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Westward Ho! by Charles Kingsley

Part 15 out of 15

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the chase as long as there was a Spanish flag in English seas."

And every soul on board replied, that they would follow Sir Amyas
Leigh around the world.

There is no need for me to detail every incident of that long and
weary chase; how they found the Sta. Catharina, attacked her, and
had to sheer off, she being rescued by the rest; how when Medina's
squadron left the crippled ships behind, they were all but taken or
sunk, by thrusting into the midst of the Spanish fleet to prevent
her escaping with Medina; how they crippled her, so that she could
not beat to windward out into the ocean, but was fain to run south,
past the Orkneys, and down through the Minch, between Cape Wrath
and Lewis; how the younger hands were ready to mutiny, because
Amyas, in his stubborn haste, ran past two or three noble prizes
which were all but disabled, among others one of the great
galliasses, and the two great Venetians, La Ratta and La Belanzara--
which were afterwards, with more than thirty other vessels,
wrecked on the west coast of Ireland; how he got fresh water, in
spite of certain "Hebridean Scots" of Skye, who, after reviling him
in an unknown tongue, fought with him awhile, and then embraced him
and his men with howls of affection, and were not much more
decently clad, nor more civilized, than his old friends of
California; how he pacified his men by letting them pick the bones
of a great Venetian which was going on shore upon Islay (by which
they got booty enough to repay them for the whole voyage), and
offended them again by refusing to land and plunder two great
Spanish wrecks on the Mull of Cantire (whose crews, by the by,
James tried to smuggle off secretly into Spain in ships of his own,
wishing to play, as usual, both sides of the game at once; but the
Spaniards were stopped at Yarmouth till the council's pleasure was
known--which was, of course, to let the poor wretches go on their
way, and be hanged elsewhere); how they passed a strange island,
half black, half white, which the wild people called Raghary, but
Cary christened it "the drowned magpie;" how the Sta. Catharina was
near lost on the Isle of Man, and then put into Castleton (where
the Manx-men slew a whole boat's-crew with their arrows), and then
put out again, when Amyas fought with her a whole day, and shot
away her mainyard; how the Spaniard blundered down the coast of
Wales, not knowing whither he went; how they were both nearly lost
on Holyhead, and again on Bardsey Island; how they got on a lee
shore in Cardigan Bay, before a heavy westerly gale, and the Sta.
Catharina ran aground on Sarn David, one of those strange
subaqueous pebble-dykes which are said to be the remnants of the
lost land of Gwalior, destroyed by the carelessness of Prince
Seithenin the drunkard, at whose name each loyal Welshman spits;
how she got off again at the rising of the tide, and fought with
Amyas a fourth time; how the wind changed, and she got round St.
David's Head;--these, and many more moving incidents of this
eventful voyage, I must pass over without details, and go on to the
end; for it is time that the end should come.

It was now the sixteenth day of the chase. They had seen, the
evening before, St. David's Head, and then the Welsh coast round
Milford Haven, looming out black and sharp before the blaze of the
inland thunder-storm; and it had lightened all round them during
the fore part of the night, upon a light south-western breeze.

In vain they had strained their eyes through the darkness, to
catch, by the fitful glare of the flashes, the tall masts of the
Spaniard. Of one thing at least they were certain, that with the
wind as it was, she could not have gone far to the westward; and to
attempt to pass them again, and go northward, was more than she
dare do. She was probably lying-to ahead of them, perhaps between
them and the land; and when, a little after midnight, the wind
chopped up to the west, and blew stiffly till day break, they felt
sure that, unless she had attempted the desperate expedient of
running past them, they had her safe in the mouth of the Bristol
Channel. Slowly and wearily broke the dawn, on such a day as often
follows heavy thunder; a sunless, drizzly day, roofed with low
dingy cloud, barred and netted, and festooned with black, a sign
that the storm is only taking breath awhile before it bursts again;
while all the narrow horizon is dim and spongy with vapor drifting
before a chilly breeze. As the day went on, the breeze died down,
and the sea fell to a long glassy foam-flecked roll, while overhead
brooded the inky sky, and round them the leaden mist shut out alike
the shore and the chase.

Amyas paced the sloppy deck fretfully and fiercely. He knew that
the Spaniard could not escape; but he cursed every moment which
lingered between him and that one great revenge which blackened all
his soul. The men sate sulkily about the deck, and whistled for a
wind; the sails flapped idly against the masts; and the ship rolled
in the long troughs of the sea, till her yard-arms almost dipped
right and left.

"Take care of those guns. You will have something loose next,"
growled Amyas.

"We will take care of the guns, if the Lord will take care of the
wind," said Yeo.

"We shall have plenty before night," said Cary, "and thunder too."

"So much the better," said Amyas. "It may roar till it splits the
heavens, if it does but let me get my work done."

"He's not far off, I warrant," said Cary. "One lift of the cloud,
and we should see him."

"To windward of us, as likely as not," said Amyas. "The devil
fights for him, I believe. To have been on his heels sixteen days,
and not sent this through him yet!" And he shook his sword

So the morning wore away, without a sign of living thing, not even
a passing gull; and the black melancholy of the heaven reflected
itself in the black melancholy of Amyas. Was he to lose his prey
after all? The thought made him shudder with rage and
disappointment. It was intolerable. Anything but that.

"No, God!" he cried, "let me but once feel this in his accursed
heart, and then--strike me dead, if Thou wilt!"

"The Lord have mercy on us," cried John Brimblecombe. "What have
you said?"

"What is that to you, sir? There, they are piping to dinner. Go
down. I shall not come."

And Jack went down, and talked in a half-terrified whisper of
Amyas's ominous words.

All thought that they portended some bad luck, except old Yeo.

"Well, Sir John," said he, "and why not? What better can the Lord
do for a man, than take him home when he has done his work? Our
captain is wilful and spiteful, and must needs kill his man
himself; while for me, I don't care how the Don goes, provided he
does go. I owe him no grudge, nor any man. May the Lord give him
repentance, and forgive him all his sins: but if I could but see
him once safe ashore, as he may be ere nightfall, on the Mortestone
or the back of Lundy, I would say, 'Lord, now lettest Thou Thy
servant depart in peace,' even if it were the lightning which was
sent to fetch me."

"But, master Yeo, a sudden death?"

"And why not a sudden death, Sir John? Even fools long for a short
life and a merry one, and shall not the Lord's people pray for a
short death and a merry one? Let it come as it will to old Yeo.
Hark! there's the captain's voice!"

"Here she is!" thundered Amyas from the deck; and in an instant all
were scrambling up the hatchway as fast as the frantic rolling of
the ship would let them.

Yes. There she was. The cloud had lifted suddenly, and to the
south a ragged bore of blue sky let a long stream of sunshine down
on her tall masts and stately hull, as she lay rolling some four or
five miles to the eastward: but as for land, none was to be seen.

"There she is; and here we are," said Cary; "but where is here? and
where is there? How is the tide, master?"

"Running up Channel by this time, sir."

"What matters the tide?" said Amyas, devouring the ship with
terrible and cold blue eyes. "Can't we get at her?"

"Not unless some one jumps out and shoves behind," said Cary. "I
shall down again and finish that mackerel, if this roll has not
chucked it to the cockroaches under the table."

"Don't jest, Will! I can't stand it," said Amyas, in a voice which
quivered so much that Cary looked at him. His whole frame was
trembling like an aspen. Cary took his arm, and drew him aside.

"Dear old lad," said he, as they leaned over the bulwarks, "what is
this? You are not yourself, and have not been these four days."

"No. I am not Amyas Leigh. I am my brother's avenger. Do not
reason with me, Will: when it is over I shall be merry old Amyas
again," and he passed his hand over his brow.

"Do you believe," said he, after a moment, "that men can be
possessed by devils?"

"The Bible says so."

"If my cause were not a just one, I should fancy I had a devil in
me. My throat and heart are as hot as the pit. Would to God it
were done, for done it must be! Now go."

Cary went away with a shudder. As he passed down the hatchway he
looked back. Amyas had got the hone out of his pocket, and was
whetting away again at his sword-edge, as if there was some
dreadful doom on him, to whet, and whet forever.

The weary day wore on. The strip of blue sky was curtained over
again, and all was dismal as before, though it grew sultrier every
moment; and now and then a distant mutter shook the air to
westward. Nothing could be done to lessen the distance between the
ships, for the Vengeance had had all her boats carried away but
one, and that was much too small to tow her: and while the men went
down again to finish dinner, Amyas worked on at his sword, looking
up every now and then suddenly at the Spaniard, as if to satisfy
himself that it was not a vision which had vanished.

About two Yeo came up to him.

"He is ours safely now, sir. The tide has been running to the
eastward for this two hours."

"Safe as a fox in a trap. Satan himself cannot take him from us!"

"But God may," said Brimblecombe, simply.

"Who spoke to you, sir? If I thought that He-- There comes the
thunder at last!"

And as he spoke an angry growl from the westward heavens seemed to
answer his wild words, and rolled and loudened nearer and nearer,
till right over their heads it crashed against some cloud-cliff far
above, and all was still.

Each man looked in the other's face: but Amyas was unmoved.

"The storm is coming," said he, "and the wind in it. It will be
Eastward-ho now, for once, my merry men all!"

"Eastward-ho never brought us luck," said Jack in an undertone to
Cary. But by this time all eyes were turned to the north-west,
where a black line along the horizon began to define the boundary
of sea and air, till now all dim in mist.

"There comes the breeze."

"And there the storm, too."

And with that strangely accelerating pace which some storms seem to
possess, the thunder, which had been growling slow and seldom far
away, now rang peal on peal along the cloudy floor above their

"Here comes the breeze. Round with the yards, or we shall be taken

The yards creaked round; the sea grew crisp around them; the hot
air swept their cheeks, tightened every rope, filled every sail,
bent her over. A cheer burst from the men as the helm went up, and
they staggered away before the wind, right down upon the Spaniard,
who lay still becalmed.

"There is more behind, Amyas," said Cary. "Shall we not shorten
sail a little?"

"No. Hold on every stitch," said Amyas. "Give me the helm, man.
Boatswain, pipe away to clear for fight."

It was done, and in ten minutes the men were all at quarters, while
the thunder rolled louder and louder overhead, and the breeze
freshened fast.

"The dog has it now. There he goes!" said Cary.

"Right before the wind. He has no liking to face us."

"He is running into the jaws of destruction," said Yeo. "An hour
more will send him either right up the Channel, or smack on shore

"There! he has put his helm down. I wonder if he sees land?"

"He is like a March hare beat out of his country," said Cary, "and
don't know whither to run next."

Cary was right. In ten minutes more the Spaniard fell off again,
and went away dead down wind, while the Vengeance gained on him
fast. After two hours more, the four miles had diminished to one,
while the lightning flashed nearer and nearer as the storm came up;
and from the vast mouth of a black cloud-arch poured so fierce a
breeze that Amyas yielded unwillingly to hints which were growing
into open murmurs, and bade shorten sail.

On they rushed with scarcely lessened speed, the black arch
following fast, curtained by the flat gray sheet of pouring rain,
before which the water was boiling in a long white line; while
every moment behind the watery veil, a keen blue spark leapt down
into the sea, or darted zigzag through the rain.

"We shall have it now, and with a vengeance; this will try your
tackle, master," said Cary.

The functionary answered with a shrug, and turned up the collar of
his rough frock, as the first drops flew stinging round his ears.
Another minute and the squall burst full upon them, in rain, which
cut like hail--hail which lashed the sea into froth, and wind which
whirled off the heads of the surges, and swept the waters into one
white seething waste. And above them, and behind them and before
them, the lightning leapt and ran, dazzling and blinding, while the
deep roar of the thunder was changed to sharp ear-piercing cracks.

"Get the arms and ammunition under cover, and then below with you
all," shouted Amyas from the helm.

"And heat the pokers in the galley fire," said Yeo, "to be ready if
the rain puts our linstocks out. I hope you'll let me stay on
deck, sir, in case--"

"I must have some one, and who better than you? Can you see the

No; she was wrapped in the gray whirlwind. She might be within
half a mile of them, for aught they could have seen of her.

And now Amyas and his old liegeman were alone. Neither spoke; each
knew the other's thoughts, and knew that they were his own. The
squall blew fiercer and fiercer, the rain poured heavier and
heavier. Where was the Spaniard?

"If he has laid-to, we may overshoot him, sir!"

"If he has tried to lay-to, he will not have a sail left in the
bolt-ropes, or perhaps a mast on deck. I know the stiff-neckedness
of those Spanish tubs. Hurrah! there he is, right on our larboard

There she was indeed, two musket-shots' off, staggering away with
canvas split and flying.

"He has been trying to hull, sir, and caught a buffet," said Yeo,
rubbing his hands. "What shall we do now?"

"Range alongside, if it blow live imps and witches, and try our
luck once more. Pah! how this lightning dazzles!"

On they swept, gaining fast on the Spaniard. "Call the men up, and
to quarters; the rain will be over in ten minutes."

Yeo ran forward to the gangway; and sprang back again, with a face
white and wild--

"Land right ahead! Port your helm, sir! For the love of God, port
your helm!"

Amyas, with the strength of a bull, jammed the helm down, while Yeo
shouted to the men below.

She swung round. The masts bent like whips; crack went the fore-
sail like a cannon. What matter? Within two hundred yards of them
was the Spaniard; in front of her, and above her, a huge dark bank
rose through the dense hail, and mingled with the clouds; and at
its foot, plainer every moment, pillars and spouts of leaping foam.

"What is it, Morte? Hartland?"

It might be anything for thirty miles.

"Lundy!" said Yeo. "The south end! I see the head of the Shutter
in the breakers! Hard a-port yet, and get her close-hauled as you
can, and the Lord may have mercy on us still! Look at the

Yes, look at the Spaniard!

On their left hand, as they broached-to, the wall of granite sloped
down from the clouds toward an isolated peak of rock, some two
hundred feet in height. Then a hundred yards of roaring breaker
upon a sunken shelf, across which the race of the tide poured like
a cataract; then, amid a column of salt smoke, the Shutter, like a
huge black fang, rose waiting for its prey; and between the Shutter
and the land, the great galleon loomed dimly through the storm.

He, too, had seen his danger, and tried to broach-to. But his
clumsy mass refused to obey the helm; he struggled a moment, half
hid in foam; fell away again, and rushed upon his doom.

"Lost! lost! lost!" cried Amyas madly, and throwing up his hands,
let go the tiller. Yeo caught it just in time.

"Sir! sir! What are you at? We shall clear the rock yet."

"Yes!" shouted Amyas, in his frenzy; "but he will not!"

Another minute. The galleon gave a sudden jar, and stopped. Then
one long heave and bound, as if to free herself. And then her bows
lighted clean upon the Shutter.

An awful silence fell on every English soul. They heard not the
roaring of wind and surge; they saw not the blinding flashes of the
lightning; but they heard one long ear-piercing wail to every saint
in heaven rise from five hundred human throats; they saw the mighty
ship heel over from the wind, and sweep headlong down the cataract
of the race, plunging her yards into the foam, and showing her
whole black side even to her keel, till she rolled clean over, and
vanished for ever and ever.

"Shame!" cried Amyas, hurling his sword far into the sea, "to lose
my right, my right! when it was in my very grasp! Unmerciful!"

A crack which rent the sky, and made the granite ring and quiver; a
bright world of flame, and then a blank of utter darkness, against
which stood out, glowing red-hot every mast, and sail, and rock,
and Salvation Yeo as he stood just in front of Amyas, the tiller in
his hand. All red-hot, transfigured into fire; and behind, the
black, black night.

. . . . . . .

A whisper, a rustling close beside him, and Brimblecombe's voice
said softly:

"Give him more wine, Will; his eyes are opening."

"Hey day?" said Amyas, faintly, "not past the Shutter yet! How
long she hangs in the wind!"

"We are long past the Shutter, Sir Amyas," said Brimblecombe.

"Are you mad? Cannot I trust my own eyes?"

There was no answer for awhile.

"We are past the Shutter, indeed," said Cary, very gently, "and
lying in the cove at Lundy."

"Will you tell me that that is not the Shutter, and that the
Devil's-limekiln, and that the cliff--that villain Spaniard only
gone--and that Yeo is not standing here by me, and Cary there
forward, and--why, by the by, where are you, Jack Brimblecombe, who
were talking to me this minute?"

"Oh, Sir Amyas Leigh, dear Sir Amyas Leigh, blubbered poor Jack,
"put out your hand, and feel where you are, and pray the Lord to
forgive you for your wilfulness!"

A great trembling fell upon Amyas Leigh; half fearfully he put out
his hand; he felt that he was in his hammock, with the deck beams
close above his head. The vision which had been left upon his eye-
balls vanished like a dream.

"What is this? I must be asleep? What has happened? Where am I?"

"In your cabin, Amyas," said Cary.

"What? And where is Yeo?"

"Yeo is gone where he longed to go, and as he longed to go. The
same flash which struck you down, struck him dead."

"Dead? Lightning? Any more hurt? I must go and see. Why, what
is this?" and Amyas passed his hand across his eyes. "It is all
dark--dark, as I live!" And he passed his hand over his eyes

There was another dead silence. Amyas broke it.

"Oh, God!" shrieked the great proud sea-captain, "Oh, God, I am
blind! blind! blind!" And writhing in his great horror, he called
to Cary to kill him and put him out of his misery, and then wailed
for his mother to come and help him, as if he had been a boy once
more; while Brimblecombe and Cary, and the sailors who crowded
round the cabin-door, wept as if they too had been boys once more.

Soon his fit of frenzy passed off, and he sank back exhausted.

They lifted him into their remaining boat, rowed him ashore,
carried him painfully up the hill to the old castle, and made a bed
for him on the floor, in the very room in which Don Guzman and Rose
Salterne had plighted their troth to each other, five wild years

Three miserable days were passed within that lonely tower. Amyas,
utterly unnerved by the horror of his misfortune, and by the over-
excitement of the last few weeks, was incessantly delirious; while
Cary, and Brimblecombe, and the men nursed him by turns, as sailors
and wives only can nurse; and listened with awe to his piteous
self-reproaches and entreaties to Heaven to remove that woe, which,
as he shrieked again and again, was a just judgment on him for his
wilfulness and ferocity. The surgeon talked, of course, learnedly
about melancholic humors, and his liver's being "adust by the over-
pungency of the animal spirits," and then fell back on the
universal panacea of blood-letting, which he effected with fear and
trembling during a short interval of prostration; encouraged by
which he attempted to administer a large bolus of aloes, was
knocked down for his pains, and then thought it better to leave
Nature to her own work. In the meanwhile, Cary had sent off one of
the island skiffs to Clovelly, with letters to his father, and to
Mrs. Leigh, entreating the latter to come off to the island: but
the heavy westerly winds made that as impossible as it was to move
Amyas on board, and the men had to do their best, and did it well

On the fourth day his raving ceased: but he was still too weak to
be moved. Toward noon, however, he called for food, ate a little,
and seemed revived.

"Will," he said, after awhile, "this room is as stifling as it is
dark. I feel as if I should be a sound man once more if I could
but get one snuff of the sea-breeze."

The surgeon shook his head at the notion of moving him: but Amyas
was peremptory.

"I am captain still, Tom Surgeon, and will sail for the Indies, if
I choose. Will Cary, Jack Brimblecombe, will you obey a blind

"What you will in reason," said they both at once.

"Then lead me out, my masters, and over the down to the south end.
To the point at the south end I must go; there is no other place
will suit."

And he rose firmly to his feet, and held out his hands for theirs.

"Let him have his humor," whispered Cary. "It may be the working
off of his madness."

"This sudden strength is a note of fresh fever, Mr. Lieutenant,"
said the surgeon, "and the rules of the art prescribe rather a
fresh blood-letting."

Amyas overheard the last word, and broke out:

"Thou pig-sticking Philistine, wilt thou make sport with blind
Samson? Come near me to let blood from my arm, and see if I do not
let blood from thy coxcomb. Catch him, Will, and bring him me

The surgeon vanished as the blind giant made a step forward; and
they set forth, Amyas walking slowly, but firmly, between his two

"Whither?" asked Cary.

"To the south end. The crag above the Devil's-limekiln. No other
place will suit."

Jack gave a murmur, and half-stopped, as a frightful suspicion
crossed him.

"That is a dangerous place!"

"What of that?" said Amyas, who caught his meaning in his tone.
"Dost think I am going to leap over cliff? I have not heart enough
for that. On, lads, and set me safe among the rocks."

So slowly, and painfully, they went on, while Amyas murmured to

"No, no other place will suit; I can see all thence."

So on they went to the point, where the cyclopean wall of granite
cliff which forms the western side of Lundy, ends sheer in a
precipice of some three hundred feet, topped by a pile of snow-
white rock, bespangled with golden lichens. As they approached, a
raven, who sat upon the topmost stone, black against the bright
blue sky, flapped lazily away, and sank down the abysses of the
cliff, as if he scented the corpses underneath the surge. Below
them from the Gull-rock rose a thousand birds, and filled the air
with sound; the choughs cackled, the hacklets wailed, the great
blackbacks laughed querulous defiance at the intruders, and a
single falcon, with an angry bark, dashed out from beneath their
feet, and hung poised high aloft, watching the sea-fowl which swung
slowly round and round below.

It was a glorious sight upon a glorious day. To the northward the
glens rushed down toward the cliff, crowned with gray crags, and
carpeted with purple heather and green fern; and from their feet
stretched away to the westward the sapphire rollers of the vast
Atlantic, crowned with a thousand crests of flying foam. On their
left hand, some ten miles to the south, stood out against the sky
the purple wall of Hartland cliffs, sinking lower and lower as they
trended away to the southward along the lonely ironbound shores of
Cornwall, until they faded, dim and blue, into the blue horizon
forty miles away.

The sky was flecked with clouds, which rushed toward them fast upon
the roaring south-west wind; and the warm ocean-breeze swept up the
cliffs, and whistled through the heather-bells, and howled in
cranny and in crag,

"Till the pillars and clefts of the granite
Rang like a God-swept lyre;"

while Amyas, a proud smile upon his lips, stood breasting that
genial stream of airy wine with swelling nostrils and fast-heaving
chest, and seemed to drink in life from every gust. All three were
silent for awhile; and Jack and Cary, gazing downward with delight
upon the glory and the grandeur of the sight, forgot for awhile
that their companion saw it not. Yet when they started sadly, and
looked into his face, did he not see it? So wide and eager were
his eyes, so bright and calm his face, that they fancied for an
instant that he was once more even as they.

A deep sigh undeceived them. "I know it is all here--the dear old
sea, where I would live and die. And my eyes feel for it; feel for
it--and cannot find it; never, never will find it again forever!
God's will be done!"

"Do you say that?" asked Brimblecombe, eagerly.

"Why should I not? Why have I been raving in hell-fire for I know
not how many days, but to find out that, John Brimblecombe, thou
better man than I?"

"Not that last: but Amen! Amen! and the Lord has indeed had mercy
upon thee!" said Jack, through his honest tears.

"Amen!" said Amyas. "Now set me where I can rest among the rocks
without fear of falling--for life is sweet still, even without
eyes, friends--and leave me to myself awhile."

It was no easy matter to find a safe place; for from the foot of
the crag the heathery turf slopes down all but upright, on one side
to a cliff which overhangs a shoreless cove of deep dark sea, and
on the other to an abyss even more hideous, where the solid rock
has sunk away, and opened inland in the hillside a smooth-walled
pit, some sixty feet square and some hundred and fifty in depth,
aptly known then as now, as the Devil's-limekiln; the mouth of
which, as old wives say, was once closed by the Shutter-rock
itself, till the fiend in malice hurled it into the sea, to be a
pest to mariners. A narrow and untrodden cavern at the bottom
connects it with the outer sea; they could even then hear the
mysterious thunder and gurgle of the surge in the subterranean
adit, as it rolled huge boulders to and fro in darkness, and forced
before it gusts of pent-up air. It was a spot to curdle weak
blood, and to make weak heads reel: but all the fitter on that
account for Amyas and his fancy.

"You can sit here as in an arm-chair," said Cary, helping him down
to one of those square natural seats so common in the granite tors.

"Good; now turn my face to the Shutter. Be sure and exact. So.
Do I face it full?"

"Full," said Cary.

"Then I need no eyes wherewith to see what is before me," said he,
with a sad smile. "I know every stone and every headland, and
every wave too, I may say, far beyond aught that eye can reach.
Now go, and leave me alone with God and with the dead!"

They retired a little space and watched him. He never stirred for
many minutes; then leaned his elbows on his knees, and his head
upon his hands, and so was still again. He remained so long thus,
that the pair became anxious, and went towards him. He was asleep,
and breathing quick and heavily.

"He will take a fever," said Brimblecombe, "if he sleeps much
longer with his head down in the sunshine."

"We must wake him gently if we wake him at all." And Cary moved
forward to him.

As he did so, Amyas lifted his head, and turning it to right and
left, felt round him with his sightless eyes.

"You have been asleep, Amyas."

"Have I? I have not slept back my eyes, then. Take up this great
useless carcase of mine, and lead me home. I shall buy me a dog
when I get to Burrough, I think, and make him tow me in a string,
eh? So! Give me your hand. Now march!"

His guides heard with surprise this new cheerfulness.

"Thank God, sir, that your heart is so light already," said good
Jack; "it makes me feel quite upraised myself, like."

"I have reason to be cheerful, Sir John; I have left a heavy load
behind me. I have been wilful, and proud, and a blasphemer, and
swollen with cruelty and pride; and God has brought me low for it,
and cut me off from my evil delight. No more Spaniard-hunting for
me now, my masters. God will send no such fools as I upon His

"You do not repent of fighting the Spaniards."

"Not I: but of hating even the worst of them. Listen to me, Will
and Jack. If that man wronged me, I wronged him likewise. I have
been a fiend when I thought myself the grandest of men, yea, a very
avenging angel out of heaven. But God has shown me my sin, and we
have made up our quarrel forever."

"Made it up?"

"Made it up, thank God. But I am weary. Set me down awhile, and I
will tell you how it befell."

Wondering, they set him down upon the heather, while the bees
hummed round them in the sun; and Amyas felt for a hand of each,
and clasped it in his own hand, and began:

"When you left me there upon the rock, lads, I looked away and out
to sea, to get one last snuff of the merry sea-breeze, which will
never sail me again. And as I looked, I tell you truth, I could
see the water and the sky; as plain as ever I saw them, till I
thought my sight was come again. But soon I knew it was not so;
for I saw more than man could see; right over the ocean, as I live,
and away to the Spanish Main. And I saw Barbados, and Grenada, and
all the isles that we ever sailed by; and La Guayra in Caracas, and
the Silla, and the house beneath it where she lived. And I saw him
walking with her on the barbecue, and he loved her then. I saw
what I saw; and he loved her; and I say he loves her still.

"Then I saw the cliffs beneath me, and the Gull-rock, and the
Shutter, and the Ledge; I saw them, William Cary, and the weeds
beneath the merry blue sea. And I saw the grand old galleon, Will;
she has righted with the sweeping of the tide. She lies in fifteen
fathoms, at the edge of the rocks, upon the sand; and her men are
all lying around her, asleep until the judgment-day."

Cary and Jack looked at him, and then at each other. His eyes were
clear, and bright, and full of meaning; and yet they knew that he
was blind. His voice was shaping itself into a song. Was he
inspired? Insane? What was it? And they listened with awe-struck
faces, as the giant pointed down into the blue depths far below,
and went on.

"And I saw him sitting in his cabin, like a valiant gentleman of
Spain; and his officers were sitting round him, with their swords
upon the table at the wine. And the prawns and the crayfish and
the rockling, they swam in and out above their heads: but Don
Guzman he never heeded, but sat still, and drank his wine. Then he
took a locket from his bosom; and I heard him speak, Will, and he
said: 'Here's the picture of my fair and true lady; drink to her,
senors all.' Then he spoke to me, Will, and called me, right up
through the oar-weed and the sea: 'We have had a fair quarrel,
senor; it is time to be friends once more. My wife and your
brother have forgiven me; so your honor takes no stain.' And I
answered, 'We are friends, Don Guzman; God has judged our quarrel
and not we.' Then he said, 'I sinned, and I am punished.' And I
said, 'And, senor, so am I.' Then he held out his hand to me,
Cary; and I stooped to take it, and awoke."

He ceased: and they looked in his face again. It was exhausted,
but clear and gentle, like the face of a new-born babe. Gradually
his head dropped upon his breast again; he was either swooning or
sleeping, and they had much ado to get him home. There he lay for
eight-and-forty hours, in a quiet doze; then arose suddenly, called
for food, ate heartily, and seemed, saving his eyesight, as whole
and sound as ever. The surgeon bade them get him home to Northam
as soon as possible, and he was willing enough to go. So the next
day the Vengeance sailed, leaving behind a dozen men to seize and
keep in the queen's name any goods which should be washed up from
the wreck.



"Would you hear a Spanish lady,
How she woo'd an Englishman?
Garments gay and rich as may be,
Deck'd with jewels had she on."

Elizabethan Ballad.

It was the first of October. The morning was bright and still; the
skies were dappled modestly from east to west with soft gray autumn
cloud, as if all heaven and earth were resting after those fearful
summer months of battle and of storm. Silently, as if ashamed and
sad, the Vengeance slid over the bar, and passed the sleeping sand-
hills and dropped her anchor off Appledore, with her flag floating
half-mast high; for the corpse of Salvation Yeo was on board.

A boat pulled off from the ship, and away to the western end of the
strand; and Cary and Brimblecombe helped out Amyas Leigh, and led
him slowly up the hill toward his home.

The crowd clustered round him, with cheers and blessings, and sobs
of pity from kind-hearted women; for all in Appledore and Bideford
knew well by this time what had befallen him.

"Spare me, my good friends," said Amyas, "I have landed here that I
might go quietly home, without passing through the town, and being
made a gazing-stock. Think not of me, good folks, nor talk of me;
but come behind me decently, as Christian men, and follow to the
grave the body of a better man than I."

And, as he spoke, another boat came off, and in it, covered with
the flag of England, the body of Salvation Yeo.

The people took Amyas at his word; and a man was sent on to
Burrough, to tell Mrs. Leigh that her son was coming. When the
coffin was landed and lifted, Amyas and his friends took their
places behind it as chief mourners, and the crew followed in order,
while the crowd fell in behind them, and gathered every moment;
till ere they were halfway to Northam town, the funeral train might
number full five hundred souls.

They had sent over by a fishing-skiff the day before to bid the
sexton dig the grave; and when they came into the churchyard, the
parson stood ready waiting at the gate.

Mrs. Leigh stayed quietly at home; for she had no heart to face the
crowd; and though her heart yearned for her son, yet she was well
content (when was she not content?) that he should do honor to his
ancient and faithful servant; so she sat down in the bay-window,
with Ayacanora by her side; and when the tolling of the bell
ceased, she opened her Prayer-book, and began to read the Burial-

"Ayacanora," she said, "they are burying old Master Yeo, who loved
you, and sought you over the wide, wide world, and saved you from
the teeth of the crocodile. Are you not sorry for him, child, that
you look so gay to-day?"

Ayacanora blushed, and hung down her head; she was thinking of
nothing, poor child, but Amyas.

The Burial-service was done; the blessing said; the parson drew
back: but the people lingered and crowded round to look at the
coffin, while Amyas stood still at the head of the grave. It had
been dug by his command, at the west end of the church, near by the
foot of the tall gray windswept tower, which watches for a beacon
far and wide over land and sea. Perhaps the old man might like to
look at the sea, and see the ships come out and in across the bar,
and hear the wind, on winter nights, roar through the belfry far
above his head. Why not? It was but a fancy: and yet Amyas felt
that he too should like to be buried in such a place; so Yeo might
like it also.

Still the crowd lingered; and looked first at the grave and then at
the blind giant who stood over it, as if they felt, by instinct,
that something more ought to come. And something more did come.
Amyas drew himself up to his full height, and waved his hand
majestically, as one about to speak; while the eyes of all men were
fastened on him.

Twice he essayed to begin; and twice the words were choked upon his
lips; and then,--

"Good people all, and seamen, among whom I was bred, and to whom I
come home blind this day, to dwell with you till death--Here lieth
the flower and pattern of all bold mariners; the truest of friends,
and the most terrible of foes; unchangeable of purpose, crafty of
council, and swift of execution; in triumph most sober, in failure
(as God knows I have found full many a day) of endurance beyond
mortal man. Who first of all Britons helped to humble the pride of
the Spaniard at Rio de la Hacha and Nombre, and first of all sailed
upon those South Seas, which shall be hereafter, by God's grace, as
free to English keels as is the bay outside. Who having afterwards
been purged from his youthful sins by strange afflictions and
torments unspeakable, suffered at the hands of the Popish enemy,
learned therefrom, my masters, to fear God, and to fear naught
else; and having acquitted himself worthily in his place and
calling as a righteous scourge of the Spaniard, and a faithful
soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ, is now exalted to his reward, as
Elijah was of old, in a chariot of fire unto heaven: letting fall,
I trust and pray, upon you who are left behind the mantle of his
valor and his godliness, that so these shores may never be without
brave and pious mariners, who will count their lives as worthless
in the cause of their Country, their Bible, and their Queen.

And feeling for his companions' hands he walked slowly from the
churchyard, and across the village street, and up the lane to
Burrough gates; while the crowd made way for him in solemn silence,
as for an awful being, shut up alone with all his strength, valor,
and fame, in the dark prison-house of his mysterious doom.

He seemed to know perfectly when they had reached the gates, opened
the lock with his own hands, and went boldly forward along the
gravel path, while Cary and Brimblecombe followed him trembling;
for they expected some violent burst of emotion, either from him or
his mother, and the two good fellows' tender hearts were fluttering
like a girl's. Up to the door he went, as if he had seen it; felt
for the entrance, stood therein, and called quietly, "Mother!"

In a moment his mother was on his bosom.

Neither spoke for awhile. She sobbing inwardly, with tearless
eyes, he standing firm and cheerful, with his great arms clasped
around her.

"Mother!" he said at last, "I am come home, you see, because I
needs must come. Will you take me in, and look after this useless
carcase? I shall not be so very troublesome, mother,--shall I?"
and he looked down, and smiled upon her, and kissed her brow.

She answered not a word, but passed her arm gently round his waist,
and led him in.

"Take care of your head, dear child, the doors are low." And they
went in together.

"Will! Jack!" called Amyas, turning round: but the two good
fellows had walked briskly off.

"I'm glad we are away," said Cary; "I should have made a baby of
myself in another minute, watching that angel of a woman. How her
face worked and how she kept it in!"

"Ah, well!" said Jack, "there goes a brave servant of the queen's
cut off before his work was a quarter done. Heigho! I must home
now, and see my old father, and then--"

"And then home with me," said Cary. "You and I never part again!
We have pulled in the same boat too long, Jack; and you must not go
spending your prize-money in riotous living. I must see after you,
old Jack ashore, or we shall have you treating half the town in
taverns for a week to come."

"Oh, Mr. Cary!" said Jack, scandalized.

"Come home with me, and we'll poison the parson, and my father
shall give you the rectory."

"Oh, Mr. Cary!" said Jack.

So the two went off to Clovelly together that very day.

And Amyas was sitting all alone. His mother had gone out for a few
minutes to speak to the seamen who had brought up Amyas's luggage,
and set them down to eat and drink; and Amyas sat in the old bay-
window, where he had sat when he was a little tiny boy, and read
"King Arthur," and "Fox's Martyrs," and "The Cruelties of the
Spaniards." He put out his hand and felt for them; there they lay
side by side, just as they had lain twenty years before. The
window was open; and a cool air brought in as of old the scents of
the four-season roses, and rosemary, and autumn gilliflowers. And
there was a dish of apples on the table: he knew it by their smell;
the very same old apples which he used to gather when he was a boy.
He put out his hand, and took them, and felt them over, and played
with them, just as if the twenty years had never been: and as he
fingered them, the whole of his past life rose up before him, as in
that strange dream which is said to flash across the imagination of
a drowning man; and he saw all the places which he had ever seen,
and heard all the words which had ever been spoken to him--till he
came to that fairy island on the Meta; and he heard the roar of the
cataract once more, and saw the green tops of the palm-trees
sleeping in the sunlight far above the spray, and stept amid the
smooth palm-trunks across the flower-fringed boulders, and leaped
down to the gravel beach beside the pool: and then again rose from
the fern-grown rocks the beautiful vision of Ayacanora--Where was
she? He had not thought of her till now. How he had wronged her!
Let be; he had been punished, and the account was squared. Perhaps
she did not care for him any longer. Who would care for a great
blind ox like him, who must be fed and tended like a baby for the
rest of his lazy life? Tut! How long his mother was away! And he
began playing again with his apples, and thought about nothing but
them, and his climbs with Frank in the orchard years ago.

At last one of them slipt through his fingers, and fell on the
floor. He stooped and felt for it: but he could not find it.
Vexatious! He turned hastily to search in another direction, and
struck his head sharply against the table.

Was it the pain, or the little disappointment? or was it the sense
of his blindness brought home to him in that ludicrous commonplace
way, and for that very reason all the more humiliating? or was it
the sudden revulsion of overstrained nerves, produced by that
slight shock? Or had he become indeed a child once more? I know
not; but so it was, that he stamped on the floor with pettishness,
and then checking himself, burst into a violent flood of tears.

A quick rustle passed him; the apple was replaced in his hand, and
Ayacanora's voice sobbed out:

"There! there it is! Do not weep! Oh, do not weep! I cannot bear
it! I will get you all you want! Only let me fetch and carry for
you, tend you, feed you, lead you, like your slave, your dog! Say
that I may be your slave!" and falling on her knees at his feet,
she seized both his hands, and covered them with kisses.

"Yes!" she cried, "I will be your slave! I must be! You cannot
help it! You cannot escape from me now! You cannot go to sea!
You cannot turn your back upon wretched me. I have you safe now!
Safe!" and she clutched his hands triumphantly. "Ah! and what a
wretch I am, to rejoice in that! to taunt him with his blindness!
Oh, forgive me! I am but a poor wild girl--a wild Indian savage,
you know: but--but--" and she burst into tears.

A great spasm shook the body and soul of Amyas Leigh; he sat quite
silent for a minute, and then said solemnly:

"And is this still possible? Then God have mercy upon me a

Ayacanora looked up in his face inquiringly: but before she could
speak again, he had bent down, and lifting her as the lion lifts
the lamb, pressed her to his bosom, and covered her face with

The door opened. There was the rustle of a gown; Ayacanora sprang
from him with a little cry, and stood, half-trembling, half-
defiant, as if to say, "He is mine now; no one dare part him from

"Who is it?" asked Amyas.

"Your mother."

"You see that I am bringing forth fruits meet for repentance,
mother," said he, with a smile.

He heard her approach. Then a kiss and a sob passed between the
women; and he felt Ayacanora sink once more upon his bosom.

"Amyas, my son," said the silver voice of Mrs. Leigh, low, dreamy,
like the far-off chimes of angels' bells from out the highest
heaven, "fear not to take her to your heart again; for it is your
mother who has laid her there."

"It is true, after all," said Amyas to himself. "What God has
joined together, man cannot put asunder."

. . . . . . .

From that hour Ayacanora's power of song returned to her; and day
by day, year after year, her voice rose up within that happy home,
and soared, as on a skylark's wings, into the highest heaven,
bearing with it the peaceful thoughts of the blind giant back to
the Paradises of the West, in the wake of the heroes who from that
time forth sailed out to colonize another and a vaster England, to
the heaven-prospered cry of Westward-Ho!

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