Part 5 out of 15
tender, earnest was it. "My dear Mr. Coffin! If my earnestness
has made me forget even for a moment the bounds of courtesy, let me
entreat you to forgive me. Do not add to my heavy griefs, heavy
enough already, the grief of losing a friend. Only hear me
patiently to the end (generously, I know, you will hear me); and
then, if you are still incensed, I can but again entreat your
forgiveness a second time."
Mr. Coffin, to tell the truth, had at that time never been to
Court; and he was therefore somewhat jealous of Frank, and his
Court talk, and his Court clothes, and his Court company; and
moreover, being the eldest of the guests, and only two years
younger than Frank himself, he was a little nettled at being
classed in the same category with some who were scarce eighteen.
And if Frank had given the least hint which seemed to assume his
own superiority, all had been lost: but when, instead thereof, he
sued in forma pauperis, and threw himself upon Coffin's mercy, the
latter, who was a true-hearted man enough, and after all had known
Frank ever since either of them could walk, had nothing to do but
to sit down again and submit, while Frank went on more earnestly
"Believe me; believe me, Mr. Coffin, and gentlemen all, I no more
arrogate to myself a superiority over you than does the sailor
hurled on shore by the surge fancy himself better than his comrade
who is still battling with the foam. For I too, gentlemen,--let me
confess it, that by confiding in you I may, perhaps, win you to
confide in me,--have loved, ay and do love, where you love also.
Do not start. Is it a matter of wonder that the sun which has
dazzled you has dazzled me; that the lodestone which has drawn you
has drawn me? Do not frown, either, gentlemen. I have learnt to
love you for loving what I love, and to admire you for admiring
that which I admire. Will you not try the same lesson: so easy,
and, when learnt, so blissful? What breeds more close communion
between subjects than allegiance to the same queen? between
brothers, than duty to the same father? between the devout, than
adoration for the same Deity? And shall not worship for the same
beauty be likewise a bond of love between the worshippers? and each
lover see in his rival not an enemy, but a fellow-sufferer? You
smile and say in your hearts, that though all may worship, but one
can enjoy; and that one man's meat must be the poison of the rest.
Be it so, though I deny it. Shall we anticipate our own doom, and
slay ourselves for fear of dying? Shall we make ourselves unworthy
of her from our very eagerness to win her, and show ourselves her
faithful knights, by cherishing envy,--most unknightly of all sins?
Shall we dream with the Italian or the Spaniard that we can become
more amiable in a lady's eyes, by becoming hateful in the eyes of
God and of each other? Will she love us the better, if we come to
her with hands stained in the blood of him whom she loves better
than us? Let us recollect ourselves rather, gentlemen; and be sure
that our only chance of winning her, if she be worth winning, is to
will what she wills, honor whom she honors, love whom she loves.
If there is to be rivalry among us, let it be a rivalry in
nobleness, an emulation in virtue. Let each try to outstrip the
other in loyalty to his queen, in valor against her foes, in deeds
of courtesy and mercy to the afflicted and oppressed; and thus our
love will indeed prove its own divine origin, by raising us nearer
to those gods whose gift it is. But yet I show you a more
excellent way, and that is charity. Why should we not make this
common love to her, whom I am unworthy to name, the sacrament of a
common love to each other? Why should we not follow the heroical
examples of those ancient knights, who having but one grief, one
desire, one goddess, held that one heart was enough to contain that
grief, to nourish that desire, to worship that divinity; and so
uniting themselves in friendship till they became but one soul in
two bodies, lived only for each other in living only for her,
vowing as faithful worshippers to abide by her decision, to find
their own bliss in hers, and whomsoever she esteemed most worthy of
her love, to esteem most worthy also, and count themselves, by that
her choice, the bounden servants of him whom their mistress had
condescended to advance to the dignity of her master?--as I (not
without hope that I shall be outdone in generous strife) do here
promise to be the faithful friend, and, to my ability, the hearty
servant, of him who shall be honored with the love of the Rose of
He ceased, and there was a pause.
At last young Fortescue spoke.
"I may be paying you a left-handed compliment, sir: but it seems to
me that you are so likely, in that case, to become your own
faithful friend and hearty servant (even if you have not borne off
the bell already while we have been asleep), that the bargain is
hardly fair between such a gay Italianist and us country swains."
"You undervalue yourself and your country, my dear sir. But set
your mind at rest. I know no more of that lady's mind than you do:
nor shall I know. For the sake of my own peace, I have made a vow
neither to see her, nor to hear, if possible, tidings of her, till
three full years are past. Dixi?"
Mr. Coffin rose.
"Gentlemen, I may submit to be outdone by Mr. Leigh in eloquence,
but not in generosity; if he leaves these parts for three years, I
do so also."
"And go in charity with all mankind," said Cary. "Give us your
hand, old fellow. If you are a Coffin, you were sawn out of no
wishy-washy elm-board, but right heart-of-oak. I am going, too, as
Amyas here can tell, to Ireland away, to cool my hot liver in a
bog, like a Jack-hare in March. Come, give us thy neif, and let us
part in peace. I was minded to have fought thee this day--"
"I should have been most happy, sir," said Coffin.
--"But now I am all love and charity to mankind. Can I have the
pleasure of begging pardon of the world in general, and thee in
particular? Does any one wish to pull my nose; send me an errand;
make me lend him five pounds; ay, make me buy a horse of him, which
will be as good as giving him ten? Come along! Join hands all
round, and swear eternal friendship, as brothers of the sacred
order of the--of what. Frank Leigh? Open thy mouth, Daniel, and
"The Rose!" said Frank quietly, seeing that his new love-philtre
was working well, and determined to strike while the iron was hot,
and carry the matter too far to carry it back again.
"The Rose!" cried Cary, catching hold of Coffin's hand with his
right, and Fortescue's with his left. "Come, Mr. Coffin! Bend,
sturdy oak! 'Woe to the stiffnecked and stout-hearted!' says
And somehow or other, whether it was Frank's chivalrous speech, or
Cary's fun, or Amyas's good wine, or the nobleness which lies in
every young lad's heart, if their elders will take the trouble to
call it out, the whole party came in to terms one by one, shook
hands all round, and vowed on the hilt of Amyas's sword to make
fools of themselves no more, at least by jealousy: but to stand by
each other and by their lady-love, and neither grudge nor grumble,
let her dance with, flirt with, or marry with whom she would; and
in order that the honor of their peerless dame, and the brotherhood
which was named after her, might be spread through all lands, and
equal that of Angelica or Isonde of Brittany, they would each go
home, and ask their fathers' leave (easy enough to obtain in those
brave times) to go abroad wheresoever there were "good wars," to
emulate there the courage and the courtesy of Walter Manny and
Gonzalo Fernandes, Bayard and Gaston de Foix. Why not? Sidney was
the hero of Europe at five-and-twenty; and why not they?
And Frank watched and listened with one of his quiet smiles (his
eyes, as some folks' do, smiled even when his lips were still), and
only said: "Gentlemen, be sure that you will never repent this
"Repent?" said Cary. "I feel already as angelical as thou lookest,
Saint Silvertongue. What was it that sneezed?--the cat?"
"The lion, rather, by the roar of it," said Amyas, making a dash at
the arras behind him. "Why, here is a doorway here! and--"
And rushing under the arras, through an open door behind, he
returned, dragging out by the head Mr. John Brimblecombe.
Who was Mr. John Brimblecombe?
If you have forgotten him, you have done pretty nearly what every
one else in the room had done. But you recollect a certain fat
lad, son of the schoolmaster, whom Sir Richard punished for tale-
bearing three years before, by sending him, not to Coventry, but to
Oxford. That was the man. He was now one-and-twenty, and a
bachelor of Oxford, where he had learnt such things as were taught
in those days, with more or less success; and he was now hanging
about Bideford once more, intending to return after Christmas and
read divinity, that he might become a parson, and a shepherd of
souls in his native land.
Jack was in person exceedingly like a pig: but not like every pig:
not in the least like the Devon pigs of those days, which, I am
sorry to say, were no more shapely than the true Irish greyhound
who pays Pat's "rint" for him; or than the lanky monsters who
wallow in German rivulets, while the village swineherd, beneath a
shady lime, forgets his fleas in the melody of a Jew's harp--
strange mud-colored creatures, four feet high and four inches
thick, which look as if they had passed their lives, as a collar of
Oxford brawn is said to do, between two tight boards. Such were
then the pigs of Devon: not to be compared with the true wild
descendant of Noah's stock, high-withered, furry, grizzled, game-
flavored little rooklers, whereof many a sownder still grunted
about Swinley down and Braunton woods, Clovelly glens and Bursdon
moor. Not like these, nor like the tame abomination of those
barbarous times, was Jack: but prophetic in face, figure, and
complexion, of Fisher Hobbs and the triumphs of science. A Fisher
Hobbs' pig of twelve stone, on his hind-legs--that was what he was,
and nothing else; and if you do not know, reader, what a Fisher
Hobbs is, you know nothing about pigs, and deserve no bacon for
breakfast. But such was Jack. The same plump mulberry complexion,
garnished with a few scattered black bristles; the same sleek skin,
looking always as if it was upon the point of bursting; the same
little toddling legs; the same dapper bend in the small of the
back; the same cracked squeak; the same low upright forehead, and
tiny eyes; the same round self-satisfied jowl; the same charming
sensitive little cocked nose, always on the look-out for a savory
smell,--and yet while watching for the best, contented with the
worst; a pig of self-helpful and serene spirit, as Jack was, and
therefore, like him, fatting fast while other pigs' ribs are
staring through their skins.
Such was Jack; and lucky it was for him that such he was; for it
was little that he got to fat him at Oxford, in days when a
servitor meant really a servant-student; and wistfully that day did
his eyes, led by his nose, survey at the end of the Ship Inn
passage the preparations for Amyas's supper. The innkeeper was a
friend of his; for, in the first place, they had lived within three
doors of each other all their lives; and next, Jack was quite
pleasant company enough, beside being a learned man and an Oxford
scholar, to be asked in now and then to the innkeeper's private
parlor, when there were no gentlemen there, to crack his little
joke and tell his little story, sip the leavings of the guests'
sack, and sometimes help the host to eat the leavings of their
supper. And it was, perhaps, with some such hope that Jack trotted
off round the corner to the Ship that very afternoon; for that
faithful little nose of his, as it sniffed out of a back window of
the school, had given him warning of Sabean gales, and scents of
Paradise, from the inn kitchen below; so he went round, and asked
for his pot of small ale (his only luxury), and stood at the bar to
drink it; and looked inward with his little twinkling right eye,
and sniffed inward with his little curling right nostril, and
beheld, in the kitchen beyond, salad in stacks and fagots: salad of
lettuce, salad of cress and endive, salad of boiled coleworts,
salad of pickled coleworts, salad of angelica, salad of scurvy-
wort, and seven salads more; for potatoes were not as yet, and
salads were during eight months of the year the only vegetable.
And on the dresser, and before the fire, whole hecatombs of
fragrant victims, which needed neither frankincense nor myrrh;
Clovelly herrings and Torridge salmon, Exmoor mutton and Stow
venison, stubble geese and woodcocks, curlew and snipe, hams of
Hampshire, chitterlings of Taunton, and botargos of Cadiz, such as
Pantagruel himself might have devoured. And Jack eyed them, as a
ragged boy eyes the cakes in a pastrycook's window; and thought of
the scraps from the commoners' dinner, which were his wages for
cleaning out the hall; and meditated deeply on the unequal
distribution of human bliss.
"Ah, Mr. Brimblecombe!" said the host, bustling out with knife and
apron to cool himself in the passage. "Here are doings! Nine
gentlemen to supper!"
"Nine! Are they going to eat all that?"
"Well, I can't say--that Mr. Amyas is as good as three to his
trencher: but still there's crumbs, Mr. Brimblecombe, crumbs; and
waste not want not is my doctrine; so you and I may have a somewhat
to stay our stomachs, about an eight o'clock."
"Eight?" said Jack, looking wistfully at the clock. "It's but four
now. Well, it's kind of you, and perhaps I'll look in."
"Just you step in now, and look to this venison. There's a breast!
you may lay your two fingers into the say there, and not get to the
bottom of the fat. That's Sir Richard's sending. He's all for
them Leighs, and no wonder, they'm brave lads, surely; and there's
a saddle-o'-mutton! I rode twenty miles for mun yesterday, I did,
over beyond Barnstaple; and five year old, Mr. John, it is, if ever
five years was; and not a tooth to mun's head, for I looked to
that; and smelt all the way home like any apple; and if it don't
ate so soft as ever was scald cream, never you call me Thomas
"Humph!" said Jack. "And that's their dinner. Well, some are born
with a silver spoon in their mouth."
"Some be born with roast beef in their mouths, and plum-pudding in
their pocket to take away the taste o' mun; and that's better than
empty spunes, eh?"
"For them that get it," said Jack. "But for them that don't--"
And with a sigh he returned to his small ale, and then lingered in
and out of the inn, watching the dinner as it went into the best
room, where the guests were assembled.
And as he lounged there, Amyas went in, and saw him, and held out
his hand, and said--
"Hillo, Jack! how goes the world? How you've grown!" and passed
on;--what had Jack Brimblecombe to do with Rose Salterne?
So Jack lingered on, hovering around the fragrant smell like a fly
round a honey-pot, till he found himself invisibly attracted, and
as it were led by the nose out of the passage into the adjoining
room, and to that side of the room where there was a door; and once
there he could not help hearing what passed inside; till Rose
Salterne's name fell on his ear. So, as it was ordained, he was
taken in the fact. And now behold him brought in red-hand to
judgment, not without a kick or two from the wrathful foot of Amyas
Leigh. Whereat there fell on him a storm of abuse, which, for the
honor of that gallant company, I shall not give in detail; but
which abuse, strange to say, seemed to have no effect on the
impenitent and unabashed Jack, who, as soon as he could get his
breath, made answer fiercely, amid much puffing and blowing.
"What business have I here? As much as any of you. If you had
asked me in, I would have come: but as you didn't, I came without
"You shameless rascal!" said Cary. "Come if you were asked, where
there was good wine? I'll warrant you for that!"
"Why," said Amyas, "no lad ever had a cake at school but he would
dog him up one street and down another all day for the crumbs, the
"Patience, masters! "said Frank. "That Jack's is somewhat of a
gnathonic and parasitic soul, or stomach, all Bideford apple-women
know; but I suspect more than Deus Venter has brought him hither."
"Deus eavesdropping, then. We shall have the whole story over the
town by to-morrow," said another; beginning at that thought to feel
somewhat ashamed of his late enthusiasm.
"Ah, Mr. Frank! You were always the only one that would stand up
for me! Deus Venter, quotha? 'Twas Deus Cupid, it was!"
A roar of laughter followed this announcement.
"What?" asked Frank; "was it Cupid, then, who sneezed approval to
our love, Jack, as he did to that of Dido and Aeneas?"
But Jack went on desperately.
"I was in the next room, drinking of my beer. I couldn't help
that, could I? And then I heard her name; and I couldn't help
listening then. Flesh and blood couldn't."
"Nor fat either!"
"No, nor fat, Mr. Cary. Do you suppose fat men haven't souls to be
saved as well as thin ones, and hearts to burst, too, as well as
stomachs? Fat! Fat can feel, I reckon, as well as lean. Do you
suppose there's naught inside here but beer?"
And he laid his hand, as Drayton might have said, on that stout
bastion, hornwork, ravelin, or demilune, which formed the outworks
to the citadel of his purple isle of man.
"Naught but beer?--Cheese, I suppose?"
"Love!" cried Jack. "Yes, Love!--Ay, you laugh; but my eyes are
not so grown up with fat but what I can see what's fair as well as
"Oh, Jack, naughty Jack, dost thou heap sin on sin, and luxury on
"Sin? If I sin, you sin: I tell you, and I don't care who knows
it, I've loved her these three years as well as e'er a one of you,
I have. I've thought o' nothing else, prayed for nothing else, God
forgive me! And then you laugh at me, because I'm a poor parson's
son, and you fine gentlemen: God made us both, I reckon. You?--you
make a deal of giving her up to-day. Why, it's what I've done for
three miserable years as ever poor sinner spent; ay, from the first
day I said to myself, 'Jack, if you can't have that pearl, you'll
have none; and that you can't have, for it's meat for your masters:
so conquer or die.' And I couldn't conquer. I can't help loving
her, worshipping her, no more than you; and I will die: but you
needn't laugh meanwhile at me that have done as much as you, and
will do again."
"It is the old tale," said Frank to himself; "whom will not love
transform into a hero?"
And so it was. Jack's squeaking voice was firm and manly, his
pig's eyes flashed very fire, his gestures were so free and
earnest, that the ungainliness of his figure was forgotten; and
when he finished with a violent burst of tears, Frank, forgetting
his wounds, sprang up and caught him by the hand.
"John Brimblecombe, forgive me! Gentlemen, if we are gentlemen, we
ought to ask his pardon. Has he not shown already more chivalry,
more self-denial, and therefore more true love, than any of us? My
friends, let the fierceness of affection, which we have used as an
excuse for many a sin of our own, excuse his listening to a
conversation in which he well deserved to bear a part."
"Ah," said Jack, "you make me one of your brotherhood; and see if I
do not dare to suffer as much as any of you! You laugh? Do you
fancy none can use a sword unless he has a baker's dozen of
quarterings in his arms, or that Oxford scholars know only how to
handle a pen?"
"Let us try his metal," said St. Leger. "Here's my sword, Jack;
draw, Coffin! and have at him."
"Nonsense!" said Coffin, looking somewhat disgusted at the notion
of fighting a man of Jack's rank; but Jack caught at the weapon
offered to him.
"Give me a buckler, and have at any of you!"
"Here's a chair bottom," cried Cary; and Jack, seizing it in his
left, flourished his sword so fiercely, and called so loudly to
Coffin to come on, that all present found it necessary, unless they
wished blood to be spilt, to turn the matter off with a laugh: but
Jack would not hear of it.
"Nay: if you will let me be of your brotherhood, well and good: but
if not, one or other I will fight: and that's flat."
"You see, gentlemen," said Amyas, "we must admit him or die the
death; so we needs must go when Sir Urian drives. Come up, Jack,
and take the oaths. You admit him, gentlemen?"
"Let me but be your chaplain," said Jack, "and pray for your luck
when you're at the wars. If I do stay at home in a country curacy,
'tis not much that you need be jealous of me with her, I reckon,"
said Jack, with a pathetical glance at his own stomach.
"Sia!" said Cary: "but if he be admitted, it must be done according
to the solemn forms and ceremonies in such cases provided. Take
him into the next room, Amyas, and prepare him for his initiation."
"What's that?" asked Amyas, puzzled by the word. But judging from
the corner of Will's eye that initiation was Latin for a practical
joke, he led forth his victim behind the arras again, and waited
five minutes while the room was being darkened, till Frank's voice
called to him to bring in the neophyte.
"John Brimblecombe," said Frank, in a sepulchral tone, "you cannot
be ignorant, as a scholar and bachelor of Oxford, of that dread
sacrament by which Catiline bound the soul of his fellow-
conspirators, in order that both by the daring of the deed he might
have proof of their sincerity, and by the horror thereof astringe
their souls by adamantine fetters, and Novem-Stygian oaths, to that
wherefrom hereafter the weakness of the flesh might shrink.
Wherefore, O Jack! we too have determined, following that ancient
and classical example, to fill, as he did, a bowl with the
lifeblood of our most heroic selves, and to pledge each other
therein, with vows whereat the stars shall tremble in their
spheres, and Luna, blushing, veil her silver cheeks. Your blood
alone is wanted to fill up the goblet. Sit down, John
Brimblecombe, and bare your arm!"
"But, Mr. Frank!--"said Jack, who was as superstitious as any old
wife, and, what with the darkness and the discourse, already in a
"But me no buts! or depart as recreant, not by the door like a man,
but up the chimney like a flittermouse."
"But, Mr. Frank!"
"Thy vital juice, or the chimney! Choose!" roared Cary in his ear.
"Well, if I must," said Jack; "but it's desperate hard that because
you can't keep faith without these barbarous oaths, I must take
them too, that have kept faith these three years without any."
At this pathetic appeal Frank nearly melted: but Amyas and Cary had
thrust the victim into a chair and all was prepared for the
"Bind his eyes, according to the classic fashion," said Will.
"Oh no, dear Mr. Cary; I'll shut them tight enough, I warrant: but
not with your dagger, dear Mr. William--sure, not with your dagger?
I can't afford to lose blood, though I do look lusty--I can't
indeed; sure, a pin would do--I've got one here, to my sleeve,
"See the fount of generous juice! Flow on, fair stream. How he
bleeds!--pints, quarts! Ah, this proves him to be in earnest!"
"A true lover's blood is always at his fingers' ends."
"He does not grudge it; of course not. Eh, Jack? What matters an
odd gallon for her sake?"
"For her sake? Nothing, nothing! Take my life, if you will: but--
oh, gentlemen, a surgeon, if you love me! I'm going off--I 'm
"Drink, then, quick; drink and swear! Pat his back, Cary.
Courage, man! it will be over in a minute. Now, Frank!--"
And Frank spoke--
"If plighted troth I fail, or secret speech reveal,
May Cocytean ghosts around my pillow squeal;
While Ate's brazen claws distringe my spleen in sunder,
And drag me deep to Pluto's keep, 'mid brimstone, smoke, and thunder!"
"Placet!" squeaked Jack, who thought himself at the last gasp, and
gulped down full three-quarters of the goblet which Cary held to
"Ugh--Ah--Puh! Mercy on us! It tastes mighty like wine!"
"A proof, my virtuous brother," said Frank, "first, of thy
abstemiousness, which has thus forgotten what wine tastes like; and
next, of thy pure and heroical affection, by which thy carnal
senses being exalted to a higher and supra-lunar sphere, like those
Platonical daemonizomenoi and enthusiazomenoi (of whom Jamblichus
says that they were insensible to wounds and flame, and much more,
therefore, to evil savors), doth make even the most nauseous
draught redolent of that celestial fragrance, which proceeding, O
Jack! from thine own inward virtue, assimilates by sympathy even
outward accidents unto its own harmony and melody; for fragrance
is, as has been said well, the song of flowers, and sweetness, the
music of apples--Ahem! Go in peace, thou hast conquered!"
"Put him out of the door, Will," said Amyas, "or he will swoon on
"Give him some sack," said Frank.
"Not a blessed drop of yours, sir," said Jack. "I like good wine
as well as any man on earth, and see as little of it; but not a
drop of yours, sirs, after your frumps and flouts about hanging-on
and trencher-scraping. When I first began to love her, I bid good-
bye to all dirty tricks; for I had some one then for whom to keep
And so Jack was sent home, with a pint of good red Alicant wine in
him (more, poor fellow, than he had tasted at once in his life
before); while the rest, in high glee with themselves and the rest
of the world, relighted the candles, had a right merry evening, and
parted like good friends and sensible gentlemen of devon, thinking
(all except Frank) Jack Brimblecombe and his vow the merriest jest
they had heard for many a day. After which they all departed:
Amyas and Cary to Winter's squadron; Frank (as soon as he could
travel) to the Court again; and with him young Basset, whose father
Sir Arthur, being in London, procured for him a page's place in
Leicester's household. Fortescue and Chicester went to their
brothers in Dublin; St. Leger to his uncle the Marshal of Munster;
Coffin joined Champernoun and Norris in the Netherlands; and so the
Brotherhood of the Rose was scattered far and wide, and Mistress
Salterne was left alone with her looking-glass.
HOW AMYAS KEPT HIS CHRISTMAS DAY
"Take aim, you noble musqueteers,
And shoot you round about;
Stand to it, valiant pikemen,
And we shall keep them out.
There's not a man of all of us
A foot will backward flee;
I'll be the foremost man in fight,
Says brave Lord Willoughby!"
It was the blessed Christmas afternoon. The light was fading down;
the even-song was done; and the good folks of Bideford were
trooping home in merry groups, the father with his children, the
lover with his sweetheart, to cakes and ale, and flapdragons and
mummer's plays, and all the happy sports of Christmas night. One
lady only, wrapped close in her black muffler and followed by her
maid, walked swiftly, yet sadly, toward the long causeway and
bridge which led to Northam town. Sir Richard Grenville and his
wife caught her up and stopped her courteously.
"You will come home with us, Mrs. Leigh," said Lady Grenville, "and
spend a pleasant Christmas night?"
Mrs. Leigh smiled sweetly, and laying one hand on Lady Grenville's
arm, pointed with the other to the westward, and said:
"I cannot well spend a merry Christmas night while that sound is in
The whole party around looked in the direction in which she
pointed. Above their heads the soft blue sky was fading into gray,
and here and there a misty star peeped out: but to the westward,
where the downs and woods of Raleigh closed in with those of
Abbotsham, the blue was webbed and turfed with delicate white
flakes; iridescent spots, marking the path by which the sun had
sunk, showed all the colors of the dying dolphin; and low on the
horizon lay a long band of grassy green. But what was the sound
which troubled Mrs. Leigh? None of them, with their merry hearts,
and ears dulled with the din and bustle of the town, had heard it
till that moment: and yet now--listen! It was dead calm. There
was not a breath to stir a blade of grass. And yet the air was
full of sound, a low deep roar which hovered over down and wood,
salt-marsh and river, like the roll of a thousand wheels, the tramp
of endless armies, or--what it was--the thunder of a mighty surge
upon the boulders of the pebble ridge.
"The ridge is noisy to-night," said Sir Richard. "There has been
"There is wind now, where my boy is, God help him!" said Mrs.
Leigh: and all knew that she spoke truly. The spirit of the
Atlantic storm had sent forward the token of his coming, in the
smooth ground-swell which was heard inland, two miles away. To-
morrow the pebbles, which were now rattling down with each
retreating wave, might be leaping to the ridge top, and hurled like
round-shot far ashore upon the marsh by the force of the advancing
wave, fleeing before the wrath of the western hurricane.
"God help my boy!" said Mrs. Leigh again.
"God is as near him by sea as by land," said good Sir Richard.
"True, but I am a lone mother; and one that has no heart just now
but to go home and pray."
And so Mrs. Leigh went onward up the lane, and spent all that night
in listening between her prayers to the thunder of the surge, till
it was drowned, long ere the sun rose, in the thunder of the storm.
And where is Amyas on this same Christmas afternoon?
Amyas is sitting bareheaded in a boat's stern in Smerwick bay, with
the spray whistling through his curls, as he shouts cheerfully--
"Pull, and with a will, my merry men all, and never mind shipping a
sea. Cannon balls are a cargo that don't spoil by taking salt-
His mother's presage has been true enough. Christmas eve has been
the last of the still, dark, steaming nights of the early winter;
and the western gale has been roaring for the last twelve hours
upon the Irish coast.
The short light of the winter day is fading fast. Behind him is a
leaping line of billows lashed into mist by the tempest. Beside
him green foam-fringed columns are rushing up the black rocks, and
falling again in a thousand cataracts of snow. Before him is the
deep and sheltered bay: but it is not far up the bay that he and
his can see; for some four miles out at sea begins a sloping roof
of thick gray cloud, which stretches over their heads, and up and
far away inland, cutting the cliffs off at mid-height, hiding all
the Kerry mountains, and darkening the hollows of the distant
firths into the blackness of night. And underneath that awful roof
of whirling mist the storm is howling inland ever, sweeping before
it the great foam-sponges, and the gray salt spray, till all the
land is hazy, dim, and dun. Let it howl on! for there is more mist
than ever salt spray made, flying before that gale; more thunder
than ever sea-surge wakened echoing among the cliffs of Smerwick
bay; along those sand-hills flash in the evening gloom red sparks
which never came from heaven; for that fort, now christened by the
invaders the Fort Del Oro, where flaunts the hated golden flag of
Spain, holds San Josepho and eight hundred of the foe; and but
three nights ago, Amyas and Yeo, and the rest of Winter's shrewdest
hands, slung four culverins out of the Admiral's main deck, and
floated them ashore, and dragged them up to the battery among the
sand-hills; and now it shall be seen whether Spanish and Italian
condottieri can hold their own on British ground against the men of
Small blame to Amyas if he was thinking, not of his lonely mother
at Burrough Court, but of those quick bright flashes on sand-hill
and on fort, where Salvation Yeo was hurling the eighteen-pound
shot with deadly aim, and watching with a cool and bitter smile of
triumph the flying of the sand, and the crashing of the gabions.
Amyas and his party had been on board, at the risk of their lives,
for a fresh supply of shot; for Winter's battery was out of ball,
and had been firing stones for the last four hours, in default of
better missiles. They ran the boat on shore through the surf,
where a cove in the shore made landing possible, and almost
careless whether she stove or not, scrambled over the sand-hills
with each man his brace of shot slung across his shoulder; and
Amyas, leaping into the trenches, shouted cheerfully to Salvation
"More food for the bull-dogs, Gunner, and plums for the Spaniards'
"Don't speak to a man at his business, Master Amyas. Five mortal
times have I missed; but I will have that accursed Popish rag down,
as I'm a sinner."
"Down with it, then; nobody wants you to shoot crooked. Take good
iron to it, and not footy paving-stones."
"I believe, sir, that the foul fiend is there, a turning of my shot
aside, I do. I thought I saw him once: but, thank Heaven, here's
ball again. Ah, sir, if one could but cast a silver one! Now,
stand by, men!"
And once again Yeo's eighteen-pounder roared, and away. And, oh
glory! the great yellow flag of Spain, which streamed in the gale,
lifted clean into the air, flagstaff and all, and then pitched
wildly down head-foremost, far to leeward.
A hurrah from the sailors, answered by the soldiers of the opposite
camp, shook the very cloud above them: but ere its echoes had died
away, a tall officer leapt upon the parapet of the fort, with the
fallen flag in his hand, and rearing it as well as he could upon
his lance point, held it firmly against the gale, while the fallen
flagstaff was raised again within.
In a moment a dozen long bows were bent at the daring foeman: but
Amyas behind shouted--
"Shame, lads! Stop and let the gallant gentleman have due
So they stopped, while Amyas, springing on the rampart of the
battery, took off his hat, and bowed to the flag-holder, who, as
soon as relieved of his charge, returned the bow courteously, and
It was by this time all but dark, and the firing began to slacken
on all sides; Salvation and his brother gunners, having covered up
their slaughtering tackle with tarpaulings, retired for the night,
leaving Amyas, who had volunteered to take the watch till midnight;
and the rest of the force having got their scanty supper of biscuit
(for provisions were running very short) lay down under arms among
the sand-hills, and grumbled themselves to sleep.
He had paced up and down in the gusty darkness for some hour or
more, exchanging a passing word now and then with the sentinel,
when two men entered the battery, chatting busily together. One
was in complete armor; the other wrapped in the plain short cloak
of a man of pens and peace: but the talk of both was neither of
sieges nor of sallies, catapult, bombard, nor culverin, but simply
of English hexameters.
And fancy not, gentle reader, that the two were therein fiddling
while Rome was burning; for the commonweal of poetry and letters,
in that same critical year 1580, was in far greater danger from
those same hexameters than the common woe of Ireland (as Raleigh
called it) was from the Spaniards.
Imitating the classic metres, "versifying," as it was called in
contradistinction to rhyming, was becoming fast the fashion among
the more learned. Stonyhurst and others had tried their hands at
hexameter translations from the Latin and Greek epics, which seem
to have been doggerel enough; and ever and anon some youthful wit
broke out in iambics, sapphics, elegiacs, and what not, to the
great detriment of the queen's English and her subjects' ears.
I know not whether Mr. William Webbe had yet given to the world any
fragments of his precious hints for the "Reformation of English
poetry," to the tune of his own "Tityrus, happily thou liest
tumbling under a beech-tree:" but the Cambridge Malvolio, Gabriel
Harvey, had succeeded in arguing Spenser, Dyer, Sidney, and
probably Sidney's sister, and the whole clique of beaux-esprits
round them, into following his model of
"What might I call this tree? A laurel? O bonny laurel!
Needes to thy bowes will I bowe this knee, and vail my bonetto;"
after snubbing the first book of "that Elvish Queene," which was
then in manuscript, as a base declension from the classical to the
And now Spenser (perhaps in mere melancholy wilfulness and want of
purpose, for he had just been jilted by a fair maid of Kent) was
wasting his mighty genius upon doggerel which he fancied antique;
and some piratical publisher (bitter Tom Nash swears, and with
likelihood that Harvey did it himself) had just given to the
world,--"Three proper wittie and familiar Letters, lately past
between two University men, touching the Earthquake in April last,
and our English reformed Versifying," which had set all town wits
a-buzzing like a swarm of flies, being none other than a
correspondence between Spenser and Harvey, which was to prove to
the world forever the correctness and melody of such lines as,
"For like magnificoes, not a beck but glorious in show,
In deede most frivolous, not a looke but Tuscanish always."
Let them pass--Alma Mater has seen as bad hexameters since. But
then the matter was serious. There is a story (I know not how
true) that Spenser was half bullied into re-writing the "Faerie
Queene" in hexameters, had not Raleigh, a true romanticist, "whose
vein for ditty or amorous ode was most lofty, insolent, and
passionate," persuaded him to follow his better genius. The great
dramatists had not yet arisen, to form completely that truly
English school, of which Spenser, unconscious of his own vast
powers, was laying the foundation. And, indeed, it was not till
Daniel, twenty years after, in his admirable apology for rhyme, had
smashed Mr. Campian and his "eight several kinds of classical
numbers," that the matter was finally settled, and the English
tongue left to go the road on which Heaven had started it. So that
we may excuse Raleigh's answering somewhat waspish to some
quotation of Spenser's from the three letters of "Immerito and G. H."
"Tut, tut, Colin Clout, much learning has made thee mad. A good
old fishwives' ballad jingle is worth all your sapphics and
trimeters, and 'riff-raff thurlery bouncing.' Hey? have I you
there, old lad? Do you mind that precious verse?"
"But, dear Wat, Homer and Virgil--"
"But, dear Ned, Petrarch and Ovid--"
"But, Wat, what have we that we do not owe to the ancients?"
"Ancients, quotha? Why, the legend of King Arthur, and Chevy Chase
too, of which even your fellow-sinner Sidney cannot deny that every
time he hears it even from a blind fiddler it stirs his heart like
a trumpet-blast. Speak well of the bridge that carries you over,
man! Did you find your Redcross Knight in Virgil, or such a dame
as Una in old Ovid? No more than you did your Pater and Credo, you
renegado baptized heathen, you!"
"Yet, surely, our younger and more barbarous taste must bow before
divine antiquity, and imitate afar--"
"As dottrels do fowlers. If Homer was blind, lad, why dost not
poke out thine eye? Ay, this hexameter is of an ancient house,
truly, Ned Spenser, and so is many a rogue: but he cannot make way
on our rough English roads. He goes hopping and twitching in our
language like a three-legged terrier over a pebble-bank, tumble and
up again, rattle and crash."
"Nay, hear, now--
'See ye the blindfolded pretty god that feathered archer,
Of lovers' miseries which maketh his bloody game?'*
True, the accent gapes in places, as I have often confessed to
* Strange as it may seem, this distich is Spenser's own; and the
other hexameters are all authentic.
Harvey be hanged for a pedant, and the whole crew of versifiers,
from Lord Dorset (but he, poor man, has been past hanging some time
since) to yourself! Why delude you into playing Procrustes as he
does with the queen's English, racking one word till its joints be
pulled asunder, and squeezing the next all a-heap as the
Inquisitors do heretics in their banca cava? Out upon him and you,
and Sidney, and the whole kin. You have not made a verse among
you, and never will, which is not as lame a gosling as Harvey's
'Oh thou weathercocke, that stands on the top of Allhallows,
Come thy ways down, if thou dar'st for thy crown, and take the wall
Hark, now! There is our young giant comforting his soul with a
ballad. You will hear rhyme and reason together here, now. He
will not miscall 'blind-folded,' 'blind-fold-ed, I warrant; or make
an 'of' and a 'which' and a 'his' carry a whole verse on their
wretched little backs."
And as he spoke, Amyas, who had been grumbling to himself some
Christmas carol, broke out full-mouthed:--
"As Joseph was a-walking
He heard an angel sing--
'This night shall be the birth night
Of Christ, our heavenly King.
His birthbed shall be neither
In housen nor in hall,
Nor in the place of paradise,
But in the oxen's stall.
He neither shall be rocked
In silver nor in gold,
But in the wooden manger
That lieth on the mould.
He neither shall be washen
With white wine nor with red,
But with the fair spring water
That on you shall be shed.
He neither shall be clothed
In purple nor in pall,
But in the fair white linen
That usen babies all.'
As Joseph was a-walking
Thus did the angel sing,
And Mary's Son at midnight
Was born to be our King.
Then be you glad, good people,
At this time of the year;
And light you up your candles,
For His star it shineth clear."
"There, Edmunde Classicaster," said Raleigh, "does not that simple
strain go nearer to the heart of him who wrote 'The Shepherd's
Calendar,' than all artificial and outlandish
'Wote ye why his mother with a veil hath covered his face?'
Why dost not answer, man?"
But Spenser was silent awhile, and then,--
"Because I was thinking rather of the rhymer than the rhyme. Good
heaven! how that brave lad shames me, singing here the hymns which
his mother taught him, before the very muzzles of Spanish guns;
instead of bewailing unmanly, as I have done, the love which he
held, I doubt not, as dear as I did even my Rosalind. This is his
welcome to the winter's storm; while I, who dream, forsooth, of
heavenly inspiration, can but see therein an image of mine own
'Thou barren ground, whom winter's wrath has wasted,
Art made a mirror to behold my plight.'*
Pah! away with frosts, icicles, and tears, and sighs--"
* "The Shepherd's Calendar."
"And with hexameters and trimeters too, I hope," interrupted
Raleigh: "and all the trickeries of self-pleasing sorrow."
"--I will set my heart to higher work than barking at the hand
which chastens me."
"Wilt put the lad into the 'Faerie Queene,' then, by my side? He
deserves as good a place there, believe me, as ever a Guyon, or
even as Lord Grey your Arthegall. Let us hail him. Hallo! young
chanticleer of Devon! Art not afraid of a chance shot, that thou
crowest so lustily upon thine own mixen?"
"Cocks crow all night long at Christmas, Captain Raleigh, and so do
I," said Amyas's cheerful voice; "but who's there with you?"
"A penitent pupil of yours--Mr. Secretary Spenser."
"Pupil of mine?" said Amyas. "I wish he'd teach me a little of his
art; I could fill up my time here with making verses."
"And who would be your theme, fair sir?" said Spenser.
"No 'who' at all. I don't want to make sonnets to blue eyes, nor
black either: but if I could put down some of the things I saw in
the Spice Islands--"
"Ah," said Raleigh, "he would beat you out of Parnassus, Mr.
Secretary. Remember, you may write about Fairyland, but he has
"And so have others," said Spenser; "it is not so far off from any
one of us. Wherever is love and loyalty, great purposes, and lofty
souls, even though in a hovel or a mine, there is Fairyland."
"Then Fairyland should be here, friend; for you represent love, and
Leigh loyalty; while, as for great purposes and lofty souls, who so
fit to stand for them as I, being (unless my enemies and my
conscience are liars both) as ambitious and as proud as Lucifer's
"Ah, Walter, Walter, why wilt always slander thyself thus?"
"Slander? Tut.--I do but give the world a fair challenge, and tell
it, 'There--you know the worst of me: come on and try a fall, for
either you or I must down.' Slander? Ask Leigh here, who has but
known me a fortnight, whether I am not as vain as a peacock, as
selfish as a fox, as imperious as a bona roba, and ready to make a
cat's paw of him or any man, if there be a chestnut in the fire:
and yet the poor fool cannot help loving me, and running of my
errands, and taking all my schemes and my dreams for gospel; and
verily believes now, I think, that I shall be the man in the moon
some day, and he my big dog."
"Well," said Amyas, half apologetically, "if you are the cleverest
man in the world what harm in my thinking so?"
"Hearken to him, Edmund! He will know better when he has outgrown
this same callow trick of honesty, and learnt of the great goddess
Detraction how to show himself wiser than the wise, by pointing out
to the world the fool's motley which peeps through the rents in the
philosopher's cloak. Go to, lad! slander thy equals, envy thy
betters, pray for an eye which sees spots in every sun, and for a
vulture's nose to scent carrion in every rose-bed. If thy friend
win a battle, show that he has needlessly thrown away his men; if
he lose one, hint that he sold it; if he rise to a place, argue
favor; if he fall from one, argue divine justice. Believe nothing,
hope nothing, but endure all things, even to kicking, if aught may
be got thereby; so shalt thou be clothed in purple and fine linen,
and sit in kings' palaces, and fare sumptuously every day."
"And wake with Dives in the torment," said Amyas. "Thank you for
"Go to, Misanthropos," said Spenser. "Thou hast not yet tasted the
sweets of this world's comfits, and thou railest at them?"
"The grapes are sour, lad."
"And will be to the end," said Amyas, "if they come off such a
devil's tree as that. I really think you are out of your mind,
Captain Raleigh, at times."
"I wish I were; for it is a troublesome, hungry, windy mind as man
ever was cursed withal. But come in, lad. We were sent from the
lord deputy to bid thee to supper. There is a dainty lump of dead
horse waiting for thee."
"Send me some out, then," said matter-of-fact Amyas. "And tell his
lordship that, with his good leave, I don't stir from here till
morning, if I can keep awake. There is a stir in the fort, and I
expect them out on us."
"Tut, man! their hearts are broken. We know it by their
"Seeing's believing. I never trust runaway rogues. If they are
false to their masters, they'll be false to us."
"Well, go thy ways, old honesty; and Mr. Secretary shall give you a
book to yourself in the 'Faerie Queene'--'Sir Monoculus or the
Legend of Common Sense,' eh, Edmund?"
"Ay, Single-eye, my prince of word-coiners--won't that fit?--And
give him the Cyclops head for a device. Heigh-ho! They may laugh
that win. I am sick of this Irish work; were it not for the chance
of advancement I'd sooner be driving a team of red Devons on
Dartside; and now I am angry with the dear lad because he is not
sick of it too. What a plague business has he to be paddling up
and down, contentedly doing his duty, like any city watchman? It
is an insult to the mighty aspirations of our nobler hearts,--eh,
my would-be Ariosto?"
"Ah, Raleigh! you can afford to confess yourself less than some,
for you are greater than all. Go on and conquer, noble heart! But
as for me, I sow the wind, and I suppose I shall reap the
"Your harvest seems come already; what a blast that was! Hold on
by me, Colin Clout, and I'll hold on by thee. So! Don't tread on
that pikeman's stomach, lest he take thee for a marauding Don, and
with sudden dagger slit Cohn's pipe, and Colin's weasand too."
And the two stumbled away into the darkness, leaving Amyas to
stride up and down as before, puzzling his brains over Raleigh's
wild words and Spenser's melancholy, till he came to the conclusion
that there was some mysterious connection between cleverness and
unhappiness, and thanking his stars that he was neither scholar,
courtier, nor poet, said grace over his lump of horseflesh when it
arrived, devoured it as if it had been venison, and then returned
to his pacing up and down; but this time in silence, for the night
was drawing on, and there was no need to tell the Spaniards that
any one was awake and watching.
So he began to think about his mother, and how she might be
spending her Christmas; and then about Frank, and wondered at what
grand Court festival he was assisting, amid bright lights and sweet
music and gay ladies, and how he was dressed, and whether he
thought of his brother there far away on the dark Atlantic shore;
and then he said his prayers and his creed; and then he tried not
to think of Rose Salterne, and of course thought about her all the
more. So on passed the dull hours, till it might be past eleven
o'clock, and all lights were out in the battery and the shipping,
and there was no sound of living thing but the monotonous tramp of
the two sentinels beside him, and now and then a grunt from the
party who slept under arms some twenty yards to the rear.
So he paced to and fro, looking carefully out now and then over the
strip of sand-hill which lay between him and the fort; but all was
blank and black, and moreover it began to rain furiously.
Suddenly he seemed to hear a rustle among the harsh sand-grass.
True, the wind was whistling through it loudly enough, but that
sound was not altogether like the wind. Then a soft sliding noise;
something had slipped down a bank, and brought the sand down after
it. Amyas stopped, crouched down beside a gun, and laid his ear to
the rampart, whereby he heard clearly, as he thought, the noise of
approaching feet; whether rabbits or Christians, he knew not, but
he shrewdly guessed the latter.
Now Amyas was of a sober and business-like turn, at least when he
was not in a passion; and thinking within himself that if he made
any noise, the enemy (whether four or two-legged) would retire, and
all the sport be lost, he did not call to the two sentries, who
were at the opposite ends of the battery; neither did he think it
worth while to rouse the sleeping company, lest his ears should
have deceived him, and the whole camp turn out to repulse the
attack of a buck rabbit.
So he crouched lower and lower beside the culverin, and was
rewarded in a minute or two by hearing something gently deposited
against the mouth of the embrasure, which, by the noise, should be
a piece of timber.
"So far, so good," said he to himself; "when the scaling ladder is
up, the soldier follows, I suppose. I can only humbly thank them
for giving my embrasure the preference. There he comes! I hear
his feet scuffling."
He could hear plainly enough some one working himself into the
mouth of the embrasure: but the plague was, that it was so dark
that he could not see his hand between him and the sky, much less
his foe at two yards off. However, he made a pretty fair guess as
to the whereabouts, and, rising softly, discharged such a blow
downwards as would have split a yule log. A volley of sparks flew
up from the hapless Spaniard's armor, and a grunt issued from
within it, which proved that, whether he was killed or not, the
blow had not improved his respiration.
Amyas felt for his head, seized it, dragged him in over the gun,
sprang into the embrasure on his knees, felt for the top of the
ladder, found it, hove it clean off and out, with four or five men
on it, and then of course tumbled after it ten feet into the sand,
roaring like a town bull to her majesty's liege subjects in
Sailor-fashion, he had no armor on but a light morion and a
cuirass, so he was not too much encumbered to prevent his springing
to his legs instantly, and setting to work, cutting and foining
right and left at every sound, for sight there was none.
Battles (as soldiers know, and newspaper editors do not) are
usually fought, not as they ought to be fought, but as they can be
fought; and while the literary man is laying down the law at his
desk as to how many troops should be moved here, and what rivers
should be crossed there, and where the cavalry should have been
brought up, and when the flank should have been turned, the
wretched man who has to do the work finds the matter settled for
him by pestilence, want of shoes, empty stomachs, bad roads, heavy
rains, hot suns, and a thousand other stern warriors who never show
So with this skirmish; "according to Cocker," it ought to have been
a very pretty one; for Hercules of Pisa, who planned the sortie,
had arranged it all (being a very sans-appel in all military
science) upon the best Italian precedents, and had brought against
this very hapless battery a column of a hundred to attack directly
in front, a company of fifty to turn the right flank, and a company
of fifty to turn the left flank, with regulations, orders,
passwords, countersigns, and what not; so that if every man had had
his rights (as seldom happens), Don Guzman Maria Magdalena de Soto,
who commanded the sortie, ought to have taken the work out of hand,
and annihilated all therein. But alas! here stern fate interfered.
They had chosen a dark night, as was politic; they had waited till
the moon was up, lest it should be too dark, as was politic
likewise: but, just as they had started, on came a heavy squall of
rain, through which seven moons would have given no light, and
which washed out the plans of Hercules of Pisa as if they had been
written on a schoolboy's slate. The company who were to turn the
left flank walked manfully down into the sea, and never found out
where they were going till they were knee-deep in water. The
company who were to turn the right flank, bewildered by the utter
darkness, turned their own flank so often, that tired of falling
into rabbit-burrows and filling their mouths with sand, they halted
and prayed to all the saints for a compass and lantern; while the
centre body, who held straight on by a trackway to within fifty
yards of the battery, so miscalculated that short distance, that
while they thought the ditch two pikes' length off, they fell into
it one over the other, and of six scaling ladders, the only one
which could be found was the very one which Amyas threw down again.
After which the clouds broke, the wind shifted, and the moon shone
out merrily. And so was the deep policy of Hercules of Pisa, on
which hung the fate of Ireland and the Papacy, decided by a ten
But where is Amyas?
In the ditch, aware that the enemy is tumbling into it, but unable
to find them; while the company above, finding it much too dark to
attempt a counter sortie, have opened a smart fire of musketry and
arrows on things in general, whereat the Spaniards are swearing
like Spaniards (I need say no more), and the Italians spitting like
venomous cats; while Amyas, not wishing to be riddled by friendly
balls, has got his back against the foot of the rampart, and waits
Suddenly the moon clears; and with one more fierce volley, the
English sailors, seeing the confusion, leap down from the
embrasures, and to it pell-mell. Whether this also was "according
to Cocker," I know not: but the sailor, then as now, is not
susceptible of highly-finished drill.
Amyas is now in his element, and so are the brave fellows at his
heels; and there are ten breathless, furious minutes among the
sand-hills; and then the trumpets blow a recall, and the sailors
drop back again by twos and threes, and are helped up into the
embrasures over many a dead and dying foe; while the guns of Fort
del Oro open on them, and blaze away for half an hour without
reply; and then all is still once more. And in the meanwhile, the
sortie against the deputy's camp has fared no better, and the
victory of the night remains with the English.
Twenty minutes after, Winter and the captains who were on shore
were drying themselves round a peat-fire on the beach, and talking
over the skirmish, when Will Cary asked--
"Where is Leigh? who has seen him? I am sadly afraid he has gone
too far, and been slain."
"Slain? Never less, gentlemen!" replied the voice of the very
person in question, as he stalked out of the darkness into the
glare of the fire, and shot down from his shoulders into the midst
of the ring, as he might a sack of corn, a huge dark body, which
was gradually seen to be a man in rich armor; who being so shot
down, lay quietly where he was dropped, with his feet (luckily for
him mailed) in the fire.
"I say," quoth Amyas, "some of you had better take him up, if he is
to be of any use. Unlace his helm, Will Cary."
"Pull his feet out of the embers; I dare say he would have been
glad enough to put us to the scarpines; but that's no reason we
should put him to them."
As has been hinted, there was no love lost between Admiral Winter
and Amyas; and Amyas might certainly have reported himself in a
more ceremonious manner. So Winter, whom Amyas either had not
seen, or had not chosen to see, asked him pretty sharply, "What the
plague he had to do with bringing dead men into camp?"
"If he's dead, it's not my fault. He was alive enough when I
started with him, and I kept him right end uppermost all the way;
and what would you have more, sir?"
"Mr. Leigh!" said Winter, "it behoves you to speak with somewhat
more courtesy, if not respect, to captains who are your elders and
"Ask your pardon, sir," said the giant, as he stood in front of the
fire with the rain steaming and smoking off his armor; "but I was
bred in a school where getting good service done was more esteemed
than making fine speeches."
"Whatsoever school you were trained in, sir," said Winter, nettled
at the hint about Drake; "it does not seem to have been one in
which you learned to obey orders. Why did you not come in when the
recall was sounded?"
"Because," said Amyas, very coolly, "in the first place I did not
hear it; and in the next, in my school I was taught when I had once
started not to come home empty-handed."
This was too pointed; and Winter sprang up with an oath--"Do you
mean to insult me, sir?"
"I am sorry, sir, that you should take a compliment to Sir Francis
Drake as an insult to yourself. I brought in this gentleman
because I thought he might give you good information; if he dies
meanwhile, the loss will be yours, or rather the queen's."
"Help me, then," said Cary, glad to create a diversion in Amyas's
favor, "and we will bring him round;" while Raleigh rose, and
catching Winter's arm, drew him aside, and began talking earnestly.
"What a murrain have you, Leigh, to quarrel with Winter?" asked two
"I say, my reverend fathers and dear children, do get the Don's
talking tackle free again, and leave me and the admiral to settle
it our own way."
There was more than one captain sitting in the ring, but
discipline, and the degrees of rank, were not so severely defined
as now; and Amyas, as a "gentleman adventurer," was, on land, in a
position very difficult to be settled, though at sea he was as
liable to be hanged as any other person on board; and on the whole
it was found expedient to patch the matter up. So Captain Raleigh
returning, said that though Admiral Winter had doubtless taken
umbrage at certain words of Mr. Leigh's, yet that he had no doubt
that Mr. Leigh meant nothing thereby but what was consistent with
the profession of a soldier and a gentleman, and worthy both of
himself and of the admiral.
From which proposition Amyas found it impossible to dissent;
whereon Raleigh went back, and informed Winter that Leigh had
freely retracted his words, and fully wiped off any imputation
which Mr. Winter might conceive to have been put upon him, and so
forth. So Winter returned, and Amyas said frankly enough--
"Admiral Winter, I hope, as a loyal soldier, that you will
understand thus far; that naught which has passed to-night shall in
any way prevent you finding me a forward and obedient servant to
all your commands, be they what they may, and a supporter of your
authority among the men, and honor against the foe, even with my
life. For I should he ashamed if private differences should ever
prejudice by a grain the public weal."
This was a great effort of oratory for Amyas; and he therefore, in
order to be safe by following precedent, tried to talk as much as
he could like Sir Richard Grenville. Of course Winter could answer
nothing to it, in spite of the plain hint of private differences,
but that he should not fail to show himself a captain worthy of so
valiant and trusty a gentleman; whereon the whole party turned
their attention to the captive, who, thanks to Will Cary, was by
this time sitting up, standing much in need of a handkerchief, and
looking about him, having been unhelmed, in a confused and doleful
"Take the gentleman to my tent," said Winter, "and let the surgeon
see to him. Mr. Leigh, who is he?--"
"An enemy, but whether Spaniard or Italian I know not; but he
seemed somebody among them, I thought the captain of a company. He
and I cut at each other twice or thrice at first, and then lost
each other; and after that I came on him among the sand-hills,
trying to rally his men, and swearing like the mouth of the pit,
whereby I guess him a Spaniard. But his men ran; so I brought him
"And how?" asked Raleigh. "Thou art giving us all the play but the
murders and the marriages."
"Why, I bid him yield, and he would not. Then I bid him run, and
he would not. And it was too pitch-dark for fighting; so I took
him by the ears, and shook the wind out of him, and so brought him
"Shook the wind out of him?" cried Cary, amid the roar of laughter
which followed. "Dost know thou hast nearly wrung his neck in two?
His vizor was full of blood."
"He should have run or yielded, then," said Amyas; and getting up,
slipped off to find some ale, and then to sleep comfortably in a
dry burrow which he scratched out of a sandbank.
The next morning, as Amyas was discussing a scanty breakfast of
biscuit (for provisions were running very short in camp), Raleigh
came up to him.
"What, eating? That's more than I have done to-day."
"Sit down, and share, then."
"Nay, lad, I did not come a-begging. I have set some of my rogues
to dig rabbits; but as I live, young Colbrand, you may thank your
stars that you are alive to-day to eat. Poor young Cheek--Sir John
Cheek, the grammarian's son--got his quittance last night by a
Spanish pike, rushing headlong on, just as you did. But have you
seen your prisoner?"
"No; nor shall, while he is in Winter's tent."
"Why not, then? What quarrel have you against the admiral, friend
Bobadil? Cannot you let Francis Drake fight his own battles,
without thrusting your head in between them?"
"Well, that is good! As if the quarrel was not just as much mine,
and every man's in the ship. Why, when he left Drake, he left us
all, did he not?"
"And what if he did? Let bygones be bygones is the rule of a
Christian, and of a wise man too, Amyas. Here the man is, at
least, safe home, in favor and in power; and a prudent youth will
just hold his tongue, mumchance, and swim with the stream."
"But that's just what makes me mad; to see this fellow, after
deserting us there in unknown seas, win credit and rank at home
here for being the first man who ever sailed back through the
Straits. What had he to do with sailing back at all! As well make
the fox a knight for being the first that ever jumped down a jakes
to escape the hounds. The fiercer the flight the fouler the fear,
"Amyas! Amyas! thou art a hard hitter, but a soft politician."
"I am no politician, Captain Raleigh, nor ever wish to be. An
honest man's my friend, and a rogue's my foe; and I'll tell both as
much, as long as I breathe."
"And die a poor saint," said Raleigh, laughing. "But if Winter
invites you to his tent himself, you won't refuse to come?"
"Why, no, considering his years and rank; but he knows too well to
"He knows too well not to do it," said Raleigh, laughing as he
walked away. And verily in half-an-hour came an invitation,
extracted of course, from the admiral by Raleigh's silver tongue,
which Amyas could not but obey.
"We all owe you thanks for last night's service, sir," said Winter,
who had for some good reasons changed his tone. "Your prisoner is
found to be a gentleman of birth and experience, and the leader of
the assault last night. He has already told us more than we had
hoped, for which also we are beholden to you; and, indeed, my Lord
Grey has been asking for you already."
"I have, young sir," said a quiet and lofty voice; and Amyas saw
limping from the inner tent the proud and stately figure of the
stern deputy, Lord Grey of Wilton, a brave and wise man, but with a
naturally harsh temper, which had been soured still more by the
wound which had crippled him, while yet a boy, at the battle of
Leith. He owed that limp to Mary Queen of Scots; and he did not
forget the debt.
"I have been asking for you; having heard from many, both of your
last night's prowess, and of your conduct and courage beyond the
promise of your years, displayed in that ever-memorable voyage,
which may well be ranked with the deeds of the ancient Argonauts."
Amyas bowed low; and the lord deputy went on, "You will needs wish
to see your prisoner. You will find him such a one as you need not
be ashamed to have taken, and as need not be ashamed to have been
taken by you: but here he is, and will, I doubt not, answer as much
for himself. Know each other better, gentlemen both: last night
was an ill one for making acquaintances. Don Guzman Maria
Magdalena Sotomayor de Soto, know the hidalgo, Amyas Leigh!"
As he spoke, the Spaniard came forward, still in his armor, all
save his head, which was bound up in a handkerchief.
He was an exceedingly tall and graceful personage, of that sangre
azul which marked high Visigothic descent; golden-haired and fair-
skinned, with hands as small and white as a woman's; his lips were
delicate but thin, and compressed closely at the corners of the
mouth; and his pale blue eye had a glassy dulness. In spite of his
beauty and his carriage, Amyas shrank from him instinctively; and
yet he could not help holding out his hand in return, as the
Spaniard, holding out his, said languidly, in most sweet and
"I kiss his hands and feet. The senor speaks, I am told, my native
"I have that honor."
"Then accept in it (for I can better express myself therein than in
English, though I am not altogether ignorant of that witty and
learned language) the expression of my pleasure at having fallen
into the hands of one so renowned in war and travel; and of one
also," he added, glancing at Amyas's giant bulk, "the vastness of
whose strength, beyond that of common mortality, makes it no more
shame for me to have been overpowered and carried away by him than
if my captor had been a paladin of Charlemagne's."
Honest Amyas bowed and stammered, a little thrown off his balance
by the unexpected assurance and cool flattery of his prisoner; but
"If you are satisfied, illustrious senor, I am bound to be so. I
only trust that in my hurry and the darkness I have not hurt you
The Don laughed a pretty little hollow laugh: "No, kind senor, my
head, I trust, will after a few days have become united to my
shoulders; and, for the present, your company will make me forget
any slight discomfort."
"Pardon me, senor; but by this daylight I should have seen that
"I doubt it not, senor, as having been yourself also in the
forefront of the battle," said the Spaniard, with a proud smile.
"If I am right, senor, you are he who yesterday held up the
standard after it was shot down."
"I do not deny that undeserved honor; and I have to thank the
courtesy of you and your countrymen for having permitted me to do
so with impunity."
"Ah, I heard of that brave feat," said the lord deputy. "You
should consider yourself, Mr. Leigh, honored by being enabled to
show courtesy to such a warrior."
How long this interchange of solemn compliments, of which Amyas was
getting somewhat weary, would have gone on, I know not; but at that
moment Raleigh entered hastily--
"My lord, they have hung out a white flag, and are calling for a
The Spaniard turned pale, and felt for his sword, which was gone;
and then, with a bitter laugh, murmured to himself--"As I
"I am very sorry to hear it. Would to Heaven they had simply
fought it out!" said Lord Grey, half to himself; and then, "Go,
Captain Raleigh, and answer them that (saving this gentleman's
presence) the laws of war forbid a parley with any who are leagued
with rebels against their lawful sovereign."
"But what if they wish to treat for this gentleman's ransom?"
"For their own, more likely," said the Spaniard; "but tell them, on
my part, senor, that Don Guzman refuses to be ransomed; and will
return to no camp where the commanding officer, unable to infect
his captains with his own cowardice, dishonors them against their
"You speak sharply, senor," said Winter, after Raleigh had gone
"I have reason, Senor Admiral, as you will find, I fear, erelong."
"We shall have the honor of leaving you here, for the present, sir,
as Admiral Winter's guest," said the lord deputy.
"But not my sword, it seems."
"Pardon me, senor; but no one has deprived you of your sword," said
"I don't wish to pain you, sir," said Amyas, "but I fear that we
were both careless enough to leave it behind last night."
A flash passed over the Spaniard's face, which disclosed terrible
depths of fury and hatred beneath that quiet mask, as the summer
lightning displays the black abysses of the thunder-storm; but like
the summer lightning it passed almost unseen; and blandly as ever,
"I can forgive you for such a neglect, most valiant sir, more
easily than I can forgive myself. Farewell, sir! One who has lost
his sword is no fit company for you." And as Amyas and the rest
departed, he plunged into the inner tent, stamping and writhing,
gnawing his hands with rage and shame.
As Amyas came out on the battery, Yeo hailed him:
"Master Amyas! Hillo, sir! For the love of Heaven, tell me!"
"Is his lordship stanch? Will he do the Lord's work faithfully,
root and branch: or will he spare the Amalekites?"
"The latter, I think, old hip-and-thigh," said Amyas, hurrying
forward to hear the news from Raleigh, who appeared in sight once
"They ask to depart with bag and baggage," said he, when he came
"God do so to me, and more also, if they carry away a straw!" said
Lord Grey. "Make short work of it, sir!"
"I do not know how that will be, my lord; as I came up a captain
shouted to me off the walls that there were mutineers; and, denying
that he surrendered, would have pulled down the flag of truce, but
the soldiers beat him off."
"A house divided against itself will not stand long, gentlemen.
Tell them that I give no conditions. Let them lay down their arms,
and trust in the Bishop of Rome who sent them hither, and may come
to save them if he wants them. Gunners, if you see the white flag
go down, open your fire instantly. Captain Raleigh, we need your
counsel here. Mr. Cary, will you be my herald this time?"
"A better Protestant never went on a pleasanter errand, my lord."
So Cary went, and then ensued an argument, as to what should be
done with the prisoners in case of a surrender.
I cannot tell whether my Lord Grey meant, by offering conditions
which the Spaniards would not accept, to force them into fighting
the quarrel out, and so save himself the responsibility of deciding
on their fate; or whether his mere natural stubbornness, as well as
his just indignation, drove him on too far to retract: but the
council of war which followed was both a sad and a stormy one, and
one which he had reason to regret to his dying day. What was to be
done with the enemy? They already outnumbered the English; and
some fifteen hundred of Desmond's wild Irish hovered in the forests
round, ready to side with the winning party, or even to attack the
English at the least sign of vacillation or fear. They could not
carry the Spaniards away with them, for they had neither shipping
nor food, not even handcuffs enough for them; and as Mackworth told
Winter when he proposed it, the only plan was for him to make San
Josepho a present of his ships, and swim home himself as he could.
To turn loose in Ireland, as Captain Touch urged, on the other
hand, seven hundred such monsters of lawlessness, cruelty, and
lust, as Spanish and Italian condottieri were in those days, was as
fatal to their own safety as cruel to the wretched Irish. All the
captains, without exception, followed on the same side. "What was
to be done, then?" asked Lord Grey, impatiently. "Would they have
him murder them all in cold blood?"
And for a while every man, knowing that it must come to that, and
yet not daring to say it; till Sir Warham St. Leger, the marshal of
Munster, spoke out stoutly: "Foreigners had been scoffing them too
long and too truly with waging these Irish wars as if they meant to
keep them alive, rather than end them. Mercy and faith to every
Irishman who would show mercy and faith, was his motto; but to
invaders, no mercy. Ireland was England's vulnerable point; it
might be some day her ruin; a terrible example must be made of
those who dare to touch the sore. Rather pardon the Spaniards for
landing in the Thames than in Ireland!"--till Lord Grey became much
excited, and turning as a last hope to Raleigh, asked his opinion:
but Raleigh's silver tongue was that day not on the side of
indulgence. He skilfully recapitulated the arguments of his
fellow-captains, improving them as he went on, till each worthy
soldier was surprised to find himself so much wiser a man than he
had thought; and finished by one of his rapid and passionate
perorations upon his favorite theme--the West Indian cruelties of
the Spaniards, ". . . by which great tracts and fair countries are
now utterly stripped of inhabitants by heavy bondage and torments
unspeakable. Oh, witless Islanders!" said he, apostrophizing the
Irish, "would to Heaven that you were here to listen to me! What
other fate awaits you, if this viper, which you are so ready to
take into your bosom, should be warmed to life, but to groan like
the Indians, slaves to the Spaniard; but to perish like the
Indians, by heavy burdens, cruel chains, plunder and ravishment;
scourged, racked, roasted, stabbed, sawn in sunder, cast to feed
the dogs, as simple and more righteous peoples have perished ere
now by millions? And what else, I say, had been the fate of
Ireland had this invasion prospered, which God has now, by our weak
hands, confounded and brought to naught? Shall we then answer it,
my lord, either to our conscience, our God, or our queen, if we
shall set loose men (not one of whom, I warrant, but is stained
with murder on murder) to go and fill up the cup of their iniquity
among these silly sheep? Have not their native wolves, their
barbarous chieftains, shorn, peeled, and slaughtered them enough
already, but we must add this pack of foreign wolves to the number
of their tormentors, and fit the Desmond with a body-guard of
seven, yea, seven hundred devils worse than himself? Nay, rather
let us do violence to our own human nature, and show ourselves in
appearance rigorous, that we may be kind indeed; lest while we
presume to be over-merciful to the guilty, we prove ourselves to be
over-cruel to the innocent."
"Captain Raleigh, Captain Raleigh," said Lord Grey, "the blood of
these men be on your head!"
"It ill befits your lordship," answered Raleigh, "to throw on your
subordinates the blame of that which your reason approves as
"I should have thought, sir, that one so noted for ambition as
Captain Raleigh would have been more careful of the favor of that
queen for whose smiles he is said to be so longing a competitor.
If you have not yet been of her counsels, sir, I can tell you you
are not likely to be. She will be furious when she hears of this
Lord Grey had lost his temper: but Raleigh kept his, and answered
"Her majesty shall at least not find me among the number of those
who prefer her favor to her safety, and abuse to their own profit
that over-tenderness and mercifulness of heart which is the only
blemish (and yet, rather like a mole on a fair cheek, but a new
beauty) in her manifold perfections."
At this juncture Cary returned.
"My lord," said he, in some confusion, "I have proposed your terms;
but the captains still entreat for some mitigation; and, to tell
you truth, one of them has insisted on accompanying me hither to
plead his cause himself."
"I will not see him, sir. Who is he?"
"His name is Sebastian of Modena, my lord."
"Sebastian of Modena? What think you, gentlemen? May we make an
exception in favor of so famous a soldier?"
"So villainous a cut-throat," said Zouch to Raleigh, under his
All, however, were for speaking with so famous a man; and in came,
in full armor, a short, bull-necked Italian, evidently of immense
strength, of the true Caesar Borgia stamp.
"Will you please to be seated, sir?" said Lord Grey, coldly.
"I kiss your hands, most illustrious: but I do not sit in an
enemy's camp. Ha, my friend Zouch! How has your signoria fared
since we fought side by side at Lepanto? So you too are here,
sitting in council on the hanging of me."
"What is your errand, sir? Time is short," said the lord deputy.
"Corpo di Bacco! It has been long enough all the morning, for my
rascals have kept me and my friend the Colonel Hercules (whom you
know, doubtless) prisoners in our tents at the pike's point. My
lord deputy, I have but a few words. I shall thank you to take
every soldier in the fort--Italian, Spaniard, and Irish--and hang
them up as high as Haman, for a set of mutinous cowards, with the
arch-traitor San Josepho at their head."
"I am obliged to you for your offer, sir, and shall deliberate
presently as to whether I shall not accept it."
"But as for us captains, really your excellency must consider that
we are gentlemen born, and give us either buena querra, as the
Spaniards say, or a fair chance for life; and so to my business."
"Stay, sir. Answer this first. Have you or yours any commission
to show either from the King of Spain or any other potentate?"
"Never a one but the cause of Heaven and our own swords. And with
them, my lord, we are ready to meet any gentlemen of your camp, man
to man, with our swords only, half-way between your leaguer and
ours; and I doubt not that your lordship will see fair play. Will
any gentleman accept so civil an offer? There sits a tall youth in
that corner who would suit me very well. Will any fit my gallant
comrades with half-an-hour's punto and stoccado?"
There was a silence, all looking at the lord deputy, whose eyes
were kindling in a very ugly way.
"No answer? Then I must proceed to exhortation. So! Will that be
And walking composedly across the tent, the fearless ruffian
quietly stooped down, and smote Amyas Leigh full in the face.
Up sprang Amyas, heedless of all the august assembly, and with a
single buffet felled him to the earth.
"Excellent!" said he, rising unabashed. "I can always trust my
instinct. I knew the moment I saw him that he was a cavalier worth
letting blood. Now, sir, your sword and harness, and I am at your
The solemn and sententious Englishmen were altogether taken aback
by the Italian's impudence; but Zouch settled the matter.
"Most noble captain, will you be pleased to recollect a certain
little occurrence at Messina, in the year 1575? For if you do not,
I do; and beg to inform this gentleman that you are unworthy of his
sword, and had you, unluckily for you, been an Englishman, would
have found the fashions of our country so different from your own
that you would have been then hanged, sir, and probably may be so
The Italian's sword flashed out in a moment: but Lord Grey
"No fighting here, gentlemen. That may wait; and, what is more,
shall wait till--Strike their swords down, Raleigh, Mackworth!
Strike their swords down! Colonel Sebastian, you will be pleased
to return as you came, in safety, having lost nothing, as (I
frankly tell you) you have gained nothing, by your wild bearing
here. We shall proceed to deliberate on your fate."
"I trust, my lord," said Amyas, "that you will spare this
braggart's life, at least for a day or two. For in spite of
Captain Zouch's warning, I must have to do with him yet, or my
cheek will rise up in judgment against me at the last day."
"Well spoken, lad," said the colonel, as he swung out. "So! worth
a reprieve, by this sword, to have one more rapier-rattle before
the gallows! Then I take back no further answer, my lord deputy?
Not even our swords, our virgin blades, signor, the soldier's
cherished bride? Shall we go forth weeping widowers, and leave to
strange embrace the lovely steel?"
"None, sir, by heaven!" said he, waxing wroth. "Do you come
hither, pirates as you are, to dictate terms upon a foreign soil?
Is it not enough to have set up here the Spanish flag, and claimed
the land of Ireland as the Pope's gift to the Spaniard; violated
the laws of nations, and the solemn treaties of princes, under
color of a mad superstition?"
"Superstition, my lord? Nothing less. Believe a philosopher who
has not said a pater or an ave for seven years past at least. Quod
tango credo, is my motto; and though I am bound to say, under pain
of the Inquisition, that the most holy Father the Pope has given
this land of Ireland to his most Catholic Majesty the King of
Spain, Queen Elizabeth having forfeited her title to it by heresy,--
why, my lord, I believe it as little as you do. I believe that
Ireland would have been mine, if I had won it; I believe
religiously that it is not mine, now I have lost it. What is, is,
and a fig for priests; to-day to thee, to-morrow to me. Addio!"
And out he swung
"There goes a most gallant rascal," said the lord deputy.
"And a most rascally gallant," said Zouch. "The murder of his own
page, of which I gave him a remembrancer, is among the least of his
"And now, Captain Raleigh," said Lord Grey, as you have been so
earnest in preaching this butchery, I have a right to ask none but
you to practise it."
Raleigh bit his lip, and replied by the "quip courteous--"
"I am at least a man, my lord, who thinks it shame to allow others
to do that which I dare not do myself."
Lord Grey might probably have returned "the countercheck
quarrelsome," had not Mackworth risen--
"And I, my lord, being in that matter at least one of Captain
Raleigh's kidney, will just go with him to see that he takes no
harm by being bold enough to carry out an ugly business, and
serving these rascals as their countrymen served Mr. Oxenham."
"I bid you good morning, then, gentlemen, though I cannot bid you
God speed," said Lord Grey; and sitting down again, covered his
face with his hands, and, to the astonishment of all bystanders,
burst, say the chroniclers, into tears.
Amyas followed Raleigh out. The latter was pale, but determined,
and very wroth against the deputy.
"Does the man take me for a hangman," said he, "that he speaks to
me thus? But such is the way of the great. If you neglect your
duty, they haul you over the coals; if you do it, you must do it on
your own responsibility. Farewell, Amyas; you will not shrink from
me as a butcher when I return?"
"God forbid! But how will you do it?"
"March one company in, and drive them forth, and let the other cut
them down as they come out.--Pah!"
. . . . . . .
It was done. Right or wrong, it was done. The shrieks and curses
had died away, and the Fort del Oro was a red shambles, which the
soldiers were trying to cover from the sight of heaven and earth,
by dragging the bodies into the ditch, and covering them with the
ruins of the rampart; while the Irish, who had beheld from the
woods that awful warning, fled trembling into the deepest recesses
of the forest. It was done; and it never needed to be done again.
The hint was severe, but it was sufficient. Many years passed
before a Spaniard set foot again in Ireland.
The Spanish and Italian officers were spared, and Amyas had Don
Guzman Maria Magdalena Sotomayor de Soto duly adjudged to him, as
his prize by right of war. He was, of course, ready enough to
fight Sebastian of Modena: but Lord Grey forbade the duel: blood
enough had been shed already. The next question was, where to
bestow Don Guzman till his ransom should arrive; and as Amyas could
not well deliver the gallant Don into the safe custody of Mrs.
Leigh at Burrough, and still less into that of Frank at Court, he
was fain to write to Sir Richard Grenville, and ask his advice, and
in the meanwhile keep the Spaniard with him upon parole, which he
frankly gave,--saying that as for running away, he had nowhere to
run to; and as for joining the Irish he had no mind to turn pig;
and Amyas found him, as shall be hereafter told, pleasant company
enough. But one morning Raleigh entered--
"I have done you a good turn, Leigh, if you think it one. I have
talked St. Leger into making you my lieutenant, and giving you the
custody of a right pleasant hermitage--some castle Shackatory or
other in the midst of a big bog, where time will run swift and
smooth with you, between hunting wild Irish, snaring snipes, and
drinking yourself drunk with usquebaugh over a turf fire."
"I'll go," quoth Amyas; "anything for work." So he went and took
possession of his lieutenancy and his black robber tower, and there
passed the rest of the winter, fighting or hunting all day, and
chatting and reading all the evening, with Senor Don Guzman, who,
like a good soldier of fortune, made himself thoroughly at home,
and a general favorite with the soldiers.
At first, indeed, his Spanish pride and stateliness, and Amyas's
English taciturnity, kept the two apart somewhat; but they soon
began, if not to trust, at least to like each other; and Don Guzman
told Amyas, bit by bit, who he was, of what an ancient house, and
of what a poor one; and laughed over the very small chance of his
ransom being raised, and the certainty that, at least, it could not
come for a couple of years, seeing that the only De Soto who had a
penny to spare was a fat old dean at St. Yago de Leon, in the
Caracas, at which place Don Guzman had been born. This of course
led to much talk about the West Indies, and the Don was as much
interested to find that Amyas had been one of Drake's world-famous
crew, as Amyas was to find that his captive was the grandson of
none other than that most terrible of man-hunters, Don Ferdinando
de Soto, the conqueror of Florida, of whom Amyas had read many a
time in Las Casas, "as the captain of tyrants, the notoriousest and
most experimented amongst them that have done the most hurts,
mischiefs, and destructions in many realms." And often enough his
blood boiled, and he had much ado to recollect that the speaker was
his guest, as Don Guzman chatted away about his grandfather's hunts
of innocent women and children, murders of caciques and burnings
alive of guides, "pour encourager les autres," without, seemingly,
the least feeling that the victims were human beings or subjects
for human pity; anything, in short, but heathen dogs, enemies of
God, servants of the devil, to be used by the Christian when he
needed, and when not needed killed down as cumberers of the ground.
But Don Guzman was a most finished gentleman nevertheless; and told
many a good story of the Indies, and told it well; and over and
above his stories, he had among his baggage two books,--the one
Antonio Galvano's "Discoveries of the World," a mine of winter
evening amusement to Amyas; and the other, a manuscript book,
which, perhaps, it had been well for Amyas had he never seen. For
it was none other than a sort of rough journal which Don Guzman had
kept as a lad, when he went down with the Adelantado Gonzales
Ximenes de Casada, from Peru to the River of Amazons, to look for
the golden country of El Dorado, and the city of Manoa, which
stands in the midst of the White Lake, and equals or surpasses in
glory even the palace of the Inca Huaynacapac; "all the vessels of
whose house and kitchen are of gold and silver, and in his wardrobe
statues of gold which seemed giants, and figures in proportion and
bigness of all the beasts, birds, trees, and herbs of the earth,
and the fishes of the water; and ropes, budgets, chests, and
troughs of gold: yea, and a garden of pleasure in an Island near
Puna, where they went to recreate themselves when they would take
the air of the sea, which had all kind of garden herbs, flowers,
and trees of gold and silver of an invention and magnificence till
then never seen."
Now the greater part of this treasure (and be it remembered that
these wonders were hardly exaggerated, and that there were many men
alive then who had beheld them, as they had worse things, "with
their corporal and mortal eyes") was hidden by the Indians when
Pizarro conquered Peru and slew Atahuallpa, son of Huaynacapac; at
whose death, it was said, one of the Inca's younger brothers fled
out of Peru, and taking with him a great army, vanquished all that
tract which lieth between the great Rivers of Amazons and Baraquan,
otherwise called Maranon and Orenoque.
There he sits to this day, beside the golden lake, in the golden
city, which is in breadth a three days' journey, covered, he and
his court, with gold dust from head to foot, waiting for the
fulfilment of the ancient prophecy which was written in the temple
of Caxamarca, where his ancestors worshipped of old; that heroes
shall come out of the West, and lead him back across the forests to
the kingdom of Peru, and restore him to the glory of his
Golden phantom! so possible, so probable, to imaginations which
were yet reeling before the actual and veritable prodigies of Peru,
Mexico, and the East Indies. Golden phantom! which has cost
already the lives of thousands, and shall yet cost more; from Diego
de Ordas, and Juan Corteso, and many another, who went forth on the
quest by the Andes, and by the Orinoco, and by the Amazons; Antonio
Sedenno, with his ghastly caravan of manacled Indians, "on whose
dead carcasses the tigers being fleshed, assaulted the Spaniards;"
Augustine Delgado, who "came to a cacique, who entertained him with
all kindness, and gave him beside much gold and slaves, three
nymphs very beautiful, which bare the names of three provinces,
Guanba, Gotoguane, and Maiarare. To requite which manifold
courtesies, he carried off, not only all the gold, but all the
Indians he could seize, and took them in irons to Cubagua, and sold
them for slaves; after which, Delgado was shot in the eye by an
Indian, of which hurt he died;" Pedro d'Orsua, who found the
cinnamon forests of Loxas, "whom his men murdered, and afterwards
beheaded Lady Anes his wife, who forsook not her lord in all his
travels unto death," and many another, who has vanished with
valiant comrades at his back into the green gulfs of the primaeval
forests, never to emerge again. Golden phantom! man-devouring,
whose maw is never satiate with souls of heroes; fatal to Spain,
more fatal still to England upon that shameful day, when the last
of Elizabeth's heroes shall lay down his head upon the block,
nominally for having believed what all around him believed likewise
till they found it expedient to deny it in order to curry favor
with the crowned cur who betrayed him, really because he alone
dared to make one last protest in behalf of liberty and
Protestantism against the incoming night of tyranny and
superstition. Little thought Amyas, as he devoured the pages of
that manuscript, that he was laying a snare for the life of the man
whom, next to Drake and Grenville, he most admired on earth.
But Don Guzman, on the other hand, seemed to have an instinct that
that book might be a fatal gift to his captor; for one day ere
Amyas had looked into it, he began questioning the Don about El
Dorado. Whereon Don Guzman replied with one of those smiles of
his, which (as Amyas said afterwards) was so abominably like a
sneer, that he had often hard work to keep his hands off the man--
"Ah! You have been eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge,
senor? Well; if you have any ambition to follow many another brave
captain to the pit, I know no shorter or easier path than is
contained in that little book."
"I have never opened your book," said Amyas; "your private
manuscripts are no concern of mine: but my man who recovered your
baggage read part of it, knowing no better; and now you are at
liberty to tell me as little as you like."
The "man," it should be said, was none other than Salvation Yeo,
who had attached himself by this time inseparably to Amyas, in
quality of body-guard: and, as was common enough in those days, had
turned soldier for the nonce, and taken under his patronage two or
three rusty bases (swivels) and falconets (four-pounders), which
grinned harmlessly enough from the tower top across the cheerful
expanse of bog.
Amyas once asked him, how he reconciled this Irish sojourn with his
vow to find his little maid? Yeo shook his head.
"I can't tell, sir, but there's something that makes me always to
think of you when I think of her; and that's often enough, the Lord
knows. Whether it is that I ben't to find the dear without your
help; or whether it is your pleasant face puts me in mind of hers;
or what, I can't tell; but don't you part me from you, sir, for I'm
like Ruth, and where you lodge I lodge; and where you go I go; and
where you die--though I shall die many a year first--there I'll
die, I hope and trust; for I can't abear you out of my sight; and
that's the truth thereof."
So Yeo remained with Amyas, while Cary went elsewhere with Sir
Warham St. Leger, and the two friends met seldom for many months;
so that Amyas's only companion was Don Guzman, who, as he grew more
familiar, and more careless about what he said and did in his