Part 9 out of 15
Frank. Oh, Jack, Jack, behold how one sin begets another! Just
now thou wert but a coward, and now thou art a Manichee. For thou
hast imputed to an evil creator that which was formed only for a
good end, namely, sharks, which were made on purpose to devour
useless carcasses like thine. Moreover, as a brother of the Rose,
thou wert bound by the vow of thy brotherhood to have leaped
joyfully down that shark's mouth.
Jack. Ay, very likely, if Mistress Rose had been in his stomach;
but I wanted to fight Spaniards just then, not to be shark-bitten.
Frank. Jack, thy answer savors of self-will. If it is ordained
that thou shouldst advance the ends of the Brotherhood by being
shark-bitten, or flea-bitten, or bitten by sharpers, to the
detriment of thy carnal wealth, or, shortly, to suffer any shame or
torment whatsoever, even to strappado and scarpines, thou art bound
to obey thy destiny, and not, after that vain Roman conceit, to
choose the manner of thine own death, which is indeed only another
sort of self-murder. We therefore consider thee as a cause of
scandal, and a rotten and creaking branch, to be excised by the
spiritual arm, and do hereby excise thee, and cut thee off.
Jack. Nay faith, that's a little too much, Master Frank. How long
have you been Bishop of Exeter?
Frank. Jack, thy wit being blinded, and full of gross vapors, by
reason of the perturbations of fear (which, like anger, is a short
madness, and raises in the phantasy vain spectres,--videlicet, of
sharks and Spaniards), mistakes our lucidity. For thy Manicheeism,
let his lordship of Exeter deal with it. For thy abominable
howling and caterwauling, offensive in a chained cur, but
scandalous in a preacher and a brother of the Rose, we do hereby
deprive thee of thine office of chaplain to the Brotherhood; and
warn thee, that unless within seven days thou do some deed equal to
the Seven Champions, or Ruggiero and Orlando's self, thou shalt be
deprived of sword and dagger, and allowed henceforth to carry no
more iron about thee than will serve to mend thy pen.
"And now, Jack," said Amyas, "I will give thee a piece of news. No
wonder that young men, as the parsons complain so loudly, will not
listen to the Gospel, while it is preached to them by men on whom
they cannot but look down; a set of softhanded fellows who cannot
dig, and are ashamed to beg; and, as my brother has it, must needs
be parsons before they are men.
Frank. Ay, and even though we may excuse that in Popish priests
and friars, who are vowed not to be men, and get their bread
shamefully and rascally by telling sinners who owe a hundred
measures to sit down quickly and take their bill and write fifty:
yet for a priest of the Church of England (whose business is not
merely to smuggle sinful souls up the backstairs into heaven, but
to make men good Christians by making them good men, good
gentlemen, and good Englishmen) to show the white feather in the
hour of need, is to unpreach in one minute all that he had been
preaching his life long.
"I tell thee," says Amyas, "if I had not taken thee for another
guess sort of man, I had never let thee have the care of a hundred
brave lads' immortal souls--"
And so on, both of them boarding him at once with their heavy shot,
larboard and starboard, till he fairly clapped his hands to his
ears and ran for it, leaving poor Frank laughing so heartily, that
Amyas was after all glad the thing had happened, for the sake of
the smile which it put into his sad and steadfast countenance.
The next day was Sunday; on which, after divine service (which they
could hardly persuade Jack to read, so shamefaced was he; and as
for preaching after it, he would not hear of such a thing), Amyas
read aloud, according to custom, the articles of their agreement;
and then seeing abreast of them a sloping beach with a shoot of
clear water running into the sea, agreed that they should land
there, wash the clothes, and again water the ship; for they had
found water somewhat scarce at Barbados. On this party Jack
Brimblecombe must needs go, taking with him his sword and a great
arquebuse; for he had dreamed last night (he said) that he was set
upon by Spaniards, and was sure that the dream would come true; and
moreover, that he did not very much care if they did, or if he ever
got back alive; "for it was better to die than be made an ape, and
a scarecrow, and laughed at by the men, and badgered with Ramus his
logic, and Plato his dialectical devilries, to confess himself a
Manichee, and, for aught he knew, a turbaned Turk, or Hebrew Jew,"
and so flung into the boat like a man desperate.
So they went ashore, after Amyas had given strict commands against
letting off firearms, for fear of alarming the Spaniards. There
they washed their clothes, and stretched their legs with great joy,
admiring the beauty of the place, and then began to shoot the seine
which they had brought on shore with them. "In which," says the
chronicler, "we caught many strange fishes, and beside them, a sea-
cow full seven feet long, with limpets and barnacles on her back,
as if she had been a stick of drift-timber. This is a fond and
foolish beast: and yet pious withal; for finding a corpse, she
watches over it day and night until it decay or be buried. The
Indians call her manati; who carries her young under her arm, and
gives it suck like a woman; and being wounded, she lamenteth aloud
with a human voice, and is said at certain seasons to sing very
melodiously; which melody, perhaps, having been heard in those
seas, is that which Mr. Frank reported to be the choirs of the
Sirens and Tritons. The which I do not avouch for truth, neither
rashly deny, having seen myself such fertility of Nature's wonders
that I hold him who denieth aught merely for its strangeness to be
a ribald and an ignoramus. Also one of our men brought in two
great black fowls which he had shot with a crossbow, bodied and
headed like a capon, but bigger than any eagle, which the Spaniards
call curassos; which, with that sea-cow, afterwards made us good
cheer, both roast and sodden, for the cow was very dainty meat, as
good as a four-months' calf, and tender and fat withal."
After that they set to work filling the casks and barricos, having
laid the boat up to the outflow of the rivulet. And lucky for them
it was, as it fell out, that they were all close together at that
work, and not abroad skylarking as they had been half-an-hour
Now John Brimblecombe had gone apart as soon as they landed, with a
shamefaced and doleful countenance; and sitting down under a great
tree, plucked a Bible from his bosom, and read steadfastly, girded
with his great sword, and his arquebuse lying by him. This too was
well for him, and for the rest; for they had not yet finished their
watering, when there was a cry that the enemy was on them; and out
of the wood, not twenty yards from the good parson, came full fifty
shot, with a multitude of negroes behind them, and an officer in
front on horseback, with a great plume of feathers in his hat, and
his sword drawn in his hand.
"Stand, for your lives!" shouted Amyas: and only just in time; for
there was ten good minutes lost in running up and down before he
could get his men into some order of battle. But when Jack beheld
the Spaniards, as if he had expected their coming, he plucked a
leaf and put it into the page of his book for a mark, laid the book
down soberly, caught up his arquebuse, ran like a mad dog right at
the Spanish captain, shot him through the body stark dead, and
then, flinging the arquebuse at the head of him who stood next,
fell on with his sword like a very Colbrand, breaking in among the
arquebuses, and striking right and left such ugly strokes, that the
Spaniards (who thought him a very fiend, or Luther's self come to
life to plague them) gave back pell-mell, and shot at him five or
six at once with their arquebuses: but whether from fear of him, or
of wounding each other, made so bad play with their pieces, that he
only got one shrewd gall in his thigh, which made him limp for many
a day. But as fast as they gave back he came on; and the rest by
this time ran up in good order, and altogether nearly forty men
well armed. On which the Spaniards turned, and went as fast as
they had come, while Cary hinted that, "The dogs had had such a
taste of the parson, that they had no mind to wait for the clerk
"Come back, Jack! are you mad?" shouted Amyas.
But Jack (who had not all this time spoken one word) followed them
as fiercely as ever, till, reaching a great blow at one of the
arquebusiers, he caught his foot in a root; on which down he went,
and striking his head against the ground, knocked out of himself
all the breath he had left (which between fatness and fighting was
not much), and so lay. Amyas, seeing the Spaniards gone, did not
care to pursue them: but picked up Jack, who, staring about, cried,
"Glory be! glory be!--How many have I killed? How many have I
"Nineteen, at the least," quoth Cary, "and seven with one back
stroke;" and then showed Brimblecombe the captain lying dead, and
two arquebusiers, one of which was the fugitive by whom he came to
his fall, beside three or four more who were limping away wounded,
some of them by their fellows' shot.
"There!" said Jack, pausing and blowing, "will you laugh at me any
more, Mr. Cary; or say that I cannot fight, because I am a poor
Cary took him by the hand, and asked pardon of him for his
scoffing, saying that he had that day played the best man of all of
them; and Jack, who never bore malice, began laughing in his turn,
"Oh, Mr. Cary, we have all known your pleasant ways, ever since you
used to put drumble-drones into my desk to Bideford school." And
so they went to the boats, and pulled off, thanking God (as they
had need to do) for their great deliverance: while all the boats'
crew rejoiced over Jack, who after a while grew very faint (having
bled a good deal without knowing it), and made as little of his
real wound as he made much the day before of his imaginary one.
Frank asked him that evening how he came to show so cool and
approved a valor in so sudden a mishap.
"Well, my masters," said Jack, "I don't deny that I was very
downcast on account of what you said, and the scandal which I had
given to the crew; but as it happened, I was reading there under
the tree, to fortify my spirits, the history of the ancient
worthies, in St. Paul his eleventh chapter to the Hebrews; and just
as I came to that, 'out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant
in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens,' arose the cry
of the Spaniards. At which, gentlemen, thinking in myself that I
fought in just so good a cause as they, and, as I hoped, with like
faith, there came upon me so strange an assurance of victory, that
I verily believed in myself that if there had been a ten thousand
of them, I should have taken no hurt. Wherefore," said Jack,
modestly, "there is no credit due to me, for there was no valor in
me whatsoever, but only a certainty of safety; and any coward would
fight if he knew that he were to have all the killing and none of
Which words he next day, being Sunday, repeated in his sermon which
he made on that chapter, with which all, even Salvation Yeo
himself, were well content and edified, and allowed him to be as
godly a preacher as he was (in spite of his simple ways) a valiant
and true-hearted comrade.
They brought away the Spanish officer's sword (a very good blade),
and also a great chain of gold which he wore about his neck; both
of which were allotted to Brimblecombe as his fair prize; but he,
accepting the sword, steadfastly refused the chain, entreating
Amyas to put it into the common stock; and when Amyas refused, he
cut it into links and distributed it among those of the boat's crew
who had succored him, winning thereby much good-will. "And indeed"
(says the chronicler), "I never saw in that worthy man, from the
first day of our school-fellowship till he was laid in his parish
church of Hartland (where he now sleeps in peace), any touch of
that sin of covetousness which has in all ages, and in ours no less
than others, beset especially (I know not why) them who minister
about the sanctuary. But this man, though he was ugly and lowly in
person, and in understanding simple, and of breeding but a poor
parson's son, had yet in him a spirit so loving and cheerful, so
lifted from base and selfish purposes to the worship of duty, and
to a generosity rather knightly than sacerdotal, that all through
his life he seemed to think only that it was more blessed to give
than to receive. And all that wealth which he gained in the wars
he dispersed among his sisters and the poor of his parish, living
unmarried till his death like a true lover and constant mourner (as
shall be said in place), and leaving hardly wherewith to bring his
body to the grave. At whom if we often laughed once, we should now
rather envy him, desiring to be here what he was, that we may be
hereafter where he is. Amen."
WHAT BEFELL AT LA GUAYRA
"Great was the crying, the running and riding,
Which at that season was made in the place;
The beacons were fired, as need then required,
To save their great treasure they had little space."
Winning of Cales.
The men would gladly have hawked awhile round Margarita and Cubagua
for another pearl prize. But Amyas having, as he phrased it,
"fleshed his dogs," was loth to hang about the islands after the
alarm had been given. They ran, therefore, south-west across the
mouth of that great bay which stretches from the Peninsula of Paria
to Cape Codera, leaving on their right hand Tortuga, and on their
left the meadow-islands of the Piritoos, two long green lines but a
few inches above the tideless sea. Yeo and Drew knew every foot of
the way, and had good reason to know it; for they, the first of all
English mariners, had tried to trade along this coast with Hawkins.
And now, right ahead, sheer out of the sea from base to peak, arose
higher and higher the mighty range of the Caracas mountains; beside
which all hills which most of the crew had ever seen seemed petty
mounds. Frank, of course, knew the Alps; and Amyas the Andes; but
Cary's notions of height were bounded by M'Gillicuddy's Reeks, and
Brimblecombe's by Exmoor; and the latter, to Cary's infinite
amusement, spent a whole day holding on by the rigging, and staring
upwards with his chin higher than his nose, till he got a stiff
neck. Soon the sea became rough and chopping, though the breeze
was fair and gentle; and ere they were abreast of the Cape, they
became aware of that strong eastward current which, during the
winter months, so often baffles the mariner who wishes to go to the
westward. All night long they struggled through the billows, with
the huge wall of Cape Codera a thousand feet above their heads to
the left, and beyond it again, bank upon bank of mountain, bathed
in the yellow moonlight.
Morning showed them a large ship, which had passed them during the
night upon the opposite course, and was now a good ten miles to the
eastward. Yeo was for going back and taking her. Of the latter he
made a matter of course; and the former was easy enough, for the
breeze blowing dead off the land, was a "soldier's wind, there and
back again," for either ship; but Amyas and Frank were both
"Why, Yeo, you said that one day more would bring us to La Guayra."
"All the more reason, sir, for doing the Lord's work thoroughly,
when He has brought us safely so far on our journey."
"She can pass well enough, and no loss."
"Ah, sirs, sirs, she is delivered into your hands, and you will
have to give an account of her."
"My good Yeo," said Frank, "I trust we shall give good account
enough of many a tall Spaniard before we return: but you know
surely that La Guayra, and the salvation of one whom we believe
dwells there, was our first object in this adventure."
Yeo shook his head sadly. "Ah, sirs, a lady brought Captain
Oxenham to ruin."
"You do not dare to compare her with this one?" said Frank and
Cary, both in a breath.
"God forbid, gentlemen: but no adventure will prosper, unless there
is a single eye to the Lord's work; and that is, as I take it, to
cripple the Spaniard, and exalt her majesty the queen. And I had
thought that nothing was more dear than that to Captain Leigh's
Amyas stood somewhat irresolute. His duty to the queen bade him
follow the Spanish vessel: his duty to his vow, to go on to La
Guayra. It may seem a far-fetched dilemma. He found it a
practical one enough.
However, the counsel of Frank prevailed, and on to La Guayra he
went. He half hoped that the Spaniard would see and attack them.
However, he went on his way to the eastward; which if he had not
done, my story had had a very different ending.
About mid-day a canoe, the first which they had seen, came
staggering toward them under a huge three-cornered sail. As it
came near, they could see two Indians on board.
"Metal floats in these seas, you see," quoth Cary. "There's a
fresh marvel, for you, Frank."
"Expound," quoth Frank, who was really ready to swallow any fresh
marvel, so many had he seen already.
"Why, how else would those two bronze statues dare to go to sea in
such a cockleshell, eh? Have I given you the dor now, master
"I am long past dors, Will. But what noble creatures they are! and
how fearlessly they are coming alongside! Can they know that we
are English, and the avengers of the Indians?"
"I suspect they just take us for Spaniards, and want to sell their
cocoa-nuts. See, the canoe is laden with vegetables."
"Hail them, Yeo!" said Amyas. "You talk the best Spanish, and I
want speech of one of them."
Yeo did so; the canoe, without more ado, ran alongside, and lowered
her felucca sail, while a splendid Indian scrambled on board like a
He was full six feet high, and as bold and graceful of bearing as
Frank or Amyas's self. He looked round for the first moment
smilingly, showing his white teeth; but the next, his countenance
changed; and springing to the side, he shouted to his comrade in
"Treachery! No Spaniard," and would have leaped overboard, but a
dozen strong fellows caught him ere he could do so.
It required some trouble to master him, so strong was he, and so
slippery his naked limbs; Amyas, meanwhile, alternately entreated
the men not to hurt the Indian, and the Indian to be quiet, and no
harm should happen to him; and so, after five minutes' confusion,
the stranger gave in sulkily.
"Don't bind him. Let him loose, and make a ring round him. Now,
my man, there's a dollar for you."
The Indian's eyes glistened, and he took the coin.
"All I want of you is, first, to tell me what ships are in La
Guayra, and next, to go thither on board of me, and show me which
is the governor's house, and which the custom-house."
The Indian laid the coin down on the deck, and crossing himself,
looked Amyas in the face.
"No, senor! I am a freeman and a cavalier, a Christian Guayqueria,
whose forefathers, first of all the Indians, swore fealty to the
King of Spain, and whom he calls to this day in all his
proclamations his most faithful, loyal, and noble Guayquerias. God
forbid, therefore, that I should tell aught to his enemies, who are
my enemies likewise."
A growl arose from those of the men who understood him; and more
than one hinted that a cord twined round the head, or a match put
between the fingers, would speedily extract the required
"God forbid!" said Amyas; "a brave and loyal man he is, and as such
will I treat him. Tell me, my brave fellow, how do you know us to
be his Catholic majesty's enemies?"
The Indian, with a shrewd smile, pointed to half-a-dozen different
objects, saying to each, "Not Spanish."
"Well, and what of that?"
"None but Spaniards and free Guayquerias have a right to sail these
"Thou art a right valiant bit of copper. Pick up thy dollar, and
go thy way in peace. Make room for him, men. We can learn what we
want without his help."
The Indian paused, incredulous and astonished. "Overboard with
you!" quoth Amyas. "Don't you know when you are well off?"
"Most illustrious senor," began the Indian, in the drawling
sententious fashion of his race (when they take the trouble to talk
at all), "I have been deceived. I heard that you heretics roasted
and ate all true Catholics (as we Guayquerias are), and that all
your padres had tails."
"Plague on you, sirrah!" squeaked Jack Brimblecombe. "Have I a
tail? Look here!"
"Quien sabe? Who knows?" quoth the Indian through his nose.
"How do you know we are heretics?" said Amyas.
"Humph! But in repayment for your kindness, I would warn you,
illustrious senor, not to go on to La Guayra. There are ships of
war there waiting for you; and moreover, the governor Don Guzman
sailed to the eastward only yesterday to look for you; and I wonder
much that you did not meet him."
"To look for us! On the watch for us!" said Cary. "Impossible;
lies! Amyas, this is some trick of the rascal's to frighten us
"Don Guzman came out but yesterday to look for us? Are you sure
you spoke truth?"
"As I live, senor, he and another ship, for which I took yours."
Amyas stamped upon the deck: that then was the ship which they had
"Fool that I was to have been close to my enemy, and let my
opportunity slip! If I had but done my duty, all would have gone
But it was too late to repine; and after all, the Indian's story
was likely enough to be false.
"Off with you!" said he; and the Indian bounded over the side into
his canoe, leaving the whole crew wondering at the stateliness and
courtesy of this bold sea-cavalier.
So Westward-ho they ran, beneath the mighty northern wall, the
highest cliff on earth, some seven thousand feet of rock parted
from the sea by a narrow strip of bright green lowland. Here and
there a patch of sugar-cane, or a knot of cocoa-nut trees, close to
the water's edge, reminded them that they were in the tropics; but
above, all was savage, rough, and bare as an Alpine precipice.
Sometimes deep clefts allowed the southern sun to pour a blaze of
light down to the sea marge, and gave glimpses far above of strange
and stately trees lining the glens, and of a veil of perpetual mist
which shrouded the inner summits; while up and down, between them
and the mountain side, white fleecy clouds hung motionless in the
burning air, increasing the impression of vastness and of solemn
rest, which was already overpowering.
"Within those mountains, three thousand feet above our heads," said
Drew, the master, "lies Saint Yago de Leon, the great city which
the Spaniards founded fifteen years agone."
"Is it a rich place?" asked Cary.
"Very, they say."
"Is it a strong place?" asked Amyas.
"No forts to it at all, they say. The Spaniards boast, that Heaven
has made such good walls to it already, that man need make none."
"I don't know," quoth Amyas. "Lads, could you climb those hills,
do you think?"
"Rather higher than Harty Point, sir: but it depends pretty much on
what's behind them."
And now the last point is rounded, and they are full in sight of
the spot in quest of which they have sailed four thousand miles of
sea. A low black cliff, crowned by a wall; a battery at either
end. Within, a few narrow streets of white houses, running
parallel with the sea, upon a strip of flat, which seemed not two
hundred yards in breadth; and behind, the mountain wall, covering
the whole in deepest shade. How that wall was ever ascended to the
inland seemed the puzzle; but Drew, who had been off the place
before, pointed out to them a narrow path, which wound upwards
through a glen, seemingly sheer perpendicular. That was the road
to the capital, if any man dare try it. In spite of the shadow of
the mountain, the whole place wore a dusty and glaring look. The
breaths of air which came off the land were utterly stifling; and
no wonder, for La Guayra, owing to the radiation of that vast fire-
brick of heated rock, is one of the hottest spots upon the face of
the whole earth.
Where was the harbor? There was none. Only an open roadstead,
wherein lay tossing at anchor five vessels. The two outer ones
were small merchant caravels. Behind them lay two long, low, ugly-
looking craft, at sight of which Yeo gave a long whew.
"Galleys, as I'm a sinful saint! And what's that big one inside of
them, Robert Drew? She has more than hawseholes in her idolatrous
black sides, I think."
"We shall open her astern of the galleys in another minute," said
Amyas. "Look out, Cary, your eyes are better than mine."
"Six round portholes on the main deck," quoth Will.
"And I can see the brass patararoes glittering on her poop," quoth
Amyas. "Will, we're in for it."
"In for it we are, captain.
"Farewell, farewell, my parents dear.
I never shall see you more, I fear.
Let's go in, nevertheless, and pound the Don's ribs, my old lad of
Smerwick. Eh? Three to one is very fair odds."
"Not underneath those fort guns, I beg leave to say," quoth Yeo.
"If the Philistines will but come out unto us, we will make them
like unto Zeba and Zalmunna."
"Quite true," said Amyas. "Game cocks are game cocks, but reason's
"If the Philistines are not coming out, they are going to send a
messenger instead," quoth Cary. "Look out, all thin skulls!"
And as he spoke, a puff of white smoke rolled from the eastern
fort, and a heavy ball plunged into the water between it and the
"I don't altogether like this," quoth Amyas. "What do they mean by
firing on us without warning? And what are these ships of war
doing here? Drew, you told me the armadas never lay here."
"No more, I believe, they do, sir, on account of the anchorage
being so bad, as you may see. I'm mortal afeared that rascal's
story was true, and that the Dons have got wind of our coming."
"Run up a white flag, at all events. If they do expect us, they
must have known some time since, or how could they have got their
"True, sir. They must have come from Santa Marta, at the least;
perhaps from Cartagena. And that would take a month at least going
Amyas suddenly recollected Eustace's threat in the wayside inn.
Could he have betrayed their purpose? Impossible!
"Let us hold a council of war, at all events, Frank."
Frank was absorbed in a very different matter. A half-mile to the
eastward of the town, two or three hundred feet up the steep
mountain side, stood a large, low, white house embosomed in trees
and gardens. There was no other house of similar size near; no
place for one. And was not that the royal flag of Spain which
flaunted before it? That must be the governor's house; that must
be the abode of the Rose of Torridge! And Frank stood devouring it
with wild eyes, till he had persuaded himself that he could see a
woman's figure walking upon the terrace in front, and that the
figure was none other than hers whom he sought. Amyas could hardly
tear him away to a council of war, which was a sad, and only not a
The three adventurers, with Brimblecombe, Yeo, and Drew, went apart
upon the poop; and each looked the other in the face awhile. For
what was to be done? The plans and hopes of months were brought to
naught in an hour.
"It is impossible, you see," said Amyas, at last, "to surprise the
town by land, while these ships are here; for if we land our men,
we leave our ship without defence."
"As impossible as to challenge Don Guzman while he is not here,"
"I wonder why the ships have not opened on us already," said Drew.
"Perhaps they respect our flag of truce," said Cary. "Why not send
in a boat to treat with them, and to inquire for--
"For her?" interrupted Frank. "If we show that we are aware of her
existence, her name is blasted in the eyes of those jealous
"And as for respecting our flag of truce, gentlemen," said Yeo, "if
you will take an old man's advice, trust them not. They will keep
the same faith with us as they kept with Captain Hawkins at San
Juan d'Ulloa, in that accursed business which was the beginning of
all the wars; when we might have taken the whole plate-fleet, with
two hundred thousand pounds' worth of gold on board, and did not,
but only asked license to trade like honest men. And yet, after
they had granted us license, and deceived us by fair speech into
landing ourselves and our ordnance, the governor and all the fleet
set upon us, five to one, and gave no quarter to any soul whom he
took. No, sir; I expect the only reason why they don't attack us
is, because their crews are not on board."
"They will be, soon enough, then," said Amyas. "I can see soldiers
coming down the landing-stairs."
And, in fact, boats full of armed men began to push off to the
"We may thank Heaven," said Drew, "that we were not here two hours
agone. The sun will be down before they are ready for sea, and the
fellows will have no stomach to go looking for us by night."
"So much the worse for us. If they will but do that, we may give
them the slip, and back again to the town, and there try our luck;
for I cannot find it in my heart to leave the place without having
one dash at it."
Yeo shook his head. "There are plenty more towns along the coast
more worth trying than this, sir: but Heaven's will be done!"
And as they spoke, the sun plunged into the sea, and all was dark.
At last it was agreed to anchor, and wait till midnight. If the
ships of war came out, they were to try to run in past them, and,
desperate as the attempt might be, attempt their original plan of
landing to the westward of the town, taking it in flank, plundering
the government storehouses, which they saw close to the landing-
place, and then fighting their way back to their boats, and out of
the roadstead. Two hours would suffice if the armada and the
galleys were but once out of the way.
Amyas went forward, called the men together, and told them the
plan. It was not very cheerfully received: but what else was there
to be done!
They ran down about a mile and a half to the westward, and
The night wore on, and there was no sign of stir among the
shipping; for though they could not see the vessels themselves, yet
their lights (easily distinguished by their relative height from
those in the town above) remained motionless; and the men fretted
and fumed for weary hours at thus seeing a rich prize (for of
course the town was paved with gold) within arm's reach, and yet
Let Amyas and his men have patience. Some short five years more,
and the great Armada will have come and gone; and then that
avenging storm, of which they, like Oxenham, Hawkins, and Drake,
are but the avant-couriers, will burst upon every Spanish port from
Corunna to Cadiz, from the Canaries to Havana, and La Guayra and
St. Yago de Leon will not escape their share. Captain Amyas
Preston and Captain Sommers, the colonist of the Bermudas, or
Sommers' Islands, will land, with a force tiny enough, though
larger far than Leigh's, where Leigh dare not land; and taking the
fort of Guayra, will find, as Leigh found, that their coming has
been expected, and that the Pass of the Venta, three thousand feet
above, has been fortified with huge barricadoes, abattis, and
cannon, making the capital, amid its ring of mountain-walls,
impregnable--to all but Englishmen or Zouaves. For up that seven
thousand feet of precipice, which rises stair on stair behind the
town, those fierce adventurers will climb hand over hand, through
rain and fog, while men lie down, and beg their officers to kill
them, for no farther can they go. Yet farther they will go, hewing
a path with their swords through woods of wild plantain, and
rhododendron thickets, over (so it seems, however incredible) the
very saddle of the Silla,* down upon the astonished "Mantuanos" of
St. Jago, driving all before them; and having burnt the city in
default of ransom, will return triumphant by the right road, and
pass along the coast, the masters of the deep.
* Humboldt says that there is a path from Caravellada to St. Jago,
between the peaks, used by smugglers. This is probably the
"unknowen way of the Indians," which Preston used.
I know not whether any men still live who count their descent from
those two valiant captains; but if such there be, let them be sure
that the history of the English navy tells no more Titanic victory
over nature and man than that now forgotten raid of Amyas Preston
and his comrade, in the year of grace 1595.
But though a venture on the town was impossible, yet there was
another venture which Frank was unwilling to let slip. A light
which now shone brightly in one of the windows of the governor's
house was the lodestar to which all his thoughts were turned; and
as he sat in the cabin with Amyas, Cary, and Jack, he opened his
heart to them.
"And are we, then," asked he, mournfully, "to go without doing the
very thing for which we came?"
All were silent awhile. At last John Brimblecombe spoke.
"Show me the way to do it, Mr. Frank, and I will go."
"My dearest man," said Amyas, "what would you have? Any attempt to
see her, even if she be here, would be all but certain death."
"And what if it were? What if it were, my brother Amyas? Listen
to me. I have long ceased to shrink from Death; but till I came
into these magic climes, I never knew the beauty of his face."
"Of death?" said Cary. "I should have said, of life. God forgive
me! but man might wish to live forever, if he had such a world as
this wherein to live."
"And do you forget, Cary, that the more fair this passing world of
time, by so much the more fair is that eternal world, whereof all
here is but a shadow and a dream; by so much the more fair is He
before whose throne the four mystic beasts, the substantial ideas
of Nature and her powers, stand day and night, crying, 'Holy, holy,
holy, Lord God of hosts, Thou hast made all things, and for Thy
pleasure they are and were created!' My friends, if He be so
prodigal of His own glory as to have decked these lonely shores,
all but unknown since the foundation of the world, with splendors
beyond all our dreams, what must be the glory of His face itself!
I have done with vain shadows. It is better to depart and to be
with Him, where shall be neither desire nor anger, self-deception
nor pretence, but the eternal fulness of reality and truth. One
thing I have to do before I die, for God has laid it on me. Let
that be done to-night, and then, farewell!"
"Frank! Frank! remember our mother!"
"I do remember her. I have talked over these things with her many
a time; and where I would fain be, she would fain be also. She
sent me out with my virgin honor, as the Spartan mother did her boy
with the shield, saying, 'Come back either with this, or upon
this;' and one or the other I must do, if I would meet her either
in this life or in the next. But in the meanwhile do not mistake
me; my life is God's, and I promise not to cast it away rashly."
"What would you do, then?"
"Go up to that house, Amyas, and speak with her, if Heaven gives me
an opportunity, as Heaven, I feel assured, will give."
"And do you call that no rashness?"
"Is any duty rashness? Is it rash to stand amid the flying
bullets, if your queen has sent you? Is it more rash to go to seek
Christ's lost lamb, if God and your own oath hath sent you? John
Brimblecombe answered that question for us long ago."
"If you go, I go with you!" said all three at once.
"No. Amyas, you owe a duty to our mother and to your ship. Cary,
you are heir to great estates, and are bound thereby to your
country and to your tenants. John Brimblecombe--"
"Ay!" squeaked Jack. "And what have you to say, Mr. Frank, against
my going?--I, who have neither ship nor estates--except, I suppose,
that I am not worthy to travel in such good company?"
"Think of your old parents, John, and all your sisters."
"I thought of them before I started, sir, as Mr. Cary knows, and
you know too. I came here to keep my vow, and I am not going to
turn renegade at the very foot of the cross."
"Some one must go with you, Frank," said Amyas; "if it were only to
bring back the boat's crew in case--" and he faltered.
"In case I fall," replied Frank, with a smile. "I will finish your
sentence for you, lad; I am not afraid of it, though you may be for
me. Yet some one, I fear, must go. Unhappy me! that I cannot risk
my own worthless life without risking your more precious lives!"
"Not so, Mr. Frank! Your oath is our oath, and your duty ours!"
said John. "I will tell you what we will do, gentlemen all. We
three will draw cuts for the honor of going with him."
"Lots?" said Amyas. "I don't like leaving such grave matters to
chance, friend John."
"Chance, sir? When you have used all your own wit, and find it
fail you, then what is drawing lots but taking the matter out of
your own weak hands, and laying it in God's strong hands?"
"Right, John!" said Frank. "So did the apostles choose their
successor, and so did holy men of old decide controversies too
subtle for them; and we will not be ashamed to follow their
example. For my part, I have often said to Sidney and to Spenser,
when we have babbled together of Utopian governments in days which
are now dreams to me, that I would have all officers of state
chosen by lot out of the wisest and most fit; so making sure that
they should be called by God, and not by man alone. Gentlemen, do
you agree to Sir John's advice?"
They agreed, seeing no better counsel, and John put three slips of
paper into Frank's hand, with the simple old apostolic prayer--
"Show which of us three Thou hast chosen."
The lot fell upon Amyas Leigh.
Frank shuddered, and clasped his hands over his face.
"Well," said Cary, "I have ill-luck to-night: but Frank goes at
least in good company."
"Ah, that it had been I!" said Jack; "though I suppose I was too
poor a body to have such an honor fall on me. And yet it is hard
for flesh and blood; hard indeed to have come all this way, and not
to see her after all!"
"Jack," said Frank, "you are kept to do better work than this,
doubt not. But if the lot had fallen on you--ay, if it had fallen
on a three years' child, I would have gone up as cheerfully with
that child to lead me, as I do now with this my brother! Amyas,
can we have a boat, and a crew? It is near midnight already."
Amyas went on deck, and asked for six volunteers. Whosoever would
come, Amyas would double out of his own purse any prize-money which
might fall to that man's share.
One of the old Pelican's crew, Simon Evans of Clovelly, stepped out
"Why six only, captain? Give the word, and any and all of us will
go up with you, sack the house, and bring off the treasure and the
lady, before two hours are out."
"No, no, my brave lads! As for treasure, if there be any, it is
sure to have been put all safe into the forts, or hidden in the
mountains; and as for the lady, God forbid that we should force her
a step without her own will."
The honest sailor did not quite understand this punctilio: but--
"Well, captain," quoth he, "as you like; but no man shall say that
you asked for a volunteer, were it to jump down a shark's throat,
but what you had me first of all the crew.
After this sort of temper had been exhibited, three or four more
came forward--Yeo was very anxious to go, but Amyas forbade him.
"I'll volunteer, sir, without reward, for this or anything; though"
(added he in a lower tone) "I would to Heaven that the thought had
never entered your head."
"And so would I have volunteered," said Simon Evans, "if it were
the ship's quarrel, or the queen's; but being it's a private matter
of the captain's, and I've a wife and children at home, why, I take
no shame to myself for asking money for my life."
So the crew was made up; but ere they pushed off, Amyas called Cary
"If I perish, Will--"
"Don't talk of such things, dear old lad."
"I must. Then you are captain. Do nothing without Yeo and Drew.
But if they approve, go right north away for San Domingo and Cuba,
and try the ports; they can have no news of us there, and there is
booty without end. Tell my mother that I died like a gentleman;
and mind--mind, dear lad, to keep your temper with the men, let the
poor fellows grumble as they may. Mind but that, and fear God, and
all will go well."
The tears were glistening in Cary's eyes as he pressed Amyas's
hand, and watched the two brothers down over the side upon their
They reached the pebble beach. There seemed no difficulty about
finding the path to the house--so bright was the moon, and so
careful a survey of the place had Frank taken. Leaving the men
with the boat (Amyas had taken care that they should be well
armed), they started up the beach, with their swords only. Frank
assured Amyas that they would find a path leading from the beach up
to the house, and he was not mistaken. They found it easily, for
it was made of white shell sand; and following it, struck into a
"tunal," or belt of tall thorny cactuses. Through this the path
wound in zigzags up a steep rocky slope, and ended at a wicket-
gate. They tried it, and found it open.
"She may expect us," whispered Frank.
"Why not? She must have seen our ship; and if, as seems, the
townsfolk know who we are, how much more must she! Yes, doubt it
not, she still longs to hear news of her own land, and some secret
sympathy will draw her down towards the sea to-night. See! the
light is in the window still!"
"But if not," said Amyas, who had no such expectation, "what is
"I have none."
"I have imagined twenty different ones in the last hour; but all
are equally uncertain, impossible. I have ceased to struggle--I go
where I am called, love's willing victim. If Heaven accept the
sacrifice, it will provide the altar and the knife."
Aymas was at his wits' end. Judging of his brother by himself, he
had taken for granted that Frank had some well-concocted scheme for
gaining admittance to the Rose; and as the wiles of love were
altogether out of his province, he had followed in full faith such
a sans-appel as he held Frank to be. But now he almost doubted of
his brother's sanity, though Frank's manner was perfectly collected
and his voice firm. Amyas, honest fellow, had no understanding of
that intense devotion, which so many in those days (not content
with looking on it as a lofty virtue, and yet one to be duly kept
in its place by other duties) prided themselves on pampering into
the most fantastic and self-willed excesses.
Beautiful folly! the death-song of which two great geniuses were
composing at that very moment, each according to his light. For,
while Spenser was embalming in immortal verse all that it contained
of noble and Christian elements, Cervantes sat, perhaps, in his
dungeon, writing with his left hand Don Quixote, saddest of books,
in spite of all its wit; the story of a pure and noble soul, who
mistakes this actual life for that ideal one which he fancies (and
not so wrongly either) eternal in the heavens: and finding instead
of a battlefield for heroes in God's cause, nothing but frivolity,
heartlessness, and godlessness, becomes a laughing-stock,--and
dies. One of the saddest books, I say again, which man can read.
Amyas hardly dare trust himself to speak, for fear of saying too
much; but he could not help saying--
"You are going to certain death, Frank."
"Did I not entreat," answered he, very quietly, "to go alone?"
Amyas had half a mind to compel him to return: but he feared
Frank's obstinacy; and feared, too, the shame of returning on board
without having done anything; so they went up through the wicket-
gate, along a smooth turf walk, into what seemed a pleasure-garden,
formed by the hand of man, or rather of woman. For by the light,
not only of the moon, but of the innumerable fireflies, which
flitted to and fro across the sward like fiery imps sent to light
the brothers on their way, they could see that the bushes on either
side, and the trees above their heads, were decked with flowers of
such strangeness and beauty, that, as Frank once said of Barbados,
even the gardens of Wilton were a desert in comparison." All
around were orange and lemon trees (probably the only addition
which man had made to Nature's prodigality), the fruit of which, in
that strange colored light of the fireflies, flashed in their eyes
like balls of burnished gold and emerald; while great white tassels
swinging from every tree in the breeze which swept down the glade,
tossed in their faces a fragrant snow of blossoms, and glittering
drops of perfumed dew.
"What a paradise!" said Amyas to Frank, "with the serpent in it, as
of old. Look!"
And as he spoke, there dropped slowly down from a bough, right
before them, what seemed a living chain of gold, ruby, and
sapphire. Both stopped, and another glance showed the small head
and bright eyes of a snake, hissing and glaring full in their
"See!" said Frank. "And he comes, as of old, in the likeness of an
angel of light. Do not strike it. There are worse devils to be
fought with to-night than that poor beast." And stepping aside,
they passed the snake safely, and arrived in front of the house.
It was, as I have said, a long low house, with balconies along the
upper story, and the under part mostly open to the wind. The light
was still burning in the window.
"Whither now?" said Amyas, in a tone of desperate resignation.
"Thither! Where else on earth?" and Frank pointed to the light,
trembling from head to foot, and pushed on.
"For Heaven's sake! Look at the negroes on the barbecue!"
It was indeed time to stop; for on the barbecue, or terrace of
white plaster, which ran all round the front, lay sleeping full
twenty black figures.
"What will you do now? You must step over them to gain an
"Wait here, and I will go up gently towards the window. She may
see me. She will see me as I step into the moonlight. At least I
know an air by which she will recognize me, if I do but hum a
"Why, you do not even know that that light is hers!--Down, for your
And Amyas dragged him down into the bushes on his left hand; for
one of the negroes, wakening suddenly with a cry, had sat up, and
began crossing himself four or five times, in fear of "Duppy," and
mumbling various charms, ayes, or what not.
The light above was extinguished instantly.
"Did you see her?" whispered Frank.
"I did--the shadow of the face, and the neck! Can I be mistaken?"
And then, covering his face with his hands, he murmured to himself,
"Misery! misery! So near and yet impossible?"
"Would it be the less impossible were you face to face? Let us go
back. We cannot go up without detection, even if our going were of
use. Come back, for God's sake, ere all is lost! If you have seen
her, as you say, you know at least that she is alive, and safe in
"As his mistress? or as his wife? Do I know that yet, Amyas, and
can I depart until I know?" There was a few minutes' silence, and
then Amyas, making one last attempt to awaken Frank to the
absurdity of the whole thing, and to laugh him, if possible, out of
it, as argument had no effect--
"My dear fellow, I am very hungry and sleepy; and this bush is very
prickly; and my boots are full of ants--"
"So are mine.--Look!" and Frank caught Amyas's arm, and clenched it
For round the farther corner of the house a dark cloaked figure
stole gently, turning a look now and then upon the sleeping
negroes, and came on right toward them.
"Did I not tell you she would come?" whispered Frank, in a
Amyas was quite bewildered; and to his mind the apparition seemed
magical, and Frank prophetic; for as the figure came nearer,
incredulous as he tried to be, there was no denying that the shape
and the walk were exactly those of her, to find whom they had
crossed the Atlantic. True, the figure was somewhat taller; but
then, "she must be grown since I saw her," thought Amyas; and his
heart for the moment beat as fiercely as Frank's.
But what was that behind her? Her shadow against the white wall of
the house. Not so. Another figure, cloaked likewise, but taller
far, was following on her steps. It was a man's. They could see
that he wore a broad sombrero. It could not be Don Guzman, for he
was at sea. Who then? Here was a mystery; perhaps a tragedy. And
both brothers held their breaths, while Amyas felt whether his
sword was loose in the sheath.
The Rose (if indeed it was she) was within ten yards of them, when
she perceived that she was followed. She gave a little shriek.
The cavalier sprang forward, lifted his hat courteously, and joined
her, bowing low. The moonlight was full upon his face.
"It is Eustace, our cousin! How came he here, in the name of all
"Eustace! Then that is she, after all!" said Frank, forgetting
everything else in her.
And now flashed across Amyas all that had passed between him and
Eustace in the moorland inn, and Parracombe's story, too, of the
suspicious gipsy. Eustace had been beforehand with them, and
warned Don Guzman! All was explained now: but how had he got
"The devil, his master, sent him hither on a broomstick, I suppose:
or what matter how? Here he is; and here we are, worse luck!"
And, setting his teeth, Amyas awaited the end.
The two came on, talking earnestly, and walking at a slow pace, so
that the brothers could hear every word.
"What shall we do now?" said Frank. "We have no right to be
"But we must be, right or none." And Amyas held him down firmly by
"But whither are you going, then, my dear madam?" they heard
Eustace say in a wheedling tone. "Can you wonder if such strange
conduct should cause at least sorrow to your admirable and faithful
"Husband!" whispered Frank faintly to Amyas. "Thank God, thank
God! I am content. Let us go."
But to go was impossible; for, as fate would have it, the two had
stopped just opposite them.
"The inestimable Senor Don Guzman--" began Eustace again.
"What do you mean by praising him to me in this fulsome way, sir?
Do you suppose that I do not know his virtues better than you?"
"If you do, madam" (this was spoken in a harder tone), "it were
wise for you to try them less severely, than by wandering down
towards the beach on the very night that you know his most deadly
enemies are lying in wait to slay him, plunder his house, and most
probably to carry you off from him."
"Carry me off? I will die first!"
"Who can prove that to him? Appearances are at least against you."
"My love to him, and his trust for me, sir!"
"His trust? Have you forgotten, madam, what passed last week, and
why he sailed yesterday?"
The only answer was a burst of tears. Eustace stood watching her
with a terrible eye; but they could see his face writhing in the
"Oh!" sobbed she at last. "And if I have been imprudent, was it
not natural to wish to look once more upon an English ship? Are
you not English as well as I? Have you no longing recollections of
the dear old land at home?"
Eustace was silent; but his face worked more fiercely than ever.
"How can he ever know it?"
"Why should he not know it?"
"Ah!" she burst out passionately, "why not, indeed, while you are
here? You, sir, the tempter, you the eavesdropper, you the
sunderer of loving hearts! You, serpent, who found our home a
paradise, and see it now a hell!"
"Do you dare to accuse me thus, madam, without a shadow of
"Dare? I dare anything, for I know all! I have watched you, sir,
and I have borne with you too long."
"Me, madam, whose only sin towards you, as you should know by now,
is to have loved you too well? Rose! Rose! have you not blighted
my life for me--broken my heart? And how have I repaid you? How
but by sacrificing myself to seek you over land and sea, that I
might complete your conversion to the bosom of that Church where a
Virgin Mother stands stretching forth soft arms to embrace her
wandering daughter, and cries to you all day long, 'Come unto me,
ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest!' And
this is my reward!"
"Depart with your Virgin Mother, sir, and tempt me no more! You
have asked me what I dare; and I dare this, upon my own ground, and
in my own garden, I, Donna Rosa de Soto, to bid you leave this
place now and forever, after having insulted me by talking of your
love, and tempted me to give up that faith which my husband
promised me he would respect and protect. Go, sir!"
The brothers listened breathless with surprise as much as with
rage. Love and conscience, and perhaps, too, the pride of her
lofty alliance, had converted the once gentle and dreamy Rose into
a very Roxana; but it was only the impulse of a moment. The words
had hardly passed her lips, when, terrified at what she had said,
she burst into a fresh flood of tears; while Eustace answered
"I go, madam: but how know you that I may not have orders, and
that, after your last strange speech, my conscience may compel me
to obey those orders, to take you with me?"
"Me? with you?"
"My heart has bled for you, madam, for many a year. It longs now
that it had bled itself to death, and never known the last worst
agony of telling you--"
And drawing close to her he whispered in her ear--what, the
brothers heard not--but her answer was a shriek which rang through
the woods, and sent the night-birds fluttering up from every bough
above their heads.
"By Heaven!" said Amyas, "I can stand this no longer. Cut that
devil's throat I must--"
"She is lost if his dead body is found by her."
"We are lost if we stay here, then," said Amyas; "for those negroes
will hurry down at her cry, and then found we must be."
"Are you mad, madam, to betray yourself by your own cries? The
negroes will he here in a moment. I give you one last chance for
life, then:" and Eustace shouted in Spanish at the top of his
voice, "Help, help, servants! Your mistress is being carried off
"What do you mean, sir?"
"Let your woman's wit supply the rest: and forget not him who thus
saves you from disgrace."
Whether the brothers heard the last words or not, I know not; but
taking for granted that Eustace had discovered them, they sprang to
their feet at once, determined to make one last appeal, and then to
sell their lives as dearly as they could.
Eustace started back at the unexpected apparition; but a second
glance showed him Amyas's mighty bulk; and he spoke calmly--
"You see, madam, I did not call without need. Welcome, good
cousins. My charity, as you perceive, has found means to outstrip
your craft; while the fair lady, as was but natural, has been true
to her assignation!"
"Liar!" cried Frank. "She never knew of our being--"
"Credat Judaeus!" answered Eustace; but, as he spoke, Amyas burst
through the bushes at him. There was no time to be lost; and ere
the giant could disentangle himself from the boughs and shrubs,
Eustace had slipped off his long cloak, thrown it over Amyas's
head, and ran up the alley shouting for help.
Mad with rage, Amyas gave chase: but in two minutes more Eustace
was safe among the ranks of the negroes, who came shouting and
jabbering down the path.
He rushed back. Frank was just ending some wild appeal to Rose--
"Your conscience! your religion!--"
"No, never! I can face the chance of death, but not the loss of
him. Go! for God's sake, leave me!"
"You are lost, then,--and I have ruined you!"
"Come off, now or never," cried Amyas, clutching him by the arm,
and dragging him away like a child.
"You forgive me?" cried he.
"Forgive you?" and she burst into tears again.
Frank burst into tears also.
"Let me go back, and die with her--Amyas!--my oath!--my honor!" and
he struggled to turn back.
Amyas looked back too, and saw her standing calmly, with her hands
folded across her breast, awaiting Eustace and the servants; and he
half turned to go back also. Both saw how fearfully appearances
had put her into Eustace's power. Had he not a right to suspect
that they were there by her appointment; that she was going to
escape with them? And would not Eustace use his power? The
thought of the Inquisition crossed their minds. "Was that the
threat which Eustace had whispered?" asked he of Frank.
"It was," groaned Frank, in answer.
For the first and last time in his life, Amyas Leigh stood
"Back, and stab her to the heart first!" said Frank, struggling to
escape from him.
Oh, if Amyas were but alone, and Frank safe home in England! To
charge the whole mob, kill her, kill Eustace, and then cut his way
back again to the ship, or die,--what matter? as he must die some
day,--sword in hand! But Frank!--and then flashed before his eyes
his mother's hopeless face; then rang in his ears his mother's last
bequest to him of that frail treasure. Let Rose, let honor, let
the whole world perish, he must save Frank. See! the negroes were
up with her now--past her--away for life! and once more he dragged
his brother down the hill, and through the wicket, only just in
time; for the whole gang of negroes were within ten yards of them
in full pursuit.
"Frank," said he, sharply, "if you ever hope to see your mother
again, rouse yourself, man, and fight!" And, without waiting for
an answer, he turned, and charged up-hill upon his pursuers, who
saw the long bright blade, and fled instantly.
Again he hurried Frank down the hill; the path wound in zigzags,
and he feared that the negroes would come straight over the cliff,
and so cut off his retreat: but the prickly cactuses were too much
for them, and they were forced to follow by the path, while the
brothers (Frank having somewhat regained his senses) turned every
now and then to menace them: but once on the rocky path, stones
began to fly fast; small ones fortunately, and wide and wild for
want of light--but when they reached the pebble-beach? Both were
too proud to run; but, if ever Amyas prayed in his life, he prayed
for the last twenty yards before he reached the water-mark.
"Now, Frank! down to the boat as hard as you can run, while I keep
the curs back."
"Amyas! what do you take me for? My madness brought you hither:
your devotion shall not bring me back without you."
And putting Frank's arm through his, they hurried down, shouting to
The boat was not fifty yards off: but fast travelling over the
pebbles was impossible, and long ere half the distance was crossed,
the negroes were on the beach, and the storm burst. A volley of
great quartz pebbles whistled round their heads.
"Come on, Frank! for life's sake! Men, to the rescue! Ah! what
The dull crash of a pebble against Frank's fair head! Drooping
like Hyacinthus beneath the blow of the quoit, he sank on Amyas's
arm. The giant threw him over his shoulder, and plunged blindly
on,--himself struck again and again.
"Fire, men! Give it the black villains!"
The arquebuses crackled from the boat in front. What were those
dull thuds which answered from behind? Echoes? No. Over his head
the caliver-balls went screeching. The governors' guard have
turned out, followed them to the beach, fixed their calivers, and
are firing over the negroes' heads, as the savages rush down upon
the hapless brothers.
If, as all say, there are moments which are hours, how many hours
was Amyas Leigh in reaching that boat's bow? Alas! the negroes are
there as soon as he, and the guard, having left their calivers, are
close behind them, sword in hand. Amyas is up to his knees in
water--battered with stones--blinded with blood. The boat is
swaying off and on against the steep pebble-bank: he clutches at
it--misses--falls headlong--rises half-choked with water: but Frank
is still in his arms. Another heavy blow--a confused roar of
shouts, shots, curses--a confused mass of negroes and English, foam
and pebbles--and he recollects no more.
. . . . . . .
He is lying in the stern-sheets of the boat; stiff, weak, half
blind with blood. He looks up; the moon is still bright overhead:
but they are away from the shore now, for the wave-crests are
dancing white before the land-breeze, high above the boat's side.
The boat seems strangely empty. Two men are pulling instead of
six! And what is this lying heavy across his chest? He pushes,
and is answered by a groan. He puts his hand down to rise, and is
answered by another groan.
"All that are left of us," says Simon Evans of Clovelly.
"All?" The bottom of the boat seemed paved with human bodies. "Oh
God! oh God!" moans Amyas, trying to rise. "And where--where is
"Mr. Frank!" cries Evans. There is no answer.
"Dead?" shrieks Amyas. "Look for him, for God's sake, look!" and
struggling from under his living load, he peers into each pale and
"Where is he? Why don't you speak, forward there?"
"Because we have naught to say, sir," answers Evans, almost
Frank was not there.
"Put the boat about! To the shore!" roars Amyas.
"Look over the gunwale, and judge for yourself, sir!"
The waves are leaping fierce and high before a furious land-breeze.
Return is impossible.
"Cowards! villains! traitors! hounds! to have left him behind."
"Listen you to me, Captain Amyas Leigh," says Simon Evans, resting
on his oar; "and hang me for mutiny, if you will, when we're
aboard, if we ever get there. Isn't it enough to bring us out to
death (as you knew yourself, sir, for you're prudent enough) to
please that poor young gentleman's fancy about a wench; but you
must call coward an honest man that have saved your life this
night, and not a one of us but has his wound to show?"
Amyas was silent; the rebuke was just.
"I tell you, sir, if we've hove a stone out of this boat since we
got off, we've hove two hundredweight, and, if the Lord had not
fought for us, she'd have been beat to noggin-staves there on the
"How did I come here, then?"
"Tom Hart dragged you in out of five feet water, and then thrust
the boat off, and had his brains beat out for reward. All were
knocked down but us two. So help me God, we thought that you had
hove Mr. Frank on board just as you were knocked down, and saw
William Frost drag him in."
But William Frost was lying senseless in the bottom of the boat.
There was no explanation. After all, none was needed.
"And I have three wounds from stones, and this man behind me as
many more, beside a shot through his shoulder. Now, sir, be we
"You have done your duty," said Amyas, and sank down in the boat,
and cried as if his heart would break; and then sprang up, and,
wounded as he was, took the oar from Evans's hands. With weary
work they made the ship, but so exhausted that another boat had to
be lowered to get them alongside.
The alarm being now given, it was hardly safe to remain where they
were; and after a stormy and sad argument, it was agreed to weigh
anchor and stand off and on till morning; for Amyas refused to
leave the spot till he was compelled, though he had no hope (how
could he have?) that Frank might still be alive. And perhaps it
was well for them, as will appear in the next chapter, that morning
did not find them at anchor close to the town.
However that may be, so ended that fatal venture of mistaken
SPANISH BLOODHOUNDS AND ENGLISH MASTIFFS
"Full seven long hours in all men's sight
This fight endured sore,
Until our men so feeble grew,
That they could fight no more.
And then upon dead horses
Full savorly they fed,
And drank the puddle water,
They could no better get.
"When they had fed so freely
They kneeled on the ground,
And gave God thanks devoutly for
The favor they had found;
Then beating up their colors,
The fight they did renew;
And turning to the Spaniards,
A thousand more they slew."
The Brave Lord Willoughby. 1586.
When the sun leaped up the next morning, and the tropic light
flashed suddenly into the tropic day, Amyas was pacing the deck,
with dishevelled hair and torn clothes, his eyes red with rage and
weeping, his heart full--how can I describe it? Picture it to
yourselves, picture it to yourselves, you who have ever lost a
brother; and you who have not, thank God that you know nothing of
his agony. Full of impossible projects, he strode and staggered up
and down, as the ship thrashed close-hauled through the rolling
seas. He would go back and burn the villa. He would take Guayra,
and have the life of every man in it in return for his brother's.
"We can do it, lads!" he shouted. "If Drake took Nombre de Dios,
we can take La Guayra." And every voice shouted, "Yes."
"We will have it, Amyas, and have Frank too, yet," cried Cary; but
Amyas shook his head. He knew, and knew not why he knew, that all
the ports in New Spain would never restore to him that one beloved
"Yes, he shall be well avenged. And look there! There is the
first crop of our vengeance. And he pointed toward the shore,
where between them and the now distant peaks of the Silla, three
sails appeared, not five miles to windward.
"There are the Spanish bloodhounds on our heels, the same ships
which we saw yesterday off Guayra. Back, lads, and welcome them,
if they were a dozen."
There was a murmur of applause from all around; and if any young
heart sank for a moment at the prospect of fighting three ships at
once, it was awed into silence by the cheer which rose from all the
older men, and by Salvation Yeo's stentorian voice.
"If there were a dozen, the Lord is with us, who has said, 'One of
you shall chase a thousand.' Clear away, lads, and see the glory
of the Lord this day."
"Amen!" cried Cary; and the ship was kept still closer to the wind.
Amyas had revived at the sight of battle. He no longer felt his
wounds, or his great sorrow; even Frank's last angel's look grew
dimmer every moment as he bustled about the deck; and ere a quarter
of an hour had passed, his voice cried firmly and cheerfully as of
"Now, my masters, let us serve God, and then to breakfast, and
after that clear for action."
Jack Brimblecombe read the daily prayers, and the prayers before a
fight at sea, and his honest voice trembled, as, in the Prayer for
all Conditions of Men (in spite of Amyas's despair), he added, "and
especially for our dear brother Mr. Francis Leigh, perhaps captive
among the idolaters;" and so they rose.
"Now, then," said Amyas, "to breakfast. A Frenchman fights best
fasting, a Dutchman drunk, an Englishman full, and a Spaniard when
the devil is in him, and that's always."
"And good beef and the good cause are a match for the devil," said
Cary. "Come down, captain; you must eat too."
Amyas shook his head, took the tiller from the steersman, and bade
him go below and fill himself. Will Cary went down, and returned
in five minutes, with a plate of bread and beef, and a great jack
of ale, coaxed them down Amyas's throat, as a nurse does with a
child, and then scuttled below again with tears hopping down his
Amyas stood still steering. His face was grown seven years older
in the last night. A terrible set calm was on him. Woe to the man
who came across him that day!
"There are three of them, you see, my masters," said he, as the
crew came on deck again. "A big ship forward, and two galleys
astern of her. The big ship may keep; she is a race ship, and if
we can but recover the wind of her, we will see whether our height
is not a match for her length. We must give her the slip, and take
the galleys first."
"I thank the Lord," said Yeo, "who has given so wise a heart to so
young a general; a very David and Daniel, saving his presence,
lads; and if any dare not follow him, let him be as the men of
Meroz and of Succoth. Amen! Silas Staveley, smite me that boy
over the head, the young monkey; why is he not down at the powder-
And Yeo went about his gunnery, as one who knew how to do it, and
had the most terrible mind to do it thoroughly, and the most
terrible faith that it was God's work.
So all fell to; and though there was comparatively little to be
done, the ship having been kept as far as could be in fighting
order all night, yet there was "clearing of decks, lacing of
nettings, making of bulwarks, fitting of waist-cloths, arming of
tops, tallowing of pikes, slinging of yards, doubling of sheets and
tacks," enough to satisfy even the pedantical soul of Richard
Hawkins himself. Amyas took charge of the poop, Cary of the
forecastle, and Yeo, as gunner, of the main-deck, while Drew, as
master, settled himself in the waist; and all was ready, and more
than ready, before the great ship was within two miles of them.
And now while the mastiffs of England and the bloodhounds of Spain
are nearing and nearing over the rolling surges, thirsting for each
other's blood, let us spend a few minutes at least in looking at
them both, and considering the causes which in those days enabled
the English to face and conquer armaments immensely superior in
size and number of ships, and to boast that in the whole Spanish
war but one queen's ship, the Revenge, and (if I recollect right)
but one private man-of-war, Sir Richard Hawkins's Dainty, had ever
struck their colors to the enemy.
What was it which enabled Sir Richard Grenville's Revenge, in his
last fearful fight off the Azores, to endure, for twelve hours
before she struck, the attack of eight Spanish armadas, of which
two (three times her own burden) sank at her side; and after all
her masts were gone, and she had been boarded three times without
success, to defy to the last the whole fleet of fifty-four sail,
which lay around her, waiting for her to sink, "like dogs around
the dying forest king"?
What enabled young Richard Hawkins's Dainty, though half her guns
were useless through the carelessness or treachery of the gunner,
to maintain for three days a running fight with two Spaniards of
equal size with her, double the weight of metal, and ten times the
number of men?
What enabled Sir George Cary's illustrious ship, the Content, to
fight, single-handed, from seven in the morning till eleven at
night, with four great armadas and two galleys, though her heaviest
gun was but one nine-pounder, and for many hours she had but
thirteen men fit for service?
What enabled, in the very year of which I write, those two "valiant
Turkey Merchantmen of London, the Merchant Royal and the Tobie,"
with their three small consorts, to cripple, off Pantellaria in the
Mediterranean, the whole fleet of Spanish galleys sent to intercept
them, and return triumphant through the Straits of Gibraltar?
And lastly, what in the fight of 1588, whereof more hereafter,
enabled the English fleet to capture, destroy, and scatter that
Great Armada, with the loss (but not the capture) of one pinnace,
and one gentleman of note?
There were more causes than one: the first seems to have lain in
the build of the English ships; the second in their superior
gunnery and weight of metal; the third (without which the first
would have been useless) in the hearts of the English men.
The English ship was much shorter than the Spanish; and this (with
the rig of those days) gave them an ease in manoeuvring, which
utterly confounded their Spanish foes. "The English ships in the
fight of 1588," says Camden, "charged the enemy with marvellous
agility, and having discharged their broadsides, flew forth
presently into the deep, and levelled their shot directly, without
missing, at those great ships of the Spaniards, which were
altogether heavy and unwieldy." Moreover, the Spanish fashion, in
the West Indies at least, though not in the ships of the Great
Armada, was, for the sake of carrying merchandise, to build their
men-of-war flush-decked, or as it was called "race" (razes), which
left those on deck exposed and open; while the English fashion was
to heighten the ship as much as possible at stem and stern, both by
the sweep of her lines, and also by stockades ("close fights and
cage-works") on the poop and forecastle, thus giving to the men a
shelter, which was further increased by strong bulkheads
("cobridgeheads") across the main-deck below, dividing the ship
thus into a number of separate forts, fitted with swivels ("bases,
fowlers, and murderers") and loopholed for musketry and arrows.
But the great source of superiority was, after all, in the men
themselves. The English sailor was then, as now, a quite
amphibious and all-cunning animal, capable of turning his hand to
everything, from needlework and carpentry to gunnery or hand-to-
hand blows; and he was, moreover, one of a nation, every citizen of
which was not merely permitted to carry arms, but compelled by law
to practise from childhood the use of the bow, and accustomed to
consider sword-play and quarter-staff as a necessary part and
parcel of education, and the pastime of every leisure hour. The
"fiercest nation upon earth," as they were then called, and the
freest also, each man of them fought for himself with the self-help
and self-respect of a Yankee ranger, and once bidden to do his
work, was trusted to carry it out by his own wit as best he could.
In one word, he was a free man.
The English officers, too, as now, lived on terms of sympathy with
their men unknown to the Spaniards, who raised between the
commander and the commanded absurd barriers of rank and blood,
which forbade to his pride any labor but that of fighting. The
English officers, on the other hand, brought up to the same
athletic sports, the same martial exercises, as their men, were not
ashamed to care for them, to win their friendship, even on
emergency to consult their judgment; and used their rank, not to
differ from their men, but to outvie them; not merely to command
and be obeyed, but, like Homer's heroes, or the old Norse Vikings,
to lead and be followed. Drake touched the true mainspring of
English success when he once (in his voyage round the world)
indignantly rebuked some coxcomb gentlemen-adventurers with--"I
should like to see the gentleman that will refuse to set his hand
to a rope. I must have the gentlemen to hale and draw with the
mariners." But those were days in which her majesty's service was
as little overridden by absurd rules of seniority, as by that
etiquette which is at once the counterfeit and the ruin of true
discipline. Under Elizabeth and her ministers, a brave and a
shrewd man was certain of promotion, let his rank or his age be
what they might; the true honor of knighthood covered once and for
all any lowliness of birth; and the merchant service (in which all
the best sea-captains, even those of noble blood, were more or less
engaged) was then a nursery, not only for seamen, but for warriors,
in days when Spanish and Portuguese traders (whenever they had a
chance) got rid of English competition by salvos of cannon-shot.
Hence, as I have said, that strong fellow-feeling between officers
and men; and hence mutinies (as Sir Richard Hawkins tells us) were
all but unknown in the English ships, while in the Spanish they
broke out on every slight occasion. For the Spaniards, by some
suicidal pedantry, had allowed their navy to be crippled by the
same despotism, etiquette, and official routine, by which the whole
nation was gradually frozen to death in the course of the next
century or two; forgetting that, fifty years before, Cortez,
Pizarro, and the early Conquistadores of America had achieved their
miraculous triumphs on the exactly opposite method by that very
fellow-feeling between commander and commanded by which the English
were now conquering them in their turn.
Their navy was organized on a plan complete enough; but on one
which was, as the event proved, utterly fatal to their prowess and
unanimity, and which made even their courage and honor useless
against the assaults of free men. "They do, in their armadas at
sea, divide themselves into three bodies; to wit, soldiers,
mariners, and gunners. The soldiers and officers watch and ward as
if on shore; and this is the only duty they undergo, except
cleaning their arms, wherein they are not over curious. The
gunners are exempted from all labor and care, except about the
artillery; and these are either Almaines, Flemings, or strangers;
for the Spaniards are but indifferently practised in this art. The
mariners are but as slaves to the rest, to moil and to toil day and
night; and those but few and bad, and not suffered to sleep or
harbor under the decks. For in fair or foul weather, in storms,
sun, or rain, they must pass void of covert or succor."
This is the account of one who was long prisoner on board their
ships; let it explain itself, while I return to my tale. For the
great ship is now within two musket-shots of the Rose, with the
golden flag of Spain floating at her poop; and her trumpets are
shouting defiance up the breeze, from a dozen brazen throats, which
two or three answer lustily from the Rose, from whose poop flies
the flag of England, and from her fore the arms of Leigh and Cary
side by side, and over them the ship and bridge of the good town of
Bideford. And then Amyas calls:
"Now, silence trumpets, waits, play up! 'Fortune my foe!' and God
and the Queen be with us!"
Whereon (laugh not, reader, for it was the fashion of those musical
as well as valiant days) up rose that noble old favorite of good
Queen Bess, from cornet and sackbut, fife and drum; while Parson
Jack, who had taken his stand with the musicians on the poop,
worked away lustily at his violin, and like Volker of the
"Well played, Jack; thy elbow flies like a lamb's tail," said
Amyas, forcing a jest.
"It shall fly to a better fiddle-bow presently, sir, an I have the
"Steady, helm!" said Amyas. "What is he after now?"
The Spaniard, who had been coming upon them right down the wind
under a press of sail, took in his light canvas.
"He don't know what to make of our waiting for him so bold," said
"He does though, and means to fight us," cried another. "See, he
is hauling up the foot of his mainsail, but he wants to keep the
wind of us."
"Let him try, then," quoth Amyas. "Keep her closer still. Let no
one fire till we are about. Man the starboard guns; to starboard,
and wait, all small arm men. Pass the order down to the gunner,
and bid all fire high, and take the rigging."
Bang went one of the Spaniard's bow guns, and the shot went wide.
Then another and another, while the men fidgeted about, looking at
the priming of their muskets, and loosened their arrows in the
"Lie down, men, and sing a psalm. When I want you, I'll call you.
Closer still, if you can, helmsman, and we will try a short ship
against a long one. We can sail two points nearer the wind than
As Amyas had calculated, the Spaniard would gladly enough have
stood across the Rose's bows, but knowing the English readiness,
dare not for fear of being raked; so her only plan, if she did not
intend to shoot past her foe down to leeward, was to put her head
close to the wind, and wait for her on the same tack.
Amyas laughed to himself. "Hold on yet awhile. More ways of
killing a cat than choking her with cream. Drew, there, are your
"Ay, ay, sir!" and on they went, closing fast with the Spaniard,
till within a pistol-shot.
"Ready about!" and about she went like an eel, and ran upon the
opposite tack right under the Spaniard's stern. The Spaniard,
astounded at the quickness of the manoeuvre, hesitated a moment,
and then tried to get about also, as his only chance; but it was
too late, and while his lumbering length was still hanging in the
wind's eye, Amyas's bowsprit had all but scraped his quarter, and
the Rose passed slowly across his stern at ten yards' distance.
"Now, then!" roared Amyas. "Fire, and with a will! Have at her,
archers: have at her, muskets all!" and in an instant a storm of
bar and chain-shot, round and canister, swept the proud Don from
stem to stern, while through the white cloud of smoke the musket-
balls, and the still deadlier cloth-yard arrows, whistled and
rushed upon their venomous errand. Down went the steersman, and
every soul who manned the poop. Down went the mizzen topmast, in
went the stern-windows and quarter-galleries; and as the smoke
cleared away, the gorgeous painting of the Madre Dolorosa, with her
heart full of seven swords, which, in a gilded frame, bedizened the
Spanish stern, was shivered in splinters; while, most glorious of
all, the golden flag of Spain, which the last moment flaunted above
their heads, hung trailing in the water. The ship, her tiller shot
away, and her helmsman killed, staggered helplessly a moment, and
then fell up into the wind.
"Well done, men of Devon!" shouted Amyas, as cheers rent the
"She has struck," cried some, as the deafening hurrahs died away.
"Not a bit," said Amyas. "Hold on, helmsman, and leave her to
patch her tackle while we settle the galleys."
On they shot merrily, and long ere the armada could get herself to
rights again, were two good miles to windward, with the galleys
sweeping down fast upon them.
And two venomous-looking craft they were, as they shot through the
short chopping sea upon some forty oars apiece, stretching their
long sword-fish snouts over the water, as if snuffing for their
prey. Behind this long snout, a strong square forecastle was
crammed with soldiers, and the muzzles of cannon grinned out
through portholes, not only in the sides of the forecastle, but
forward in the line of the galley's course, thus enabling her to
keep up a continual fire on a ship right ahead.
The long low waist was packed full of the slaves, some five or six
to each oar, and down the centre, between the two banks, the
English could see the slave-drivers walking up and down a long
gangway, whip in hand. A raised quarter-deck at the stern held
more soldiers, the sunlight flashing merrily upon their armor and
their gun-barrels; as they neared, the English could hear plainly
the cracks of the whips, and the yells as of wild beasts which
answered them; the roll and rattle of the oars, and the loud "Ha!"
of the slaves which accompanied every stroke, and the oaths and
curses of the drivers; while a sickening musky smell, as of a pack
of kennelled hounds, came down the wind from off those dens of
misery. No wonder if many a young heart shuddered as it faced, for
the first time, the horrible reality of those floating hells, the
cruelties whereof had rung so often in English ears, from the
stories of their own countrymen, who had passed them, fought them,
and now and then passed years of misery on board of them. Who knew
but what there might be English among those sun-browned half-naked
masses of panting wretches?
"Must we fire upon the slaves?" asked more than one, as the thought
"Spare them all you can, in God's name; but if they try to run us
down, rake them we must, and God forgive us."
The two galleys came on abreast of each other, some forty yards
apart. To outmanoeuvre their oars as he had done the ship's sails,
Amyas knew was impossible. To run from them was to be caught
between them and the ship.
He made up his mind, as usual, to the desperate game.
"Lay her head up in the wind, helmsman, and we will wait for them."
They were now within musket-shot, and opened fire from their bow-
guns; but, owing to the chopping sea, their aim was wild. Amyas,
as usual, withheld his fire.
The men stood at quarters with compressed lips, not knowing what
was to come next. Amyas, towering motionless on the quarter-deck,
gave his orders calmly and decisively. The men saw that he trusted
himself, and trusted him accordingly.
The Spaniards, seeing him wait for them, gave a shout of joy--was
the Englishman mad? And the two galleys converged rapidly,
intending to strike him full, one on each bow.
They were within forty yards--another minute, and the shock would
come. The Englishman's helm went up, his yards creaked round, and
gathering way, he plunged upon the larboard galley.
"A dozen gold nobles to him who brings down the steersman!" shouted
Cary, who had his cue.
And a flight of arrows from the forecastle rattled upon the
Hit or not hit, the steersman lost his nerve, and shrank from the
coming shock. The galley's helm went up to port, and her beak slid
all but harmless along Amyas's bow; a long dull grind, and then
loud crack on crack, as the Rose sawed slowly through the bank of
oars from stem to stern, hurling the wretched slaves in heaps upon
each other; and ere her mate on the other side could swing round,
to strike him in his new position, Amyas's whole broadside, great
and small, had been poured into her at pistol-shot, answered by a
yell which rent their ears and hearts.
"Spare the slaves! Fire at the soldiers!" cried Amyas; but the
work was too hot for much discrimination; for the larboard galley,
crippled but not undaunted, swung round across his stern, and
hooked herself venomously on to him.
It was a move more brave than wise; for it prevented the other
galley from returning to the attack without exposing herself a
second time to the English broadside; and a desperate attempt of
the Spaniards to board at once through the stern-ports and up the
quarter was met with such a demurrer of shot and steel, that they
found themselves in three minutes again upon the galley's poop,
accompanied, to their intense disgust, by Amyas Leigh and twenty
Five minutes' hard cutting, hand to hand, and the poop was clear.
The soldiers in the forecastle had been able to give them no
assistance, open as they lay to the arrows and musketry from the
Rose's lofty stern. Amyas rushed along the central gangway,
shouting in Spanish, "Freedom to the slaves! death to the masters!"
clambered into the forecastle, followed close by his swarm of
wasps, and set them so good an example how to use their stings,
that in three minutes more there was not a Spaniard on board who
was not dead or dying.
"Let the slaves free!" shouted he. "Throw us a hammer down, men.
Hark! there's an English voice!"
There is indeed. From amid the wreck of broken oars and writhing
limbs, a voice is shrieking in broadest Devon to the master, who is
looking over the side.
"Oh, Robert Drew! Robert Drew! Come down, and take me out of
"Who be you, in the name of the Lord!"
"Don't you mind William Prust, that Captain Hawkins left behind in
the Honduras, years and years agone? There's nine of us aboard, if
your shot hasn't put 'em out of their misery. Come down, if you've
a Christian heart, come down!"
Utterly forgetful of all discipline, Drew leaps down hammer in
hand, and the two old comrades rush into each other's arms.
Why make a long story of what took but five minutes to do? The
nine men (luckily none of them wounded) are freed, and helped on
board, to be hugged and kissed by old comrades and young kinsmen;
while the remaining slaves, furnished with a couple of hammers, are
told to free themselves and help the English. The wretches answer
by a shout; and Amyas, once more safe on board again, dashes after
the other galley, which has been hovering out of reach of his guns:
but there is no need to trouble himself about her; sickened with
what she has got, she is struggling right up wind, leaning over to
one side, and seemingly ready to sink.
"Are there any English on board of her?" asks Amyas, loath to lose
the chance of freeing a countryman.
"Never a one, sir, thank God."
So they set to work to repair damages; while the liberated slaves,
having shifted some of the galley's oars, pull away after their
comrade; and that with such a will, that in ten minutes they have
caught her up, and careless of the Spaniard's fire, boarded her en
masse, with yells as of a thousand wolves. There will be fearful
vengeance taken on those tyrants, unless they play the man this
And in the meanwhile half the crew are clothing, feeding,
questioning, caressing those nine poor fellows thus snatched from
living death; and Yeo, hearing the news, has rushed up on deck to
welcome his old comrades, and--
"Is Michael Heard, my cousin, here among you?"
Yes, Michael Heard is there, white-headed rather from misery than
age; and the embracings and questionings begin afresh.
"Where is my wife, Salvation Yeo?"
"With the Lord."
"Amen!" says the old man, with a short shudder. "I thought so
much; and my two boys?"
"With the Lord."
The old man catches Yeo by the arm.
"How, then?" It is Yeo's turn to shudder now.
"Killed in Panama, fighting the Spaniards; sailing with Mr.
Oxenham; and 'twas I led 'em into it. May God and you forgive me!"
"They couldn't die better, cousin Yeo. Where's my girl Grace?"
"Died in childbed."
The old man covers his face with his hands for a while.
"Well, I've been alone with the Lord these fifteen years, so I must
not whine at being alone a while longer--'t won't be long."
"Put this coat on your back, uncle," says some one.
"No; no coats for me. Naked came I into the world, and naked I go
out of it this day, if I have a chance. You'm better to go to your
work, lads, or the big one will have the wind of you yet."
"So she will," said Amyas, who has overheard; but so great is the
curiosity on all hands, that he has some trouble in getting the men
to quarters again; indeed, they only go on condition of parting
among themselves with them the new-comers, each to tell his sad and
strange story. How after Captain Hawkins, constrained by famine,
had put them ashore, they wandered in misery till the Spaniards
took them; how, instead of hanging them (as they at first
intended), the Dons fed and clothed them, and allotted them as
servants to various gentlemen about Mexico, where they throve,
turned their hands (like true sailors) to all manner of trades, and
made much money, and some of them were married, even to women of
wealth; so that all went well, until the fatal year 1574, when,
"much against the minds of many of the Spaniards themselves, that
cruel and bloody Inquisition was established for the first time in
the Indies;" and how from that moment their lives were one long
tragedy; how they were all imprisoned for a year and a half, not