Part 12 out of 15
"I tore off my armor and fled, as Cain fled--northward ever, till I
should reach a land where the name of Spaniard, yea, and the name
of Christian, which the Spaniard has caused to be blasphemed from
east to west, should never come. I sank fainting, and waked
beneath this rock, this tree, forty-four years ago, and I have
never left them since, save once, to obtain seeds from Indians, who
knew not that I was a Spanish Conquistador. And may God have mercy
on my soul!"
The old man ceased; and his young hearers, deeply affected by his
tale, sat silent for a few minutes. Then John Brimblecombe spoke:
"You are old, sir, and I am young; and perhaps it is not my place
to counsel you. Moreover, sir, in spite of this strange dress of
mine, I am neither more nor less than an English priest; and I
suppose you will not be willing to listen to a heretic."
"I have seen Catholics, senor, commit too many abominations even
with the name of God upon their lips, to shrink from a heretic if
he speak wisely and well. At least, you are a man; and after all,
my heart yearns more and more, the longer I sit among you, for the
speech of beings of my own race. Say what you will, in God's
"I hold, sir," said Jack, modestly, "according to holy Scripture,
that whosoever repents from his heart, as God knows you seem to
have done, is forgiven there and then; and though his sins be as
scarlet, they shall be white as snow, for the sake of Him who died
"Amen! Amen!" said the old man, looking lovingly at his little
crucifix. "I hope and pray--His name is Love. I know it now; who
better? But, sir, even if He have forgiven me, how can I forgive
myself? In honor, sir, I must be just, and sternly just, to
myself, even if God be indulgent; as He has been to me, who has
left me here in peace for forty years, instead of giving me a prey
to the first puma or jaguar which howls round me every night. He
has given me time to work out my own salvation; but have I done it?
That doubt maddens me at whiles. When I look upon that crucifix, I
float on boundless hope: but if I take my eyes from it for a
moment, faith fails, and all is blank, and dark, and dreadful, till
the devil whispers me to plunge into yon stream, and once and for
ever wake to certainty, even though it be in hell."
What was Jack to answer? He himself knew not at first. More was
wanted than the mere repetition of free pardon.
"Heretic as I am, sir, you will not believe me when I tell you, as
a priest, that God accepts your penitence."
"My heart tells me so already, at moments. But how know I that it
does not lie?"
"Senor," said Jack, "the best way to punish oneself for doing ill,
seems to me to go and do good; and the best way to find out whether
God means you well, is to find out whether He will help you to do
well. If you have wronged Indians in time past, see whether you
cannot right them now. If you can, you are safe. For the Lord
will not send the devil's servants to do His work."
The old man held down his head.
"Right the Indians? Alas! what is done, is done!"
"Not altogether, senor," said Amyas, "as long as an Indian remains
alive in New Granada."
"Senor, shall I confess my weakness? A voice within me has bid me
a hundred times go forth and labor, for those oppressed wretches,
but I dare not obey. I dare not look them in the face. I should
fancy that they knew my story; that the very birds upon the trees
would reveal my crime, and bid them turn from me with horror."
"Senor," said Amyas, "these are but the sick fancies of a noble
spirit, feeding on itself in solitude. You have but to try to
"And look now," said Jack, "if you dare not go forth to help the
Indians, see now how God has brought the Indians to your own door.
Oh, excellent sir--"
"Call me not excellent," said the old man, smiting his breast.
"I do, and shall, sir, while I see in you an excellent repentance,
an excellent humility, and an excellent justice," said Jack. "But
oh, sir, look upon these forty souls, whom we must leave behind,
like sheep which have no shepherd. Could you not teach them to
fear God and to love each other, to live like rational men, perhaps
to die like Christians? They would obey you as a dog obeys his
master. You might be their king, their father, yea, their pope, if
"You do not speak like a Lutheran."
"I am not a Lutheran, but an Englishman: but, Protestant as I am,
God knows, I had sooner see these poor souls of your creed, than of
"But I am no priest."
"When they are ready," said Jack, "the Lord will send a priest. If
you begin the good work, you may trust to Him to finish it."
"God help me!" said the old warrior.
The talk lasted long into the night, but Amyas was up long before
daybreak, felling the trees; and as he and Cary walked back to
breakfast, the first thing which they saw was the old man in his
garden with four or five Indian children round him, talking
smilingly to them.
"The old man's heart is sound still," said Will. "No man is lost
who still is fond of little children."
"Ah, senors!" said the hermit as they came up, "you see that I have
begun already to act upon your advice."
"And you have begun at the right end," quoth Amyas; "if you win the
children, you win the mothers."
"And if you win the mothers," quoth Will, "the poor fathers must
needs obey their wives, and follow in the wake."
The old man only sighed. "The prattle of these little ones softens
my hard heart, senors, with a new pleasure; but it saddens me, when
I recollect that there may be children of mine now in the world--
children who have never known a father's love--never known aught
but a master's threats--"
"God has taken care of these little ones. Trust that He has taken
care of yours."
That day Amyas assembled the Indians, and told them that they must
obey the hermit as their king, and settle there as best they could:
for if they broke up and wandered away, nothing was left for them
but to fall one by one into the hands of the Spaniards. They heard
him with their usual melancholy and stupid acquiescence, and went
and came as they were bid, like animated machines; but the negroes
were of a different temper; and four or five stout fellows gave
Amyas to understand that they had been warriors in their own
country, and that warriors they would be still; and nothing should
keep them from Spaniard-hunting. Amyas saw that the presence of
these desperadoes in the new colony would both endanger the
authority of the hermit, and bring the Spaniards down upon it in a
few weeks; so, making a virtue of necessity, he asked them whether
they would go Spaniard-hunting with him.
This was just what the bold Coromantees wished for; they grinned
and shouted their delight at serving under so great a warrior, and
then set to work most gallantly, getting through more in the day
than any ten Indians, and indeed than any two Englishmen.
So went on several days, during which the trees were felled, and
the process of digging them out began; while Ayacanora, silent and
moody, wandered into the woods all day with her blow-gun, and
brought home at evening a load of parrots, monkeys, and curassows;
two or three old hands were sent out to hunt likewise; so that,
what with the game and the fish of the river, which seemed
inexhaustible, and the fruit of the neighboring palm-trees, there
was no lack of food in the camp. But what to do with Ayacanora
weighed heavily on the mind of Amyas. He opened his heart on the
matter to the old hermit, and asked him whether he would take
charge of her. The latter smiled, and shook his head at the
notion. "If your report of her be true, I may as well take in hand
to tame a jaguar." However, he promised to try; and one evening,
as they were all standing together before the mouth of the cave,
Ayacanora came up smiling with the fruit of her day's sport; and
Amyas, thinking this a fit opportunity, began a carefully prepared
harangue to her, which he intended to be altogether soothing, and
even pathetic,--to the effect that the maiden, having no parents,
was to look upon this good old man as her father; that he would
instruct her in the white man's religion (at which promise Yeo, as
a good Protestant, winced a good deal), and teach her how to be
happy and good, and so forth; and that, in fine, she was to remain
there with the hermit.
She heard him quietly, her great dark eyes opening wider and wider,
her bosom swelling, her stature seeming to grow taller every
moment, as she clenched her weapons firmly in both her hands.
Beautiful as she always was, she had never looked so beautiful
before; and as Amyas spoke of parting with her, it was like
throwing away a lovely toy; but it must be done, for her sake, for
his, perhaps for that of all the crew.
The last words had hardly passed his lips, when, with a shriek of
mingled scorn, rage, and fear, she dashed through the astonished
"Stop her!" were Amyas's first words; but his next were, "Let her
go!" for, springing like a deer through the little garden and over
the flower-fence, she turned, menacing with her blow-gun the
sailors, who had already started in her pursuit.
"Let her alone, for Heaven's sake!" shouted Amyas, who, he scarce
knew why, shrank from the thought of seeing those graceful limbs
struggling in the seamen's grasp.
She turned again, and in another minute her gaudy plumes had
vanished among the dark forest stems, as swiftly as if she had been
a passing bird.
All stood thunderstruck at this unexpected end to the conference.
At last Aymas spoke:
"There's no use in standing here idle, gentlemen. Staring after
her won't bring her back. After all, I'm glad she's gone."
But the tone of his voice belied his words. Now he had lost her,
he wanted her back; and perhaps every one present, except he,
But Ayacanora did not return; and ten days more went on in
continual toil at the canoes without any news of her from the
hunters. Amyas, by the by, had strictly bidden these last not to
follow the girl, not even to speak to her, if they came across her
in their wanderings. He was shrewd enough to guess that the only
way to cure her sulkiness was to outsulk her; but there was no sign
of her presence in any direction; and the canoes being finished at
last, the gold, and such provisions as they could collect, were
placed on board, and one evening the party prepared for their fresh
voyage. They determined to travel as much as possible by night,
for fear of discovery, especially in the neighborhood of the few
Spanish settlements which were then scattered along the banks of
the main stream. These, however, the negroes knew, so that there
was no fear of coming on them unawares; and as for falling asleep
in their night journeys, "Nobody," the negroes said, "ever slept on
the Magdalena; the mosquitoes took too good care of that." Which
fact Amyas and his crew verified afterwards as thoroughly as
wretched men could do.
The sun had sunk; the night had all but fallen; the men were all on
board; Amyas in command of one canoe, Cary of the other. The
Indians were grouped on the bank, watching the party with their
listless stare, and with them the young guide, who preferred
remaining among the Indians, and was made supremely happy by the
present of Spanish sword and an English axe; while, in the midst,
the old hermit, with tears in his eyes, prayed God's blessing on
"I owe to you, noble cavaliers, new peace, new labor, I may say,
new life. May God be with you, and teach you to use your gold and
your swords better than I used mine.
The adventurers waved their hands to him.
"Give way, men," cried Amyas; and as he spoke the paddles dashed
into the water, to a right English hurrah! which sent the birds
fluttering from their roosts, and was answered by the yell of a
hundred monkeys, and the distant roar of the jaguar.
About twenty yards below, a wooded rock, some ten feet high, hung
over the stream. The river was not there more than fifteen yards
broad; deep near the rock, shallow on the farther side; and Amyas's
canoe led the way, within ten feet of the stone.
As he passed, a dark figure leapt from the bushes on the edge, and
plunged heavily into the water close to the boat. All started. A
jaguar? No; he would not have missed so short a spring. What,
then? A human being?
A head rose panting to the surface, and with a few strong strokes
the swimmer had clutched the gunwale. It was Ayacanora!
"Go back!" shouted Amyas. "Go back, girl!"
She uttered the same wild cry with which she had fled into the
"I will die, then!" and she threw up her arms. Another moment, and
she had sunk.
To see her perish before his eyes! who could bear that? Her hands
alone were above the surface. Amyas caught convulsively at her in
the darkness, and seized her wrist.
A yell rose from the negroes: a roar from the crew as from a cage
of lions. There was a rush and a swirl along the surface of the
stream; and "Caiman! caiman!" shouted twenty voices.
Now, or never, for the strong arm! "To larboard, men, or over we
go!" cried Amyas, and with one huge heave he lifted the slender
body upon the gunwale. Her lower limbs were still in the water,
when, within arm's length, rose above the stream a huge muzzle.
The lower jaw lay flat, the upper reached as high as Amyas's head.
He could see the long fangs gleam white in the moonshine; he could
see for one moment full down the monstrous depths of that great
gape, which would have crushed a buffalo. Three inches, and no
more, from that soft side, the snout surged up--
There was the gleam of an axe from above, a sharp ringing blow, and
the jaws came together with a clash which rang from bank to bank.
He had missed her! Swerving beneath the blow, his snout had passed
beneath her body, and smashed up against the side of the canoe, as
the striker, overbalanced, fell headlong overboard upon the
"Who is it?"
"Yeo!" shouted a dozen.
Man and beast went down together, and where they sank, the
moonlight shone on a great swirling eddy, while all held their
breaths, and Ayacanora cowered down into the bottom of the canoe,
her proud spirit utterly broken, for the first time, by the terror
of that great need, and by a bitter loss. For in the struggle, the
holy trumpet, companion of all her wanderings, had fallen from her
bosom; and her fond hope of bringing magic prosperity to her
English friends had sunk with it to the bottom of the stream.
None heeded her; not even Amyas, round whose knees she clung,
fawning like a spaniel dog: for where was Yeo?
Another swirl; a shout from the canoe abreast of them, and Yeo
rose, having dived clean under his own boat, and risen between the
"Safe as yet, lads! Heave me a line, or he'll have me after all."
But ere the brute reappeared, the old man was safe on board.
"The Lord has stood by me," panted he, as he shot the water from
his ears. "We went down together: I knew the Indian trick, and
being uppermost, had my thumbs in his eyes before he could turn:
but he carried me down to the very mud. My breath was nigh gone,
so I left go, and struck up: but my toes tingled as I rose again,
I'll warrant. There the beggar is, looking for me, I declare!"
And, true enough, there was the huge brute swimming slowly round
and round, in search of his lost victim. It was too dark to put an
arrow into his eye; so they paddled on, while Ayacanora crouched
silently at Amyas's feet.
"Yeo!" asked he, in a low voice, "what shall we do with her?"
"Why ask me, sir?" said the old man, as he had a very good right to
"Because, when one don't know oneself, one had best inquire of
one's elders. Besides, you saved her life at the risk of your own,
and have a right to a voice in the matter, if any one has, old
"Then, my dear young captain, if the Lord puts a precious soul
under your care, don't you refuse to bear the burden He lays on
Amyas was silent awhile; while Ayacanora, who was evidently utterly
exhausted by the night's adventure, and probably by long
wanderings, watchings, and weepings which had gone before it, sank
with her head against his knee, fell fast asleep, and breathed as
gently as a child.
At last he rose in the canoe, and called Cary alongside.
"Listen to me, gentlemen, and sailors all. You know that we have a
maiden on board here, by no choice of our own. Whether she will be
a blessing to us, God alone can tell: but she may turn to the
greatest curse which has befallen us ever since we came out over
Bar three years ago. Promise me one thing, or I put her ashore the
next beach, and that is, that you will treat her as if she were
your own sister; and make an agreement here and now, that if the
maid comes to harm among us, the man that is guilty shall hang for
it by the neck till he's dead, even though he be I, Captain Leigh,
who speak to you. I'll hang you, as I am a Christian; and I give
you free leave to hang me."
"A very fair bargain," quoth Cary, "and I for one will see it kept
to. Lads, we'll twine a double strong halter for the captain as we
go down along."
"I am not jesting, Will."
"I know it, good old lad," said Cary, stretching out his own hand
to him across the water through the darkness, and giving him a
hearty shake. "I know it; and listen, men! So help me God! but
I'll be the first to back the Captain in being as good as his word,
as I trust he never will need to be."
"Amen!" said Brimblecombe. "Amen!" said Yeo; and many an honest
voice joined in that honest compact, and kept it too, like men.
HOW THEY TOOK THE GREAT GALLEON
"When captains courageous, whom death could not daunt,
Did march to the siege of the city of Gaunt,
They muster'd their soldiers by two and by three,
But the foremost in battle was Mary Ambree.
When brave Sir John Major was slain in her sight,
Who was her true lover, her joy and delight,
Because he was murther'd most treacherouslie,
Then vow'd to avenge him fair Mary Ambree."
Old Ballad, A. D. 1584.
One more glance at the golden tropic sea, and the golden tropic
evenings, by the shore of New Granada, in the golden Spanish Main.
The bay of Santa Marta is rippling before the land-breeze one sheet
of living flame. The mighty forests are sparkling with myriad
fireflies. The lazy mist which lounges round the inner hills
shines golden in the sunset rays; and, nineteen thousand feet
aloft, the mighty peak of Horqueta cleaves the abyss of air, rose-
red against the dark-blue vault of heaven. The rosy cone fades to
a dull leaden hue; but only for awhile. The stars flash out one by
one, and Venus, like another moon, tinges the eastern snows with
gold, and sheds across the bay a long yellow line of rippling
light. Everywhere is glory and richness. What wonder if the earth
in that enchanted land be as rich to her inmost depths as she is
upon the surface? The heaven, the hills, the sea, are one
sparkling garland of jewels--what wonder if the soil be jewelled
also? if every watercourse and bank of earth be spangled with
emeralds and rubies, with grains of gold and feathered wreaths of
So thought, in a poetic mood, the Bishop of Cartagena, as he sat in
the state cabin of that great galleon, The City of the True Cross,
and looked pensively out of the window towards the shore. The good
man was in a state of holy calm. His stout figure rested on one
easy-chair, his stout ankles on another, beside a table spread with
oranges and limes, guavas and pine-apples, and all the fruits of
An Indian girl, bedizened with scarfs and gold chains, kept off the
flies with a fan of feathers; and by him, in a pail of ice from the
Horqueta (the gift of some pious Spanish lady, who had "spent" an
Indian or two in bringing down the precious offering), stood more
than one flask of virtuous wine of Alicant. But he was not so
selfish, good man, as to enjoy either ice or wine alone; Don Pedro,
colonel of the soldiers on board, Don Alverez, intendant of his
Catholic majesty's customs at Santa Marta, and Don Paul, captain of
mariners in The City of the True Cross, had, by his especial
request, come to his assistance that evening, and with two friars,
who sat at the lower end of the table, were doing their best to
prevent the good man from taking too bitterly to heart the present
unsatisfactory state of his cathedral town, which had just been
sacked and burnt by an old friend of ours, Sir Francis Drake.
"We have been great sufferers, senors,--ah, great sufferers,"
snuffled the bishop, quoting Scripture, after the fashion of the
day, glibly enough, but often much too irreverently for me to
repeat, so boldly were his texts travestied, and so freely
interlarded by grumblings at Tita and the mosquitoes. "Great
sufferers, truly; but there shall be a remnant,--ah, a remnant like
the shaking of the olive tree and the gleaning grapes when the
vintage is done.--Ah! Gold? Yes, I trust Our Lady's mercies are
not shut up, nor her arms shortened.--Look, senors!"--and he
pointed majestically out of the window. "It looks gold! it smells
of gold, as I may say, by a poetical license. Yea, the very waves,
as they ripple past us, sing of gold, gold, gold!"
"It is a great privilege," said the intendant, "to have comfort so
gracefully administered at once by a churchman and a scholar."
"A poet, too," said Don Pedro. "You have no notion what sweet
"Hush, Don Pedro--hush! If I, a mateless bird, have spent an idle
hour in teaching lovers how to sing, why, what of that? I am a
churchman, senors; but I am a man and I can feel, senors; I can
sympathize; I can palliate; I can excuse. Who knows better than I
how much human nature lurks in us fallen sons of Adam? Tita!"
"Um?" said the trembling girl, with a true Indian grunt.
"Fill his excellency the intendant's glass. Does much more
treasure come down, illustrious senor? May the poor of Mary hope
for a few more crumbs from their Mistress's table?"
"Not a pezo, I fear. The big white cow up there"--and he pointed
to the Horqueta--"has been milked dry for this year."
"Ah!" And he looked up at the magnificent snow peak. "Only good
to cool wine with, eh? and as safe for the time being as Solomon's
"Solomon's birds? Explain your recondite allusion, my lord."
"Enlighten us, your excellency, enlighten us."
"Ah! thereby hangs a tale. You know the holy birds who run up and
down on the Prado at Seville among the ladies' pretty feet,--eh?
with hooked noses and cinnamon crests? Of course. Hoopoes--Upupa,
as the classics have it. Well, senors, once on a time, the story
goes, these hoopoes all had golden crowns on their heads; and,
senors, they took the consequences--eh? But it befell on a day
that all the birds and beasts came to do homage at the court of his
most Catholic majesty King Solomon, and among them came these same
hoopoes; and they had a little request to make, the poor rogues.
And what do you think it was? Why, that King Solomon would pray
for them that they might wear any sort of crowns but these same
golden ones; for--listen, Tita, and see the snare of riches--
mankind so hunted, and shot, and trapped, and snared them, for the
sake of these same golden crowns, that life was a burden to bear.
So Solomon prayed, and instead of golden crowns, they all received
crowns of feathers; and ever since, senors, they live as merrily as
crickets in an oven, and also have the honor of bearing the name of
his most Catholic majesty King Solomon. Tita! fill the senor
commandant's glass. Fray Gerundio, what are you whispering about
down there, sir?"
Fray Gerundio had merely commented to his brother on the bishop's
story of Solomon's birds with an--
"O si sic omnia!--would that all gold would turn to feathers in
"Then, friend," replied the other, a Dominican, like Gerundio, but
of a darker and sterner complexion, "corrupt human nature would
within a week discover some fresh bauble, for which to kill and be
killed in vain."
"What is that, Fray Gerundio?" asked the bishop again.
"I merely remarked, that it were well for the world if all mankind
were to put up the same prayer as the hoopoes."
"World, sir? What do you know about the world? Convert your
Indians, sir, if you please, and leave affairs of state to your
superiors. You will excuse him, senors" (turning to the Dons, and
speaking in a lower tone). "A very worthy and pious man, but a
poor peasant's son; and beside--you understand. A little wrong
here; too much fasting and watching, I fear, good man." And the
bishop touched his forehead knowingly, to signify that Fray
Gerundio's wits were in an unsatisfactory state.
The Fray heard and saw with a quiet smile. He was one of those
excellent men whom the cruelties of his countrymen had stirred up
(as the darkness, by mere contrast, makes the light more bright),
as they did Las Casas, Gasca, and many another noble name which is
written in the book of life, to deeds of love and pious daring
worthy of any creed or age. True Protestants, they protested, even
before kings, against the evil which lay nearest them, the sin
which really beset them; true liberals, they did not disdain to
call the dark-skinned heathen their brothers; and asserted in terms
which astonish us, when we recollect the age in which they were
spoken, the inherent freedom of every being who wore the flesh and
blood which their Lord wore; true martyrs, they bore witness of
Christ, and received too often the rewards of such, in slander and
contempt. Such an one was Fray Gerundio; a poor, mean, clumsy-
tongued peasant's son, who never could put three sentences
together, save when he waxed eloquent, crucifix in hand, amid some
group of Indians or negroes. He was accustomed to such rebuffs as
the bishop's; he took them for what they were worth, and sipped his
wine in silence; while the talk went on.
"They say," observed the commandant, "that a very small Plate-fleet
will go to Spain this year."
"What else?" says the intendant. "What have we to send, in the
name of all saints, since these accursed English Lutherans have
swept us out clean?"
"And if we had anything to send," says the sea-captain, "what have
we to send it in? That fiend incarnate, Drake--"
"Ah!" said his holiness; "spare my ears! Don Pedro, you will
oblige my weakness by not mentioning that man;--his name is
Tartarean, unfit for polite lips. Draco--a dragon--serpent--the
emblem of Diabolus himself--ah! And the guardian of the golden
apples of the West, who would fain devour our new Hercules, his
most Catholic majesty. Deceived Eve, too, with one of those same
apples--a very evil name, senors--a Tartarean name,--Tita!"
"Fill my glass."
"Nay," cried the colonel, with a great oath, "this English fellow
is of another breed of serpent from that, I warrant."
"Your reason, senor; your reason?"
"Because this one would have seen Eve at the bottom of the sea,
before he let her, or any one but himself, taste aught which looked
"Ah, ah!--very good! But--we laugh, valiant senors, while the
Church weeps. Alas for my sheep!"
"And alas for their sheepfold! It will be four years before we can
get Cartagena rebuilt again. And as for the blockhouse, when we
shall get that rebuilt, Heaven only knows, while his majesty goes
on draining the Indies for his English Armada. The town is as
naked now as an Indian's back."
"Baptista Antonio, the surveyor, has sent home by me a relation to
the king, setting forth our defenceless state. But to read a
relation and to act on it are two cocks of very different hackles,
bishop, as all statesmen know. Heaven grant we may have orders by
the next fleet to fortify, or we shall be at the mercy of every
"Ah, that blockhouse!" sighed the bishop. "That was indeed a
villainous trick. A hundred and ten thousand ducats for the ransom
of the town! After having burned and plundered the one-half--and
having made me dine with them too, ah! and sit between the--the
serpent, and his lieutenant-general--and drunk my health in my own
private wine--wine that I had from Xeres nine years ago, senors and
offered, the shameless heretics, to take me to England, if I would
turn Lutheran, and find me a wife, and make an honest man of me--
ah! and then to demand fresh ransom for the priory and the fort--
"Well," said the colonel, "they had the law of us, the cunning
rascals, for we forgot to mention anything but the town, in the
agreement. Who would have dreamed of such a fetch as that?"
"So I told my good friend the prior, when he came to me to borrow
the thousand crowns. It was Heaven's will. Unexpected like the
thunderbolt, and to be borne as such. Every man must bear his own
burden. How could I lend him aught?"
"Your holiness's money had been all carried off by them before,"
said the intendant, who knew, and none better, the exact contrary.
"Just so--all my scanty savings! desolate in my lone old age. Ah,
senors, had we not had warning of the coming of these wretches from
my dear friend the Marquess of Santa Cruz, whom I remember daily in
my prayers, we had been like to them who go down quick into the
pit. I too might have saved a trifle, had I been minded: but in
thinking too much of others, I forgot myself, alas!"
"Warning or none, we had no right to be beaten by such a handful,"
said the sea-captain; "and a shame it is, and a shame it will be,
for many a day to come."
"Do you mean to cast any slur, sir, upon the courage and conduct of
his Catholic majesty's soldiers?" asked the colonel.
"I?--No; but we were foully beaten, and that behind our barricades
too, and there's the plain truth."
"Beaten, sir! Do you apply such a term to the fortunes of war?
What more could our governor have done? Had we not the ways filled
with poisoned caltrops, guarded by Indian archers, barred with
butts full of earth, raked with culverins and arquebuses? What
familiar spirit had we, sir, to tell us that these villains would
come along the sea-beach, and not by the high-road, like Christian
"Ah!" said the bishop, "it was by intuition diabolic, I doubt not,
that they took that way. Satanas must need help those who serve
him; and for my part, I can only attribute (I would the captain
here had piety enough to do so) the misfortune which occurred to
art-magic. I believe these men to have been possessed by all
"Well, your holiness," said the colonel, "there may have been
devilry in it; how else would men have dared to run right into the
mouths of our cannon, fire their shot against our very noses, and
tumble harmless over those huge butts of earth?"
"Doubtless by force of the fiends which raged with them,"
interposed the bishop.
"And then, with their blasphemous cries, leap upon us with sword
and pike? I myself saw that Lieutenant-General Carlisle hew down
with one stroke that noble young gentleman the ensign-bearer, your
excellency's sister's son's nephew, though he was armed cap-a-pie.
Was not art-magic here? And that most furious and blaspheming
Lutheran Captain Young, I saw how he caught our general by the
head, after the illustrious Don Alonzo had given him a grievous
wound, threw him to the earth, and so took him. Was not art-magic
"Well, I say," said the captain, "if you are looking for art-magic,
what say you to their marching through the flank fire of our
galleys, with eleven pieces of ordnance, and two hundred shot
playing on them, as if it had been a mosquito swarm? Some said my
men fired too high: but that was the English rascals' doing, for
they got down on the tide beach. But, senor commandant, though
Satan may have taught them that trick, was it he that taught them
to carry pikes a foot longer than yours?"
"Ah, well," said the bishop, "sacked are we; and San Domingo, as I
hear, in worse case than we are; and St. Augustine in Florida
likewise; and all that is left for a poor priest like me is to
return to Spain, and see whether the pious clemency of his majesty,
and of the universal Father, may not be willing to grant some small
relief or bounty to the poor of Mary--perhaps--(for who knows?) to
translate to a sphere of more peaceful labor one who is now old,
senors, and weary with many toils--Tita! fill our glasses. I have
saved somewhat--as you may have done, senors, from the general
wreck; and for the flock, when I am no more, illustrious senors,
Heaven's mercies are infinite; new cities will rise from the ashes
of the old, new mines pour forth their treasures into the
sanctified laps of the faithful, and new Indians flock toward the
life-giving standard of the Cross, to put on the easy yoke and
light burden of the Church, and--"
"And where shall I be then? Ah, where? Fain would I rest, and
fain depart. Tita! sling my hammock. Senors, you will excuse age
and infirmities. Fray Gerundio, go to bed!"
And the Dons rose to depart, while the bishop went on maundering,--
"Farewell! Life is short. Ah! we shall meet in heaven at last.
And there are really no more pearls?"
"Not a frail; nor gold either," said the intendant.
"Ah, well! Better a dinner of herbs where love is, than--Tita!"
"My breviary--ah! Man's gratitude is short-lived, I had hoped--
You have seen nothing of the Senora Bovadilla?"
"Ah! she promised:--but no matter--a little trifle as a keepsake--a
gold cross, or an emerald ring, or what not--I forget. And what
have I to do with worldly wealth!--Ah! Tita! bring me the casket."
And when his guests were gone, the old man began mumbling prayers
out of his breviary, and fingering over jewels and gold, with the
dull greedy eyes of covetous old age.
"Ah!--it may buy the red hat yet!--Omnia Romae venalia! Put it by,
Tita, and do not look at it too much, child. Enter not into
temptation. The love of money is the root of all evil; and Heaven,
in love for the Indian, has made him poor in this world, that he
may be rich in faith. Ah!--Ugh!--So!"
And the old miser clambered into his hammock. Tita drew the
mosquito net over him, wrapt another round her own head, and slept,
or seemed to sleep; for she coiled herself up upon the floor, and
master and slave soon snored a merry bass to the treble of the
It was long past midnight, and the moon was down. The sentinels,
who had tramped and challenged overhead till they thought their
officers were sound asleep, had slipped out of the unwholesome rays
of the planet to seek that health and peace which they considered
their right, and slept as soundly as the bishop's self.
Two long lines glided out from behind the isolated rocks of the
Morro Grande, which bounded the bay some five hundred yards astern
of the galleon. They were almost invisible on the glittering
surface of the water, being perfectly white; and, had a sentinel
been looking out, he could only have descried them by the
phosphorescent flashes along their sides.
Now the bishop had awoke, and turned himself over uneasily; for the
wine was dying out within him, and his shoulders had slipped down,
and his heels up, and his head ached! so he sat upright in his
hammock, looked out upon the bay, and called Tita.
"Put another pillow under my head, child! What is that? a fish?"
Tita looked. She did not think it was a fish: but she did not
choose to say so; for it might have produced an argument, and she
had her reasons for not keeping his holiness awake.
The bishop looked again; settled that it must be a white whale, or
shark, or other monster of the deep; crossed himself, prayed for a
safe voyage, and snored once more.
Presently the cabin-door opened gently, and the head of the senor
Tita sat up; and then began crawling like a snake along the floor,
among the chairs and tables, by the light of the cabin lamp.
"Is he asleep?"
"Yes: but the casket is under his head."
"Curse him! How shall we take it?"
"I brought him a fresh pillow half-an-hour ago; I hung his hammock
wrong on purpose that he might want one. I thought to slip the box
away as I did it; but the old ox nursed it in both hands all the
"What shall we do, in the name of all the fiends? She sails to-
morrow morning, and then all is lost."
Tita showed her white teeth, and touched the dagger which hung by
the intendant's side.
"I dare not!" said the rascal, with a shudder.
"I dare!" said she. "He whipt my mother, because she would not
give me up to him to be taught in his schools, when she went to the
mines. And she went to the mines, and died there in three months.
I saw her go, with a chain round her neck; but she never came back
again. Yes; I dare kill him! I will kill him! I will!"
The senor felt his mind much relieved. He had no wish, of course,
to commit the murder himself; for he was a good Catholic, and
feared the devil. But Tita was an Indian, and her being lost did
not matter so much. Indians' souls were cheap, like their bodies.
So he answered, "But we shall be discovered!"
"I will leap out of the window with the casket, and swim ashore.
They will never suspect you, and they will fancy I am drowned."
"The sharks may seize you, Tita. You had better give me the
Tita smiled. "You would not like to lose that, eh? though you care
little about losing me. And yet you told me that you loved me!"
"And I do love you, Tita! light of my eyes! life of my heart! I
swear, by all the saints, I love you. I will marry you, I swear I
will--I will swear on the crucifix, if you like!"
"Swear, then, or I do not give you the casket," said she, holding
out the little crucifix round her neck, and devouring him with the
wild eyes of passionate unreasoning tropic love.
He swore, trembling, and deadly pale.
"Give me your dagger."
"No, not mine. It may be found. I shall be suspected. What if my
sheath were seen to be empty?"
"Your knife will do. His throat is soft enough."
And she glided stealthily as a cat toward the hammock, while her
cowardly companion stood shivering at the other end of the cabin,
and turned his back to her, that he might not see the deed.
He stood waiting, one minute--two--five? Was it an hour, rather?
A cold sweat bathed his limbs; the blood beat so fiercely within
his temples, that his head rang again. Was that a death-bell
tolling? No; it was the pulses of his brain. Impossible, surely,
a death-bell. Whence could it come?
There was a struggle--ah! she was about it now; a stifled cry--Ah!
he had dreaded that most of all, to hear the old man cry. Would
there be much blood? He hoped not. Another struggle, and Tita's
voice, apparently muffled, called for help.
"I cannot help you. Mother of Mercies! I dare not help you!"
hissed he. "She-devil! you have begun it, and you must finish it
A heavy arm from behind clasped his throat. The bishop had broken
loose from her and seized him! Or was it his ghost? or a fiend
come to drag him down to the pit? And forgetting all but mere wild
terror, he opened his lips for a scream, which would have wakened
every soul on board. But a handkerchief was thrust into his mouth
and in another minute he found himself bound hand and foot, and
laid upon the table by a gigantic enemy. The cabin was full of
armed men, two of whom were lashing up the bishop in his hammock;
two more had seized Tita; and more were clambering up into the
stern-gallery beyond, wild figures, with bright blades and armor
gleaming in the starlight.
"Now, Will," whispered the giant who had seized him, "forward and
clap the fore-hatches on; and shout Fire! with all your might.
Girl! murderess! your life is in my hands. Tell me where the
commander sleeps, and I pardon you."
Tita looked up at the huge speaker, and obeyed in silence. The
intendant heard him enter the colonel's cabin, and then a short
scuffle, and silence for a moment.
But only for a moment; for already the alarm had been given, and
mad confusion reigned through every deck. Amyas (for it was none
other) had already gained the poop; the sentinels were gagged and
bound; and every half-naked wretch who came trembling up on deck in
his shirt by the main hatchway, calling one, "Fire! another,
"Wreck!" and another, "Treason!" was hurled into the scuppers, and
"Lower away that boat!" shouted Amyas in Spanish to his first batch
The men, unarmed and naked, could but obey.
"Now then, jump in. Here, hand them to the gangway as they come
It was done; and as each appeared he was kicked to the scuppers,
and bundled down over the side.
"She's full. Cast loose now and off with you. If you try to board
again we'll sink you."
"Fire! fire!" shouted Cary, forward. "Up the main hatchway for
The ruse succeeded utterly; and before half-an-hour was over, all
the ship's boats which could be lowered were filled with Spaniards
in their shirts, getting ashore as best they could.
"Here is a new sort of camisado," quoth Cary. "The last Spanish
one I saw was at the sortie from Smerwick: but this is somewhat
more prosperous than that."
"Get the main and foresail up, Will!" said Amyas, "cut the cable;
and we will plume the quarry as we fly."
"Spoken like a good falconer. Heaven grant that this big woodcock
may carry a good trail inside!"
"I'll warrant her for that," said Jack Brimblecombe. "She floats
"Much of your build, too, Jack. By the by, where is the
Alas! Don Pedro, forgotten in the bustle, had been lying on the
deck in his shirt, helplessly bound, exhausting that part of his
vocabulary which related to the unseen world. Which most
discourteous act seemed at first likely to be somewhat heavily
avenged on Amyas; for as he spoke, a couple of caliver-shots, fired
from under the poop, passed "ping" "ping" by his ears, and Cary
clapped his hand to his side.
"A pinch, old lad--Look out, or we are 'allen verloren' after all,
as the Flemings say."
And as he spoke, a rush forward on the poop drove two of their best
men down the ladder into the waist, where Amyas stood.
"Killed?" asked he, as he picked one up, who had fallen head over
"Sound as a bell, sir: but they Gentiles has got hold of the
firearms, and set the captain free."
And rubbing the back of his head for a minute, he jumped up the
ladder again, shouting--
"Have at ye, idolatrous pagans! Have at ye, Satan's spawn!"
Amyas jumped up after him, shouting to all hands to follow; for
there was no time to be lost.
Out of the windows of the poop, which looked on the main-deck, a
galling fire had been opened, and he could not afford to lose men;
for, as far as he knew, the Spaniards left on board might still far
outnumber the English; so up he sprang on the poop, followed by a
dozen men, and there began a very heavy fight between two parties
of valiant warriors, who easily knew each other apart by the
peculiar fashion of their armor. For the Spaniards fought in their
shirts, and in no other garments: but the English in all other
manner of garments, tag, rag, and bobtail; and yet had never a
shirt between them.
The rest of the English made a rush, of course, to get upon the
poop, seeing that the Spaniards could not shoot them through the
deck; but the fire from the windows was so hot, that although they
dodged behind masts, spars, and every possible shelter, one or two
dropped; and Jack Brimblecombe and Yeo took on themselves to call a
retreat, and with about a dozen men, got back, and held a council
What was to be done? Their arquebuses were of little use; for the
Spaniards were behind a strong bulkhead. There were cannon: but
where was powder or shot? The boats, encouraged by the clamor on
deck, were paddling alongside again. Yeo rushed round and round,
probing every gun with his sword.
"Here's a patararo loaded! Now for a match, lads."
Luckily one of the English had kept his match alight during the
"Thanks be! Help me to unship the gun--the mast's in the way
The patararo, or brass swivel, was unshipped.
"Steady, lads, and keep it level, or you'll shake out the priming.
Ship it here; turn out that one, and heave it into that boat, if
they come alongside. Steady now--so! Rummage about, and find me a
bolt or two, a marlin-spike, anything. Quick, or the captain will
be over-mastered yet."
Missiles were found--odds and ends--and crammed into the swivel up
to the muzzle: and, in another minute, its "cargo of notions" was
crashing into the poop-windows, silencing the fire from thence
effectually enough for the time.
"Now, then, a rush forward, and right in along the deck!" shouted
Yeo; and the whole party charged through the cabin-doors, which
their shot had burst open, and hewed their way from room to room.
In the meanwhile, the Spaniards above had fought fiercely: but, in
spite of superior numbers, they had gradually given back before the
"demoniacal possession of those blasphemous heretics, who fought,
not like men, but like furies from the pit." And by the time that
Brimblecombe and Yeo shouted from the stern-gallery below that the
quarter-deck was won, few on either side but had their shrewd
scratch to show.
"Yield, senor!" shouted Amyas to the commander, who had been
fighting like a lion, back to back with the captain of mariners.
"Never! You have bound me, and insulted me! Your blood or mine
must wipe out the stain!"
And he rushed on Amyas. There was a few moments' heavy fence
between them; and then Amyas cut right at his head. But as he
raised his arm, the Spaniard's blade slipped along his ribs, and
snapped against the point of his shoulder-blade. An inch more to
the left, and it would have been through his heart. The blow fell,
nevertheless, and the commandant fell with it, stunned by the flat
of the sword, but not wounded; for Amyas's hand had turned, as he
winced from his wound. But the sea-captain, seeing Amyas stagger,
sprang at him, and, seizing him by the wrist, ere he could raise
his sword again, shortened his weapon to run him through. Amyas
made a grasp at his wrist in return, but, between his faintness and
the darkness, missed it.--Another moment, and all would have been
A bright blade flashed close past Amyas's ear; the sea-captain's
grasp loosened, and he dropped a corpse; while over him, like an
angry lioness above her prey, stood Ayacanora, her long hair
floating in the wind, her dagger raised aloft, as she looked round,
challenging all and every one to approach.
"Are you hurt?" panted she.
"A scratch, child.--What do you do here? Go back, go back."
Ayacanora slipped back like a scolded child, and vanished in the
The battle was over. The Spaniards, seeing their commanders fall,
laid down their arms, and cried for quarter. It was given; the
poor fellows were tied together, two and two, and seated in a row
on the deck; the commandant, sorely bruised, yielded himself
perforce; and the galleon was taken.
Amyas hurried forward to get the sails set. As he went down the
poop-ladder, there was some one sitting on the lowest step.
"Who is here--wounded?"
"I am not wounded," said a woman's voice, low, and stifled with
It was Ayacanora. She rose, and let him pass. He saw that her
face was bright with tears; but he hurried on, nevertheless.
"Perhaps I did speak a little hastily to her, considering she saved
my life; but what a brimstone it is! Mary Ambree in a dark skin!
Now then, lads! Get the Santa Fe gold up out of the canoes, and
then we will put her head to the north-east, and away for Old
England. Mr. Brimblecombe! don't say that Eastward-ho don't bring
luck this time."
It was impossible, till morning dawned, either to get matters into
any order, or to overhaul the prize they had taken; and many of the
men were so much exhausted that they fell fast asleep on the deck
ere the surgeon had time to dress their wounds. However, Amyas
contrived, when once the ship was leaping merrily, close-hauled
against a fresh land-breeze, to count his little flock, and found
out of the forty-four but six seriously wounded, and none killed.
However, their working numbers were now reduced to thirty-eight,
beside the four negroes, a scanty crew enough to take home such a
ship to England.
After awhile, up came Jack Brimblecombe on deck, a bottle in his
"Lads, a prize!"
"Well, we know that already."
"Nay, but--look hither, and laid in ice, too, as I live, the
luxurious dogs! But I had to fight for it, I had. For when I went
down into the state cabin, after I had seen to the wounded; whom
should I find loose but that Indian lass, who had just unbound the
fellow you caught--"
"Ah! those two, I believe, were going to murder the old man in the
hammock, if we had not come in the nick of time. What have you
done with them?"
"Why, the Spaniard ran when he saw me, and got into a cabin; but
the woman, instead of running, came at me with a knife, and chased
me round the table like a very cat-a-mountain. So I ducked under
the old man's hammock, and out into the gallery; and when I thought
the coast was clear, back again I came, and stumbled over this. So
I just picked it up, and ran on deck with my tail between my legs,
for I expected verily to have the black woman's knife between my
ribs out of some dark corner."
"Well done, Jack! Let's have the wine, nevertheless, and then down
to set a guard on the cabin doors for fear of plundering."
"Better go down, and see that nothing is thrown overboard by
Spaniards. As for plundering, I will settle that."
And Amyas walked forward among the men.
"Muster the men, boatswain, and count them."
"All here, sir, but the six poor fellows who are laid forward."
"Now, my men," said Amyas, "for three years you and I have wandered
on the face of the earth, seeking our fortune, and we have found it
at last, thanks be to God! Now, what was our promise and vow which
we made to God beneath the tree of Guayra, if He should grant us
good fortune, and bring us home again with a prize? Was it not,
that the dead should share with the living; and that every man's
portion, if he fell, should go to his widow or his orphans, or if
he had none, to his parents?"
"It was, sir," said Yeo, "and I trust that the Lord will give these
men grace to keep their vow. They have seen enough of His
providences by this time to fear Him."
"I doubt them not; but I remind them of it. The Lord has put into
our hands a rich prize; and what with the gold which we have
already, we are well paid for all our labors. Let us thank Him
with fervent hearts as soon as the sun rises; and in the meanwhile,
remember all, that whosoever plunders on his private account, robs
not the adventurers merely, but the orphan and the widow, which is
to rob God; and makes himself partaker of Achan's curse, who hid
the wedge of gold, and brought down God's anger on the whole army
of Israel. For me, lest you should think me covetous, I could
claim my brother's share; but I hereby give it up freely into the
common stock, for the use of the whole ship's crew, who have stood
by me through weal and woe, as men never stood before, as I
believe, by any captain. So, now to prayers, lads, and then to eat
So, to the Spaniards' surprise (who most of them believed that the
English were atheists), to prayers they went.
After which Brimblecombe contrived to inspire the black cook and
the Portuguese steward with such energy that, by seven o'clock, the
latter worthy appeared on deck, and, with profound reverences,
announced to "The most excellent and heroical Senor Adelantado
Captain Englishman," that breakfast was ready in the state-cabin.
"You will do us the honor of accompanying us as our guest, sir, or
our host, if you prefer the title," said Amyas to the commandant,
who stood by.
"Pardon, senor: but honor forbids me to eat with one who has
offered to me the indelible insult of bonds."
"Oh!" said Amyas, taking off his hat, "then pray accept on the spot
my humble apologies for all which has passed, and my assurances
that the indignities which you have unfortunately endured, were
owing altogether to the necessities of war, and not to any wish to
hurt the feelings of so valiant a soldier and gentleman."
"It is enough, senor," said the commandant, bowing and shrugging
his shoulders--for, indeed, he too was very hungry; while Cary
whispered to Amyas--
"You will make a courtier, yet, old lad."
"I am not in jesting humor, Will: my mind sadly misgives me that we
shall hear black news, and have, perhaps, to do a black deed yet,
on board here. Senor, I follow you."
So they went down, and found the bishop, who was by this time
unbound, seated in a corner of the cabin, his hands fallen on his
knees, his eyes staring on vacancy, while the two priests stood as
close against the wall as they could squeeze themselves, keeping up
a ceaseless mutter of prayers.
"Your holiness will breakfast with us, of course; and these two
frocked gentlemen likewise. I see no reason for refusing them all
hospitality, as yet."
There was a marked emphasis on the last two words, which made both
"Our chaplain will attend to you, gentlemen. His lordship the
bishop will do me the honor of sitting next to me."
The bishop seemed to revive slowly as he snuffed the savory steam;
and at last, rising mechanically, subsided into the chair which
Amyas offered him on his left, while the commandant sat on his
"A little of this kid, my lord? No--ah--Friday, I recollect. Some
of that turtle-fin, then. Will, serve his lordship; pass the
cassava-bread up, Jack! Senor commandant! a glass of wine? You
need it after your valiant toils. To the health of all brave
soldiers--and a toast from your own Spanish proverb, 'To-day to me,
tomorrow to thee!'"
"I drink it, brave senor. Your courtesy shows you the worthy
countryman of General Drake, and his brave lieutenant."
"Drake! Did you know him, senor?" asked all the Englishmen at
"Too well, too well--" and he would have continued; but the bishop
"Ah, senor commandant! that name again! Have you no mercy? To sit
between another pair of--, and my own wine, too! Ugh, ugh!"
The old gentleman, whose mouth had been full of turtle the whole
time, burst into a violent fit of coughing, and was only saved from
apoplexy by Cary's patting him on the back.
"Ugh, ugh! The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel, and their
precious balms. Ah, senor lieutenant Englishman! May I ask you to
pass those limes?--Ah! what is turtle without lime?--Even as a fat
old man without money! Nudus intravi, nudus exeo--ah!"
"But what of Drake?"
"Do you not know, sir, that he and his fleet, only last year, swept
the whole of this coast, and took, with shame I confess it,
Cartagena, San Domingo, St. Augustine, and--I see you are too
courteous, senors, to express before me what you have a right to
feel. But whence come you, sir? From the skies, or the depth of
"Art-magic, art-magic!" moaned the bishop.
"Your holiness! It is scarcely prudent to speak thus here," said
the commandant, who was nevertheless much of the same opinion.
"Why, you said so yourself, last night, senor, about the taking of
The commandant blushed, and stammered out somewhat--"That it was
excusable in him, if he had said, in jest, that so prodigious and
curious a valor had not sprung from mortal source."
"No more it did, senor," said Jack Brimblecombe, stoutly: "but from
Him who taught our 'hands to war, and our fingers to fight.'"
The commandant bowed stiffly. "You will excuse me, sir preacher:
but I am a Catholic, and hold the cause of my king to be alone the
cause of Heaven. But, senor captain, how came you thither, if I
may ask? That you needed no art-magic after you came on board, I,
alas! can testify but too well: but what spirit--whether good or
evil, I ask not--brought you on board, and whence? Where is your
ship? I thought that all Drake's squadron had left six months
"Our ship, senor, has lain this three years rotting on the coast
near Cape Codera."
"Ah! we heard of that bold adventure--but we thought you all lost
in the interior."
"You did? Can you tell me, then, where the senor governor of La
Guayra may be now?"
"The Senor Don Guzman de Soto," said the commandant, in a somewhat
constrained tone, "is said to be at present in Spain, having thrown
up his office in consequence of domestic matters, of which I have
not the honor of knowing anything."
Amyas longed to ask more: but he knew that the well-bred Spaniard
would tell him nothing which concerned another man's wife; and went
"What befell us after, I tell you frankly."
And Amyas told his story, from the landing at Guayra to the passage
down the Magdalena. The commandant lifted up his hands.
"Were it not forbidden to me, as a Catholic, most invincible senor,
I should say that the Divine protection has indeed--"
"Ah," said one of the friars, "that you could be brought, senors,
to render thanks for your miraculous preservation to her to whom
alone it is due, Mary, the fount of mercies!"
"We have done well enough without her as yet," said Amyas, bluntly.
"The Lord raised up Nebuchadnezzar of old to punish the sins of the
Jewish Church; and He has raised up these men to punish ours!" said
"But Nebuchadnezzar fell, and so may they," growled the other to
himself. Jack overheard him.
"I say, my lord bishop," called he from the other end of the table.
"It is our English custom to let our guests be as rude as they
like; but perhaps your lordship will hint to these two friars, that
if they wish to keep whole skins, they will keep civil tongues."
"Be silent, asses! mules!" shouted the bishop, whose spirits were
improving over the wine, who are you, that you cannot eat dirt as
well as your betters?"
"Well spoken, my lord. Here's the health of our saintly and
venerable guest," said Cary: while the commandant whispered to
Amyas, "Fat old tyrant! I hope you have found his money--for I am
sure he has some on board, and I should be loath that you lost the
advantage of it."
"I shall have to say a few words to you about that money this
morning, commandant: by the by, they had better be said now. My
lord bishop, do you know that had we not taken this ship when we
did, you had lost not merely money, as you have now, but life
"Money? I had none to lose! Life?--what do you mean?" asked the
bishop, turning very pale.
"This, sir. That it ill befits one to lie, whose throat has been
saved from the assassin's knife but four hours since. When we
entered the stern-gallery, we found two persons, now on board this
ship, in the very act, sir, and article, of cutting your sinful
throat, that they might rob you of the casket which lay beneath
your pillow. A moment more, and you were dead. We seized and
bound them, and so saved your life. Is that plain, sir?"
The bishop looked steadfastly and stupidly into Amyas's face,
heaved a deep sigh, and gradually sank back in his chair, dropping
the glass from his hand.
"He is in a fit! Call in the surgeon! Run!" and up jumped kind-
hearted Jack, and brought in the surgeon of the galleon.
"Is this possible, senor?" asked the commandant.
"It is true. Door, there! Evans! go and bring in that rascal whom
we left bound in his cabin!"
Evans went, and the commandant continued--
"But the stern-gallery? How, in the name of all witches and
miracles, came your valor thither?"
"Simply enough, and owing neither to witch nor miracle. The night
before last we passed the mouth of the bay in our two canoes, which
we had lashed together after the fashion I had seen in the
Moluccas, to keep them afloat in the surf. We had scraped the
canoes bright the day before, and rubbed them with white clay, that
they might be invisible at night; and so we got safely to the Morro
Grande, passing within half a mile of your ship."
"Oh! my scoundrels of sentinels!"
"We landed at the back of the Morro, and lay there all day, being
purposed to do that which, with your pardon, we have done. We took
our sails of Indian cloth, whitened them likewise with clay which
we had brought with us from the river (expecting to find a Spanish
ship as we went along the coast, and determined to attempt her, or
die with honor), and laid them over us on the canoes, paddling from
underneath them. So that, had your sentinels been awake, they
would have hardly made us out, till we were close on board. We had
provided ourselves, instead of ladders, with bamboos rigged with
cross-pieces, and a hook of strong wood at the top of each; they
hang at your stern-gallery now. And the rest of the tale I need
not tell you."
The commandant rose in his courtly Spanish way,--
"Your admirable story, senor, proves to me how truly your nation,
while it has yet, and I trust will ever have, to dispute the palm
of valor with our own, is famed throughout the world for ingenuity,
and for daring beyond that of mortal man. You have succeeded,
valiant captain, because you have deserved to succeed; and it is no
shame to me to succumb to enemies who have united the cunning of
the serpent with the valor of the lion. Senor, I feel as proud of
becoming your guest as I should have been proud, under a happier
star, of becoming your host."
"You are, like your nation, only too generous, senor. But what
noise is that outside? Cary, go and see."
But ere Cary could reach the door, it was opened; and Evans
presented himself with a terrified face.
"Here's villainy, sir! The Don's murdered, and cold; the Indian
lass fled; and as we searched the ship for her, we found an
Englishwoman, as I'm a sinful man!--and a shocking sight she is to
"An Englishwoman?" cried all three, springing forward.
"Bring her in!" said Amyas, turning very pale; and as he spoke, Yeo
and another led into the cabin a figure scarcely human.
An elderly woman, dressed in the yellow "San Benito" of the
Inquisition, with ragged gray locks hanging about a countenance
distorted by suffering and shrunk by famine. Painfully, as one
unaccustomed to the light, she peered and blinked round her. Her
fallen lip gave her a half-idiotic expression; and yet there was an
uneasy twinkle in the eye, as of boundless terror and suspicion.
She lifted up her fettered wrist to shade her face; and as she did
so, disclosed a line of fearful scars upon her skinny arm.
"Look there, sirs!" said Yeo, pointing to them with a stern smile.
"Here's some of these Popish gentry's handiwork. I know well
enough how those marks came;" and he pointed to the similar scars
on his own wrist.
The commandant, as well as the Englishmen, recoiled with horror.
"Holy Virgin! what wretch is this on board my ship? Bishop, is
this the prisoner whom you sent on board?"
The bishop, who had been slowly recovering his senses, looked at
her a moment; and then thrusting his chair back, crossed himself,
and almost screamed, "Malefica! Malefica! Who brought her here?
Turn her away, gentlemen; turn her eye away; she will bewitch,
fascinate"--and he began muttering prayers.
Amyas seized him by the shoulder, and shook him on to his legs.
"Swine! who is this? Wake up, coward, and tell me, or I will cut
But ere the bishop could answer, the woman uttered a wild shriek,
and pointing to the taller of the two monks, cowered behind Yeo.
"He here?" cried she, in broken Spanish. "Take me away! I will
tell you no more. I have told you all, and lies enough beside.
Oh! why is he come again? Did they not say that I should have no
The monk turned pale: but like a wild beast at bay, glared firmly
round on the whole company; and then, fixing his dark eyes full on
the woman, he bade her be silent so sternly, that she shrank down
like a beaten hound.
"Silence, dog!" said Will Cary, whose blood was up, and followed
his words with a blow on the monk's mouth, which silenced him
"Don't be afraid, good woman, but speak English. We are all
English here, and Protestants too. Tell us what they have done for
"Another trap! another trap!" cried she, in a strong Devonshire
accent. "You be no English! You want to make me lie again, and
then torment me. Oh! wretched, wretched that I am!" cried she,
bursting into tears. "Whom should I trust? Not myself: no, nor
God; for I have denied Him! O Lord! O Lord!"
Amyas stood silent with fear and horror; some instinct told him
that he was on the point of hearing news for which he feared to
ask. But Jack spoke--
"My dear soul! my dear soul! don't you be afraid; and the Lord will
stand by you, if you will but tell the truth. We are all
Englishmen, and men of Devon, as you seem to be by your speech; and
this ship is ours; and the pope himself sha'n't touch you."
"Devon?" she said doubtingly; "Devon! Whence, then?"
"Bideford men. This is Mr. Will Cary, to Clovelly. If you are a
Devon woman, you've heard tell of the Carys, to be sure."
The woman made a rush forward, and threw her fettered arms round
"Oh, Mr. Cary, my dear life! Mr. Cary! and so you be! Oh, dear
soul alive! but you're burnt so brown, and I be 'most blind with
misery. Oh, who ever sent you here, my dear Mr. Will, then, to
save a poor wretch from the pit?"
"Who on earth are you?"
"Lucy Passmore, the white witch to Welcombe. Don't you mind Lucy
Passmore, as charmed your warts for you when you was a boy?"
"Lucy Passmore!" almost shrieked all three friends. "She that went
"Yes! she that sold her own soul, and persuaded that dear saint to
sell hers; she that did the devil's work, and has taken the devil's
wages;--after this fashion!" and she held up her scarred wrists
"Where is Dona de--Rose Salterne?" shouted Will and Jack.
"Where is my brother Frank?" shouted Amyas.
"Dead, dead, dead!"
"I knew it," said Amyas, sitting down again calmly.
"How did she die?"
"The Inquisition--he!" pointing to the monk. "Ask him--he betrayed
her to her death. And ask him!" pointing to the bishop; "he sat by
her and saw her die."
"Woman, you rave!" said the bishop, getting up with a terrified
air, and moving as far as possible from Amyas.
"How did my brother die, Lucy?" asked Amyas, still calmly.
"Who be you, sir?"
A gleam of hope flashed across Amyas--she had not answered his
"I am Amyas Leigh of Burrough. Do you know aught of my brother
Frank, who was lost at La Guayra?"
"Mr. Amyas! Heaven forgive me that I did not know the bigness of
you. Your brother, sir, died like a gentleman as he was."
"But how?" gasped Amyas.
"Burned with her, sir!"
"Is this true, sir?" said Amyas, turning to the bishop, with a very
"I, sir?" stammered he, in panting haste. "I had nothing to do--I
was compelled in my office of bishop to be an unwilling spectator--
the secular arm, sir; I could not interfere with that--any more
than I can with the Holy Office. I do not belong to it--ask that
gentleman--sir! Saints and angels, sir! what are you going to do?"
shrieked he, as Amyas laid a heavy hand upon his shoulder, and
began to lead him towards the door.
"Hang you!" said Amyas. "If I had been a Spaniard and a priest
like yourself, I should have burnt you alive."
"Hang me?" shrieked the wretched old Balaam; and burst into abject
howls for mercy.
"Take the dark monk, Yeo, and hang him too. Lucy Passmore, do you
know that fellow also?"
"No, sir," said Lucy.
"Lucky for you, Fray Gerundio," said Will Cary; while the good
friar hid his face in his hands, and burst into tears. Lucky it
was for him, indeed; for he had been a pitying spectator of the
tragedy. "Ah!" thought he, "if life in this mad and sinful world
be a reward, perhaps this escape is vouchsafed to me for having
pleaded the cause of the poor Indian!"
But the bishop shrieked on.
"Oh! not yet. An hour, only an hour! I am not fit to die."
"That is no concern of mine," said Amyas. "I only know that you
are not fit to live."
"Let us at least make our peace with God," said the dark monk.
"Hound! if your saints can really smuggle you up the back-stairs to
heaven, they will do it without five minutes' more coaxing and
Fray Gerundio and the condemned man alike stopped their ears at the
"Oh, Fray Gerundio!" screamed the bishop, "pray for me. I have
treated you like a beast. Oh, Fray, Fray!"
"Oh, my lord! my lord!" said the good man, as with tears streaming
down his face he followed his shrieking and struggling diocesan up
the stairs, "who am I? Ask no pardon of me. Ask pardon of God for
all your sins against the poor innocent savages, when you saw your
harmless sheep butchered year after year, and yet never lifted up
your voice to save the flock which God had committed to you. Oh,
confess that, my lord! confess it ere it be too late!"
"I will confess all about the Indians, and the gold, and Tita too,
Fray; peccavi, peccavi--only five minutes, senors, five little
minutes' grace, while I confess to the good Fray!"--and he
grovelled on the deck.
"I will have no such mummery where I command," said Amyas, sternly.
"I will be no accomplice in cheating Satan of his due."
"If you will confess," said Brimblecombe, whose heart was melting
fast, "confess to the Lord, and He will forgive you. Even at the
last moment mercy is open. Is it not, Fray Gerundio?"
"It is, senor; it is, my lord," said Gerundio; but the bishop only
clasped his hands over his head.
"Then I am undone! All my money is stolen! Not a farthing left to
buy masses for my poor soul! And no absolution, no viaticum, nor
anything! I die like a dog and am damned!"
"Clear away that running rigging!" said Amyas, while the dark
Dominican stood perfectly collected, with something of a smile of
pity at the miserable bishop. A man accustomed to cruelty, and
firm in his fanaticism, he was as ready to endure suffering as to
inflict it; repeating to himself the necessary prayers, he called
Fray Gerundio to witness that he died, however unworthy, a martyr,
in charity with all men, and in the communion of the Holy Catholic
Church; and then, as he fitted the cord to his own neck, gave Fray
Gerundio various petty commissions about his sister and her
children, and a little vineyard far away upon the sunny slopes of
Castile; and so died, with a "Domine, in manus tuas," like a
valiant man of Spain.
Amyas stood long in solemn silence, watching the two corpses
dangling above his head. At last he drew a long breath, as if a
load was taken off his heart.
Suddenly he looked round to his men, who were watching eagerly to
know what he would have done next.
"Hearken to me, my masters all, and may God hearken too, and do so
to me, and more also, if, as long as I have eyes to see a Spaniard,
and hands to hew him down, I do any other thing than hunt down that
accursed nation day and night, and avenge all the innocent blood
which has been shed by them since the day in which King Ferdinand
drove out the Moors!"
"Amen!" said Salvation Yeo. "I need not to swear that oath, for I
have sworn it long ago, and kept it. Will your honor have us kill
the rest of the idolaters?"
"God forbid!" said Cary. "You would not do that, Amyas?"
"No; we will spare them. God has shown us a great mercy this day,
and we must be merciful in it. We will land them at Cabo Velo.
But henceforth till I die no quarter to a Spaniard."
"Amen!" said Yeo.
Amyas's whole countenance had changed in the last half-hour. He
seemed to have grown years older. His brow was wrinkled, his lip
compressed, his eyes full of a terrible stony calm, as of one who
had formed a great and dreadful purpose, and yet for that very
reason could afford to be quiet under the burden of it, even
cheerful; and when he returned to the cabin he bowed courteously to
the commandant, begged pardon of him for having played the host so
ill, and entreated him to finish his breakfast.
"But, senor--is it possible? Is his holiness dead?"
"He is hanged and dead, senor. I would have hanged, could I have
caught them, every living thing which was present at my brother's
death, even to the very flies upon the wall. No more words, senor;
your conscience tells you that I am just."
"Senor," said the commandant--"one word--I trust there are no
listeners--none of my crew, I mean; but I must exculpate myself in
"Walk out, then, into the gallery with me."
"To tell you the truth, senor--I trust in Heaven no one overhears.--
You are just. This Inquisition is the curse of us, the weight
which is crushing out the very life of Spain. No man dares speak.
No man dares trust his neighbor, no, not his child, or the wife of
his bosom. It avails nothing to be a good Catholic, as I trust I
am," and he crossed himself, "when any villain whom you may offend,
any unnatural son or wife who wishes to be rid of you, has but to
hint heresy against you, and you vanish into the Holy Office--and
then God have mercy on you, for man has none. Noble ladies of my
family, sir, have vanished thither, carried off by night, we know
not why; we dare not ask why. To expostulate, even to inquire,
would have been to share their fate. There is one now, senor--
Heaven alone knows whether she is alive or dead!--It was nine years
since, and we have never heard; and we shall never hear."
And the commandant's face worked frightfully.
"She was my sister, senor!"
"Heavens! sir, and have you not avenged her?"
"On churchmen, senor, and I a Catholic? To be burned at the stake
in this life, and after that to all eternity beside? Even a
Spaniard dare not face that. Beside, sir, the mob like this
Inquisition, and an Auto-da-fe is even better sport to them than a
bull-fight. They would be the first to tear a man in pieces who
dare touch an Inquisitor. Sir, may all the saints in heaven obtain
me forgiveness for my blasphemy, but when I saw you just now
fearing those churchmen no more than you feared me, I longed,
sinner that I am, to be a heretic like you."
"It will not take long to make a brave and wise gentleman who has
suffered such things as you have, a heretic, as you call it--a free
Christian man, as we call it."
"Tempt me not, sir!" said the poor man, crossing himself fervently.
"Let us say no more. Obedience is my duty; and for the rest the
Church must decide, according to her infallible authority--for I am
a good Catholic, senor, the best of Catholics, though a great
sinner.--I trust no one has overheard us!"
Amyas left him with a smile of pity, and went to look for Lucy
Passmore, whom the sailors were nursing and feeding, while
Ayacanora watched them with a puzzled face.
"I will talk to you when you are better, Lucy," said he, taking her
hand. "Now you must eat and drink, and forget all among us lads of
"Oh, dear blessed sir, and you will send Sir John to pray with me?
For I turned, sir, I turned: but I could not help it--I could not
abear the torments: but she bore them, sweet angel--and more than I
did. Oh, dear me!"
"Lucy, I am not fit now to hear more. You shall tell me all to-
morrow;" and he turned away.
"Why do you take her hand?" said Ayacanora, half-scornfully. "She
is old, and ugly, and dirty."
"She is an Englishwoman, child, and a martyr, poor thing; and I
would nurse her as I would my own mother."
"Why don't you make me an Englishwoman, and a martyr? I could
learn how to do anything that that old hag could do!"
"Instead of calling her names, go and tend her; that would be much
fitter work for a woman than fighting among men."
Ayacanora darted from him, thrust the sailors aside, and took
possession of Lucy Passmore.
"Where shall I put her?" asked she of Amyas, without looking up.
"In the best cabin; and let her be served like a queen, lads."
"No one shall touch her but me;" and taking up the withered frame
in her arms, as if it were a doll, Ayacanora walked off with her in
triumph, telling the men to go and mind the ship.
"The girl is mad," said one.
"Mad or not, she has an eye to our captain," said another.
"And where's the man that would behave to the poor wild thing as he
"Sir Francis Drake would, from whom he got his lesson. Do you mind
his putting the negro lass ashore after he found out about--"
"Hush! Bygones be bygones, and those that did it are in their
graves long ago. But it was too hard of him on the poor thing."
"If he had not got rid of her, there would have been more throats
than one cut about the lass, that's all I know," said another; "and
so there would have been about this one before now, if the captain
wasn't a born angel out of heaven, and the lieutenant no less."
"Well, I suppose we may get a whet by now. I wonder if these Dons
have any beer aboard."
"Naught but grape vinegar, which fools call wine, I'll warrant."
"There was better than vinegar on the table in there just now."
"Ah," said one grumbler of true English breed, "but that's not for
poor fellows like we."
"Don't lie, Tom Evans; you never were given that way yet, and I
don't think the trade will suit a good fellow like you."
The whole party stared; for the speaker of these words was none
other than Amyas himself, who had rejoined them, a bottle in each
"No, Tom Evans. It has been share and share alike for three years,
and bravely you have all held up, and share alike it shall be now,
and here's the handsel of it. We'll serve out the good wine fairly
all round as long as it lasts, and then take to the bad: but mind
you don't get drunk, my sons, for we are much too short of hands to
have any stout fellows lying about the scuppers."
But what was the story of the intendant's being murdered?
Brimblecombe had seen him run into a neighboring cabin; and when
the door of it was opened, there was the culprit, but dead and
cold, with a deep knife-wound in his side. Who could have done the
deed? It must have been Tita, whom Brimblecombe had seen loose,
and trying to free her lover.
The ship was searched from stem to stern: but no Tita. The mystery
was never explained. That she had leapt overboard, and tried to
swim ashore, none doubted: but whether she had reached it, who
could tell? One thing was strange; that not only had she carried
off no treasure with her, but that the gold ornaments which she had
worn the night before, lay together in a heap on the table, close
by the murdered man. Had she wished to rid herself of everything
which had belonged to her tyrants?
The commandant heard the whole story thoughtfully.
"Wretched man!" said he, "and he has a wife and children in
"A wife and children?" said Amyas; "and I heard him promise
marriage to the Indian girl."
That was the only hint which gave a reason for his death. What if,
in the terror of discovery and capture, the scoundrel had dropped
any self-condemning words about his marriage, any prayer for those
whom he had left behind, and the Indian had overheard them? It
might be so; at least sin had brought its own punishment.
And so that wild night and day subsided. The prisoners were kindly
used enough; for the Englishman, free from any petty love of
tormenting, knows no mean between killing a foe outright, and
treating him as a brother; and when, two days afterwards, they were
sent ashore in the canoes off Cabo Velo, captives and captors shook
hands all round; and Amyas, after returning the commandant his
sword, and presenting him with a case of the bishop's wine, bowed
him courteously over the side.
"I trust that you will pay us another visit, valiant senor
capitan," said the Spaniard, bowing and smiling.
"I should most gladly accept your invitation, illustrious senor
commandant; but as I have vowed henceforth, whenever I shall meet a
Spaniard, neither to give nor take quarter, I trust that our paths
to glory may lie in different directions."
The commandant shrugged his shoulders; the ship was put again
before the wind, and as the shores of the Main faded lower and
dimmer behind her, a mighty cheer broke from all on board; and for
once the cry from every mouth was Eastward-ho!
Scrap by scrap, as weakness and confusion of intellect permitted
her, Lucy Passmore told her story. It was a simple one after all,
and Amyas might almost have guessed it for himself. Rose had not
yielded to the Spaniard without a struggle. He had visited her two
or three times at Lucy's house (how he found out Lucy's existence
she herself could never tell, unless from the Jesuits) before she
agreed to go with him. He had gained Lucy to his side by huge
promises of Indian gold; and, in fine, they had gone to Lundy,
where the lovers were married by a priest, who was none other, Lucy
would swear, than the shorter and stouter of the two who had
carried off her husband and his boat--in a word, Father Parsons.
Amyas gnashed his teeth at the thought that he had had Parsons in
his power at Brenttor down, and let him go. It was a fresh proof
to him that Heaven's vengeance was upon him for letting one of its
enemies escape. Though what good to Rose or Frank the hanging of
Parsons would have been, I, for my part, cannot see.
But when had Eustace been at Lundy? Lucy could throw no light on
that matter. It was evidently some by-thread in the huge spider's
web of Jesuit intrigue, which was, perhaps, not worth knowing after
They sailed from Lundy in a Portugal ship, were at Lisbon a few
days (during which Rose and Lucy remained on board), and then away
for the West Indies; while all went merry as a marriage bell.
"Sir, he would have kissed the dust off her dear feet, till that
evil eye of Mr. Eustace's came, no one knew how or whence." And,
from that time, all went wrong. Eustace got power over Don Guzman,
whether by threatening that the marriage should be dissolved,
whether by working on his superstitious scruples about leaving his
wife still a heretic, or whether (and this last Lucy much
suspected) by insinuations that her heart was still at home in
England, and that she was longing for Amyas and his ship to come
and take her home again; the house soon became a den of misery, and
Eustace the presiding evil genius. Don Guzman had even commanded
him to leave it--and he went; but, somehow, within a week he was
there again, in greater favor than ever. Then came preparations to
meet the English, and high words about it between Don Guzman and
Rose; till a few days before Amyas's arrival, the Don had dashed
out of the house in a fury, saying openly that she preferred these
Lutheran dogs to him, and that he would have their hearts' blood
first, and hers after.
The rest was soon told. Amyas knew but too much of it already.
The very morning after he had gone up to the villa, Lucy and her
mistress were taken (they knew not by whom) down to the quay, in
the name of the Holy Office, and shipped off to Cartagena.
There they were examined, and confronted on a charge of witchcraft,
which the wretched Lucy could not well deny. She was tortured to
make her inculpate Rose; and what she said, or did not say, under
the torture, the poor wretch could never tell. She recanted, and
became a Romanist; Rose remained firm. Three weeks afterwards,
they were brought out to an Auto-da-fe; and there, for the first
time, Lucy saw Frank walking, dressed in a San Benito, in that
ghastly procession. Lucy was adjudged to receive publicly two
hundred stripes, and to be sent to "The Holy House" at Seville to
perpetual prison. Frank and Rose, with a renegade Jew, and a negro
who had been convicted of practising "Obi," were sentenced to death
as impenitent, and delivered over to the secular arm, with prayers
that there might be no shedding of blood. In compliance with which
request, the Jew and the negro were burnt at one stake, Frank and
Rose at another. She thought they did not feel it more than twenty
minutes. They were both very bold and steadfast, and held each
other's hand (that she would swear to) to the very last.
And so ended Lucy Passmore's story. And if Amyas Leigh, after he
had heard it, vowed afresh to give no quarter to Spaniards wherever
he should find them, who can wonder, even if they blame?
HOW SALVATION YEO FOUND HIS LITTLE MAID AGAIN
"All precious things, discover'd late,
To them who seek them issue forth;
For love in sequel works with fate,
And draws the veil from hidden worth."
The Sleeping Beauty.
And so Ayacanora took up her abode in Lucy's cabin, as a regularly
accredited member of the crew.
But a most troublesome member; for now began in her that perilous
crisis which seems to endanger the bodies and souls of all savages
and savage tribes, when they first mingle with the white man; that
crisis which, a few years afterwards, began to hasten the
extermination of the North American tribes; and had it not been for
the admirable good sense and constancy of Amyas, Ayacanora might
have ended even more miserably than did the far-famed Pocahontas,
daughter of the Virginian king; who, after having been received at
Court by the old pedant James the First, with the honors of a
sister sovereign, and having become the reputed ancestress of more
than one ancient Virginian family, ended her days in wretchedness
in some Wapping garret.
For the mind of the savage, crushed by the sight of the white man's
superior skill, and wealth, and wisdom, loses at first its self-
respect; while his body, pampered with easily obtained luxuries,
instead of having to win the necessaries of life by heavy toil,
loses its self-helpfulness; and with self-respect and self-help
vanish all the savage virtues, few and flimsy as they are, and the
downward road toward begging and stealing, sottishness and
idleness, is easy, if not sure.
And down that road, it really seemed at first, that poor Ayacanora
was walking fast. For the warrior-prophetess of the Omaguas soon
became, to all appearance, nothing but a very naughty child; and
the Diana of the Meta, after she had satisfied her simple wonder at
the great floating house by rambling from deck to deck, and peeping
into every cupboard and cranny, manifested a great propensity to
steal and hide (she was too proud or too shy to ask for) every
trumpery which smit her fancy; and when Amyas forbade her to take
anything without leave, threatened to drown herself, and went off
and sulked all day in her cabin. Nevertheless, she obeyed him,
except in the matter of sweet things. Perhaps she craved naturally
for the vegetable food of her native forests; at all events the
bishop's stores of fruit and sweetmeats diminished rapidly; and
what was worse, so did the sweet Spanish wine which Amyas had set
apart for poor Lucy's daily cordial. Whereon another severe
lecture, in which Amyas told her how mean it was to rob poor sick
Lucy; whereat she, as usual, threatened to drown herself; and was
running upon deck to do it, when Amyas caught her and forgave her.
On which a violent fit of crying, and great penitence and promises;
and a week after, Amyas found that she had cheated Satan and her
own conscience by tormenting the Portuguese steward into giving her
some other wine instead: but luckily for her, she found Amyas's
warnings about wine making her mad so far fulfilled, that she did
several foolish things one evening, and had a bad headache next
morning; so the murder was out, and Amyas ordered the steward up
for a sound flogging; but Ayacanora, honorably enough, not only
begged him off, but offered to be whipped instead of him,
confessing that the poor fellow spoke truly when he swore that she
had threatened to kill him, and that he had given her the wine in
bodily fear for his life.
However, her own headache and Amyas's cold looks were lesson
enough, and after another attempt to drown herself, the wilful
beauty settled down for awhile; and what was better, could hardly
be persuaded, thenceforth to her dying day, to touch fermented
But, in the meanwhile, poor Amyas had many a brains-beating as to
how he was to tame a lady who, on the least provocation, took
refuge in suicide. Punish her he dared not, even if he had the
heart. And as for putting her ashore, he had an instinct, and
surely not a superstitious one, that her strange affection for the
English was not unsent by Heaven, and that God had committed her
into his charge, and that He would require an account at his hands
of the soul of that fair lost lamb.
So, almost at his wits' end, he prayed to God, good simple fellow,
and that many a time, to show him what he should do with her before
she killed either herself, or what was just as likely, one of the
crew; and it seemed best to him to make Parson Jack teach her the
rudiments of Christianity, that she might be baptized in due time
when they got home to England.
But here arose a fresh trouble--for she roundly refused to learn of
Jack, or of any one but Amyas himself; while he had many a good
reason for refusing the office of schoolmaster; so, for a week or
two more, Ayacanora remained untaught, save in the English tongue,
which she picked up with marvellous rapidity.
And next, as if troubles would never end, she took a violent
dislike, not only to John Brimblecombe, whose gait and voice she
openly mimicked for the edification of the men; but also to Will
Cary, whom she never allowed to speak to her or approach her.
Perhaps she was jealous of his intimacy with Amyas; or perhaps,
with the subtle instinct of a woman, she knew that he was the only
other man on board who might dare to make love to her (though Will,
to do him justice, was as guiltless of any such intention as Amyas