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´╗┐Title: The Boy who sailed with Blake
Author: Kingston, William Henry Giles, 1814-1880
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Boy who sailed with Blake" ***

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The Boy who sailed with Blake, by W.H.G. Kingston.

________________________________________________________________________

Another vintage Kingston book, this time with a background of the 1650s,
when Cromwell and the Roundheads were in power.

With acknowledgement to Chamber's Biographical Dictionary we read:

Blake, Robert (1599-1657) English naval commander, the son of a
merchant.  Educated at Wadham College, Oxford, he continued his father's
business and led the life of a quiet country gentleman until he was 40.
Returned for Bridgwater in 1640 to the short Parliament, he cast in his
lot with the Parliamentarians.  In the Civil War he took part in the
defence of Bristol (1643) and Lyme Regis (1644), and his defence of
Taunton (1644-45) against overwhelming odds proved a turning point in
the war.  Appointed Admiral in 1649, he destroyed Prince Rupert's fleet
and captured the Scilly Isles and Jersey.  In the first Dutch War
(1652-54) he defeated Tromp at the battle of Portland and shattered
Dutch supremacy at sea.  He destroyed the Barbary Coast pirate fleet off
Tunis (1655) and in 1657 destroyed a Spanish treasure fleet at Santa
Cruz off Teneriffe.  He died as his ship entered Plymouth, and was
buried in Westminster Abbey, but his body was removed at the
Restoration.  He is considered one of the greatest of English admirals,
second only to Nelson.

That was the background to this story.  The only thing that upset your
transcriber is that he is by nature on the side of the Cavaliers and the
Monarchy, rather than that of the Roundheads.

________________________________________________________________________

THE BOY WHO SAILED WITH BLAKE, BY W.H.G. KINGSTON.

The following story is not one of reckless adventure, nor one in which
fighting and bloodshed are introduced to fan a spurious spirit of
heroism.  It is the reproduction of a page of history, and a most
important one, when good men held not their lives dear to uphold and
defend that which was dearer than life--civil and religious liberty.

The example of Blake is held up to the boys of to-day, not because he
fought and conquered, but because he was a conscientious, God-fearing
man, and his conscience told him that the best interests of his country
demanded resistance to the Stuart rule.  Such a man as Blake was a hero
everywhere, and needed not a quarter-deck to display his heroism.



CHAPTER ONE.

MY FRIENDS AND I.

"Hark! the bells of Saint Michael's are sending forth a jovial peal!"
exclaimed Lancelot Kerridge, as he, Dick Harvey, and I were one day on
board his boat fishing for mackerel, about two miles off the sea-port
town of Lyme.  "What they are saying I should mightily like to know, for
depend on't it's something of importance.  Haul in the lines, Ben!" he
continued, addressing me; "and, Dick, put an oar out to windward.  I'll
take the helm.  We shall fetch the Cob by keeping our luff."

The wind was off shore, but as we were to the westward of the Cob, and
the tide was making in the same direction, we could easily fetch it.
The water was smooth, the sea blue and bright as the eyes of sweet
Cicely Kerridge, my friend Lancelot's young sister, while scarcely a
cloud dimmed the clear sky overhead.

Lyme, then containing but one thousand inhabitants, where my two
companions and I lived, is situated in Dorsetshire, near its western
border, on the northern shore of a wide bay, formed by the Bill of
Portland on the east and the Start Point on the west.  Along the coast
are several other towns, of which Dartmouth, owing to its excellent
harbour, is the most considerable, besides numerous villages, including
Charmouth and Uplyme.  A line of cliffs of no great height extends away
on either side of Lyme, which stands at the bottom of a valley; while
beyond it rise the green slopes of Colway and Uplyme, hills overlooking
the town.

On the eastern side was the house of my father, Captain Roger Bracewell.
He had commanded several of the trading ships of Master Humphrey Blake,
of Bridgwater, at one time a merchant of renown, and the father of
Captain Robert Blake, who had already made his name famous for his
gallant defence of Prior's Hill when Bristol was besieged by Prince
Rupert, until it was yielded in a dastardly fashion by Governor Fiennes.
My father retiring from the sea with a competency, having married late
in life, settled in Lyme, his native place.  His house, which overlooked
the bay, was of the better sort, with curious gables, and a balcony
supported on strong wooden pillars in front, where he was wont to sit,
smoking his pipe, and enjoying a view of the ocean he still loved full
well, with the ships--their white canvas spread to the breeze--sailing
by in the distance, or approaching to take shelter in our roadstead.

There were a few other residences of the same character; but most of the
houses were built of soft stone, with thatched roofs, forming four
irregular narrow streets, with several narrower lanes of no very
dignified character.  Still, we were fond of our little town, and had
reasons to be proud of it from the events I am about to describe.

My two friends and I spent much of our time on the water.  Lancelot, my
senior by two years, was the son of the worshipful Master Kerridge,
Mayor of Lyme, and Dick's father was Mr Harvey, a man of considerable
wealth and influence in the neighbourhood, brother-in-law of Mr Ceely,
who had been made Governor of the town by the Parliament.

Our fathers were Puritans and staunch Parliamentarians.  They had become
so in consequence of the faithlessness of the King, and the attempt of
Laud to introduce Popish rites and to enslave the consciences of
free-born Englishmen.  Who, indeed, could have witnessed the clipping of
ears, the slitting of noses, the branding of temples, and burning of
tongues, to which the Archbishop resorted to crush Nonconformity--who
could have seen their friends imprisoned, placed in the pillory, and
even scourged through the streets, without feeling their hearts burn
with indignation and their whole souls rebel against tyranny so
outrageous?

"It is a wonder that any honest man could be found to support that
miscreant Laud," I remember hearing my father say.  "He and his
faithless master are mainly answerable for the civil strife now
devastating, from north to south and east to west, our fair English
land."

But I must not trouble my readers with politics; my object is to narrate
the scenes I witnessed, or the events in which I took a part.  I was too
young, indeed, at that time to think much about the matter, but yet I
was as enthusiastic a Roundhead as any of my fellow-townsmen.  As we
approached the little harbour we passed through a large fleet of
traders, brought up in the roadstead for shelter, most of which,
belonging to London merchants, dared not therefore put into any port
held by the Cavaliers.  Three or four had dropped their anchors while we
were out fishing.  We hailed one of them, which had come in from the
westward, to ask the news.

"Bad news!" was the answer.  "The Malignants have taken Exeter, and many
other places in the west country, and are now marching in great force on
London."

"I hope they won't come to Lyme on their way, for if they do, we shall
have but small chance of withstanding them," I observed to my companions
as we sailed on.

"I have but little fear on that score," replied Lancelot.  "We'll fight
while a man remains on his legs, or a gun can be fired from our
batteries."

Lancelot's enthusiasm inspired me.  The breeze freshened.  We soon
rounded the Cob, when we pulled up among the small craft which crowded
the harbour, to a spot where Lancelot usually kept his boat.  As soon as
we had moored her we sprang on shore, and hurried through the lower part
of the town, which was almost deserted.

We found the greater portion of the inhabitants collected at the
northern side; and I had scarcely time to ask a question of my father,
whom I joined, before we saw a body of troops approaching, led by an
officer on horseback.  He was a strong-built man, of moderate height,
with a fair and florid complexion, and, contrary to the fashion general
among Puritans, his hair, in rich profusion, was seen escaping beneath
his broad-brimmed hat, while he wore large whiskers, but no beard--his
countenance unmistakably exhibiting firmness and determination.  He
returned in a cordial manner the salutes of the principal townsmen, who
had gone out to meet him.

"Who is he?"  I asked of my father.

"That, my son, is Colonel Blake.  He has come with five hundred men of
Popham's regiment, to protect us from a large army of Malignants--twenty
thousand men, it is said--under Prince Maurice, cousin to the King.  He
threatens to annihilate our little town; but though we shall have a hard
struggle to beat them back, God will protect the right."

The bells we had heard had been set ringing on the announcement of the
approach of Colonel Blake; and now, as he and his brave followers
entered the town, they pealed forth with redoubled energy.

While the men were sent to their quarters, he, accompanied by the
Governor and Mayor, and several officers, rode round the outskirts of
the town, to point out the spots where he judged it necessary that
batteries and entrenchments should be thrown up.

He was accompanied by a young nephew, also named Robert Blake, son of
his brother Samuel, who was killed some time before at Bridgwater, while
commanding a company in Colonel Popham's regiment.  I afterwards became
well acquainted with young Robert Blake, as we were much drawn together
by the fondness for a sea life which we both possessed.  His was rather
a passion than mere fondness--indeed, like his noble uncle, he was
enthusiastic in all his aspirations, and a more gallant, noble-minded
lad I never met.

That evening the newly arrived troops, as well as every man in the place
capable of labouring, set to work with pickaxes, spades, and barrows to
throw up embankments, to cut trenches, to erect batteries, to barricade
the roads, and to loophole all the outer walls of the houses and
gardens.  Officers were in the meantime despatched by the Governor and
the Mayor to obtain volunteers from Charmouth, Uplyme, and other
villages; while foraging parties were sent out in all directions to
collect provisions, cattle, and fodder.  Although, in addition to
Colonel Blake's five hundred regulars, scarcely more than three hundred
fighting men could be mustered in the town, there were no signs of
wavering; but high and low endeavoured to make amends for the paucity of
their numbers by their dauntless courage, their energy, and unceasing
toil; and even women and children were to be seen in all directions,
filling baskets with sods, and carrying materials to the labourers at
the earthworks.

Lancelot and I kept together, and did our best to be of use, though I
could not do much, being a little fellow; but I know that I worked away
as hard as my strength would allow me.  Colonel Blake was everywhere,
superintending the operations and encouraging the men.  Stopping near
where my friends and I were at work, he addressed the labourers.

"The haughty Cavaliers fancy that they can ride roughshod into your
little town, my lads," he said; "but I want you to show them that you
can fight for your hearths and homes as well as did my brave fellows at
Prior's Hill; and I do not fear that a traitor will be found within our
trenches to deliver up the place, while we have a cask of powder in our
magazines, or a musket to fire it.  And even should our ammunition run
short, the Lord of Hosts being with us, we'll drive them back with pike
and sword."

"Rightly spoken, Colonel Blake," said my father, who had just then
reached the spot where the Colonel was standing.  "I am an old man, and
had looked forward to ending my days in peace; but willingly will I
promise you that the enemy shall march over my dead body before they get
within our entrenchments.  I served on board the ships of your honoured
father, when we had many a tough fight with corsairs, Spaniards,
Portingales, and Dutchmen; and I feel sure that I shall not draw my
sword in vain when his son commands.  Maybe you may remember Richard
Bracewell?"

"Well indeed I do," answered Colonel Blake, putting out his hand and
warmly shaking that of my father.  "And many a long yarn about your
adventures have I listened to with eager interest, while I longed to
sail over the wide ocean and to visit the strange countries you
described.  Who is that youngster standing by you?" he then asked in a
kindly tone, looking down on me.

"My only boy, the son of my old age," answered my father.  "Though young
now, he will, I trust, ere long grow big enough to fight for the civil
and religious liberties of our country, or to defend her from foreign
foes."

"Judging by his looks, and knowing whose son he is, I would gladly have
him with me when he is old enough, should heaven spare our lives; but at
present he is too young to be exposed to the dangers of war, and I would
advise you to keep him under lock and key when the fight is going on, or
he will be running where bullets and round shot are falling, and perhaps
his young life will be taken before he has had time to strike a blow for
the liberties of our country."

"I hope that I can do something now, sir," I said, not liking the
thoughts of being shut up.  "I can fire a pistol if I cannot point an
arquebuse; and since morning I have carried a hundred baskets or more of
earth to the embankment."

"You speak bravely, my boy, and bravely you will act when the time
comes," said the Colonel, and forthwith he addressed himself to others
who came to receive his orders.  Such was my first introduction to one
with whom I was destined to serve for many a year.

I well remember the spot where we were standing.  On one side lay the
blue sea extending to the horizon, below us was the town with its
white-walled, straw-thatched buildings, the church with its spire to the
left, and before us were the green slopes of the hills sprinkled here
and there with clumps of trees, while on the more level spots were to be
seen corn-fields and orchards smiling in the rays of the setting sun.
Beyond the town was Colway House, a substantial mansion, once the
residence of the Cobham family; and about a mile from it, on the
opposite side of the valley, was a collection of buildings known as
Hayes Farm, both of which had been fortified, and occupied as outposts.

We had, we knew, not many days to prepare for the defence; and I am
proud to say that, scrap of a boy as I was, I worked as hard as many of
my elders.  Late in the evening, when it was already dusk, my father
found me, with Lancelot and Dick, still at our self-imposed task.

"Come, boys," he said, "it is time for you to go home and get some
sleep.  You must leave it to stronger men to labour during the night."

"Just let us carry a few more basketfuls, sir," answered Lancelot.  "See
that gap; we have undertaken to fill it up, and, for what we can tell,
the enemy may be upon us before the morning."

"Well, well, lads, I like your spirit.  I will not baulk you.  Give me a
spade; I will try what I can do to expedite the work."  And my revered
father, as soon as the spade had been handed to him, began digging away
with right goodwill, filling the baskets, which were carried up to the
embankment.  He soon became so interested in the work that he was as
unwilling to knock off as we were.

"Run back and get a lantern.  Its light will help us to finish our task
more quickly.  Maybe the host of the `Three Tankards' will lend thee
one; or Master Harris who lives opposite; or, if you cannot get one
nearer, go home and bring our big lantern which hangs inside the hall
door.  See that it is well trimmed, though."

"Ay, ay, father," I answered, and set off.  Knowing every foot of the
way, I was not afraid of running, even though the gathering darkness
made it difficult to see objects at any distance beyond my nose.

At the first places where I called, all the lanterns had been put into
requisition, and so I had to run on until I reached our house.  I found
my sister Audrey, and Margaret our maid, wondering why we were so long
absent.  Supper was on the table, and the viands getting cold.  On
hearing why I wanted the lantern, they both wished to come and help us,
Audrey declaring that she could carry a basket as well as either of us
boys.

"You must stop and take care of the house," I answered, feeling a little
jealous that a girl should fancy she could work as well as my companions
and I.  "There are a good many strangers in the town, and it would not
do to leave the house empty.  Margaret can trim the lantern, as she
knows how to do it better than I do.  Be quick about it, for I must be
off again as fast as my legs can carry me."

"Take a crust of bread and a piece of cheese in the meantime, Master
Ben," said Margaret, as she took down the lantern, and examined the
wick.

"I have no time for eating; I am not hungry," I answered, and I watched
her impatiently, while she poured in some fresh oil.  Taking the lantern
as soon as it was lighted, I hurried out, and, holding it before me, ran
on without fear of rushing against any one coming from an opposite
direction.  I had got a short distance when I found myself in the midst
of a body of men, who were coming up from the harbour carrying loads on
their shoulder.  They had, I discovered from the remarks which reached
me, just landed.

"Do you bring any news?"  I inquired.

"Fine news, young sir," answered one of the men.  "Prince Maurice has
been driven away from Plymouth, which he tried to take, but couldn't.
But, as maybe he will pay a visit to Lyme, we have brought you powder
and shot, and other munitions of war, and no doubt Colonel Blake will
make good use of them."

Having obtained all the information I could from the communicative
seaman, I hurried on with the satisfactory intelligence to the works,
where I found my father leaning on his spade, pretty well tired out by
his unusual exertions.  The light of the lantern I brought, however,
enabled us to proceed, and he recommenced digging with as much energy as
before.

As we were running backwards and forwards, I could see numerous other
lights all along the line, within a few yards of each other, marking the
spots where the people were working.

It was nearly midnight before our task was concluded.  Not one of us had
felt hungry or thirsty.  My father then insisted on our returning home,
and on our way we left Lancelot and Dick at their respective homes.

We found Audrey and Margaret sitting up for us, both looking somewhat
pale, naturally supposing that if the finishing of the earthworks was so
important, immediate danger was to be apprehended.  Supper over, we
knelt in prayer, which, on all occasions and under all circumstances,
was our wont.  Then retiring to bed, I for one slept like a top.  Next
day was like the previous one.

The news that Prince Maurice, at the head of a vast army, was marching
into Dorsetshire, spread through the town and incited every one to
renewed exertions.  Volunteers, who came in from all sides, were being
drilled by Colonel Weir and other officers, most of them having to learn
not only the use of the pike and sword, but how to load and fire an
arquebuse or musket.

The soldiers and townsmen were still labouring away at the
fortifications, when one morning, as Lancelot, Dick, and I were employed
at the top of an embankment, my father helping us, we saw a horseman who
had been on outpost duty come galloping down the hill towards the town.

"The enemy are near at hand!" he exclaimed, as he rode up to where
Colonel Blake and Governor Ceely stood.  "They will be here anon.  I
could see them defiling along the road like a host of ants.  I had to
ride hard to escape their advance guard."

On receiving this news, the colonel ordered the drums to beat to arms.
Parties were sent out to strengthen the two outposts, and the troops and
townsmen, with the volunteers, hastened to the lines.

"How many fighting men have we?"  I asked of my father, as I watched the
defenders taking up their appointed positions.

"Colonel Blake brought five hundred men with him, and, maybe, with the
townsmen and volunteers from the neighbourhood, we shall muster
well-nigh another five hundred," he answered.

"A thousand men to withstand twenty thousand?"  I asked in a doubtful
tone.

"Each man of the one thousand will count for twenty when fighting in a
just cause," he answered.  "Colonel Blake thinks that we can not only
withstand, but drive back the Malignants, or he would not wantonly throw
away our lives."

We watched eagerly for some time, when at length horse and foot, gay
banners flying, cuirasses and helmets glittering in the bright sun,
appeared over the brow of the distant hills.  On they came, until every
height was crowned, and we saw drawn up in battle array what appeared to
us an army sufficient at a single charge to overwhelm our slender
defences.

There they remained.  We could see horsemen galloping to and fro on the
sides of the hills, but as yet not a shot had been fired.

Sentries were posted along our whole line, and the men were ordered to
sit down and take their dinners.  I saw my father look graver than
usual.

"Ben," he said, "I have been consulting with Master Kerridge, and he
agrees with me that it would be wrong to allow you boys to expose your
lives.  I promise you that if you can render service to the cause you
shall be employed; and you must all three give me your words that you
will remain where I place you, and not come forth until you are sent
for."

Very unwillingly Lancelot and Dick and I gave the promise exacted from
us, though we were more content when my father took us to the church,
and told us that we might remain in the tower, whence, as it overlooked
the greater portion of the lines, we could see through a narrow loophole
what was going forward.

He then returned to the post which he, with Martin Shobbrok, an old
follower of his in many a voyage, had undertaken to keep.  He had
directed me, should the enemy get into the town, to run home and try to
protect my sister from insult, and our house from plunder.  "Though I
may never return, my boy, should the Malignants force an entrance, yet
you, Ben, will, I trust, live to become a man, and serve our country
either on shore or afloat," he said in a grave tone, which showed,
however, no signs of fear.  I often afterwards thought of his words, and
prayed that I might fulfil his expectations.

We had not long taken up our position in the tower before we saw the
Cavalier forces moving down the slopes of the hill.  One party advanced
towards our outposts at Hayes Farm, and then attacked Colway House, at
which their great guns commenced a furious fire, wreaths of white smoke
filling the calm air.  Presently the two little garrisons returned the
salute with right goodwill.

Then we caught sight of them rushing at full speed towards our lines;
and good reason they had to move fast, for, following them close, came
horse and foot in battle array, with trumpets sounding, drums beating,
lances in rest, pikes at the charge, and swords flashing in the bright
sunlight.  The enemy halted, however, when still at a distance, and a
herald advanced, who blowing a blast on his trumpet summoned the town
instantly to surrender.

Colonel Blake, mounting on the ramparts, answered in a loud tone, which
reached our ears--

"Not while we have men to fight, or breastworks to defend the place.
Go, tell the Prince who sent you that such is our resolve."

Shaking his fist at the town, the herald wheeled round his horse and
galloped off.

But a short time elapsed before the trumpets sounded a general charge,
and the infantry rushed impetuously forward towards the lines, hurling
immense numbers of hand-grenades among the defenders, which, bursting as
they fell, filled the air with smoke and deafened our ears by their
explosions.

Not one of our brave fellows wavered, but fired rapidly in return among
the dense masses of the foe.  The next instant we could see a large body
of cavalry riding furiously onward, expecting to gain an easy victory.
In vain the bravest attempted to ride over the earthworks, up to the
very muzzles of the muskets; but they were driven back by the heavy fire
poured into their ranks, and compelled to retreat up the valley, leaving
many dead and wounded behind.

We three boys could not refrain from giving way to a shout of joy,
believing that the battle was won; but we were grievously mistaken.
Again the serried ranks of foot advanced with fierce shouts, threatening
the destruction of our little garrison.



CHAPTER TWO.

A SUCCESSFUL DISGUISE.

On came the enemy with determination.  Fiercely the battle raged--again
and again the foot advanced up to the embankment, each time retreating
from the storm of bullets, case shot, and round shot poured into them,
leaving the ground strewed with their comrades, some in the calm of
death, others struggling in vain efforts to rise and escape from the
field.

Again we thought that the fight for that day was over, when we
distinguished a horseman riding along the broken ranks of the Cavaliers,
waving his sword, as if to lead them on.  He advanced, but not a foot
would they budge.  They had that day gained a lesson they could not so
easily forget.

At length, losing patience, the Cavalier, who we had no doubt was the
Prince himself, rode round to where his cavalry were posted.  The
advance was sounded, and now the horse, drawn up in the rear, urged
forward the foot with lances and pistol shots at their backs.

"They must come on this time," cried Lancelot; "if they don't, they'll
get cut down by their friends in the rear."

"Then I hope that such will be their fate," said Dick.  "See, the poor
fellows are advancing.  I pity them, for they well know how they will be
treated by Colonel Blake."

As the enemy got within range of our firearms they were received with
showers of musket balls and case shot, which went through and through
their closed ranks, striking down dozens at a time, but still, urged on
by their officers--who, to give them their due, fought with the most
heroic bravery--they advanced close up to our lines.  Here they were met
by pistols, pikes, and spears, and then, staggering, they broke and
fled, followed by showers of missiles, until they were beyond our reach.

A loud shout rose all along our line, in which we in the tower joined
right heartily, but our troops were too wearied with the ceaseless
exertions they had made during the whole of the afternoon to pursue the
fugitives; indeed, it would have been the very thing the Prince would
have desired, as he would have been down upon them with his cavalry, and
although they might have retreated to the lines, many a valuable life
would have been sacrificed, and no advantage gained.

Colonel Blake therefore contented himself with the brilliant success he
had achieved.  He had shown those haughty Cavaliers that the garrison of
Lyme was not to be so easily overcome as they had thought, and had
taught them what they were to expect should they again venture to assail
us.

Such was the termination of the first day of the siege.  Descending from
our tower with the satisfaction of having faithfully fulfilled our
promise, we went down the lines to view more nearly the battle-field.
The whole ground was strewed near and far off with the bodies of men and
horses.  Parties were at once sent out to bring in any who might be
still living, and to bury the dead while the rays of the setting sun
gleamed on the white tents of the Royalist camp, which could be seen in
the distance.

Few doubted that another day would see a fresh attack made on our
entrenchments, but some were sanguine enough to believe that the Prince,
after the lesson he had received, would retire.  I asked my father what
he thought.  He answered--

"The Royalists will not go away without further attempts to reduce the
town, for they know too well that if they do they will leave a vigilant
enemy in their rear, under whose standard thousands of honest Puritans
will gladly gather to destroy the enemies of our country's freedom."

The next morning it was seen that the Cavaliers were busy erecting
batteries and throwing up earthworks on all the neighbouring heights, so
that they might command our forts and batter down our houses.

Notwithstanding the preparations made for the destruction of the town,
Colonel Blake urged the garrison to resist to the bitter end, assuring
them that ere that should come Parliament would send them relief.

I cannot attempt to give a detailed account of the siege.  Soon after
his first repulse, Prince Maurice opened fire from his great guns placed
on all the heights commanding the town, from the effects of which not
only the houses but our forts suffered.  In a short time the fort at the
Cob was knocked to pieces by a battery which had been thrown up at Holme
Bush, which also swept the bay, so as to render it dangerous for any
vessel to enter the harbour in the day time.  Information was also
received that the Cavaliers were busy throwing up another battery at
Colway Hill, in front of Colway House, and into this battery they were
seen dragging some of their largest ordnance.  As it commanded Davies
Fort, which was the key of our defences, the Colonel ordered a large
body of men to strengthen that fort as rapidly as possible.  Volunteers
were not lacking, and Lancelot and I were allowed to help.  We called
for Dick Harvey on the way, and when the men saw three young gentlemen,
the sons of the three principal persons in the place, labouring away as
hard as any one, it encouraged them to still greater exertions, and in a
few hours a bank twelve feet thick had been thrown up, which it was not
likely the shot from the enemy's guns could penetrate.  Colonel Blake
passing while we were thus occupied, patted me on the head.

"Well done, young comrade," he said in a kind tone.  "If we had a
garrison of a few hundred boys like you, we might hold the place against
all assailants, without the help of more veteran troops."

The earthworks had been completed, and Lancelot and I were standing on
the top, surveying with no little pride the portion we had assisted in
throwing up, when I saw a puff of smoke issue from Colway Hill, followed
by a thundering report, and a round shot plunged into the bank close
beneath our feet.

"Come down, youngsters!" shouted my father, who had just before entered
the fort.  "More of those iron balls will be coming in this direction.
You must not run the risk of losing your lives when you cannot advance
our good cause."  We unwillingly obeyed, but we had not gone far before
a succession of reports showed that the enemy had already got several
guns into position, and had not the fort been strengthened, it would
soon have been rendered untenable.  Numerous successive attacks were
made, but were repulsed as the first had been.

Poor little Audrey and Cicely were in a great state of alarm while the
firing continued, naturally fearing that the whole town would soon be
battered down.

At length, however, the Royalists drew off, and we were left in quiet
for nearly a week.  The time was spent in strengthening the
fortifications and drilling the volunteers.  We had spies in the camp of
the Cavaliers, who managed under cover of the night to come into the
town with information of what they were about.  One piece of news they
brought caused Governor Ceely and my friend Dick much anxiety.  It was
that Mr Harvey, Dick's father, who, having been absent from the town
when the Cavalier army arrived before it, had been unable to join us,
was made prisoner, and was now in the camp.  Dick was afraid that the
Prince would hang him, as he had others, and talked much with Lancelot
and me of a plan for rescuing him; still, for a long time we could
strike out nothing feasible.  Dick, like a good son, was ready to run
every risk, and I was ready to assist him if I could obtain my father's
leave, as was also Lancelot.

We took Audrey and Cicely into our councils.  Audrey proposed that she
and Cicely should go to the camp and try to bribe the guards to let Mr
Harvey escape.

"Bad as the Cavaliers may be, they won't injure two young girls, and
Prince Maurice, who is a gentleman, would be sure to treat us with
courtesy," observed Audrey.  "You, Lancelot, and Dick might, in the
meantime, during the night, row along the coast, and landing, obtain a
horse, with which you can wait outside the Royalists' camp, until Mr
Harvey, being free, finds you and gallops off."

"No, no, such a plan I can never agree to," exclaimed Lancelot.  "I
would sooner trust you two girls in a den of lions than amongst those
Malignants.  We must devise some other plan; I am sure that our fathers
would not consent.  Mr Harvey was taken without arms, and nothing can
be proved against him."

This conversation took place on the 6th of May, 1644, and good reason I
had for remembering the date.  The weather had hitherto been fine, but
soon after midday it began to blow hard from the southward, and the seas
came rolling into our little harbour.  Lancelot, who had gone away,
returned in a hurry, accompanied by Dick, and asked him to assist in
hauling up his boat, which ran a chance of being dashed to pieces, as
Tom Noakes, who had charge of her, was likely to be engaged on the
lines.  We all three hurried down.  When we got there, we found a number
of men, who, as the enemy were quiet, had left their posts in order to
secure their craft from the tempest.  Evening was approaching, and as
the gale was rapidly increasing there was no time to be lost.  We found
the boat tumbling and tossing about at her moorings, exposed to great
risk of being run down by the smaller vessels which were standing in for
shelter.  To get on board was the difficulty, as no other boat was at
hand, so Lancelot, pulling off his clothes, and swimming through the
foaming sea, was soon on board.

"Stand by, to haul her up as she comes in," he shouted out, as he cast
off the moorings.  Then springing aft, he seized an oar.  It was well
that he did so, for just then a vessel which had rounded the Cob came
tearing up under her foresail, the man at the helm apparently not seeing
the boat in the way.

Lancelot shouted lustily and plied his oar, the craft just scraping the
stern of the boat as she luffed up to come to an anchor.  We were on the
east shore, the most exposed side of the harbour, it should be
understood.  Dick and I stood by to seize the boat as she struck the
beach.  Lancelot, leaping on shore, slipped into his shirt and hauled
away likewise, but with our united strength we could scarcely have
succeeded, had not Martin Shobbrok come to our aid.  Fortunately there
were some rollers near at hand, and by their means we at length got the
boat hauled up out of harm's way.

Never had I seen our harbour in a state of greater confusion.  The
smaller craft continued to stand in sometimes two or three together,
many of them running foul of one another before they could bring up, and
others being driven on shore.

The larger vessels outside were getting down fresh anchors, and several
making sail were endeavouring to beat out of the bay, to obtain an
offing where they could ride out the gale.

A large number of the townsmen were engaged in securing the vessels,
when sounding high above the roar of the tempest a rapid fusillade was
heard in the direction of the lines, while shot after shot from the
enemy's batteries came hurtling into the town.

"The soldiers would be at their suppers at this hour," exclaimed Martin.
"I fear me much that the place has been surprised, and if so, it will
go hard with us.  Hasten to your homes, young gentlemen, and await the
issue; I must to my post."

Martin, without waiting to see what we should do, taking his musket,
which he had placed near the boat, hurried away, as did all the men
engaged in securing the vessels.  We followed, eager to know what was
taking place.  The sound of bursting hand-grenades, the reports of
muskets and pistols, the shouts and shrieks which reached our ears,
showed us that the fight was raging much nearer than usual.

"There's no doubt about the enemy being in the town," cried Lancelot.
"We may as well die fighting as be killed like rats in a hole.  Come on,
lads!"

We dashed forward through the market square, in a street leading from
which towards the lines we could see, by the bright and rapid flashes,
that hot fighting was going on.  A party from the harbour had come up
just in time to stop the entrance into the square, and with loud shouts
they pressed onwards, while from the windows of every house there burst
forth bright flashes from arquebuse, musket, and pistol.  To force our
way in that direction was impossible, so, led by Lancelot, we made a
wide circuit, until we reached the neighbourhood of the lines, where we
found a furious fight was also raging.

We met on our way several wounded men supported by mourning parties of
women, who had ventured up, even to the scene of the conflict, for the
sake of succouring those who had been struck down.  Still, the fight in
the centre of the town continued, and at length we learned from one of
the wounded men that a large body of Cavaliers had forced their way into
the town, when Colonel Blake, closing in on their rear, had cut them
off, but though Malignants as they were, like gallant men they were
fighting desperately.

Meanwhile another party outside were endeavouring to drive back the
garrison and rescue them.  The darkness increased, the south wind
bringing up a thick fog, which prevented our assailants from seeing
their way.  Often the hand-grenades they intended for us were thrown
among their own companions, while our people plied them with every
weapon which could be mustered.  The bullets came pinging against the
wall above where we were standing, but in our eagerness we boys heeded
not the risk we were running.

"Let us fight too!" exclaimed Lancelot, and we made our way on to the
trenches, where not only the soldiers, the volunteers, and the townsmen
were fighting, but women, with muskets in their hands, were firing away,
encouraging their companions with shouts and cheers.  Lancelot had got
hold of a musket belonging to one of the garrison who had fallen, and
had taken his powder-horn and shot-belt.  Dick and I, after hunting
about, succeeded in finding a couple of horse-pistols, but scarcely had
we fired them than the din in front of us ceased, though the report of
firearms to the right and left of us still continued.  We could hear the
tramp of men and the cries and groans of the wounded in front, but the
uproar towards the market-place was quelled.  No shots were heard, no
clashing of swords, no shouts and shrieks.

"The enemy have retreated!  The Malignants are flying!" was the cry
passed along the lines.

Still, we could scarcely believe it possible.  But an hour had passed
since the attack had commenced, and our little garrison had driven back
once more the well-equipped troops of Prince Maurice.

The storm raged fiercely during the night, and many fearing that another
attack might be made, the greater portion of the garrison remained under
arms, ready for any emergency.

Not until morning was the full extent of the Cavaliers' loss discovered.
Within the lines well-nigh four hundred men lay stark and stiff where
they had fallen, struck down by the fire from the houses and the fierce
onslaught in front and rear, few prisoners having been taken.

Outside the trenches a hundred more strewed the ground, among them many
officers of distinction, including Colonel Blewett, a gallant gentleman,
greatly esteemed by Maurice.  We knew this, because early in the morning
the Prince sent a herald to request that he might be restored if a
prisoner, or that his body might be given up if dead.

A prisoner he was not, for every officer who had come inside the lines
had been slain.  The Colonel answered that the body should be restored
if found, provided our people were not injured while searching for it
and burying the dead.  Before long the body of the Cavalier was
discovered where he had fallen, at the entrance of the town, leading on
his men.  It was placed with all decency in a coffin, and Colonel Blake
sent word that it was ready to be delivered up, and that he hoped, in
return, his friend Mr Harvey would be set at liberty.

The Prince, to the indignation of the garrison, replied that they might
keep the body, and refused to give up Mr Harvey.  The coffin was,
notwithstanding, carried to the lines opposite Holme Bush, when a signal
was made to the heralds to come for it.  Colonel Blake stood by to
receive them.

"Have you any orders to pay for the shroud and coffin?" he asked.

"We have received none," was the answer.

"Take them, notwithstanding," answered the Colonel, curling his
whiskers, as was his wont when angered.  "We are not so poor but that we
can afford to give them to you."

The body was taken up by the men sent to fetch it, and slowly they
wended their way back to the camp.  An officer approached while the flag
of truce was flying.  He was one with whom Colonel Blake was acquainted.

"Here, friend," he said, "you see the weakness of our works.  We trust
not to them.  Tell Prince Maurice that should he desire to come in, we
will pull down a dozen yards, so that he may enter with ten men abreast,
and we will give him battle."

"Not so," answered the Royalist, stung by the reproach to the military
prowess of his party.  "We will take our own time, but will come ere
long."

The Colonel replied by a scornful laugh.

All that day we enjoyed unusual quiet, for the Royalists had not the
heart again to attack us, though we were well aware they would do so
should occasion favour them.

Day after day and week after week went by, still our garrison held out.
Our provisions were running short, as was our ammunition, and should
that fail us--notwithstanding all the heroic efforts which had been
made--we should be compelled to yield.

My friend Dick was still very anxious about his father.

"I have an idea!" exclaimed Lancelot.  "You, Dick, are like your sister
Mildred.  Probably the Prince is not aware she is not in the town.  What
say you to dressing up in her clothes, and taking Ben with you? he can
pretend to be your brother.  He looks so young, no one would think of
injuring him more than they would you, supposing you to be a girl.  You
can steal out at night; go boldly to the Prince, and say you wish to see
your father.  He will scarcely refuse you.  You can then tell Mr Harvey
your plan, and he is a man of wealth; the chances are he'll find the
means of bribing his guards.  I meantime will sail along the shore, and
landing, arrange as I proposed about a horse, which I will have ready at
the foot of Charmouth Rise."

We kept our plan secret.  I had some doubt whether I was acting rightly,
but I trusted that my father would not blame me.  Audrey and Cicely were
delighted, and soon rigged up Dick, so that the keenest eye would not
have discovered that he was a boy.

That very night Lancelot, accompanied by Tom Noakes, who had charge of
his boat, put out of the harbour, and favoured by a light breeze, stood
along the shore.  We slipped out and crept along past the sentries,
making our way to the east of Colway Hill.  Every moment we expected to
be discovered, but a thick fog favoured our design, and we got away,
creeping along hedges and under banks, until we were clear outside the
enemy's entrenchments as well as our own.

Proceeding northward, we reached a wide-spreading tree on the top of a
high bank, where we sat down to rest and consult as to our future
course.  The moon rising and the fog blowing off, we saw spread out
before us the white tents of the Cavalier army, covering a wide extent
of ground.  We agreed that it would be wise to wait until daylight,
lest, approaching the camp, we might be shot by the sentries.  Dick
produced some food which he had brought in his pocket.  We ate it with
good appetites.  We then stretched ourselves on the sward, not supposing
that we should go to sleep, but in spite of our anxiety we dropped off.
When we awoke it was broad daylight.

It was fortunate we were not discovered, for Dick's dress looked so
draggled and dirty that no one would have taken him for a young lady.  I
set to work to brush and clean him, and make him more presentable.  We
had resolved to walk boldly on unless challenged, until we could reach
the Prince's tent, when Dick would ask leave as if his request was sure
to be granted to see his father as though on family matters.  If
refused, we would wait about the camp until we could find an opportunity
of gaining our object.  We came sooner than we expected on a sentry, who
at once challenged us.

"You won't stop us, my good man," answered Dick, going up and slipping a
silver crown into his hand.  "We have come to see our father, and surely
you would not interfere with two young children like us, who can do no
harm to anyone."

The man, a fresh recruit, who knew nothing about military discipline,
having pocketed the coin, was easily persuaded to allow us to proceed.
The next sentry Dick managed in the same way.  We advanced, Dick holding
my hand, until we were within the camp.  Several persons spoke to us,
but did not seem to think it necessary to interfere with our progress,
and at length, by dint of inquiring the way we found ourselves standing
before a large tent, occupied we were told, by Prince Maurice.

We were waiting for leave to enter, when the curtain was drawn aside,
and a Cavalier in cuirass and plumed hat, a light moustache, his locks
curling over his shoulders, came forth.

"Who are you, my pretty maiden?" he asked, looking at Dick.

"An' it please you, sir, I've come to see my father, who, we have heard,
is a prisoner in the camp, though why or wherefore he is detained we
cannot tell, for no more peaceable gentleman is to be found in the south
of England.  We wish to deliver some messages to him, and learn how he
fares.  Have we your permission, for you are, I opine, the general of
this army?"

The Prince, for that such he was we knew by the way the officers who
stood round addressed him, smiled as he replied--

"Say, who is your father?"

"Master Harvey, your highness," answered Dick.

"You have an arrant rebel for a father, then, I fear," said the Prince.

"Please, your highness, I know nothing of politics; all I desire is to
have a few words with my father, whom I am bound to honour, whether
Royalist or Roundhead, and then to quit the camp and return home."

The Prince, after exchanging a few words with one of the gentlemen
standing by, handed a piece of paper, on which he had written a few
lines, to Dick.

"Take this, maiden," he said; "it will gain your object.  But,
understand, after you have seen your father, for your own sake, without
loss of time, you must return home."

Thankful that we had so easily accomplished the first part of our
enterprise--accompanied by one of the officers, who undertook to show us
the way--we set off for the cottage in which we were told Mr Harvey
with other prisoners were confined.



CHAPTER THREE.

IN THE ENEMY'S HANDS.

Mr Harvey looked so astonished when Dick and I were introduced, that he
almost betrayed us.  Quickly, however, recovering himself, he opened his
arms and embraced us affectionately.  The other prisoners, gentlemen
well acquainted with him, seeing that he wished to be alone, retired to
the farther end of the room, when Dick lost no time in whispering into
his ear the plan we had arranged for his liberation.

He listened with a thoughtful brow, and Dick continued to press its
adoption, but I much feared that he would not agree.

"I will try it," he said at last; "but you, my children, must hasten
from the camp; it is no place for young persons, and should I fail to
escape, you will be made to suffer."

Though Dick begged hard to remain, his father was firm, and told us to
return by the way we had come, hoping that we might get free without
further questions being asked us.

Having taken an affectionate farewell of Mr Harvey, we set out, Dick
cleverly replying to all the questions put to us, and, with much less
difficulty than we had expected, we gained the outskirts of the camp.
Instead of returning to Lyme, we kept on towards Charmouth, to a spot
where we had agreed to meet Lancelot.  To our infinite satisfaction we
found that he had obtained a horse and left if in Charmouth Wood as
arranged, under charge of a lad who had been directed to stay there
until Mr Harvey appeared, being supplied with food for himself and corn
for the animal.

We would gladly have remained to see the success of our undertaking, but
Lancelot was impatient to get back to relieve the anxiety which his
father and mother would feel when his absence was discovered.  We
therefore set off to return to the shore, keeping a look-out to
ascertain that we were not watched.

We had reached the top of the cliffs, and were about to descend, when we
caught sight in the distance of a party of horse galloping towards us.

"They are out on a foraging expedition, probably," observed Lancelot.
"We must get away before they come here, or they will be apt to inquire
our business."

Whether we had been seen or not, it was impossible to say.  We, however,
made the best of our way down the cliff; on reaching the bottom we found
Tom waiting for us, and forthwith set to work to launch the boat.  We
had scarcely got her into the water when some of the men we had before
seen appeared at the top of the cliffs.  They hailed us, and ordered us
to come back.

"Very likely," said Lancelot.  "Shove away, Tom.  Let them halloo as
long as they like."

We had got out the oars, and the boat was soon in deep water.  Dick took
the helm while the rest of us rowed, as there was not wind enough to
fill the sail had we hoisted it.

A voice from the top of the cliff again ordered us to come back, and
presently several shots pattered into the water close alongside.

"Cowards!" exclaimed Lancelot.  "Even though they fancy they see a girl
steering, they make no scruple of trying to hit us."  The shot only made
us pull the harder.  Presently we saw some of the men descending the
cliff, and making towards a boat which lay hauled up on the beach at
some distance.

"They suspect something, and intend to pursue us," observed Lancelot.
"Nevertheless, we have a good start of them, and when we get farther
out, we shall feel the breeze and be able to make sail."

"And maybe the other boat hasn't any oars in her, and if so we can laugh
at them," said Tom.

Lancelot told Dick to steer right out to sea.  "They won't be inclined
to follow us far away from the land," he observed; "and if we make for
Lyme, they will guess where we come from."

We saw the men reach the boat, and presently they began to launch her.
By this time we had got well beyond the range of their firearms.

"Hurrah!" cried Dick, who had been looking to the eastward.  "I see a
sail coming up from Portland.  She's more likely to be a friend than an
enemy, and if we can get on board her we may defy our pursuers."

This announcement encouraged us.  We had need, however, to exert
ourselves, for the soldiers had almost launched the boat, which showed
us that they had found oars, or they would not have taken the trouble of
putting her into the water.  We could only just see what they were
about, but we made out that four or five fellows had got into her.

Directly afterwards, her head being turned towards us, they gave way.
Though the boat was heavy, four stout hands were more than a match for
us, for though Tom pulled a strong oar, Lancelot and I were scarcely
equal in strength to one man.

Dick kept looking eastward.  Again he cried out, "There's another sail,
and another; a whole fleet of them!"

"If they are Parliament ships, they'll soon make the fellows in the boat
astern put about," exclaimed Tom; but we were pulling too hard to turn
our heads even for a moment.  Our pursuers still kept on, but they were
not near enough to allow them to fire with any chance of hitting us.

They had undoubtedly seen the ships, and thought we were going out to
carry them information.  This probably made them more anxious to catch
us.  At length the breeze, as we expected it would, freshened.

"I'll step the mast; you, Master Lancelot, go to the helm.  Stand by to
hoist the sail, Master Ben," cried Tom; and in half a minute we had the
mast stepped, the sail hoisted, and the sheet hauled aft, when, again
getting out the oars, we glided rapidly through the water.  We saw that
our pursuers had no sail, or they would have hoisted it.  This was
satisfactory, though they were pulling harder than ever.

Should the wind hold, we had good hope that they would soon be left
behind, still it would be folly to relax our efforts.

"Hurrah! we are distancing them," cried Tom.

As he spoke, our pursuers fired two shots at us, but the bullets fell
into the water astern.

"Blaze away as fast as you like!" cried Lancelot; "every shot you fire
will help us to get ahead of you."

The men in the boat had to throw in their oars to fire, while they lost
some time in reloading.

The ships were still a long way off, and it was very probable that, as
evening came on, the wind would fail before we could reach them.  There
was, however, one frigate ahead, which, propelled by oars as well as
sails, was making good way.  We steered for her.

"All right, boys," cried Tom; "I see the Parliamentary flag flying from
her peak, and if those fellows come near us they'll have to rue it."

Notwithstanding, our pursuers, finding that they could not reach us with
their muskets, again took to their oars and pulled away with might and
main, trusting probably to the chances of the wind falling.  Still, as
we were already well ahead, we determined to maintain our advantage.
The frigate meantime was coming on at good speed, carrying every stitch
of canvas she could set.  At length both we and the boat in chase were
seen, but should the frigate fire at the latter, we might run a chance
of being hit.  We kept on therefore.  As we got nearer, Tom stood up and
waved as a signal that we wished to get on board.

On perceiving this, our pursuers knew that their game was up, and, to
our regret, putting about, pulled away towards the shore as fast as they
had come.  The frigate, to allow us to get on board, now clewed up her
sails and drew in her sweeps.

We were welcomed on board by her commander, who inquired where we had
come from and what we had been about.  We frankly told him, when, to our
joy, he informed us that the fleet was that of the Earl of Warwick, sent
by the Parliament to the relief of Lyme.

"You have come opportunely, sir," said Lancelot, "for we lack both
ammunition, food, and clothing, and had you not arrived, we might in a
short time have been compelled to yield to the foe."

_The Mermaid_, the frigate we had so fortunately reached, again making
sail, continued her course towards Lyme.  Darkness, however, quickly
came on, but Tom piloted her up to a berth close in with the harbour,
where none of the enemy's shot could reach her.  We then accompanied
Captain Ray, her commander, on shore, to convey the joyful intelligence
of the approach of the Earl of Warwick's fleet.

The news spread through the town quickly, but Colonel Blake issued
orders that no demonstration should be made.  My father, when he had
heard of our expedition, did not blame me for having taken part in it.

"Ben," he said, "you should have trusted me; and, my boy, let me urge
you never to undertake anything for which you cannot ask the blessing of
your Father in heaven as well as your earthly parent.  Now go to rest.
Before to-morrow evening important events may have occurred."

On rising the next morning, I saw a goodly array of ships at anchor
before the town.  Soon after I had left home I met my friend Lancelot,
and we hurried down to have a look at them.

While standing on the quay, Colonel Blake with two other officers came
down, about to embark to hold a consultation with the Earl.

"Would you like to accompany us and see the big ships?" he asked,
looking kindly at Lancelot and me.

We doffed our hats, and answered that it was the very thing we wished.

"Come, then!" he said; and we followed him and his companions into the
boat.  We pulled away for the _Vanguard_, one of the largest ships, on
the deck of which the Earl stood ready to receive Colonel Blake.

Briefly exchanging greetings, they went to work on business at once,
while Lancelot and I were allowed to go round the ship to see the big
guns, the huge lanterns, the stores of pikes, and the tops high up the
lofty masts, each capable of holding a score of men.

"Have you a mind to sail with us, youngsters?" asked one of the
officers.  "You are likely boys, and will become prime seamen in time."

I answered that it was the desire of my heart, but that I must be guided
by my father's wishes, for that he, being himself a master mariner, well
knew the nature of the calling.  The officer laughed at my reply, and I
was about to ask him why he laughed, when Lancelot and I were summoned
to return with Colonel Blake to the shore.

From the conversation I overheard I found that the Earl had brought, by
order of Parliament, some provisions and military stores, of which we
stood greatly in need.  Indeed, by this time we wanted nearly
everything.  One third of our men had no shoes or stockings, and large
numbers were but scantily clothed, while famine had made the faces of
the stoutest look pale and thin.

So shocked were the brave seamen with the appearance of the garrison,
that they made collections of food and clothing on board their ships,
while they gave a fourth of their daily allowance of bread for a month
to supply our wants.  Colonel Blake had also arranged with the Earl a
plan by which it was hoped the Prince would be more signally defeated
than before, should he again attack the town.

Scarcely, however, had we landed, and before the plan could be carried
out, than the Cavaliers in great force once more approached our lines to
attempt taking the town by assault; but Colonel Blake, hurrying to the
front, placed himself at the head of a chosen band, and sallying forth
drove them back.  The battle lasted little more than an hour, and during
that time Colonel Weir was killed, as were many other officers, and
Colonel Blake himself was wounded badly in the foot, while many
Cavaliers, several of them of note, lost their lives.

The next day, while the funeral of Colonel Weir was taking place,
another equally sanguinary attack was made with the same result.

That night, according to a plan before arranged, three hundred seamen
came on shore, and were concealed in the houses.  In the morning the
fleet was seen under weigh, standing towards Charmouth, now approaching
the shore as if about to land some men, now firing at the Cavaliers who
appeared on the cliffs.

This made the Prince fancy that part of the garrison had gone away in
order to land and attack him in the rear, and that the town was even
less prepared for resistance than before.

It was still early in the evening when we saw the Cavaliers in three
solid columns approaching, and at the same time the big guns opened fire
upon us with redoubled fury.  Instead of being diminished, our little
garrison had been increased by the seamen landed from the ships, so that
we now mustered twelve hundred men.

As the enemy approached, the whole of our force springing into view,
opened so withering a fire, that the front ranks of the foe fell into
confusion.  The next column coming on was treated in the same manner as
the first.  The big guns meanwhile battered at our earthworks, knocking
down walls, and sent their shot through the roofs of the houses, many of
which being set on fire were blazing up brightly.

The second column driven back as the first had been, the last advanced
shouting fiercely, hoping to retrieve the day, but our brave commander
was prepared for them.  While he pressed them in front, his best
officers appeared on their flanks, and the seamen rushing forward leaped
on them furiously with their hangers.

In vain the gentlemen Cavaliers urged on their men.  Beaten back at
every point, the soldiers took to flight, and at length, when that
summer's day closed, five hundred Cavalier corpses strewed the ground in
front of the lines.

In wanton rage at his defeat, Prince Maurice fired red-hot balls and
bars of twisted lead into the town; but no farther attempt was made to
capture it, and the following day his army was in full retreat, he
having heard that the Earl of Essex with a large force was marching to
the westward.  Altogether upwards of two thousand Cavaliers lost their
lives in front of our earthworks.

To us that last day was the saddest of all.  By our father's desire,
Audrey and Margaret had taken up their abode in the house of Mr
Kerridge, as our own was greatly exposed.  Lancelot and I had been
endeavouring to ascertain what was taking place, when he saw bright
flames ascending from the direction of my father's house.

We hastened toward it.  Our worst fears were realised.  Already every
part was burning, while red-hot shot and cannon balls kept ever and anon
plunging into the midst of it, preventing the possibility of
extinguishing the flames.  So dangerous was the position, that Lancelot
dragged me away, and accompanied me in search of my father, to whom I
wished to give the intelligence.

As the firing in front had ceased, we went on, hoping every now and then
to meet him.  It was by this time getting so dusk that we could hardly
distinguish one person from another.  As we approached the part of the
lines where my father was generally posted, we met a person hurrying
towards us.  He was Martin Shobbrok.

"Alack, alack! young gentlemen, I have bad news to give you," he said.
"I am hastening for a stretcher on which to carry the captain home,
though I fear much it will be but his lifeless body."

"Where is he?"  I asked, in an agony of sorrow.  "Take me to him."

"I remained with him where he fell till a surgeon camp to bind up his
wounds, but from what he said I fear the worst," answered Martin.

Hurrying on, I soon reached the spot where my dear father lay, as Martin
had told us, attended by a surgeon.

He knew my voice, but his eyes were already growing dim.  Pressing my
hand, he whispered--

"Ben, I am about to be taken from you, but I have fallen in a righteous
cause; may you never fight for another.  And remember, my boy, do your
duty in the sight of God, and never fear what your fellow man may say or
do to you."

"I will, father," I answered, bursting into tears.  "Is there no hope?"
I asked, finding that my father did not again speak.  The surgeon shook
his head.  Ere many minutes had passed, my kind, brave father breathed
his last.  "Poor dear Audrey will break her heart," I cried, while
Lancelot raised me from the ground.

We followed the litter on which some men, who had been sent to collect
the dead, had placed my father's body.  He received a soldier's funeral,
with several other brave men who had fallen on that day, so glorious to
the national cause.

We were orphans, but not friendless, for Mr Kerridge invited Audrey and
me, with Margaret, to take up our abode at his house until arrangements
were made for our future disposal.  Dick had all this time received no
new of his father, and he, as were all who valued Mr Harvey, was in
great anxiety as to his fate.  Had he been unable to make his escape,
Prince Maurice would not have scrupled to hang him, as he had other
Roundheads who had fallen into his power, when he found himself
defeated.

Dick, Lancelot, and I were going along the lines picking up bullets and
searching for arms and any valuables which might have been left by the
Cavaliers, when we saw a horseman spurring at full speed towards the
town.  Dick gazed eagerly at him.

"That's my father!" he exclaimed.  "I know his way of riding.  Heaven be
praised!"

Dick was right.  In a short time Mr Harvey, having thrown himself from
his horse, was embracing his son.  Owing to the arrangements we had
made, he had effected his escape, though he had nearly been caught
afterwards by Prince Maurice's troops as they advanced eastward.  He
came to inform Colonel Blake of the road they were taking, and of their
probable plans for the future.  He brought also news of the near
approach of the Parliamentary army under the Earl of Essex and of the
recapture of Weymouth.

The result of this information was that Colonel Blake marched out of
Lyme with his now veteran troops, and, joined by other Roundhead forces,
captured Taunton without a blow.  His heroic defence of that town, when
it was soon afterwards surrounded by the Cavaliers, I cannot describe.
For a year the brave garrison held out against all the assaults of some
of the bravest of the Cavalier leaders, including Lord Goring and his
ruffian crew.

Although their clothes were reduced to rags, their ammunition had run
short, and they were almost starved, they maintained it until relieved
by General Fairfax.

In the meantime Lyme was unmolested, and Audrey and I continued to
reside with our kind friend Mr Kerridge and his family.  A young
minister undertook to superintend our studies, but all my leisure time
was spent with Lancelot and Dick, as had been our wont before the siege,
on the water.

Sometimes we extended our excursions westward as far as the Teign, and
even to Dartmouth, at other times along the coast to the west of
Portland Bill, but as there were no safe harbours to run to, we seldom
ventured in that direction.

Colonel Blake, we heard, remained Governor of Taunton, and I much feared
that I should never see him more, as he was not likely again to come to
Lyme.

The battle of Naseby had been fought, and the Parliament had gained the
upper hand through the length and breadth of England and Scotland,
though the Royalists still held Jersey and Guernsey and Scilly, and the
greater part of Ireland.

News now reached us but rarely; indeed, our little town, which had
lately been so famous, seemed almost forgotten.  Audrey and I, having
recovered from the grief caused by the loss of our father, were very
happy in our new home.

Mr Kerridge and Mr Harvey had arranged our affairs, so that we were
not dependent upon others.  At the same time it was necessary that I
should have a profession.  My inclinations prompted me to follow that of
my father, but my friends found it difficult to settle with whom I
should be sent to sea.  Both Lancelot and Dick declared that they would
go with me, though their fathers were not very willing that they should
engage in so dangerous a calling.  One day, the weather being fine,
Lancelot proposed that we should make a trip to Dartmouth, taking Martin
Shobbrok, now our constant companion, with us.  Storing our boat with
provisions for the voyage, we made sail.

We had a fine run to that beautiful little harbour, and having gone on
shore, we spent more time than we had intended in purchasing various
articles which were not to be procured at Lyme.

It was somewhat late in the evening when we stood out again, but as
there was a moon we expected no difficulty in finding our way back;
scarcely, however, had we got well out of the harbour than the wind
shifted to the eastward, but as the tide was in our favour we agreed
that by making a long leg to the southward we should fetch Lyme on the
next tack.

To our disappointment, just as we were going about, the wind veered
three points to the northward, and we found it blowing directly in our
teeth.  Unwilling to be defeated, we continued standing out to sea,
expecting that when we went about we should be almost abreast of Lyme.
In a short time, however, the sky became covered with thick clouds, the
wind came in fitful gusts, and the hitherto calm ocean was broken into
foam-covered waves.

We reduced our sail as much as possible, and Martin, as the most
experienced, took the helm.  The night became darker and darker.  We had
no compass, and no land could be seen.  Still, supposing that the wind
was now remaining steady, we stood on, our stout boat riding buoyantly
over the increasing seas.  Martin at length expressed his fear that the
wind had gone back to its old quarter, and judging by the heavy
foam-crested seas which came rolling on, that we were no longer under
shelter of the land.

We kept up our spirits, though I guessed by the tone of Martin's voice
that he was far from happy at our position.  The tide, too, we knew by
this time must have turned, and we should be unable to fetch Lyme.

We might, we agreed, run back to Dartmouth, but the attempt to find the
entrance of the harbour in the darkness of the night would be difficult,
if not dangerous.

Though Martin steered as well as the best of seamen, the rising seas
came washing over our bows, and we all had to turn to and bale out the
boat.  This prevented us from thinking of the danger we were in.

At length, not without risk, putting an oar out, we got the boat round,
and stood, as we supposed, towards the shore.  By this time we were wet
through to the skin, and in spite of our exertions our teeth were
chattering with cold.

"I hope Mistress Margaret will have some bowls of hot porridge ready for
us when we get in," said Lancelot.

"Oh, don't talk of that," observed Dick.  "Let us get in first.  Shall
we ever reach the shore, Martin, do you think?"

"That's as God wills, Master Dick," answered Martin.  "It's our business
to do our best."

Just then a sudden blast almost laid the boat over.  Martin saved her by
luffing-up.  Scarcely had he done so than we saw a dark object away on
the starboard hand.

"That's a ship; she's standing directly down upon us," cried Martin.
"Shout, lads, shout at the tops of your voices."

We all shrieked out, joining Martin's deep bass, which rose above the
howling of the storm.  The next instant there came a crash, our boat had
been run down, but before she sank, having been happily struck by the
bow, and not by the stern of the ship, we found ourselves alongside,
when Martin, seizing me by the arm and catching hold of the fore-chains,
hauled me up as the boat disappeared beneath our feet.  We hung there
for a few seconds before we were discovered, though I caught sight of
several figures leaning over the side.  I uttered a cry of sorrow as I
thought that my two friends were lost.  In vain I looked down for them.
The next instant several willing hands assisted Martin and me on board.

"Oh, save Dick and Lancelot," I cried out.  "Lower a boat; pick them up;
don't let them perish."

My heart bounded with joy when I heard Lancelot's voice.

"Here I am, safe and sound," he cried out, running forward and shaking
me by the hand, "thanks to our friends here, who hove me a rope just as
I was sinking."

"And Dick, where is Dick?"  I said.

"The youngster is on board, but he got a knock on the head.  He's coming
round though," said a voice from the afterpart of the ship.

Martin, Lancelot, and I hurried aft, where we found Dick lying on the
deck, supported by a seaman, who seemed as wet as he was.  We were told
that the gallant fellow had fastened a rope round his waist, plunged
overboard and picked up Dick just as he was being washed by astern.
Dick quickly came to.

"Where is the boat!" he asked, lifting up his head.

"She's gone to the bottom," answered Lancelot.

"Where are we?"

"On board a ship."

"What ship, what ship?" asked Dick, still confused.

"That's more than I can say," answered Lancelot, "We shall soon know,
however."



CHAPTER FOUR.

ON BOARD HIS MAJESTY'S FRIGATE.

Scarcely were we on board the ship than the gale came down with greater
fury than before, so that the seamen being required to hand the sails
left us to ourselves.  Two or three persons, however, gathered round us,
one of whom--the surgeon, I concluded--advised that we should be taken
below, and stripped of our wet clothes, for our teeth were chattering
with the cold.

Very thankful to be so treated, we had no time to ask questions before
we found ourselves in the officers' cabin; Dick and I being placed in
one bed, and Lancelot in another, while Martin was allowed to go forward
among the men, to obtain such assistance from them as they were inclined
to give.

After a short time some food and a cup of warm tea were brought us,
having partaken of which, thanks to its genial warmth, we soon fell
asleep.

Once I awoke when the rolling and pitching, the battering of the sea
against the sides, and the noises overhead, told me that the gale was
still blowing.  I was soon asleep again, and when I opened my eyes it
was broad daylight.  No one was in the cabin.  I roused my companions.
Our clothes had been brought back tolerably well dried, so we dressed,
intending to go on deck and learn what ship we were on board of, and
where we were bound.

The pistols, hangers, and other weapons hanging up against the bulkhead
showed us she was a ship of war, and Lancelot discovered several prints
ornamenting his cabin, which made us suspect that she did not belong to
the Puritans.

"If they inquire who we are, as they are sure to do, what shall we say
about ourselves?" asked Dick.

"Tell the truth and shame the devil!  Whoever they are, we should be
grateful to them for having saved our lives, and maybe, if we speak them
fair, they'll set us on shore at the first port they touch at," answered
Lancelot.

"If they're Cavaliers, there's no port they can put into on the south
coast without the certainty of being fired at," I observed, "though
perhaps they may be induced to set us ashore in one of their boats, and
we can find our way back over land.  I much wish to relieve the anxiety
that Audrey and Cicely and your father must be feeling about us, for
they will--should we not return--give us up for lost."

"We shan't grow wiser by staying here," said Lancelot, as he led the way
on deck.

"Halloa, young masters.  Who are you?" exclaimed a gentleman in plumed
hat, scarlet doublet, and sword hanging by a rich scarf at his side.

An officer approached and spoke to the gentleman, whom we guessed must
be the captain.

I had time to look around; the sea had somewhat gone down, but it was
still blowing fresh.  Over the starboard quarter I observed a long
point, which I at first thought was the Start, but afterwards learned
was the Lizard.  The frigate, for such I saw was the vessel we were on
board of, was heeling over to the breeze, and the Union Jack waving from
her peak showed me that she belonged to the Royalist party; indeed, when
I remarked the varied costumes of the officers, the careless manners of
the crew, and heard their strange oaths, I had no doubt about the
matter.

Seeing that we were expected to reply to the question put to us,
Lancelot advanced and informed the captain that we were young gentlemen
belonging to Lyme, and were taking a pleasure trip when caught by the
gale.

"Young Roundheads, I wot," answered the captain, with an oath.  "You
might have been left to drown with small loss to honest men.  However,
as you are now on board the frigate, you may remain, and we will see to
what use we can put you.  You have a companion, I understand.  Is he a
sailor?"

"Yes!"  I answered, somewhat incautiously.  "He spent his early life at
sea, and visited many strange parts with my late father, Captain
Bracewell."

"So much the better for him.  He shall serve on board, and I will order
his name to be entered on the books."

From the way we were first received, we fancied that we should have been
treated like young gentlemen, but on his ordering us with an oath to go
forward and do what we were told, such we found was not the captain's
intention.  We obeyed, for we had no choice.  On our way we encountered
a big fellow with a knotted rope in his hand, who, from the chain with a
whistle hanging to it round his neck, we knew was the boatswain.

"Come along, my young masters.  I'll soon find tasks for you.  You!" he
exclaimed, seizing Dick, "go and help the cook in the galley, you two
will pick oakum," he added, turning to Lancelot and me; "and when the
hands are sent aloft to reef sails, as you seem active fellows, you'll
go to the foretop-gallant yard."

"But I have never been aloft," said Lancelot, "and shan't know what to
do when I get there."

"Then the sooner you go the faster you'll learn, or you'll have a taste
of my persuader," and he flourished the knotted rope.  "Up, both of you,
and let me see how you can lay out on the yard."

As we hesitated, flourishing the rope, he laid it across our shoulders,
at which the men standing by laughed and jeered at us.  To remonstrate
was useless, so to avoid a repetition of the unpleasant infliction, we
sprang into the rigging and began to mount, taking care to hold tight as
we went up until we got into the top, where we both stood looking down,
not liking to go higher.

"Aloft with you, aloft, or I'll send a couple of hands to start you,"
shouted the boatswain from the deck.

We looked up at the tall mast swaying to and fro, and I fully expected,
should I make the attempt, to fall down on deck, or to be plunged into
the sea, for which I had no wish; but looking down for a moment, and
seeing two men about to come up the rigging, I told Lancelot that I
would run the chance.

"It is the only thing we can do," he answered.

Catching hold of the topmast shrouds, we began to mount.  We got up at
length, and crawled out on the yard, holding on tightly by the ropes
which seemed most secure.  Finding that it was not so terrible as I had
supposed, I crawled out to the very end of the yard, where I clung on,
in spite of the fearful way in which it moved about.

Thankful I was, however, to hear the boatswain shout, "You may come down
now, lads;" and I made my way into the top.

Lancelot had gone out at the other end of the yard, and when we met on
deck he could not help shaking hands, as if we had arrived successfully
from some desperate enterprise.  The seamen laughed as they saw us, and
even the boatswain's grim features wrinkled into a smile.

"You'll do, lads," he said.  "You'll make prime topmen in a few weeks,
and thank me for having taught you."

Such was the commencement of our sea life.  Things, we agreed, might
have been worse, though we got many a kick and rope's ending, not only
from the boatswain, but from others among the more brutal of the crew.

Martin, when on deck, always came to our rescue, but old as he was, he
was but ill able to contend with so many opposed to him.

"Better grin and bear it, Master Ben," he said; "they'll soon give up
ill-treating you if you take it with good temper, and I should do more
harm than good if I was to shove in my oar except at a favourable time;
but I shall be on the watch, never fear, and I'll take care matters
don't grow too bad."

We followed Martin's advice, and found it answer.  The seamen of the
frigate were a lawless and disorderly set, every sentence they uttered
being accompanied by strange oaths, while below, when not asleep, they
spent their time in dicing and gaming.

We found, I should have said, that we were on board the _Charles_
frigate, Captain Blackleach, carrying one hundred and fifty men and
thirty-two guns, one of Prince Rupert's squadron, from which she had
been separated while in chase of a trader the captain had hoped to
capture, but which had escaped.

A bright look-out was now kept for the squadron, and for traders of all
nations.

Our cruising ground was the mouth of the English Channel, where we lay
in wait to pounce down upon any unwary vessel coming up with a rich
cargo.

We were all three below, poor Dick by this time looking as black as a
negro; he had unfortunately let it be known whose son he was, and
consequently, I believe, got a double allowance of ill-treatment.

"All hands make sail!" was shouted, and we with the rest sprang on deck.

"Aloft, you youngsters!" cried the boatswain, looking at Lancelot and
me.

We ran up the rigging to the fore-topgallant-yard, and with the aid of
two other men let fall the sail which had been furled.

On looking ahead, we saw a large ship in the distance, for which the
frigate was steering.  The stranger held on her course, not apparently
fearing us, though we had the Union Jack flying at the peak, while that
of Holland fluttered at hers.

On getting within range of our guns, we opened fire from a dozen pieces
or more, but without doing her much damage.  Again we fired, sending our
shot crashing on board her, when the guns being run in and reloaded, we
stood on, receiving her broadside, the shots going through our sails and
cutting some of our running rigging, then luffing-up across her bows, we
raked her fore and aft, and went about, showing that we intended to give
her the other broadside.  Not relishing this, she hauled down her
colours and triced up her sails.

A well-armed boat's crew was sent on board to take possession, when her
ship's company were speedily removed, and those of her people who
remained in her were ordered to steer her to Kinsale harbour, a short
distance to the southward of Cork, in Ireland.

The next vessel we chased proved to be English, and as she was bound for
the Thames, she was captured and sent away like the first, with part of
the Dutch crew, who, being promised good pay, had no objection to
navigate her.

A third vessel was seen the next day, carrying the flag of France.
Chase was given to her also, and the _Charles_ coming alongside, she
struck without firing a shot.  She was also sent away, under command of
one of the officers, for the same harbour as the former prize.

"Why, these fellows are pirates," observed Lancelot to me, though he
took care to speak in a low voice, so that only Martin and I who was
standing near could hear him.

"Little doubt about that," answered Martin; "all's fish that comes to
their net!  I wish that we were well free of them, but how to get away
is the difficulty.  I suspect that if a Parliamentary ship was to catch
the frigate, they'd hang us all up at the yard-arms."

"Heaven forbid!" said Lancelot.

A few days after this, the look-out from the mast-head shouted--

"Five sail to the eastward!"

Presently afterwards three more were seen standing down channel, under
all the canvas they could carry.

"What if they should prove to be Parliamentary ships," I said to
Lancelot.

"We must try and explain who we are, and how we came on board," he
answered.

"But what if they won't believe us?"  I asked.  "We may be strung up
before they find out the truth."

"That would be a hard case, but I do not see how we are to escape,
unless we jump overboard when the fight begins, and try to swim to one
of them."

Instead of running away, as we expected, the _Charles_ stood boldly
towards the approaching squadron.  At length from the peak of the
leading ship we saw the Union Jack flying.

"That must be Prince Rupert's squadron after all," said Lancelot.

That this was the case was soon evident, for the frigate, ranging up
alongside the big ship, exchanged friendly salutes.

An officer in handsome costume, with a gold chain round his neck, was
seen standing on the after-castle.  When Captain Blackleach raised his
beaver, the officer took off his in return, and inquired how many prizes
he had made.

"Three since we parted with your highness," was the answer, "and they
are by this time safe in Kinsale harbour."

"You have used diligence; you shall have a bigger ship before long,"
said the officer in the handsome dress.

"Who is he?"  I asked one of the men standing by.

"What! have you never seen Prince Rupert, the bravest commander in the
king's armies, and now his best admiral?  Wherever he leads, rich prizes
are sure to be found."

Such we discovered was a fact, for that very day the squadron captured
well-nigh a dozen merchantmen homeward bound, which mistook it for the
Earl of Warwick's fleet, and fell without firing a shot into its
voracious jaws.

In high glee the Prince with his prizes stood for Kinsale harbour, where
we found a dozen other goodly ships, which had been captured by his
cruisers, including the three taken by the _Charles_.  While we lay
here, Lancelot and I, when no one was by, often talked over various
schemes for escaping, but we had to ask ourselves the question, where
should we go?  The whole southern part of Ireland was in favour of the
King, as the Prince of Wales was now called, his father having been put
to death in London.  Thus, even should we reach the shore, we should run
a great risk of being knocked on the head when attempting to travel
through the country, for rumours had reached us of the fearful way in
which the Romanists had treated the Protestants residing among them.

Martin to whom we confided our wishes, was as eager as we were to
escape, being anxious, as he said, to get away from the swearing,
drinking, gambling crew.  "I won't say there's not a godly man among
them, because there are two or three who have been pressed into the
service, and are ready to get away if they can, but the rest, the Lord
deliver us from them," he said, while we were standing on the forecastle
one evening, out of hearing of the rest of the ship's company.

Lancelot, who was full of devices, proposed that we should take a boat
and pull away out to sea, hoping that we might get across to the Welsh
coast and be picked up by a Parliamentary cruiser, some of which were
said to be in the Irish Channel.

This plan seemed most feasible, though in reality full of danger.  It
would be no easy matter, in the first place, to get hold of a boat, and
to obtain provisions and water.  It would be still more difficult to
slip away out of the harbour unperceived; and then, after all, we might
be picked up by one of Prince Rupert's squadron and treated as
deserters.

"Nothing risk, nothing have!" said Martin.  "I would chance it for
myself, but I do not like the thought of hazarding your young lives.
Howsumdever, I'll speak to the men I think will join us, and hear what
they say."

The _Charles_ was one of the outer line of frigates placed at the
entrance of the harbour to give due notice of the approach of an enemy,
so that we should have a better opportunity of getting off than would
have been the case had we been higher up the harbour; but then the
difficulty of obtaining a boat was greater.

Many of the crew were allowed to go on shore, but we had hitherto always
been refused.  Lancelot suggested that if we could by some means get on
shore, we might obtain a boat, and late in the evening pretend to be
returning in her to the ship, instead of which we might pass her and get
out to sea.

"I fear that the guard ships keep too sharp a look-out to allow us to do
that," observed Martin; "still, I see no better way of making our
escape."

"We must wait for our opportunity; it will come, maybe, when we least
expect it," said Lancelot.

Buoyed up with this hope, when our watch was over, we turned into our
hammocks.

Next morning a frigate came in, towing a boat.  She passed close to us.
On her deck stood ten men heavily ironed, their features, which we could
clearly see, showing that they felt themselves to be in a dangerous
predicament.  The frigate sailed on, and brought up in the centre of the
squadron.

Soon afterwards a signal from the flag-ship was seen flying, ordering
two boats from each vessel to come alongside.  Ours were in the water,
when the captain ordered Martin and three other men, together with
Lancelot, Dick, and me, to go in one of them.

"It may teach you a lesson, lads, which for your own sakes I advise you
not to forget," he said with a significant look.

"I am afraid the captain has an inkling of our plans," whispered
Lancelot to me as we went down the side.

We took our seats in our respective boats, which pulled away up the
harbour.  We found numerous other boats, the men resting on their oars
round the flag-ship.  Presently a gun was fired from her, and up went
ten human beings dangling by their necks to the yard-arms.  Some
struggled in a way it was fearful to look at.  They were the men we had
seen on the deck of the frigate, and who had, we heard, attempted to
make their escape in a boat, just as we proposed doing.  Such would have
been our fate had we carried out our intention and been captured.

We returned on board very low-spirited.

"We must be careful what we are about," said Lancelot to me; "I have no
fancy to share the lot of those unhappy fellows."

"What's to be done?"  I asked.

"Grin and bear it, as Martin would say," he answered.

Although we were not allowed to go on shore, we saw what was taking
place up the harbour.  Boats were constantly going backwards and
forwards, carrying the cargoes of the captured vessels to the town,
where the goods were disposed of to eager traders, who came in from all
parts to purchase them--often for less than half their value; but still,
from the number of vessels taken, they must have realised a large profit
to the Prince, seeing that he had paid nothing for them.

The cargoes being discharged, the stouter ships were fitted out with
guns, there being found no lack of men ready to serve under so
successful a corsair, for such the Prince had become.

The fleet being ready, we once more sailed in quest of fresh prizes.  I
did not note the number taken, but I often grieved to see the despair of
the poor ship-masters and owners when they found themselves robbed of
their hard-earned gains.  No flag protected them--Dutchmen, Spaniards,
Portuguese, Englishmen, all were treated alike.  Some fought pretty
hard, especially the English, but the frigates hung about them,
preventing their escape, until the big ships came down and they were
compelled to strike their flags.

We were cruising about the mouth of the Channel, and, favoured by fine
weather, had taken many prizes, when a south-westerly wind sprang up,
and soon increased to a heavy gale, harder than any we had yet
encountered.

The dark leaden seas came rolling up from the Atlantic, crested with
foam, which flew in masses across our decks.  The sky, covered with
black clouds, sent forth vivid flashes of lightning, whilst peals of
rattling thunder vied with the loud howling of the blast through the
rigging, the creaking of blocks and bulkheads, and the dashing of the
waves against the bows and sides.  Now the wind blew from one quarter,
now from another, and prevented our running for Kinsale, the only
harbour in which we could have found a secure refuge.

We could see the rest of the fleet tumbling and tossing about under
close-reefed canvas, scattered far and wide, some in one direction, some
in another.  Thus the night closed down upon us.  We had to keep a
watchful eye on every side, for should we run foul of another ship under
such circumstances, the destruction of both would be inevitable.

The next day and the greater part of the following night the storm raged
with as much fury as ever.  Fearful of being driven on the Scilly Isles,
or the southern coast of England, our captain endeavoured to keep a good
offing, though we thereby lost sight of the rest of the fleet.  About
the middle of the next night the storm began to abate, and when morning
came we found ourselves enveloped in a thick fog, while the ocean,
though still heaving in slow undulations, gradually assumed a glass-like
surface of leaden hue.

We, having borne up, stood to the northward in search of the squadron.
The captain ordered a bright look-out to be kept.

"Marry! a bright look-out.  We must have eyes of a different nature to
most men to pierce through this dense mist," quoth Martin, laughing.

Still, such a look-out as was possible was kept, the captain hoping ere
long to see one of the Prince's vessels, and to learn from her where the
rest were to be found.  At length, about noon, the sun made an effort to
burst through the thick veil which shrouded us.  Soon afterwards the
mist lifted for an instant ahead, and during that instant I saw what
appeared to me the hull of a ship, the canvas just rising above it; but
it was only a glimpse, and it needed a sharp pair of eyes to discern any
object a few fathoms off.  I pointed her out to Lancelot, but he was
doubtful whether I had actually seen a vessel, and no one else appeared
to have observed her.  The frigate therefore stood on, and unless the
stranger which I supposed I had seen was sailing at equal speed, we must
have passed her to leeward.  Presently the wind blowing stronger, the
fog once more lifted, and the sun bursting through, it fell on the white
canvas of a tall ship close aboard us to windward.

Putting up her helm, she came nearer, when the captain hailed through
his trumpet, supposing her to be one of Prince Rupert's squadron.  The
answer was not heard, but the question, "What ship is that?" came down
clearly to us.

"The _Charles_," answered the captain, again putting the same question.

Scarcely had he spoken than we heard the words, "Strike to the
Parliament ship, _Constant Warwick_!" and, the mist clearing still more,
we saw flying from her peak a white flag with a red-cross.

"We are caught in a trap, and must fight to get out of it," exclaimed
the captain, ordering the drums to beat to quarters.

The men rushed to the guns, which they were well accustomed to handle;
but before they could cast off the lashings and run them out, a
broadside from the _Constant Warwick_ came crashing into us, several of
the crew being struck to the deck to rise no more.  With scant ceremony
their shipmates hove the bodies overboard, while the gunners, running
out their pieces, returned with interest the fire of the other frigate.

I prayed that neither my friends nor I might be killed or wounded,
though we ran as great a risk as the rest.  I felt thankful when we were
all three ordered down to the magazine to bring up powder, for below the
risk of being hit was less, though neither of us felt any cowardly
fears.

Having brought up the powder, we were ordered to sit on the tubs until
it was wanted.  We could thus see what was going forward, though we
would far rather, I must confess, have been below.  Captain Blackleach,
a brave fellow, to give him his due, seemed in no way inclined to strike
while he had a chance of getting off.  The _Constant Warwick's_
fore-yard was soon shot away, and her main topmast shortly afterwards
fell, on which our corsair crew cheered lustily, and with redoubled
vigour plied their guns.  I looked round to see how it was faring with
my friends, Dick and Lancelot.  They were seated on their tubs, Dick
making himself as small as possible, so as to have less chance of being
hit.  A short way off stood Martin Shobbrok among the sail trimmers.
Just then two of the gunners fell, their heads shot off, and their
brains scattered over the deck.  The captain, seeing what had occurred,
shouted to Martin and another man to take their places.  Martin stood
with his arms folded, as if he did not hear the order.  The captain
again shouted to him.

"I'll do a seaman's duty, but will not fight against those who have
justice and right on their side," answered Martin.

"Mutiny! mutiny!" shouted the captain.  "Suffer the fate of a mutineer!"
and, drawing a pistol from his belt he fired.

I expected to see my old friend fall, but the bullet merely grazed one
of his grey whiskers; and, fixing his eye on the captain, he answered--

"The Lord forgive thee, and be thankful thou hast not murdered an old
man who is acting as his conscience bids him."

The captain, unmoved by this rebuke, was about to draw another pistol.

"I must save Martin, even at the hazard of my own life," I exclaimed,
and was about to spring aft to strike up the pistol when the cry arose--

"Another enemy close aboard us!"

Looking round, I saw, looming large through the fog, the wide-spread
canvas of a tall ship coming up on our quarter.



CHAPTER FIVE.

THE ENGAGEMENT.

The fate of honest Martin hung in the balance; should I fail to strike
up the captain's arm, his death would be certain.  Whether or no my
action had been observed I could not tell, for the appearance of the
stranger drew the captain's attention off from his victim, and in a
moment he seemed to have forgotten all about Martin.

The approaching ship fired a broadside which raked us fore and aft,
sending many of the roystering crew to their dread account.  Still
undaunted, the captain ordered the starboard broadside to be fired in
return, and the _Constant Warwick_, in consequence of the loss of her
headsail, being unable to keep her position, we drew ahead of her; but
our fresh antagonist, with her yards and rigging uninjured, quickly came
up, and her guns, aimed at our masts, ere long brought down the fore and
main-yards; but the flag still flew out at the peak of the corsair, and
her guns on either side continued to belch forth their deadly missiles.

Though round shot and bullets from her antagonists came crashing on
board the ship, tearing up the decks, piercing the sides, carrying away
lanterns, boats, and spars, wounding her masts and plunging through her
bulwarks, the scuppers running with blood, her gallant captain, standing
still unharmed amid the dead and dying, refused to yield.

Malignant though he was, I could not help admiring his courage,
regretting that he was not fighting in a better cause.  I heartily
wished that he would give in before more damage was done.

He seemed, however, in no way inclined to strike while there was a
chance of escaping.

I feared, indeed, that after all he would get off, but the two
Parliament ships plied him hard.  Their commanders were as brave as he
was, and had no intention of letting him escape.

Of this the corsair's crew were at length convinced, and some, unwilling
to encounter certain destruction, cried out to strike the flag.

"Who dares to say that?" shouted Captain Blackleach.  Then he cried out
to the boatswain, "Reeve a dozen ropes, and we'll show our enemies how
we treat traitors to our cause."

The boatswain, seizing one of the men who desired to strike, was
actually about to put the order into execution when Martin rushed to the
poor fellow's rescue.

"Avast, master boatswain!" he exclaimed, cutting the rope; "are you not
afraid of committing murder, when, at any moment, you may be sent to
stand before the Judge of all men?"

The boatswain, with an oath, again seized the man, and, aided by his
mates, was forming a noose at the end of a rope, when a shot striking
him on the breast sent his mangled body through a wide gap in the
bulwarks into the blood-stained ocean.  Most of the superior officers
had by this time been killed or wounded, the latter being in the hands
of the surgeon below.

"What's to be done?" said Dick, as we were together making our way to
the magazine, being ordered down to fetch up more powder.  "Surely the
captain won't hold out longer!  If I didn't feel that it was cowardly, I
should like to stow myself away below till all is over."

"To go down with the ship and be drowned," I observed.

"No, no; let us remain on deck while we can, and take our chance," said
Lancelot.  "If the captain fights on until the ship sinks, we may get
hold of a plank or spar.  The Roundhead seamen will not let us drown,
even though they think we are Malignants."

"Stay for me!" said Dick, as he saw us lifting up our tubs to go on deck
again.  To say the truth, I suspected that he had been in no hurry to
fill his.

Just as we were going up the ladder two thundering broadsides sounded in
our ears, and several shot, crashing through the stout planks and
scattering splinters in every direction, passed close to our heads, but
happily none of us were hit.  They were followed by the groans and
shrieks of the wounded as they lay struggling on the deck in their
agony.  Then there came what truly seemed an awful silence.  We had
naturally stopped midway on the ladder for unwilling slaves as we were,
we lacked a motive to expedite our movements.

As we at length gained the upper deck a sound of cheering struck on our
ears, but it came from the other ships.  I looked up at the peak.  The
flag was no longer there.  On the after-castle lay the captain; he had
fallen desperately wounded.  Two officers alone remained on their feet,
while fore and aft a sickening sight met our view.  The ship was a
perfect shambles; the dead and dying lay everywhere, the countenances of
many distorted with agony; the decks slippery with blood, and covered
with blocks, ropes, torn canvas, and shattered spars, while several guns
had been dismounted, and every boat knocked to pieces.  The master of
the mariners, one of the surviving officers, was shouting to the crew to
shorten sail.

Throwing our tubs of powder on deck, we gladly ran to obey the order,
joined by Martin Shobbrok, who, amid the bloody strife, had escaped
unscathed.

Meantime the two victorious frigates had hove to and were lowering their
boats, ready to send on board and take possession of their prize.

"What shall we do now?" asked Dick, as the boats were coming alongside.
"Our friends will look upon us as deserters, and perhaps string us up at
the yard-arm."

"Not much fear of that," said Lancelot.  "We can tell who we are and how
we came to be on board."

"But will they believe us?" asked Dick.  "The rest of the crew will
prove that we have been helping the gunners to load their pieces by
bringing powder from the magazine."

"Just trust in God, young masters," said Martin, who had overheard them.

We had not much time for talking before the crews of the three boats
which had been sent sprang on board.  The officer in command at once
ordered the whole of the "rovers" to muster aft.  Of well-nigh two
hundred men who had commenced the action, one half were dead or wounded.
The survivors stood with downcast looks, expecting no gentle treatment.

"You have taken up arms without lawful authority against the Parliament,
and you must be prepared for the punishment due to you, unless the
admiral thinks fit to remit it," explained the officer, casting his eye
over the men.  "Have you anything to say for yourselves?"

There was no reply until Lancelot stepped aft, followed by Martin, Dick,
and me.

"We were on board against our will, sir," he said, "and acknowledge the
Parliament as the supreme authority in the realm."  He then described
how we had been rescued by the _Charles_ when on our way from Dartmouth
to Lyme.

"A likely story, young master," said the officer; "but I will talk to
you more anon.  The rest of you tumble into the boats and go peaceably
on board the ships to which they will convey you."

Nearly half the men had already taken their seats in the three boats
which had shoved off, when the cry arose, "The ship is sinking!"

The carpenter and his mates were among those who remained, and the
officer ordering some of his own men to assist them in stopping the
leaks, directed them to man the pumps.  The rovers obeyed with alacrity,
for they had no wish to drown.

We four assisted them, and as the pumps clanged loudly the water spread
over the decks, partly cleansing them from their bloody stains.

It was an anxious time, for I feared that the ship would go down before
the boats could return.  We pumped, and pumped away with might and main,
while the carpenters stopped the most dangerous shot holes between wind
and water.

It was a great relief at length to see the boats come back.  They
brought more men, and among them some carpenters from the frigates to
assist in repairing the damages.  The remaining prisoners having
laboured so well, had the choice given them of continuing on board, and
they gladly accepted the offer, promising faithfully to serve the
Parliament.

Evening was drawing on, and the two frigates lay still hove to close to
the prize, when, looking to windward, I saw the upper sails of several
ships, which I deemed to be of size, rising above the horizon.  I
pointed them out to Martin, and asked if he thought they were Prince
Rupert's squadron.

"No fear of that," he answered; "they must have been seen some time ago
from the frigate, and they show no intention of trying to escape."

During this time everyone on board was working away with a will, for
there was much to be done both below and aloft, while the wounded men
had to be looked after.

The captain had been taken to his cabin, where the surgeon had dressed
his wound.  Dick, who had been ordered to watch him, came rushing out
after some time, looking greatly terrified, and declared that the
captain was raving and swearing that he would rise and blow up the ship
rather than yield to the Roundheads.

Fortunately we found the surgeon, who sent two men to watch over him,
and Dick was relieved from his trying duty.  A boat now came alongside
with orders to remove more of the prisoners, and among them Martin and
my two friends and I were ordered to get into her.  In a short time we
were conveyed on board the _Constant Warwick_, and found ourselves
standing on her deck together with the other prisoners.

"Now is our time," I exclaimed to Lancelot.  "Let us go boldly aft and
tell the captain who we are, or we shall be sent below and placed in
irons with the rest."

Lancelot took my advice.  We stepped aft, followed by Dick and Martin.

"What have you to say, lads?" asked the captain, looking greatly
astonished at our audacity.

We gave him the same account of ourselves that we had to the officer who
had come on board the _Charles_.

"You are ready enough now to declare yourselves Roundheads," answered
the captain, "but you were found on board an enemy's ship, and must be
treated like the rest."

"They are brave little fighting-cocks, Cavaliers to the backbone,"
shouted one of the men from the group of prisoners, not wishing that we
should receive more favour than themselves.

I had observed a young officer standing close to the captain.  I looked
at his countenance, and the thought flashed across me that I had seen
him before.

"Captain Stayner," he said, "allow me to say that I believe the account
these young gentlemen give of themselves.  I was at Lyme with my uncle,
the admiral;" then turning to us he inquired our names.

"I thought so," he said, putting out his hand; "I remember them all
well.  One is the son of Mr Kerridge, the mayor, who fought so bravely
for the good cause; the father of the other, who served under my
grandfather, was killed during the siege; and this one," he added,
taking Dick by the hand, "is the son of Mr Harvey, who expended his
means in aiding in the defence of Lyme."

While the young officer was speaking, I recognised him as the nephew of
Colonel Blake.  "I truly rejoice to see you," he continued, turning to
us, "for, putting into Lyme some weeks ago, I found your relatives and
friends in great sorrow at your supposed loss.  We will take the
earliest opportunity of sending them news of your safety."

Thus were our anxieties brought to an end.  Instead of being treated as
prisoners, we were received as guests by the officers, who insisted on
supplying us with clothes and other necessaries, of which we stood much
in want.  Great was our surprise to hear that the admiral of the ships
in sight astern was no other than Colonel Blake, who had been placed in
command of the fleets of England by the Parliament in conjunction with
Colonels Deane and Popham.

Admiral Blake was now in chase of Prince Rupert's squadron, which it was
his intention, should he fail to overtake it at sea, to shut up in
Kinsale harbour.  This, to me especially, was satisfactory news, for I
had not forgotten the remark made by Colonel Blake to my father, that he
should like to have me with him, and I felt very sure that he was a man
who would fulfil his intentions.

I mentioned this to Mr Robert Blake, who promised on the first
opportunity to take me on board the flag-ship and introduce me to the
admiral.

"Not that you will require an introduction," he answered; "my uncle
never forgets those he has once known, and, though grown, you are not
altered much from the little fellow I remember at Lyme."

I felt bound to put in a word for my two friends, as also for Martin,
whose brave conduct on board the _Charles_ I described, when he refused
to fire at the _Constant Warwick_.

"It would not become me to make promises to you," he replied, "but you
may depend upon it that the admiral will not overlook such conduct, and
as Shobbrok is an experienced seaman, he will gladly place him in some
position of trust on board."

The other frigate which had assisted in the capture of the _Charles_
was, I should have said, the _Seaford_.  The breeze freshening, we had
no opportunity of going on board the _Triumph_, Admiral Blake's
flag-ship, as he was pressing on under all sail in chase of the
corsairs.  The frigates led the way, and the next morning, from the
mast-head of the _Constant Warwick_, we caught sight of well-nigh a
score of ships right ahead.  That they were those of Prince Rupert we
had no doubt; but they must have seen us coming, and having no stomach
to engage in fight--for they knew by this time who commanded the English
fleet--they pressed on before us.

We continued in chase under every stitch of canvas we could carry,
hoping to come up with one or more of the rearmost ships and to bring
them to action, so as to keep them employed till the rest of the fleet
should arrive and compel them to strike.  The breeze freshened, and the
_Constant Warwick_, followed closely by two other frigates, tore through
the water, as if eager to overtake her foes.

"Hold on, good sticks!" cried the captain, looking aloft.  "Time enough
to go overboard when we have grappled the enemy."

The topgallant masts bent like willow wands, and I expected every moment
to see them fall, but though the lofty sails tugged and tugged, yet they
held fast, and we hoped that we should yet be in time to stop some of
the corsairs before they could get into harbour.  The _Triumph_ was
still far away astern, followed by the rest of the fleet, our captain
doing his best to drive his ship through the water.  The corsairs did
not gain upon us, and we well knew that for a good hour or more we
should have them to ourselves, should we overtake them.  Captain Stayner
walked the deck, now casting his eye ahead at the enemy, now aloft at
the straining canvas, and now astern, to judge, by the way the sails of
the _Triumph_ were blowing out, how the wind was holding in that
direction.  Presently the lofty canvas was seen to hang down against the
masts, then slowly to blow out again.  In a short time our own royals
and topgallant sails followed their bad example.  The captain gave a
stamp of impatience on the deck.  The breeze was falling, even the
topsails and courses no longer bellied out as before.  Still, the
frigates glided on, but the sluggish eddies astern showed how greatly
their speed had decreased.

At length, on the larboard bow, the old head of Kinsale appeared in
sight, with Prince Rupert's ships passing round it.  Still, they too
might get becalmed and a change of wind enable us to approach them.  Our
hopes, however, were doomed to be disappointed.  Though the wind was
light, they moved as fast as we did, and the lighter vessels getting out
their sweeps, they ere long disappeared, shrouded by the gloom of
evening, and by the time we came off the mouth of the harbour not a sail
was to be discerned.

"Though they have escaped us this time, we have shut the rats up in
their hole, and they will find it a hard matter to get out again to seek
for prey," observed the captain.

"Can't we go in and destroy them?" inquired Lancelot of Mr Blake.

"From the information we have received, we judge that it would be a
hazardous undertaking," he answered.  "There are castles on either side
of the harbour, and the corsairs have thrown up earthworks, armed with
heavy guns, for the protection of their ships, so that they would blow
us out of the water should we attempt to enter.  We must content
ourselves with blockading them."

Such, I afterwards found, was the plan adopted.  We stood on and off the
land to watch the entrance.  The next morning the whole fleet arrived,
forming a line from the old head of Kinsale northward, which Prince
Rupert, daring as he was, would not, it was believed, attempt to break
through.  It was somewhat trying work.  Night and day a vigilant watch
was kept, great care being required so that each ship should maintain
her proper position, and that one should not run foul of the other.

According to his promise, Mr Blake took Lancelot, Dick, and me, with
Martin Shobbrok, on board the _Triumph_.  The admiral recognised me
immediately, and remembered also what he had said to my father.

"Would you wish to remain with me?" he asked.  "Should such be your
desire, you shall become my cabin boy, and when you have gained a
knowledge of navigation and seamanship, you shall, without delay, be
made an officer."

"Such I desire above all things," I answered, "and I am deeply grateful
for the offer."

"And your friends here," he continued, looking at Lancelot and Dick.
"Were they with us at the siege of Lyme?"

"They were, sir, and we all three worked together to throw up the
embankments," I answered.

"Good! they appear likely lads, and I will watch over their interests,
if the Lord spares my life."

Lancelot and Dick made proper acknowledgment of the admiral's intended
kindness.  I then bethought me that now was the time to speak a word for
Martin, and told the admiral how he had behaved on board the _Charles_,
being ready to lose his own life rather than fire at the Parliamentary
ships.

"Brave fellow!  I remember him when he served with your father and
mine," he observed.  "He shall have a post on board such as his merit
deserves.  I will see to it."

Several captains from other ships coming on board, we retired, following
young Robert Blake, who took us into the gun room, where he introduced
us to such of the officers of the ship as were below.

I had long been wishing to hear from Lieutenant Blake how his uncle had
become an admiral, and I now took the opportunity of asking him.

"Simply because he is one of the most worthy men the Parliament could
find," he answered.  "His great talents, his undaunted bravery, are
well-known, and although he had not before been to sea, the Government
felt sure that he would be able to fill the post, and seeing him as we
do now at the head of naval affairs, no one would suppose that he was
fifty years of age before he set his foot on the deck of a ship as
commander, taking precedence of such men as Captains Penn, Jordan,
Ascue, Stayner, and Lawson, while Admirals Deane and Popham, though of
the same rank, yield to his judgment."

For the benefit of those who may not be acquainted with the history of
one of the most famous of England's sea commanders, I may here note that
Admiral Blake, eldest son of a highly-esteemed merchant, Humphrey Blake,
trading with Spain and other foreign parts, was born at Bridgwater in
the year of grace 1598, and that he had many brothers and sisters.

When a boy he studied navigation and the routine of sea duties from his
father and some of his captains who had come to live on shore, but at
that time his own taste made him wish to obtain a knowledge of
literature, and at sixteen he entered as an undergraduate at Saint
Alban's Hall, Oxford, whence he removed to Wadham College.  Here he
remained several years, until his father being reduced in circumstances
from the failure of many of his enterprises, he returned home to watch
over the interests of his family.  He had, I should have said, offered
himself as a candidate for a scholarship then vacant at Merton, but Sir
Henry Saville, the warden, who delighted in tall men, objecting to him
on account of his height which fell below his standard of manly
perfection, refused to admit him, and the admiral, after he had been
summoned to the death-bed of his father, did not again return to Oxford.

For some years he remained at Bridgwater, chiefly occupied with the care
of his mother and brothers and sisters.  At the same time he was a keen
observer of passing events.  His indignation was aroused by the
persecutions of Bishop Laud and his attempt to impose the Papal system
on his country.  When the King, after a lapse of many years, summoned a
parliament, the admiral, then Mr Blake, went up as member for
Bridgwater.  Soon afterwards came the outbreak in Ireland, when forty
thousand Protestants were murdered by the Papists, who asserted that the
King sanctioned their bloody acts.  Although this might not have been
the case, the Parliament demanded that a fleet and army should be placed
at their disposal to quell the rebels.  Soon afterwards the King,
leaving London, raised his standard at Northampton, and declared war
against the Parliament and those who sided with it.  Mr Blake was among
the first gentlemen who took up arms in the south of England in defence
of the people's right, his first military achievement being the gallant
defence of Prior's Hill, Bristol.  The rest of his career up to the time
of which I am speaking I have already mentioned, and I may truly say
that he had never been defeated.  He had, for some time before I was
received on board his flag-ship, been engaged in reforming the navy,
into which numerous corruptions had crept.  His great object was to see
that the men were duly paid and well fed, that hospitals were provided
for the wounded, and that stout seaworthy ships were alone employed.  He
perseveringly engaged even in the most minute details, to add to the
comfort of his men, and already they had learned to trust and revere
him.  His fame had spread even among the Royalists, numbers of whom,
escaping when opportunities occurred, eagerly came on board our ships to
serve under his flag.  That flag was now a red-cross on a white ground,
and that banner was destined soon to claim the respect of England's
foes, wherever it was seen waving at the peak.

While we were watching Kinsale harbour to prevent the escape of Prince
Rupert's cruisers, General Cromwell, who had gone over to the north of
Ireland with an army, was righting his way to the southward.

Blockading was no pleasant duty, for often heavy gales from the eastward
compelled us to keep an offing from the shore, or when they blew from an
opposite direction we had to beat backwards and forwards under
close-reefed sails to maintain our position, and several times we had to
run for Milford Haven, to escape the danger of shipwreck.  We young
seamen, however, thereby gained much practical experience in nautical
affairs, as did undoubtedly our superiors, who had hitherto been more
accustomed to the command of regiments of foot and horse than to the
management of ships.

By the first bag of letters despatched after we got on board the
_Triumph_, we wrote an account of our adventures to our friends at Lyme.
In due course we received others in return, with expressions of
thankfulness that we had escaped the perils to which we had been
exposed.

Audrey and Cicely especially gave us an account of all that had occurred
since we left home, praying that we might soon return.

October came, and with it a furious gale, which once more scattered the
blockading squadron.  In vain the _Triumph_ endeavoured to maintain her
station.  Still she kept the sea in spite of the furious blasts which
laid her over and threatened to carry away her masts and spars, and hurl
her, a helpless wreck, on the rocky coast.  A few other captains
imitated the example of their dauntless commander, but it was impossible
to remain in sight of Kinsale.  At length, the weather moderating, we
once more came off the old headland, and, by degrees the ships
assembling, the frigates were sent in towards the harbour's mouth to
inspect the squadron of Prince Rupert.  They returned with the
intelligence that the corsair prince, with, several of his ships, had
escaped, leaving behind, however, a considerable number, which fell into
our hands.



CHAPTER SIX.

AFLOAT IN THE SQUADRON.

I must pass over some months, during which the _Triumph_, having
returned into port, we three friends paid a visit to Lyme, the admiral
promising to send for us when he should next go to sea.  We had not long
to wait.  It being reported that Prince Rupert and his brother had fled
to the Tagus, Admiral Blake was appointed to the command of a small
squadron, of which the _Tiger_ was his flag-ship, with orders to pursue
the pirates, and to seize, make prizes, fight with, and destroy all
their ships he could overtake, while he was to protect all lawful
traders in the exercise of their calling.  The other ships were the
_John, Tenth, Whelp, Signet_, and _Constant Warwick_, carrying
altogether one hundred and fourteen guns.

We were glad to find that young Robert Blake was one of the lieutenants
of the _Tiger_, and equally rejoiced were we to see Martin Shobbrok
walking the deck with a chain and silver whistle round his neck doing
duty as boatswain.  Although it was midwinter, no time was lost, and
with a fair breeze we stood down channel.  The winds, and the necessity
of chasing every suspicious sail, prevented us from reaching our
destination--the month of the Tagus--until the approach of spring.  To
our infinite satisfaction, we found that the Prince's squadron was at
anchor in the river, and forthwith the admiral despatched his nephew,
whom I had the honour of accompanying, with a message to King John of
Portugal, requesting permission to attack the ships of Prince Rupert,
belonging to the Commonwealth of England, and carried off by treachery.
I had never before been in a king's palace; I have not the power,
however, to describe the finely dressed ladies and gentlemen we saw, or
the forms and ceremonies we went through.  The king, or rather one of
his ministers--who spoke for him--declared that he could permit no such
proceeding, that the princes were his guests, and that we must take our
departure without injuring them.

"The king sends us back, as he thinks, with a flea in our ears, but it
is a flea which will tickle his majesty before long," observed
Lieutenant Blake, who had something of his uncle's humour.

We returned on board the _Tiger_, and reported the result of our
mission, when the admiral immediately ordered a squadron of boats to
enter the river.  I went in one of them.  As we approached a white stone
castle shining brightly in the sun, near the mouth, a puff of smoke
issued from one of the embrasures.  Another and another followed, the
shot splashing into the water close to us.

On this the commander of the expedition, according to the orders
received, returned to the squadron.

The admiral, curling his whiskers, sent to the castle to inquire why his
boats had been stopped.  The officer replied that his orders were to
prevent any foreign ships sailing up the river.  The admiral on this
despatched another embassy to King John, demanding the reason for his
conduct, but received as unsatisfactory a reply as before.  The
Portuguese king was not aware with whom he had to deal, and fancied that
Blake would sail away without taking further notice of the affair.

In spite of the threats of the governor of Belim Castle, the _Tiger_
leading the way, the squadron sailed into the river, not a shot being
fired at us, and we brought up in Viera Bay.

Here some weeks passed, the crews fuming at the delay, and hoping every
day that we might be able to get at the corsairs and punish them as they
deserved.  Our men were frequently on shore, when they constantly met
the sailors of the Prince's squadron, on friendly terms.

Occasionally, however, there were quarrels, when our men jeered at the
others, calling them pirates and robbers, and expressing a wonder that
they should be willing to serve under such leaders as Rupert and his
brother.  Others of our people acted more wisely, and succeeded in
inducing a considerable number of the Prince's men to desert and come on
board our ships.  This greatly enraged the Prince, who strung up several
poor fellows found making their way to us.  Still, others came off, and
one of them told us that the _Swallow_, a ship of thirty-six guns, had
actually got under weigh and was on the point of escaping, when the
intention of her officers and crew being discovered, she was brought
back.  Some time after this, three boats under command of Lieutenant
Blake were sent on shore to fill our casks at the fountain where we
usually obtained water; Lancelot and I accompanied him.  As there was no
fear of our men deserting, we allowed some of those not required for the
work in hand to stroll a short distance inland, Lieutenant Blake going
with them, while I remained to superintend the watering party.

I was thus engaged when I heard some shots fired, and saw Lancelot, who
had gone a little way off, running towards me.

"What's the matter?"  I inquired.

"Our shipmates have been attacked by a party of Cavaliers and Portuguese
hidalgoes, who have, I fear, got hold of Lieutenant Blake.  If we bring
up the men quickly, we may rescue him before he is carried off," he
answered.

Calling our people together, some of whom were rolling the casks down to
the boats, Lancelot and I led them in the direction we had heard the
shots.  We had not gone far when we caught sight of our party warmly
engaged with a number of persons in hunting dresses, some being English,
others Portuguese, among whom we distinguished our lieutenant, held by
two Portuguese, while others were pointing their swords at his breast.
Almost before they discovered us, uttering a loud shout we were upon
them.  The lieutenant on seeing us, shaking off the grasp of the two men
who held him, knocked up the blade of another, and seizing the sword of
a fourth, sprang towards us.  At that moment, however, a strong
reinforcement arriving we had to retreat, with our faces to the foe.
Several of our men fell dead, and others were wounded.  An attack also
was made on six of our people who had been separated from us, when, with
the exception of one who cut his way out from among those surrounding
the party, the rest were made prisoners.  We showed so bold a front
that, notwithstanding our heavy losses, the Cavaliers and their allies
did not venture to follow us, though they fired a volley which killed
one more of our men and wounded another.  We at length reached the
boats, and taking the casks on board, pulled away to communicate the
circumstance to the admiral.  Lieutenant Blake told him that he had
recognised Prince Maurice as well as two or three of his officers, and
that the other leaders of our assailants were Portuguese grandees.

The admiral was highly indignant, but how to punish our dastardly foes
as they deserved was a difficult matter to determine.  The King of
Portugal would certainly refuse to deliver up the offenders, and we were
not as yet in a position to compel him.

We had therefore to bide our time.

That evening, as I was walking the deck with Lancelot, we saw a small
boat coming off from the shore.  She had but one man in her.  He hailed
as he got alongside, and asked if he might be permitted to come on
board, as he had a communication to make to the admiral.

Permission was at once given, and after remaining a short time in the
cabin, the stranger took his departure, when the admiral came on deck
and ordered the ports to be closed.

Soon after this another boat was seen coming off, containing a person
dressed as a Portuguese tradesman, and rowed by two negroes.  The boat
also carried a large cask.  After coming up under the stern, she pulled
round on the starboard side.  The seeming Portuguese then handed up a
letter, which one of the officers took.  It purported to come from a
merchant on shore, stating that he had sent off a cask of oil for the
use of the crew.  The white man was still seated in the boat, when the
boatswain and two other men came aft and informed the admiral that they
were very sure he was no Portuguese, but one of the persons belonging to
Prince Rupert's ship whom they frequently met on shore.

"Let the cask remain in the boat, and order the man up the side," said
the admiral.

The Portuguese, on receiving the order, showed a great disinclination to
obey, and said something to the negroes, who were getting out their oars
to shove off when three of our men jumped into the boat, and having
secured her, the white man and two blacks were brought on deck.  The
admiral now turning to the boatswain ordered him to reeve a rope to the
yard-arm.

"So my friend," he said, turning to the white prisoner, "you intended to
blow up this ship and all on board.  If that cask is full of oil my
information is incorrect, but if not, be prepared for the consequences."

On this the man fell on his knees, and pleading for mercy, offered to
reveal the plot he had been engaged to carry out.

"You deserve death, but your life shall be spared if you speak the
truth," said the admiral.

The man then confessed that he had been employed by the Cavaliers to
destroy the admiral and his flag-ship; that the cask was double-headed,
and that the interior was filled with gunpowder and missiles of all
sorts; that between the two heads there was a lock so contrived that on
being opened it would fire a quick match and cause the whole to explode.

"As you understand its mechanism, you shall be employed in extracting
its contents," said the admiral.

The man on hearing this looked greatly disconcerted, but was forced to
obey.  The carpenter having provided him with tools, he descended into
the boat, when she was towed some distance from the ship, where she was
anchored, and the oars being removed, he was left to operate alone on
the cask.

He was watched with great interest as he cut a hole through the bottom.
This done, he took out the contents and hove them overboard, when he
hailed to say that the cask was empty.

The admiral then ordered him and the two blacks to depart with a message
for the Prince, informing him of the miscarriage of his enterprise.

The Prince afterwards, we heard, spread a report that he and his
brother, while out hunting, had been attacked by a party of men from
Admiral Blake's fleet, and that he had in consequence allowed the
attempt to be made to blow up the flag-ship.  I should here say that on
board the Prince's fleet were many Republicans, who sent the admiral
information of all his intentions.  We now heard that, fearing lest the
King of Portugal should no longer be willing to afford him protection,
Prince Rupert proposed putting to sea, and seeking his fortune in
another direction.

On this, a calm coming on, our ships were towed down to the mouth of the
river, where we lay ready to intercept him, and so the Prince's plan was
defeated.

Some weeks went by, when Admiral Popham arrived with a strong
reinforcement, and by one of the ships came letters to Lancelot and me,
of which I will speak anon.  The King of Portugal, just before this,
throwing off all disguise, arrested several English merchants residing
in Lisbon, and declared his intention of supporting the corsair princes.

No sooner was this news received on board our ships than the admiral
sent word to the Portuguese government that he proposed to make
reprisals.  While the messenger was on the way, a number of ships were
seen with all sails set coming out of the river.  They proved to be
richly-laden merchantmen bound for the Brazils.  As they approached, our
squadron got under weigh, and before the Brazilian ships had time to
retreat we surrounded them and captured the whole.  As they were
well-armed, the officers and crews being removed, we sent all the men we
could spare on board, and thus nine fine vessels were added to the
strength of our fleet.  Winter was approaching, and with it came heavy
gales, greatly trying our ships.  Information had been received that
another richly-laden fleet from the Brazils was expected in the river.
We accordingly, our ships having been carefully fitted to encounter the
fiercest storms, got under weigh and stood out to sea in order to watch
for it.  We had not long to wait, when one of the look-out frigates
brought intelligence which made us all on the alert.

The commander stated that he had counted no less than twenty-three sail
approaching under all the canvas they could carry.

On they came.  The admiral ordered the signal to be thrown out to
prepare for action.  The Portuguese fleet approached, supposing our
ships to be those of their own nation; and as far as we could judge,
were in no way ready for battle.  They advanced in gallant array, their
admiral leading, but as they drew nearer their suspicions must have been
aroused.  They were soon convinced that we had hostile intentions, when
the _Tiger_, standing across the bows of the flag-ship, ordered her to
strike and heave to.  A shot which struck us was the answer, when
tacking so as to bring our other broadside to bear, we commenced firing
away as fast as our guns could be run in and loaded.

The other ships imitated our example, each engaging one, and some two or
three of the enemy.  Again our commander ordered the Portuguese admiral
to strike, but he refused, notwithstanding the fearful punishment we
were inflicting on him.  Our shots, fired at short range, were going
through and through the sides between wind and water.  Presently one of
the enemy's ships astern of us was seen to be on fire.  The flames
spread rapidly, bursting out from her ports and climbing the tall masts.
Another and another was speedily in the same predicament.  The fate of
these ships brought terror into the hearts of the enemy.  Now the flag
of a large ship attacked by the _Resolution_ was hauled down.  Now
another struck, and quickly the antagonist of the _Constant Warwick_
lowered her flag, allowing that gallant barque to pay her attentions to
a second foe.

Cheer after cheer burst from the throats of our crew as they saw these
rich prizes captured, while they redoubled the efforts they were making
against the Portuguese flag-ship.  Still the action continued raging in
all directions over the blue ocean, canopied by a dark pall of smoke,
which was increased each moment by the curling wreaths arising from the
thundering guns.  Every effort was now made by the Portuguese to escape,
for their ships contained rich treasures which they were unwilling to
lose, but their efforts were in vain.  Like eager hounds heated by the
chase, our ships, setting all sail, soon came up with the fugitives,
whose masts and spars being knocked away, they hauled down their flag.
Their admiral had been fighting long and bravely, when Martin Shobbrok,
who was standing near me, exclaimed, pointing at her, "The Lord have
mercy on their souls!  Mark you not, Master Ben, how deep by the head is
that stout Portugale ship?  See, see! she is sinking lower and lower."
Still the guns from her upper deck continued to belch forth flames and
smoke.  It seemed as if her crew were not aware of the fate awaiting
them.  Before another minute had elapsed shrieks and cries arose.  Men
were seen rushing up from below, and clambering on the bulwarks.  Others
were engaged in lowering the boats and throwing overboard planks and
hen-coops, and pieces of furniture, and whatever they could lay their
hands on.

"Cease firing!" cried our admiral, and not another shot was discharged
at our helpless foe.  Lower and lower sank the stout ship, her stern
lifted high out of the water, then downwards she glided, her canvas set,
her flag still flying, her commander and his officers still standing on
the lofty after-castle, until that too disappeared beneath the wild
waves which dashed over them, and soon even the main truck vanished
beneath the surface, leaving a few struggling forms and pieces of wreck,
and articles thrown overboard, floating on the spot she had lately
occupied.

Stern necessity compelled us to sail in chase of her flying consorts,
one of which proved to be the ship of the vice-admiral, who, taught a
lesson by the fate of his chief, as we approached lowered his flag.

Seven of the smaller vessels which had sought safety at the commencement
of the engagement in flight, being already close in with the mouth of
the river, escaped, but we captured eleven large ships, not counting the
admiral's which sank, and three others consumed by fire.

As soon as the prizes were secured, the boats were lowered to try and
pick up any of the helpless people who alight have escaped from the
ships destroyed; but few only were rescued, though I am well assured
that, had the admiral acted according to the dictates of his heart, he
would rather have allowed the vice-admiral to escape than have delayed
the attempt to save the perishing seamen.

As we could not enter the river, and another gale might come on, we lost
no time in repairing damages and refitting the prizes, so that they
might undertake the voyage to England.

Admiral Blake was well aware that the Portuguese would endeavour to
revenge themselves for the loss they had suffered, but still undaunted,
he prepared to resist their squadron, united to that of the Prince,
should they venture to attack us.

Day after day we sailed backwards and forwards off the mouth of the
river, or when a tempest threatened, shortening sail, we beat out to sea
to avoid shipwreck, again to return the instant the wind moderated.
This sort of work greatly added to the experience my companion and I had
gained on the coast of Ireland, so that we could boast of being
efficient seamen.

"You'll soon be made a lieutenant, Mr Ben, and ere long a captain; and,
when you get command of a ship, I hope that you'll apply to have me sent
with you," said Martin to me one day as we were walking the deck
together.  "Although she may be only half the size of the _Tiger_, I
would rather be with you than even with our good admiral, much as I love
him.  He is the man to win all hearts, not only because he is the best
commander we ever had, but because he attends to the wants and looks
after the interests of the men below him."

I promised Martin, if I lived to get the command of a ship, that I would
obtain him as boatswain, should he not in the meantime be advanced to a
higher grade such as his merits deserved.

"Martin Shobbrok is too old for a lieutenant, and besides, is no
navigator, so that he would feel like a fish out of water," he answered.
"He has been boatswain for the best part of his life, and boatswain he
is willing to remain, unless he is made chief gunner, and no great
learning is required for that."

Again we sighted the rock of Lisbon, when a thick mist came on, which
shrouded it and the whole coast from sight.  Notwithstanding the fog, a
fresh breeze was blowing.  We were steering on our usual course under
easy sail, when, as I was on deck, with Martin pacing a short distance
from me, he exclaimed--

"There's a tall ship close to us," and looking in the direction he
pointed, I could dimly see through the fog a dark mass of canvas.  The
sound of the rattling and creaking of blocks, too, reached our ears.

"She's an enemy; to your guns, lads!" he shouted.  "Go and tell the
captain, Master Ben."

I ran aft to tell the commander, who, followed by the admiral, appeared
on deck.

"Silence!" he cried; "go to your quarters without beat of drum."

The guns were cast loose, and powder and shot brought from below, and
our men stood ready for the next order.  The phantom ship, for such she
appeared, loomed larger and larger.  The admiral divined her object--to
run us on board.

"She's either the Portugale flag-ship or maybe that of Prince Rupert's
himself," whispered Martin to me.

One thing was certain, that she was not one of our squadron.  Silently
she glided up under our lee.

"Now give it her, my lads," cried the admiral, and every gun from the
starboard broadside was fired into the stranger.

Down came her fore-topmast by the run.  Silence being no longer
necessary, our crew gave a hearty cheer, hoping that we were about to
tackle the stranger, but being under a press of sail, she shot past
ahead, and so dense was the fog, that in a few seconds she had
disappeared.  We eagerly sought for her, but we searched in vain.

Next day, the fog having cleared away, the united fleets were
discovered, but our admiral's object was to avoid a regular engagement,
as no good could thereby be attained, and he contented himself with
cutting off first one and then another of the enemy's ships.

"I know who tried to surprise us yesterday evening," exclaimed Martin.
"The tall ship with the Prince's flag flying, and her fore-topmast gone,
but she would have been surprised herself had she not slipped out of the
way."

At length the admiral gained information that another large Brazilian
fleet was at sea, which, being of far more value than the empty hulls of
the Prince's squadron, we sailed in search of.  After cruising about for
several weeks, we heard that some of the Brazilian ships had taken
refuge in Spanish ports, and that others were at the Azores.  We
accordingly sailed back to the Tagus.  Scarcely had we arrived than a
frigate with a flag of truce came to meet us, bringing intelligence that
the corsair princes had left the river, and that the king of Portugal
had sent an ambassador to England to sue for peace.

The admiral's work in the Tagus being accomplished, we prepared for
returning home.  I mentioned that Lancelot and Dick had received letters
from Lyme.  Lancelot's was from his father's head factor, the other from
Mr Harvey.  They both gave us the same alarming intelligence which
affected Lancelot as well as me.  They told us that Mr Kerridge and his
daughter, accompanied by Audrey and Mistress Margaret, her waiting-maid,
had sailed in a hoy bound for Plymouth, at which place, to their dismay,
they found she had not arrived.  Some hours after leaving Lyme, a heavy
gale had arisen, but it was calculated that the hoy might by that time
have got into Plymouth, or run back for Lyme, or found shelter in some
other harbour.  Whether she had foundered, or run on the Eddystone or on
some other rock, or had been captured by an enemy, no one could surmise,
but that some sad disaster had happened to her there could be no doubt.

The news of course caused Lancelot and me great grief, in which our
friend Dick heartily sympathised, as did Lieutenant Blake, who had when
at Lyme been well acquainted with Mr Kerridge and Cicely and my sweet
sister Audrey.

"Should the hoy have foundered, we must submit to God's decrees; but
should she, as is possible, have been captured, we will, as soon as we
are at liberty, search the world over to discover the missing ones," he
said, as he wrung our hands, and told us how sincerely he entered into
our feelings.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

FURTHER SUCCESSES.

The hopes of those who expected to return home were destined to be
disappointed.  We were still at sea, keeping a look-out for the fleet of
the royal corsairs, when a shout from the mast-head announced the
approach of several ships from the northward, and as they got nearer the
white flag with the red-cross flying from their peaks told us that they
were friends.

The leading ship proved to be the _Fairfax_, of fifty-two guns and two
hundred and fifty men, carrying the flag of Vice-Admiral Penn.
Following her came the _Centurion_, Captain Lawson, the _Adventure_,
Captain Ball, and two others commanded by Captains Howett and Jordan,
with the _Assurance_, Captain Benjamin Blake, the younger brother of the
admiral.

Directly afterwards Vice-Admiral Hall with another squadron of seven
ships joined us.  The admiral had now under him a fleet capable of
coping with that of either France or Spain.  His first object, however,
was to capture the corsairs, who were committing much damage among the
merchant vessels.  It was still unknown in what direction they had gone,
when, the day after Admiral Hall's squadron had reached us, a vessel was
seen coming from the south.

On approaching she hove to, and her master came on board the flag-ship.
His vessel, he said, was the only one which had escaped from Malaga, on
the coast of Andalusia, into which the corsairs had entered and burnt
six of his consorts under the very guns of the Spanish batteries.

"We shall catch them at last!" exclaimed the admiral on receiving this
information, a gleam of satisfaction lighting up his countenance.

Having taken some stores on board which had just arrived from England,
we made sail for the Straits of Gibraltar, Admiral Penn with his
squadron being left to watch outside the entrance to catch the corsairs,
should they endeavour to escape from the Mediterranean.  With a fair
wind we stood in for the gut, the lofty rock, on which we could discern
only a few ruins on our left, and the coast of Africa on our right.

For centuries no English admiral's flag had been seen in the
Mediterranean, our merchant vessels trading in those seas being thus
exposed to the attacks of pirates without hope of redress.  On coming
off Malaga, we found to our disappointment that the princes had fled, in
what direction no one would inform us.  While we lay there, a furious
gale threatened the destruction of our ships, but we rode it out in
safety.

Just as we were sailing, information was brought that the pirates were
in Cartagena.  Pressing on all sail, we made for that port.  As we came
off it, our hearts beat high with satisfaction, for there lay the fleet
for which we were in search.

The admiral, who was well acquainted with the dilatoriness of Spanish
diplomacy, not waiting for leave, bearing down on the corsairs attacked
the _Roebuck_, the largest of their ships, and quickly mastered her.

Another was set on fire, while the remainder, cutting their cables, ran
on shore utterly disabled.  Great, however, was our disappointment not
to find either of the princes; and we learned from some of the prisoners
that they had both been separated from the rest of the squadron during
the gale, but what had become of them we were unable to ascertain.

In vain we sailed from port to port.  At last we heard that they had
taken shelter in the harbour of Toulon.  On receiving this information
we immediately steered for that port.  On arriving we found that the
corsairs had been honourably received by the French admiral, and that
assistance had been given to them to dispose of their plunder.

On this Admiral Blake sent word that he considered the French had been
guilty of a hostile act, and that unless the corsairs were driven from
the harbour, and the plunder restored to its lawful owners, he should
feel justified in making reprisals on the commerce of France.

No answer was given to this message, but after a short time it was
discovered that the two princes had fled, though in what direction we
were, as before, unable to ascertain.

Leaving Admiral Penn to search for them, we at length steered for
England.  Just as we were passing through the Straits, a large ship was
seen which approached us without any apparent hesitation, showing French
colours.  Getting nearer, she hove to, while a boat being lowered her
captain came on board.  He was received with the usual courtesy by the
admiral in his cabin.

The Frenchman being seated, the admiral informed him that he must
consider himself a prisoner, and requested him to deliver up his sword.

"No, monsieur," answered the Frenchman; "not while I have strength to
use it," and he placed his hand on the hilt.

"I confess, brave sir, that you have been unfairly beguiled on board,
and that you were ignorant that I had thrown down the gauntlet to your
admiral at Toulon.  If you desire it, you may go on board your ship and
try to escape if you have the power," said the admiral.

"I accept your generous offer," answered the Frenchman with a bow, and
he made his way on deck.  We attended him with due honour down the side,
when he returned to his ship.

As soon as he had gone the drum beat to quarters, but we waited before
firing, to allow him to prepare his own vessel for the encounter.

Due time having passed, we fired a shot across his bows, which he
returned, aiming at the _Tiger_.

The fight now commenced in earnest.  The Frenchmen fought bravely,
endeavouring to knock away our spars so as to make their escape.  But
their gunnery was not equal to that of our men.  So severely did we
pound them, that after holding out two hours they hauled down their
flag.

The boats were immediately sent to bring the prisoners on board, when
the captain, making a low bow, bestowed an affectionate kiss on the hilt
of his weapon, and handed it to the admiral, who replied--

"You are a brave man, and deserve to keep your sword: pray receive it
and wear it for my sake," and he handed the weapon back to his prisoner.

The prize was a valuable acquisition, being a fine frigate of forty
guns.  Four other large French vessels were taken on our way home, and
at length we arrived safely at Plymouth.  Lancelot, Dick, and I at once
got leave to go to Lyme, being anxious to learn whether any tidings had
been received of the lost ones.

Mr Harvey, who was there, received us very kindly.  Every means had
been taken for discovering them, but not even the slightest clue had
been obtained, and he acknowledged that he had very slight hopes that we
should ever again hear of them.  The reality came with fearful force
upon me when he said this, and it was with difficulty I could refrain
from giving way to my passionate grief.  Lancelot, feeling as I did
there was nothing to keep us at home, returned to Plymouth, where Dick
promised to follow.

On a bright day in the early part of spring, 1651, Lancelot and I went
on board the _Tiger_, which had been hastily refitted for sea.  Martin,
who was on the look-out, welcomed us back.

"Just in time, gentlemen; there's work cut out for us, and the admiral
is to be on board this evening," he said, as we shook hands.  "We are to
rout out that nest of hornets in Scilly, and I've a notion we shall make
them disgorge the plunder they have been collecting for many years
past."

We were truly thankful for the promised excitement, for in the present
state of our minds we could ill brook idleness.  Besides the _Tiger_, a
number of small frigates were collected, well calculated for the work to
be undertaken.  The admiral, accompanied by his nephew, came on board
that evening, the former receiving Lancelot and me in his usual kind
way, not forgetting to make inquiries whether our sisters and his friend
Mr Kerridge had returned.  "Don't despair, notwithstanding, my young
friends," he said, when we told him nothing had been heard of them "By
God's providence they may still be found."

Robert had now become, next to the captain, the principal officer on
board, and though so young, he well fulfilled the duties of his post.

Lancelot had been promoted to the rank of lieutenant, but Dick and I
were still in the admiral's cabin.  We were often employed in
transcribing his letters and other similar duties, though at the same
time we pursued our nautical studies.  Despatches being received from
London, we immediately sailed for our destination.  Two days' sail
brought us in sight of the Scilly Islands, slumbering quietly on the
surface of the bright blue ocean.  They looked green and pleasant to the
eye, with here and there a few rocky heights rising in their midst, but
in most parts the land was not elevated many feet above the water.
Above the other hills appeared the height on whose summit the Cavaliers
had built a strong castle, which it was our object to capture.  Coming
off Saint Mary's, the principal island, we hove to, and the admiral
ordered a boat to be lowered, in which went Robert Blake, and I
accompanied him, bearing a message summoning Sir John Grenville, the
governor, to surrender.  Having proceeded up the channel leading to the
fort, we landed, bearing a white flag, and walked on until we reached
the entrance.  We were at once admitted, when we had an opportunity of
taking a glance round the fortifications.  The castle was filled with
men, a large number being evidently, from their dress and appearance,
officers.  They were rollicking-looking gentlemen, and were laughing,
and joking, and amusing themselves at our expense as we passed along.

Sir John Grenville received us with due courtesy.  On reading the
summons he replied--

"I might rather demand that Admiral Blake should deliver up his fleet,
but yet I am willing to enter into a treaty, although it should be known
to you that I have a force with me not only sufficient to protect these
islands, but to restore the exiled prince to the throne of his fathers."

"The result will prove that, sir," answered the young lieutenant.  "Am I
to inform the admiral that you refuse to deliver up the islands and
their castles to the fleet of the Commonwealth?"

"Certainly such is my intention," answered Sir John, and he bowed us out
of the hall.

We returned unmolested to the boat, and pulled back for the ship.  No
sooner had we arrived than the admiral sent for Captain Morris, one of
the most trusted of his commanders, and ordered him to take eight
hundred of the best men from the different ships, and to land at the
back of Tresco, which is next in size to Saint Mary's, and lies close to
it.

Lieutenant Blake and I, with a small body of seamen from our ship,
accompanied the troops.  We found a line of breastworks thrown up for
the defence of the shore, and held by fully a thousand men.  But our
brave leader was not to be hindered in performing his duty by this show
of resistance.  The boats in line dashed on, and in spite of the round
shot plunged in among us, and the bullets whistling about our ears, the
moment the keels touched the beach we threw ourselves overboard, and,
wading on shore, speedily formed.  Then the order to advance was given,
and pike in hand we rushed up the bank.  The Cavaliers received us with
a hot fire of musketry, but their artillery was silent, being unable to
play on us without hitting them.

The contest was fierce but short.  Nothing could withstand our
onslaught.  The Cavaliers gave way, and, escaping across the island,
made for their boats, reaching which they crossed over to Saint Mary's,
leaving us in possession of their cannon, muskets, and pikes, and
pistols, besides several prisoners.

A lodgment on the island being thus effected, we threw up trenches to
prevent our position being retaken when night closed down upon us.  We
had to keep a strict watch, the men sleeping with their arms by their
sides, for at any moment we might be attacked.  When morning came, the
admiral, with a reinforcement, landed, and immediately gave the word to
advance.  We passed over a high ridge which crossed the island, and
descended on the other side, when a view broke on our sight which for
picturesque beauty could scarcely be surpassed.

Before us rose Saint Mary's Island, with its castle and ramparts; below,
in the centre of the roadstead, lay the war ships of the Cavaliers, with
the prizes they had captured, the blue expanse bordered by jutting
points and fantastic rocks of various shapes, while the surrounding
shores were covered with umbrageous trees, green fields, and rich
orchards.

The admiral at once selected a point overlooking the harbour and
roadstead, on which he forthwith ordered a battery to be erected.

No sooner were the works thrown up than we opened a hot fire on the
castle and other fortifications, as well as on the vessels, which,
cutting their cables, endeavoured to escape up various channels hitherto
concealed from our sight.

The admiral, however, no sooner seeing that, at the distance we were
from the castle, our shot could produce but little effect on it,
returned on board, leaving Captain Morris to continue the siege, and
ordering his nephew and me to follow.

We now found that he had devised a new plan of attack.  Summoning all
the lighter frigates, he placed on board a number of men, and supplied
each also with several guns of larger calibre than they were wont to
carry.  Going himself on board one of them, the _Fox_, with Robert
Blake, Lancelot and I, he led the way towards a narrow channel between
the open sea and the roadstead, directly opposite Saint Mary's.

Our progress was slow, but by dint of towing and warping we advanced
unmolested, until we reached the harbour of Saint Mary's.

The castle, as we were seen approaching, commenced thing, when dropping
our anchors, with springs to our cables, we returned the salute with our
broadsides.

In a few minutes the harbour, which had looked so bright and calm, was
canopied by dense wreaths of smoke; the shot came crashing into the
sides of the vessels, or splashing into the water, while our ears were
deafened by the roar of the guns thundering from the castle and from our
own and the corsairs' fleets.

Though frequently struck, we received less damage than I had
anticipated, while we soon perceived that the ill-constructed walls of
the castle and fortifications were crumbling away from the effect of our
shot.

Night coming on put an end to the attack, and we retired out of range of
the enemy's guns.  But our admiral had no intention of desisting.

All night long we remained at our quarters, thinking it possible that
the enemy might venture to board us in their boats during the darkness.
More than once an alarm was raised and the men flew to their guns, but
the night passed off tranquilly; the Cavaliers had no stomach for such
an enterprise.  Morning broke at last.  The castle walls, wearing a
battered appearance, rose above the calm water shining in the rays of
the rising sun; the air was soft and balmy, a thin haze softening the
more rugged features of nature.

Prayers being offered up, and breakfast over, we stood in to our former
position to recommence our work of the previous day.

Forthwith the guns on both sides began blazing away.  "Hurrah!" cried
Lancelot, "we shall soon bring matters to a conclusion.  Look there!"
Turning my eyes in the direction he pointed, I saw that our fire
concentrated on one side of the fortress was producing a considerable
effect.  Huge pieces of masonry, earth, and stones came toppling over
and slipping into the ditch, and ere long we perceived that our shot had
produced a practicable breach, through which our troops would quickly
effect an entrance.

The admiral then ordered them to prepare for the assault, but as they
were advancing, a flag of truce was thrown out from the walls, and a
herald descending came off in a boat to the ship with a message from Sir
John, requesting to hold a parley.

It was agreed to, when conditions were proposed.  Six John offered,
provided that the lives of the officers and men were spared, to
surrender the islands with their garrisons, stores, arms, ammunition,
standards, and all implements and materials of war; the soldiers and
seamen being allowed to enter the nation's service, while the gentlemen
were to be sent to London, to await the decision of Parliament.

To these terms, which were considered very favourable to the Royalists,
the admiral consented, and Sir John, with his corsair companions, were
put on board Admiral Askew's squadron to be carried to Plymouth.

We, in the meantime, were employed in collecting the various vessels
which had been captured by the pirates and bringing them under our guns,
lest some of the rovers might attempt to get off and pursue their old
calling in other regions.  Lancelot and I were employed in this service.
We had boarded several when we caught sight over the land of the masts
of another moving slowly through the water; we gave chase, and soon came
up with her.  The captain vowed that he had no intention of escaping,
but appearances were against him.  On getting back to the harbour, we
sent him on board the flag-ship to answer for his conduct.

While we were on board we entered into conversation with an intelligent
fellow, Ned Watkins by name, who acted as boatswain.  He seemed to be
fond of making use of his tongue.  Lancelot, wishing to ascertain
something about the corsair career of these ships, asked him if his
vessel, the _Speedwell_, had been long at sea and what prizes she had
taken.

"Never craft had worse luck," he answered.  "We had sailed from Jersey
with the _Hector_, another ship of the same size as ours, carrying
eighty men and twenty guns, bound out to Lisbon, or anywhere, as long as
we could fall in with that royal rover, Prince Rupert, when, as we were
coming down Channel, a strong gale blowing, we sighted a hoy, a tight
little hooker, somewhere off the Start.  We both made chase, for a small
fish is better than no fish at all, and soon came up with her, though
she tried her best to escape.  The _Hector_, which boarded her, took out
her people and several passengers, for so I judged them to be, as they
wore petticoats, and all her cargo, and then a crew being put on board
the prize we made sail for Scilly, where we had been ordered to call on
our way southward.  A strong north-westerly gale, however, which caught
us just as we neared the islands, drove us out to sea, and when it
moderated and we were about to beat back, seven large ships hove in
sight, which, as they approached, we saw carried the Parliamentary flag.
As we had no wish to fall into their hands, we made sail to escape, and
succeeded in keeping ahead of them, but during the night we lost sight
of the _Hector_.  In what direction she was steering we could not make
out.  When morning dawned, however, we caught a glimpse of the enemy's
squadron, and from the way they were steering, we had little doubt that
they were in pursuit of her.  By furling all sail we escaped
observation, and three days afterwards managed to get back with the
sloop to Scilly."

"What became of the _Hector_?"  I inquired eagerly, at once feeling
certain that the vessel she had captured was the hoy in which Mr
Kerridge and his party were proceeding to Plymouth.

"From that day to this I have heard nothing of her," answered the
boatswain.  "My idea is, if she escaped from the Roundhead squadron, and
not managing to get into the Tagus, that she ran up the Straits to do
some privateering on her own account.  Her commander, Captain Kerby, was
not a man to let a chance escape him, and he had been in charge of a
trader to all parts of the Mediterranean."

We questioned and cross-questioned Ned Watkins, but he could give us no
further information.  Lancelot and I talked the subject over.

"My father and our sisters were not drowned, then, as some suppose, and
may still be alive, though held, I fear, in durance, or they would have
found means of communicating with us," he said.  "That the _Hector_ did
not reach the Tagus we may be pretty certain, for if she had, my father
would have contrived to send a message to the admiral.  If Watkins is
right in his conjectures, she must then have gone up the Straits, and
she may or may not have afterwards joined the Prince's squadron, though
I am inclined to think she did not, or we should have heard of her from
the prizes we took, and she was certainly not among the vessels we
destroyed.  It follows then that she met with some other fate."

"Alack! and that may be a disastrous one," I exclaimed.  "Too probably
we shall never again hear of the dear ones."

"Not if we don't search for them," answered Lancelot, "but I have an
idea.  What do you say to obtaining leave from the admiral to fit out
one of the vessels we have just taken, and to go and look for them?  We
may learn where the _Hector_ has been, and by that means trace them.  I
cannot bring myself to believe that they are lost."

I fully entered into Lancelot's plan, which we speedily matured.  He at
once went to Robert Blake, who, approving of our proposal, undertook to
speak to his uncle.

Before long the admiral sent for us.  "I can ill spare any trustworthy
officers, but your cause is a sacred one, and you shall have the best
vessel you can find, with such men among the prisoners as will
volunteer, and whom you deem fitted for the service.  I will undertake
to pay their wages and all other expenses, and you may gain such
information of what is going on in the Mediterranean as may be of use to
our country."

We heartily thanked the admiral, and taking our leave, hastened to carry
out our intentions.

We soon, with Lieutenant Blake's assistance, fixed on a vessel,
appropriately called the _Good Hope_.  She was in seaworthy condition,
with stores of all sorts on board, and carried twenty guns.  Her
complement of men we had no difficulty in obtaining, as the corsairs who
had just been captured were glad to obtain good pay and to escape having
to serve on board the Parliamentary ships.

Lancelot was appointed captain, I went as his first lieutenant, and
Dick, who got leave from the admiral, as his second, while Martin
Shobbrok went as gunner, and Ned Watkins volunteered to act as
boatswain.

Getting such further stores, provisions, arms, and ammunition on board
as we required for a long cruise, we bade our friends "Good-bye," and
making sail stood away from the Scilly Islands, which we soon ran out of
sight.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

CLOSE QUARTERS.

The _Good Hope_ had got well to the southward.  Hitherto things had gone
on smoothly, though we found our crew less inclined to submit to
discipline than we desired.  Neither did Martin and Watkins pull very
amicably together.

At first we thought that the old gunner was inclined to demand more
respect from the boatswain than the latter was inclined to pay, but one
night, while I was keeping watch on deck, Martin came up to me.  He
looked round to ascertain that no one was near, as if he had something
of importance to communicate.

"Well, old friend, what has happened?"  I asked.

"Nothing as yet, but something will happen, if we don't look sharp," he
answered.

"I mistrust that fellow Watkins."

"That's just what I wanted to speak to you about.  It would be better
for the discipline of the ship if you could make friends with him.
Unless the officers pull together, we cannot hope to keep a crew like
ours in order."

"It's not my fault that we have disputes," answered the old man; "he's
always trying to pick a quarrel with me and to bring me into disrepute
with the crew.  I have had my eye on him of late, and I have observed
that he is constantly going among the men when below, talking to them in
the most familiar way, endeavouring to make them think him a very fine
fellow, to gain them over to some plan or other he has in his head."

I questioned Martin, thinking he must have been deceived, but he was
positive that he had not.

"I will tell the captain what you say, and I'll take such precautions as
are possible," I replied.  "In the meantime let me know what men are
likely to hold staunch to us if your surmises should prove correct."

"I think I can find a dozen God-fearing men, who were compelled against
their will to serve with the Malignants.  The rest are a drunken,
rollicking, swearing lot, who would be ready to carry out any evil deed
Watkins may propose."

"With a dozen good men and ourselves, being prepared beforehand, we may
be able to counteract any plan the boatswain has in view," I observed.
"Do you, Martin, secure those who you think you can trust, and I will
consult with the captain as to the precautions which may be necessary.
Go below, now, and take care no one discovers that we suspect Watkins."

As soon as Dick came on deck, I told him what Martin had said, and he
promised to be on the alert; then going below, I went into Lancelot's
cabin, and we held a consultation together on the subject.  He at once
arrived at the conclusion that Watkins had conceived the possibility of
taking the ship from us, and, should he succeed, that he intended to
join Prince Rupert, or make a piratical cruise on his own account.

He might hope, by hoisting the Prince's flag, to be taken for one of his
squadron, and be able to sell his prizes in a Spanish or French port, or
if he could not, by running across to the West Indies to dispose of them
there.  As Martin did not lead us to suppose that Watkins' plans were
mature, we agreed that we might wait without apprehensions of mutiny for
a day or two, or perhaps longer, until we ascertained who were the men
we could trust.

Next morning a heavy gale sprang up, and the crew had plenty of work in
shortening sail and attending to their other duties, so that they had
little time for plotting, were they so inclined.  The gale lasted three
days, the sea running mountains high, and threatening to engulph the
ship.  During the time we marked the way the men performed their duties,
and noted such as appeared the best seamen, believing that those
generally would prove the most trustworthy.  When the storm was over the
ship was put on her proper course and all sail made, for we were eager
to get through the Straits to prosecute the object of our voyage.

We were now about the latitude of Cadiz.  Dick Harvey was on deck, I was
seated in the cabin with Lancelot, when Martin came in under pretence
that he had been sent for to receive orders.

"I was not mistaken in my suspicions, Captain Kerridge," he said.
"Watkins has won over well-nigh two-thirds of the crew, and their
intention is as soon as they get inside the Straits to seize the ship
and join Prince Rupert, if he is still up the Mediterranean, and if not,
to follow him wherever he has gone, making prizes of all the craft they
can fall in with, to supply themselves with provisions and stores.  They
have learned a pretty lesson from their Cavalier leaders, and it is
natural that they should desire to follow it."

"But have you found any men on whom you can rely?" asked Lancelot.

"That's just what I was going to tell you I have done," answered the old
gunner.  "There are twelve I have spoken to who have promised to fight
to the last, rather than let their shipmates follow such desperate
courses, and there are six others who are not likely to join the
mutineers when they find there is a party to oppose them.  It has been
so ordered by Providence that I have discovered a young nephew of mine,
who, having been seemingly won over by Watkins, is in all his secrets.
When he found out who I was, he told me everything, believing that to do
so was for the good of us all.  I advised him not to let it be known
that he had changed sides.  He is a sharp lad, and though he has been in
bad company, he has not forgotten the lessons his mother taught him, and
wishes to do what is right.  Thus I am kept informed of all the purposes
of the mutineers, who are not likely to take us by surprise, as they
have not yet secured any of the arms."

We settled, to prevent them from doing so, to lock up all the small arms
and ammunition in one of the after cabins, without allowing the crew to
know what we had done.  Lancelot then directed Martin to go forward, as
he wished not to excite suspicion by keeping him in the cabin longer
than was necessary.  We at once armed ourselves, and either Martin,
Lancelot, Dick, or I kept watch on deck, while we took care always to
have two trustworthy men at the helm.

Martin assured us that the mutineers had no suspicion that their designs
were known.  The weather had again become fine, and we ran through the
Straits of Gibraltar.  The moment the mutineers proposed to execute
their plan was approaching.  Martin brought us word that they intended
to seize the ship at midnight, putting in irons all who refused to join
them, and to kill us should any resistance be offered.

As soon as it was dark, we ran two of the guns called "murtherers"
through the ports of the after-castle opening on the main deck, which
should an enemy when boarding gain a footing there, are intended to rake
it.

We also loaded and placed in readiness arms for about a score of men,
who we hoped would side with us, while we also barricaded all the doors
which led to the after part of the ship.

When all was ready, Martin, going below, told the men he could trust to
muster aft.

One by one they crept up, so as not to attract the attention of the
rest.  As they came up we put arms into their hands, and stationed them
under the after-castle.  To our satisfaction we found that we had as
many as we had expected, who all swore to protect us with their lives
from the mutineers.

Before the expected moment all our arrangements had been made.  The sea
was calm, a gentle breeze filled the sails, and the ship glided on,
leaving a long trail of bright light astern.

Midnight came, when the captain's voice was heard, summoning all hands
on deck to shorten sail.  The crew, supposing that the ship was about to
be struck by one of those white squalls which sometimes come on with
fearful suddenness in the Mediterranean and lay over many a stout ship,
hurried up from below, and instinctively sprang aloft.  The boatswain
having remained on deck, Dick and I, with two men we called to our aid,
rushed forward, and seizing him dragged him aft.

This being done, the captain shouted--

"The squall will not strike us, lads; let fall the canvas and haul aft
the sheets."

The crew, ignorant of what had occurred, obeyed, and were then ordered
on deck.  There they stood waiting for the signal the boatswain was to
give them to set on us.  There were three other ringleaders.  The
captain called two of them aft by name to take the helm.  They came
without hesitation, supposing that it would afford them a better
opportunity for carrying out their plan.  Instantly they were seized and
placed in irons, the darkness greatly favouring our proceedings, as the
rest of the crew could not see what was taking place.  The third man,
fortunately for us, coming aft was recognised by Martin, who, seizing
him, we had him in limbo before he could be rescued.

The crew not finding the signal they expected given, crowded together,
calling to their ringleaders and to each other.

Some among them now suspecting what had occurred, cried out that they
were betrayed, and summoning the rest to the rescue, they advanced
towards the place where their companions were confined.

On they came, armed with handspikes, belaying pins, boat stretchers,
knives and axes, the only weapons they could procure, with threatening
gestures, well able, it seemed, to overwhelm us.

"Stay where you are," shouted Lancelot; "the guns are loaded.  If you
advance a step further we fire.  You know the consequences."

The mutineers, well aware that the guns would sweep the decks and hurl
them in a moment into eternity, stopped short.  Not one of them ventured
to utter a word.

"My lads," continued their young captain, "you have been deceived by
artful men, who would have led you to your destruction.  I have no
desire to injure one of you, and will overlook your conduct if you
return to your duty.  You engaged with me and my friends for a worthy
cause, to search for some helpless ladies and an old man who are
perchance held in bondage by the enemies of our country.  We trusted to
you as honest Englishmen to fulfil your engagements.  Let it not be said
that you turned renegades to a noble cause.  Some of you have sisters
and parents for whom you would be ready to fight.  Are you then acting
like brave men by turning against your officers?  I will not believe
that you are so base and worthless.  Now, lads, let me see who will
stand by us.  Those who would keep to their pledges come over to
starboard, while the rest stand on the larboard side."

For a short time the men hesitated, then first one, then another, and
finally the whole body came over to the starboard side.

"I thought it would be so!" exclaimed the captain.  "Thank you, lads.  I
intend to trust you; and if we meet an enemy, I am sure you will prove
that you are true British seamen."

The crew gave a hearty cheer in reply, and that cheer must have proved
to the leaders of the mutiny that their influence over the men was lost.

To prevent them committing further mischief, we kept them in irons,
intending to deliver them over to the first English ship of war we
should meet.

Next morning, from the way the men behaved, and the quietness which
prevailed, no one would have supposed that a fearful conflict had been
imminent the previous night.  They, indeed, went about their regular
duties with more than usual alacrity.  We let them see, however, that we
were prepared, should they be inclined for mischief.

Our intention was to visit Sardinia, Majorca, Minorca, and other islands
in that direction, then to run down the coast of Italy and Sicily, and
afterwards steer for the Levant, making inquiries at all places and of
all the vessels we met for the missing _Hector_.  We were many weeks
thus employed, often being delayed by calms and kept long in port while
prosecuting our inquiries.

When off Elba we sighted several ships showing English colours.  We ran
down to them, and found that they formed part of a squadron under
Commodore Bodley.  Heaving to, we lowered a boat, and I took Master
Watkins with the three other prisoners on board the commodore's ship,
telling him of the trick they wished to play us.

"They'll not attempt a like one again," answered the commodore.  "We
shall probably engage with the enemy before long, and they will then
have an opportunity of retrieving their characters."

As the calm came on, I was able to visit each ship and make inquiries
for the _Hector_; but no tidings could I gain of her.

It would occupy too much space were I to describe the places we visited,
and all the adventures we met with.

We lay for several days in the beautiful Bay of Naples to refit, and
then stood across for Sicily, where we saw Mount Etna casting up fire
and smoke, and afterwards coming off the island of Stromboli, we were
well-nigh overwhelmed by the showers of ashes which fell on our deck,
making the men believe that we were about to be overwhelmed, or that the
day of judgment had come.  Fellows who had never before prayed, fell
down on their knees and cried for mercy.

A breeze springing up, we got once more under the blue sky, and they
quickly forgot their fears.  Hitherto we had been sadly disappointed.
Had the _Hector_ touched at any of the ports we had visited she would
have been remembered, as she was, as Watkins had described her, a stout
ship of peculiar build.  We should have regretted losing him, as he
might have been able to identify her, had not two of the men who
remained served on board her, and they declared that should they set
eyes on the old _Hector_ they should know her among a hundred such
craft.  We resolved, at all events, to continue our search as long as we
had the means of procuring provisions and stores.  We had no small
difficulty, however, in keeping our unruly crew in order; accustomed as
most of them had been to the corsair life, they longed for the
excitement of the battle and chase, and murmured at the peaceable work
in which we were engaged.  We promised them, therefore, that they should
have fighting enough should we fall in with an enemy to our country, and
of such England had many by this time, Dutch, French and Spaniards,
though the Italian princes and Portuguese wisely wished to keep on
friendly terms.

We had got some distance to the eastward of Malta, when a calm came on,
and we lay with our canvas flapping against the masts, the sea shining
like glass, and not a cloud overhead to dim the blue heavens or to
shield our heads from the rays of the burning sun.  The crew lay about
the decks overcome by the heat, and grumbling at the idle life to which
they were doomed.  The red sun went down, and the pale moon rose,
casting a silvery light over the slumbering ocean.  Not a ripple broke
the mirror-like surface of the deep.

"We must give these fellows something to do, or they'll be brewing
mischief," observed Lancelot, as we listened to the growling tones which
came from forward.

"Unless we turn corsairs, or fall in with a Hollander or a Don, I do not
see what we can give them to do," answered Dick.

"The chances are we shall not have long to wait, or we may encounter a
storm.  That will give them some occupation, especially if it carries
away some of our spars," I observed, laughing.

We were in truth put to our wits' end to keep our men in good temper.
Again the sun rose, and from the appearance of the sky there appeared
every probability that the calm would continue.  We immediately set the
men to work with paint brushes and tar brushes, made them scrub the
decks, and black down the rigging.  We then exercised them at the guns.
They were thus employed when, looking to the southward, I caught sight
of a white sail rising above the horizon.

"She can't move without wind, and if so, she'll be bringing up a
breeze," observed Dick.  "We shall soon be throwing the spray over our
bows as we make way again through the water."

Still the ship lay as immovable as before, her masts and spars, her
black rigging, her white sails and shining hull reflected on the
glass-like surface; at the same time the stranger got closer and closer,
and now her topsails appeared, next her courses.

"She's a big craft, that; twice the size of the _Good Hope_, I opine,"
observed Martin.  "If she's a friend, she may bring us news, but if
she's an enemy we shall have to up stick and run for it."

"Not until we see how many teeth she carries," said the captain, who
overheard the remark.  "Big as she is, the _Good Hope_ may be able to
tackle her."

While we were speaking, our loftier canvas began to swell and flutter,
then the topsails and courses napped against the masts, and cat's-paws
ran playfully over the water.  Presently ripples were seen on all sides,
and every sail swelled out.  The ship gathered way, but instead of
keeping before the wind, the captain ordered the maintopsail to be
backed, and we lay to waiting for the stranger, while our white flag
with a red-cross was run up to the peak.  Hardly had it blown out than
the approaching ship showed her colours, and the design of a crescent
moon proved that she was Turkish, or belonged to Tunis, Tripoli, or some
other of the Barbary States.

"My lads," cried Lancelot, "we shall probably have to fight yonder ship
if she proves what I suppose her to be.  If we capture her we shall
obtain a rich prize.  If she takes us, we shall have our throats cut, or
be carried into slavery."

"We will fight her, and beat her," cried the men, and they gave
utterance to a loud cheer.

"Brace round the main-yard, then," cried the captain, and the ship stood
on close-hauled, ready to tack, so that if possible we might gain the
weather-gauge.  The stranger seeing this altered her course, in order to
prevent our doing what we proposed.  At length, finding that we could
not gain the advantage we wished, we ran under her lee, and Lancelot in
a loud tone ordered her to strike to the Commonwealth of England.

As a haughty refusal was the answer, we opened fire, hoping to knock
away a mast or some of her spars, and thus be able to gain the position
we desired; but the corsair, for such the stranger undoubtedly was,
replied with a broadside of upwards of twenty guns, the shot from which
passing between our masts, did no further damage than cutting away some
of our running rigging.

We now stood on yard-arm to yard-arm, firing our guns as rapidly as they
could be run in and loaded.  Our enemies meantime were not idle, and
their shot came crashing pretty thickly on board.  Two of our men were
killed and others wounded.  But we judged that we were committing more
damage than we received.  Many of our shots went through and through the
corsair's sides, others swept her decks and killed several of her crew.
Still, from her superior size and greater number of guns, it was
probable before we could take her that she might so seriously damage our
little frigate that we might be prevented from prosecuting our object.

Notwithstanding this, Lancelot had no idea of retreating from the fight,
and it only made him more anxious to gain a speedy victory.  It was soon
seen that the corsair was suffering the most in her hull, though her
masts and spars had hitherto escaped.  On the other hand, we had lost
our fore-topmast, and shortly afterwards our fore-yard came down by the
run on deck, killing two of our men.  Still these disasters did not
induce us to relax our efforts.

Our crew, now that they were put on their mettle, showed that they were
sturdy Englishmen, and as our shot went crashing through the side of our
big opponent they cheered again and again, believing that she would soon
be compelled to strike.

Lancelot stood on the after-castle, watching every movement of the
enemy.  At last his voice shouted, "Boarders! be prepared to repel
boarders!" and as he spoke the big ship was seen bearing down, evidently
intending to run alongside.  Our men had hangers and pistols in their
belts.  Those not required to work the guns seized the boarding pikes
and stood ready to spring to that part of the ship's side where the
enemy might board us.

The corsair glided up, and her bow striking ours, she hooked on to our
fore-chains.  The next instant a countless number of swarthy figures
with turbaned heads, bright scymitars flashing in their hands, swarmed
in the rigging of the corsair and came leaping down on our deck.  Led by
Lancelot, Dick and I fighting by his side, we met them with hanger,
pike, and pistol, driving them back over the bulwarks, or cleaving them
from head to chine as they got within reach of our swords.

Those who were about to follow, seeing the rate of the first, held back,
and the next moment the ships separated.  Ere they did so their sides
were brought close to each other, and I saw a man make a tremendous
spring from that of the enemy and grip hold of our bulwarks, to which he
clung desperately, crying out--

"I am an Englishman; save me, save me!"  Several shots were fired at him
by the corsairs; but he escaped, and some of our men rushing to his
rescue hauled him on board.

"To the guns, to the guns!" shouted Lancelot, and we again began to work
our artillery with the same rapidity as before.



CHAPTER NINE.

THE CORSAIR BEATEN OFF.

After the failure of her attempt to board us, the corsair hauled aft her
sheets and shot ahead of the _Good Hope_.  We believing that she
intended to rake us, quickly got headsail on the ship, and by squaring
away the afteryards, and brailing up the mizen, put her before the wind,
all the time blazing away as fast as we could with our guns.  Instead,
however, of passing either astern or ahead of us, which having all her
canvas set, she might easily have done, the corsair kept on a wind, and
presently, when beyond the range of our guns, going about she stood away
to the south-west.  We had beaten off our big assailant, and we might
possibly in a longer contest have compelled her to strike or sent her to
the bottom, but we were in no condition to follow her.  All hands being
required to repair damages, some time passed before we could question
the stranger who had taken refuge on board us.  As he looked sick and
careworn, Lancelot had directed that he should be conducted to the
cabin, where, the ship having at length been put somewhat to rights, I
was able to join him.  Finding that having been properly looked after
and supplied with food he had much recovered, I inquired who he was and
from whence he came.

"My name is Joseph Aylett; I am an Englishman and a sea officer," he
answered.  "I was captured many a long month ago, on board a vessel by a
ship from Tunis, not far from where we now are.  The night was dark, the
sea smooth, a light breeze only filling our sails.  Not a thought of
danger entered our heads.  A bad look-out must have been kept, for,
without warning, suddenly a large ship ran us alongside before we could
fly to our arms or fire a gun, and a whole host of Moors came swarming
down on our decks.  Resistance was useless, though had we been prepared
we might have fought the enemy as you did and beaten her off.  We were
prisoners to the corsairs, and doomed, as we supposed, to a life-long
slavery.  If the lot of us men was hard, that of our female passengers
was harder still.  We had two poor young ladies with a waiting woman and
their father, who had been taken on board against their will and
compelled to accompany us out to these distant seas.  Every respect had
been shown to them by the captain and officers, of whom I was one, and
we had promised to send them home by the first ship we should fall in
with returning to England.

"As no blood had been shed we were better treated by the Moors than we
had expected, the passengers even were allowed to remain in their cabins
without molestation, and I was thankful to find that the young ladies
did not make their appearance.  Still I trembled to think to what
indignities they might be exposed when carried on shore, and perhaps
separated from each other and their father.  Most of our crew were
quickly removed to the corsair, their places being supplied by the
Moors, but I and a few others were left on board to assist in working
the ship.  A calm coming on prevented us from reaching Tunis for a
couple of days.  During the time, I turned in my mind the possibility of
assisting the young ladies, and at length a plan occurred to me, by
adopting which their position might be rendered less perilous than would
otherwise be the case.

"We had had two young boys in the ship, son and nephew of the captain.
The one had died from sickness, the other had fallen overboard and been
drowned.  Their clothes had been left in a chest, and when no one was
looking, I possessed myself of the articles and carried them to their
cabin.  My object was quickly explained, and they at once expressed
their willingness to follow my advice.

"Their father saw its wisdom, and leaving them to don the garments I had
brought, I hastened away that I might not be perceived.  Then telling
the other officer left with me what I had done, we at once agreed as to
the way we should behave to the seeming lads.  We were, should we have
an opportunity, to inform our captain, who was on board the corsair, of
what we had done, and to treat them as if they were his son and nephew."

The feelings with which I listened to the officer's narrative can better
be supposed than expressed.  "Tell me, Mr Aylett, who were those young
ladies of whom you speak?"  I asked, in an agitated voice.

"Their father was, I understand, a Roundhead, Kerridge by name, but
otherwise a well-disposed, amiable gentleman whom I was glad to serve."

"Kerridge!"  I exclaimed, not regarding his remark.  "Tell me, sir, the
name of the vessel on board which you were."

"The _Hector_," he replied.

All doubt vanished from my mind as to whom those unfortunate persons
were.

"Go on, sir, I pray you," I said.  "Tell me what happened next."

"The following morning, while we were some way off Tunis, the old
gentleman accompanied by the two young ladies appeared on deck, but it
would have required a keen eye to have discovered that they were not
what they seemed.  I forthwith went up to one of them and sang out, `Lay
hold of this rope and do as I do; now haul away.'  The other joined us,
and by the way the Moors looked at them, I felt satisfied that their
disguise was not discovered.

"I then spoke to the old woman who attended on them, advising her to
conceal their female attire.

"`I have taken good care of that, sir,' she answered.  `I've thrown some
through a port and packed the rest in my chest; it won't be my fault if
they are found out.'

"Our captors treated us with more civility than I had expected.  I and
the men left were doing our best to navigate the ship, and the Moors
knew that we could not escape.  No sooner, however, had we dropped
anchor and furled sails in the harbour of Tunis, off the strong castle
of Porto Ferino, than several boats came alongside, and we, as well as
the poor passengers being mustered on deck, had our arms lashed behind
us, by which treatment we knew that we were looked upon as slaves.  We
were then carried on shore to the slave market, where we found the rest
of the crew of the _Hector_.  I thought little of my own sufferings
while reflecting on the sad fate to which Mr Kerridge and his young
companions were doomed.  In a short time purchasers appeared, and the
sale of the captives commenced.  From the prices offered it was evident
that the common men were looked upon as of greater value than the
officers, from its being supposed that they were capable of performing
more work.

"Most of the men had been disposed of, when an old Moor in magnificent
costume, and several attendants, entered the bazaar.  The prices of the
men who remained, consisting of the boatswain and his mate, the gunner
and three of his crew, all standing six feet high, with broad shoulders,
had been considerably raised, but no bidders were forthcoming.

"I thought that the Moorish chief would have bought them, but on hearing
the price named he turned away and pointed to Mr Kerridge and the two
boys.  Satisfied with the sum asked, he at once paid it down, and they
were transferred to the care of his black attendants.  On seeing this
the old woman rushed up to him, and by signs entreated that he would
purchase her, amid much laughter, and finding that a very trifling
amount was placed on her, he paid it over.  I was thankful to find that
the whole four were thus purchased by one master, and was wondering what
would become of me, when the old Moor, looking into his purse, seemed to
discover that he had sufficient for the purchase of another slave.
After examining each of the officers, to my great satisfaction he fixed
on me, for I had a fancy that he was likely to prove more kind-hearted
than most of his countrymen, and that I might be of use to the young
ladies and their father.

"Apparently well pleased with his purchases, the old Moor left the
bazaar followed by his attendants, who led us along.  Outside we found
several camels, on which the whole party being mounted, we set off,
following a road towards the interior.  Although our chance of escape
would be greatly lessened by being at a distance from the coast, I was
thankful to get out of the town.  At last we arrived at what looked like
a large farm.  It was the chief's residence, a number of smaller
buildings surrounding it, and at the back large gardens, shaded by fine
trees, with ponds and fountains and flower beds.  The whole was under
the care of a big black fellow, to whose charge Mr Kerridge and I were
committed.  We found that it was intended we should labour in the
garden, while the two seeming boys were destined to attend on the old
chief, and Margaret on his wives and children.  Our lot was thus happier
than we could have expected, still there was the fear that the sex of
the young ladies might be discovered, though, with Margaret's help, we
hoped that this might be avoided.  Of course, from the first Mr
Kerridge and I discussed the possibility of escaping, but, removed as we
were from the coast, that we should succeed appeared almost impossible.

"I was one day labouring as usual, when the old chief came into the
garden, accompanied by another person whom I recognised to be the
captain of the ship which had captured us.

"He looked at me and inquired who I was.  `He is the man who brought the
prize into the harbour,' he observed.  `I am in want of some good seamen
for my new ship, and I will buy him of you, so name your price.'

"I was in hopes that the old chief would refuse, for though I might
possibly, by getting on board ship effect my escape, yet I was unwilling
to leave Mr Kerridge and his daughters to their hard fate.  I found,
however, that the transfer had been made without the option of remaining
being given me, so I was carried off by the captain, and in two days
going on board the vessel he spoke of, I was ordered, under pain of
having my brains blown out, to perform the duty of a lieutenant.  As it
would have been madness to resist, I tried to appear reconciled to my
lot, though I resolved on the first opportunity to make my escape.  It
came sooner than I had expected.

"I confess when I sprang from the side of the corsair that I scarcely
hoped to reach your deck alive."

I need not say into what a state of agitation Mr Aylett's account threw
me.  He repeated it again when Lancelot and Dick came below, and it was
with difficulty that we could attend to the duties of the ship, thinking
of the means to be taken for rescuing those for whom we had searched so
long.  Mr Aylett, however, gave us no hope of success.  "It would be
impossible even to communicate with them," he observed; "the only chance
would be to send a message to their owner, and to offer a large sum for
their ransom."  How this message was to be sent was the question.
Aylett pointed out that were he to go he should be immediately seized as
a deserter and lose his life, while any other Englishman who might set
foot in the country would be carried off to slavery.

Unfortunately, much time must elapse before even the best-formed plan
could be put into execution, for so battered was our ship that it would
be absolutely necessary to go into port and refit before we could
venture on the coast.

It would be difficult to describe our feelings at the delay, yet our
better judgment told us it must be endured.  It was a satisfaction to
know that Audrey and Cicely and Mr Kerridge and poor Margaret were
alive, and from Aylett's account not ill-treated; yet bondage in any
form is hard to bear, and we could not tell what change for the worse in
their circumstances might occur.  Happily the weather remained calm, and
enabled us to get up a fore-yard on which sail could be set, though we
had no spar for a topmast.  The men worked with a will, for they feared
that the Barbary corsair might return, and they had no wish to become
slaves, which would be our lot should she succeed in capturing us.

A moderate breeze springing up from the southward, we were able to steer
a course for Cagliari in the island of Sardinia, one of the few friendly
ports in the Mediterranean, where we could refit and obtain provisions.
We reached it without encountering an enemy, and lost no time in
commencing the necessary repairs.  Still we were in as much doubt as at
first as to what means we should take to rescue our friends.

One thing was certain, that force would not avail.  Should we reach the
coast, our little ship would be blown out of the water by the Tunisian
corsairs; or, should our whole crew land, we should be out to pieces
before we had advanced a mile into the country.

We talked of going on shore in disguise, but our ignorance of Arabic
would betray us.  Our only hope of success would be to negotiate, but
the old Moor would probably demand a far higher ransom than we were able
to pay, and very likely should we sail into the harbour, even with a
flag of truce, the Moors would seize our vessel and help themselves to
everything on board, while we should be carried off as slaves.

We had now been a long time without hearing from England, and were
ignorant of the events taking place nearer home.  Of one thing we felt
certain, that Admiral Blake was not idle.  If work was to be done, he
was doing it.

The _Good Hope_ was nearly ready for sea, but still our plan of
proceeding was as unsettled as before, when a squadron of five ships
with the flag of the Commonwealth flying was seen coming in from the
southward.  As soon as they had anchored, Lancelot and I went on board
the flag-ship, to pay our respects to Commodore Bodley, the commander of
the squadron, and to ask his advice and obtain his assistance in
recovering our friends.  We were invited into his cabin, where we found
several officers collected.  They were unanimous in the opinion that the
attempt to rescue Mr Kerridge and his companions would be madness
without a strong force at our backs, and urged us to abandon the idea of
going alone.  The commander declared that nothing would give him so much
satisfaction as to accompany us with his squadron, but without the
permission of Parliament he could not venture on the undertaking.
Numerous and startling events had taken place since we sailed from
Scilly.  News of the latter had been brought by a large ship which had
joined the squadron from England.  Jersey, though gallantly defended by
Sir George Carteret, had been captured by a fleet under Admiral Blake.
Commodore Young had fallen in with the Dutch fleet, the admiral of which
refusing to lower his flag, the commodore had attacked it, and after a
sharp action had compelled the Dutchmen to strike.

"Those were brave deeds, but the fighting was mere child's play compared
to what took place afterwards," exclaimed Captain Harman, commanding the
_Diamond_, the frigate which had just come out from England.  "It was
thought after the lesson they had received that the Dutch would not
again flaunt their flag in British waters, but before long the Dutch
Admiral, Van Tromp, made his appearance in the Downs with a fleet of
forty-two men-of-war and frigates.  At the time Admiral Blake was
cruising in the _James_ off Eye, when the news reached him that Van
Tromp was off Dover.  He at once made sail.  Upon reaching the Straits
he saw the Dutch fleet standing out to sea.  Suddenly, however, they
tacked and stood towards him.  He had but fifteen ships, but he had sent
to Admiral Bourne to join him with a squadron of eight ships.  They
were, however, not yet in sight; still, our ships were larger, with more
men than were on board the Dutch, so that the disproportion of strength
was not so great as might appear.  Tromp, who led the van in the
_Brederode_, fired into the _James_, when Admiral Blake instantly
ordered his gunners to return the salute.  The fight then became
general.  The _James_ bore the brunt of the action.  Her masts were
knocked away, her hull riddled, and many officers and men were killed.

"Young Robert Blake, who--Vice-Admiral Penn being absent--took command
of the _Triumph_, greatly distinguished himself, succouring his uncle
and contributing much to the success of the day.

"From four o'clock to nightfall the battle raged, when Admiral Bourne
arriving with his squadron turned the scale, and the Dutchmen took to
flight, leaving two ships in our hands, while the rest were more or less
disabled, with two hundred and fifty prisoners and many more killed.

"Admiral Blake thus remained master of the narrow seas, and in less than
a month had captured forty rich prizes from the Dutch, which he sent
into the Thames.  As the Government were well assured that the Dutch
would try to revenge themselves, great preparations were made for
renewing the contest, and in one month one hundred and five vessels
carrying three thousand nine hundred and sixty-one guns were placed
under Admiral Blake's command.

"As sufficient seamen were not to be found, two regiments of foot were
sent on board the fleet.

"The admiral then sailed north to capture a large fleet of Dutch herring
busses, in order to obtain fish for his crews.  No less than six hundred
fell into his hands, but, unwilling to injure the families of the poor
men depending upon them, he contented himself with taking only a small
portion from each buss, and forbidding them again to fish in British
waters.  They were convoyed by twelve Dutch men-of-war, which he
attacked, sinking three and capturing the other nine.

"A portion of the busses he pursued to the Danish coast.  While still in
those northern seas, several of his ships having been sent to the
Orkneys to repair, he received news that Tromp was on his way to attack
him, with a fleet greatly outnumbering his.

"The evening of the 5th of August was drawing on, when as the admiral
was cruising near Fair Isle, about midway between the Orkneys and
Shetlands, he caught sight of the Dutch Fleet.  Instant preparations for
battle were made, but before a gun was fired, the admiral observing that
a heavy gale was coming on, threw out a signal to his ships to prepare
for it.

"Down came the tempest with fearful force.  The seamen instead of having
to fight with mortal foes had now to contend with the raging tempest.
The wind shifted to the north north-west, gaining every instant
additional force.  The sea ran mountains high, filling the air with
sheets of foam, through which one ship could scarcely distinguish the
other as they were tossed and tumbled by the raging waves.  The coming
darkness increased the horrors of the scene.  Admiral Blake collecting
his ships in time, steered for the southward of Shetland, under the
shelter of which he remained secure during the height of the tempest.
No sooner had it abated than he pursued the sorely battered Dutchmen,
capturing many before they escaped into port.  The Dutch, after this,
knowing that Admiral Blake was waiting for them, did not for some time
put again to sea.  While he was cruising in the Channel, expecting their
appearance, news was brought him that the Spaniards were besieging
Dunkirk, but that the French king had sent a fleet for its relief.
Believing it was to the interests of England that it should fall, lest
the Dutch admiral should make it the basis of operations against the
towns on the opposite coast of England, he resolved to go and attack the
French fleet.

"The admiral led the way in the _Resolution_, followed by the
_Sovereign_, the largest of our ships, carrying eleven hundred men and
eighty-eight guns.  He first attacked the _Donadieu_, commanded by a
Knight of Malta, and boarding her, pike in hand, took her in a few
minutes, while the _Sovereign_ with her terrible broadside sank one of
the royal frigates and dismantled five others.

"So desperate was the onslaught, that in a few hours every French ship
had been sunk or captured, the prizes being carried into the Downs.
Scarcely was this victory gained when the Dutch fleet, under Admirals De
Witt and De Ruiter, were sighted off the North Foreland.  Admiral Blake,
without waiting for the rest of his fleet, which were astern,
immediately ordered each ship to engage as she came up, and leading the
way attacked De Witt's line.  Tremendous were the broadsides exchanged.
As night came on the Dutch retreated, having suffered severely, the
masts of many of the ships being shot away and vast numbers of men being
slain.  The next morning the Dutch seemed disposed to renew the bloody
work of the previous day, but their courage failed as the English
admiral bore down, and putting up their helms, they ran for their native
coast, followed by Blake until the shallowness of the water compelled
him to desist from pursuit.  The Dutch, though thus signally defeated,
would, it was thought, again attempt to regain their lost power on the
return of spring, and information was received that their most
celebrated admiral, Van Tromp, would take command of their fleet.  It
was not supposed, however, that it would be ready until the spring.

"No sooner had our ships been dispersed to their winter stations, than
Tromp appeared with a fleet of more than a hundred sail off the Goodwin
Sands.

"Admiral Blake, who was still on board the _Triumph_, on hearing of
this, collected all the ships he could get, and stood out of Dover to
attack the Dutch.  For the whole of that winter's day the two admirals
watched each other, each endeavouring to obtain the weather-gauge.

"A dark and tempestuous night then coming on separated the fleets of
both ships.  The following day the weather moderated.  Still for some
hours the _Triumph_ and Tromp's flag-ship the _Brederode_ kept
manoeuvring, until late in the afternoon the Dutchman made a sudden
attempt to take the English admiral at a disadvantage.  Blake, however,
by suddenly luffing-up crossed the bow of the _Brederode_, followed by
the _Garland_, against which ship the _Brederode_ ran with a tremendous
crash, when both became hotly engaged.  The _Bonaventura_, a trader of
only thirty guns, gallantly came up to the rescue of the _Garland_.
While thus fighting, Admiral Evertz attacked the latter ship, the whole
four being alongside each other, when after a desperate struggle, more
than half the crews of the two English ships being killed and wounded,
they were boarded and carried by the Dutchmen.  Meanwhile the _Triumph,
Vanguard_, and _Victory_ were fighting desperately with twenty of the
enemy's ships, frequently almost surrounded before many of the rest of
the fleet had gone into action.  The men stood bravely to their guns,
although numbers were falling on their decks, and fought their way on,
until the night coming down put an end to the battle.

"The following morning a thick fog prevented the enemy being seen, and
with his shattered fleet Admiral Blake thought it wise to retire up the
Thames to repair damages and collect his ships in readiness again to
encounter the enemy.  Such was the last action which was fought before
we left England," continued the officer; "but I am ashamed to say that
Tromp was seen vauntingly sailing up and down the Channel with a broom
at his mast-head, as if he had swept the English from the sea."



CHAPTER TEN.

A BITTER DISAPPOINTMENT.

The news brought by the _Diamond_ made the officers and crews of the
squadron eager to return to England to avenge the insult put upon the
English flag by Van Tromp.  The crew of the _Good Hope_, Royalists as
many of them had been, shared equally in the feeling.  So would Lancelot
and I, had we not had a more sacred duty to perform; but when we
mentioned our plan to the commodore, he positively forbade our making
the attempt.

"It would be the height of madness to venture in your small ship on the
Barbary coast," he repeated.  "Before you could explain your object, she
would be captured, and you and your crew would be carried into slavery."

For a long time we entreated him in vain to allow us to prosecute our
undertaking.  At last he said--

"I will allow you to go, provided your people are ready to accompany you
after you have clearly explained to them the dangers of the enterprise;
but I again warn you of your certain fate.  My advice is that you should
return to England, make known the sad condition of your own friends, and
numberless other Christian captives in Barbary, and I have little doubt
that as soon as we have thrashed the Dutch, Admiral Blake will be sent
out to compel the corsairs to give up their prisoners."

The only course open to us was to follow the commodore's advice.  Bitter
was our disappointment when our crew declined further to prosecute the
undertaking.

In vain Martin and Dick urged them to fulfil their engagement, supported
by Mr Aylett.

They were ready to fight with a prospect of success, but they had no
desire to be made slaves, or to lose their lives in a hopeless cause,
they answered.

I cannot describe our feelings; we did not possess even the means of
communicating with the captives, and letting them know that we were
making efforts for their liberation.  At last the signal was made to
weigh anchor, and the _Good Hope_, with several ships ordered home, set
sail for England.

Having met a Dutch fleet which we beat off, though they left us sorely
battered, and encountered a fearful storm which well-nigh sent the _Good
Hope_ to the bottom, we at length reached Plymouth in a sinking state.
There the shipwrights pronounced the _Good Hope_ unfit again to go to
sea.

This was the climax of our disappointments, for we had not the means of
obtaining another vessel.

"Cheer up, shipmates!" exclaimed Dick Harvey.  "I'll try and induce my
father to help us.  He will rejoice to see me back safe, and you too,
for he has a sincere regard for you, and is grateful for the service you
rendered him."

Finding that Mr Harvey had gone to London, we repaired thither, taking
Martin and Mr Aylett with us.

Mr Harvey was glad to see his son, and treated Lancelot and me with
great kindness; his means, however, would not allow him, he said, to
purchase a ship, but he advised us to repair to Queensborough, in the
island of Sheppey, where Admiral Blake was busily employed in fitting
out a fleet to attack the Dutch.

That we might not miss the opportunity of joining the fleet, we
immediately went on board a hoy which was going down the river.  We
found the roads crowded with men-of-war, sixty sail at least, beside
frigates, all busily engaged in taking stores, and powder and shot on
board.  The admiral's flag was flying at the mast-head of the _Triumph_.
As we reached her deck, we found him surrounded by officers, to whom he
was issuing orders.  It was some time before we could approach to pay
our respects.  He recognised us at once, and holding out his hand, shook
ours warmly, listening with much interest to the account we gave him of
our adventures.

"You have come in the nick of time," he said.  "We sail to-morrow in
search of the Dutch.  You shall all serve on board.  There's work to be
done, and I have not too many officers or men to do it.  After we have
thrashed the Dutch, I promise you, should my life be spared, to inflict
due chastisement on the Barbary corsairs, and to endeavour to recover
your friends."

More than this we could not expect, and we at once zealously set about
performing the duties assigned to us.  Lancelot and Aylett were
appointed to act as lieutenants, and the admiral directed Dick and me to
remain by him ready to signal his orders to the rest of the fleet, to
carry messages, or to perform any other duties he might require.

On inquiring for his nephew, young Robert Blake, we found that he had
been appointed to command the _Hampshire_, a thirty-four gun ship; but
as no boat could be spared, we were unable to pay him a visit.

Near us lay the _Speaker_, Vice-Admiral Penn, and the _Fairfax_,
Rear-Admiral Lawson, while the other ships were commanded by the best
captains in the navy.

At daybreak next morning we sailed.  Soon after we got round the South
Foreland, a fleet was descried from the mast-head of the _Triumph_,
standing out from the land.  The hearts of all on board beat high, for
we believed that the enemy were in sight.  But the strangers tacking
soon showed English colours, and we found that it was the Plymouth
squadron, which had been sent out to join us.

Thus, with eighty ships, we stood down Channel, with a north-westerly
wind, until we had passed the Isle of Wight.  When nearly up to the Bill
of Portland, the _Triumph_ leading, just as day broke the look-out aloft
shouted--

"A fleet ahead, a fleet ahead! away to the south-west."

There was no doubt now that the Dutch were in sight.  The officer of the
watch ordered me to call the admiral.

With a cheerful countenance he rose, and quickly dressing himself, came
on deck, going to the fore-top, where I accompanied him, that he might
take a perfect survey of the enemy with whom he was about to engage.

On one side of us was the _Speaker_, on the other the _Fairfax_, both
within hail, and about a score of other ships forming our vanguard; but
Admiral Monk, with the main body of the fleet, was still some four or
five miles astern.  Though we could see them, they were not visible to
the Dutch admiral, Van Tromp, who, having under him many other
celebrated captains, was known to command the Dutch fleet.

The sun, which was just rising above the horizon, clearing away the
wintry mist, showed us the whole shining ocean covered with sails, a
large proportion nearest to us being men-of-war, but fully three hundred
others could be counted beyond them, which were supposed to be merchant
vessels.

Undaunted by the overwhelming numbers opposed to him, without waiting
for the rest of the fleet to come up, Admiral Blake pressed on with all
sail to attack the enemy.

The leading ship of the Hollanders was recognised as the _Brederode_,
carrying the flag of Van Tromp.  Close astern of us came the _Speaker_
and the _Fairfax_, the rest of the vanguard not being far behind.

"He hasn't got the broom aloft," whispered Dick to me, as he stood close
to the admiral on the after-castle watching the enemy.  "If he had we
should soon knock it away."

"We shall, I hope, before long knock away his masts," I answered.  "But
see, he is getting closer; before another minute is over the fight will
begin."

We were now so steering, that we should speedily pass along the Dutch
line, which only waited for the _Triumph_ to get within range to open
fire.

Presently a puff of smoke issued from the bows of the _Brederode_, and
almost before the shot aimed at us could strike, the _Triumph_ opened
fire from the whole of her broadside.  The _Speaker_ and the _Fairfax_
followed our example, as did the other ships, receiving in return the
broadside of the entire Dutch fleet.

The Dutch admiral, with the wind free, shot by us, delivering his fire
from one broadside, then tacking under our lee, discharged the other
with tremendous effect, wounding our masts and spars, riddling our
canvas and rigging, and strewing our decks with killed and wounded.

Other Dutch ships imitated the example of their admiral and steered down
upon us, when we should have fared ill from odds so overwhelming, had
not Admiral Penn, followed by two other vessels, come to the rescue and
drawn off the attention of the enemy to themselves.

As we got out from the circle of fire we could better see what was going
on, though all the time we were hotly engaged with one or more of the
enemy.

Dick and I immediately reported every circumstance to the admiral.  Now
the _Assistance_ was boarded by the Dutch.  Now two ships ran alongside
the _Prosperous_, and in spite of the valour of her crew, she was
captured by the enemy.  The _Oak_ shared the same fate, though her
people fought long and bravely.

On my reporting what I had seen to the admiral, "We must go to their
help," he exclaimed, and ordering the master to steer for them, we
furiously attacked the ships to which they had struck.

We had, however, to contend with the rest of the Dutch fleet, and it
appeared to be going hard with us.  In spite, however, of almost
overwhelming odds against us, we and the other ships of the vanguard
fought on.  Often I turned my eyes to the eastward, but could discover
no signs of the advance of the fleet, the thick wreaths of smoke often
preventing me from seeing to any distance.  At length, however.  I saw
the rays of the sun falling on their white canvas, and ship after ship
appeared.  It was the white division, led by General Monk; as they
arrived they gallantly opened their broadsides on the Dutchmen,
increasing the fearful uproar.  On every side the sea appeared covered
with shattered spars and planks.  Now a noble ship was wrapt in flames,
now I caught sight of the tall masts of another sinking beneath the
surface as she and her crew went down to the depths below.

The ship we had rescued was the _Prosperous_, of forty guns, commanded
by Captain Baker; but he and many of his crew lay dead on the deck.
Admiral De Ruiter, who had attacked her, was himself almost surrounded,
and would have been captured had not several of the enemy under Admiral
Evertz come to his rescue.  The _Speaker_, not far off, was meantime
fiercely assaulted, and reduced almost to a wreck.  First her foremast
fell, then her mizen-mast was shot away, and she would have been
captured had not several ships been sent to her assistance.

A Dutch ship within sight, the _Ostrich_, commanded by Captain Krink,
with her rigging cut to pieces and her sails in tatters, fought on until
her masts were shot away by the board, when two of our ships ran
alongside and carried her.  It appearing impossible that she could swim,
her captain with the survivors of his officers and crew were hastily
dragged on board their captors, and the _Ostrich_ was deserted.

On the other side of us another Dutch ship, commanded by Captain De
Port, was attacked by two of ours, and from the way they handled their
guns, in a short time it was very evident that they had reduced her to a
sinking state.

Another brave Hollander, Captain Swers, seeing her condition, hastened
to her relief; but he came too late, and our ship turning on him, ere
long reduced him to the same condition as his countryman.

As I stood on our lofty after-castle I could look down on the fight, and
saw the brave De Port, though lying on the deck desperately wounded,
flourishing his hanger and shouting to his crew to resist.  Before the
English could get on board, down went his ship, carrying him and his men
with her.  Scarcely had she disappeared than Swers' ship was seen to be
sinking, but more fortunate than his brother captain, he and several of
his officers were rescued by their victors.

In other directions we could see that several of the Dutch ships had
struck their flags.  Four of ours had been boarded by the enemy, but
afterwards recaptured.  Among them was the _Sampson_, commanded by
Captain Bullon.  So fearfully had she suffered, he and the greater
portion of his crew having been slain, that the admiral ordered the
remainder to be taken out, and allowed her to drift away.

We ourselves, having endured the brunt of the battle well-nigh from
sunrise to sunset, had also suffered fearfully.  I was standing near the
admiral, when a shot struck down Mr Sparrow, his secretary, by his
side, and our commander, Captain Ball, also fell shortly afterwards.  As
I looked along the decks I could see them covered with dead and wounded,
there being scarcely men left sufficient to carry the latter below, the
survivors having to work on at the guns.

Still the battle raged, and round shot continued tearing along our
decks.  One came whizzing close to me.  Turning at the same moment, I
saw that the admiral was struck.  I sprang forward to save him ere he
fell to the deck.

"It's a mere flesh wound," he replied to my inquiries.  "Let not the men
suppose that I am hurt," and taking a handkerchief, he, with my
assistance, bound it round the wound and resumed his upright position,
cheering on the men as was his wont.

The same shot had torn away part of the buff coat of General Deane, who
had remained on board to aid his old comrade in arms.

I often, as may be supposed, looked out to see how it was faring with my
old friends.  Though many were laid low by their sides, still they
remained unhurt.

The evening of that short winter's day was approaching, when our
admiral, perceiving the shattered condition of a large number of the
enemy's ships, and that no less than eight had been sunk, blown up, or
captured, directed the fastest frigates nearest to us to make all sail
and cut off the fleet of traders, which had been hove to in the distance
during the day.

This done he kept his eagle eye on Tromp, who shortly afterwards was
seen to throw out signals to steer to the south-east, followed by a
considerable portion of his fleet, evidently with the intention of
protecting the traders.

Seeing their admiral apparently retreating, the rest of the fleet took
to hasty flight, on which from every English ship arose a loud shout of
triumph, the crews for the moment forgetting the heavy price at which
the day's victory had been gained.

As we passed in view of the captured ships, the scene which their decks
presented was sufficient to sicken our hearts.  None of the brave
Dutchmen had yielded until the last hope was gone.  Fore and aft lay the
mangled corpses of the slain, while the shattered bulwarks and even the
stumps of the masts were bespattered with blood and gore.

Though a battle was no new event to me, I turned away appalled and
sickened at the sight.  Not only were our crews exhausted, but few of
our ships were in a condition to pursue the enemy, and great was our
fear that they would escape during the night; but as the sun disappeared
beneath the western horizon the wind dropped, and both squadrons lay
becalmed on the smooth ocean.  All the boats which could float were
immediately lowered, and the wounded being placed in them, they were
rowed to shore, where hospitals had been prepared for their reception.
General Deane and others entreated the admiral to land and obtain that
attention to his wound which he was so anxious to afford to others.

"No, no, my friends," he answered, pointing to the lights from the Dutch
ships, which streamed across the wintry sea.  "With the enemy out there,
it is no time for me to seek for rest," and before retiring to his cabin
he issued orders that every effort should be made to prepare the fleet
for another battle on the morrow.

Not a man or boy able to work turned in that night, for all were
employed in stopping shot holes, knotting and splicing rigging, bending
new sails, and repairing the tackles of the guns.

The survivors of the crew of the _Sampson_ came on board the _Triumph_
to assist, but even the united crews scarcely made up the ship's
complement.

As daylight broke, a light breeze enabled us to make sail, and followed
by the whole fleet, the _Triumph_ stood for the enemy, who were steering
under all sail to the eastward.  Soon afterwards we saw ahead a ship
floating which we made out to be Dutch, and as we came up to her, we
perceived that she was the _Ostrich_, the ship of the brave Krink, and
terrible was the spectacle she exhibited.  The masts, shot away by the
board, hung trailing over the side, not a human being stood alive on her
blood-stained decks, which were covered with corpses, lying were they
had fallen when she had been abandoned on the previous day.

There was no time to take her in tow, and we left her afloat on the
ocean, the coffin of her hapless crew; then onward we pressed under
every sail we could carry.  It was not until noon that we were near
enough to open fire, and it was two o'clock, Dungeness being in sight,
before the whole fleet got into action.

To give an account of the battle would be to describe the scenes of the
previous day.  The gallant De Ruiter was well-nigh captured, and would
have been so had not another brave Dutch captain come to his rescue.

Well and courageously did our captains do their duty, imitating the
example of the admiral, and carrying their ships as best they could
alongside the Hollanders.  Five or six of their men-of-war were that
evening taken, besides which many others were fearfully mauled.

Another night came down upon the world of waters, bitterly cold, yet
calm and clear, enabling us to distinguish the lights of the Dutch
ships, now retreating towards Boulogne.

The second night was spent like the first, and a third day found us
still in sight of our unconquered foe.  The wind had shifted to the
southward, preventing their escape, and our frigates being again
despatched with all canvas set, bore down on the richly-laden
merchantmen, while we once more assailed the men-of-war.

In vain Van Tromp fought with courage and desperation, endeavouring
while retreating to protect the merchantmen.  Already in the distance we
could see the frigates playing havoc among the traders, which were
thrown into the wildest confusion, numbers running against each other,
some hauling down their flags, others contriving to escape.

As we pressed on, we could see the other English war ships at length got
among them, and several ran up to us with the intention, it was seen, of
yielding, and thereby delaying us in our pursuit of Van Tromp.

"We are not to be delayed by such a device," exclaimed the admiral.
"Make the signal, Bracewell, to all the ships of war to press on
regardless of the traders.  The frigates will look after them; they can
with ease be picked up when we have finally defeated Van Tromp and his
captains."

Thus we continued the pursuit until again night was approaching, when
Van Tromp with the remnant of his fleet was seen to run in under the
French coast, where he dropped anchor and furled his sails.  Before we
could reach him night came down upon us.

It was a night very different to the last.  The wind was blowing strong
from the southward, threatening every instant to increase into a hard
gale.  Clouds obscured the sky, and darkness and mist shrouded the enemy
from view.

Our fleet dropped anchor to the southward of Cape Grisnez, when every
man who could keep his eyes open was employed in repairing damages.

The pilots asserted that with the wind as it was then blowing from the
north-east, and with the tide as it would be running during the morning,
the Dutch would find it impossible to weather Cape Blanchnez, and we
looked forward eagerly to the next day, in the anticipation of
inflicting a final and crushing blow on our enemy.

Alas! and such is war, though I thought but little at the time of its
sinfulness, its horrors, and the sufferings it entails, not only on the
combatants but on those at home, their wives and families.  That lesson
I was to learn in subsequent years from the son of one of our admirals,
who pointed out to me its iniquity, and how contrary it is to all the
teaching of the Gospel.  Even on lower principles I had already seen the
folly of that war between two Protestant nations, who ought to have
continued to advance each other's commercial prosperity, and more than
all, to resist the machinations of the sworn enemies of the faith.



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

ONCE MORE IN THE MEDITERRANEAN.

When morning broke, gloomy and tempestuous, and we stood out from under
the lee of Cape Grisnez, so as to get a view of the coast, where we had
seen the Dutch anchor, great was our disappointment on discovering that
not a mast was visible.  It was very evident that, favoured by darkness,
they had slipped out with the last of the flood, and were by this time
amid the sandbanks and shallows off the Flushing coast.  The gale
increasing, we now threw out the order for the fleet to bear away and
steer for the Isle of Wight, under the shelter of which we at length
brought up.  On counting our prizes, we found that we had captured no
less than nineteen men-of-war, and not under fifty merchantmen, which
had been carried to different ports.  Three Dutch captains had been
taken prisoners and seven slain.  Even though still suffering from his
wound, the admiral went on shore, not to take a part in the rejoicings
with which our victory was welcomed throughout the land, but to visit
the hospitals and see that the wounded men were properly cared for.  I
accompanied him from ward to ward.  He had a land word for every one,
and many an eye was filled with tears as he thanked them for the noble
way in which they had fought for their country, and the glorious victory
they had won.

Refusing to go home, though he required rest more than any one, he
continued to superintend the repairs of the fleet.

I cannot dwell on the events which followed.  We again sailed in April
with a hundred ships for the Texel, where we drove the Dutch fleet back
into port, capturing fifty dogers.  The admiral hearing that Van Tromp
had gone northward, to convoy a fleet of merchantmen, we sailed in
pursuit with part of the fleet, leaving Admiral Lawson in command of the
larger portion.  Missing the Dutch, we once again steered southward,
when just as June had commenced, a fast frigate brought intelligence
that Van Tromp had appeared in the Downs, and that another fierce battle
was hourly expected between him and the English fleet under Admirals
Penn and Lawson.

Setting all sail, we pressed on before a northerly breeze, when the
sound of firing reached our ears.

Robert Blake in the _Hampshire_ was ahead.  How we envied him!  At
length, some way to the southward of Yarmouth, the two fleets of England
and Holland appeared in sight, hotly engaged.  With every stitch of
canvas set below and aloft, he sailed on into action, firing his
broadsides with terrific effect into the enemy's ships.

We followed, eager to engage, as did the rest of the squadron, and were
soon in the midst of it.  Among the ships we perceived the _James_,
Vice-Admiral Penn, alongside the well-known _Brederode_, with Van
Tromp's flag flying aloft.  The Dutch had endeavoured to board the
_James_, but were now being driven back, with fearful slaughter, and
already scores of British seamen, slashing and cutting with their
hangers, had gained her deck when a terrific explosion was heard.  Up
rose the deck of the Dutch ship, sending into the air the mangled forms
of the boarders with the shivered fragments of planks.

The _James_ cast off from her foe, it being believed that Van Tromp with
his crew were about to founder, but the smoke clearing away, we saw them
rushing up from below, with the admiral at their head.  Before he could
be captured, lowering a boat, he pulled away for a frigate which lay
near, and was seen sailing through his fleet, assuring his followers of
his wonderful escape.

But his efforts and those of his vice-admiral were in vain.  Hard
pressed by our ships, they ere long took to flight, and steered for
Ostend, leaving eleven of their men-of-war in our hands, besides six
sunk, two blown up, and one burnt, and nearly fourteen hundred
prisoners, including a vice-admiral, two rear-admirals, and six
captains.

The battle was won, but so shattered were our ships that, unable to
pursue the enemy, we were compelled to put into harbour.  Not until he
saw his fleet at anchor would Admiral Blake allow himself to be carried
on shore, when he invited me to accompany him to his country house of
Knoll, near Bridgwater.

Dick, I should have said, had been summoned home by his father, but I
bade farewell for a time to Lancelot, as also to old Martin, who, in
spite of his years, preferred remaining on board to taking his ease on
shore.

"Who knows but that the ship may be sent out to the Mediterranean, and
if so, that I may have the chance of hearing of Mistress Audrey and
Margaret, and Mr Kerridge and his daughter?" he said.

"For that reason I ought to remain," I answered; "but the admiral has
promised, should any ship sail for those parts, to let me go in her, and
as he knows everything that takes place, I am not afraid of missing the
chance.

"And very right, Master Ben, that you should take a holiday.  You look
as thin as a line, and I have been afraid that you'd wear yourself out
before your time."

So I set off with my noble patron.  Great was the contrast which his
life in that quiet abode presented to the uproar of battle and tempest,
in which so many of his days had of late been passed.  His board was
frugal.  His mornings were passed among his books or in writing letters,
in which I assisted him; a long walk when his strength was sufficiently
restored through the green fields and woods; his evenings in the society
of a few chosen friends, when his conversation was chiefly on religious
matters or on the affairs of state.  To me the change was beneficial in
the extreme.  I felt refreshed in mind and body, still my thoughts were
often far away with my sister and friends, captives still, as I
believed, in Barbary.

The tranquil existence the admiral was enjoying was greatly disturbed by
the news of another complete victory gained over the Dutch by Admirals
Monk, Penn, and Lawson.  The battle had lasted, like the former, for
well-nigh three days.  It was the last Van Tromp was destined to fight.

On the third day, while still leading on his fleet, a musket ball
entered his heart, and his captain hearing of his death took to flight,
pursued by the victors, who, it is sad to say, had received orders from
Monk to give no quarter, but to destroy every ship and their hapless
crews as they were overtaken.  The captains and their crews, however,
disregarding the sanguinary order, picked up several hundred Dutchmen
from their sinking ships.

I was thankful to get a letter from Lancelot describing the fight,
assuring me of his and Martin's safety.  Ere long we heard of the
arrival of ambassadors from the States General, sueing for peace, when
among other matters they agreed to lower their flag to that of England
whenever it should be seen flying.  I must pass over several months,
when once more Admiral Blake went afloat in command of a fleet of
twenty-four sail, and hoisted his flag on board the _Saint George_, a
new ship of sixty guns and three hundred and fifty men.  Lancelot and
Martin had joined her, and Dick soon after came on board, having
obtained leave from his father once more to go afloat.  We three were
thus again united.  Great was our satisfaction to learn that the
Mediterranean was the ultimate destination of the fleet, though its
other objects, for political reasons, were not made known.

At the same time that we sailed, another still larger fleet went down
Channel under command of Admiral Penn, having General Venables and a
body of troops on board.  Its destination was the West Indies, where it
was to attack the colonies of Spain, while we were to capture and
destroy her fleets on her coasts.  This work, however, was not to
commence for the present.  We having reached the roadstead of Cadiz,
found there a Dutch fleet.  No sooner was the red-cross seen flying from
our mastheads, than the Dutch admiral lowered his flag.

"The Hollanders have learned a lesson they are not in a hurry to
forget," observed the admiral, as he walked the deck, while we came to
an anchor.

A French squadron paid our flag the same respect, while on shore the
admiral was treated with every possible consideration by the Spanish
authorities, as well as by the officials of all nations.

While here we received information that many more vessels had been
captured by the Barbary States.  The Pope and Grand Duke of Tuscany also
had given offence to the Commonwealth, by allowing Prince Rupert to sell
his prizes in their ports.

Those combative monks, the Knights of Malta, also sworn foes to those
they chose to call heretics, had captured several English merchantmen,
while the Duke of Guise was threatening Naples, which State, then in
alliance with England, it was deemed important to protect.

We had work enough thus cut out for us, and as soon as provisions had
been obtained we sailed, and passing through the Straits of Gibraltar
without molestation, we directed our course for Naples.

We there found that the Duke of Guise had taken his departure, but in
what direction we could not discover.  We therefore steered northward
along the coast of Italy until we came off Leghorn.  Dropping anchor,
the admiral sent an envoy to the Duke of Tuscany, demanding redress to
the owners of such vessels as had been sold by the corsair princes.

The Duke hesitated, declaring that he must refer the matter to the Pope
of Rome, at which the admiral, smiling scornfully, observed that "it was
not the Pope's business, and that he would presently have to look out
for himself."

We had just before received intelligence of the alarm our appearance had
caused in Rome.  Monks had been walking in procession, many persons had
been burying their treasures, and the wealthy had fled from the city,
believing that ere long it would be pillaged by the English.

The Grand Duke, not wishing to have Leghorn battered down, yielded to
the demands of our admiral, who then despatched the envoy to the Pope.
In vain that priestly potentate endeavoured to excuse himself, but his
subjects had undoubtedly bought the illegal prizes, and at last, to
avoid the threatened consequences of refusal, he sent the money demanded
on board, twenty thousand pistoles, "which," as the admiral observed,
"was probably the first cash which had ever been transferred from the
Papal coffers to the treasury of England."

This was not the only satisfactory task performed by our admiral.  He
wrote to the Grand Duke, urging him in forcible terms to permit the
English and other Protestants settled in his domains liberty to keep the
Bible in their houses, and to follow their own form of worship, a
privilege which had hitherto been denied them.

While we lay off Leghorn two Algerine cruisers came in with a flag of
truce, bringing a number of English captives liberated by the Dey in
order to appease the wrath of the English.

"It is well," said our admiral, as he received the liberated persons;
"but let the Dey understand while an Englishman remains in bonds I shall
not be content."

Lancelot and I eagerly questioned the freed captives, in the hopes of
possibly gaining information about our friends; but they replied that
the distance between the two States was so great that they were aware
only of the fact that many English were held captive in Tunis.  The
admiral had from the first promised that he would pay that pirate city a
visit, and use every means to discover and liberate our friends.  We now
hoped that he would without delay carry out his intention.  But another
disappointment occurred.  Just as we were about to sail, the plague
brought from the Levant broke out on board, and the admiral himself was
stricken down by the fell disease.  Others suffered, and for many weeks,
until the admiral recovered, we were unable to sail.

Although with the cold of winter the disease disappeared, a storm kept
us still longer at anchor; but at length the wind proving favourable we
sailed for Tunis, and ere long came in sight of its two powerful castles
of Goletta and Porto Ferino.  Bringing up beyond reach of their guns,
the admiral despatched a messenger to the Dey, demanding the release of
all prisoners and the restoration of the numerous prizes lately
captured, or their value if destroyed.

The Dey in return sent an envoy on board the _Saint George_, who, though
he professed to wish for peace, declared that his master would not give
up the prizes.

While negotiations were going on, we sailed close up to the castle of
Porto Ferino, piloted by Lieutenant Aylett, that the admiral might
obtain an idea of its strength.  He then (the envoy being sent on shore)
sailed away with the larger ships, leaving Captain Stayner with the
smaller frigates to watch the entrance of the harbour.

Lancelot and I could not help expressing our disappointment to each
other; we soon found, however, that the admiral had no intention of
abandoning the undertaking, but that it was necessary to obtain
provisions before we commenced operations, our stock having run short.

We now steered for Cagliari in Sardinia, where we lay while vessels were
despatched in all directions to obtain bread, and the ships in harbour
were being refitted.  Our hearts beat high when once more the tall
minarets and domes of the pirate city appeared in sight, for we made no
doubt that the Dey would yield, and that we should ere long recover our
friends.  Again the admiral sent an officer on shore, repeating his
former demands and requesting water for his ships.

The Dey insolently replied that "there stood his castles of Porto Ferino
and Goletta, and until the English could carry them off in their ships,
nothing should they have from him."

"Let the Dey understand that such conduct shall not go unpunished,"
answered the admiral to the barbarian envoy, his anger rising, and his
usually calm eye flashing fire; "God has given water to all His
creatures, and the sin which one commits who refuses it to another is
great indeed."

No sooner had the envoy taken his departure than, to the surprise of
all, the admiral ordered the fleet to sail away from the harbour, not
leaving a ship behind.

"Can the admiral really intend thus to allow the pirates to escape with
impunity?" said Dick to Lancelot and me, as we watched the Moorish city
recede from our eyes.  "I much fear that your relatives will be left to
languish in hopeless captivity."

"Have you sailed so many years with our good commander, and yet can
fancy such a thing?" exclaimed Martin, who overheard the remark.
"Depend upon it, he has his reasons, and I shrewdly guess wishes to
throw the pirates off their guard.  Rest assured before long we shall
get a nearer sight of Tunis than we have hitherto had."

Notwithstanding what Martin said, we steered on until we once more
entered the Bay of Cagliari.  We had good reason, however, to believe
that the admiral intended after all to attack Tunis.  Orders were issued
to all the ships to prepare for some severe work.

At length, after well-nigh a week had passed, we made the signal to
weigh anchor, and the whole fleet before a light northerly breeze stood
under full sail towards the Bay of Tunis.

Just as the evening of the 3rd of April, 1655, was approaching, we stood
into the bay, where we brought up, the now well-known towers and
minarets of Tunis in sight.  The night which came on might be the last
we knew for many a brave fellow.  It was spent in preparation for the
work we were destined to undertake the next day.  Ere the sun rose a gun
from the flag-ship was fired as a signal to the crews of the whole fleet
to offer up prayer to Almighty God for protection and success in the
struggle about to commence in our righteous cause.

It was a solemn time.  Not a sound was heard except the yokes of the
ministers until those of the congregations joined in prayer, or burst
forth into a hymn of praise to the all-powerful One whose protection
they sought.  Then rising from our knees we weighed anchor, the sails
were let fall, the guns run out, and, led by the _Newcastle_, which was
quickly followed by other frigates, the big ships stood into the
harbour.  Of these the _Saint Andrew_ was the first.  Close astern came
the _Plymouth_, and we in the _Saint George_ followed in her wake, not
casting anchor until we had got within musket shot of the batteries, nor
was a shot fired until we had furled sails.

So astonished were the barbarians that their artillery remained mute.
It was not for long; we setting the example, every ship opened with her
broadside, to which the pirates speedily replied, their shot coming
crashing on board through our bulwarks, or tearing their way between our
masts and rigging.  And now commenced the most tremendous din and uproar
our ears had ever heard, the echoes of the guns reverberating among the
crumbling walls and falling houses.

For two hours the battle raged, the sky obscured, and the castles and
batteries almost concealed by the dense masses of smoke, on which a
lurid glare was reflected by the flames belched forth from the guns.
The smoke blown in the faces of the pirates tended to conceal the ships
from their sight, and prevented them aiming their pieces with accuracy.
Not for an instant did our fire slacken, until the guns in the batteries
were dismounted or burst, or the gunners killed or driven from their
post.

Within us, higher up the harbour, lay a squadron of nine stout ships.
While the bombardment was taking place the admiral called Captain Stokes
to his side.

"Now is the time to carry out your plan," he said.

"You, Bracewell and Kerridge, may accompany Captain Stokes," he added.
Each ship had before received an order, at a certain time to send her
long-boat with a picked crew, bringing torches, hand-grenades, and other
combustibles.

They now arrived.  We took our places in the long-boat of the _Saint
George_, and Captain Stokes at once led the way towards the pirate
squadron.

For some time we were concealed by the clouds of smoke from the sight of
our enemies, and only such shot as passed over the ships came near us,
but as we got farther up the harbour we were perceived and assailed by
showers of bullets and round shot, fired at us from the corsairs.  We
pulled on, however, until we were alongside them.  The torches were then
lighted, and without a moment's delay we began to heave them into the
ports of the pirate vessels.

So unexpected was the proceeding, that every ship was set on fire fore
and aft, before the crew on deck had perceived what had occurred, and in
a few moments the flames were bursting through the hatchways and ports,
and encircling the masts and spars.  In vain the pirates made the most
frantic efforts to extinguish the fire, wherever they were seen
labouring with buckets, the broadsides of the frigates which came up to
our assistance drove them away and compelled them to leap overboard.
Now every one of the ships was burning furiously, the flames forming
huge pyramids of fire.

Leaving them to their fate, which all the efforts of the pirates could
not avert, protected by the frigates, we pulled back to the _Saint
George_ to report that the whole of the corsair squadron of nine large
ships was utterly destroyed; and as we rowed away, first one and then
two or three together blew up with a tremendous explosion, scattering
their fragments far and wide, while their keels sank to the bottom of
the harbour.



CHAPTER TWELVE.

THE CAPTIVES RESCUED--BLAKE'S EXPLOITS AND DEATH.

Lancelot and I had formed a plan with Lieutenant Aylett, by which we
deemed that it would be possible, though no more than possible, to
recover our two sisters, Mr Kerridge, and Margaret.  We had asked
permission of the admiral to undertake it.  He pointed out the the
dangers we must encounter.

"Far be it from me ever to refuse my sanction to so righteous an
object," he added; "such volunteers as you can obtain may go, and heaven
prosper you."

When our design was made known on board the _Saint George_ and
_Hampshire_ we might have obtained the whole of the crews of both ships,
as well, indeed, as those of the rest of the fleet.  On consulting
Captain Blake, however, he advised us to take only fifty men; thirty
from the flag-ship and the _Hampshire_, and the remainder from among the
others of the fleet.  We calculated that the whole of the warlike part
of the population of Tunis would have been summoned to the defence of
the castles and batteries.  It was our intention to land while the
action continued about three miles from the city, at a spot with which
Lieutenant Aylett was acquainted, and from thence he know the road to
the residence of the old chief who held our friends captives.  We might,
he believed, reach the house and be back again to the boats before the
Dey could gain intelligence of our expedition, and send any force of
strength sufficient to oppose us.  Dick, of course, was of the party,
and old Martin was as eager as any of the younger men to go; but we
tried to persuade him to remain on board, fearing that the fatigue of
our march would be more than he could endure.  He entreated so hard,
however, to be allowed to take part in the recovery of Mistress Audrey
that we gave way, and with hanger by his side, pistols in his belt, and
a musket over his shoulder, he prepared for the expedition.

While the cannonade was still going forward, we put off in two boats,
which kept on the larboard side of one of the frigates, despatched for
the service, so that we were unseen from the town.  As soon as we had
got near the landing-place, the frigate tacked and hove to, while we,
pulling rapidly in, leaped on shore, and the boats returned to the
frigate, which sailed back as if to rejoin the fleet, but according to
orders was ready again to put about to receive us, should our expedition
prove successful, on our return.

Led by Lieutenant Aylett, we set out on our march at as fast a rate as
our feet could move.  Old Martin kept alongside me, showing the activity
of many a younger man; fearing, however, that his strength would fail, I
begged him to let me carry his musket.

"No, no, Mister Ben," he answered; "I care not, if we get Mistress
Audrey and Margaret back, whether I fall by the way.  I have faced Death
in too many shapes to fear him now."

As to the character of the country through which we passed, I cannot
describe it.  I know that there were palm trees, and prickly pears, and
other strange shrubs, and rocks covered with creepers, and here and
there fields of corn and plantations of fruit trees.  We saw but few
people, and those women, children, or old men, who fled at our approach
to hide themselves.  Onwards we pushed, regardless of enemies who might
be gathering behind--eager only to find the captives and to place them
in our midst, when we were prepared to fight our way back against any
odds which might oppose us.

My heart bounded as if it would choke me when, on gaining the top of a
hill, Lieutenant Aylett exclaimed, pointing ahead--

"There's old Mustapha's house!" but the next instant a sickening feeling
came over me, as I dreaded lest those we hoped to find might have been
removed.  Without halting for an instant, we rushed down the slope, and
so divided our force that we might surround the building.  Orders had
been given that not a shot should be fired lest we should wound our
friends.  In silence we dashed on, until we were close to the gates,
when Lieutenant Aylett cried out--

"Open, open; we come as friends."

The bars were withdrawn, the gate swung back, when instead of a turbaned
Moor, who should we see but old Margaret!  She recognised us at once, as
we grasped hands.

"Where are my father and sister?" exclaimed Lancelot.

"Where is my dear Audrey?"  I cried.

Before she could reply there arose such a shrieking and shouting from
the farther end of the hall that we could scarcely hear her speak.

"Mr Kerridge is there," she at length said, pointing through an opening
into the garden, "and the young ladies are with Mrs Mustapha and the
other women who are making all that hubbub there."

"Run, good Margaret, and tell them we are here," I exclaimed, while
Lancelot, like a dutiful son, rushed out into the garden in search of
his father.

Scarcely had he gone than the door at the other end of the hall opened,
and two young boys, as they seemed, sprang towards us, followed by
Margaret.  The next instant I had Audrey in my arms, and was holding the
hand of Mistress Cicely.  In spite of their disguise and sunburnt
cheeks, I knew them directly, and in a few words explained how we had
come to rescue them.  They were less astonished than we expected, for
the sound of firing had reached their ears, and they guessed that either
the town or pirate ships had been attacked by a foreign squadron.

Margaret was eagerly talking to Martin, whose attention was more
occupied by Audrey than by what she was saying.  The moment his sense of
propriety would allow, coming forward, he took her hand and poured out
the feelings of his heart at having recovered her.

Before many minutes had passed, the clashing of swords and Lancelot's
voice shouting for assistance reached our ears.  Dick, followed by
several of the men, rushed in the direction he had taken, when they
found him defending himself from the attack of a sturdy old Moor and
three attendants, who, however, on seeing the British seamen
approaching, took to flight.  The sailors pursued, and coming up with
the old Moor we were about to cut him down, when a man with a hoe in his
hand sprang out from behind some bushes, exclaiming--

"Spare his life, friends; though he has kept me in slavery, and is
somewhat a hard taskmaster, we should return good for evil."

Then, turning to the old Moor, he made a sign to him that he should
remain quiet while he eagerly questioned the seamen.  Lancelot by this
time had come up, and I saw him spring forward and embrace the stranger,
who was, I had no doubt, his long-lost father, although so greatly
changed that I had not recognised him.

Such he was, but as not a moment could be spared, after a few words had
been exchanged, we were summoned by Lieutenant Aylett to commence our
retreat.  We did not stop to bid farewell to Mustapha and his family,
but placing the two girls with Margaret in our midst, we recommenced our
march.

Not a moment did we halt, for we had many miles to travel before we
could reach the water, while at any instant we might be attacked by
overwhelming numbers of enraged Moors.

My fear was that the rescued ones, unaccustomed to rapid walking, might
sink from fatigue, but the joy of having recovered their liberty kept up
their strength.  The firing had ceased, but as we looked towards the
city we could see a cloud of smoke still hanging over it.  The last
height we had to cross was gained.  The sea lay before us, when one of
the men on our left flank shouted out he saw a large body of Moors
approaching.  We all soon saw them, and it seemed doubtful whether we
could reach the boats before they were upon us, but as we pushed on the
frigate came in view, standing close in with the shore, towards which
her guns were directed.  The Moors were rushing on, and even at that
distance we could hear their savage cries, when the frigate opened fire
upon them, compelling them to beat a retreat, while we hastened down the
hill and gained the boats which had just come in to receive us.  The
frigate was obliged to tack, but before the Moors could return we had
pulled away beyond the range of their muskets.  We were soon on board
the frigate, when our arrival caused no small astonishment as well as
delight, when it was discovered that we had rescued the captives, and
still more so when it was known who they were.

The young ladies, although they had so long worn male attire, were far
from feeling at ease on finding themselves among their countrymen, and
they entreated to be led below, to avoid the gaze of the seamen.

We should, we feared, have great difficulty in procuring suitable
costumes to enable them to appear with satisfaction in public.

"We must apply to the admiral to help us; he can do everything,"
observed Lancelot.  "So don't trouble yourself about the matter,
Cicely."

As we stood towards the fleet we saw the line-of-battle ships getting up
their anchors, and making sail away from the shore, from which not a gun
was now fired.  One of the boats conveyed our party to the _Saint
George_, where the admiral received our friends with the greatest
kindness, highly commending us for the way in which we had achieved our
undertaking.  We found that he intended to inflict no further
chastisement on the Dey of Tunis, it being considered that the
destruction of his fleet, the ruin of his forts, and the vast number of
men who had been slain would induce him to refrain from interfering with
English interests in future.

Running along the coast we visited Tripoli, the Dey of which State,
taught a lesson by the punishment the ruler of Tunis had received,
showed every desire to be on terms of friendship with us.  The fleet
then proceeded up the Adriatic to pay the Venetians a friendly visit.

Space does not permit me to describe that curious canal-intersected
city, where the admiral was received with such honours as are accorded
generally only to royal persons.  Thanks to his generosity, Cicely and
Audrey were here supplied with all the requisite articles of female
dress, which were sent on board the day after our arrival, so that they
were able to go on shore in their proper characters, and view the
wonders of the city.

Leaving the Adriatic we again came off Tunis, when a white flag was seen
flying from the castle of Porto Ferino.  The Dey immediately acceded to
all our demands, and signed a treaty affording advantageous terms to the
English.

Thence we stood across to Malta, where the haughty Templars, having
heard of the way in which our admiral had exacted reparation, not only
from the Grand Duke, but from the Pope himself, at once succumbed and
delivered up the ships and their cargoes of which they had despoiled the
English merchants.  This matter settled, we sailed across to Algiers,
the pirate prince of which State immediately sent a present of cattle on
board the fleet, and undertook to liberate all English captives in his
country at a moderate ransom per head, they being, he observed, the
property of private individuals who had purchased them from others,
while he undertook never again to molest English traders.  To these
terms the admiral consented, and in a few days a whole fleet of boats
came off, bringing numerous liberated slaves, a large portion of whom
had endured the sorrows of captivity for many years, the amount agreed
on being paid over to their late masters.

While we lay close in with the shore, we observed one morning a number
of persons swimming off towards us.  Just as they neared the sides of
the ship, several boats, manned by turbaned Moors, were seen pulling
away in chase of the fugitives, who now, shouting out in Dutch,
entreated us to take them on board.

Our seamen, regardless of the savage war we had lately waged with the
Hollanders, hurried to lower down ropes and to drag the swimmers on
board.  Scarcely were they all on deck than the Algerine boats came
alongside, and the Moors demanded the fugitives, affirming that they
were their own runaway slaves.

"What!" exclaimed Martin, "give up Christians who have once enjoyed the
freedom of an English man-of-war, even though they may be enemies, to
pirates and infidels.  I don't believe any honest man on board will
stand by and see that done.  Just bundle the rascally Turks out of the
ship, and let them know that when once a man steps under our flag he is
free."

The Algerines, with looks of indignation, took their departure, but
before long they returned with a message from the Dey, insisting on the
terms of the new treaty, by which a certain ransom was to be paid for
all liberated captives.  On hearing this, Martin suggested that a
subscription should be raised to pay the ransom of the Dutchmen.  A boat
being sent round from ship to ship, the necessary sum was soon
collected, the admiral himself paying in proportion to his rank.  While
we lay off Algiers we heard of the fearful massacre of the Protestants
of the Vaudois valley by the soldiers of the Duke of Savoy.

The admiral had received instructions from the Protector to threaten the
southern coast of France and Piedmont, should the Duke refuse to make
all the reparation in his power.  The menace had its due effect, and the
Duke gave a pledge not again to interfere with the Christian inhabitants
of those lovely valleys.  We sailed for the Straits of Gibraltar,
calling on the way at Malaga to obtain water and fresh provisions.
While a party of our seamen were on shore at that place, a procession
carrying the Host, with banners and heathenish figures, passed through
the streets, when they not only refused to bow, but mocked and jeered,
at which the mob, urged on by a priest, savagely attacked them and drove
them back to the boats.

On hearing this, the admiral sent a trumpeter on shore demanding, not
that the mob should be punished, but that the priest who had set them on
should be delivered up to him.

The governor replied that such a thing as giving up a Catholic priest to
heretics had never been heard of, and that he had no power in the case.

On this the admiral replied, "If I fail to see that said priest on the
deck of the _Saint George_, before the lapse of three hours, I will burn
your city to the ground."

Within the specified time the priest appeared, when the admiral,
summoning witnesses from both sides, heard the case, and decided that
the seamen were wrong in mocking, even at the superstitious observances
of the natives, but that the priest was also wrong in taking the law
into his own hands, instead of sending on board to complain, when the
seamen would have been properly punished.

Satisfied that the priest had been placed at his mercy, the admiral,
warning him for the future, sent him safely on shore.

On the fleet reaching Cadiz, the admiral finding that he was expected to
remain on the coast of Spain to wait for the Silver fleet, offered Mr
Kerridge and his party a passage home in the _Constant Warwick_, by
which he was sending off despatches.  He at the same time sent Lancelot
and me.

"I intend to let you return with your friends, as you require rest after
the hard work you have gone through," he said in a kind tone.  "You must
also take charge of Martin Shobbrok, whose great age and failing
strength unfits him for active service.  Your names will remain on the
books of the _Saint George_, and should any captures be made, you will
obtain your due share of prize money."

We were both well-nigh overpowered by the admiral's kindness.  Though I
desired to remain with him, I felt unwilling to be again separated from
Audrey as also from Cicely, as between us a warm attachment had sprung
up, though I always before looked on her in the light of a sister.

"But you, sir," I observed, "require rest more than any other person in
the fleet."

The admiral smiled faintly as he replied, "While I have life and my
country requires my services.  I must remain afloat."

Of the homeward voyage I will not speak.

Once more the well-known Start appeared in sight, and the _Constant
Warwick_ steering for Lyme, we went on shore, thankful to heaven for our
safe return to our native land.

Mr Kerridge forthwith set about placing his affairs, which had suffered
from his long absence, in order, Lancelot and I assisting him.

Cicely promised to be mine when the war was over, as I acknowledged;
should the admiral summon me, I could not refuse to go.

My sister Audrey had made the same promise to Lancelot; and the ladies
could not help laughing and archly remarking to one another that
"although they had so long worn a certain pair of garments--considered
the exclusive property of men--they were never again likely to put them
on."

In the course of the summer Admiral Blake returned to England, but there
was no repose for him.  In spite of his illness, and the suffering he
endured from his wound, he was occupied day after day in visiting the
dockyards and arsenals, forwarding the building and repairing of ships,
and other duties of his station.

The Commonwealth was at war with Spain.  Portugal had not fulfilled the
terms of her treaty, especially that clause which secured the English
from the supervision of the diabolical Inquisition, and other nations
were only waiting an opportunity to draw the sword against her.

Another fleet was consequently fitted out, and Admiral Blake, who had
hoisted his flag on board the _Naseby_, sent the summons Lancelot and I
had expected to join her.

The admiral looked pale and ill, yet his spirits were as high as ever,
and as the fleet sailed down Channel, and the white cliffs of Old
England faded from sight, we little thought that he, our beloved chief,
had looked his last on the land he loved so dearly.

I can but give a brief account of the important services rendered during
the long cruise we had now commenced.

Passing down the coast of Portugal, the admiral sent a frigate up the
Tagus, demanding of the King of Portugal a complete fulfilment of the
clauses of the late treaty.  The effect of the message was satisfactory
in the extreme.  Every clause was agreed to, and among others the right
of Englishmen to have Bibles and Protestant books in their houses,
without thereby infringing the laws of the country.

Without stopping we pressed on to Cadiz, looking out for the Silver
fleet, which had not arrived.

We here encountered a fearful storm, by which several of our ships were
damaged and compelled to return home, but yet the Spaniards would not
venture out of port to fight us; and the admiral, leaving Captain
Stayner in the _Speaker_, and six other ships to watch in the bay,
sailed for Malaga, on which town we inflicted condign punishment in
consequence of the assistance the people had afforded to a Genoese and
to a Sicilian galley which had taken part with the Spaniards against us.

On our return to Cadiz, we found to our infinite satisfaction that
Captain Stayner's squadron had fallen in with the first division of the
Silver fleet, and had sunk or captured every galleon containing treasure
of immense value.

In the hopes of encountering the second division, the admiral remained
at sea the whole winter off Cadiz, notwithstanding the heavy gales we
encountered.  We were absent from our post a short time, during which we
came off Algiers to settle a dispute with the Dey, who, not forgetting
the punishment inflicted on Tunis, yielded to our demands without a
shot.

On our return towards the Straits, we relieved Tangiers, then a
Portuguese settlement, closely invested by the Moors, whom our guns
drove away and dispersed.  Returning to Cadiz we again endeavoured, but
in vain, to draw out the Spanish fleet, and while we lay off and on the
harbour, news came from undoubted sources that the second Silver fleet,
hearing of the disaster to the first, was afraid of continuing the
homeward voyage, and had put into Santa Cruz, a port of one of the
Canary Islands.

Thither the admiral resolved to sail with his fleet, now numbering by
arrivals from England about twenty-five large ships and frigates.

On the morning of the 19th of April, 1657, the frigate sent on ahead
brought intelligence that the Silver fleet, together with several
men-of-war and merchant vessels, were at anchor in the bay of Santa
Cruz, guarded by castles and batteries of immense strength.
Notwithstanding, the wind being favourable, the admiral resolved to
attack at once, and the fleet under all sail stood in, Rear-admiral
Stayner, with a portion, being directed to assail the galleons, while
the admiral himself assaulted the batteries.

The Spaniards, their ships formed in a semicircle, believing that our
defeat was certain, opened a tremendous fire, which every British ship
returned with terrible effect to the enemy.

In a few minutes the action became general, equalling in fury any which
we had ever fought.  So well was our artillery plied, that many of the
guns in the castles and batteries were ere long silenced, when, leaving
a few frigates to keep them in play, the admiral sailed on to the
assistance of the gallant Stayner, and now with our united guns we
played havoc among the Spaniards.  Ship after ship was set on fire,
while two proud galleons had already sunk, and by two o'clock of that
eventful day not a mast remained above water--the whole of the Silver
fleet was destroyed.

No sooner was the work performed than the wind shifted to the
south-west, enabling every one of our ships to sail out again, beyond
range of the castle guns.  Not one was missing, and we had only fifty
men killed and a hundred and fifty wounded in this most gallant exploit.

Some of the most damaged ships were sent home, while we returned to the
coast of Spain, where we found the Spaniards eager to make peace in
order to avoid future disasters.

Thence we sailed for Salee, to compel the corsairs of that State to
restore their Christian captives to freedom.  At the appearance of our
red-cross banner the Moorish chief sent an envoy on board, promising to
comply with all the admiral's demands.  In one week every Christian
captive in the country was on board our ships.  Water and such
provisions as we required had been received, and a treaty of peace had
been signed, but, alas! we who were with him saw that the admiral's days
were numbered.

After looking into the Tagus, our canvas was spread for England.
Onwards we pressed under all sail.  Often during the voyage he expressed
the hope that he might see again his native land.  The Lizard was
sighted.  Soon Ram Head was rounded, and an officer from the deck came
into the cabin to announce to us, who with sad hearts were standing
round the death-bed of our beloved chief, that Plymouth itself was in
sight.

Stretching out his arms, he sought to rise, but his strength had failed.
His eyes gazed upwards, his lips murmured a prayer, and then, when,
from the expression of his noble countenance, we saw that his spirit had
fled, even the stoutest-hearted amongst us burst into tears, sobbing
like little children.  Deep, honest grief was marked on the faces of the
vast crowds which had gathered on the shores to welcome the returning
hero.

I need not speak of the magnificent funeral ordered by the Protector to
lay at rest in Westminster Abbey the honoured remains of the greatest of
England's admirals.

Among the mourners stood a grey-haired veteran, leaning on a staff to
support his tottering steps.

"Alack, alack!  Master Ben, it is a sad day, and little did my eyes wish
to see it," murmured Martin.  "I followed his father to the grave, but
little did I expect to outlive his noble son.  I knows, howsumdever,
that it won't be for long, and I am ready, when the Lord wills, to
depart."

Old Martin's words were prophetic.  He returned with Lancelot and I to
Lyme, and in a few days the old sailor took to his bed, from which he
never rose.  We mourned for him sincerely, feeling that we had lost a
true and faithful friend.  But he was spared from witnessing the
degradation of our country.

Three years passed.  The great Protector himself was dead.  His son had
retired into private life, and Charles Stuart came back to gain eternal
infamy by a thousand vile deeds, not the least among which was to order
the body of the great admiral to be exhumed and to be cast into a hole
dug near the back door of one of the prebendaries of the abbey.

After the death of my patron, I for a short time only went to sea.
Dick, who had hitherto remained afloat, came back to be present when
Lancelot and I married, and having himself taken a wife, he settled near
us in the neighbourhood of Lyme.  It was not from lack of my talking of
them if our children were not well versed in the deeds of the great
admiral which I have briefly narrated in the preceding pages.

THE END.





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