culpeper said suddenly. 'I'll prove it to you. When
I was physician to Saye's Horse, and fought the King - or rather
the man Charles Stuart - in Oxfordshire (I had my learning at
Cambridge), the plague was very hot all around us. I saw it at
close hands. He who says I am ignorant of the plague, for
example, is altogether beside the bridge.'
'We grant it,' said Puck solemnly. 'But why talk of the plague
this rare night?'
'To prove my argument. This Oxfordshire plague, good
people, being generated among rivers and ditches, was of a
werish, watery nature. Therefore it was curable by drenching the
patient in cold water, and laying him in wet cloths; or at least, so I
cured some of them. Mark this. It bears on what shall come after.'
'Mark also, Nick,' said Puck, that we are not your College of
Physicians, but only a lad and a lass and a poor lubberkin. Therefore
be plain, old Hyssop on the Wall!'
'To be plain and in order with you, I was shot in the chest while
gathering of betony from a brookside near Thame, and was took
by the King's men before their Colonel, one Blagg or Bragge,
whom I warned honestly that I had spent the week past among
our plague-stricken. He flung me off into a cowshed, much like
this here, to die, as I supposed; but one of their priests crept in by
night and dressed my wound. He was a Sussex man like myself.'
'Who was that?' said Puck suddenly. 'Zack Tutshom?'
'No, Jack Marget,' said Mr Culpeper.
'Jack Marget of New College? The little merry man that stammered
so? Why a plague was stuttering Jack at Oxford then?' said Puck.
'He had come out of Sussex in hope of being made a Bishop
when the King should have conquered the rebels, as he styled us
Parliament men. His College had lent the King some monies too,
which they never got again, no more than simple Jack got his
bishopric. When we met he had had a bitter bellyful of King's
promises, and wished to return to his wife and babes. This came
about beyond expectation, for, so soon as I could stand of my
wound, the man Blagge made excuse that I had been among the
plague, and Jack had been tending me, to thrust us both out from
their camp. The King had done with Jack now that Jack's College
had lent the money, and Blagge's physician could not abide me
because I would not sit silent and see him butcher the sick. (He
was a College of Physicians man!) So Blagge, I say, thrust us both
out, with many vile words, for a pair of pestilent, prating,
'Ha! Called you pragmatical, Nick?' Puck started up. 'High
time Oliver came to purge the land! How did you and honest Jack
'We were in some sort constrained to each other's company. I
was for going to my house in Spitalfields, he would go to his
parish in Sussex; but the plague was broke out and spreading
through Wiltshire, Berkshire, and Hampshire, and he was so mad
distracted to think that it might even then be among his folk at
home that I bore him company. He had comforted me in my
distress. I could not have done less; and I remembered that I had a
cousin at Great Wigsell, near by Jack's parish. Thus we footed it
from Oxford, cassock and buff coat together, resolute to leave
wars on the left side henceforth; and either through our mean
appearances, or the plague making men less cruel, we were not
hindered. To be sure, they put us in the stocks one half-day for
rogues and vagabonds at a village under St Leonard's forest,
where, as I have heard, nightingales never sing; but the constable
very honestly gave me back my Astrological Almanac, which I
carry with me.' Mr Culpeper tapped his thin chest. 'I dressed a
whitlow on his thumb. So we went forward.
'Not to trouble you with impertinences, we fetched over
against Jack Marget's parish in a storm of rain about the day's end.
Here our roads divided, for I would have gone on to my cousin at
Great Wigsell, but while Jack was pointing me out his steeple, we
saw a man lying drunk, as he conceived, athwart the road. He said
it would be one Hebden, a parishioner, and till then a man of good
life; and he accused himself bitterly for an unfaithful shepherd,
that had left his flock to follow princes. But I saw it was the
plague, and not the beginnings of it neither. They had set out the
plague-stone, and the man's head lay on it.'
'What's a plague-stone?' Dan whispered.
'When the plague is so hot in a village that the neighbours shut
the roads against 'em, people set a hollowed stone, pot, or pan,
where such as would purchase victual from outside may lay
money and the paper of their wants, and depart. Those that
would sell come later - what will a man not do for gain? - snatch
the money forth, and leave in exchange such goods as their
conscience reckons fair value. I saw a silver groat in the water, and
the man's list of what he would buy was rain-pulped in his wet hand.
'"My wife! Oh, my wife and babes!" says Jack of a sudden,
and makes uphill - I with him.
'A woman peers out from behind a barn, crying out that the
village is stricken with the plague, and that for our lives' sake we
must avoid it.
'"Sweetheart!" says Jack. "Must I avoid thee?" and she leaps at
him and says the babes are safe. She was his wife.
'When he had thanked God, even to tears, he tells me this was
not the welcome he had intended, and presses me to flee the place
while I was clean.
'"Nay! The Lord do so to me and more also if I desert thee now,"
I said. "These affairs are, under God's leave, in some
fashion my strength."
'"Oh, sir," she says, "are you a physician? We have none."
'"Then, good people," said I, "I must e'en justify myself to
you by my works."
'"Look - look ye," stammers Jack, "I took you all this time for
a crazy Roundhead preacher." He laughs, and she, and then I - all
three together in the rain are overtook by an unreasonable gust or
clap of laughter, which none the less eased us. We call it in
medicine the Hysterical Passion. So I went home with 'em.'
'Why did you not go on to your cousin at Great Wigsell, Nick?'
Puck suggested. ''tis barely seven mile up the road.'
'But the plague was here,' Mr Culpeper answered, and pointed
up the hill. 'What else could I have done?'
'What were the parson's children called?' said Una.
'Elizabeth, Alison, Stephen, and Charles - a babe. I scarce saw
them at first, for I separated to live with their father in a cart-
lodge. The mother we put - forced - into the house with her
babes. She had done enough.
'And now, good people, give me leave to be particular in this
case. The plague was worst on the north side of the street, for
lack, as I showed 'em, of sunshine; which, proceeding from the
PRIME MOBILE, or source of life (I speak astrologically), is cleansing
and purifying in the highest degree. The plague was hot too
by the corn-chandler's, where they sell forage to the carters,
extreme hot in both Mills, along the river, and scatteringly in
other places, except, mark you, at the smithy. Mark here, that all
forges and smith shops belong to Mars, even as corn and meat and
wine shops acknowledge Venus for their mistress. There was no
plague in the smithy at Munday's Lane -'
'Munday's Lane? You mean our village? I thought so when you
talked about the two Mills,' cried Dan. 'Where did we put the
plague-stone? I'd like to have seen it.'
'Then look at it now,' said Puck, and pointed to the chickens'
drinking-trough where they had set their bicycle lamps. It was a
rough, oblong stone pan, rather like a small kitchen sink, which
Phillips, who never wastes anything, had found in a ditch and had
used for his precious hens.
'That?' said Dan and Una, and stared, and stared, and stared.
Mr Culpeper made impatient noises in his throat and went on.
'I am at these pains to be particular, good people, because I
would have you follow, so far as you may, the operations of my
mind. That plague which I told you I had handled outside Wallingford
in Oxfordshire was of a watery nature, conformable to
the brookish riverine country it bred in, and curable, as I have
said, by drenching in water. This plague of ours here, for all that it
flourished along watercourses - every soul at both Mills died of it, -
could not be so handled. Which brought me to a stand. Ahem!'
'And your sick people in the meantime?'Puck demanded.
'We persuaded them on the north side of the street to lie out in
Hitheram's field. Where the plague had taken one, or at most
two, in a house, folk would not shift for fear of thieves in their
absence. They cast away their lives to die among their goods.'
'Human nature,' said Puck. 'I've seen it time and again. How
did your sick do in the fields?'
'They died not near so thick as those that kept within doors,
and even then they died more out of distraction and melancholy
than plague. But I confess, good people, I could not in any sort
master the sickness, or come at a glimmer of its nature or
governance. To be brief, I was flat bewildered at the brute
malignity of the disease, and so - did what I should have done
before - dismissed all conjectures and apprehensions that had
grown up within me, chose a good hour by my Almanac, clapped my
vinegar-cloth to my face, and entered some empty houses,
resigned to wait upon the stars for guidance.'
'At night? Were you not horribly frightened?' said Puck.
'I dared to hope that the God who hath made man so nobly
curious to search out His mysteries might not destroy a devout
seeker. In due time - there's a time, as I have said, for everything
under the sun - I spied a whitish rat, very puffed and scabby,
which sat beneath the dormer of an attic through which shined
our Lady the Moon. Whilst I looked on him - and her - she was
moving towards old cold Saturn, her ancient ally - the rat creeped
languishingly into her light, and there, before my eyes, died.
Presently his mate or companion came out, laid him down beside
there, and in like fashion died too. Later - an hour or less to
midnight - a third rat did e'en the same; always choosing the
moonlight to die in. This threw me into an amaze, since, as we
know, the moonlight is favourable, not hurtful, to the creatures
of the Moon; and Saturn, being friends with her, as you would
say, was hourly strengthening her evil influence. Yet these three
rats had been stricken dead in very moonlight. I leaned out of the
window to see which of Heaven's host might be on our side, and
there beheld I good trusty Mars, very red and heated, bustling
about his setting. I straddled the roof to see better.
'Jack Marget came up street going to comfort our sick in
Hitheram's field. A tile slipped under my foot.
Says he, heavily enough, "Watchman, what of the night?"
'"Heart up, Jack," says I. "Methinks there's one fighting for us
that, like a fool, I've forgot all this summer." My meaning was
naturally the planet Mars.
'"Pray to Him then," says he. "I forgot Him too this summer."
'He meant God, whom he always bitterly accused himself of
having forgotten up in Oxfordshire, among the King's men. I
called down that he had made amends enough for his sin by his
work among the sick, but he said he would not believe so till the
plague was lifted from 'em. He was at his strength's end - more
from melancholy than any just cause. I have seen this before
among priests and overcheerful men. I drenched him then and
there with a half-cup of waters, which I do not say cure the
plague, but are excellent against heaviness of the spirits.'
'What were they?' said Dan.
'White brandy rectified, camphor, cardamoms, ginger, two
sorts of pepper, and aniseed.'
'Whew!' said Puck. 'Waters you call 'em!'
'Jack coughed on it valiantly, and went downhill with me. I
was for the Lower Mill in the valley, to note the aspect of the
Heavens. My mind had already shadowed forth the reason, if not
the remedy, for our troubles, but I would not impart it to the
vulgar till I was satisfied. That practice may be perfect, judgment
ought to be sound, and to make judgment sound is required an
exquisite knowledge. Ahem! I left Jack and his lantern among the
sick in Hitheram's field. He still maintained the prayers of the
so-called Church, which were rightly forbidden by Cromwell.'
'You should have told your cousin at Wigsell,' said Puck, 'and
Jack would have been fined for it, and you'd have had half the
money. How did you come so to fail in your duty, Nick?'
Mr Culpeper laughed - his only laugh that evening - and the
children jumped at the loud neigh of it.
'We were not fearful of men's judgment in those days,' he
answered. 'Now mark me closely, good people, for what follows
will be to you, though not to me, remarkable. When I reached the
empty Mill, old Saturn, low down in the House of the Fishes,
threatened the Sun's rising-place. Our Lady the Moon was
moving towards the help of him (understand, I speak
astrologically). I looked abroad upon the high Heavens, and I
prayed the Maker of 'em for guidance. Now Mars sparkingly withdrew
himself below the sky. On the instant of his departure, which I
noted, a bright star or vapour leaped forth above his head (as
though he had heaved up his sword), and broke all about in fire.
The cocks crowed midnight through the valley, and I sat me
down by the mill-wheel, chewing spearmint (though that's an
herb of Venus), and calling myself all the asses' heads in the
world! 'Twas plain enough now!'
'What was plain?' said Una.
'The true cause and cure of the plague. Mars, good fellow, had
fought for us to the uttermost. Faint though he had been in the
Heavens, and this had made me overlook him in my computations,
he more than any of the other planets had kept the Heavens
- which is to say, had been visible some part of each night
wellnigh throughout the year. Therefore his fierce and cleansing
influence, warring against the Moon, had stretched out to kill
those three rats under my nose, and under the nose of their natural
mistress, the Moon. I had known Mars lean half across Heaven to
deal our Lady the Moon some shrewd blow from under his
shield, but I had never before seen his strength displayed so
'I don't understand a bit. Do you mean Mars killed the rats
because he hated the Moon?' said Una.
'That is as plain as the pikestaff with which Blagge's men
pushed me forth,'Mr Culpeper answered. 'I'll prove it. Why had
the plague not broken out at the blacksmith's shop in Munday's
Lane? Because, as I've shown you, forges and smithies belong
naturally to Mars, and, for his honour's sake, Mars 'ud keep 'em
clean from the creatures of the Moon. But was it like, think you,
that he'd come down and rat-catch in general for lazy, ungrateful
mankind? That were working a willing horse to death. So, then,
you can see that the meaning of the blazing star above him when
he set was simply this: "Destroy and burn the creatures Of the
moon, for they are the root of your trouble. And thus, having
shown you a taste of my power, good people, adieu."'
'Did Mars really say all that?' Una whispered.
'Yes, and twice so much as that to any one who had ears to hear.
Briefly, he enlightened me that the plague was spread by the
creatures of the Moon. The Moon, our Lady of ill-aspect, was the
offender. My own poor wits showed me that I, Nick Culpeper,
had the people in my charge, God's good providence aiding me,
and no time to lose neither.
'I posted up the hill, and broke into Hitheram's field amongst
'em all at prayers.
'"Eureka, good people!" I cried, and cast down a dead mill-rat
which I'd found. "Here's your true enemy, revealed at last
by the stars."
'"Nay, but I'm praying," says Jack. His face was as white as
'"There's a time for everything under the sun," says I. "If you
would stay the plague, take and kill your rats."
'"Oh, mad, stark mad!" says he, and wrings his hands.
'A fellow lay in the ditch beside him, who bellows that he'd as
soon die mad hunting rats as be preached to death on a cold
fallow. They laughed round him at this, but Jack Marget falls on
his knees, and very presumptuously petitions that he may be
appointed to die to save the rest of his people. This was enough to
thrust 'em back into their melancholy.
'"You are an unfaithful shepherd, jack," I says. "Take a bat"
(which we call a stick in Sussex) "and kill a rat if you die before
sunrise. 'Twill save your people."
'"Aye, aye. Take a bat and kill a rat," he says ten times over,
like a child, which moved 'em to ungovernable motions of that
hysterical passion before mentioned, so that they laughed all, and
at least warmed their chill bloods at that very hour - one o'clock
or a little after - when the fires of life burn lowest. Truly there is a
time for everything; and the physician must work with it - ahem!
- or miss his cure. To be brief with you, I persuaded 'em, sick or
sound, to have at the whole generation of rats throughout the
village. And there's a reason for all things too, though the wise
physician need not blab 'em all. Imprimis, or firstly, the mere sport
of it, which lasted ten days, drew 'em most markedly out of their
melancholy. I'd defy sorrowful job himself to lament or scratch
while he's routing rats from a rick. Secundo, or secondly, the
vehement act and operation of this chase or war opened their skins
to generous transpiration - more vulgarly, sweated 'em handsomely;
and this further drew off their black bile - the mother of
sickness. Thirdly, when we came to burn the bodies of the rats, I
sprinkled sulphur on the faggots, whereby the onlookers were as
handsomely suffumigated. This I could not have compassed if I
had made it a mere physician's business; they'd have thought it
some conjuration. Yet more, we cleansed, limed, and burned out
a hundred foul poke-holes, sinks, slews, and corners of unvisited
filth in and about the houses in the village, and by good fortune
(mark here that Mars was in opposition to Venus) burned the
corn-handler's shop to the ground. Mars loves not Venus. Will
Noakes the saddler dropped his lantern on a truss of straw while
he was rat-hunting there.'
'Had ye given Will any of that gentle cordial of yours, Nick, by
any chance?' said Puck.
'A glass - or two glasses - not more. But as I would say, in fine,
when we had killed the rats, I took ash, slag, and charcoal from
the smithy, and burnt earth from the brickyard (I reason that a
brickyard belongs to Mars), and rammed it with iron crowbars
into the rat-runs and buries, and beneath all the house floors. The
Creatures of the Moon hate all that Mars hath used for his own
clean ends. For example - rats bite not iron.'
'And how did poor stuttering Jack endure it?' said Puck.
'He sweated out his melancholy through his skin, and catched
a loose cough, which I cured with electuaries, according to art. It is
noteworthy, were I speaking among my equals, that the venom
of the plague translated, or turned itself into, and evaporated, or
went away as, a very heavy hoarseness and thickness of the head,
throat, and chest. (Observe from my books which planets govern
these portions of man's body, and your darkness, good people,
shall be illuminated - ahem!) None the less, the plague, qua
plague, ceased and took off (for we only lost three more, and two
of 'em had it already on 'em) from the morning of the day that
Mars enlightened me by the Lower Mill.' He coughed - almost
trumpeted - triumphantly.
'It is proved,' he jerked out. 'I say I have proved my contention,
which is, that by Divine Astrology and humble search into the
veritable causes of things - at the proper time - the sons of
wisdom may combat even the plague.'
H'm!' Puck replied. 'For my own part I hold that a simple soul -'
'Mine? Simple, forsooth?' said Mr Culpeper.
'A very simple soul, a high courage tempered with sound and
stubborn conceit, is stronger than all the stars in their courses.
So I confess truly that you saved the village, Nick.'
'I stubborn? I stiff-necked? I ascribed all my poor success,
under God's good providence, to Divine Astrology. Not to me the
glory! You talk as that dear weeping ass Jack Marget preached
before I went back to my work in Red Lion House, Spitalfields.'
'Oh! Stammering Jack preached, did he? They say he loses his
stammer in the pulpit.'
'And his wits with it. He delivered a most idolatrous discourse
when the plague was stayed. He took for his text: "The wise man
that delivered the city." I could have given him a better, such as:
"There is a time for-" '
'But what made you go to church to hear him?' Puck
interrupted. 'Wail Attersole was your lawfully appointed preacher,
and a dull dog he was!'
Mr Culpeper wriggled uneasily.
'The vulgar,' said he, 'the old crones and - ahem! - the children,
Alison and the others, they dragged me to the House of Rimmon
by the hand. I was in two minds to inform on Jack for maintaining
the mummeries of the falsely-called Church, which, I'll prove to
you, are founded merely on ancient fables -'
'Stick to your herbs and planets,' said Puck, laughing. 'You
should have told the magistrates, Nick, and had Jack fined.
Again, why did you neglect your plain duty?'
'Because - because I was kneeling, and praying, and weeping
with the rest of 'em at the Altar-rails. In medicine this is called the
Hysterical Passion. It may be - it may be.'
'That's as may be,' said Puck. They heard him turn the hay.
'Why, your hay is half hedge-brishings,' he said. 'You don't
expect a horse to thrive on oak and ash and thorn leaves, do you?'
Ping-ping-ping went the bicycle bell round the corner. Nurse
was coming back from the mill.
'Is it all right?' Una called.
'All quite right,' Nurse called back. 'They're to be christened
'What? What?' They both leaned forward across the half-door.
it could not have been properly fastened, for it opened, and tilted
them out with hay and leaves sticking all over them.
'Come on! We must get those two twins' names,' said Una, and
they charged uphill shouting over the hedge, till Nurse slowed up
and told them.
When they returned, old Middenboro had got out of his stall,
and they spent a lively ten minutes chasing him in again
'Our Fathers of Old'
Excellent herbs had our fathers of old -
Excellent herbs to ease their pain -
Alexanders and Marigold,
Eyebright, Orris, and Elecampane,
Basil, Rocket, Valerian, Rue,
(Almost singing themselves they run)
Vervain, Dittany, Call-me-to-you -
Cowslip, Melilot, Rose of the Sun.
Anything green that grew out of the mould
Was an excellent herb to our fathers of old.
Wonderful tales had our fathers of old -
Wonderful tales of the herbs and the stars -
The Sun was Lord of the Marigold,
Basil and Rocket belonged to Mars.
Pat as a sum in division it goes -
(Every plant had a star bespoke) -
Who but Venus should govern the Rose?
Who but Jupiter own the Oak?
Simply and gravely the facts are told
In the wonderful books of our fathers of old.
Wonderful little, when all is said,
Wonderful little our fathers knew.
Half their remedies cured you dead -
Most of their teaching was quite untrue -
'Look at the stars when a patient is ill,
(Dirt has nothing to do with disease,)
Bleed and blister as much as you will,
Blister and bleed him as oft as you please.'
Whence enormous and manifold
Errors were made by our fathers of old.
Yet when the sickness was sore in the land,
And neither planet nor herb assuaged,
They took their lives in their lancet-hand
And, oh, what a wonderful war they waged!
Yes, when the crosses were chalked on the door -
Yes, when the terrible dead-cart rolled,
Excellent courage our fathers bore -
Excellent heart had our fathers of old.
Not too learned, but nobly bold,
Into the fight went our fathers of old.
If it be certain, as Galen says,
And sage Hippocrates holds as much -
'That those afflicted by doubts and dismays
Are mightily helped by a dead man's touch,'
Then, be good to us, stars above!
Then, be good to us, herbs below!
We are afflicted by what we can prove;
We are distracted by what we know -
So - ah, so!
Down from your Heaven or up from your mould,
Send us the hearts of our fathers of old!
The Thousandth Man
One man in a thousand, Solomon says,
Will stick more close than a brother.
And it's worth while seeking him half your days
If you find him before the other.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine depend
on what the world sees in you,
But the Thousandth Man will stand your friend
With the whole round world agin you.
'Tis neither promise nor prayer nor show
Will settle the finding for 'ee.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of 'em go
By your looks or your acts or your glory.
But if he finds you and you find him,
The rest of the world don't matter;
For the Thousandth Man will sink or swim
With you in any water.
You can use his purse with no more shame
Than he uses yours for his spendings;
And laugh and mention it just the same
As though there had been no lendings.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of 'em call
For silver and gold in their dealings;
But the Thousandth Man he's worth 'em all,
Because you can show him your feelings!
His wrong's your wrong, and his right's your right,
In season or out of season.
Stand up and back it in all men's sight -
With that for your only reason!
Nine hundred and ninety-nine can't bide
The shame or mocking or laughter,
But the Thousandth Man will stand by your side
To the gallows-foot - and after!
Cattiwow came down the steep lane with his five-horse timber-
tug. He stopped by the wood-lump at the back gate to take off the
brakes. His real name was Brabon, but the first time the children
met him, years and years ago, he told them he was 'carting
wood,' and it sounded so exactly like 'cattiwow' that they never
called him anything else.
'HI!' Una shouted from the top of the wood-lump, where they
had been watching the lane. 'What are you doing? Why weren't
'They've just sent for me,' Cattiwow answered. 'There's a
middlin' big log stacked in the dirt at Rabbit Shaw, and' - he
flicked his whip back along the line - 'so they've sent for us all.'
Dan and Una threw themselves off the wood-lump almost
under black Sailor's nose. Cattiwow never let them ride the big
beam that makes the body of the timber-tug, but they hung on
behind while their teeth thuttered.
The Wood road beyond the brook climbs at once into the
woods, and you see all the horses' backs rising, one above
another, like moving stairs. Cattiwow strode ahead in his
sackcloth woodman's petticoat, belted at the waist with a leather
strap; and when he turned and grinned, his red lips showed under
his sackcloth-coloured beard. His cap was sackcloth too, with a
flap behind, to keep twigs and bark out of his neck. He navigated
the tug among pools of heather-water that splashed in their faces,
and through clumps of young birches that slashed at their legs,
and when they hit an old toadstooled stump, they never knew
whether it would give way in showers of rotten wood, or jar
them back again.
At the top of Rabbit Shaw half-a-dozen men and a team of
horses stood round a forty-foot oak log in a muddy hollow. The
ground about was poached and stoached with sliding hoofmarks,
and a wave of dirt was driven up in front of the butt.
'What did you want to bury her for this way?' said Cattiwow.
He took his broad-axe and went up the log tapping it.
'She's sticked fast,' said 'Bunny' Lewknor, who managed the
Cattiwow unfastened the five wise horses from the tug. They
cocked their ears forward, looked, and shook themselves.
'I believe Sailor knows,' Dan whispered to Una.
'He do,' said a man behind them. He was dressed in flour sacks
like the others, and he leaned on his broad-axe, but the children,
who knew all the wood-gangs, knew he was a stranger. In his size
and oily hairiness he might have been Bunny Lewknor's brother,
except that his brown eyes were as soft as a spaniel's, and his
rounded black beard, beginning close up under them, reminded
Una of the walrus in 'The Walrus and the Carpenter.'
'Don't he justabout know?' he said shyly, and shifted from one
foot to the other.
'Yes. "What Cattiwow can't get out of the woods must have
roots growing to her."' Dan had heard old Hobden say this a
few days before.
At that minute Puck pranced up, picking his way through the
pools of black water in the ling.
'Look out!' cried Una, jumping forward. 'He'll see you, Puck!'
'Me and Mus' Robin are pretty middlin' well acquainted,' the
man answered with a smile that made them forget all about walruses.
'This is Simon Cheyneys,' Puck began, and cleared his throat.
'Shipbuilder of Rye Port; burgess of the said town, and the only -'
'Oh, look! Look ye! That's a knowing one,' said the man.
Cattiwow had fastened his team to the thin end of the log, and
was moving them about with his whip till they stood at right
angles to it, heading downhill. Then he grunted. The horses took
the strain, beginning with Sailor next the log, like a tug-of-war
team, and dropped almost to their knees. The log shifted a nail's
breadth in the clinging dirt, with the noise of a giant's kiss.
'You're getting her!' Simon Cheyneys slapped his knee. 'Hing
on! Hing on, lads, or she'll master ye! Ah!'
Sailor's left hind hoof had slipped on a heather-tuft. One of the
men whipped off his sack apron and spread it down. They saw
Sailor feel for it, and recover. Still the log hung, and the team
grunted in despair.
'Hai!' shouted Cattiwow, and brought his dreadful whip twice
across Sailor's loins with the crack of a shot-gun. The horse
almost screamed as he pulled that extra last ounce which he did
not know was in him. The thin end of the log left the dirt and
rasped on dry gravel. The butt ground round like a buffalo in his
wallow. Quick as an axe-cut, Lewknor snapped on his five
horses, and sliding, trampling, jingling, and snorting, they had
the whole thing out on the heather.
'Dat's the very first time I've knowed you lay into Sailor - to
hurt him,' said Lewknor.
'It is,' said Cattiwow, and passed his hand over the two wheals.
'But I'd ha' laid my own brother open at that pinch. Now we'll
twitch her down the hill a piece - she lies just about right - and get
her home by the low road. My team'll do it, Bunny; you bring the
tug along. Mind out!'
He spoke to the horses, who tightened the chains. The great log
half rolled over, and slowly drew itself out of sight downhill,
followed by the wood-gang and the timber-tug. In half a minute
there was nothing to see but the deserted hollow of the torn-up
dirt, the birch undergrowth still shaking, and the water draining
back into the hoof-prints.
'Ye heard him?' Simon Cheyneys asked. 'He cherished his
horse, but he'd ha' laid him open in that pinch.'
'Not for his own advantage,' said Puck quickly. ''Twas only
to shift the log.'
'I reckon every man born of woman has his log to shift in the
world - if so be you're hintin' at any o' Frankie's doings. He never
hit beyond reason or without reason,' said Simon.
'I never said a word against Frankie,' Puck retorted, with a
wink at the children. 'An' if I did, do it lie in your mouth to
contest my say-so, seeing how you -'
'Why don't it lie in my mouth, seeing I was the first which
knowed Frankie for all he was?' The burly sack-clad man puffed
down at cool little Puck.
'Yes, and the first which set out to poison him - Frankie - on
the high seas -'
Simon's angry face changed to a sheepish grin. He waggled his
immense hands, but Puck stood off and laughed mercilessly.
'But let me tell you, Mus' Robin,'he pleaded.
'I've heard the tale. Tell the children here. Look, Dan! Look,
Una!' - Puck's straight brown finger levelled like an arrow.
'There's the only man that ever tried to poison Sir Francis Drake!'
'Oh, Mus' Robin! 'Tidn't fair. You've the 'vantage of us all in
your upbringin's by hundreds o' years. Stands to nature you
know all the tales against every one.'
He turned his soft eyes so helplessly on Una that she cried,
'Stop ragging him, Puck! You know he didn't really.'
'I do. But why are you so sure, little maid?'
'Because - because he doesn't look like it,' said Una stoutly.
'I thank you,' said Simon to Una. 'I - I was always trustable-
like with children if you let me alone, you double handful o'
mischief.' He pretended to heave up his axe on Puck; and then his
shyness overtook him afresh.
'Where did you know Sir Francis Drake?' said Dan, not liking
being called a child.
'At Rye Port, to be sure,' said Simon, and seeing Dan's
bewilderment, repeated it.
'Yes, but look here,'said Dan. '"Drake he was a Devon man."
The song says so.'
'"And ruled the Devon seas,"' Una went on. 'That's what I
was thinking - if you don't mind.'
Simon Cheyneys seemed to mind very much indeed, for he
swelled in silence while Puck laughed.
'Hutt!' he burst out at last, 'I've heard that talk too. If you listen
to them West Country folk, you'll listen to a pack o' lies. I believe
Frankie was born somewhere out west among the Shires, but his
father had to run for it when Frankie was a baby, because the
neighbours was wishful to kill him, d'ye see? He run to Chatham,
old Parson Drake did, an' Frankie was brought up in a old hulks of
a ship moored in the Medway river, same as it might ha' been the
Rother. Brought up at sea, you might say, before he could walk
on land - nigh Chatham in Kent. And ain't Kent back-door to
Sussex? And don't that make Frankie Sussex? O' course it do.
Devon man! Bah! Those West Country boats they're always
fishin' in other folks' water.'
'I beg your pardon,' said Dan. 'I'm sorry .
'No call to be sorry. You've been misled. I met Frankie at Rye
Port when my Uncle, that was the shipbuilder there, pushed me
off his wharf-edge on to Frankie's ship. Frankie had put in from
Chatham with his rudder splutted, and a man's arm - Moon's that
'ud be - broken at the tiller. "Take this boy aboard an' drown
him," says my Uncle, "and I'll mend your rudder-piece for love."
'What did your Uncle want you drowned for?'said Una.
'That was only his fashion of say-so, same as Mus' Robin. I'd a
foolishness in my head that ships could be builded out of iron. Yes
- iron ships! I'd made me a liddle toy one of iron plates beat out
thin - and she floated a wonder! But my Uncle, bein' a burgess of
Rye, and a shipbuilder, he 'prenticed me to Frankie in the fetchin'
trade, to cure this foolishness.'
'What was the fetchin' trade?' Dan interrupted.
'Fetchin' poor Flemishers and Dutchmen out o' the Low
Countries into England. The King o' Spain, d'ye see, he was burnin'
'em in those parts, for to make 'em Papishers, so Frankie he
fetched 'em away to our parts, and a risky trade it was. His master
wouldn't never touch it while he lived, but he left his ship to
Frankie when he died, and Frankie turned her into this fetchin'
trade. Outrageous cruel hard work - on besom-black nights
bulting back and forth off they Dutch roads with shoals on all
sides, and having to hark out for the frish-frish-frish-like of a
Spanish galliwopses' oars creepin' up on ye. Frankie 'ud have the
tiller and Moon he'd peer forth at the bows, our lantern under his
skirts, till the boat we was lookin' for 'ud blurt up out o' the dark,
and we'd lay hold and haul aboard whoever 'twas - man, woman,
or babe - an' round we'd go again, the wind bewling like a kite in
our riggin's, and they'd drop into the hold and praise God for
happy deliverance till they was all sick.
'I had nigh a year at it, an' we must have fetched off - oh, a
hundred pore folk, I reckon. Outrageous bold, too, Frankie
growed to be. Outrageous cunnin' he was. Once we was as near
as nothin' nipped by a tall ship off Tergoes Sands in a snowstorm.
She had the wind of us, and spooned straight before it, shootin' all
bow guns. Frankie fled inshore smack for the beach, till he was
atop of the first breakers. Then he hove his anchor out, which
nigh tore our bows off, but it twitched us round end-for-end into
the wind, d'ye see, an' we clawed off them sands like a drunk man
rubbin' along a tavern bench. When we could see, the Spanisher
was laid flat along in the breakers with the snows whitening on his
wet belly. He thought he could go where Frankie went.'
'What happened to the crew?' said Una.
'We didn't stop,' Simon answered. 'There was a very liddle
new baby in our hold, and the mother she wanted to get to some
dry bed middlin' quick. We runned into Dover, and said nothing.'
'Was Sir Francis Drake very much pleased?'
'Heart alive, maid, he'd no head to his name in those days. He
was just a outrageous, valiant, crop-haired, tutt-mouthed boy,
roarin' up an' down the narrer seas, with his beard not yet quilted
out. He made a laughing-stock of everything all day, and he'd
hold our lives in the bight of his arm all the besom-black night
among they Dutch sands; and we'd ha' jumped overside to
behove him any one time, all of us.'
'Then why did you try to poison him?' Una asked wickedly,
and Simon hung his head like a shy child.
'Oh, that was when he set me to make a pudden, for because
our cook was hurted. I done my uttermost, but she all fetched
adrift like in the bag, an' the more I biled the bits of her, the less
she favoured any fashion o' pudden. Moon he chawed and
chammed his piece, and Frankie chawed and chammed his'n, and
- no words to it - he took me by the ear an' walked me out over
the bow-end, an' him an' Moon hove the pudden at me on the
bowsprit gub by gub, something cruel hard!' Simon rubbed his
'"Nex' time you bring me anything," says Frankie, "you
bring me cannon-shot an' I'll know what I'm getting." But as for
poisonin' -' He stopped, the children laughed so.
'Of course you didn't,' said Una. 'Oh, Simon, we do like you!'
'I was always likeable with children.' His smile crinkled up
through the hair round his eyes. 'Simple Simon they used to call
me through our yard gates.'
'Did Sir Francis mock you?' Dan asked.
'Ah, no. He was gentle-born. Laugh he did - he was always
laughing - but not so as to hurt a feather. An' I loved 'en. I loved
'en before England knew 'en, or Queen Bess she broke his heart.'
'But he hadn't really done anything when you knew him, had
he?' Una insisted. 'Armadas and those things, I mean.'
Simon pointed to the scars and scrapes left by Cattiwow's great
log. 'You tell me that that good ship's timber never done nothing
against winds and weathers since her up-springing, and I'll
confess ye that young Frankie never done nothing neither.
Nothing? He adventured and suffered and made shift on they
Dutch sands as much in any one month as ever he had occasion for
to do in a half-year on the high seas afterwards. An' what was his
tools? A coaster boat - a liddle box o' walty plankin' an' some few
fathom feeble rope held together an' made able by him sole. He
drawed our spirits up In our bodies same as a chimney-towel
draws a fire. 'Twas in him, and it comed out all times and shapes.'
'I wonder did he ever 'magine what he was going to be? Tell
himself stories about it?' said Dan with a flush.
'I expect so. We mostly do - even when we're grown. But bein'
Frankie, he took good care to find out beforehand what his
fortune might be. Had I rightly ought to tell 'em this piece?'
Simon turned to Puck, who nodded.
'My Mother, she was just a fair woman, but my Aunt, her
sister, she had gifts by inheritance laid up in her,' Simon began.
'Oh, that'll never do,' cried Puck, for the children stared
blankly. 'Do you remember what Robin promised to the Widow
Whitgift so long as her blood and get lasted?" [See 'Dymchurch
Flit' in PUCK OF POOK'S HILL.]
'Yes. There was always to be one of them that could see farther
through a millstone than most,' Dan answered promptly.
'Well, Simon's Aunt's mother,' said Puck slowly, 'married the
Widow's blind son on the Marsh, and Simon's Aunt was the one
chosen to see farthest through millstones. Do you understand?'
'That was what I was gettin' at,' said Simon, 'but you're so
desperate quick. My Aunt she knew what was comin' to people.
My Uncle being a burgess of Rye, he counted all such things
odious, and my Aunt she couldn't be got to practise her gifts
hardly at all, because it hurted her head for a week after-wards; but
when Frankie heard she had 'em, he was all for nothin' till she
foretold on him - till she looked in his hand to tell his fortune, d'ye
see? One time we was at Rye she come aboard with my other shirt
and some apples, and he fair beazled the life out of her about it.
'"Oh, you'll be twice wed, and die childless," she says, and
pushes his hand away.
'"That's the woman's part," he says. "What'll come to me-to
me?" an' he thrusts it back under her nose.
'"Gold - gold, past belief or counting," she says. "Let go o'
'"Sink the gold!" he says. "What'll I do, mother?" He coaxed
her like no woman could well withstand. I've seen him with 'em -
even when they were sea-sick.
'"If you will have it," she says at last, you shall have it. You'll
do a many things, and eating and drinking with a dead man
beyond the world's end will be the least of them. For you'll open a
road from the East unto the West, and back again, and you'll bury
your heart with your best friend by that road-side, and the road
you open none shall shut so long as you're let lie quiet in your
[The old lady's prophecy is in a fair way to come true, for
now the Panama Canal is finished, one end of it opens into the
very bay where Sir Francis Drake was buried. So ships are taken
through the Canal, and the road round Cape Horn which Sir Francis
opened is very little used.]
'"And if I'm not?" he says.
'"Why, then," she says, "Sim's iron ships will be sailing on
dry land. Now ha' done with this foolishness. Where's Sim's shirt?"
'He couldn't fetch no more out of her, and when we come up
from the cabin, he stood mazed-like by the tiller, playing
with a apple.
'"My Sorrow!" says my Aunt; "d'ye see that? The great world
lying in his hand, liddle and round like a apple."
'"Why, 'tis one you gived him," I says.
'"To be sure," she says. "'Tis just a apple," and she went
ashore with her hand to her head. It always hurted her to show
Him and me puzzled over that talk plenty. It sticked in his
mind quite extravagant. The very next time we slipped out for
some fetchin' trade, we met Mus' Stenning's boat over by Calais
sands; and he warned us that the Spanishers had shut down all
their Dutch ports against us English, and their galliwopses was
out picking up our boats like flies off hogs' backs. Mus' Stenning
he runs for Shoreham, but Frankie held on a piece, knowin' that
Mus Stenning was jealous of our good trade. Over by Dunkirk a
great gor-bellied Spanisher, with the Cross on his sails, came
rampin' at us. We left him. We left him all they bare seas to
'"Looks like this road was going to be shut pretty soon," says
Frankie, humourin' her at the tiller. "I'll have to open that other
one your Aunt foretold of."
'"The Spanisher's crowdin' down on us middlin' quick," I says.
No odds," says Frankie, "he'll have the inshore tide against
him. Did your Aunt say I was to be quiet in my grave for ever?"
'"Till my iron ships sailed dry land," I says.
'"That's foolishness," he says. "Who cares where Frankie
Drake makes a hole in the water now or twenty years from now?"
'The Spanisher kept muckin' on more and more canvas. I told
'"He's feelin' the tide," was all he says. "If he was among
Tergoes Sands with this wind, we'd be picking his bones proper.
I'd give my heart to have all their tall ships there some night
before a north gale, and me to windward. There'd be gold in My
hands then. Did your Aunt say she saw the world settin' in my
Yes, but 'twas a apple," says I, and he laughed like he always
did at me. "Do you ever feel minded to jump overside and be
done with everything?" he asks after a while.
'"No. What water comes aboard is too wet as 'tis," I says.
"The Spanisher's going about."
'"I told you," says he, never looking back. "He'll give us the
Pope's Blessing as he swings. Come down off that rail. There's no
knowin' where stray shots may hit." So I came down off the rail,
and leaned against it, and the Spanisher he ruffled round in the
wind, and his port-lids opened all red inside.
'"Now what'll happen to my road if they don't let me lie quiet
in my grave?" he says. "Does your Aunt mean there's two roads
to be found and kept open - or what does she mean? I don't like
that talk about t'other road. D'you believe in your iron
'He knowed I did, so I only nodded, and he nodded back again.
'"Anybody but me 'ud call you a fool, Sim," he says. "Lie
down. Here comes the Pope's Blessing!"
'The Spanisher gave us his broadside as he went about. They all
fell short except one that smack-smooth hit the rail behind my
back, an' I felt most won'erful cold.
'"Be you hit anywhere to signify?" he says. "Come over to me."
'"O Lord, Mus' Drake," I says, "my legs won't move," and
that was the last I spoke for months.'
'Why? What had happened?' cried Dan and Una together.
'The rail had jarred me in here like.' Simon reached behind him
clumsily. 'From my shoulders down I didn't act no shape. Frankie
carried me piggyback to my Aunt's house, and I lay bed-rid and
tongue-tied while she rubbed me day and night, month in and
month out. She had faith in rubbing with the hands. P'raps she
put some of her gifts into it, too. Last of all, something loosed
itself in my pore back, and lo! I was whole restored again, but
'"Where's Frankie?" I says, thinking I'd been a longish