Part 8 out of 15
first with vainglory and then with wine?"
Salterne looked at him a while fixedly, and then, sticking out his
chin--"Because, Captain Leigh, I am a man who has all his life
tried the crooked road first, and found the straight one the safer
"Eh, sir? That is a strange speech for one who bears the character
of the most upright man in Bideford."
"Humph. So I thought myself once, sir; and well I have proved it.
But I'll be plain with you, sir. You've heard how--how I've fared
since you saw me last?"
Amyas nodded his head.
"I thought so. Shame rides post. Now then, Captain Leigh, listen
to me. I, being a plain man and a burgher, and one that never drew
iron in my life except to mend a pen, ask you, being a gentleman
and a captain and a man of honor, with a weapon to your side, and
harness to your back--what would you do in my place?"
"Humph!" said Amyas, "that would very much depend on whether 'my
place' was my own fault or not."
"And what if it were, sir? What if all that the charitable folks
of Bideford--(Heaven reward them for their tender mercies!)--have
been telling you in the last hour be true, sir,--true! and yet not
half the truth?"
Amyas gave a start.
"Ah, you shrink from me! Of course a man is too righteous to
forgive those who repent, though God is not."
"God knows, sir--"
"Yes, sir, God does know--all; and you shall know a little--as much
as I can tell--or you understand. Come upstairs with me, sir, as
you'll drink no more; I have a liking for you. I have watched you
from your boyhood, and I can trust you, and I'll show you what I
never showed to mortal man but one."
And, taking up a candle, he led the way upstairs, while Amyas
He stopped at a door, and unlocked it.
"There, come in. Those shutters have not been opened since she--"
and the old man was silent.
Amyas looked round the room. It was a low wainscoted room, such as
one sees in old houses: everything was in the most perfect
neatness. The snow-white sheets on the bed were turned down as if
ready for an occupant. There were books arranged on the shelves,
fresh flowers on the table; the dressing-table had all its woman's
mundus of pins, and rings, and brushes; even the dressing-gown lay
over the chair-back. Everything was evidently just as it had been
"This was her room, sir," whispered the old man.
Amyas nodded silently, and half drew back.
"You need not be modest about entering it now, sir," whispered he,
with a sort of sneer. "There has been no frail flesh and blood in
it for many a day."
"I sweep it out myself every morning, and keep all tidy. See
here!" and he pulled open a drawer. "Here are all her gowns, and
there are her hoods; and there--I know 'em all by heart now, and
the place of every one. And there, sir--"
And he opened a cupboard, where lay in rows all Rose's dolls, and
the worn-out playthings of her childhood.
"That's the pleasantest place of all in the room to me," said he,
whispering still, "for it minds me of when--and maybe, she may
become a little child once more, sir; it's written in the
Scripture, you know--"
"Amen!" said Amyas, who felt, to his own wonder, a big tear
stealing down each cheek.
"And now," he whispered, "one thing more. Look here!"--and pulling
out a key, he unlocked a chest, and lifted up tray after tray of
necklaces and jewels, furs, lawns, cloth of gold. "Look there!
Two thousand pound won't buy that chest. Twenty years have I been
getting those things together. That's the cream of many a Levant
voyage, and East Indian voyage, and West Indian voyage. My Lady
Bath can't match those pearls in her grand house at Tawstock; I got
'em from a Genoese, though, and paid for 'em. Look at that
embroidered lawn! There's not such a piece in London; no, nor in
Alexandria, I'll warrant; nor short of Calicut, where it came
from. . . . Look here again, there's a golden cup! I bought that
of one that was out with Pizarro in Peru. And look here, again!"--
and the old man gloated over the treasure.
"And whom do you think I kept all these for? These were for her
wedding-day--for her wedding-day. For your wedding-day, if you'd
been minded, sir! Yes, yours, sir! And yet, I believe, I was so
ambitious that I would not have let her marry under an earl, all
the while I was pretending to be too proud to throw her at the head
of a squire's son. Ah, well! There was my idol, sir. I made her
mad, I pampered her up with gewgaws and vanity; and then, because
my idol was just what I had made her, I turned again and rent her.
"And now," said he, pointing to the open chest, "that was what I
meant; and that" (pointing to the empty bed) "was what God meant.
Never mind. Come downstairs and finish your wine. I see you don't
care about it all. Why should you! you are not her father, and you
may thank God you are not. Go, and be merry while you can, young
sir! . . . And yet, all this might have been yours. And--but I
don't suppose you are one to be won by money--but all this may be
yours still, and twenty thousand pounds to boot."
"I want no money, sir, but what I can earn with my own sword."
"Earn my money, then!"
"What on earth do you want of me!"
"To keep your oath," said Salterne, clutching his arm, and looking
up into his face with searching eyes.
"My oath! How did you know that I had one?"
"Ah! you were well ashamed of it, I suppose, next day! A drunken
frolic all about a poor merchant's daughter! But there is nothing
hidden that shall not be revealed, nor done in the closet that is
not proclaimed on the house-tops."
"Ashamed of it, sir, I never was: but I have a right to ask how you
came to know it?"
"What if a poor fat squinny rogue, a low-born fellow even as I am,
whom you had baffled and made a laughing-stock, had come to me in
my loneliness and sworn before God that if you honorable gentlemen
would not keep your words, he the clown would?"
"And what if I had brought him where I have brought you, and shown
him what I have shown you, and, instead of standing as stiff as any
Spaniard, as you do, he had thrown himself on his knees by that
bedside, and wept and prayed, sir, till he opened my hard heart for
the first and last time, and I fell down on my sinful knees and
wept and prayed by him?"
"I am not given to weeping, Mr. Salterne," said Amyas; "and as for
praying, I don't know yet what I have to pray for, on her account:
my business is to work. Show me what I can do; and when you have
done that, it will be full time to upbraid me with not doing it."
"You can cut that fellow's throat."
"It will take a long arm to reach him."
"I suppose it is as easy to sail to the Spanish Main as it was to
sail round the world."
"My good sir," said Amyas, "I have at this moment no more worldly
goods than my clothes and my sword, so how to sail to the Spanish
Main, I don't quite see."
"And do you suppose, sir, that I should hint to you of such a
voyage if I meant you to be at the charge of it? No, sir; if you
want two thousand pounds, or five, to fit a ship, take it! Take
it, sir! I hoarded money for my child: and now I will spend it to
Amyas was silent for a while; the old man still held his arm, still
looked up steadfastly and fiercely in his face.
"Bring me home that man's head, and take ship, prizes--all! Keep
the gain, sir, and give me the revenge!"
"Gain? Do you think I need bribing, sir? What kept me silent was
the thought of my mother. I dare not go without her leave."
Salterne made a gesture of impatience.
"I dare not, sir; I must obey my parent, whatever else I do."
"Humph!" said he. "If others had obeyed theirs as well!--But you
are right, Captain Leigh, right. You will prosper, whoever else
does not. Now, sir, good-night, if you will let me be the first to
say so. My old eyes grow heavy early now-a-days. Perhaps it's old
age, perhaps it's sorrow."
So Amyas departed to the inn, and there, to his great joy, found
Cary waiting for him, from whom he learnt details, which must be
kept for another chapter, and which I shall tell, for convenience'
sake, in my own words and not in his.
HOW MR. JOHN BRIMBLECOMBE UNDERSTOOD THE NATURE OF AN OATH
"The Kynge of Spayn is a foul paynim,
And lieveth on Mahound;
And pity it were that lady fayre
Should marry a heathen hound."
About six weeks after the duel, the miller at Stow had come up to
the great house in much tribulation, to borrow the bloodhounds.
Rose Salterne had vanished in the night, no man knew whither.
Sir Richard was in Bideford: but the old steward took on himself to
send for the keepers, and down went the serving-men to the mill
with all the idle lads of the parish at their heels, thinking a
maiden-hunt very good sport; and of course taking a view of the
case as favorable as possible to Rose.
They reviled the miller and his wife roundly for hard-hearted old
heathens; and had no doubt that they had driven the poor maid to
throw herself over cliff, or drown herself in the sea; while all
the women of Stow, on the other hand, were of unanimous opinion
that the hussy had "gone off" with some bad fellow; and that pride
was sure to have a fall, and so forth.
The facts of the case were, that all Rose's trinkets were left
behind, so that she had at least gone off honestly; and nothing
seemed to be missing, but some of her linen, which old Anthony the
steward broadly hinted was likely to be found in other people's
boxes. The only trace was a little footmark under her bedroom
window. On that the bloodhound was laid (of course in leash), and
after a premonitory whimper, lifted up his mighty voice, and
started bell-mouthed through the garden gate, and up the lane,
towing behind him the panting keeper, till they reached the downs
above, and went straight away for Marslandmouth, where the whole
posse comitatus pulled up breathless at the door of Lucy Passmore.
Lucy, as perhaps I should have said before, was now a widow, and
found her widowhood not altogether contrary to her interest. Her
augury about her old man had been fulfilled; he had never returned
since the night on which he put to sea with Eustace and the
"Some natural tears she shed, but dried them soon"--
as many of them, at least, as were not required for purposes of
business; and then determined to prevent suspicion by a bold move;
she started off to Stow, and told Lady Grenville a most pathetic
tale: how her husband had gone out to pollock fishing, and never
returned: but how she had heard horsemen gallop past her window in
the dead of night, and was sure they must have been the Jesuits,
and that they had carried off her old man by main force, and
probably, after making use of his services, had killed and salted
him down for provision on their voyage back to the Pope at Rome;
after which she ended by entreating protection against those
"Popish skulkers up to Chapel," who were sworn to do her a
mischief; and by an appeal to Lady Grenville's sense of justice, as
to whether the queen ought not to allow her a pension, for having
had her heart's love turned into a sainted martyr by the hands of
Lady Grenville (who had a great opinion of Lucy's medical skill,
and always sent for her if one of the children had a "housty," i.
e. sore throat) went forth and pleaded the case before Sir Richard
with such effect, that Lucy was on the whole better off than ever
for the next two or three years. But now--what had she to do with
Rose's disappearance? and, indeed, where was she herself? Her door
was fast; and round it her flock of goats stood, crying in vain for
her to come and milk them; while from the down above, her donkeys,
wandering at their own sweet will, answered the bay of the
bloodhound with a burst of harmony.
"They'm laughing at us, keper, they neddies; sure enough, we'm lost
our labor here."
But the bloodhound, after working about the door a while, turned
down the glen, and never stopped till he reached the margin of the
"They'm taken water. Let's go back, and rout out the old witch's
"'Tis just like that old Lucy, to lock a poor maid into shame."
And returning, they attacked the cottage, and by a general
plebiscitum, ransacked the little dwelling, partly in indignation,
and partly, if the truth be told, in the hope of plunder; but
plunder there was none. Lucy had decamped with all her movable
wealth, saving the huge black cat among the embers, who at the
sight of the bloodhound vanished up the chimney (some said with a
strong smell of brimstone), and being viewed outside, was chased
into the woods, where she lived, I doubt not, many happy years, a
scourge to all the rabbits of the glen.
The goats and donkeys were driven off up to Stow; and the mob
returned, a little ashamed of themselves when their brief wrath was
past; and a little afraid, too, of what Sir Richard might say.
He, when he returned, sold the donkeys and goats, and gave the
money to the poor, promising to refund the same, if Lucy returned
and gave herself up to justice. But Lucy did not return; and her
cottage, from which the neighbors shrank as from a haunted place,
remained as she had left it, and crumbled slowly down to four fern-
covered walls, past which the little stream went murmuring on from
pool to pool--the only voice, for many a year to come, which broke
the silence of that lonely glen.
A few days afterwards, Sir Richard, on his way from Bideford to
Stow, looked in at Clovelly Court, and mentioned, with a "by the
by," news which made Will Cary leap from his seat almost to the
ceiling. What it was we know already.
"And there is no clue?" asked old Cary; for his son was speechless.
"Only this; I hear that some fellow prowling about the cliffs that
night saw a pinnace running for Lundy."
Will rose, and went hastily out of the room.
In half an hour he and three or four armed servants were on board a
trawling-skiff, and away to Lundy. He did not return for three
days, and then brought news: that an elderly man, seemingly a
foreigner, had been lodging for some months past in a part of the
ruined Moresco Castle, which was tenanted by one John Braund; that
a few weeks since a younger man, a foreigner also, had joined him
from on board a ship: the ship a Flushinger, or Easterling of some
sort. The ship came and went more than once; and the young man in
her. A few days since, a lady and her maid, a stout woman, came
with him up to the castle, and talked with the elder man a long
while in secret; abode there all night; and then all three sailed
in the morning. The fishermen on the beach had heard the young man
call the other father. He was a very still man, much as a mass-
priest might be. More they did not know, or did not choose to
Whereon old Cary and Sir Richard sent Will on a second trip with
the parish constable of Hartland (in which huge parish, for its
sins, is situate the Isle of Lundy, ten miles out at sea); who
returned with the body of the hapless John Braund, farmer,
fisherman, smuggler, etc.; which worthy, after much fruitless
examination (wherein examinate was afflicted with extreme deafness
and loss of memory), departed to Exeter gaol, on a charge of
"harboring priests, Jesuits, gipsies, and other suspect and
Poor John Braund, whose motive for entertaining the said ugly
customers had probably been not treason, but a wife, seven
children, and arrears of rent, did not thrive under the change from
the pure air of Lundy to the pestiferous one of Exeter gaol, made
infamous, but two years after (if I recollect right), by a "black
assizes," nearly as fatal as that more notorious one at Oxford; for
in it, "whether by the stench of the prisoners, or by a stream of
foul air," judge, jury, counsel, and bystanders, numbering among
them many members of the best families in Devon, sickened in court,
and died miserably within a few days.
John Braund, then, took the gaol-fever in a week, and died raving
in that noisome den: his secret, if he had one, perished with him,
and nothing but vague suspicion was left as to Rose Salterne's
fate. That she had gone off with the Spaniard, few doubted; but
whither, and in what character? On that last subject, be sure, no
mercy was shown to her by many a Bideford dame, who had hated the
poor girl simply for her beauty; and by many a country lady, who
had "always expected that the girl would be brought to ruin by the
absurd notice, beyond what her station had a right to, which was
taken of her," while every young maiden aspired to fill the throne
which Rose had abdicated. So that, on the whole, Bideford
considered itself as going on as well without poor Rose as it had
done with her, or even better. And though she lingered in some
hearts still as a fair dream, the business and the bustle of each
day soon swept that dream away, and her place knew her no more.
And Will Cary?
He was for a while like a man distracted. He heaped himself with
all manner of superfluous reproaches, for having (as he said) first
brought the Rose into disgrace, and then driven her into the arms
of the Spaniard; while St. Leger, who was a sensible man enough,
tried in vain to persuade him that the fault was not his at all;
that the two must have been attached to each other long before the
quarrel; that it must have ended so, sooner or later; that old
Salterne's harshness, rather than Cary's wrath, had hastened the
catastrophe; and finally, that the Rose and her fortunes were, now
that she had eloped with a Spaniard, not worth troubling their
heads about. Poor Will would not be so comforted. He wrote off to
Frank at Whitehall, telling him the whole truth, calling himself
all fools and villains, and entreating Frank's forgiveness; to
which he received an answer, in which Frank said that Will had no
reason to accuse himself; that these strange attachments were due
to a synastria, or sympathy of the stars, which ruled the destinies
of each person, to fight against which was to fight against the
heavens themselves; that he, as a brother of the Rose, was bound to
believe, nay, to assert at the sword's point if need were, that the
incomparable Rose of Torridge could make none but a worthy and
virtuous choice; and that to the man whom she had honored by her
affection was due on their part, Spaniard and Papist though he
might be, all friendship, worship, and loyal faith for evermore.
And honest Will took it all for gospel, little dreaming what agony
of despair, what fearful suspicions, what bitter prayers, this
letter had cost to the gentle heart of Francis Leigh.
He showed the letter triumphantly to St. Leger; and he was quite
wise enough to gainsay no word of it, at least aloud; but quite
wise enough, also, to believe in secret that Frank looked on the
matter in quite a different light; however, he contented himself
"The man is an angel as his mother is!" and there the matter
dropped for a few days, till one came forward who had no mind to
let it drop, and that was Jack Brimblecombe, now curate of Hartland
town, and "passing rich on forty pounds a year.
"I hope no offence, Mr. William; but when are you and the rest
going after--after her?" The name stuck in his throat.
Cary was taken aback.
"What's that to thee, Catiline the blood-drinker?" asked he, trying
to laugh it off.
"What? Don't laugh at me, sir, for it's no laughing matter. I
drank that night naught worse, I expect, than red wine. Whatever
it was, we swore our oaths, Mr. Cary; and oaths are oaths, say I."
"Of course, Jack, of course; but to go to look for her--and when
we've found her, cut her lover's throat. Absurd, Jack, even if she
were worth looking for, or his throat worth cutting. Tut, tut,
But Jack looked steadfastly in his face, and after some silence:
How far is it to the Caracas, then, sir?"
"What is that to thee, man?"
"Why, he was made governor thereof, I hear; so that would be the
place to find her?"
"You don't mean to go thither to seek her?" shouted Cary, forcing a
"That depends on whether I can go, sir; but if I can scrape the
money together, or get a berth on board some ship, why, God's will
must be done."
Will looked at him, to see if he had been drinking, or gone mad;
but the little pigs' eyes were both sane and sober.
Will knew no answer. To laugh at the poor fellow was easy enough;
to deny that he was right, that he was a hero and cavalier,
outdoing romance itself in faithfulness, not so easy; and Cary, in
the first impulse, wished him at the bottom of the bay for shaming
him. Of course, his own plan of letting ill alone was the
rational, prudent, irreproachable plan, and just what any gentleman
in his senses would have done; but here was a vulgar, fat curate,
out of his senses, determined not to let ill alone, but to do
something, as Cary felt in his heart, of a far diviner stamp.
"Well," said Jack, in his stupid steadfast way, "it's a very bad
look-out; but mother's pretty well off, if father dies, and the
maidens are stout wenches enough, and will make tidy servants,
please the Lord. And you'll see that they come to no harm, Mr.
William, for old acquaintance' sake, if I never come back."
Cary was silent with amazement.
"And, Mr. William, you know me for an honest man, I hope. Will you
lend me a five pound, and take my books in pawn for them, just to
help me out?"
"Are you mad, or in a dream? You will never find her!"
"That's no reason why I shouldn't do my duty in looking for her,
"But, my good fellow, even if you get to the Indies, you will be
clapt into the Inquisition, and burnt alive, as sure as your name
"I know that," said he, in a doleful tone; "and a sore struggle of
the flesh I have had about it; for I am a great coward, Mr.
William, a dirty coward, and always was, as you know: but maybe the
Lord will take care of me, as He does of little children and
drunken men; and if not, Mr. Will, I'd sooner burn, and have it
over, than go on this way any longer, I would!" and Jack burst out
"What way, my dear old lad?" said Will, softened as he well might
"Why, not--not to know whether--whether--whether she's married to
him or not--her that I looked up to as an angel of God, as pure as
the light of day; and knew she was too good for a poor pot-head
like me; and prayed for her every night, God knows, that she might
marry a king, if there was one fit for her--and I not to know
whether she's living in sin or not, Mr. William.--It's more than I
can bear, and there's an end of it. And if she is married to him
they keep no faith with heretics; they can dissolve the marriage,
or make away with her into the Inquisition; burn her, Mr. Cary, as
soon as burn me, the devils incarnate!"
Cary shuddered; the fact, true and palpable as it was, had never
struck him before.
"Yes! or make her deny her God by torments, if she hasn't done it
already for love to that-- I know how love will make a body sell
his soul, for I've been in love. Don't you laugh at me, Mr. Will,
or I shall go mad!"
"God knows, I was never less inclined to laugh at you in my life,
my brave old Jack."
"Is it so, then? Bless you for that word!" and Jack held out his
hand. "But what will become of my soul, after my oath, if I don't
seek her out, just to speak to her, to warn her, for God's sake,
even if it did no good; just to set before her the Lord's curse on
idolatry and Antichrist, and those who deny Him for the sake of any
creature, though I can't think he would be hard on her,--for who
could? But I must speak all the same. The Lord has laid the
burden on me, and done it must be. God help me!"
"Jack," said Cary, "if this is your duty, it is others'."
"No, sir, I don't say that; you're a layman, but I am a deacon, and
the chaplain of you all, and sworn to seek out Christ's sheep
scattered up and down this naughty world, and that innocent lamb
first of all."
"You have sheep at Hartland, Jack, already."
"There's plenty better than I will tend them, when I am gone; but
none that will tend her, because none love her like me, and they
won't venture. Who will? It can't be expected, and no shame to
"I wonder what Amyas Leigh would say to all this, if he were at
"Say? He'd do. He isn't one for talking. He'd go through fire
and water for her, you trust him, Will Cary; and call me an ass if
"Will you wait, then, till he comes back, and ask him?"
"He may not be back for a year and more."
"Hear reason, Jack. If you will wait like a rational and patient
man, instead of rushing blindfold on your ruin, something may be
"You think so!"
"I cannot promise; but--"
"But promise me one thing. Do you tell Mr. Frank what I say--or
rather, I'll warrant, if I knew the truth, he has said the very
same thing himself already."
"You are out there, old man; for here is his own handwriting."
Jack read the letter and sighed bitterly. "Well, I did take him
for another guess sort of fine gentleman. Still, if my duty isn't
his, it's mine all the same. I judge no man; but I go, Mr. Cary."
"But go you shall not till Amyas returns. As I live, I will tell
your father, Jack, unless you promise; and you dare not disobey
"I don't know even that, for conscience' sake," said Jack,
"At least, you stay and dine here, old fellow, and we will settle
whether you are to break the fifth commandment or not, over good
Now a good dinner was (as we know) what Jack loved, and loved too
oft in vain; so he submitted for the nonce, and Cary thought, ere
he went, that he had talked him pretty well round. At least he
went home, and was seen no more for a week.
But at the end of that time he returned, and said with a joyful
"I have settled all, Mr. Will. The parson of Welcombe will serve
my church for two Sundays, and I am away for London town, to speak
to Mr. Frank."
"To London? How wilt get there?"
"On Shanks his mare," said Jack, pointing to his bandy legs. "But
I expect I can get a lift on board of a coaster so far as Bristol,
and it's no way on to signify, I hear."
Cary tried in vain to dissuade him; and then forced on him a small
loan, with which away went Jack, and Cary heard no more of him for
At last he walked into Clovelly Court again just before supper-
time, thin and leg-weary, and sat himself down among the serving-
men till Will appeared.
Will took him up above the salt, and made much of him (which indeed
the honest fellow much needed), and after supper asked him in
private how he had sped.
"I have learnt a lesson, Mr. William. I've learnt that there is
one on earth loves her better than I, if she had but had the wit to
have taken him."
"But what says he of going to seek her?"
"He says what I say, Go! and he says what you say, Wait."
"Go? Impossible! How can that agree with his letter?"
"That's no concern of mine. Of course, being nearer heaven than I
am, he sees clearer what he should say and do than I can see for
him. Oh, Mr. Will, that's not a man, he's an angel of God; but
he's dying, Mr. Will."
"Yes, faith, of love for her. I can see it in his eyes, and hear
it in his voice; but I am of tougher hide and stiffer clay, and so
you see I can't die even if I tried. But I'll obey my betters, and
And so Jack went home to his parish that very evening, weary as he
was, in spite of all entreaties to pass the night at Clovelly. But
he had left behind him thoughts in Cary's mind, which gave their
owner no rest by day or night, till the touch of a seeming accident
made them all start suddenly into shape, as a touch of the freezing
water covers it in an instant with crystals of ice.
He was lounging (so he told Amyas) one murky day on Bideford quay,
when up came Mr. Salterne. Cary had shunned him of late, partly
from delicacy, partly from dislike of his supposed hard-
heartedness. But this time they happened to meet full; and Cary
could not pass without speaking to him.
"Well, Mr. Salterne, and how goes on the shipping trade?"
"Well enough, sir, if some of you young gentlemen would but follow
Mr. Leigh's example, and go forth to find us stay-at-homes new
markets for our ware."
"What? you want to be rid of us, eh?"
"I don't know why I should, sir. We sha'n't cross each other now,
sir, whatever might have been once. But if I were you, I should be
in the Indies about now, if I were not fighting the queen's battles
"In the Indies? I should make but a poor hand of Drake's trade."
And so the conversation dropped; but Cary did not forget the hint.
"So, lad, to make an end of a long story," said he to Amyas; "if
you are minded to take the old man's offer, so am I: and Westward-
ho with you, come foul come fair."
"It will be but a wild-goose chase, Will."
"If she is with him, we shall find her at La Guayra. If she is
not, and the villain has cast her off down the wind, that will be
only an additional reason for making an example of him."
"And if neither of them are there, Will, the Plate-fleets will be;
so it will be our own shame if we come home empty-handed. But will
your father let you run such a risk?"
"My father!" said Cary, laughing. "He has just now so good hope of
a long string of little Carys to fill my place, that he will be in
no lack of an heir, come what will."
"I tell you truth. I think he must have had a sly sup of that
fountain of perpetual youth, which our friend Don Guzman's
grandfather went to seek in Florida; for some twelvemonth since, he
must needs marry a tenant's buxom daughter; and Mistress Abishag
Jewell has brought him one fat baby already. So I shall go, back
to Ireland, or with you: but somewhere. I can't abide the thing's
squalling, any more than I can seeing Mistress Abishag sitting in
my poor dear mother's place, and informing me every other day that
she is come of an illustrious house, because she is (or is not)
third cousin seven times removed to my father's old friend, Bishop
Jewell of glorious memory. I had three-parts of a quarrel with the
dear old man the other day; for after one of her peacock-bouts, I
couldn't for the life of me help saying, that as the Bishop had
written an Apology for the people of England, my father had better
conjure up his ghost to write an apology for him, and head it, 'Why
green heads should grow on gray shoulders.'"
"You impudent villain! And what did he say?"
Laughed till he cried again, and told me if I did not like it I
might leave it; which is just what I intend to do. Only mind, if
we go, we must needs take Jack Brimblecombe with us, or he will
surely heave himself over Harty Point, and his ghost will haunt us
to our dying day."
"Jack shall go. None deserves it better."
After which there was a long consultation on practical matters, and
it was concluded that Amyas should go up to London and sound Frank
and his mother before any further steps were taken. The other
brethren of the Rose were scattered far and wide, each at his post,
and St. Leger had returned to his uncle, so that it would be unfair
to them, as well as a considerable delay, to demand of them any
fulfilment of their vow. And, as Amyas sagely remarked, "Too many
cooks spoil the broth, and half-a-dozen gentlemen aboard one ship
are as bad as two kings of Brentford."
With which maxim he departed next morning for London, leaving Yeo
THE MOST CHIVALROUS ADVENTURE OF THE GOOD SHIP ROSE
"He is brass within, and steel without,
With beams on his topcastle strong;
And eighteen pieces of ordinance
He carries on either side along."
Sir Andrew Barton.
Let us take boat, as Amyas did, at Whitehall-stairs, and slip down
ahead of him under old London Bridge, and so to Deptford Creek,
where remains, as it were embalmed, the famous ship Pelican, in
which Drake had sailed round the world. There she stands, drawn up
high and dry upon the sedgy bank of Thames, like an old warrior
resting after his toil. Nailed upon her mainmast are epigrams and
verses in honor of her and of her captain, three of which, by the
Winchester scholar, Camden gives in his History; and Elizabeth's
self consecrated her solemnly, and having banqueted on board, there
and then honored Drake with the dignity of knighthood. "At which
time a bridge of planks, by which they came on board, broke under
the press of people, and fell down with a hundred men upon it, who,
notwithstanding, had none of them any harm. So as that ship may
seem to have been built under a lucky planet."
There she has remained since as a show, and moreover as a sort of
dining-hall for jovial parties from the city; one of which would
seem to be on board this afternoon, to judge from the flags which
bedizen the masts, the sounds of revelry and savory steams which
issue from those windows which once were portholes, and the rushing
to and fro along the river brink, and across that lucky bridge, of
white-aproned waiters from the neighboring Pelican Inn. A great
feast is evidently toward, for with those white-aproned waiters are
gay serving men, wearing on their shoulders the city-badge. The
lord mayor is giving a dinner to certain gentlemen of the Leicester
house party, who are interested in foreign discoveries; and what
place so fit for such a feast as the Pelican itself?
Look at the men all round; a nobler company you will seldom see.
Especially too, if you be Americans, look at their faces, and
reverence them; for to them and to their wisdom you owe the
existence of your mighty fatherland.
At the head of the table sits the lord mayor; whom all readers will
recognize at once, for he is none other than that famous Sir Edward
Osborne, clothworker, and ancestor of the dukes of Leeds, whose
romance now-a-days is in every one's hands. He is aged, but not
changed, since he leaped from the window upon London Bridge into
the roaring tide below, to rescue the infant who is now his wife.
The chivalry and promptitude of the 'prentice boy have grown and
hardened into the thoughtful daring of the wealthy merchant
adventurer. There he sits, a right kingly man, with my lord Earl
of Cumberland on his right hand, and Walter Raleigh on his left;
the three talk together in a low voice on the chance of there being
vast and rich countries still undiscovered between Florida and the
River of Canada. Raleigh's half-scientific declamation and his
often quotations of Doctor Dee the conjuror, have less effect on
Osborne than on Cumberland (who tried many an adventure to foreign
parts, and failed in all of them; apparently for the simple reason
that, instead of going himself, he sent other people), and Raleigh
is fain to call to his help the quiet student who sits on his left
hand, Richard Hakluyt, of Oxford. But he is deep in talk with a
reverend elder, whose long white beard flows almost to his waist,
and whose face is furrowed by a thousand storms; Anthony Jenkinson
by name, the great Asiatic traveller, who is discoursing to the
Christ-church virtuoso of reindeer sledges and Siberian steppes,
and of the fossil ivory, plain proof of Noah's flood, which the
Tungoos dig from the ice-cliffs of the Arctic sea. Next to him is
Christopher Carlile, Walsingham's son-in-law (as Sidney also is
now), a valiant captain, afterwards general of the soldiery in
Drake's triumphant West Indian raid of 1585, with whom a certain
Bishop of Carthagena will hereafter drink good wine. He is now
busy talking with Alderman Hart the grocer, Sheriff Spencer the
clothworker, and Charles Leigh (Amyas's merchant-cousin), and with
Aldworth the mayor of Bristol, and William Salterne, alderman
thereof, and cousin of our friend at Bideford. For Carlile, and
Secretary Walsingham also, have been helping them heart and soul
for the last two years to collect money for Humphrey and Adrian
Gilbert's great adventures to the North-West, on one of which
Carlile was indeed to have sailed himself, but did not go after
all; I never could discover for what reason.
On the opposite side of the table is a group, scarcely less
interesting. Martin Frobisher and John Davis, the pioneers of the
North-West passage, are talking with Alderman Sanderson, the great
geographer and "setter forth of globes;" with Mr. Towerson, Sir
Gilbert Peckham, our old acquaintance Captain John Winter, and
last, but not least, with Philip Sidney himself, who, with his
accustomed courtesy; has given up his rightful place toward the
head of the table that he may have a knot of virtuosi all to
himself; and has brought with him, of course, his two especial
intimates, Mr. Edward Dyer and Mr. Francis Leigh. They too are
talking of the North-West passage: and Sidney is lamenting that he
is tied to diplomacy and courts, and expressing his envy of old
Martin Frobisher in all sorts of pretty compliments; to which the
other replies that,
"It's all very fine to talk of here, a sailing on dry land with a
good glass of wine before you; but you'd find it another guess sort
of business, knocking about among the icebergs with your beard
frozen fast to your ruff, Sir Philip, specially if you were a bit
squeamish about the stomach."
"That were a slight matter to endure, my dear sir, if by it I could
win the honor which her majesty bestowed on you, when her own ivory
hand waved a farewell 'kerchief to your ship from the windows of
"Well, sir, folks say you have no reason to complain of lack of
favors, as you have no reason to deserve lack; and if you can get
them by staying ashore, don't you go to sea to look for more, say
I. Eh, Master Towerson?"
Towerson's gray beard, which has stood many a foreign voyage, both
fair and foul, wags grim assent. But at this moment a Waiter
"Please my lord mayor's worship, there is a tall gentleman outside,
would speak with the Right Honorable Sir Walter Raleigh."
"Show him in, man. Sir Walter's friends are ours."
Amyas enters, and stands hesitating in the doorway.
"Captain Leigh!" cry half a-dozen voices.
"Why did you not walk in, sir?" says Osborne. "You should know
your way well enough between these decks."
"Well enough, my lords and gentlemen. But, Sir Walter--you will
excuse me"--and he gave Raleigh a look which was enough for his
quick wit. Turning pale as death, he rose, and followed Amyas into
an adjoining cabin. They were five minutes together; and then
Amyas came out alone.
In few words he told the company the sad story which we already
know. Ere it was ended, noble tears were glistening on some of
those stern faces.
"The old Egyptians," said Sir Edward Osborne, "when they banqueted,
set a corpse among their guests, for a memorial of human vanity.
Have we forgotten God and our own weakness in this our feast, that
He Himself has sent us thus a message from the dead?"
"Nay, my lord mayor," said Sidney, "not from the dead, but from the
realm of everlasting life."
"Amen!" answered Osborne. "But, gentlemen, our feast is at an end.
There are those here who would drink on merrily, as brave men
should, in spite of the private losses of which they have just had
news; but none here who can drink with the loss of so great a man
still ringing in his ears."
It was true. Though many of the guests had suffered severely by
the failure of the expedition, they had utterly forgotten that fact
in the awful news of Sir Humphrey's death; and the feast broke up
sadly and hurriedly, while each man asked his neighbor, "What will
the queen say?"
Raleigh re-entered in a few minutes, but was silent, and pressing
many an honest hand as he passed, went out to call a wherry,
beckoning Amyas to follow him. Sidney, Cumberland, and Frank went
with them in another boat, leaving the two to talk over the sad
They disembarked at Whitehall-stairs; Raleigh, Sidney, and
Cumberland went to the palace; and the two brothers to their
Amyas had prepared his speech to Frank about Rose Salterne, but now
that it was come to the point, he had not courage to begin, and
longed that Frank would open the matter. Frank, too, shrank from
what he knew must come, and all the more because he was ignorant
that Amyas had been to Bideford, or knew aught of the Rose's
So they went upstairs; and it was a relief to both of them to find
that their mother was at the Abbey; for it was for her sake that
both dreaded what was coming. So they went and stood in the bay-
window which looked out upon the river, and talked of things
indifferent, and looked earnestly at each other's faces by the
fading light, for it was now three years since they had met.
Years and events had deepened the contrast between the two
brothers; and Frank smiled with affectionate pride as he looked up
in Amyas's face, and saw that he was no longer merely the
rollicking handy sailor-lad, but the self-confident and stately
warrior, showing in every look and gesture
"The reason firm, the temperate will,
Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill,"
worthy of one whose education had been begun by such men as Drake
and Grenville, and finished by such as Raleigh and Gilbert. His
long locks were now cropped close to the head; but as a set-off,
the lips and chin were covered with rich golden beard; his face was
browned by a thousand suns and storms; a long scar, the trophy of
some Irish fight, crossed his right temple; his huge figure had
gained breadth in proportion to its height; and his hand, as it lay
upon the window-sill, was hard and massive as a smith's. Frank
laid his own upon it, and sighed; and Amyas looked down, and
started at the contrast between the two--so slender, bloodless, all
but transparent, were the delicate fingers of the courtier. Amyas
looked anxiously into his brother's face. It was changed, indeed,
since they last met. The brilliant red was still on either cheek,
but the white had become dull and opaque; the lips were pale, the
features sharpened; the eyes glittered with unnatural fire: and
when Frank told Amyas that he looked aged, Amyas could not help
thinking that the remark was far more true of the speaker himself.
Trying to shut his eyes to the palpable truth, he went on with his
chat, asking the names of one building after another.
"And so this is old Father Thames, with his bank of palaces?"
"Yes. His banks are stately enough; yet, you see, he cannot stay
to look at them. He hurries down to the sea; and the sea into the
ocean; and the ocean Westward-ho, forever. All things move
Westward-ho. Perhaps we may move that way ourselves some day,
"What do you mean by that strange talk?"
"Only that the ocean follows the primum mobile of the heavens, and
flows forever from east to west. Is there anything so strange in
my thinking of that, when I am just come from a party where we have
been drinking success to Westward-ho?"
"And much good has come of it! I have lost the best friend and the
noblest captain upon earth, not to mention all my little earnings,
in that same confounded gulf of Westward-ho."
"Yes, Sir Humphrey Gilbert's star has set in the West--why not?
Sun, moon, and planets sink into the West: why not the meteors of
this lower world? why not a will-o'-the-wisp like me, Amyas?"
"God forbid, Frank!"
"Why, then? Is not the West the land of peace, and the land of
dreams? Do not our hearts tell us so each time we look upon the
setting sun, and long to float away with him upon the golden-
cushioned clouds? They bury men with their faces to the East. I
should rather have mine turned to the West, Amyas, when I die; for
I cannot but think it some divine instinct which made the ancient
poets guess that Elysium lay beneath the setting sun. It is bound
up in the heart of man, that longing for the West. I complain of
no one for fleeing away thither beyond the utmost sea, as David
wished to flee, and be at peace."
"Complain of no one for fleeing thither?" asked Amyas. "That is
more than I do."
Frank looked inquiringly at him; and then--
"No. If I had complained of any one, it would have been of you
just now, for seeming to be tired of going Westward-ho."
"Do you wish me to go, then?"
"God knows," said Frank, after a moment's pause. "But I must tell
you now, I suppose, once and for all. That has happened at
"Spare us both, Frank; I know all. I came through Bideford on my
way hither; and came hither not merely to see you and my mother,
but to ask your advice and her permission."
"True heart! noble heart!" cried Frank. "I knew you would be
"Westward-ho it is, then?"
"Can we escape?"
"Amyas, does not that which binds you bind me?"
Amyas started back, and held Frank by the shoulders at arm's
length; as he did so, he could feel through, that his brother's
arms were but skin and bone.
"You? Dearest man, a month of it would kill you!"
Frank smiled, and tossed his head on one side in his pretty way.
"I belong to the school of Thales, who held that the ocean is the
mother of all life; and feel no more repugnance at returning to her
bosom again than Humphrey Gilbert did."
"But, Frank,--my mother?"
"My mother knows all; and would not have us unworthy of her."
"Impossible! She will never give you up!"
"All things are possible to them that believe in God, my brother;
and she believes. But, indeed, Doctor Dee, the wise man, gave her
but this summer I know not what of prognostics and diagnostics
concerning me. I am born, it seems, under a cold and watery
planet, and need, if I am to be long-lived, to go nearer to the
vivifying heat of the sun, and there bask out my little life, like
fly on wall. To tell truth, he has bidden me spend no more winters
here in the East; but return to our native sea-breezes, there to
warm my frozen lungs; and has so filled my mother's fancy with
stories of sick men, who were given up for lost in Germany and
France, and yet renewed their youth, like any serpent or eagle, by
going to Italy, Spain, and the Canaries, that she herself will be
more ready to let me go than I to leave her all alone. And yet I
must go, Amyas. It is not merely that my heart pants, as Sidney's
does, as every gallant's ought, to make one of your noble choir of
Argonauts, who are now replenishing the earth and subduing it for
God and for the queen; it is not merely, Amyas, that love calls
me,--love tyrannous and uncontrollable, strengthened by absence,
and deepened by despair; but honor, Amyas--my oath--"
And he paused for lack of breath, and bursting into a violent fit
of coughing, leaned on his brother's shoulder, while Amyas cried,
"Fools, fools that we were--that I was, I mean--to take that
"Not so," answered a gentle voice from behind: "you vowed for the
sake of peace on earth, and good-will toward men, and 'Blessed are
the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.' No
my sons, be sure that such self-sacrifice as you have shown will
meet its full reward at the hand of Him who sacrificed Himself for
"Oh, mother! mother!" said Amyas, "and do you not hate the very
sight of me--come here to take away your first-born?"
"My boy, God takes him, and not you. And if I dare believe in such
predictions, Doctor Dee assured me that some exceeding honor
awaited you both in the West, to each of you according to your
"Ah!" said Amyas. "My blessing, I suppose, will be like Esau's, to
live by my sword; while Jacob here, the spiritual man, inherits the
kingdom of heaven, and an angel's crown."
"Be it what it may, it will surely be a blessing, as long as you
are such, my children, as you have been. At least my Frank will be
safe from the intrigues of court, and the temptations of the world.
Would that I too could go with you, and share in your glory! Come,
now," said she, laying her head upon Amyas's breast, and looking up
into his face with one of her most winning smiles, "I have heard of
heroic mothers ere now who went forth with their sons to battle,
and cheered them on to victory. Why should I not go with you on a
more peaceful errand? I could nurse the sick, if there were any; I
could perhaps have speech of that poor girl, and win her back more
easily than you. She might listen to words from a woman--a woman,
too, who has loved--which she could not hear from men. At least I
could mend and wash for you. I suppose it is as easy to play the
good housewife afloat as on shore? Come, now!"
Amyas looked from one to the other.
"God only knows which of the two is less fit to go. Mother!
mother! you know not what you ask. Frank! Frank! I do not want you
with me. This is a sterner matter than either of you fancy it to
be; one that must be worked out, not with kind words, but with
sharp shot and cold steel."
"How?" cried both together, aghast.
"I must pay my men, and pay my fellow-adventurers; and I must pay
them with Spanish gold. And what is more, I cannot, as a loyal
subject of the queen's, go to the Spanish Main with a clear
conscience on my own private quarrel, unless I do all the harm that
my hand finds to do, by day and night, to her enemies, and the
enemies of God."
"What nobler knight-errantry?" said Frank, cheerfully; but Mrs.
"What! Frank too?" she said, half to herself; but her sons knew
what she meant. Amyas's warlike life, honorable and righteous as
she knew it to be, she had borne as a sad necessity: but that Frank
as well should become "a man of blood," was more than her gentle
heart could face at first sight. That one youthful duel of his he
had carefully concealed from her, knowing her feeling on such
matters. And it seemed too dreadful to her to associate that
gentle spirit with all the ferocities and the carnage of a
battlefield. "And yet," said she to herself, "is this but another
of the self-willed idols which I must renounce one by one?" And
then, catching at a last hope, she answered--
"Frank must at least ask the queen's leave to go; and if she
permits, how can I gainsay her wisdom?"
And so the conversation dropped, sadly enough.
But now began a fresh perplexity in Frank's soul, which amused
Amyas at first, when it seemed merely jest, but nettled him a good
deal when he found it earnest. For Frank looked forward to asking
the queen's permission for his voyage with the most abject
despondency and terror. Two or three days passed before he could
make up his mind to ask for an interview with her; and he spent the
time in making as much interest with Leicester, Hatton, and Sidney,
as if he were about to sue for a reprieve from the scaffold.
So said Amyas, remarking, further, that the queen could not cut his
head off for wanting to go to sea.
"But what axe so sharp as her frown?" said Frank in most lugubrious
Amyas began to whistle in a very rude way.
"Ah, my brother, you cannot comprehend the pain of parting from
"No, I can't. I would die for the least hair of her royal head,
God bless it! but I could live very well from now till Doomsday
without ever setting eyes on the said head."
"Plato's Troglodytes regretted not that sunlight which they had
Amyas, not understanding this recondite conceit, made no answer to
it, and there the matter ended for the time. But at last Frank
obtained his audience; and after a couple of hours' absence
returned quite pale and exhausted.
"Thank Heaven, it is over! She was very angry at first--what else
could she be?--and upbraided me with having set my love so low. I
could only answer, that my fatal fault was committed before the
sight of her had taught me what was supremely lovely, and only
worthy of admiration. Then she accused me of disloyalty in having
taken an oath which bound me to the service of another than her. I
confessed my sin with tears, and when she threatened punishment,
pleaded that the offence had avenged itself heavily already,--for
what worse punishment than exile from the sunlight of her presence,
into the outer darkness which reigns where she is not? Then she
was pleased to ask me, how I could dare, as her sworn servant, to
desert her side in such dangerous times as these; and asked me how
I should reconcile it to my conscience, if on my return I found her
dead by the assassin's knife? At which most pathetic demand I
could only throw myself at once on my own knees and her mercy, and
so awaited my sentence. Whereon, with that angelic pity which
alone makes her awfulness endurable, she turned to Hatton and
asked, 'What say you, Mouton? Is he humbled sufficiently?' and so
"Heigh-ho!" yawned Amyas;
"If the bridge had been stronger,
My tale had been longer."
"Amyas! Amyas!" quoth Frank, solemnly, "you know not what power
over the soul has the native and God-given majesty of royalty
(awful enough in itself) when to it is superadded the wisdom of the
sage, and therewithal the tenderness of the woman. Had I my will,
there should be in every realm not a salique, but an anti-salique
law: whereby no kings, but only queens should rule mankind. Then
would weakness and not power be to man the symbol of divinity;
love, and not cunning, would be the arbiter of every cause; and
chivalry, not fear, the spring of all obedience."
"Humph! There's some sense in that," quoth Amyas. "I'd run a mile
for a woman when I would not walk a yard for a man; and-- Who is
this our mother is bringing in? The handsomest fellow I ever saw
in my life!"
Amyas was not far wrong; for Mrs. Leigh's companion was none other
than Mr. Secretary, Amyas's Smerwick Fort acquaintance; alias Colin
Clout, alias Immerito, alias Edmund Spenser. Some half-jesting
conversation had seemingly been passing between the poet and the
saint; for as they came in she said with a smile (which was
somewhat of a forced one)--"Well, my dear sons, you are sure of
immortality, at least on earth; for Mr. Spenser has been vowing to
me to give your adventure a whole canto to itself in his 'Faerie
"And you no less, madam," said Spenser. "What were the story of
the Gracchi worth without the figure of Cornelia? If I honor the
fruit, I must not forget the stem which bears it. Frank, I
"Then you know the result of my interview, mother?"
"I know everything, and am content," said Mrs. Leigh.
"Mrs. Leigh has reason to be content," said Spenser," with that
which is but her own likeness."
Spare your flattery to an old woman, Mr. Spenser. When, pray, did
I" (with a most loving look at Frank) "refuse knighthood for duty's
"Knighthood?" cried Amyas. "You never told me that, Frank!"
"That may well be, Captain Leigh," said Spenser; "but believe me,
her majesty (so Hatton assures me) told him this day, no less than
that by going on this quest he deprived himself of that highest
earthly honor, which crowned heads are fain to seek from their own
Spenser did not exaggerate. Knighthood was then the prize of merit
only; and one so valuable, that Elizabeth herself said, when asked
why she did not bestow a peerage upon some favorite, that having
already knighted him, she had nothing better to bestow. It
remained for young Essex to begin the degradation of the order in
his hapless Irish campaign, and for James to complete that
degradation by his novel method of raising money by the sale of
baronetcies; a new order of hereditary knighthood which was the
laughing-stock of the day, and which (however venerable it may have
since become) reflects anything but honor upon its first
"I owe you no thanks, Colin," said Frank, "for having broached my
secret: but I have lost nothing after all. There is still an order
of knighthood in which I may win my spurs, even though her majesty
refuse me the accolade."
"What, then? you will not take it from a foreign prince?"
"Have you never read of that knighthood which is eternal in the
heavens, and of those true cavaliers whom John saw in Patmos,
riding on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean,
knights-errant in the everlasting war against the False Prophet and
the Beast? Let me but become worthy of their ranks hereafter, what
matter whether I be called Sir Frank on earth?"
"My son," said Mrs. Leigh, "remember that they follow One whose
vesture is dipped, not in the blood of His enemies, but in His
"I have remembered it for many a day; and remembered, too, that the
garments of the knights may need the same tokens as their
"Oh, Frank! Frank! is not His precious blood enough to cleanse all
sin, without the sacrifice of our own?"
"We may need no more than His blood, mother, and yet He may need
ours," said Frank.
. . . . . . .
How that conversation ended I know not, nor whether Spenser
fulfilled his purpose of introducing the two brothers and their
mother into his "Faerie Queene." If so, the manuscripts must have
been lost among those which perished (along with Spenser's baby) in
the sack of Kilcolman by the Irish in 1598. But we need hardly
regret the loss of them; for the temper of the Leighs and their
mother is the same which inspires every canto of that noblest of
poems; and which inspired, too, hundreds in those noble days, when
the chivalry of the Middle Ages was wedded to the free thought and
enterprise of the new.
. . . . . . .
So mother and sons returned to Bideford, and set to work. Frank
mortgaged a farm; Will Cary did the same (having some land of his
own from his mother). Old Salterne grumbled at any man save
himself spending a penny on the voyage, and forced on the
adventurers a good ship of two hundred tons burden, and five
hundred pounds toward fitting her out; Mrs. Leigh worked day and
night at clothes and comforts of every kind; Amyas had nothing to
give but his time and his brains: but, as Salterne said, the rest
would have been of little use without them; and day after day he
and the old merchant were on board the ship, superintending with
their own eyes the fitting of every rope and nail. Cary went about
beating up recruits; and made, with his jests and his frankness,
the best of crimps: while John Brimblecombe, beside himself with
joy, toddled about after him from tavern to tavern, and quay to
quay, exalted for the time being (as Cary told him) into a second
Peter the Hermit; and so fiercely did he preach a crusade against
the Spaniards, through Bideford and Appledore, Clovelly and
Ilfracombe, that Amyas might have had a hundred and fifty loose
fellows in the first fortnight. But he knew better: still smarting
from the effects of a similar haste in the Newfoundland adventure,
he had determined to take none but picked men; and by dint of labor
he obtained them.
Only one scapegrace did he take into his crew, named Parracombe;
and by that scapegrace hangs a tale. He was an old schoolfellow of
his at Bideford, and son of a merchant in that town--one of those
unlucky members who are "nobody's enemy but their own"--a handsome,
idle, clever fellow, who used his scholarship, of which he had
picked up some smattering, chiefly to justify his own escapades,
and to string songs together. Having drunk all that he was worth
at home, he had in a penitent fit forsworn liquor, and tormented
Amyas into taking him to sea, where he afterwards made as good a
sailor as any one else, but sorely scandalized John Brimblecombe by
all manner of heretical arguments, half Anacreontic, half smacking
of the rather loose doctrines of that "Family of Love" which
tormented the orthodoxy and morality of more than one Bishop of
Exeter. Poor Will Parracombe! he was born a few centuries too
early. Had he but lived now, he might have published a volume or
two of poetry, and then settled down on the staff of a newspaper.
Had he even lived thirty years later than he did, he might have
written frantic tragedies or filthy comedies for the edification of
James's profligate metropolis, and roistered it in taverns with
Marlowe, to die as Marlowe did, by a footman's sword in a drunken
brawl. But in those stern days such weak and hysterical spirits
had no fair vent for their "humors," save in being reconciled to
the Church of Rome, and plotting with Jesuits to assassinate the
queen, as Parry and Somerville, and many other madmen, did.
So, at least, some Jesuit or other seems to have thought, shortly
after Amyas had agreed to give the spendthrift a berth on board.
For one day Amyas, going down to Appledore about his business, was
called into the little Mariners' Rest inn, to extract therefrom
poor Will Parracombe, who (in spite of his vow) was drunk and
outrageous, and had vowed the death of the landlady and all her
kin. So Amyas fetched him out by the collar, and walked him home
thereby to Bideford; during which walk Will told him a long and
confused story; how an Egyptian rogue had met him that morning on
the sands by Boathythe, offered to tell his fortune, and prophesied
to him great wealth and honor, but not from the Queen of England;
had coaxed him to the Mariners' Rest, and gambled with him for
liquor, at which it seemed Will always won, and of course drank his
winnings on the spot; whereon the Egyptian began asking him all
sorts of questions about the projected voyage of the Rose--a good
many of which, Will confessed, he had answered before he saw the
fellow's drift; after which the Egyptian had offered him a vast sum
of money to do some desperate villainy; but whether it was to
murder Amyas or the queen, whether to bore a hole in the bottom of
the good ship Rose or to set the Torridge on fire by art-magic, he
was too drunk to recollect exactly. Whereon Amyas treated three-
quarters of the story as a tipsy dream, and contented himself by
getting a warrant against the landlady for harboring "Egyptians,"
which was then a heavy offence--a gipsy disguise being a favorite
one with Jesuits and their emissaries. She of course denied that
any gipsy had been there; and though there were some who thought
they had seen such a man come in, none had seen him go out again.
On which Amyas took occasion to ask, what had become of the
suspicious Popish ostler whom he had seen at the Mariners' Rest
three years before; and discovered, to his surprise, that the said
ostler had vanished from the very day of Don Guzman's departure
from Bideford. There was evidently a mystery somewhere: but
nothing could be proved; the landlady was dismissed with a
reprimand, and Amyas soon forgot the whole matter, after rating
Parracombe soundly. After all, he could not have told the gipsy
(if one existed) anything important; for the special destination of
the voyage (as was the custom in those times, for fear of Jesuits
playing into the hands of Spain) had been carefully kept secret
among the adventurers themselves, and, except Yeo and Drew, none of
the men had any suspicion that La Guayra was to be their aim.
And Salvation Yeo?
Salvation was almost wild for a few days, at the sudden prospect of
going in search of his little maid, and of fighting Spaniards once
more before he died. I will not quote the texts out of Isaiah and
the Psalms with which his mouth was filled from morning to night,
for fear of seeming irreverent in the eyes of a generation which
does not believe, as Yeo believed, that fighting the Spaniards was
as really fighting in God's battle against evil as were the wars of
Joshua or David. But the old man had his practical hint too, and
entreated to be sent back to Plymouth to look for men.
"There's many a man of the old Pelican, sir, and of Captain
Hawkins's Minion that knows the Indies as well as I, and longs to
be back again. There's Drew, sir, that we left behind (and no
better sailing-master for us in the West-country, and has accounts
against the Spaniards, too; for it was his brother, the Barnstaple
man, that was factor aboard of poor Mr. Andrew Barker, and got
clapt into the Inquisition at the Canaries); you promised him, sir,
that night he stood by you on board the Raleigh: and if you'll be
as good as your word, he'll be as good as his; and bring a score
more brave fellows with him."
So off went Yeo to Plymouth, and returned with Drew and a score of
old never-strikes. One look at their visages, as Yeo proudly
ushered them into the Ship Tavern, showed Amyas that they were of
the metal which he wanted, and that, with the four North-Devon men
who had gone round the world with him in the Pelican (who all
joined in the first week), he had a reserve-force on which he could
depend in utter need; and that utter need might come he knew as
well as any.
Nor was this all which Yeo had brought; for he had with him a
letter from Sir Francis Drake, full of regrets that he had not seen
"his dear lad" as he went through Plymouth. "But indeed I was up
to Dartmoor, surveying with cross-staff and chain, over my knees in
bog for a three weeks or more. For I have a project to bring down
a leat of fair water from the hill-tops right into Plymouth town,
cutting off the heads of Tavy, Meavy, Wallcomb, and West Dart, and
thereby purging Plymouth harbor from the silt of the mines whereby
it has been choked of late years, and giving pure drink not only to
the townsmen, but to the fleets of the queen's majesty; which if I
do, I shall both make some poor return to God for all His
unspeakable mercies, and erect unto myself a monument better than
of brass or marble, not merely honorable to me, but useful to my
countrymen."* Whereon Frank sent Drake a pretty epigram, comparing
Drake's projected leat to that river of eternal life whereof the
just would drink throughout eternity, and quoting (after the
fashion of those days) John vii. 38; while Amyas took more heed of
a practical appendage to the same letter, which was a list of hints
scrawled for his use by Captain John Hawkins himself, on all sea
matters, from the mounting of ordnance to the use of vitriol
against the scurvy, in default of oranges and "limmons;" all which
stood Amyas in good stead during the ensuing month, while Frank
grew more and more proud of his brother, and more and more humble
* This noble monument of Drake's piety and public spirit still
remains in full use.
For he watched with astonishment how the simple sailor, without
genius, scholarship, or fancy, had gained, by plain honesty,
patience, and common sense, a power over the human heart, and a
power over his work, whatsoever it might be, which Frank could only
admire afar off. The men looked up to him as infallible, prided
themselves on forestalling his wishes, carried out his slightest
hint, worked early and late to win a smile from him; while as for
him, no detail escaped him, no drudgery sickened him, no
disappointment angered him, till on the 15th of November, 1583,
dropped down from Bideford Quay to Appledore Pool the tall ship
Rose, with a hundred men on board (for sailors packed close in
those days), beef, pork, biscuit, and good ale (for ale went to sea
always then) in abundance, four culverins on her main deck, her
poop and forecastle well fitted with swivels of every size, and her
racks so full of muskets, calivers, long bows, pikes, and swords,
that all agreed so well-appointed a ship had never sailed "out over
The next day being Sunday, the whole crew received the Communion
together at Northam Church, amid a mighty crowd; and then going on
board again, hove anchor and sailed out over the Bar before a soft
east wind, to the music of sacbut, fife, and drum, with discharge
of all ordnance, great and small, with cheering of young and old
from cliff and strand and quay, and with many a tearful prayer and
blessing upon that gallant bark, and all brave hearts on board.
And Mrs. Leigh who had kissed her sons for the last time after the
Communion at the altar-steps (and what more fit place for a
mother's kiss?) went to the rocky knoll outside the churchyard
wall, and watched the ship glide out between the yellow denes, and
lessen slowly hour by hour into the boundless West, till her hull
sank below the dim horizon, and her white sails faded away into the
gray Atlantic mist, perhaps forever.
And Mrs. Leigh gathered her cloak about her, and bowed her head and
worshipped; and then went home to loneliness and prayer.
HOW THEY CAME TO BARBADOS, AND FOUND NO MEN THEREIN
"The sun's rim dips; the stars rush out;
At one stride comes the dark."
Land! land! land! Yes, there it was, far away to the south and
west, beside the setting sun, a long blue bar between the crimson
sea and golden sky. Land at last, with fresh streams, and cooling
fruits, and free room for cramped and scurvy-weakened limbs. And
there, too, might be gold, and gems, and all the wealth of Ind.
Who knew? Why not? The old world of fact and prose lay thousands
of miles behind them, and before them and around them was the realm
of wonder and fable, of boundless hope and possibility. Sick men
crawled up out of their stifling hammocks; strong men fell on their
knees and gave God thanks; and all eyes and hands were stretched
eagerly toward the far blue cloud, fading as the sun sank down, yet
rising higher and broader as the ship rushed on before the rich
trade-wind, which whispered lovingly round brow and sail, "I am the
faithful friend of those who dare!" "Blow freshly, freshlier yet,
thou good trade-wind, of whom it is written that He makes the winds
His angels, ministering breaths to the heirs of His salvation.
Blow freshlier yet, and save, if not me from death, yet her from
worse than death. Blow on, and land me at her feet, to call the
lost lamb home, and die!"
So murmured Frank to himself, as with straining eyes he gazed upon
that first outlier of the New World which held his all. His cheeks
were thin and wasted, and the hectic spot on each glowed crimson in
the crimson light of the setting sun. A few minutes more, and the
rainbows of the West were gone; emerald and topaz, amethyst and
ruby, had faded into silver-gray; and overhead, through the dark
sapphire depths, the Moon and Venus reigned above the sea.
"That should be Barbados, your worship," said Drew, the master;
"unless my reckoning is far out, which, Heaven knows, it has no
right to be, after such a passage, and God be praised."
"Barbados? I never heard of it."
"Very like, sir: but Yeo and I were here with Captain Drake, and I
was here after, too, with poor Captain Barlow; and there is good
harborage to the south and west of it, I remember."
"And neither Spaniard, cannibal, or other evil beast," said Yeo.
"A very garden of the Lord, sir, hid away in the seas, for an
inheritance to those who love Him. I heard Captain Drake talk of
planting it, if ever he had a chance."
"I recollect now," said Amyas, "some talk between him and poor Sir
Humphrey about an island here. Would God he had gone thither
instead of to Newfoundland!"
"Nay, then," said Yeo, "he is in bliss now with the Lord; and you
would not have kept him from that, sir?"
"He would have waited as willingly as he went, if he could have
served his queen thereby. But what say you, my masters? How can
we do better than to spend a few days here, to get our sick round,
before we make the Main, and set to our work?"
All approved the counsel except Frank, who was silent.
"Come, fellow-adventurer," said Cary, "we must have your voice
"To my impatience, Will," said he, aside in a low voice, "there is
but one place on earth, and I am all day longing for wings to fly
thither: but the counsel is right. I approve it."
So the verdict was announced, and received with a hearty cheer by
the crew; and long before morning they had run along the southern
shore of the island, and were feeling their way into the bay where
Bridgetown now stands. All eyes were eagerly fixed on the low
wooded hills which slept in the moonlight, spangled by fireflies,
with a million dancing stars; all nostrils drank greedily the
fragrant air, which swept from the land, laden with the scent of a
thousand flowers; all ears welcomed, as a grateful change from the
monotonous whisper and lap of the water, the hum of insects, the
snore of the tree-toads, the plaintive notes of the shore-fowl,
which fill a tropic night with noisy life.
At last she stopped; at last the cable rattled through the
hawsehole; and then, careless of the chance of lurking Spaniard or
Carib, an instinctive cheer burst from every throat. Poor fellows!
Amyas had much ado to prevent them going on shore at once, dark as
it was, by reminding them that it wanted but two hours of day.
"Never were two such long hours," said one young lad, fidgeting up
"You never were in the Inquisition," said Yeo, "or you'd know
better how slow time can run. Stand you still, and give God thanks
you're where you are."
"I say, Gunner, be there goold to that island?"
"Never heard of none; and so much the better for it," said Yeo,
"But, I say, Gunner," said a poor scurvy-stricken cripple, licking
his lips, "be there oranges and limmons there?"
"Not of my seeing; but plenty of good fruit down to the beach,
thank the Lord. There comes the dawn at last."
Up flushed the rose, up rushed the sun, and the level rays
glittered on the smooth stems of the palm-trees, and threw rainbows
across the foam upon the coral-reefs, and gilded lonely uplands far
away, where now stands many a stately country-seat and busy engine-
house. Long lines of pelicans went clanging out to sea; the hum of
the insects hushed, and a thousand birds burst into jubilant song;
a thin blue mist crept upward toward the inner downs, and vanished,
leaving them to quiver in the burning glare; the land-breeze, which
had blown fresh out to sea all night, died away into glassy calm,
and the tropic day was begun.
The sick were lifted over the side, and landed boat-load after
boat-load on the beach, to stretch themselves in the shade of the
palms; and in half-an-hour the whole crew were scattered on the
shore, except some dozen worthy men, who had volunteered to keep
watch and ward on board till noon.
And now the first instinctive cry of nature was for fruit! fruit!
fruit! The poor lame wretches crawled from place to place plucking
greedily the violet grapes of the creeping shore vine, and staining
their mouths and blistering their lips with the prickly pears, in
spite of Yeo's entreaties and warnings against the thorns. Some of
the healthy began hewing down cocoa-nut trees to get at the nuts,
doing little thereby but blunt their hatchets; till Yeo and Drew,
having mustered half-a-dozen reasonable men, went off inland, and
returned in an hour laden with the dainties of that primeval
orchard,--with acid junipa-apples, luscious guavas, and crowned
ananas, queen of all the fruits, which they had found by hundreds
on the broiling ledges of the low tufa-cliffs; and then all,
sitting on the sandy turf, defiant of galliwasps and jackspaniards,
and all the weapons of the insect host, partook of the equal
banquet, while old blue land-crabs sat in their house-doors and
brandished their fists in defiance at the invaders, and solemn
cranes stood in the water on the shoals with their heads on one
side, and meditated how long it was since they had seen bipeds
without feathers breaking the solitude of their isle.
And Frank wandered up and down, silent, but rather in wonder than
in sadness, while great Amyas walked after him, his mouth full of
junipa-apples, and enacted the part of showman, with a sort of
patronizing air, as one who had seen the wonders already, and was
above being astonished at them.
"New, new; everything new!" said Frank, meditatively. "Oh, awful
feeling! All things changed around us, even to the tiniest fly and
flower; yet we the same, the same forever!"
Amyas, to whom such utterances were altogether sibylline and
unintelligible, answered by:
"Look, Frank, that's a colibri. You 've heard of colibris?"
Frank looked at the living gem, which hung, loud humming, over some
fantastic bloom, and then dashed away, seemingly to call its mate,
and whirred and danced with it round and round the flower-starred
bushes, flashing fresh rainbows at every shifting of the lights.
Frank watched solemnly awhile, and then:
"Qualis Natura formatrix, si talis formata? Oh my God, how fair
must be Thy real world, if even Thy phantoms are so fair!"
"Phantoms?" asked Amyas, uneasily. "That's no ghost, Frank, but a
jolly little honey-sucker, with a wee wife, and children no bigger
than peas, but yet solid greedy little fellows enough, I'll
"Not phantoms in thy sense, good fellow, but in the sense of those
who know the worthlessness of all below."
"I'll tell you what, brother Frank, you are a great deal wiser than
me, I know; but I can't abide to see you turn up your nose as it
were at God's good earth. See now, God made all these things; and
never a man, perhaps, set eyes on them till fifty years agone; and
yet they were as pretty as they are now, ever since the making of
the world. And why do you think God could have put them here,
then, but to please Himself"--and Amyas took off his hat--"with the
sight of them? Now, I say, brother Frank, what's good enough to
please God, is good enough to please you and me."
"Your rebuke is just, dear old simple-hearted fellow; and God
forgive me, if with all my learning, which has brought me no
profit, and my longings, which have brought me no peace, I presume
at moments, sinner that I am, to be more dainty than the Lord
Himself. He walked in Paradise among the trees of the garden,
Amyas; and so will we, and be content with what He sends. Why
should we long for the next world, before we are fit even for this
"And in the meanwhile," said Amyas, "this earth's quite good
enough, at least here in Barbados."
"Do you believe," asked Frank, trying to turn his own thoughts, "in
those tales of the Spaniards, that the Sirens and Tritons are heard
singing in these seas?"
"I can't tell. There's more fish in the water than ever came out
of it, and more wonders in the world, I'll warrant, than we ever
dreamt of; but I was never in these parts before; and in the South
Sea, I must say, I never came across any, though Yeo says he has
heard fair music at night up in the Gulf, far away from land."
"The Spaniards report that at certain seasons choirs of these
nymphs assemble in the sea, and with ravishing music sing their
watery loves. It may be so. For Nature, which has peopled the
land with rational souls, may not have left the sea altogether
barren of them; above all, when we remember that the ocean is as it
were the very fount of all fertility, and its slime (as the most
learned hold with Thales of Miletus) that prima materia out of
which all things were one by one concocted. Therefore, the
ancients feigned wisely that Venus, the mother of all living
things, whereby they designed the plastic force of nature, was born
of the sea-foam, and rising from the deep, floated ashore upon the
isles of Greece."
"I don't know what plastic force is; but I wish I had had the luck
to be by when the pretty poppet came up: however, the nearest thing
I ever saw to that was maidens swimming alongside of us when we
were in the South Seas, and would have come aboard, too; but Drake
sent them all off again for a lot of naughty packs, and I verily
believe they were no better. Look at the butterflies, now! Don't
you wish you were a boy again, and not too proud to go catching
them in your cap?"
And so the two wandered on together through the glorious tropic
woods, and then returned to the beach to find the sick already
grown cheerful, and many who that morning could not stir from their
hammocks, pacing up and down, and gaining strength with every step.
"Well done, lads!" cried Amyas, "keep a cheerful mind. We will
have the music ashore after dinner, for want of mermaids to sing to
us, and those that can dance may."
And so those four days were spent; and the men, like schoolboys on
a holiday, gave themselves up to simple merriment, not forgetting,
however, to wash the clothes, take in fresh water, and store up a
good supply of such fruit as seemed likely to keep; until, tired
with fruitless rambles after gold, which they expected to find in
every bush, in spite of Yeo's warnings that none had been heard of
on the island, they were fain to lounge about, full-grown babies,
picking up shells and sea-fans to take home to their sweethearts,
smoking agoutis out of the hollow trees, with shout and laughter,
and tormenting every living thing they could come near, till not a
land-crab dare look out of his hole, or an armadillo unroll
himself, till they were safe out of the bay, and off again to the
westward, unconscious pioneers of all the wealth, and commerce, and
beauty, and science which has in later centuries made that lovely
isle the richest gem of all the tropic seas.
HOW THEY TOOK THE PEARLS AT MARGARITA
P. Henry. Why, what a rascal art thou, then, to praise him so for
Falstaff. O' horseback, ye cuckoo! but a-foot, he will not budge a
P. Henry. Yes, Jack, upon instinct.
Falstaff. I grant ye, upon instinct.
Henry IV. Pt. I.
They had slipped past the southern point of Grenada in the night,
and were at last within that fairy ring of islands, on which nature
had concentrated all her beauty, and man all his sin. If Barbados
had been invested in the eyes of the newcomers with some strange
glory, how much more the seas on which they now entered, which
smile in almost perpetual calm, untouched by the hurricane which
roars past them far to northward! Sky, sea, and islands were one
vast rainbow; though little marked, perhaps, by those sturdy
practical sailors, whose main thought was of Spanish gold and
pearls; and as little by Amyas, who, accustomed to the scenery of
the tropics, was speculating inwardly on the possibility of
extirpating the Spaniards, and annexing the West Indies to the
domains of Queen Elizabeth. And yet even their unpoetic eyes could
not behold without awe and excitement lands so famous and yet so
new, around which all the wonder, all the pity, and all the greed
of the age had concentrated itself. It was an awful thought, and
yet inspiriting, that they were entering regions all but unknown to
Englishmen, where the penalty of failure would be worse than death--
the torments of the Inquisition. Not more than five times before,
perhaps, had those mysterious seas been visited by English keels;
but there were those on board who knew them well, and too well;
who, first of all British mariners, had attempted under Captain
John Hawkins to trade along those very coasts, and, interdicted
from the necessaries of life by Spanish jealousy, had, in true
English fashion, won their markets at the sword's point, and then
bought and sold honestly and peaceably therein. The old mariners
of the Pelican and the Minion were questioned all day long for the
names of every isle and cape, every fish and bird; while Frank
stood by, listening serious and silent.
A great awe seemed to have possessed his soul; yet not a sad one:
for his face seemed daily to drink in glory from the glory round
him; and murmuring to himself at whiles, "This is the gate of
heaven," he stood watching all day long, careless of food and rest,
as every forward plunge of the ship displayed some fresh wonder.
Islands and capes hung high in air, with their inverted images
below them; long sand-hills rolled and weltered in the mirage; and
the yellow flower-beds, and huge thorny cacti like giant
candelabra, which clothed the glaring slopes, twisted, tossed, and
flickered, till the whole scene seemed one blazing phantom-world,
in which everything was as unstable as it was fantastic, even to
the sun itself, distorted into strange oval and pear-shaped figures
by the beds of crimson mist through which he sank to rest. But
while Frank wondered, Yeo rejoiced; for to the southward of that
setting sun a cluster of tall peaks rose from the sea; and they,
unless his reckonings were wrong, were the mountains of Macanao, at
the western end of Margarita, the Isle of Pearls, then famous in
all the cities of the Mediterranean, and at the great German fairs,
and second only in richness to that pearl island in the gulf of
Panama, which fifteen years before had cost John Oxenham his life.
The next day saw them running along the north side of the island,
having passed undiscovered (as far as they could see) the castle
which the Spaniards had built at the eastern end for the protection
of the pearl fisheries.
At last they opened a deep and still bight, wooded to the water's
edge; and lying in the roadstead a caravel, and three boats by her.
And at that sight there was not a man but was on deck at once, and
not a mouth but was giving its opinion of what should be done.
Some were for sailing right into the roadstead, the breeze blowing
fresh toward the shore (as it usually does throughout those islands
in the afternoon). However, seeing the billows break here and
there off the bay's mouth, they thought it better, for fear of
rocks, to run by quietly, and then send in the pinnace and the
boat. Yeo would have had them show Spanish colors, for fear of
alarming the caravel; but Amyas stoutly refused, "counting it," he
said, "a mean thing to tell a lie in that way, unless in extreme
danger, or for great ends of state."
So holding on their course till they were shut out by the next
point, they started; Cary in the largest boat with twenty men, and
Amyas in the smaller one with fifteen more; among whom was John
Brimblecombe, who must needs come in his cassock and bands, with an
old sword of his uncle's which he prized mightily.
When they came to the bight's mouth, they found, as they had
expected, coral rocks, and too many of them; so that they had to
run along the edge of the reef a long way before they could find a
passage for the boats. While they were so doing, and those of them
who were new to the Indies were admiring through the clear element
those living flower-beds, and subaqueous gardens of Nereus and
Amphitrite, there suddenly appeared below what Yeo called "a school
of sharks," some of them nearly as long as the boat, who looked up
at them wistfully enough out of their wicked scowling eyes.
"Jack," said Amyas, who sat next to him, "look how that big fellow
eyes thee: he has surely taken a fancy to that plump hide of thine,
and thinks thou wouldst eat as tender as any sucking porker."
Jack turned very pale, but said nothing.
Now, as it befell, just then that very big fellow, seeing a parrot-
fish come out of a cleft of the coral, made at him from below, as
did two or three more; the poor fish finding no other escape,
leaped clean into the air, and almost aboard the boat; while just
where he had come out of the water, three or four great brown
shagreened noses clashed together within two yards of Jack as he
sat, each showing its horrible rows of saw teeth, and then sank
sulkily down again, to watch for a fresh bait. At which Jack said
very softly, "In manus tuas, Domine!" and turning his eyes in
board, had no lust to look at sharks any more.
So having got through the reef, in they ran with a fair breeze, the
caravel not being now a musket-shot off. Cary laid her aboard
before the Spaniards had time to get to their ordnance; and
standing up in the stern-sheets, shouted to them to yield. The
captain asked boldly enough, in whose name? "In the name of common
sense, ye dogs," cries Will; "do you not see that you are but fifty
strong to our twenty?" Whereon up the side he scrambled, and the
captain fired a pistol at him. Cary knocked him over, unwilling to
shed needless blood; on which all the crew yielded, some falling on
their knees, some leaping overboard; and the prize was taken.
In the meanwhile, Amyas had pulled round under her stern, and
boarded the boat which was second from her, for the nearest was
fast alongside, and so a sure prize. The Spaniards in her yielded
without a blow, crying "Misericordia;" and the negroes, leaping
overboard, swam ashore like sea-dogs. Meanwhile, the third boat,
which was not an oar's length off, turned to pull away. Whereby
befell a notable adventure: for John Brimblecombe, casting about in
a valiant mind how he should distinguish himself that day, must
needs catch up a boat-hook, and claw on to her stern, shouting,
"Stay, ye Papists! Stay, Spanish dogs!"--by which, as was to be
expected, they being ten to his one, he was forthwith pulled
overboard, and fell all along on his nose in the sea, leaving the
hook fast in her stern.
Where, I know not how, being seized with some panic fear (his
lively imagination filling all the sea with those sharks which he
had just seen), he fell a-roaring like any town-bull, and in his
confusion never thought to turn and get aboard again, but struck
out lustily after the Spanish boat, whether in hope of catching
hold of the boat-hook which trailed behind her, or from a very
madness of valor, no man could divine; but on he swam, his cassock
afloat behind him, looking for all the world like a great black
monk-fish, and howling and puffing, with his mouth full of salt
water, "Stay, ye Spanish dogs! Help, all good fellows! See you
not that I am a dead man? They are nuzzling already at my toes!
He hath hold of my leg! My right thigh is bitten clean off! Oh
that I were preaching in Hartland pulpit! Stay, Spanish dogs!
Yield, Papist cowards, least I make mincemeat of you; and take me
aboard! Yield, I say, or my blood be on your heads! I am no
Jonah; if he swallow me, he will never cast me up again! it is
better to fall into the hands of man, than into the hands of devils
with three rows of teeth apiece. In manus tuas. Orate pro anima--!"
And so forth, in more frantic case than ever was Panurge in that
his ever-memorable seasickness; till the English, expecting him
every minute to be snapped up by sharks, or brained by the
Spaniard's oars, let fly a volley into the fugitives, on which they
all leaped overboard like their fellows; whereon Jack scrambled
into the boat, and drawing sword with one hand, while he wiped the
water out of his eyes with the other, began to lay about him like a
very lion, cutting the empty air, and crying, "Yield, idolaters!
Yield, Spanish dogs!" However, coming to himself after a while,
and seeing that there was no one on whom to flesh his maiden steel,
he sits down panting in the sternsheets, and begins stripping off
his hose. On which Amyas, thinking surely that the good fellow had
gone mad with some stroke of the sun, or by having fallen into the
sea after being overheated with his rowing, bade pull alongside,
and asked him in heaven's name what he was doing with his nether
tackle. On which Jack, amid such laughter as may be conceived,
vowed and swore that his right thigh was bitten clean through, and
to the bone; yea, and that he felt his hose full of blood; and so
would have swooned away for imaginary loss of blood (so strong was
the delusion on him) had not his friends, after much arguing on
their part, and anger on his, persuaded him that he was whole and
After which they set to work to overhaul their maiden prize, which
they found full of hides and salt-pork; and yet not of that alone;
for in the captain's cabin, and also in the sternsheets of the boat
which Brimblecombe had so valorously boarded, were certain frails
of leaves packed neatly enough, which being opened were full of
goodly pearls, though somewhat brown (for the Spaniards used to
damage the color in their haste and greediness, opening the shells
by fire, instead of leaving them to decay gradually after the
Arabian fashion); with which prize, though they could not guess its
value very exactly, they went off content enough, after some
malicious fellow had set the ship on fire, which, being laden with
hides, was no nosegay as it burnt.
Amyas was very angry at this wanton damage, in which his model,
Drake, had never indulged; but Cary had his jest ready. "Ah!" said
he, "'Lutheran devils' we are, you know; so we are bound to vanish,
like other fiends, with an evil savor."
As soon, however, as Amyas was on board again, he rounded his
friend Mr. Brimblecombe in the ear, and told him he had better play
the man a little more, roaring less before he was hurt, and keeping
his breath to help his strokes, if he wished the crew to listen
much to his discourses. Frank, hearing this, bade Amyas leave the
offender to him, and so began upon him with--
"Come hither, thou recreant Jack, thou lily-livered Jack, thou
hysterical Jack. Tell me now, thou hast read Plato's Dialogues,
and Aristotle's Logic?"
To which Jack very meekly answered, "Yes."
"Then I will deal with thee after the manner of those ancient
sages, and ask whether the greater must not contain the less?"
Jack. Yes, sure.
Frank. And that which is more than a part, contain that part, more
than which it is?
Jack. Yes, sure.
Frank. Then tell me, is not a priest more than a layman?
Jack (who was always very loud about the dignity of the priesthood,
as many of his cloth are, who have no other dignity whereon to
stand) answered very boldly, "Of course."
Frank. Then a priest containeth a man, and is a man, and something
over--viz, his priesthood?
Jack (who saw whither this would lead). I suppose so.
Frank. Then, if a priest show himself no man, he shows himself all
the more no priest?
"I'll tell you what, Master Frank," says Jack, "you may be right by
logic; but sharks aren't logic, nor don't understand it neither."
Frank. Nay but, my recalcitrant Jack, my stiff-necked Jack, is it
the part of a man to howl like a pig in a gate, because he thinks
that is there which is not there?
Jack had not a word to say.
Frank. And still more, when if that had been there, it had been
the duty of a brave man to have kept his mouth shut, if only to
keep salt water out, and not add the evil of choking to that of
"Ah!" says Jack, "that's all very fine; but you know as well as I
that it was not the Spaniards I was afraid of. They were Heaven's
handiwork, and I knew how to deal with them; but as for those
fiends' spawn of sharks, when I saw that fellow take the fish
alongside, it upset me clean, and there's an end of it!"