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Title: Idonia: A Romance of Old London
Author: Wallis, Arthur F.
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 "Idonia: A Romance of Old London" ***

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[Frontispiece: The great ledger-book--which I now saw turned to an
engine of our salvation.  Chapter XIV]










_Copyright, 1913_,


_All rights reserved_




The irregular pile of buildings known as Petty Wales, of which
considerable mention is made in this book, formerly stood at the
northeast corner of Thames Street.  The chronicler, Stow, writes of
"some large buildings of stone, the ruins whereof do yet remain, but
the first builders and owners of them are worn out of memory.  Some are
of opinion ... that this great stone building was sometime the lodging
appointed for the princes of Wales when they repaired to this city, and
that therefore the street, in that part, is called Petty Wales;" and he
further adds: "The merchants of Burdeaux were licensed to build at the
Vintry, strongly with stone, as may yet be seen, and seemeth old though
oft repaired; much more cause have these buildings in Petty Wales ...
to seem old, which, for many years, to wit, since the galleys left
their course of landing there, hath fallen to ruin."  It appears to
have been let out for many uses, some disreputable; and a certain
Mother Mampudding (of whom one would like to know more) kept a part of
the house for victualling.











The first remembrance I hold of my father is of a dark-suited tall man
of an unchanging gravity on all occasions.  He had, moreover, a manner
of saying "Ay, ay," which I early came to regard as the prologue to
some definite prohibition; as when I asked him (I being then but a
scrubbed boy) for his great sword, to give it to a crippled soldier at
our gate, who had lost his proper weapon in the foreign wars--

"Ay, ay," said my father, nodding his grey head, "so he lost his good
sword, and you would make good the loss with mine.  Ay, 'twas a
generous thought of yours, Denis, surely."

I was for reaching it down forthwith, where it hung by the wall in its
red velvet scabbard, delighted at the pleasure I was to do my bedesman.

"Go to your chamber, boy," said my father in a voice smaller than

"But, sir, the sword!" I cried.

"Ay, the sword," he replied, nodding as before.  "But, go warn Simon
Powell that he look to his poultry-lofts.  And learn wisdom, Denis, for
you have some need of it, in my judgment."

The same temperate behaviour he ever showed; granting little, and that
never to prayers, but sometimes upon good reasoning.  He seemed to have
put by anger as having no occasion for the use of it, anger being
neither buckler nor broadsword, he would say, but Tom Fool's motley.
This calmness of his, I say, it was I first remember, and it was this
too that put a distance between us; so that I grew from boyhood to nigh
manhood, that is until my eighteenth year, without any clear
understanding of what lay concealed behind his mask of quiet.  That he
had a passion for books I soon discovered, and the discovery confirmed
me in the foolish timidity with which I regarded him.  For hours
together would he sit in the little high room beyond the hall, his
beard buried in his ruff, while the men awaited his orders to go about
the harvesting, and would read continuously in his great folios: the
Lives of Plutarch, or Plato, or the Stoick Emperor, or other such
works, until the day was gone and all labour lost.  I have known our
overseer to swear horrid great oaths when he learned that Master Cleeve
had received a new parcel of books by the carrier, crying out that no
estate would sustain the burden of so much learning so ill applied.

Our house stood within a steep combe close under the Brendon hills, and
not far from the Channel, by which ships pass to Bristol, and
outward-bound to the open sea.  Many a time have I stood on a rise of
ground between the Abbey, whence it is said we take our name of Cleeve,
and the hamlet on the cliff above the seashore, gazing out upon the
brave show of ships with all sails set, the mariners hauling at the
ropes or leaning over the sides of their vessels; and wondered what
rich cargo it was they carried from outlandish ports, until a kind of
pity grew in me for my father in his little room with his rumpled ruff
and his Logick and Physick and Ethick, and his carrier's cart at the
door with Ethick and Physick and Logick over again.

At such times Simon Powell was often my companion, a lad of a strange
wild spirit, lately come out of Wales across the Channel, and one I
loved for the tales he had to tell of the admirable things that
happened long since in his country, and indeed, he said, lately too.  I
cannot call to mind the names of the host of princes that filled his
histories, save Arthur's only; but of their doings, and how they talked
familiarly with beasts and birds, and how they exchanged their proper
shapes at will, and how one of them bade his companions cut off his
head and bear it with them to the White Mount in London; which journey
of theirs continued during fourscore years; of all these marvels I have
still the memory, and of Simon Powell's manner of telling them, which
was very earnest, making one earnest who listened to him.

For ordinary teaching, that is, in Latin and divinity and arithmetick,
I was sent to one Mr. Jordan, who lived across the combe, in a sort of
hollow half way up the moor beyond, in a little house of but four
rooms, of which two were filled with books, and his bed stood in one of
them.  The other two rooms I believe he never entered, which were the
kitchen and the bedchamber.  For having dragged his bed, many years
before, into the room where he kept the most of his books, he found it
convenient, as he said, to observe this order ever afterwards; and
being an incredibly idle man, though a great and learned scholar, he
would lie in bed the best part of a summer's day and pluck out book
after book from their shelves, reading them half aloud, and only
interrupting his lecture for extraordinary purposes.  My father paid
him handsomely for my tuition, though I learned less from him than I
might have done from a far less learned man.  He was very old, and the
common talk was that he had been a clerk in the old Abbey before the
King's Commission closed it.  It was therefore strange that he taught
me so little divinity as he did, unless it were that the reading of
many pagan books had somewhat clouded his mind in this particular.  For
I am persuaded that for once he spoke of the Christian faith he spoke a
hundred times of Minerva and Apollo, and the whole rout of Atheistical
Deities which we rightly hold in abhorrence.

My chief occupation, when I was not at school with Mr. Jordan nor on
the hills with Simon, was to go about our estates, which, although they
were not very large, were fair, and on the whole well ordered.  Our
steward, for all his distaste of my father's sedentary habit, had a
reverence for him, and said he was a good master, though he would never
be a wealthy one.

"His worship's brother now," he once said, "who is, I think, one of the
great merchants of London, would make this valley as rich and
prosperous as any the Devon shipmasters have met with beyond the
Western Sea."

I asked him who was my uncle of whom he spoke, and of whom I heard for
the first time.

"'Tis Master Botolph Cleeve," he said.  "But his worship does not see
him this many a year, nor offer him entertainment since they drew upon
each other in the great hall."

"Here, in this house!" I cried, for this was all news to me, and

"In this house it was, indeed, Master Denis," replied the steward,
"while you were a poor babe not yet two year old.  But there be some
things best forgotten," he added quickly, and began to walk towards
where the men were felling an alder tree by the combe-brook.

"Nay, Peter Sprot," I cried out, detaining him, "tell me all now, for
things cannot be forgotten, save they have first been spoken of."

He laughed a little at this boyish argument, but would not consent at
that time.  Indeed, it was near a year afterwards, and when I had
gained some authority about the estate, that he at length did as I

It was a sweet spring morning (I remember) with a heaven full of big
white clouds come up from the westward over Dunkery on a high wind that
bent the saplings and set the branches in the great woods stirring.  We
had gone up the moor, behind Mr. Jordan's house, with the shepherd, to
recover a strayed sheep, which, about an hour before noon, the shepherd
chanced to espy a long way off, dead, and a mob of ravens over her,
buffeted about by the gale.  The shepherd immediately ran to the place,
where he beat off the ravens and afterwards took up the carcase on his
shoulders and went down the combe, leaving us twain together.

"It is not often that he loses any beast," said the steward.  "'Tis a
careful man among the flocks, though among the wenches, not so."

I know not why, but this character of the shepherd put me again in mind
of my uncle Botolph, upon whom I had not thought for a great while.

"Tell me, Peter Sprot," I said, "how it was my father and my uncle came
to fighting."

"Nay, they came not so far as to fight," cried the steward, with a

"But they drew upon each other," said I.

He sat silent for a little, tugging at his rough hair, as was his wont
when he meditated deeply.

After awhile, "You never knew your lady mother," he said, in a deep
voice, "so that my tale must lack for that which should be chief of it.
For to all who knew her, the things which befell seemed a part of her
beauty, or rather to issue from it naturally, though, indeed, they were
very terrible.  Mr. Denis, it is the stream which runs by the old
course bursts the bridges in time of winter, and down the common ways
that trouble ever comes."

"But what trouble was in this," I asked, in the pause he made, "that it
were necessary I should have known my mother to comprehend it?"

"Nay, not the trouble, master," he answered, "for that was manifest to
all.  But 'twas her grace and beauty, and her pretty behaviour, that
none who knew not Madam Rachel your mother, may conjure e'en the shadow

"You were a toward lad at all times," he went on, "and when your
brother was born, though you were scarce turned two, you would be
singing and talking from dawn to dark.  Ah! sir, your father did not
keep his book-room then, but would be in the great chamber aloft, with
you and your lady mother and the nurse, laughing at your new-found
words and ditties, and riding you and fondling you--God save us!--as a
man who had never lived till then.

"'Twas when little Master Hugh came that all changed.  For what must 'a
do, but have down Mr. Botolph from London to stand sponsor to him, at
the christening.  He came, a fine man, larger than his worship, and
with a manner of bending his brow, which methought betokened a
swiftness of comprehension and an impatience of all he found
displeasing.  Indeed, there was little he did not observe, noting it
for correction or betterment.  Though a city man and a merchant, Mr.
Botolph had but to cast an eye over this place, and 'Brother,' said he,
'there be some things here ill done or but indifferent well'; and
showed him that the ricks were all drenched and moulded where they
stood, and bade him build them higher up the slope.  Master Cleeve took
his advice in good part, for they were friends yet.

"But within a little while, I know not how, a shadow fell athwart all.
In the farm, matters went amiss, and the weather which had formerly
been fine became foul, with snow falling, though it was come
Eastertide, and all the lambs sickened.  The maids whispered of Mr.
Botolph, who had never so much as set eyes on my lady till that time
(she having kept her bed to within a week of the christening), that he
had spoken no word since the hour he saw her in, nor scarce once
stirred from his chamber.  His worship, they said, took no heed of this
melancholy in his brother, or rather seemed not to do so, though he
played no longer with you, and had small joy of the infant.  But with
Madam Rachel he sat long in chat, cheering her, and talking of what
should be done in due season, and of how he would remove the state
rooms to the upper floor (as was then generally being done elsewhere),
and would build a noble staircase from the old hall; and of many other
such matters as he had in mind.

"So for a week, and until the eve of the christening, nought could be
called strange, save that Mr. Botolph kept himself apart, and that the
shadow on all men's minds lay cold.  I doubt if any slept that night,
for without the wind was high as now it is, and charged with snow.  We
could hear the beasts snorting in their stalls and the horses
whinnying.  Little do I fear, Master Denis," said the old man, suddenly
breaking off, "but I tell you there was something abroad that night was
not in nature.

"'Twas about midnight that we heard laughter; your lady mother laughing
in her silver voice, which yet had a sort of mockery in it, and his
worship answering her now and then.  After awhile comes he to my room,
where I yet sleep, beyond the armoury.

"'Peter,' he says, 'hast seen my brother Botolph?'

"I told him no, but that I supposed he was in the guest-room down the
long corridor.

"'Madam Cleeve cannot sleep,' says he again, 'thinking that he is out
in the storm, and would have us seek him.'

"I lit a candle at this, for we had spoken in the dark hitherto, and
when it had burned up, I saw his worship dressed and with his boots on.
His sword he held naked in his hand, and with his other hand he would
press upon his brow as one whose mind is dull.  The gale nearly blew
out the candle the while I dressed myself, and again we listened to the
noises without.

"I took a staff from behind the door.

"'Whither shall we go?' he asked me.

"'Surely to his room, first of all,' said I, 'for it is likely that my
lady is deceived.'

"'I think so,' he said gravely, and we went upstairs.

"Without summoning him, Mr. Cleeve opened the doors of his brother's
chamber, and at once started back.

"'He is not within,' he said, in a low voice, and neither of us spoke
nor even moved forward to search the room thoroughly.  It was very
manifest to us that the shadow under which we had been moving for many
days was now to lift; and the certainty that it would lift upon black
terror held us in a sort of trance.

"I am not of a ready wit at most times, Mr. Denis, but somehow without
the use of wit, and almost upon instinct I said: 'Go you again to your
own chamber, master, and if all be well there, be pleased to meet me
below in the great hall,' and with that, hastening away, I left him.

"I ran at once to the stair, which has a window overlooking the base
court; and as I ran methought the sound I had heard before of horses
whinnying, was strangely clear and loud, they being safe in stable long
since and the door shut.  The candle which I still bore just then a
gust of wind extinguished, so that I could scarce find my way to the
window, so black was all, and I so distraught.  But once there, I
needed not to look a second time, for down below in the snow of the
yard stood a great coach with four sturdy hackneys that kicked and
whinny'd to be gone.  'Twas so dark I could distinguish nought else,
yet I continued to stand and stare like a fool until on a sudden I
heard another sound of steel clashing, which sent my blood to my heart,
and a prayer for God's pity to my lips.

"It was in the hall I found them, my master and Mr. Botolph; he cloaked
as for a journey; and beyond, swooning by the fire which had not yet
burned out, but threw a dull light along the floor, Madam Rachel, your

"Not many passes had they made, as I think, when I came between them.
And indeed they did not resist me, for your father turned away at once,
striding across the red floor to my lady, while Mr. Botolph, with just
a sob of breath between his teeth, stole off, and as I suppose by the
coach, which we heard wheel about and clatter up the yard.  I got me to
my cold bed then, Mr. Denis, leaving my master and mistress together.
It was the chill she took that cruel night which became a fever
suddenly, and of that she died, poor lady, and at the same time the
infant died too."

He twitched his rough sheepskin coat about him as he concluded his
tale, for the sky was gathering to a head of tempest, and after a
little while we went down the moor towards the combe where the great
house lay in which I had been born, and where, as I knew, my father at
this moment was sitting solitary over some ancient folio, in the
endless endeavour after that should stead him in his battle with the



It is, I conceive, natural in a young man to use more time than wisdom
in the building of hopes which be little else than dreams, though they
appear then more solid than gross reality.  Thus I, in laying out my
future, saw all as clear as our own park-lands, and where I misliked
anything there I altered, working with a free hand, until the aspect of
my condition was at all points to my taste, and I itched to enter
forthwith into the manhood I had so diligently imagined.

Unwittingly, perhaps, I had allowed Simon Powell's tales of fantasy to
get the mastery of my mind, and in such sort that no prince of all his
mountains ever marched so lightly from adventure to adventure, nor came
off with so much grace and so acclaimed as I.  My life (I told myself)
was to borrow no whit of my father's aversion from the world, which
disposition of his, for all my pity of the cause of it, I could not
find it in my heart to praise.  Alas!  I was but nineteen years of my
age, and pride was strong within me, and the lust of combat.

With Simon himself I consorted less frequently than of old, for I stood
already in the estate of a master; being acknowledged as such by all,
from Peter Sprot himself to the maids who came into the fields for the
gleaning, and courtsey'd to me as I rode between the stooks on my white
mare.  But although I had necessarily become parted from my wild
preceptor, I had, as I say, my mind tutored to dreaming, which but for
Simon might have been dull and content with petty things, whereas it
was with a gay arrogance that I now regarded the ordering of the world,
and held myself ordained a champion to make all well.  For this I
hereby thank Simon Powell with all my heart; and indeed it is a benefit
well-nigh inestimable.  To such a height then had this humour of
errantry gone, that I would snatch at every occasion to gratify it; and
so would ride forth through the gate before the grey Combe Court, and
setting my mare at a gallop, would traverse the lanes athwart which the
level morning sun cast bars of pale gold and the trees their shadows,
and be up on the wide rolling moors or ever the mists were stirring in
the valley or the labourers risen to their tasks.  Many a fancy held my
busy brain at such times, and as I looked backward upon our great
irregular house, which was built, a part of it, in the year of
Agincourt, so quiet it lay amidst its woods and pasture lands that it
seemed a place enchanted, upon which some magician had stolen with a
spell of sleep.  'Twas no home for active men, I said, and laughed as I
turned away and urged my poor jade again onward.  Contempt is very
close to joy in a lad's heart, and his valour rouses (like old Rome) to
the summons of the goose-voice within him.

Some six months had passed since the steward first acquainted me with
the calamity which had made shipwreck of my father's life, when, upon a
memorable, clear, October morning, I rode forth as my custom was,
intending to shape my course towards the little hamlet of Roodwater,
and so by the flats to Dunster.  The orchard-trees about the old Abbey
were rimed with frost, and a keenness in the air lifted me so that I
could have wept or sung indifferently.  The dawn had scarce broke when
I set out, and 'twas not till I had ridden three or four miles that the
smoky redness of the sun showed between the pine stems on a spur of
hill behind me.  My thoughts were all of victory, and in this temper
the events of the time, albeit I am no politician, confirmed me.  For
news had reached us a little since of the disclosure of that horrid
plot of Throgmorton and the two Earls against Her Grace and our most
dear Sovereign, and of how sundry suspected persons of high estate were
arrested and confined.  The Papists everywhere were said to be in great
confusion, for though many, and some said the most part, were loyal
subjects enough, yet the defection and proved villainy of the rest
shook all faith in those that professed still the old religion and
allegiance to the Pope.  The Queen's ships were straitly ordered to
watch the ports, and even as I descended the hill beyond Roodwater to
the seashore, I saw, a little off Watchet Quay, a ship of war riding at
anchor, and a cock-boat pulling away from her side.

Moreover, it was no great while since, by order of Her Majesty's
Council, that notable Bond of Association had been signed for the
better defence of the Queen, my father signing with the rest, as a
chief person of these parts and a magistrate.

I am no politician, as I say, but there is small need of knowledge in
State affairs to make a man love his home; and when a plot of the
magnitude which this of Fr. Throgmorton's had, is brought to light,
why, every man is a politician perforce and a soldier too.

For Queen Mary Stuart, who was now more closely guarded, as indeed was
meet, and who later was to be led to her death, I say nought of her,
for tales be many, and men's minds confused, when it comes to question
of a woman sinning, and that the fairest of them all.  That she was
guilty I suppose no one reasonably doubteth, and obnoxious to peace and
good government, but, when all is said, there is the pity of slaying a
delicate lady in order to the securing ourselves; and such a deed makes
quiet a cowardly thing, and puts a colour of shame on justice herself.

But that business was not come yet by two years and more, and for the
present all our thoughts were of gratitude for our deliverance from the
subtlety of forsworn plotters, and of courage and loyalty and the will
to be feared.

I spurred my mare down the rough lane, and was soon out upon the level
shore of the bay, beyond which lies Dunster in a fold of steep moor,
and the wooded promontory of Minehead further to the west.  The tide
was out as I rode at full gallop along the bow of thin turf which
bounds the coast; while across the reach of sand the little waves
lapped and fretted with a sweet, low sound.

The sun was now risen pretty high, and the fisher-folk were busied here
and there with their nets and tackle as I passed them by.  It was nigh
eight o'clock when I drew rein in Dunster market, before the chief inn
there--a clean place, and of good entertainment.  My purpose was
immediately to break my fast, for I had a fierceness of hunger upon me
by reason of the sharp air and the early hour, and afterwards to visit
a certain sea captain whom I knew to be lodged there, Mr. Jonas Cutts,
of the _Three Lanterns_, one of Her Majesty's ships, though but a small
one; he being a gentleman I had met with upon the occasion of my
father's signing the Bond of Defence.  What my further purpose was, if
indeed 'twere aught but to hear wonders and talk big about the
Spaniards, I cannot now charge my remembrance, but to him I was
determined to go after breakfast and waste an hour before returning

I inquired his lodging out, therefore, over my dish of eggs, but
learned to my disappointment that he had left it suddenly, before
daybreak, to join his ship at Minehead, where it lay.  This
intelligence, little though it affected me, save as it robbed my
idleness of some plea of purpose, I took ill enough, rating my host
like the angry boy I was, and dispraising the closeness of the ward
upon our coasts, though I had formerly praised the same, and indeed had
meant to enlarge with the captain upon this very theme.

In a very sour humour then I departed from the inn, and while my mare
was baiting took a turn about the town.

And so fair did I find all, the high street wide and sweet and the
houses thereon neat and well ordered, the great castle, moreover, on a
mount at the nether end, very fencible and stately builded, that it was
not long ere my spirits rose again, and I thought no more upon Captain
Cutts and his departing.  Methought the countryside had never seemed so
pleasant as now under its web of frost, and the trees a kind of blue of
the colour of silver-work tarnished by age, the sky red behind them
reaching up from grey.  I left the middle part of the town soon and got
into the lanes, where at length I came by chance upon an ancient mill,
which was once, I learned, a monkish mill whither every man had
perforce to bring his grain to be ground.  Now as I stood idly by the
gate of the mill-house I heard voices of men in talk, and, without
further intention, could not but catch some words of their discourse.
It was evident that a bargain was going forward, and that one sold

"Nay," said the one voice, "for this standard of red buckram,
sevenpence and no less, Master Ptolemy."

"Thou puttest me to uncommon great charges, Master Skegs," replied the
other invisible; "what with thy gilding and thy scarlet hoods, and now
this standard of the devil!  Ay, and besides there is that crazy mitre
of Cayphas, which, o' my conscience, is not worth the half a groat."

"'A cost me two shillings not twelvemonth since," cried the first
invisible in a manifest rage, "yet am I willing to sell it thee for one
shilling and ninepence as I have set it down in the bill, where is also
to be found a coat of skins; item, a tabard; item, Herod's crest of
iron; all which I have grossly undervalued.  Ah! there be some," he
interjected, in a whining voice, "there be some that would buy up all
Jewry for a parcel of bawdy, torn ballads.  Art not ashamed, Ptolemy
Philpot, thou a Christian man, to purchase so divine a tragedy for so
mean a sum?"  But the invisible Ptolemy not replying, the invisible
Skegs proceeded:

"Well, thou hast heard my price, master, which is three pounds sixteen
shillings in all, and look you! to avoid all bitterness and to make an
end, I will throw in the parchment beasts of the Deluge for the same."

What manner of cheapening was here I could not conceive, and so (still
chiding my lack of manners) crept through the gate and to a coign of
the mill-house, where I might observe these strange traders in
parchment beasts and red buckram.  And observe them I did, indeed, and
they me at the same instant; which discovery so confused me that I
stood before them first on one foot and then on the other, with no
sense to go or stay, nor to cover my discourtesy with any plausible
excuse.  Howbeit, one, whom I took (and rightly) to be Ptolemy, burst
into laughter at this my detected intrusion, and bade me step forward
and judge betwixt them.  He was a big man, with a child's face for all
that he wore a great beard, and a terrible nose of the colour of the
stone they call agate, it being veined too and marvellous shining.  Yet
his voice was small like a child's, and I saw at once that in any
bargain he was like to get the worse of it.  The other man, whose name
was Skegs, had a woeful pallor, but an undaunted behaviour and a very
fierce eye.  Between them stood the cause of their difference, which
was a sort of wheeled pageant or cart of two stages; the upper being
open and about five feet in breadth, with a painted cloth behind; the
lower room enclosed, and was, I learned, for the convenience and
disposal of the puppet master (this being a puppet-show and the puppets
appearing, as players do, on the stage above).

Coming forward, then, as I was bidden, I very modestly awaited the
argument between Mr. Skegs and Ptolemy, being pleased to be trusted in
so notable a cause.  But it fell out otherwise, for Skegs swore by the
body of St. Rumbold he would have no arbitrament, and that his price
was three pound and sixteen shillings, as he had already said.

"It is a great sum," said Ptolemy, in his piping reed voice.

"How, great?" retorted Skegs, "seeing I sell thee the pageant-car
itself, together with Nicodemus, Pilate, and four stout Torturers,
besides the holy folk, and all their appurtenance.  And were I not at
the gate of the grave myself, I would not part with so much as Joseph's
beard for twice this reckoning."

"He gives you also certain parchment beasts, Mr. Ptolemy," said I, very

"I retract the beasts," cried the pageant master, whose red eyes blazed
terribly, and he danced with vexation of my ruling.

"Look you, now," grumbled Ptolemy, running his great hand through his
beard, "was ever such a fellow!"

"'Tis a part of the Deluge," said Mr. Skegs, "and to bring in beasts
before the judgment-seat of Pilate were against all Scripture.  But
contrariwise, as it toucheth the Interlude of the Deluge, mass! without
those beasts of mine, the cats and dogs too (as the verse goes)--

  "'Otter, fox, fulmart also;
  Hares hopping gaily'

withouten these wherefore was Noah's ark builded, and so great a stir

"But if you be about to die, Master Skegs," I put in, "as you say you
are, of what advantage is this same Deluge to you?"

"Ay, truly," cried Ptolemy, "for thou hast no wife, man, nor any
dependent on thee.  So thou be decently buried, 'tis all one whether I
have the parchment beasts or thou."

"Would you spoil me of my heritage?" cried the pallid man in an
extremity of rage, "and strip me naked before I be come to the grave?
I say thou shalt not have the beasts."

"Wilt thou sell me the Deluge outright?" asked Ptolemy after a silence,
"for I am no hand at this chaffering."

"Ay, for a further fourteen shillings, I will," said Skegs promptly,
"which maketh in all four pounds and ten shillings; and for that, I
give thee Noah, a new figure of wood, and Noah's wife, who truly is
somewhat worsened by usage, but not past mending; Shem also, Ham and
Japhet, stalwart lads all, and their wives corresponding.  An ark there
is, moreover, which was builded in Rye by a shipwright out of battens
and good gummed canvas.  The beasts be all whole, save the weasel, but
that signifieth not.  I have a schedule of them, and the parts of the
players in good scrivener's hand.  All these shalt thou have for a
matter of four pounds thirteen shillings and fourpence."

"Four pounds and ten shillings, Master Skegs," said Ptolemy, dismayed
at this unconscionable addition.

"Said I aught of the ark when I named that price?" asked Skegs
scornfully.  "Wouldst thou haggle with a dying man, Ptolemy Philpot?"

"I will furnish the remainder shillings," I whispered to Ptolemy, who
stood in a maze to answer such imposture as Skegs sought to lay upon
him.  "Strike the bargain, Mr. Ptolemy, and pay when thou hast checked
over the tale of beasts."

[Illustration: The argument between Mr. Skegs & Ptolemy.  Chapter II]

He thanked me like a pleased stripling, and, to be short, purchased all
for the sum named, which, there being seven or eight pieces not found,
and Japhet's leg burst from the pin, methought sufficient, albeit Mr.
Skegs at every turn sought to increase it, or else detract some piece
of note, as Mount Ararat in pasteboard and the dove with a sprig of

"I have forgot the raven," he screamed after us, as at length we went
away with our cartful of miracles.  "'Twas new varnished at Michaelmas,
and there is the cost of the varnish you must repay me, which is
three-pence halfpenny," at which, when we replied not, he ran into the
mill-house in a sort of fury, and as I understood, died there a week
later, muttering upon his "cocks and kites and crows," his

  "Rooks and ravens, many rows;
  Cuckoos, curlews, whoso knows,
  Each one in his kind;"

and putting a price upon each particular fowl, like any poulter in
Cheape.  I never met a man so engrossed in business to so little
purpose, nor one (to do him justice) so little put out of his humour of
acquisition by the near approach of death.  He had bought the mill, so
Ptolemy told me, out of his former profits, knowing nothing of the
miller's trade, but because it was to be got at an advantage.

When we were out of the yard Mr. Philpot again thanked me immoderately
for my aid, which he said he would never forget (and as the event
proved, he did not); and told me moreover that he was bred to the
wax-chandlery, but had left it, having a taste for letters.

"How will this pageant help you any whit the more to study?" I asked

"I shall go about the country," he replied, "and so I doubt not shall
fall in with very famous scholars, who are often to be found where they
be least expected.  Have you ever read Horace now?" he asked me quickly.

I told him, a little.

"When I shall have learned Latin," he said, in his childlike manner, "I
shall do so also, and, indeed, I have bought his Satires already, but
can make little of them.  The Romans must have been a marvellous
learned people," he observed with a sigh, "and 'tis small wonder they
conquered the world."

"Is there any attendance upon these old interludes?" I demanded, as we
passed upward through the town towards my inn, where I was to take out
my mare.

"Why, as to that," he replied something moodily, "I know not certainly
as yet, although I hope so, seeing that my proficiency in the Latin
tongue dependeth upon the popular favour towards them; and, indeed, I
may have been over eager at the bidding, since there doubtless hath
been some decline from the love of such plays that the vulgar was used
to show upon all occasions of their being enacted.  Notwithstanding, I
have a design, as yet unperfected, by which, if I get no hearing for my
mysteries and moralities, I may yet prosper; and that is (to let you
into the secret), to turn this musty Deluge into a modern battle upon
the high seas, with Mr. John Hawkins for Noah--good seamen both; the
figure of Japhet, too, that hath by good fortune lost a leg, might
serve, with but slight alteration, for a veteran tall boatswain, and
Ham with the red beard, would as readily become a master-gunner.  Ay, a
little skill would do all, Mr. Cleeve; and for the Spaniards, why, such
as were necessary to my purpose might be fashioned out of the greater
beasts, without any very notable difference from the original."

I would have questioned him further upon this venture of his, which was
surely as bold as any that Mr. Hawkins had made to the coast of Guinea
or the Indies, had not I at that moment espied our overseer, Peter
Sprot, by the door of the inn, his horse blown and sweating, and
himself sitting stiff with hard riding.  I ran to him at once,
demanding if he sought me, which I knew already was so, and felt a fear
at my heart lest my father was suddenly fallen ill.

"His worship is not ill," replied Peter, "but sore troubled, and sends
for you home without delay."  He cast a hard eye upon Ptolemy Philpot
as he spoke, for he had observed us in company, and being something
strait in matters of religion, held shows and dancing and such-like to
be idolatry and lewd sport.  I have known him break a babe's rattle
that shook it on a Sunday, and quote the Pentateuch in defence of his

"What hath troubled him, Peter?" I asked eagerly, while the ostler
brought out my mare.

"'Tis a letter," he said, and with that shut his mouth, so that I knew
it was vain to inquire further.

Now, as I was managing my beast, that was restive with the cold air,
comes Mr. Ptolemy to my side, and ere I understood his purpose had
thrust up a little parchment-bound book for me to read the title of it,
whispering that he would have read it long since himself, but that
'twas in Latin.

I told him briefly I could not read it then, being in an itch to be
gone; but he still detained me.

"There is one particular word there set down," said he, "that I have
often lighted upon in other books also, which if you would translate
'twould ease me mightily."

"What word is that?" cried I, impatiently.

"It is _Quemadmodum_," said he.

But before I could interpret to him, my mare had scoured away after
Peter Sprot's hackney, and we were a bowshot distant ere I had
recovered my seat.



I found my father sitting as his wont was in the high wainscoted
book-room beyond the hall.  When I entered he looked up from a pile of
papers he had been diligently perusing, and smiled upon me pleasantly.
I was surprised to note the serenity of his brow, having indeed
prepared myself for a worse condition of health in him than Peter Sprot
had allowed.  But whatever trouble he had he laid it by to bid me
good-morrow, and to excuse himself for so hastily summoning me.

"Upon so fine a morning, Denis," he said, "I would not willingly have
cut short your pleasure, and do not so for my own business, which is
simple enough at most times, as a man's should be who hath ever studied
to be quiet."  He paused a small while and cast his eye over an open
book that lay beside him on the table, and I knew it to be the
"Discourses of Epictetus."  A wonder crept into my mind at this, that
while the words of Scripture would oftentimes be in his mouth, his
reading was generally in the heathens, and his way of life more
according to the ancient Stoicks (of whom Mr. Jordan had often
discoursed), than to the precepts of the Church of England of which he
nevertheless professed himself a member.  Such fancies however being
foreign to the matter, I put them from me, expecting the sequel
anxiously, and in the meantime assuring my father that I would never
have gone thus upon my twilight journey had I known he required me;
which was indeed true, and he acknowledged it handsomely.

"I know where to trust and where to doubt, Denis," he said, in his
quiet voice, "and I know likewise that where trust is broken there
stands occasion for lenity, though the using of it is hard at all
times; severity being more aptly come by, and by the vulgar commended."

I knew by this that his thoughts had slid from the present into that
sad channel of the past, and marvelled that he could speak so of
forgiveness where his honour had been engaged, and, in the event, my
mother's life forfeit.

"'Twas well that Peter had some inkling of your road," my father went
on and in a livelier manner, "else we might still be seeking you o'er
half Exmoor.  But tell me what it was led you to Dunster, lad?"  And he
looked at me methought somewhat keenly as he spoke.

"I had hoped to meet with Captain Cutts," I returned boldly, though I
was conscious of the emptiness of the reason, "and to hear of the
chance of war."

To my surprise my father appeared relieved by my answer, but presently
explained himself.

"It had lain upon me that you were perhaps courting some lass there,
Denis; not that I should censure you therefor, but having need of you
myself awhile, I would not suddenly interfere with that is proper
enough for you to consider of at your age.  Well, so much for
prologue," he broke off swiftly, and betook himself again to scanning
the papers on his desk.

"So Mr. Cutts having avoided the town before you arrived," he said
presently, glancing up, "the direct purpose of your errand failed."

I was about to reply when he added: "You have little cause to grieve in
that, Denis, seeing his commission is cancelled and he to be
apprehended for malpractices of which I have here the note before me."

"I would all such villains were hanged as soon as apprehended," cried
I, in a sudden rage at this disclosed infamy; but my father put up his
hand peremptorily to stop me.

"Hast ever heard of thine uncle Botolph?" he asked me presently, and
with the same piercing glance as before.

I told him yes, and that Peter Sprot had related some part of his story
to me.

"That was not altogether well," replied my father with a little
movement of his brows, "and not what I looked for from his discretion."
He set his ruff even and took up his pen as if to write, but sat so
awhile without either writing or speaking.

"I forced him to tell me," I said, for I thought he blamed Peter for
what was truly my own curiosity.

"Tut," said my father, "'tis a small matter, and being known saves many
words to no purpose.  I have received a letter from him," he said.

This amazed me, for I had thought him (I know not wherefore) to be dead.

"Why, where is he?" I asked.

"He is in the Tower," said my father.

At these words my blood leapt to my heart in a tumult, for I knew well
enough what this meant, and that in such a time of danger as now we
lived in, when all was suspicion and betrayal, few men that had once
come into that foul dungeon ever left it living.  Until now I had found
frequent matter for rejoicing in this very process and summary action
of the Council, being confident that 'twas for the better security of
the realm, and deriding them that would have accorded an open trial to
all, and the means of a man's clearing himself at the law.  But now
that our own family stood thus impeached, I had nothing to say, nor
aught to think, but upon the terror of it and the disgrace to our house
and ancient name.

"What is the cause?" I inquired, when I had something recovered myself;
but my lips were dry and my face (I am assured) as white as paper.

"He has had licence granted to write," returned my father; "which is a
mark of favour not oftentimes bestowed.  He saith he is well treated,
though for the rest his chamber is but a mean cold one and evil
smelling, and the ward upon him strict, especially when he is had in to
the Constable for examination, which hath been several times renewed.
As for the cause, there would appear by his letter to be little enough,
save such as gathers from a host of fears, and from his known devotion
to my Lord of Arundel; which indeed was the direct occasion of his
apprehension.  Of a former intimacy with that witless Somerville
moreover, he is accused, and the mere supposition of it goes hard
against him; but upon this head he hath strong hope of his exculpation,
having only, as he writes, once met with the man, and then in a public
place without any the least concealment."

He rose from his seat as he ended speaking, and took a turn or two
about the room, his hands clasped behind his back and his head bent in
thought.  I suppose that never before had I observed my father with so
close attention, having ever held him (as I have said) in a kind of
negligent contempt for his mild and bookish ways.  But now I perceived
a nobility of bearing in him which took me strangely, and withal, a
secret strength.  His scholar's indifference he had quite cast aside,
and appeared full of purpose, shrewdly weighing each circumstance of
his brother's case, and examining the good and bad in it, in order to
the more directly assist him.  This unused activity of his so engaged
me that for awhile I could do nought but follow him with my eyes, until
the vision of my father always thus (as thus he might have been, save
for that great weight of sorrow warping him from his natural aptness),
this vision, I say, so moved me in his favour and against my uncle
Botolph, who was surely now receiving chastisement for his former sin,
that I could not contain myself.

"But, sir," I cried, "why should you concern yourself for a man that
hath wronged you so basely as my uncle did?  And besides that," I
bethought myself to add in order to strengthen our excuse for leaving
him alone, "besides that, there is the unseemliness of your aiding a
man that the Queen's Majesty is offended withal.  It is very probable
he is implicated in these treasons, who hath brought such treason into
household affairs, and the likelier still for his denying it."

Something in my father's countenance stayed me there, else would I have
spoken more; for there is nought so easy as to persuade ourselves 'tis
right to do nothing in a dangerous pass.

"Ay, ay," said my father slowly, "then your advice is to leave my
brother to perish."

"You are a magistrate, sir," I stammered, "and it surely behoves you to
assist in the arrest of traitors."

"Ay, and so it doth, Denis," said he, nodding, "but then, this
gentleman being already arrested, it seems that my poor assistance
therein is rendered in advance superfluous."

"But you are minded to help him, sir," said I, "so far as you be able."

"Leaving that aside," he said, "let us return to your former argument,
which was, as I remember, that because he had once badly wronged me so
I should not now concern myself on his behalf.  Why then do you
afterwards bring me in as a magistrate, when you have so potently
addressed my prejudice as a man?  Nay, Denis," he said, smiling at my
discomfiture, "you speak for my ease, I know well, and I thank you; but
this may not be.  Nor, indeed, does your uncle desire it to be as you
understand the case.  He prays me here," he struck the open letter
lightly, "to gain him fair trial, if such a thing may be come by, and
by it he is content to be judged.  Were it I, who stood in this
jeopardy, Denis, and not he, would you deny me your offices?"

His grave manner and contempt of the revenge I had held out to him,
wrought upon me so that I could not answer him, but going forward I
knelt and kissed his hand.  I think now he was the best man I ever
knew, and one that, without hesitancy, ever chose the untainted course.

We fell to business after that with a will; my father opening with me
upon many matters of procedure at the law, in which I was surprised to
find him perfect, and giving me his reasons for supposing that my uncle
Botolph would be suffered to stand upon his delivery in open court.  He
read me his whole letter too, which I had to confess was very simply
written and bore the impress of truth.

"You see that he speaks here of councillors to defend him, which is
very needful," my father continued, "though the emoluments of that
office be higher than I had hoped to find.  He writes that a less sum
than five hundred pounds would avail little, which, if it include the
necessary expenses of seeking out witnesses (of whom he names one in
Flanders who must be brought home), if it include this, I say, and the
procuring of documents, that may well be, though I am sorry to find
justice sold at so high a rate."

"But, sir, can you employ so much money in this affair?" I asked, for
it sounded an infinite treasure to me.

"I think so," he replied, "though I would it were not so urgent.  I
must however encumber the estate for awhile, Denis; as indeed hath been
done before by my grandfather, at the time the Scriptures were printed
in English secretly, three score years since; which work he was bold to
forward, and spared neither pains nor moneys therein.  But that
concerns thee not, Denis," he broke off, "and for the getting together
of the ransom, for so it is, I will engage to effect it.  Only your
part will be to convey it to London and deliver it to my brother's
agent and good friend, one Mr. John Skene, an attorney of Serjeants
Inn, in Fleet Street, who will use it, as your uncle believes, and I
doubt not, to advantage."

Our conference ended, and my doubts resolved of what it stood me to do,
I went away, leaving my father still in his book-room, who had letters
to write to Exeter, about the business of the loan.  The discourse I
had had, and especially the peril imminent over one so near in blood to
us, had excited my imagination greatly; so that 'twas a long while ere
I could examine each particular soberly, as a merchant doth a bill of
goods, and, as it were, piece by piece.  Everything hung confused in my
brain like a wrack of cloud, which, parting, discloses now one thing
and now another but nothing clearly, nor whole.  Immersed in such
considerations I had wandered a great way, and unawares had begun to
mount the steep hill that stands above the Combe Court, and now gazed
down through the trees upon our house, which I had once likened to a
place enchanted, so evenly did all go there and with the regularity of
one breathing in his sleep.  The old gabled tower, with the great bell
in the clochard or belfry beside it, I had oftentimes laughed at with
Simon Powell, as at a thing of more pretence than usage; the alarm not
having been rung therefrom for nigh a hundred years.  But now the sight
of it brought tears to my eyes for the very peace which clung about it.
For well I knew that I was come at the end of my time of quiet and was
to adventure forth of my old home into regions full as strange and
difficult as any of Simon's uncouth caves and elvish forests.  And I
thought of that hero of his which bade them cut off his head and bear
it, still sweet, to the White Mount in London, whither I was now going.

Then I looked again down upon the yard before the house, with its fine
brick gate upon the road, and behind the house, upon the base court
with the offices beside it, and the stables beyond, and beyond again
the green bottom of the combe and the cattle feeding.  It was a fair
estate, and one that no man would encumber in a trivial cause.  But
once before it had been so laid under bond, which was, as my father
said, in order to the advancement of the glory of God; and now, the
second time 'twas so to be for no better purpose than the enlargement
of a traitor.  A youth argues narrowly perforce, being hedged between
lack of experience and lack of charity, but the force of his
conclusion, for this very want, I suppose, hath an honest vigour in it
which is beyond the competence of many an elder man.  So I, being
persuaded of my uncle Botolph's villainy, there on that hillside swore
that, albeit I would faithfully labour for his release, as I was bound
to do, yet I would thereafter bring him to book with a vengeance.  And
how I kept my word you shall see.



In the middle of the month of November our business was pretty well
settled, and the day of my departure ordained, which was to be upon the
Wednesday following, there being a friend of my father's about to
journey to Devizes on that day, with whom it was intended I should so
far travel.  To be honest, it was with some feelings of concern that I
expected this my first entrance into the world, where I was to meet
with a sort of folk I had no knowledge of: learned attorneys of the
Inns, Judges of the Queen's Bench (if we ever got so far); and that
gaunt figure of the Constable with the keys of the Tower at his girdle
and a constant lamentation of prisoners in his ear.  My duty at the
beginning was plain enough, my father having often rehearsed the same
to me; as that I should take lodging in Fetter Lane at the house of one
Malt, a hosier, who should use me honestly, he being a West-Country
man.  Thereafter and as soon as my convenience would allow, I was to
betake myself to a certain goldsmith of repute, whose shop stood hard
by the new Burse in Cornhill, and there receive gold in exchange for
the letters I bore, the which my father had gotten upon articles signed
in Exeter.  So provided, I was to put myself under the direction and
command of Mr. Skene, who would employ me as his occasions required.

The last day of my home-keeping broke in fair weather, of which I was
glad, for I purposed to spend it in bidding farewell to my neighbours
and the persons I especially loved about the estate.

And first I sought my old companion Simon, whom I found by the brook,
in a place where there be otters, some ten or twelve furlongs up the
valley that descends into our combe from the westward, where the trees
grow very thickly and in summer there is a pleasant shade.  Thither we
had often gone together in times past, and there I shrewdly guessed I
should discover him.

I came upon him crouched beside the stream among the withered bracken,
his cross-bow laid aside with which he had been fowling, and a great
dead pheasant cock in the grass at his feet.  I hailed him twice before
he heard me, when he rose at once and spreading his sheepskin mantle
for me (the air being very bitter) he told me he had thought I forgot

"I should not have gone without bidding thee farewell, Simon," I
replied, for his reproach stung me the more that I had neglected him of
late, and knew not wherefore.  "I have been deeply engaged about this
journey to London, and the hours I have been idle my mind hath been too
anxious for chat.  'Tis an employment I mislike, Simon," I said
earnestly, "and one I do not see to the end of."

"When does his worship think it will be concluded?" asked Simon Powell.

"Oh, these things depend upon their law-terms," I said, willing to let
him perceive my knowledge in such affairs.  "The Bench doth not try
causes unremittingly."

"Ay," he said, nodding, the while he regarded me with a strange look of
the eyes, "but subject to the judges' convenience, I would have said.
Will you return by Lady Day, think you?"

"Why, that is four months distant," I cried, for his question had
something startled me.  "I shall surely be safe home in half that time."

But Simon shook his head.  "Since I first heard of this errand," he
said, "the thought of it hath never left me, sleeping nor waking, Mr.
Denis.  And as there be some things that every man may tell certainly
that they will happen, as the seasons to pass in due order, and the red
deer to come down to the pools in the evening, and the sun to set and
rise; so there be other things, though not in the rule of nature, which
a man may yet discern that hath bent his will that way.  So did that
knight who, in a dream, saw strange and way-worn men bringing tribute
to Arthur from the Islands of Greece, which was not then, but was
certainly to be, and now in these days we shall see the same; ay,
Arthur receiving tribute from all the nations and not Greece only, and
everywhere triumphing."

I sat suspended in amaze while he spoke thus, his dark eyes sparkling
and his fingers straitly interlaced.  It was a mood he had never before
revealed, though he had often, as I have said, told me tales of his old
heroes and wizards, but not with this stress of fervour and (as it
were) prophetic sureness.  Such power as he manifested in his words
surely confounds distinctions of rank and erases the badge of servant.
For there may be no mastery over them that can convince our souls, as
this Welsh lad convinced mine.

When he spoke again, it was with some shame in his voice, as though he
had betrayed his secret mind and feared my laughter; which had he known
it, he need by no means have done.

"My meaning is," he went on, "that I feel this adventure which you set
about will continue longer than you imagine, Mr. Denis, though I have
no proof thereof; at least, none I may put into words; and you may well
deride the notion.  Notwithstanding, it sticks with me that you will
not return to the Combe Court until many a strange accident shall have
befallen, of which we be now ignorant."

"Why, however long it be, Simon," said I cheerily, for I wished to
lighten our conversation somewhat, "you may rest well-assured of my
remembrance of you, and that though I wander as far forth as to those
same Islands of Greece you spake of, yet shall my affections draw me
home again."

He leapt to his feet at that, with an apparent gladness that warmed me
marvellously, though 'twas but a frolic sentence I had made, and spoken
smiling.  So do we often probe into the future with a jest, and, as it
were, speak the fool's prologue to our own tragedy.

Our leaving-taking ended in laughter, then, as perhaps 'tis best, and
Simon remaining to shoot fowl, I left him to bid farewell to old Peter
Sprot; who gave me good advice in the matter of stage-plays and the
choice of food, which I promised, so far as I was able, to observe.

"For other things," he said, "I leave you to your conscience, master,
as in the end, 'tis necessary.  But this I say: that I have small love
of players, and such as, not content with the condition and quality
they were born to, must needs pretend to principalities and lordships,
which they sustain for a weary hour or so, and after return, like the
swine of the Scripture, to their wallowing in the mire."

"I think there is no probability of my playing any prince's part,
Peter," quoth I.

"Nor of seeing it played neither, I hope," he replied, "for though we
be all sinners, yet we sinners that witness neither stage-plays nor
pageants, Mr. Denis, be hugely better than they that do; and mark me,
sir, it shall so appear hereafter."

This I knew to be a thrust at Mr. Ptolemy and his puppet-show no less
than at the public theatre in Finsbury Fields, which had then been set
up about seven or eight years.

"Eat beef and mutton, Mr. Denis," he proceeded gravely, "and fish also.
There is a good market for fish in London, though they that vend there
be something inclined to blasphemy; I know not wherefore; but strange
dishes eschew, and particularly those of the French.  For the French
nation is given up to Popery, dancing and the compounding of
unwholesome foods.  Nay, this late commerce of our nobility with the
effeminate and godless Frenchmen hath gone far to the ruin of both
stomach and religion that should be simply fed, the one by such meats
as I have named, mutton (eaten with onions, Mr. Denis), beef, and in
cold weather, pork; the other by sound doctrine and preaching of the
Word."  He paused awhile, and I thought had concluded his admonition;
when he seemed to recover something notable.  "There be divers ways of
dressing a capon, Mr. Denis," said he, "of which the goodwife hath a
particular knowledge, as also of the sauces to be served therewith.
These I will, by your leave, procure to be transcribed for your use,
and so, God keep you."

I thanked him heartily for his good will, although I secretly admired
the fashion in which he interlarded sound doctrine with strong meats.
But every man out of the abundance of his heart speaketh, and I knew
that Peter dealt with me lovingly in meddling virtue with appetite in
so singular a manner.  Now, when I had parted from the honest steward,
I considered with myself whom next I should salute, and determined that
it should be the maidservants and Ursula the cook; and to this end
returned toward the house, but unwillingly, for I have ever been
abashed in the presence of womenfolk, at least within doors, where a
man is at a disadvantage but they at their ease.  And so greatly did
this distaste and backwardness grow upon me that I hung about the gate
of the yard behind the house, fearing to venture forward, and as it
were into a den of mocking lions, until I should more perfectly have
rehearsed my farewell speeches.  It was then (as I always believe) that
a door was opened unto me of that Providence which rules our motions,
and a way of escape made plain; the which door was my old pedagogue,
Mr. Jordan, whom I suddenly remembered (though I had scarce thought
upon him these two years) and whom I had such a compelling inclination
to visit as sent the maids out of my head, and my heels out of the yard
on the instant.  When I bade good-bye to Ursula and the rest on the
morrow, I was in the open air and mounted, so that I cared not a jot
for their laughter (which indeed soon led into tears; my own being
pretty near to my eyes too), but made them a great speech as full of
ego as a schoolboy's first lesson in Latin.

Up the hill towards Mr. Jordan's house I climbed therefore to beg his
blessing upon me, and to thank him for all he had done for me in times
past.  It was near dinner-time by this, and I conceived the kindness of
cooking the old scholar's meal for him as he lay in bed; for I doubted
not to find him so, as I had rarely found him otherwise than on his
pallet with a great folio or two by way of counterpane, and a Plato's
"Republick" to his pillow.  There had been a little snow fallen in the
night which still clung upon the uplands, and when I had ascended to
his dwelling I found a drift about the door and the thatched eaves
considerably laden upon the weather side of them with snow.  But what
surprised me mightily was certain vestiges before the threshold, and
regularly iterated, as by a sentinel's marchings to and fro.  My
bewilderment increased moreover, or rather gave place to alarm when I
chanced to observe beside the window of that I knew for his study (to
wit the room he slept in), a great halberd resting, and a military
steel cap.  Then did I painfully call to mind those former pursuits of
my poor old preceptor when (as was reported) he had been a novice in
the old Abbey of Cleeve, and knowing the present ill estimation in
which the Papists everywhere were held, I understood that Mr. Jordan
had not escaped the vigilance of the Commission, but was now under
arrest, or at least that his liberty was so encroached on as made it
mere confinement within his own house.  Greatly distressed for this
opinion, I approached near to the little window, of which the shutter
(there being no glass) hung on the jar, and timorously gazed within.
The bed stood empty, and no one that I could see was in the chamber.
This confirmed me in my suspicion, and at the same time emboldened me
to demand admittance.  Some hope that my witness (or rather the weight
of our authority) would bestead him, moved me to this course, and I
knocked loudly on the door.  Hardly had I done so, when I heard from
within a horrid clatter of arms upon the flags as of a man falling in a
scuffle, and so without more ado I lifted the latch and sprang into the
house.  Mr. Jordan lay at full length along the floor.

"Who hath done this, Master?" I cried out in a sudden gust of wrath,
for he was an old man and a reverend.  He lifted himself painfully,
regarding me as he did so with an inscrutable mildness which I took to
be of despair.  His assailant was evidently fled in the meanwhile, or
perhaps went to summon a posse comitatus for my tutor's apprehension.

"I will undertake your enlargement," said I, and indeed felt myself
strong enough to dispose of a whole sergeant's guard unaided.

"I am beholden to you, young master," replied Mr. Jordan, "and now that
I look more closely, I take you to be that degenerate young Denis
Cleeve, to whom Syntax and Accidence were wont to be as felloes in the
wheel of Ixion, and Prosody a very stone of Sisyphus.  Art thou not he,
my son?"

"I am Denis Cleeve," I answered impatiently, "but I think my lack of
Latin concerns us not now, when we are in danger of the law."

"Ah! thou hast come into some scrape," he said, sitting up on the
stones, and gathering up his knees.  "Such as thou art, was the
Telamonian Ajax, whom Homer represents as brave enough, though in
learning but a fool.  Why, what hast thou done, little Ajax, that thou
hast wantonly forfeited the protection of the laws?  But be brief in
the telling, since I sit here in some discomfort, having entangled a
great sword in my legs and fallen something heavily, which in a man of
my years and weight is as if Troy herself fell; a catastrophe
lamentable even to the gods."

At this I could not contain my laughter, partly for the mistake into
which he had been led that I feared a danger which was in truth his
own, and partly for the accident of the sword which had tripped him up
thus headlong; but more than either for the tragi-comick simile he had
used in comparing himself in his downfall with the ancient city of Troy.

"To return to my first question," I said as soon as I had settled my
countenance.  "Who hath set upon you? and whither has he fled?"

"None hath set upon me, young sir," he replied sadly, "and ergo, we
need search for no fugitive.  I had armed myself, and the harness
encumbering me (as indeed I have had little occasion for its use these
forty years), I fell, in the manner you saw.  And had not nature folded
me in certain kindly wrappages of flesh above the common, my frame had
been all broken and disjointed by this lapsus, which even now hath left
me monstrous sore."

I lifted him to his feet, though with some difficulty, for it was true
that nature had dealt liberally with him in the matter of flesh; and
having set him in a chair, I asked him how it was he came thus
accoutred, since it was not (as he affirmed) to withstand any

"Why, 'tis in order to molest others, numskull!" he cried, making as if
to pass upon me with his recovered weapon.  "And for withstanding, 'tis
to withstand the Queen's enemies, and affront them that pretend
annoyance to her Grace's peace.  I am the scholar in arms, boy! the
clerk to be feared.  I am Sapientia Furens, and wisdom in the camp.
Furthermore I am, though a poor professor of the Catholick Faith, yet
one that detests the malignity of such as would establish that faith
again by force of arms.  It is by way of protest therefore, and in the
vigour of loyalty, that I buckle on this, alas! too narrow panoply; and
when I should be setting towards my grave, go forth upon my first

"You are taking service in the Queen's army, Mr. Jordan?" I stammered,
for the prospect of it was hardly to be credited.

"If she will receive it, yea," he returned, with a melancholy
determination.  "And if she reject me as that I am too far declined
from juvenility, I will crave at the least a pair of drums, having
served some apprenticeship to parchment, Denis, so that I could
doubtless sound a tuck upon occasion."

Beneath his apparent levity I could discern the hardness of his
purpose, and honoured him extremely, knowing the rigour which attendeth
service in the field and the conversation (offensive to a scholar) of
the gross and ignorant soldiery.  While I thus pondered his resolution,
he proceeded quietly in his work of scouring certain antique pieces and
notched blades that he told me had been his father's; and when they
responded to his liking he would lunge and parry with them according to
some theoretick rule he had, the which I suspected to have been drawn
from the precepts of a Gothick sergeant, at the Sack of Rome.  His
pallid broad countenance was reddened by this exercise, and an
alertness so grew upon his former unwieldy motions that I admired him
for the recovery of the better part of youth, although he must at that
time have passed his three score years and ten.  And ever and anon as
he scoured or smote, he would utter some tag of Latin apposite to the
occasion (at least I suppose so) and seemed to gather a secret comfort
from the allusion.  I have never encountered with a man so little
moulded to the age he lived in, nor so independent of its customary
usages.  His words were, as I have said, generally spoken in the dead
languages, while his features were rather formed upon the model of
those divines that flourished half a century since, and are now but
seldom met with in any.  I have seen a picture of the Archbishop and
Lord Chancellor, Warham, which greatly resembled Mr. Jordan, and
especially in the heavy eyelids and the lines of sadness about the
mouth.  On ordinary occasion my old tutor wore moreover a close-fitting
cap of black velvet such as Master Warham wore also, cut square over
the ears and set low upon the brow.

I have drawn his character somewhat tediously perhaps, but it is
because he has become in my imagination a sort of symbol and gigantic
figure that stands between my old life and my new.  When I look back
upon my boyhood there is Mr. Jordan a-sprawl on his bed amid a host of
books, and when the prospect of my early manhood opens it is half
obliterated by his genial bulk.

I learned to my satisfaction that he purposed to depart on the morrow
for London, where also he hoped to pass muster into some company of the
Queen's troops.  His delight, I think, was equal to my own, when I told
him that I was bound thither likewise, and we accordingly parted until
daybreak with mutual encouragements and good will.



I awoke long before dawn on that memorable Wednesday which was to set a
term to my pleasant and not altogether idle life in the Combe.  Yet
early as I had awakened, my father preceded me, and coming into my
attic chamber where I had always slept in the tower, sat down by my
bedside, fully dressed, while I was still rubbing the sleep out of my
eyes.  What passed betwixt us in that still hour I may not recount, but
let it suffice that it left me weeping.  There be words spoken
sometimes that have the effect and impress of a passage of time, so
potently do they dissever us from the past, leading us into a sudden
knowledge which by time only is generally acquired, and that painfully.
Such an experience it was mine to gain then, so that my boyish follies
and the ignorant counterfeits which make up a boy's wisdom fell away
the while my father discoursed gravely of this and that, and I
marvelled how I could ever have held such stock of vain opinions.
Alas! for my presumption, and alas! too, that opinions as vain may
beset a man full as closely as a boy; and follies the more indecent
that they be wrought without ignorance.

One thing I find it in my heart to speak of, because it exemplifies my
father's forbearance, though at a cost which he would well have spared.
My uncle's name having been made mention of between us, my thoughts
flew from him to the mother I had never known, and in a luckless hour I
demanded whether my father had not any picture of her, that I might
carry her image clear in my mind.  His brow clouded as I begged this
favour, and rising from his seat, he went to the window, where he
seemed about to draw aside the shutters that closed it, but desisted.
I could have bitten my tongue out for my imprudence, but could think of
no words to recover or mitigate it and so sat still, gazing upon his
tall figure all dim in the twilight, and wishing for my life that he
would refuse my request.

But he did not.  For with a strong motion he suddenly flung back the
shutters, letting in the grey light, and turned upon me with a smile.

"Why, that is a natural thing to desire, Denis," he said, "and one I
ought to have thought to do without your asking."  He put his hand into
the bosom of his doublet as he spoke, so that I certainly knew he had
worn her picture all these years against his heart.  He plucked out
presently a little case of green leather clasped with silver, and oval
in shape, and, having first detached it from the silver chain by which
it was secured, he laid it in my hands and straightway left the room.

'Twas a face very pale limned, in which there yet appeared each
minutest feature, hue, and lock of hair even, so ingeniously was all
done.  Behind the face was a foil of plain blue to show it off; and so
exact and perfect as the thing was, it lay in my palm no bigger than a
crown piece.  I examined it closely.  There was a kind of pride in the
eyes which looked at you direct, and the eyebrows descended a little
inwards towards the nose, as one sees them sometimes in a man that
brooks not to be crossed, but seldom in a girl.  Her mouth and chin
were small and shapely, yet otherwise of no particular account.  I
judged it to be the picture of one that saw swiftly and without fear,
and moreover that the mere sight of things, and a quick apprehension of
them, determined her actions.  Somehow so (methought) looked that
scrupulous Saint that doubted his Lord without proof of vision; whereat
calling to mind his tardy and so great repentance, I felt a catch of
hope that my mother repented likewise, and by her repentance was

My father entering then, I gave up the locket, which he took from me
quietly, saying it was by an Exeter youth that had since gone to Court
and painted many notable persons there; one N. Hillyard, whose father
had been High Sheriff of Exeter twenty years since, his mother being a
London woman named Laurence Wall, and that the lady's father had been a
goldsmith; moreover (which was singular) 'twas to one of the same
family (I think a son) that I was directed to present my letters of
exchange.  The hour then drawing towards the time I was to meet with my
father's friend, and there being many things to be attended to, I
dressed hastily and was soon ready below, where I found my father
again, and Sprot, in the great hall, with my clothes and other
necessaries, which they bestowed in two or three deerskin wallets that
lay open on the floor.  These were to go forward by the carrier, who
undertook to deliver them as far as to Devizes, whence I was to hire
such means of carriage as seemed advisable, whether by sumpter-beasts
or waggon, for the rest of my journey.

A little after, and when I had taken breakfast, we heard a noise of
horses in the forecourt, and knew it for Sir Matthew Juke, of
Roodwater, my companion, and his retinue.  My father went at once to
the door and invited him in, but he would not dismount, he said,
thinking indeed 'twas already time to set forward.  He spoke in a quick
petulant fashion and was (as I since discovered) in a considerable
trepidation upon certain rumours of thieves in the wild country betwixt
Taunton and Glastonbury, the which greatly daunted him.  He wore a
cuirass over his doublet, and carried his sword loose in the scabbard,
while his men bore their pieces in their hands openly.  A wain with his
goods in, that followed, had an especial guard; though they seemed to
be but mere patches spared from the farm, and I was assured, would have
dropped their calivers and fled at the first onslaught.

I was soon horsed, with a dozen hands to help, and a ring of women
beyond, admiring and weeping and bidding me God speed; to whom I
addressed myself, as I have said, with as much gratitude as little
modesty; being strangely excited by the circumstance and noise which
attended our departure.  I had a pair of great pistols in the holsters
of my saddle which I could scarce forbear to flourish in either hand,
and the sword at my belt delighted me no less, it being the first I had
yet worn.

"'Tis the one you would have given to the cheat," my father had told me
as he tightened my belt-strap.  "But give it to none now, Denis, nor
draw it not, save in defence of yourself (as I pray God you need draw
it seldom), and of such as, but for you, be defenceless."

At our parting, I bent at a sign, when he kissed me, and I him, and so
set forward with our train.  A great shout followed us, and at the
hedge-end stood Simon Powell, his bonnet in his hand, which he waved as
we went by, crying out a deal of Welsh (having forgot the Queen's
English altogether, he told me afterwards), and in so shrill a voice as
set the knight's horse capering and himself in a rage of blasphemy.

We fell in with Mr. Jordan, whom I had almost feared had given over his
enterprise, some mile or so distant, at a smith's in a little village
we passed through, where he was having his armour eased about the
middle, and a basket hilt put upon his sword.

"Who is this fellow?" asked Sir Matthew testily, when I hailed and
accosted him.

"It is my old preceptor, sir," said I, "who is coming with us, if he
have your leave."

"Hast heard of any robbers by the way, Doctor?" inquired the knight at
that, and I saw he was marvellous glad of this increase in his

"I hear of nought else," replied the scholar sturdily, while the other
turned very pale.  But continuing, the scholar said: "Seeing that in a
treatise I wrote awhile since and caused to be printed, there is a
notable paragraph hath been bodily seized upon by a beggarly student of
Leyden, and impudently exhibited to the world as his own.  Heard you
ever such?  Robbers quotha?  How of my labour, and inquiry into the
nature of the lost digamma----"

"Hold!" cried Sir Matthew.  "I see we talk athwart.  This lost thing or
person of yours (for I understand no whit of what it may be) is nothing
to the purpose.  I spoke of robbers on the highway, villains and

"Of them I reck little," said Mr. Jordan coolly, "seeing I have no
purse to be cut."

"They are dangerous nevertheless," said the other loftily.

"For which reason you go sufficiently attended," muttered the scholar,
with a cursory eye backward upon the knight's warlike following; and
with that we all fell, although for different causes, into an uniform
silence.  At length, being come to the top of a hill up which we had
ascended painfully for near the half of an hour, and especially the
waggons found it hard to overcome, we stood out upon an open and
circular piece of ground, bordered about by noble great beech trees,
but itself clear save for the sweet grass that covered it; and the turf
being dry and the air refreshing after our late labour, we were glad to
dismount there and rest awhile.

Sir Matthew ordered one of his men to fetch cooked meat and two bottles
of wine from the cart, and showed himself very generous in inviting us
to join him at this repast.

"I have always gone provided in these matters," he told us as we sat
together thus, "since I went upon my first voyage to the Baltic, being
but a boy then, although accounted a strong one."  (I know not
wherefore; for he must ever have been little, and his back not above
two hands' breadth.)  "Howbeit," he continued, "we had the ill luck to
be cast away upon the Hebrides, the weather being very tempestuous and
our ship not seaworthy; so that about the fourth day it broke in pieces
utterly.  I held to a piece of the keel," he said, looking anxiously
from one to the other as his memory or invention helped him to these
particulars, "upon which, too, clung our purser, whom I did my best to
comfort in this our common and marvellous peril.  How we got to shore I
never understood, but we did, although half dead, and the purser

"Since which time," said Mr. Jordan, pausing in the conveyance to his
mouth of a great piece of a fowl's wing, "you have, as you say, gone
provided against the repetition of such accidents, even upon the dry

"And wisely, sir, as I think," added Sir Matthew.

"Was there then no food to be had in Scotland?" asked Mr. Jordan simply.

"Not where we landed, in the Hebrides," replied the knight tartly.  "As
to the rest of that country I know nothing, save that 'tis a poor
starved foggy place, and the people savage, half naked and inclining to
Presbytery, which is a form of religion I abhor, and to any that
professeth the same I am ready to prove it wholly erroneous and false."

The knight's tale seeming likely to digress into theology, we ended our
dinner hastily without more words; albeit from time to time later, it
was evident that Sir Matthew's thoughts were still upon shipping and
the sea; so that scarce an accident we met with but he found in it
occasion for casting us naked on the Hebrides, or drowning us in the

We had halted, I say, upon a considerable eminence, and the ground
falling away in our front very steeply, the view thence was of an
unparalleled breadth and variety.  For stretched at our very feet, as
it seemed, lay a fair and fertile champaign diversified here and there
with woodland and open heath.  Beyond the vale rose the wild and
untracked downs all dark and clouded; and to the left hand (as we
stood) the bar of the Quantock Hills.  Surely a man must travel far who
would behold a land more pleasant than this sweet vale of Taunton; nay,
were he to do so, as indeed the exiled Israelites found pleasanter
waters in Babylon than they had left in Jewry, yet must he needs (as
they did) weep at the remembrance of it; for there is no beauty
ascendeth to the height of that a man's own country hath--I mean at
least if it be the West Country, as mine is.

We continued our progress, going through two or three hamlets where the
old folk and children stood about the doors to watch us pass, for we
were a notable spectacle, and Sir Matthew Juke a stern figure in the
van; travelling thus without any great fatigue, for we kept at a foot's
pace on account of the waggon, and of Mr. Jordan also, who had no
horse.  I frequently besought him to ride my own mare, but he would not
until we were within sight of the great belfry tower of St. Mary's
Church in Taunton, when he consented, being indeed pretty faint by
that, and thanked me handsomely out of Æsop.

In Taunton we dined, and there too I hired a beast for the scholar
because (to speak the truth) I could not bear to be parted any longer
from my holsters with the new pistols in.  No adventure befell us
worthy recording, or rather nothing of such magnitude as Sir Matthew's
shipwreck which I have above set down, until we reached Glastonbury,
where we were to lie that night.

On the morrow we departed early, observing still the same order, save
that we rode more closely before the baggage upon a persistent report
in the inn of a horrid robbery with murder on the Frome road: which
town lay in our way to Devizes.  Even the Baltic dried up at this, and
we kept a pretty close look-out as we crossed the flat marsh lands
thereabout; and once Juke shot off his piece suddenly upon some alarm,
but with so trembling and ill an aim that Mr. Jordan's high crowned hat
(that he still wore) was riddled through the brim, and a verse of
Ovid's which was in his mouth, cut off smartly at the cæsura.  Matter
of ridicule though this were, I had been alert to note some other
circumstance of more gravity (as I conceived) though I spoke not of it
then; the cause of my anxiety being indeed too near for open conference
thereupon.  For I had, by accident, observed certain becks and glances
to pass between two of the fellows of our guard; the one of whom, a
pikeman (by name Warren), trudged beside the cart wherein were laid up
the knight's goods, and his fellow in the plot (to call it as I feared
it) was the elder of the two horsemen that wore the knight's livery and
were particularly engaged in his defence.  After two or three such
furtive signals run up, as it were, and answered betwixt these twain, I
could be in no further doubt of their purpose, but studied what to do,
should they fall upon us suddenly.  That their main design was to seize
upon the contents of the waggon that was by all supposed valuable, I
made sure; but what I could not yet guess was the degree of complicity
or indifference in which the rest of our company stood towards the
projected assault.  I conceived them to be chiefly cowards, however,
and resolved therefore, if I might, to enlist their aid upon the first
advantage: for cowards ever succeed to the party that rises dominant,
and protest their loyalty loudest when 'tis most to be questioned.

Because I was a boy, I suppose, but at all events very impudently, my
conspirators took small pains to hide their deliberations from my eyes,
having first assured themselves that neither Juke nor the scholar had
any cognizance of their doings.  And this disdain of me it was that
brought matters to a head; for I could no longer brook it, but,
wheeling my horse about, I faced them both, and drawing a pistol from
my holster shouted: "Halt, sirs! here be traitors amongst us."

I never saw men so immediately fall into confusion as did all of them,
but chiefly the rearward, that, every man of them, fled hither and
thither with little squealing pitiful cries; some running beneath the
waggon or behind it; others leaping off the causeway amidst the fenny
ooze and peat-bogs that it wends through in these parts, where they
were fain to shelter themselves in the grasses and filthy holes that
everywhere there abound.  I caught a sight of Sir Matthew, on the
instant, exceedingly white, and his sword half drawn; but he then
losing a stirrup (as he told me afterwards he did) was borne from the
conflict unwillingly a great way down the road ere he could recover
himself.  Only the younger serving man, whose name was Jenning, and Mr.
Jordan, retained their courages, and both came at once to my
assistance, which in truth was not too soon.  For the footman (that is
the villain with the pike) ran in under my guard and dealt me a keen
thrust into the thigh which sore troubled although it did not unhorse
me.  I returned upon him with my pistol, discharging it close to his
body, and hurt him in the shoulder, as I knew, because he dropped his
pike and clapped his hand there, grinning at me the while like a dog.

Just then I heard the click of a snaphance, and perceived that the
caliver that Jenning carried had hung fire; and following upon this, a
great laughter from the elder man, whose name was Day, a hard-favoured
fellow, having a wicked pursed mouth and little dull green eyes.

"Shouldst 'a looked to thy priming, Master Jenning," he called out
mockingly; by which I saw that he had tampered with the poor man's
piece while we lay at the inn in Glastonbury; and this much said, he
raised his own piece and fired directly at him, who fell at once all
huddled upon his horse's neck, stark dead.  Before I could draw forth
my second pistol, Mr. Jordan had rid forward very boldly, though armed
but with his antique broadsword, and laid about him with good swinging
blows, the one of which happening upon his opponent's mare, it cut into
her cheek with a great gash, at the same time bursting the rein and
headstall, to the end she was quite unmanageable, and despite of Day's
furious restraint (who, to do him credit, would have continued the
contest, two to one), charged away at a great pace, carrying him with
her along the road until they were fairly out of sight.

When I had satisfied myself that the villain would certainly not
return, I drew my sword and looked about for his companion, the
pikeman, whom I had wounded; but whether he had crept into the
concealment of the high bog grass, as the most part of the guard had
done, or else had gone backward down the road, I could not get any
certainty; and Sir Matthew who now rode up said he had not gone that
way, else he would assuredly have met and slain him, which, seeing that
the man was disabled, is likely; and so I gave over the search.

It cost us some pains to rally our forces, but in the end we did, Mr.
Jordan persuading them very cogently with his great sword wherever he
found them: he having groped for the digamma in stranger places, he
said, and worn away the better part of his life in the prosecution of
things more hard to come by than this, our bog-shotten escort.

We reverently bestowed the body of poor Jenning upon the stuff in the
waggon, and with heavy hearts (though not without some thrill of
victory in mine) set onward again towards Frome and Devizes, which last
place the knight was now in a fever to attain to before sundown.

"I think I have not been in such jeopardy," he said, "since I suffered
shipwreck off the barren coast of the Hebrides, as I related to you

"The dangers would be about upon an equality," quoth Mr. Jordan.

Nothing occurred to renew our fears nor to cause us to assume a posture
of defence for the remainder of our passage; the only accident any way
memorable being that through some mischance we got into the town of
Devizes at the wrong end of it, and were diligently proceeding quite
contrary to our purposed direction before we discovered our error.  I
set this down because I have so done since also (in spite of clear
information received), and have therefore cause to regard Devizes as
something extraordinary in the approaches thereto, although Sir
Matthew, to whom I spoke of it, said that such divergences were common
enough at sea, where a man might set his course for the Baltic and
fetch up off the Hebrides, or indeed the devil knew where.



I leave you to imagine whether Sir Matthew made much or little of our
adventure in the marshes, and of the part he took therein, when, having
parted from us, he found himself free to relate the same privately to
his family; they having preceded him (without any escort at all) to his
new great mansion in Devizes.  Upon our part, we, that is Mr. Jordan
and I, having inquired out the Inn to which my chattels had been
already carried, took up our lodging there for the night, being pretty
well fatigued (and I wounded too) so that of all things we desired
rest.  Nevertheless my old schoolmaster would by no means suffer me to
go to bed until he had procured me a surgeon, who bound up my thigh and
took his fee without any word good or bad; afterwards going himself
into the kitchen (I mean Mr. Jordan did) in order to my more careful
attendance, so that the host his daughter brought me up of her best,
and called me poor child, though I was older than she by half a year.

Now, I learned next morning that Mr. Jordan at his supper had put so
heroical a construction upon our exploit as transformed us into men
above nature almost, and I loathed to descend into the common room
where all the ostlers and maids would be gaping after us for a pair of
paladins.  Mr. Jordan took the prospect of such adulation very coolly,
saying that the wise man was he that nothing moved; but for all that I
saw he liked it, and indeed he had been at considerable pains to
prepare the ovation he now affected to despise.  However, it so fell
out that when at length we descended amongst the people of the Inn, our
arrival quite failed of applause, and that for the simplest, although a
tragical, reason.

For it appeared that when, on the yesternight, Sir Matthew, having
discharged his baggage-wain and bestowed his goods and valuable stuff
within the house, had gone to bed, it being then about midnight and all
quiet, comes there, lurking through the dark night, that villain
serving-man Day, whose late defeat had nothing distracted him from his
hopes of plunder.  With his poniard he cuts out a panel of the postern
door, and privily entering thereby, goes rummaging through the house
from loft to cellar, cutting and wasting what he could not carry off,
but for the money, of which he found good store, and sundry gold
ornaments thereto that were my lady Juke's, he fills his doublet full
of them, as is proved upon him, said the teller, beyond dispute.

"But then," proceeded the man, who now held our whole company
expectant, "even as he was about to steal away by the way he had come,
he heard a little grating noise, as of a weapon which one struck
against some impediment, close beside him in the dark where he was; and
supposing this to be the knight who had unluckily heard him, he drew
boldly upon him with his sword.  The other thrust out upon the instant,
and a horrid conflict ensued, the men coming to grips shortly and
stabbing out of all rule.  At length the serving-man, whose name is
Day, dealt his adversary his death-blow and prepared to flee away with
his booty, when it appeared (and as Day himself told me it surprised
him out of measure) his legs would not bear him; so that he fell along
the floor from sheer loss and effusion of blood, a subtle blow having
pierced him unawares and mortally hurt him.  Thus they lay both until
the morning, when the servants, and I that am the butler, found them
there, the one of them already stark and the other close upon his end
and all aghast."

"Then thy master be murdered, Roger Butler," cried an old fellow from
the tail of the press.

"Not so, Father Time," shouted the butler with a great laugh, "although
Day, by that same error, was led into striking down one he should have
gone in leash withal, namely his fellow-thief, one Warren, that was
gone about the same game as himself."

"Why, 'tis the very knave that dealt Mr. Cleeve here that great wound I
told you of," cried Mr. Jordan, when the clamour of voices had somewhat
lessened; the which speech of his I could have wished not spoken, for
now all turned about, demanding this and that of me, and swearing I was
a brave lad; with such a deal of no-matter as put me into an extremity
of rage and shame, so that I was glad to escape away to the hall, where
I fell to at the ordinary, and drank to their confusion.

But for all my spleen it was indeed a merry tale, beside that it was a
marvellous judgment upon two rogues.  Day, it seemed, had breath enough
left in him properly to incriminate Warren, who was, as I say, already
dead, and then rolled over and died too.  There was an inquest held of
necessity, as well upon the thieves as upon poor Jenning that Day
killed before; which process somewhat detained us; but in the afternoon
of the day following, having satisfied the Coroner, we were permitted
to depart on our way.

Nevertheless there was a deal of time lost upon our reckoning, it being
now Saturday morning, and although we were now no further to be
hindered with the slowness of Juke's waggon, yet there was still a good
four score miles to go, and the Sunday falling on the morrow when we
were bound to rest, we could by no means reach London before Monday at
night, or even the Tuesday forenoon.  My baggage I had sent on by the
common carrier, who engaged to transmit it at Reading, whither he
plied, to another carrier going to London.

We rode out of the base court of the Inn gaily enough, and soon came
upon the high Wiltshire downs, which, there having been a deal of snow
fallen in the night, lay about us in that infinite solemnity of
whiteness that stills a man's heart suddenly, as few things else have
the power to do.

Nought could we discern before and around us but ridge after ridge of
snow, above which hung a sky of unchanging grey; all features of the
country were quite obliterated, and but that some cart had gone that
way a while since, of which we picked out and followed the wheel marks
scrupulously, it had wanted little but we should have ridden bewildered
into some deep drift and perhaps perished.  Indeed, we were fortunate
in that; and keeping close upon the track, although but slow going, in
time descended into the market town of Marlborough, which we reached
early in the afternoon.  Here we refreshed ourselves and our beasts,
and then away into the Savernake forest, traversing it without mishap,
and so out upon the high road again by Hungerford, and into Newbury a
little after nightfall; having covered above thirty miles in all, the
ways bad too, and the day, because of the late season, very short.

On the Sunday we remained all day in the Inn, except that I went in the
morning to the Church there, when I heard a sermon by the curate upon
Wars and the Rumours thereof, wherein he advised us very earnestly to
examine our pieces and have them ready to hand and not to keep our
powder in the loft under the leaky thatch.  He brought in somewhat,
too, about the Sword of the Spirit and the Shield of Faith, but
listlessly, and I saw that no one attended much to that, all men being
full of fear of the Papists, to which they were particularly moved by
Mr. Will. Parry's malicious behaviour in the House of Commons.  The
scholar did not accompany me to the Church, I suppose because he was
himself a Papist, though perhaps no very rigorous one, but feigned a
stiffness from riding; and when I returned I found him in the larder,
where he was discoursing amply of the Scythians and their method of
extracting a fermented liquor from the milk of mares, which was of a
grateful potency, but (he lamented) not now to be obtained.

I wrote home a letter to my father after dinner, and in the evening
entertained the curate, who had got to hear of our going to London, and
came to speak with us thereon.  He was an honest man, and of an
ingenuous complacency, which he manifested in telling us very quietly
that his Grace of Canterbury was of the same university as he, and he
doubted not, would be pleased to hear of him, and that he had taken
another rood of ground into the churchyard; all which I promised, if I
should meet his lordship, to relate.

We departed as was our custom, betimes on the morrow, travelling
towards Reading, and thereafter to Windsor, where we beheld with
admiration the great Castle of her Majesty's that is there; howbeit we
went not into the place, but left it on our right hand, and proceeded
still forward.  But the night falling soon afterwards, we were fain to
put up in the little hamlet of Brentford upon the river Thames, whither
we learned that 'twas fortunate we had without accident arrived, a
certain haberdasher of repute having been robbed of all he carried upon
the heath we had but lately rid over into that place, and left for dead
by the wayside.

Perhaps it was this outrage which had made for our safety, and that,
being so far satisfied with the spoil of silks and rich stuff taken,
the malefactors had hastened to dispose of it to some that make a
living by that cowardly means, and are mostly dwellers about the Stocks
market, in the narrow lanes thereby, although some (as Culver Alley)
have been stopped up against such notorious use of thieves.

Notwithstanding, I here affirm, that in the morning, when we saw the
monstrous charges our lodging stood us in, we found we had not far to
seek for a thief as big as any; and having paid the innkeeper, told him

But now we were come almost within view of the great City of which I
had so many times dreamed, and so beyond limits had advanced its
imagined glory, until it seemed to draw into itself all that was noble
and rich and powerful in the world; being Rome and Carthage too, I
thought, and the Indies added! nay, and only not Paris or Florence,
because it scorned the comparison.  In such an exaltation I sat my
horse, looking to right and left as we rode through the lanes past
Hammersmith and Kensington, all the way being still deep in snow;
although hardened here by the traffic of country carts, or rather (I
said) by great equipages of the Court and the Queen's troops.  Mr.
Jordan spoke twice or thrice upon indifferent matters, and chiefly, I
remember, of Olympus; but I regarded him contemptuously, having come
into a place where Olympus would be very cheaply esteemed as a hill, we
having our own Ludgate Hill, which, if not so high, is in all other
respects as good or better.  But when he told me that we must soon each
take our leave of the other, all that vain mood left me, and I wished
him from my heart a thousand benefits and safety in his enterprise, in
which I would have joined him willingly had I not been bound to this
business of my uncle.  He told me he should go to Moorfields, where he
had heard there was frequent exercise of arms, and there learn how to
set about his enrolment.

About this time we came to Charing Cross, where no further speech was
possible between us; such strangeness we met with, and unused fashion
of things; and proceeding by way of the Strand, we noted an infinite
succession of sights, of which the least elsewhere would have staggered
me, but now giving place to others as marvellous, or more, they did but
increase my appetite for amazement, which they alternately satisfied
and renewed.  Upon the clamour and the infinite throngs of the
townsfolk, I but briefly touch, for they transcend all description, as
do the palaces of the Savoy and Arundel House that we passed by; and
the Earl of Essex his mansion, and other the inns of the great nobles
which lie upon the right side of this famous street, and betwixt it and
the Thames.  Somerset House, moreover, that is still building, we saw,
and artificers yet at work thereupon, which will be, I think, when
builded, the finest palace of all.  At Temple Bar a man leaves the
liberty of the Duchy (as it is called) and enters within the liberty
(albeit yet without the walls) of the City of London, and here, a
little distance further on, I found Fetter Lane upon the left hand,
where my lodging was, and so (having first learned where I should have
word of him) sorrowfully parted with Mr. Jordan at the end of it, he
going still eastward towards Paul's, and I up the lane, that is
northward, to Mr. Malt's, where I was well received, and led to a clean
and pleasant chamber in the gable, which he told me was to be mine.



I think I overlaid my conscience in the night, seeing I stayed abed
until near seven o'clock next morning, a thing I had never before done;
but, indeed, I had now some colour of excuse for so doing, for besides
my wound in the thigh, which the cold had made woefully to ache, there
was my new clothes which the carrier had not yet delivered, and I was
mighty loth to go abroad in my travel-stained riding dress and great
boots.  As I lay there, the light then gathering mistily in my chamber,
I could hear the noises of the City and the cries of the multitude of
small vendors that go about the streets, as having no booth nor open
shop wherein to display their petty merchandise.  From a church near by
I heard bells pealing, and soon from other churches too.  Below my
window there was a maid singing, and a man with her that hawked
ballads, bawling their titles till my ears tingled.  Nevertheless, the
confusion of all these strange cries and sounds heartened me
marvellously, and had I but got my new-fashioned doublet of dark cloth
and hose therewithal, I had been the merriest man of the parish, as I
was certainly the most curious.  After awhile I could lie no longer,
but leapt up, and running to the casement, found London white, a sky of
frost, and a brave gay world before me.

My chamber, as I said, was a sort of great attic in the gable, and full
as high up in the house as was my old tower room at home.  But 'twas
less the height that astonished me, than the nearness into which the
houses were thrust together from either side of the street, so as they
almost met by the roofs; and I swear, had I been so inclined (and he
too) I could have crossed staves with the barber that had his dwelling
over against mine, or almost stolen his pewter shaving dish from the
sill where it lay.  Of these conceits of mine, however, the barber was
necessarily ignorant, being then busily engaged upon the exercise of
his craft, which he carried on perforce above stairs, the shop below
and the other rooms being used by a haberdasher and alderman, that had
his goods stored there.  I noted the barber particularly as well for
his extraordinary grace and courtesy, as for the activity he manifested
in his occupation.  No hand's turn would he do but a flourish went to
it, and always his body bending and his head nodding and twisting to
that extent, I wondered how the man he shaved could sit his chair in
any degree of comfort.  Perhaps he did not, though he seemed to suffer
the little man's attentions coolly enough, and when he went away, paid
him, I perceived, handsomely, and strode off with a careless ease, that
minded me, with some shame, of my own country manners.  My thoughts
being thus returned upon my late secluded life, I fell into a
melancholy mood which was a little after happily dissipated by the maid
bringing me my new clothes and telling me moreover that the family
stayed for me at breakfast.

I was soon enough dressed after this and, settling my starched ruff, of
which the pleats somewhat galled me, descended to the room where they
dined; and there found the whole family of the Malts (that with the
infant made up nine) set at the board and very ready for their delayed
meal.  A long grace was said by the youngest maid, whose eyes were
fierce upon the eggs the while, and after that we fell to.  Madam Malt
spoke kindly to me once or twice of my business, of which I had already
given her some slight and grudged particulars, but for the most part
she conversed in sidelong frowns with her children, of whose conduct it
was evident she wished I should think well.  But in truth I cared
nothing for their conduct nor much for their persons (for all they were
personable enough) being in a fever to be gone upon my errand to the
goldsmith's and to commence work in earnest.

Breakfast done then, I lost little time upon formalities and broke in
upon Madam Malt's excuse of her third (or fourth) daughter's mishap
over the small beer, with excuses of my own for leaving her; and so
taking up my hat left her staring.  So eager indeed was I, that I ran
out of the door into the arms of a gentleman that stood by and nearly
sent him on his back in the snow.  When he had recovered himself, with
my aid, and stood fronting me, I knew him directly for the man whom I
had seen in the barber's chair, and faltering upon my apology let fall
some foolish words by which I might be thought to claim his
acquaintance.  He frowned suddenly at that and gazing upon me earnestly

"It were easy to perceive you are of the country, young sir, and not
used to our town customs."

"How so?" I asked very hotly, for his disdain went the deeper into me
that it was founded upon reason.

"By your pretending to an intimacy with me," he replied, and drew
himself up very haughtily as he said it, "who know not your name even,
although doubtless you know mine, as all do, seeing the place I keep,
and the especial favour of my lord to me; yet I say that is no ground
for your familiarly accosting me in the public way."

"Why, as to that," I cried out scorningly, "I know nothing of you save
that I saw you but now in the barber's chair, swathed up in a towel and
your face all lathered."

He turned very pale at this out of mere discomfiture, and I expected
would have run upon me with his sword, so that I clapped my fist upon
my own and stepping closely to his side said--

"Sir, I am, as you imagine, but lately come out of the country and
therefore know not your customs here in London.  But if there be places
reserved for the settlement of such brabbles as this, let us go thither
with all my heart."  And then, after a breath or two taken: "For all
that," I added, "I had it in my mind to say I meant no insult, and if I
offended you, I am sorry."

He stood without replying either to my threats or my amends, but gazed
upon me with a look that I saw meant mischief; though whether to be
done now or at a convenient time and secretly, I could not guess.

He was a fine bold man, of an height a good span greater than my own.
He wore no hair on his face, but that I could see under his plumed cap
was thick and black.  His dress was of rare stuff and I supposed very
costly, being all slashed and broidered, and tagged with gold.  Indeed,
had he not let slip that boast of intimacy with some lord I should have
been sure of his being a lord himself and perhaps master of one of
those great palaces upon the Strand.  Thus, then, we stood thwarting
each other a considerable space, and I (at least) doubting of the
upshot, when a great fellow in a livery of blue, with a badge on his
sleeve, came running up the lane, and casting an eye upon me, pushed in
between us and spoke with the tall man low and seriously.  There
remaining therefore nought to hinder me longer about that brawl, I went
off, but asked one that stood by what was the badge the man in livery
bore, and he answered 'twas the Earl of Pembroke's emblem of the green
dragon, and that they twain that communed together thus secretly were
both of his household of Baynards Castle by Blackfriars.

Without further mishap, but pondering rather heavily upon my late one,
I made my way through the streets, past the noble church of Paul's on
the south side of it, to Mr. Wall the goldsmith hard by the Exchange.
I have neither space nor words nor confidence either, to speak of all
the things I met with, beyond imagination marvellous to me; and even
where I was disappointed of my expectation; as in the little width of
the streets, and of Paul's that it lacked the spire it once had;
together with much else that lacked completion or seemed at hazard
builded; even there, I say, I found my idea bettered by the fact, and a
strange beauty in the irregularity and scant ordering of the City, that
the more bewildered me as I went the further into the midst of it.

I found Mr. Wall in his shop, or house rather, a little down the lane
named of the Pope's Head tavern, where he expected me with the money
ready, that my father had desired him to have at my disposal.  He
overread my letters of credit somewhat closely, after which he put to
me two or three such pertinent questions as sufficed to show a shrewd
aptitude in affairs of business, yet without any the least pedantry, or
vexatious delays.  Indeed he dispatched all with an easy unconcern, as
if such matters were of every day and not considerable; although the
sum to be paid methought large enough in all conscience.  The while I
counted over the gold pieces he talked idly, but with a pleasant
humour, of Mr. John Davis that was said to be projecting with others a
voyage for the discovery of the Northwest Passage (the which he
undertook in the summer following), and of Mr. Sanderson, a merchant
well known to him, that was especially committed to this adventure.

"I would myself have gone upon this discovery," he said, "but for the
misfortune of a singular queasy stomach that layeth me low or ever I be
come upon the ship.  Yet I thank Heaven I am not of their number that,
having themselves failed, pretend that success is the constant
attendant upon incompetence."

When it came to the carriage of my gold he very courteously offered to
send his porter therewith, and as the weight was more by far than I had
looked for, I thanked him, and gave the bags to the man, who for his
part made nothing of them, but walked away briskly down Cornhill, I
following him as a convoy might follow a treasure ship, close upon her
chase.  In such sort we arrived in time at the Serjeants Inn in Fleet
Street, where I had engaged to meet Mr. John Skene, that was my uncle's
attorney.  In that Inn, or warren rather (for indeed it is nothing
less), we searched for any of the name of Skene, but could find none;
however, a stranger who chanced to pass over the court while we stood
at gaze courteously directing us, we soon after came upon his chambers,
which were at the head of a narrow stair in the south building and the
eastern end thereof; whereupon my porter gave me my leathern sacks into
my hands saying he must now go, which (I having paid him) he presently

Mr. Skene admitted me with a deal of ceremony, being, I could see, a
man of extreme punctuality and withal one to whom I took an immediate
liking.  He was I think the most handsome-featured man I have ever met
with, in height tall, and of a stately port, his body stout although
not at all gross, and his hair, which was very plentiful, gone a
perfect silver.  I supposed his age to be nearing three score, but he
might have been younger.  His eye was very bright and kindly and seemed
to smile even when his lips were drawn close in meditation.  The black
gown he wore as suited to his profession very well befitted his grave
demeanour; about his neck was a plain linen band, but the cap which the
Serjeants generally use he had not on, and I supposed kept it only for
wearing in the Court.  His business room into which I had come appeared
meanly furnished, excepting in books and quires, of which there was a
great number scattered everywhere, but his table and the two or three
chairs were nothing so good as our own at home, and the floor unswept
and foul.  While I took notice of these small matters Mr. Skene was
reaching from a shelf a great file of papers tied with silk; which
having got, he turned about and surprised me at that occupation.

"A poor hole, you think, Mr. Cleeve," he said, with a merry smile at my
embarrassment, "but we men of law have scant occasion for leisure in
which to look about us, and luxury would be ill circumstanced here
where life and death be too often at grips.  Come," he added after a
pause, "I do not mean to take the pulpit over you, but to bid you
expect such plainness in me as you find in my chamber; and so, enough,"
he ended, and therewith drew out a parchment with a great seal attached
to it, upon which he pondered a while.

"You have the main of this affair?" he asked abruptly, touching the
skin as he spoke.

"Yes," I replied, "at least so much as that my uncle Botolph is in the
Tower, and hopes to clear himself if he may be brought to trial."

"Then you have it all, or nearly so," he said nodding.  "He was
arrested upon an order of the Council and secretly conveyed by water to
the place where he now lies.  By especial grace I have once been
admitted to see him, and learned from his own mouth, although I needed
not to hear that I was already assured of, namely, the entire innocence
that he hath as touching these late revolts."

He sat silent awhile and perhaps awaited my reply, albeit my reply when
he heard it seemed not much to his mind, and I myself was surprised at
my boldness in speaking it.

"It lies upon my conscience, sir," said I, "to tell you that, had I my
will, my uncle should by no means come by this franchise we be
deliberating so painfully to procure.  I believe him to be a most
absolute villain, and had not my father moved herein, I should have let
him rot in his dungeon and ne'er stirred a finger in this cause."

I stopped there for mere lack of breath, being quite overcome by my
heat of passion against my uncle, but when I would have excused myself,
Mr. Skene prevented me with a motion of his hand.  The pleasant light
in his eyes was clouded with a grave anxiety.

"These be hard words, Master Denis," he said, "and I hope are
justified; or rather, I hope not; else I cannot for my honour undertake
this prisoner's defence.  But tell me briefly upon what grounds you
believe him to be so worthless of relief."

This put me into an unlooked for difficulty, because I could not bring
myself to tell him aught of my mother, and yet had I no other reason to
give him.  But he, as if perceiving he had said something to vex me,
hastened to set me at my ease, and leaning forward upon his desk, said--

"You are still very young, Mr. Denis, and the young are apt to
prejudge.  But for the cause of your anger I may tell you frankly that
I know it; and respect you both for it and also for your reticence in
naming it.  I have been acquainted with your uncle," he went on,
speaking still in a thoughtful manner, but as if some pleasure joined
with the recollection of which he was to notify me: "I have been
acquainted with him above seven years now, and can lay claim to know
his private mind so far as a man's friend may do.  You spoke of a fault
of his, when he was scarce older than yourself.  Are we to send him to
the block for that?  It is not the charge under which he now lies, Mr.
Denis, nor is it one"--he spoke this with so great an earnestness that
I dropped my eyes before his--"nor is it such an impeachment as you
would be willing to stand beside the block where he lay dead and say,
'I let him die because a score of years since a certain frail lady held
him higher than her honour.'"

"Sir," I cried out at that, "have a care!  The lady was my mother."

He started back as if I had shot him.  "I knew not that," he said, and
repeated it twice or thrice.  "I had not thought it pressed so near.
Forgive me; I should have guessed it from your manner, if not from his
narration.  But he was ever thus," he proceeded, half to himself.  "It
hath been so, since our acquaintance even."  He stopped short, leaning
back in his chair and then suddenly again forward: "If you desire it,"
he said, "I will go no further in this matter.  He deserves no pity,
but rather the last penalty of the law; and I make no question but that
by our abstention, he will come into the way to receive it."

For awhile I could not speak, so wrought upon was I by this temptation,
which was none other than that I had set before my father, and he
rejected.  At length I shook my head and without another word burst
into tears.  Mr. Skene waited until I was something recovered, settling
his papers the while, and seeming to write upon his tablets; for which
delicacy I thanked him in my heart.  When next he spoke, he changed the
direction of our discourse, inquiring pleasantly why I had troubled
myself with so great a sum as five hundred pounds, in coin, when my own
letters would equally have served.

"I know not where to store it safely," he said, "until such time as I
shall be able to use it, or a part of it only, as I hope; which may be
not for many days or weeks even.  If you take my advice, Mr. Denis, you
will restore it to Mr. Wall, whom I know very well, and beg him to
disburse it to you, as you, or I rather, may require."

I blushed for my small knowledge that had led me into this laughable
error, and although the attorney made little of it I perceived he
thought but meanly of my dealings in exchange.

In the end I wrote a letter to Mr. Wall requiring him to do as Mr.
Skene had advised, and requesting him further to fetch away my unlucky
bags of gold, which in the meanwhile the attorney promised to bestow in
one of the closets where his title-deeds and capital muniments were
lodged for their better security against thieves and fire.  This done,
he told me to come to him again on the morrow and a little earlier than
I had done that day; by which time he would have, ready drawn and fair
writ, our petition to the Council praying for a fair trial at law of
Mr. Botolph Cleeve that was now detained in the Tower during her
Majesty's pleasure, and also to be furnished with the several counts of
the indictment against him directed, which it lay upon us to be
possessed of in order to the preparing of our answer thereto.  I
marvelled at the industry and rapid address of the man in these
necessary (but by me unthought of) particulars, and told him that I
wished I loved my uncle better that I might rejoice the more in the
certainty of his release.  He shook his head at that, however, saying
that at the best 'twas not impossible the prisoner would be brought to
trial even; and that for the event he could promise nothing, having
indeed more fear of it than he had yet allowed.

I parted from him soon after, and it being then dinner time I was glad
to find a tavern hard by the Temple Bar where I partook heartily of the
excellent ordinary that is there maintained; and a little while
afterwards Mr. Richard Malt entering (a son of the worthy hosier with
whom I lodged), he entertained me with discourse of the comedies that
were then playing at the public theatres, and of the famous players
that were his friends; from all which I concluded that Mr. Richard
would scarce make so diligent a hosier as his father, whom indeed he
continually disparaged, terming him old buffle-head, and swearing he
had never so much as heard of the "Arraignment of Paris" nor of
"Campaspe" even; upon which I shrugged up my shoulders as who should
say: Is such ignorance possible in this age? and determined to apply
myself to some discreet person secretly, that should instruct me in all
matters of the stage, without delay.

And so for that while did my uncle Botolph go clean out of my head.



On the morrow I rose very contrite for the proneness of my mind towards
pleasures, and calling to remembrance with an excessive sadness, that
protestation of our bailiff's against stage-plays and ungodly shows.
Indeed I began to fear lest Mr. Richard should prove altogether a
perverter of my youth, and promised myself I would avoid his company
henceforward, nor inquire any further after Campaspe and the rest.
Which resolved upon, I felt joyfuller (as a man's recovered virtue doth
generally induce that comfortable feeling) and took pleasure in the
thought that I was this day to relieve the oppressed, and succour them
that were in prison: or at least one of them.

But all these salutary thoughts broke a-scatter, when, chancing to cast
an eye across the street, I saw my gallant that I had withstood
yesterday, again set in his barber's chair, where he indolently
reclined; and the barber dancing before him like a second David with
razor for timbrel.  An instant desire took me, to know who my late
adversary might be (so that in any future debate I might have a name to
clap villain to) and bethought me of an easy way whereby to satisfy
myself.  Having patiently awaited his departure therefore, I stole
downstairs and over the lane; mounted to the barber's, three steps at
once, and was in his chair demanding to be shaved ere a man could tell
three score.

"Your worship does me a great honour," cried the antick fellow, "and I
will dispatch your business in a trice," which he did, my beard being,
I confess, no great thing as yet.

"Your house is well spoken of," I said carelessly, when he had done,
and I stood cleansing my chin at the basin.

"It is well attended," he replied, bowing, "and that by the best."

"Tell me some that use it," I said in a meditative manner, "it may hap
that I know them."

"There is John a Nokes," replied the barber, with alacrity, "that is
host of the Chequers; but he comes hither no more.  And there is Mr.
Nicholas Lovel, that promised me he would come on Wednesday last,
though indeed he failed so to do; and there is moreover the Master of
the Worshipful Company of Painter Stainers whom I used to meet with at
their great hall in Trinity Lane."

"And him you shave," said I, seeing that he paused there.

"Nay, for he hath a singular great beard," he said, "and when he sits
in Council amidst his Company of the Painter Stainers there is none
appeareth more lofty and worshipful than he.  I have been a serving man
there," he added with a conspicuous pride, "and worn their livery, so
that it behoveth me to speak well of them, and to pray for their
continuance in prosperity."

"That is all as it should be," quoth I, "but for my question, good
master barber, I do not find you have answered it."

"Cry you mercy," said the little barber with an innocent air, "but
methought I had answered you full and fairly."

"Hath any come hither this morning," I demanded, "besides myself?"

"It is still very early, sir," he replied, rubbing his hands together
the while, "but I hope at noon, now, by the which hour as you know, a
man's beard commenceth to prick sorely..."

"Hold!" I cried, "I speak not of your hopes, but of your performance.
Have you shaved any man this day?"

"Oh, none, sir," he replied, as though it were a thing indecent, and I
shocked him.

"You lie," said I coolly, "for one went forth but now."

The barber: "Surely you mistake, sir ... but now I bethink me it was no
doubt my lord of Pembroke."

"So then my lord of Pembroke serves my lord of Pembroke, belike," I
answered, laughing sourly, "and weareth his cast suits, as did he that
went hence."

I never saw a man so taken aback, and all his graces drooped about him
like a sere garland.

"Come, sir," said I at length, in a great voice, for I was both
wrathful at this fetch, and feared something behind it, "who is this
black-a-vised tall man in brave apparel, that you shave each morning?"

"Oh, good Mr. Cleeve," he cried out trembling, but got no further, for
I had him by the collar.

"Thou hast my name pat enough," said I, very low, and shifted my
fingers to his throat, which I must have held pretty tight, seeing his
face went black and his eyes started forth of it.  "To the purpose," I
proceeded and released my grasp somewhat.

He wrested himself loose and stood away gasping.

"Who is the tall man of the narrowed eyes and black complexion?" I

"I dare not tell," he whispered, and as it were shook that answer from
his lips.

"He spies upon me, and uses thine house for that purpose," I said, and
gathered certainty from the mere relation of my doubts.  "But wherefore
doth he so?  That thou must tell me, master barber, and presently, else
will I beat thee with thine own barber's staff."

I made as if to seize him again, but he backed off, howling.

"If you swear," he began, and seeing I paused, "you must swear by the
Book," he said sharply, for I had squeezed his voice as thin as a
knife; "and take what guilt of perjury should be mine in speaking."

I said I would vouchsafe not to reveal who it was that told me, but
that was the extent of my promise; for the rest, I went in danger of my
life, it seemed, or at least of my peace and quiet, which my absolute
silence would but tend to confirm and increase.

The barber appeared satisfied of the justice of this, and having
fetched out a Testament from a cupboard by the door, laid it open in my
hand, but then again hesitated.

"This being so private a matter," he mumbled, "I will first bolt the
door at the foot of the stair, and thereafter will let you into so
great a secret"--he advanced his pinched and sallow face close to my
own and let his voice fall so low that I could scarce hear him--"a
secret so great that your blood shall run cold to hear it."

This coming so pat upon my suspicions, I promise you my blood ran cold
at the sheer hint of it, and I suffered him to leave me and bolt the
great door on the stair, in order to our more perfect privacy.  And
bolt the door indeed he did, but upon the wrong side of it; himself
fleeing away in an extremity of apprehension lest (I suppose) I should
get at his pulpy fat neck again and strangle him outright: which
consideration moved him to put the door betwixt us while there was
time; although I believe I should have burst it down despite its great
thickness had it not been that the haberdasher's 'prentices heard me,
and opened it from without.  But the barber was clean gone by that,
with his yellow face and his fulsome big secret and the devil to boot.
The fellow's name was Pentecost Soper (so many syllables to so slight a
man), and I have never set eyes on him since.

In no very good humour I returned to the family of the Malts and in ill
case to be spoken to.  Yet was I obliged to attend how Madam Malt's
third (or fourth) daughter came to spill the small beer at breakfast
yesterday, and the history being interrupted at the least a score of
times by laughter and denials and (from the infant) by woeful
lamentations, it fell out that I had concluded my meal while the tale
still hung about the start, like an over-weighted galleon off a
lee-shore; until at length Madam Malt (an indifferent mariner)
confessed herself at fault, crying--

"But there!  I will tell you all another time, Mr. Denis.  It is a rare
tale I warrant you, though Mistress Judith would have had me keep it
secret; as a maid must have her secret, since time was a week gone in

A day that had begun thus, with two secrets so necessary to be divulged
as were the barber's and Mistress Judith's, was (had I known it) to
issue in such horrid disclosures as were to change for me the whole
course of my living, and indeed awhile to suspend upon a doubtful
balance the very living itself.  Consequent upon my promise to the old
attorney, I made haste to repair to his lodging as early as I judged it
proper to do so, and therefore after breakfast, it lacking then a
little of nine o'clock, I put on my cloak and hat and set forth.  One
consideration I had as I walked, which had weighed heavily upon me
since my last conference with him, and that was whether, and if so
when, I should attempt to get speech of my uncle in prison.  It seemed
to me right, and indeed due both to my father and myself (looking to
the hardships of my journey directly across England) that he should
both know and thank us for the diligence we were using in his behalf;
and it was to come at some means whereby I might procure this I had in
view, that I intended to speak with Mr. Skene, no less than to conclude
that we had already put in motion.

'Twas a foggy and thick morning, the weather having suddenly in the
night passed from its extreme of cold into an opposite of mildness, so
that the snow was almost everywhere thawed, and the streets foul and
deep in mire.  I was glad enough to turn out of Fleet Street, where
every cart and passenger I met with left me more filthily besprent; so
that twice or thrice I was like to have drawn upon some peaceable
citizen that unawares had sent his vestige mud upon my new bosom.  So
hastening into the Inn yard I traversed it and was soon at Mr. Skene's
door, where I knocked loudly and awaited him.  The door was soon opened
to me.  "Is Mr. Skene within?" I asked; for he himself came not, as
yesterday he had, but an ancient woman, in a soiled coif and apparel
marvellous indecent, stood in the doorway.

"Lord! there be no Skenes here," she said in a harsh voice, "nor aught
else but confusion and labour and sneaped wages, and they delayed.
Skenes!" she ran on like a course of mill-water, "ay, Skenes and scalds
and the quarten ague, and what doth the old fool live for, that was Ann
by the Garlickhithe fifty year since, and worth nigh five-and-thirty
marks or ever Tom Ducket beguiled her out of the virtuous way to the
havoc of her salvation; with a murrain o' his like and small rest to
their souls.  A bright eye was mine then, master, that is dull now, and
the bloom of a peach by the southward wall.  But now 'tis age and a
troubled mind that irks me, besides this pestering sort of knaves that
live by the law.  Ah!  Garlickhithe was fair on a May morning once,
lad, and the fairer, they told me, that Ann was fair featured who dwelt

I had suffered the old hag to rave thus far, out of mere astonishment.
For how came it, I asked, that she who cleansed the chamber knew
nothing of the man who occupied his business there.  My brain faltered
in its office, and I reeled under the weight of my fears.

"Who then uses these rooms?" I inquired when I could manage my words.

"None to-day nor to-morrow, I warrant, so foul it is," replied the old
wife, and fell to work upon the floor again with her soused clouts,
while she proceeded, "but the day after 'tis one Master Roman from
Oxford removes hither to study at the law.  Let him pay me my wages by
the law, lawfully, as he shall answer for it at the Judgment, for I
have been put to charges beyond belief in black soap (that is a
halfpenny the pound in the shops at Bow), and let no one think I take
less than fourpence by the day, for all I live on the Bank-side over
against the Clink."

Without more ado I flung into the chamber past her, and running to the
closet where my money was, had it open on the instant.  But the first
sight showed it to me quite bare.  Nevertheless, I groped about the
vacancy like a man mad (as I was indeed), crying out that I was
infamously deceived and robbed of five hundred pound.  Now searching
thus distractedly, and without either method or precaution, I chanced
to hit my leg a sore great blow against the iron of the latch, and
opened my wound afresh which was not near healed, so that it bled very
profusely.  But this, although it weakened me, hindered me nothing, I
continuing a great while after to turn all upside down and to bewail my
loss and Skene's villainy that had undone me.

In the end, however, my fever of dismay abating a little or giving
place to reason, I bethought myself of Mr. Wall, the goldsmith, to whom
perhaps the attorney had thought it safer to convey the gold; and
straightway therefore made off to his house on Cornhill, in a remnant
of hope that my apprehensions should after all prove to be ill-grounded.

He saw me coming, I suppose, for he left his shop to greet me; but when
he observed my infinite distress, he would listen to no word of mine
until he had fetched forth a bottle of Rhenish, and made me drink of
it.  The good wine refreshed me mightily, as also, and indeed more, did
the quiet behaviour of Mr. Wall, who counselled me wisely to rest
myself first and after to confine myself to relating the bare matter
without heat or flourish of any kind.  "For out of an hot heart proceed
many things inconvenient, as the Apostle plainly shewed," he said,
"whereas out of a cold head proceedeth nothing but what is to the
purpose, and generally profitable; at least in the way of business, Mr.
Denis, I mean in the way of business, which is doubtless the cause of
your honouring me again with your company."

Upon this I told him all, without passion, and directly as it had
befallen.  His face, as I spoke, gradually came to assume a deeper
gravity, but he did not interrupt my narration, though I perceived that
in part it was not altogether clear.  When I had made an end he sat
long, and then rising, went to his desk and returned to me with a
paper, which was the same I had given to Skene on the yesterday.

"Do you acknowledge that for your hand, Mr. Denis?" he asked me briefly.

"It is mine," I replied wondering.

"Be pleased to read it," said he.

So in a trembling voice I read it aloud, word for word as I had writ it
under Skene's direction; wherein I desired Mr. Wall that he would
disburse to our attorney, as he should have need of them, such sums as
should not in the total exceed five hundred pounds.

"And such was my intention," cried I, infinitely relieved to find all
as I supposed it.  But observing that the goldsmith regarded me
something oddly, I added: "I mean that he required the gold, not in
bulk, but in parcels from time to time; and as to that I took away
yesterday, that you were to send for it again."

"You say not so here," said he very quietly.

But upon the instant he had said it, I perceived how the villain had
used my letter, which was to double his booty already gotten; he having
not restored the former sum I had meant this to be in the place of, but
having even possessed himself of this treasure likewise.  My
inadvertent laxness of instruction (purposely so phrased by Skene
himself) had given him the opportunity he sought, and I was now by my
folly and misgiven trust, a thousand pounds upon the score in the
goldsmith's books.

There was no occasion for argument betwixt us, where all was manifest
enough, nor yet, by him, for empty expressions of regret, seeing he had
but acted punctually upon my demand.  For his pity, I had it, I knew,
though Mr. Wall refrained himself from any expression of it.  But
another feeling he had, I could see, which was a doubt whether my
father's credit was sufficient to bear this inordinately increased
burden; nay, whether he would not repudiate the note I had so ineptly
set hand to, staying his conscience on the satisfaction of his proper
bond.  I had my answer to that ready, had Mr. Wall proposed the
question; but to his honour he did not.  All he put in contribution to
our debate related to Skene's presentation of my note, which being
fairly written and legally expressed, he had neither reason nor scruple
for withholding the loan.  As for the bearer of the message, he was a
gentleman of a very noble quiet manner, said Wall, and to this
description of Skene I could not but consent.

In fine there being nought left to say, save on my part that I would
immediately write an account of all to my father (whom I would not
otherwise commit) we parted at the door, and I returned slowly through
the great unfriendly City, sick at heart.  Now I had not proceeded far
upon my way when it came upon me that I would seek out my old tutor,
Mr. Jordan; for I greatly yearned after comfort and kindly speech,
which I knew would be his to give, upon the first hint of my
misfortune.  By good hap I remembered the lodging where he had said he
might be found, which was in a room of a great house called
Northumberland House in the parish, and over against the Church, of St.
Katherine Colman; which mansion having fallen from its first estate (as
many other within the City have done also) is now parted among such as
do pay rent for their use of chambers therein, as few or many as they

Thither then I inquired out direction; but whether it were by reason of
the intricacy of manifold streets and alleys, or of the mist that from
first overcasting the sky had now descended and thickly muffled up even
the considerable buildings, or else of the opening again of my wound
that sorely sucked away my strength; I say whatsoever the cause were, I
soon confessed myself at a stand and quite bewildered.  And moreover to
make bad worse, I perceived myself to have run into a foul and steep
lane, of a most unsavoury stench; the way being nought else than a
kennel pestered with garbage.  None seemed to be inhabiting this
unclean byway, or at the least not occupying their business in it; but
the doors stood shut all, and the windows so guarded as one might think
the plague had visited the place and died for lack of life to feed on.

Meanwhile the fog seemed to mitigate something of its blackness before
me; and this it was, I suppose, that drove me still forward rather than
by returning upon my steps to encounter the worst of it that yet hung
like a pall between the desolate houses.

At length I issued at the bottom end into a sort of wide place or yard
(for I could not rightly tell which it were, so dim all lay and I so
confused by pain), but by a certain saltness in the air I guessed it
might be near beside the river, and perhaps led down to one of the
wharves or hithes thereupon.  But that I was out of all bearing I knew,
and the knowledge sank my courage utterly, so that I could no more, but
sat down upon a stock by the wayside and wept for very bitterness.

I remember that I said it over like a creed an hundred times that I was
alone, and although I said it not, it beat upon my brain that I was
very near to death.

Soon after I seemed to stumble, and perhaps did indeed sink down from
the timber I rested on; whereat, opening my eyes hastily, I saw face to
face with me, a maid with the countenance of an angel, and an infinite
compassion in her eyes.  But the fever altogether had me then, so that
what I report I may not now verify; yet methought she took me by the
hands and raised me, saying (as to herself), "Dear heart, how chill he
is," and then, "Lo! the hurt he hath, poor lad! and it not stanched but

After that I must have swooned, for I remember no more; or at least not
such as I believe did happen, though from the cloud of wild dreams that
began to beset me there drew together as it were a masque of half-truth
in a scene not wholly fantastick.  For I stood again in the midst of a
long and steep street, very dark and tempestuous, of which the houses
falling together suddenly with a great noise formed a sort of rift or
tunnel by which I might escape; and at the end of this length of ruin I
perceived a pale blue light burning, to the which painfully groping my
way I saw it was borne by a maid that came toward me; and all this
while I heard a mighty rushing as of water, and voices mingled with it,
loud and laughing.  Then as the lass with the light approached me
nearer I knew her for Madam Malt's third (or fourth) daughter, and the
rushing sound I perceived to be the stream of small beer she had spilt;
and the laughter grew and increased horribly and the light went out.
And so, at length, I fell away into an inevitable and profound



I mind me of a sad play once I saw, that is played now in a duke's
palace, and after in a glade within a forest, where one of the persons,
a noble youth whom his presumption hath caused to be banished from his
mistress, saith, "Hope is a lover's staff; walk hence with that."  The
play is called a comedy because it ends upon delight, yet after a world
of heaviness encountered, and such thwarting of wills, as makes one
weep to behold.  And perhaps when all's said, we do wrong to name
anything of this world tragical, seeing we cannot look to the end of
it, and indeed sometimes (one must suppose) a play is but half played
out here, and that the sad half with all the tears.  'Tis another hand
manages the curtain, and, alas! that the too soon dropping of it hath
made many to say in their hearts, "There is no God."

Much in this kind occupied my brain, when at length I was partially
recovered after my continued and grave sickness.  I still lay abed,
taking babes' food and physick, and asking no questions, being yet too
weak for that, and so that I were left in peace, careful for nought
else.  My body might have been another's, so little did it appear to
encumber me; a certain lightness and withal a sense of freedom from the
common restraints of life possessed me.  I had, as it were, overpassed
the lists of experience, and become truly a new creature.  In this
security and enfranchisement of my spirit I found an infinite, and my
only, pleasure in speculating upon the meaning of things I had never so
much as called in question hitherto, and then first perceived how wide
a gulf lay betwixt that a man may be and that a man must do.  I saw all
bad but what rests still in idea, and bitterly condemned the
never-ending hurry of effort and business by which the course of life
is fouled, upward almost to her source.

This exalted mood lasted I think about a week, during which time I had
got to so high a pitch of philosophy as I cannot now think on for
blushing; settling my notions after my own fashion very conveniently,
and mighty intolerant of those currently held.  But afterwards, that
is, about the tenth day of my clear mind, I suffered myself to descend
some way toward common sense, which to my surprise I found not so
disagreeable as might have been.  Certain 'tis I still saw all in a
mist of phantasy, and different from what it truly was; but,
notwithstanding, it marked my first motion of health, and a recovery of
my heritage in the world.  Once set on this road, I soon grew to be
restive of the remnant of malady which yet kept me weak, and began to
fear I should ne'er be able again.  At times I would be melancholy and
fret by the hour at my pitiful lot; then again would fall to piecing
together the events that had preceded this my disease, but could not
get them orderly, or at the least, not whole.

At such a time it was that suddenly and without premonition, my memory
recovered the picture of that fair maid bending over me and murmuring,
"_Dear heart_!"  I leapt up in bed on the instant, and would have had
on my clothes before any could hinder me, had not my impotence held me
without need of other prevention, and I sank back all dismayed.

Henceforward my mind had matter enough and to spare with the thoughts
of her alone.  If I desired life now it was that I might continue to
think of her and of her manner of saying, "_Dear heart! how chill he
is!_" and "_Lo, the hurt he hath, poor lad!_"  I swore I would not
exchange those two sentences for a barony, nor the look that went with
them for a prince's thanks.  That word of thanks brought me to a wonder
how I might compass the tendering of my thanks to the maid herself,
whom (now I recollected it) I knew not so much as the name of, nor yet
her place of lodging.  This consideration greatly staggered me, and had
nigh sent me into a fever again.  But I told myself that it was very
certain I must find her in time (and being young, time seemed to be a
commodity inexhaustible), and so for that while the fever held off.
However, I had still intervals of despair which were black enough; but
hope ever ensuing and at each return in larger measure, upon the
balance I found comfort.  And thus, responding to the text of the old
play I have before set down (though I had not then seen it played), I
also might have cried, "Hope is the lover's staff," and with that to
lean on I determined to walk thence without further delay.

Such were the interior passages (to call them so) of my sickness that
was now quite passed; for, with hope at length steadfast with me, it is
clear I lacked nothing of my perfect health, excepting only what strong
meat and sunlight would soon bring.

And so it was I felt myself ready to go upon a certain discovery I had
in mind (and did presently put into execution), which was to determine
precisely where in the world I might be!  For the whiles I had lain
idle this question had intermittently perplexed me: my chamber being
very narrow and low, and bearing, I thought, small likeness to my room
in Mr. Malt's house, of which the window was a large and latticed one,
whereas this I now had was little and barred.  My meals, too, were
served by a woman I could not remember to have seen; a pleasant,
bustling body, with a mouth widened by smiling and eyes narrowed by
shrewd discernment.  But what troubled me more than all was a
persistent sound of water lapping about the house, which led me to
suppose I was somehow lodged upon an island; or else in the prison
beside the Fleet River--though I thought this could not well be.

Using more precaution, then, than I had done previously, I got out of
my bed, and sitting on the edge of it, was soon half dressed.  The
exercise fatigued me but slightly, and as soon as I had my clothes on
completely I ventured across the floor (that was about an ell in
width), and leaned forth between the bars of the window...

I burst into laughter at the easy resolution of my doubts, which the
first view thence afforded me.  For I was upon London Bridge, in one of
the houses that are builded thereupon, on either side of it.  Below me
lay the narrow bridge-way that is spanned across by divers arches
(which be houses too), and is full, at most hours, as it was when I
beheld it, of people that cheapened stuffs and trinkets at the booths
there set up, or else hastened on, north or south continuously.

'Twas the strangest sight by far I had yet seen; this little
market-world above the waters, so straitened and fantastick, and withal
so intent and earnest upon its affairs, with never a thought to the
great shining river (its very cause and origin) that flowed scarce two
fathom beneath it.  I stood awhile fairly entranced by the prospect,
and followed with my eyes every motion and frolick adventure.  Thus,
there would be a fine lady that bought an infinite deal of scarlet
cloth, and a pannier-ass that, in turning, struck it from her arm and
unrolled the length of it, so that the ass continued on her way grave
as any judge, with her hoofs upon the cloth like a spread carpet, while
my lady stood by, bewailing her loss.  Then there would be a company of
halberdiers that went by at a great swinging stride to quell some riot
(I heard one say) in Southwark by the Bear-garden.  By and by, with
more noise, comes there a score of mariners that had left their galley
in the Pool, and after their late hardships on the sea seemed gone into
an excess of jollity, and sacked the shops for toys.  Grey-haired
mercers that stood and conversed in groups, and coltish apprentices in
flat caps and suits of blue I noted, and otherwhiles dancers and
mountebanks with a host of idle folk following.

So engrossed indeed was I, that I did not hear the woman, that in the
meantime had entered my chamber, calling upon me to return to my bed;
until at length she enforced her command with a buffet on my shoulder.

"Thou art but a graceless lad to be chilling thy marrow at an open
window," she cried; yet I could see she was rather pleased than
wrathful to find me there.

"Nay, I am whole again, mistress," I answered quickly, and then looking
forth again, cried, "But who be those that go by in a troop, with great
bonnets on and red coats?"

"Why, who but the Queen's yeomen?" she said, and stood beside me to
catch a sight of them.  "Ay, and there goes my husband's brother at
their head, their sergeant, and a proper soldier too, that hath seen
service abroad."

"Whither go they?" I asked, breathless for the pleasure I took in this
brave show.

"To the Tower, lad.  But now, back to your couch, or at least to a
chair, for the goodman would speak with you."

"How came I to this house?" I asked, when I had left the window, "for I
remember nought of the matter."

"Enough of words," she laughed pleasantly.  "And enough too that you be
here, and your rantings and ravings o'er.  I tell you we were like to
have had the watch about us for harbouring a masterless rogue, so
impudently did your sick tongue wag; and that at all hours of the night

She went away soon after, still laughing; for which I blessed her; it
being a comfortable exercise to laugh, and as comforting a sound to
hear.  I was full dressed, and expecting the good Samaritan her husband
a while ere he came, which when he did, I found he was a man of brief
speech and one to be trusted.  He began by asking how I did, and when I
told him I was quite recovered and thanked him for his charity, he put
up his hand.

"I did no more than your hurt required," he said.  "'Twas fortunate we
had this room to lay you in, and a good physician near at hand upon the
Bridge.  But now tell me (for I think it necessary I should know it)
how came you wounded?"

I told him all simply, seeing no reason why I should not, and the whole
affair of my uncle; to which he listened in silence, his eyes on my

"My name is Gregory Nelson," he said, when I had done, "and of this
Bridge, where I have my lodging, I am one of the wardens.  You may bide
here as long as you list, Master Cleeve, seeing that by this hellish
robbery of Skene's you should be nigh penniless, as you be also left
without friends to help you, unless it be that Mr. Malt accounts
himself so."

"I pay him for my lodging," I said, "but cannot claim any friendship
with him."

"Have you any goods left at his house?" he asked me, a little as though
he smiled inwardly.

"Some spare apparel I have there," I replied, "and a parcel of linen or
so, besides my mare."

"Seeing that you have been absent so long," said Master Nelson, "and
without warning, you may chance to find your chattels sold under a
sheriff's warrant against charges proved.  Nay, that is lawful," he
added, seeing I made a motion of dissent, "and indeed you have been
near three weeks a truant."

This disclosure shocked me, and particularly when I reflected that my
father had no knowledge of anything that had occurred to me, nor yet
where I now lay.  Two things I did therefore with all speed, first
writing a full account of the attorney, how he had robbed me, and of my
illness so much as I thought necessary; and secondly, going to Fetter
Lane in the hope to recover my goods.  On this errand the warden would
by no means suffer me to go alone, and I for my part was very glad of
his arm to lean upon, as I was also of his companionship by the way.

In discourse I found him to be something more blunt than complacent,
and moreover to have set his notions, as it were, by the clock of his
profession.  Thus, I chancing to speak of the great mansions of the
nobles that were frequent upon the bank about the Bridge-end, and
making mention of their power that lived therein, he answered me pretty
roundly that I was out.

"If there be two or three wise heads amongst them," said he, "there be
two or three score otherwise disposed.  'Tis a common error, master, to
belaud all alike and merely because their honours be similar.  But I
say, let her Grace ennoble any the least considered merchant on Change,
and nought should go worse for it, but rather the better.  I say
further, 'tis in the shops and among the great Companies of the City
that England's worthies are now to be found, and her advancement lieth
less in the Great Council to be debated on, than in Cheape to be
accomplished.  But enough!" said he, with a little shake of his head.
"I am a servant of this City, and perhaps it is for that I have a bias
of thinking well of what the City doth.  Yet few will be bold enough to
deny that we owe much to our great citizens and merchants, as to Sir
Richard Whittington in the old days, and later to Sir Thomas Gresham,
that very praise-worthy knight; not forgetting Mr. Lamb that brought
sweet water in a conduit to Holborn; nor Mr. Osborne, which was Mayor
two year since, and now is Governor of the famous Turkey Company by
charter of the Queen established."

"And what of the Queen's Grace herself?" quoth I, for my humour was not
a little tickled at this decrying of those in high estate, whose wisdom
and guidance we be commonly taught to extol.  But at the Queen's name
Mr. Nelson had his cap off immediately.

"God bless her," he said very reverently, "and give her a mind to
perceive her own and her realm's, true good.  And so He doth!" he broke
off vehemently, "and hath made her to be the greatest merchant of them
all!  Ask Master Drake, else, whose partner and fellow-adventurer she
was when he sailed from Plymouth with but five poor ships, and returned
thence with such treasure of the Spaniards as it took two whole days to
discharge upon the quay."

In such converse we walked on, I straitly considering of these things
he told, whether indeed those mighty lords, whose names were in
everybody's mouth, were truly of less account than men trading in silk
and furs and spices, as he would have me believe; and whether, also,
overmuch service with the City Sheriffs had not worn out an esteem for
greater folk in this honest stout warden of London Bridge.

When at length we arrived at my old lodging in Fetter Lane, Mr. Nelson
said he would not enter, but would await me in the street, and so I
went in alone.  I found Madam Malt in a chamber behind the shop, with
her daughters, and very busy upon a great piece, of needlework.  She
looked up swiftly as I entered, but never a word she spake.

"I come to make account of my prolonged absence," said I, something out
of countenance for this unlooked for rebuff.

"Judith," said her mother, sharply, "go see whether my babe wakes yet;
Allison do this, and Maud do that," said she, and so emptied her bower
of the maids at a word, and left me standing.

"Lord!" quoth I low to myself, "I am come into the garden of the
Hesperides surely; yet I wist not that the Dragon was mother of them."
But aloud I said, "I am bound to thank you for the hospitality you
extended to me, Madam, the which I cannot well repay."

"I thought no less," replied the lady, without raising her eyes from
her work, "and therefore made application for distraint, which being
granted, I sold such stuff as you thought fit to leave and was not past

"But there was my mare too," I cried.

"Ay, the poor jade," said she, "the knacker put a price upon her, but
it reached not to the value of a feed of oats, so I cried quits and
kept her."

"Then you have her yet?" quoth I.

"I have her not," quoth she, "for I gave her a gift to the parson of
St. Dunstan's Church that hath been very full of encouragement to us in
our trouble."

"Your trouble, Madam?" I began, but she proceeded with a terrible

"'A preached a singular comfortable sermon two Sundays after your
stealing off, upon the text, 'Happy shall he be that rewardeth thee as
thou hast served us,' as would have melted the most shameless, Mr.

"Let us hope it did then," said I, pretty tired of this oblique attack.

"He was not of the congregation, sir," she blazed out, her eyes on mine.

"He was," I retorted, "for he both preached the sermon and hath my
mare.  But he shall give her me again, or else I will take her by

"Ah, you would despoil the Church then, you heretick Turk!" cried the
lady in a thin, hissing voice that befitted the Dragon I had formerly
called her in my thoughts.  "Was it not enough that you should creep
into a Christian household and steal all peace therefrom?  What of the
looks you were ever casting upon my tender Judith, and she so apt at
her catechism and forward in works of grace.  Your mare, quotha!  What
of her pretty beseeching ways that no man hath seen but saith she is
rather Ruth than Judith--ay, and shall find her Boaz one day, I tell
you, in despite of your heathen wiles and treachery.  So, fetch away
your beast from a churchman's stall, 'tis easy done every whit as get a
simple maid's heart; and then off and abroad, while she weeps at home,
poor lass! that is so diligent a sempstress withal, and her father's
prop of his age."

Whilst she was delivering this astonishing and very calumnious speech,
Madam Malt had arisen from her chair and now stood close above me,
wringing her hands that yet kept a hold of her piece of needlework, and
shaking with rage.  She was a marvellous large woman, with a face
something loose-skinned about the jaw, and of a buff colour that
mounted to a brownness in the folds and wrinkles.  Her voice, as I have
said, was very dragonlike, and her whole aspect and presence had
something of an apocalyptic terribleness that seemed to draw the clouds
about her as a garment.  I see her yet in my dreams and awake

Once or twice I strove to interpose a denial in the flood of her
indictment, and to exonerate myself from her load of false charges, but
could nowise make myself heard, or at least heeded, and so gave it
over.  Indeed, how all would have ended I know not, had not the infant
in a lucky hour awakened and lamentably demanded sustenance; whereupon
Judith running in (who I am persuaded had got no further than behind
the door-chink), the lady's thoughts were by the intelligence that her
daughter brought, most happily diverted from me.  Judith regarded me
with one wistful glance, and then in the wake of the Dragon as she
swept from the room, this last of the Hesperides departed from me for

I stood some time very downcast, knowing not what to think, when the
door opening a small space, Mr. Richard's head was thrust in, his eyes
winking with merriment.

"So you have returned to us, Mr. Prodigal," he whispered, "and have
heard moreover how we take your leaving us so without ceremony as you
did.  Nay, be not melancholy, man," he went on, coming beside me and
laying a hand upon my shoulder, "for we that use the playhouse and the
jolly tavern understand these things well enough.  No need for words
where a nod sufficeth.  But the women would have no men roysters, good
souls! nor hardly allow us the stretch of a lap-dog's leash to gambol
in.  Eh!" he sang out in a pretty good mean voice, although from his
late drinking not well controlled:

  "'Better place no wit can find
  Cupid's yoke to loose or bind.'

But come you with me, Mr. Denis, one of these nights; for we be much of
an age, and should sort handsomely together, if I mistake not."

It lies upon my conscience now, that I neither thanked him for his
intention, which I am sure was friendly meant; nor yet kicked him out
of door for his manifest profligacy.  But as it was, I went straight
past him, looking him full in the face the while, and out of the house.
His cheeks turned a sort of yellow white at this insult and at the
surprise of it, while his hand slipped to his belt for the sword he
commonly wore, but he had it not by him, as indeed he was all unready
and his whole dress disordered after such a night spent as he supposed
I should be willing to join him in another, the like of it.

I found Mr. Nelson without, who leaned very thoughtful against a post
by the door, and by my countenance I showed him plain enough the upshot
of that business.

"'Twas no more than I conceived likely," he said.  "These hired
lodgings be all one."

Finding nothing convenient to return, I held my peace; and so we walked
slowly along Fleet Street, and over the hill by Paul's, to my new abode
upon the Bridge.



My father replied about ten days after to the letter I had writ him,
with another of so sweet a tenour (and yet shrewd enough in the
business parts of it), as reading it, I could have gone on my knees to
honour him.  He made it clear at the outset that my bad bargain must at
all hazards be ratified, and Mr. Wall's loan in full repaid.  This he
undertook to do, saying he had dispatched advices already to the
goldsmith, in which he acknowledged the debt, promising moreover to
acquit himself of it as soon as he could.

"But at this present, Denis," he wrote, "to do so is not altogether
easy, though I hope 'twill not be long ere I shall compass it.  And in
order to that end I have retired from the Court into a more modest
dwelling (as you will perceive by the subscription) in the hamlet of
Tolland, having been fortunate in letting at a fair rent the Court to
your old companion, Sir Matthew Juke, who, his new mansion in Devizes
not at all answering to his expectation, was at the very delivery of
your letter hot to be rid of it; and therefore upon my first making
offer of our house to him upon leasehold, he very eagerly assented to
my proposals."

But if the notion of that thin-blooded knight established in our old
home greatly irked me, this which followed caused me an infinite deal
of sorrow; for I was to learn of a secret malady of my father's which
he had long been subject to, but had never before disclosed, although
it had grievously increased upon him even to the time of my departure
from the Combe, so that he sometimes had doubted of his being then
alive or, at the least, able to disguise any longer from me his
affliction.  "Had it been otherwise," he proceeded, "be well assured
that upon your first motion of distress I would myself have come to
you, as indeed I would yet do (should Providence see fit to restore me)
were it not for the too great dispences of the journey.  For I make of
it no mystery, Denis, but speak with you openly as to one of man's
estate, when I affirm that the charges in this affair be somewhat
larger than with our late accustomed easiness we may satisfy.  And this
bringeth me to the gravest part yet, and that which most I loathe to
make mention of, seeing it is not otherwise to be accomplished than in
our continued severance.  Notwithstanding between friends (as we are)
plain speech is best, and I therefore say that I have a mind you should
engage yourself in some occupation of trade in London; but such as
yourself shall elect to follow; and to you I leave the choosing
thereof.  I will that you continue prosecuting our original design (I
intend your uncle's deliverance) as you shall have the opportunity and
I the means.  So much sufficeth for this time, and therefore I bid you

"Who am your well-wishing and most fond father,

(Followed the sign of the Inn he lay at, which I remembered to have
once noted going through Tolland, and passed it by as a place of mean
and beggarly entertainment.)

This letter I overread a score of times, and each time with the more
admiration that a man of so principal a dignity and so observed, could
find it in his mind thus voluntarily to lay by his honourable estate
and depart a mere exile from his ancient home; and that with never a
murmur of self pity; but quitting all simply and with a grand
negligence, as a man might do that puts up a fair-bound book he has
been reading, but now hath concluded.

'Twas sometime afterward I let my thought stay upon the meaning of that
he had writ of myself; and a longer time ere I could allow the plain
truth that we were come into an absolute poverty.  I think not well to
set down all the shifting considerations that moved me then, nor the
weight of humiliation I undertook at this lapse and derogation from our
name.  But all my dreams brake utterly asunder, and my hopes that had
until now sustained me in pride.  To be penniless I found a greater
evil far than to be sick, and in the first rage of my disappointment, I
quite lost all remembrance of my father (sick too) in the wayside
tavern I had myself disdained to enter.

I was aloft in my room in the warden's house when this letter was
delivered to me in the afternoon of the day following my passage with
the hosier's wife, and I remember how I sat by the window looking
across the Bridge street, betwixt the tall houses, out upon the River
and the great galleys in the Pool, and upon that square grey shadow of
the Tower.  All I saw appeared to me so large and unfettered, and to be
spread so comely in the soft blue air that I could hardly bear to
reduce my thoughts to the narrowness and cooped discipline of my own
future.  The eulogy which Mr. Nelson had seen fit to pronounce upon
merchants and traders troubled my spleen not a little at the
remembrance of it; and so out of measure did my resentment run that I
stood by the mullion gnawing at my nails and casting blame hither and
thither, so as none hardly escaped being made a party (as the attorneys
called it) to the case of poverty into which I was fallen.  Amongst
other follies I allowed, was this: that I dared not now seek out my old
schoolmaster, lest from the height of his new soldier's calling he
should rail down upon me in Latin, which tongue seemeth to have been
expressly fashioned for satire.

But such a resolution extended no further than to Mr. Jordan, for I
still cherished and held fast to the hope of discovering the maid and
of thanking her, as was necessary (or at least upon the necessity of it
I would admit no argument); and also of acquainting her of my present
and intolerable trouble.  That she were, like enough, engaged in some
trade, as well as I, I never so much as conceived possible, but drew in
advance upon her store of pity for my singular misfortune.

The day grew towards evening as I stood thus, debating of these
matters, and the River came over all misted and purple and very grand.
Here and there were lights too that went thwarting it, they being the
great lanterns of the wherries and barges that continually traversed
the stream; and the fixed lights were these set upon the hithes and
stairs, or else aloft in the houses by the bankside.  'Twas a wondrous
melancholy sight, methought, and seemed a sort of blazon and lively
image of surrender, this decline of day into dark.  For boylike I
omitted the significance of the lights burning, and received the night
only into my soul.

"Mr. Denis, will't please you come below?" came a shrill voice athwart
these reflections and startled me.

"Is it supper?" I asked something petulantly, for I hated to be

"Nay, Master Dumps, 'tis the goodman's brother, the Queen's yeoman,
that would speak with your little worship."

Something in her manner forbade my gainsaying her, so I went down into
the great kitchen where we commonly sat, and there found the warden,
with the yeoman his brother in his scarlet apparel as I had before seen
him; his halberd set up in a corner where it took the glitter of the
fire, and his velvet bonnet laid on the table.  Mr. Nelson at once
presented him to me, upon which he rose up with a salutation in the
military manner, very stately, and then sat down without a word.

"I have ventured so far to meddle in your proper affairs, Mr. Cleeve,"
said Gregory Nelson, "as to inquire of master sergeant here in what
sort your uncle is entreated in the Tower, as also whether the
Constable would likely grant you access to him, he lying under so
weighty an indictment."

"You have done kindly," I said, and told them both of the letter I had
received from my father, in which he had iterated his desire I should
yet attempt his brother's release, or rather the procuring of his trial
to that end.  The sergeant nodded once or twice the while I spoke in
this fashion, but did not interrupt me.  Nevertheless Madam Nelson, who
perceived that something was forward of which she had heard never a
word, could scarce constrain herself to await the conclusion, which
when she had heard, she burst in--

"Ah, truly, Gregory Nelson," said she, setting a fist upon either hip
and speaking very high and scornful, "when Providence gave thee me to
wife, He gave thee a notable blessing, and one of a pleasant aptitude
to discourse, yet not beyond discretion, as we women have a name
(though without warrant) to go.  But in giving thee to me, He furnished
me with nought but an ill-painted sign of the Dumb Man, so out of all
reason dost thou hide and dissemble thy thoughts.  Why, I had as lief
be married to Aldgate Pump as to thee, for all the news thou impartest,
or comfort got of thee by the mouth's way; which was sure the way
intended of Him that made us with mouths and a comprehension of things
spoken.  Yea, a very stockfish took I to mate in thee, Gregory, whose
habitation should be in Fishmongers Row, on a trestle-stall of

The cogency of this speech of the warden's wife, great as it might be
in abuse, was yet so small in its effect upon her husband, that I was
fain to relate to the poor woman (who loved me for it ever after) the
whole story of Botolph Cleeve's imprisonment in the Tower, which her
husband had (so far prudently) kept silence upon.

"Poor man," cried she pitifully when she knew all, "ah, these poor
solitary prisoners!  I marvel how good men can find it in their hearts
to guard them from escaping thence.  Were I a yeoman now," she added,
with an eye askance upon the sergeant and after upon her husband, "I
would suffer all such freely to depart thence without challenge, as
desired it, or at least such as led a Christian life and loved their

"Is my uncle kindly dealt with there?" I demanded of the yeoman, but to
that question he hesitated so long in his reply that I cried--

"If he be not, 'tis ill done, so to use a man that I hope to prove
innocent of this charge."

"'Tis because he is innocent belike, poor soul," quoth Madam Nelson,
"that they do so use him.  In this world it hath ever been the virtuous
whose faces are ground."

"Do you know where his dungeon is situate?" I asked, starting to my
feet as though I would go (and meant to) at once to the Lord Constable,
"or if not you, then who doth know it?"

"None doth," he answered me slowly, "because he is not in the Tower."

"What mean you?" cried I, as soon as I could for astonishment.  "My
uncle is not a prisoner there?"

"I trow otherwise!" retorted the warden's wife, who saw her pity ill
bestowed if she believed him.

"There hath been none of his name apprehended, nor none of his
description," said the yeoman.

"Then where is he?" I cried out bitterly, for I well enough perceived
that all that great sum which we had been enticed into spending was for
nothing lost, and ourselves beggars upon the mere fetch and cozening
imposture of a knave.

"Where he may be I know not," said the Bridge warden, before the yeoman
could answer me, "but I think you came as near to him as might be, when
you gave your money into the hands of Mr. John Skene."

"Skene--Skene!  He--the attorney?  You suppose him to be my uncle?" I
gasped forth the words as one drowning.

He nodded.  "It maketh the matter simple to suppose so," he said,
"which else is hardly to be understood."

Perplexed as I then was, I could scarce believe him, albeit whatever
survey of the matter I made, I confessed the indications directed me,
after infinite wanderings, ever back to the same point, which was that
my uncle had manifestly lied in writing that he was kept prisoner, and
by our belief in that lie, who but himself did he mean should benefit?
Yet unless he were indeed Skene (and so received our twice five hundred
pounds) he had gained nothing upon that throw, but lost it to another
more cunning than he, which were a thing I thought scarcely to be

The weight of this disclosure so whelmed me that I could do nor say no
more, but throwing my arm along the table, had my face down in it to
hide the tears which would have course, try as I might to restrain
them.  Good Dame Nelson, all blubbered too, leant over my shoulder to
comfort me, although her sympathy must have been something doubtfully
extended to one that wept because his uncle was proved to be not a
prisoner, but in the full enjoyment of his liberty.

But after continuing in this case some while there came into my mind
some considerations of revenge, and they greatly comforting me, I sat
upright in my chair, and begged the tolerance of the two men for my
late weakness.

"Nay, say no more of it, lad," replied Mr. Nelson, "for no man liketh
to think of a villain at large, and in particular, if the villain be of
the family."

And so, calling to his wife to serve up the supper, and to us to seat
ourselves about the board, he did his best to make me forget, for that
while, my troubles.

However I could eat but little, though I made appearance as if I
relished the wholesome steaming food; and not I only, but the
sergeant-yeoman also, I soon perceived, did eat sparingly, and as one
whose mind was absent from the feast.  And soon he ceased altogether,
laying aside his knife and platter and clearing his throat with a sort
of sob (which was the prelude to as moving a tale as ever I heard) and
resting his great bearded cheek upon his hand.

"Why, what ails you, master sergeant?" cried Dame Nelson in quick
compassion; but it was to his brother, and not her, that he replied--

"You spake truly, Gregory," said he, "when you told Master Cleeve that
no man loveth to think of a villain at large if he be of one's own
family.  But you spake it to my shame."

"I intended it not so, truly," said the warden very earnestly.

"I know it," said the yeoman, "but yet when you brought in the family
it touched me pretty near.  Stay!" he said, when he saw that Gregory
would have interposed some further excuse.  "You have not altogether
forgot my boy, Jack, that went a shipman in the Green Dragon upon a
voyage into Barbary, two year since."

"I remember him very well," answered the warden, while his wife
whispered me that he had the finest pair of grey eyes you did ever see.

"I have received certain news of him but this very day," continued the
yeoman, "which hath quite taken away my peace, and set my mind amidst
perilous thoughts."

"A mercy on us!" cried the woman, starting up from the table; "what
words be these, master sergeant?"

"He hath turned Turk," said the yeoman, in a thick voice.

"As being enforced thereto, God help him!" said Mr. Nelson; but his
brother shook his head.

"'Twas his own will to do so," he said, and rose from the bench;
whereupon we all rose too, though without well knowing wherefore, save
that we were strangely affected by his narrative.  The yeoman went over
to the corner where his great pike rested, and returning thence with
it, he stood for some while quite still and upright (in such posture as
a soldier doth upon guard), his eyes upon the bright fire which threw
the distorted huge shadow of him against the ceiling.  At the last, in
a small voice, as though he spake not to us, he said--

"From my youth I have been known for a God-fearing man, and one not
given over to lightness.  To the Queen I pledged my faith once, and
have kept it.  Had I so much as in one point failed of my word, I would
willingly and without extenuation answer the same.  And no less have I
dealt with Heaven--faithfully, as befits a soldier.  Then how comes it
that one born flesh of my flesh should do me this shame?  Is it my
reward and wages for stout service?  Nay, had Heaven a quarrel with me,
I would abide it.  Had I defaulted, I should look to be punished in
mine own person.  But to defame me through my son; to fasten the
reproach and scorn of a renegade upon me because he cowardly threw
aside his faith; I say I like not that, nor think not that Heaven hath
dealt with me as my captain would."  He stayed his speech there quite
suddenly, and took up his black bonnet from the table, we all
marvelling the while, as much at his words as at the apostasy that had
occasioned them.  But this speech that ensued, which was spoken with an
infinite simplicity as he was going, moved us who listened to him, I
think, more than all the rest.  "And yet," said he, "there be armies in
heaven;" and with that he left us and went his way.

The evening being very chill we were glad enough of an excuse to build
up a cheerful great fire on the hearth, and to sit before it for
comfort, although in truth we were sad at heart and but little inclined
to conversation.

I think 'twas about eight o'clock, and quite dark without, when
something happened to divert our thoughts from the yeoman for that
night at least, while for the rest I doubt if the yeoman himself were
more staggered when he heard of his son's error than I, when, chancing
to lean back a little from the heat of the fire (and so turned my head
aside), I saw, pressed close to the lattice panes of the window, a
face, long and sallow, and with thick black curls clustered about it,
which I knew on the instant belonged to that enemy of mine that had
secretly spied upon me before, and now with an evident joy discovered
me again.  But even as I looked he was gone; and I, with an exclamation
of wrath, caught up my sword and cap, and sprung out into the street to
follow him.



There was a press of people about the door as I went forth, which so
hindered my passage as Mr. Nelson, who had started up in alarm of my
sudden departure, caught me ere I had run a dozen paces, and would have
reasoned me into returning.  But I would not be led thus nor listen
either, and so telling him 'twas a man I greatly desired to have speech
of that I followed, shook myself free, and jostled hardly through the
throng.  To my joy I could yet see the tall figure of my unknown
adversary about a stone's cast ahead of me and walking swiftly.  But
the main part of the shops being now closed, there was but scant light
to serve me in my chase, and more than once I feared I had lost him or
ever he got half-way to the new tower by the Bridge end.  Nevertheless,
by that time I had arrived pretty near, and, indeed, soon trod so close
in his steps, that I could hear the jar of his hanger against the
buckle of his belt; but it being no part of my design to accost him in
so public a place, I fell back a little, and when he passed under the
bow of the gate-house, where a pair of great lanterns hung suspended, I
made as if to tighten a lace of my shoe, bending low, lest upon a
sudden return he should observe me; which, however, he did not, but
went straight forward.  I had supposed it probable he would go off to
the left hand, that is, westward, towards Baynards Castle, wherein, as
I already knew, he had his lodging; and was greatly surprised,
therefore, when, a little way up the street, he turned sharply to the
right hand, behind St. Magnus' Church, where the street goes down very
steep, and is moreover ill paved and (at such an hour) exceeding
darksome.  The gallant descended this hill at a great pace, while I for
my better concealment followed him somewhat more tardily as being
secure of his escape thence, where there was but a scantling of folk
about the lane from whom he was very easily to be distinguished, they
being ill-habited and of the common sort.  In such manner we proceeded
a great way, passing in our course by two or three alleys that led down
to the Thames, of which I could perceive the gleam of the water, yet so
narrowly visible that the sight of it was as a blade of steel hung up
between the houses.  All this quarter of the City I was perfectly
ignorant of, my knowledge being limited to such parts of it only as I
had traversed betwixt the Bridge and Fetter Lane, if I except
Serjeant's Inn in Fleet Street, which to my cost I had come to know
pretty well.

Whereto my exact intention reached, I should have found it difficult to
determine, but a settled hatred of the man possessed me, beside some
motions of fear (I confess now) that his continued espial had stirred
within me; and under the influence of fear, much more than of hatred,
we be ever apt to run into an excess of cruelty.  Thus I remember well
enough the coolness with which I rehearsed my attack upon him, and the
considerations I maintained in my mind for and against the waylaying
him before he could stand upon his defence.  Overrunning him with a
critical eye, I could not but admire his great stature and apparent
strength, to which I had to add a probable skill in fence, that I
lacked, having never been lessoned therein, though I had sometimes
played a heat or two with Simon, using a pair of old foils we found one
day in the stable loft at home.  Notwithstanding, this defect weighed
nothing against my will, but rather exalted the desire I had to prove
my courage upon him, whose advantage was so every way manifest.

A great moon hung above the Thames, but obscured now and then by
wreaths of river mist that a light wind lifted the edge of, yet could
not sustain the bulk to drive it.  There was no sound but that my enemy
made with his accoutrements; for I, lurking along in the black shadows,
made none, and the street was now everywhere void.  All went pat to my
purpose, and I loosened my sword in its sheath.  Then I crossed the

But even as I did so, my man came to a sudden stand before an old and
very ruinous house, having a porch of stone, and within that a door
with a grid, whereon I presently heard him give a great sounding rap
with the pummel of his sword.  And so unexpected was that act of his
(though why it surprised me I know not) that I stood quite still in the
full light, nor could for my life put into execution my policy that he
had thus distracted.  The place wherein we had come I saw was near
under the Tower, of which I could, by the dim light, perceive the
undistinguished mass thwarting the bottom of the lane; and the house to
which the man demanded admittance was the last upon the left hand this
side the open space before the Tower.  He remained some while, half hid
in the deepness of the gateway above which a lantern swung with a small
creaking noise; the light of it very dim and uncertain.  After my first
arrestment of surprise, I had gone aside a little, yet not so far but I
could observe him, and the low oaken door at which he knocked.  There
was something about this silent and decayed building which I liked not,
though I could not tell precisely wherefore; for indeed it showed signs
of some magnificence in the design of it, but now was all worn out by
neglect and foul usage; being turned over to the occasions of shipmen
and victuallers for storage of such things as their craft requires.
Thus, from a fair great window above, that I judged to have been
formerly the window of the hall or chapel, was now projected a sort of
spars and rough tackle, by which the slender mullion-shafts were all
thrust aside and broken.  A high penthouse of timber with a crane
under, stood by the wall a little beyond, for the getting of goods in
and out, with other such disfigurements and mean devices of trade as a
mansion is wont to suffer that great folk have left, and small folk
have cheaply come by.

At length I saw the grid within the door to be slid back very warily,
and by a faint access of light perceived that the porter bore a taper,
as being unwilling to open to one he knew not, or could not see.

A conversation followed, but too low for me to hear it, though I
suspected from the manner of the man that he first besought, and after
demanded, admittance, which was still denied.  Then he betook himself
(as I could tell) to threats, and was soon come to wresting at the bars
of the grid, like a madman.  But that which sent me from my ambush was
a cry of terror from the other side of the gate at his so insolent
violence; for it was the cry of a girl.

I strode forward.

"Hold!" I said, mastering myself to speak within compass, and taking
the man by the sleeve with my right hand, while I kept my left upon my
poniard.  "A guest that is not welcome should have the modesty to know

He swung round with a great oath, and would have flung me off, had I
not gripped him pretty hard.

"Ay, is it thou?" said he, when he saw who held him, and I could swear
there was some respect in his way of saying it.

"I come to tell you that your barber hath left his shop in Fetter
Lane," said I.

He laughed aloud at that, high, and with a sort of scornful jollity,
though his narrow eyes never left my face.

"You are right, lad," he said heartily, "and I have sought him
everywhere since."

"Even upon London Bridge," said I, nodding.

"Even there," replied the dark man.

"I have myself some skill in that sort," I said, "so if the hour be not
too late for shaving we will get to business straightway."

"As you will," said he, indifferently.  "But now, to leave this
schoolboy humour a little, and seeing I have no quarrel with you nor
yet know (as I told you before) your name even, were it not better you
should state your grievance against me if you have one, as I suppose
you deem yourself to stand upon some right in thus constraining me?"

The while he was speaking thus and in such easy parlance as I had
before noted was proper to him, my thoughts had returned to that girl's
cry I had heard behind the grid, and looking about swiftly, I saw the
gate itself now opened a small way, and the girl's form within the
opening in a posture of infinite eagerness.  So taken with this sight
was I, that insensibly I slacked my hold of the man, who suddenly
withdrew his arm and stood away jeering.

"The door is open," I said, in a low voice, and putting my hand on my
sword; "wherefore do you not enter?"

"I will do so," said he, and before I could hinder him, he had swept me
aside with a great buffet, and run forward to the gate.  Cursing my
lack of readiness to repel him, I drew at once and followed him, while
the maid, who at his approach had fled backward, pushed to the door;
yet not so quick--the hinges turning heavily--but he prevented her,
thrusting in his arm betwixt the post and the door, and had gained his
purpose easily, had not I sprung upon him from behind and so hindered
him that his hand was caught and crushed, ere he could release himself.

"I owe you small thanks for that, Mr. Denis," said he, gravely, when he
had flung the door open and got his hand free; and by his disdain of
continuing the pretence not to know my name, I saw we were come into
the lists as open foes.

"You owe somewhat elsewhere," said I, "and that is amends to this lady
for your discourtesy," and as I spoke I looked across to where she
stood in the hall, a distance off from us twain, by the foot of the
great stair.  A light from some lamp, hung aloft out of sight, diffused
itself about her, so that she stood clear from the obscurity which
wrapped all else; and by that light I knew her for the maid I sought,
and would thank, and did already supremely love.  The light falling
directly from above lay upon her hair and seemed to burn there, so
splendid a shining did it make.  Of her face and body, the most of
which was dim in shadow, I could yet discern the exceeding grace and
lithe bearing.  Her hands were outspread in terror for our clamorous
intrusion, and I thought by her swaying she was about to swoon.  But
small leisure had I to proffer service, or indeed to do aught but
return to my guard, which I resumed none too soon, for the tall man had
drawn his great sword already and now caught up a piece of sailcloth
from the rummage about the hall, wrapping it about his injured arm.

"So it would seem you know her, too, Mr. Denis," he let slip in a voice
of some wonder, and I thought paused upon the question how we were
become acquainted.

"Have a care!" I cried, and so thrust at him without further parley.

He caught the blow easily enough on his blade, turning it aside.
"Country play!" he muttered, and was content to let me recover myself
ere he took me in hand.  However, I had the good luck to drive him a
pace or two backward, amidst the stuff that lay there about, bales and
cordage and the like, which hampered him not a little, though for the
rest I could not touch him; whereas he did me whenever he listed, but
so far without great harm.  Yet notwithstanding his disdainful
clemency, or rather because of it, I lost all sense of the odds we
matched at, and laid about me with increasing fury, so that, for all he
was so expert and cool a swordsman, I kept him continually busy at the
fence and sometimes put him to more art than he would have wished to
use, in order to defend himself from my assaults.

Now the hall where we fought thus, was, as I have said, full of all
sorts of impediments and ship's furniture, and was, besides, very low
and lighted by nothing but the gleam of the stair-lamp at the far end,
so that though we both lost advantage by these hindrances, yet his loss
was the greater; for with due light and space he could have ended when
he chose; but now was forced to expect until I should abate somewhat of
my persistence ere he did so; which, seeing I bled more than at first,
he no doubt looked for presently.  And so indeed did I; but the
expectation seconded my little art in such sort that I broke down his
guard and, before I was aware, had caught him high up in the breast, by
the shoulder, and I could have laughed for pleasure as I felt the steel
sink in.  Howbeit 'twas a flesh wound only, and thus no great matter,
as I knew; but it served to put him quite from his coolness, and as
well by his manner of fetching his breath, I could tell he was
distressed, as by his level brow that he meant to be rid of me.  But

"Oh, stay it here, gentlemen," cried the girl, who saw that we breathed
a space, though we still kept our points up and ready to be at it anew.
"If the watch pass now, you will be certainly apprehended as you go
forth.  Have pity of each other," she said, and came forward almost
between us.  "And you, sir" (to me), "if you do thus because he would
have entered here, I thank you.  But now let him go, I pray you, as he
shall promise no further to offend."

You may imagine how this talk of my letting him go, who was a thousand
times the better swordsman, angered my antagonist.

"Ay, Mistress Avenon," he said, in that wicked, scorning voice he had,
"we shall stay it here surely to please you.  But yet there be some
slight formalities accustomed to be used which must first be done; and
after I will go."

"What be those formalities you speak of?" she asked, with an apparent
gladness that the worst was past.

"Just that I must kill him," said the dark man, very quietly between
his teeth.

"Good mistress," I cried out, for I was persuaded he spake truth and
dreaded lest she should see what in pity of her womanhood I would
should be hid, "go aside now.  Go to your chamber."  But to the man I
whispered, "Come without into the street."

"There spoke a coward," was his word, and drawing back upon his ground
he swung up his sword arm to the height, and husbanding the weight of
his whole body, stood poised to cut me down.  I saw the blow coming,
even in the dark, and despairing to avoid it, let drive right forward,
at the same moment muffling up my eyes in the sleeve of my idle arm,
for the terror of death was upon me then.  Our swords sang....  But
even as I struck I knew that a miracle had been wrought, for his sword
never fell.  Sick with amazement I opened my eyes, to see him go over
amongst the bales, where he sank down with a great sobbing cry.  His
sword hung quivering from a rafter of the ceiling, which it had bitten
into by the blade's breadth.  His tallness of stature, and hardly I,
had overthrown him and left me victor.

"God be praised!" I said very low, when I perceived and could believe
how matters had gone; but "God have mercy!" whispered the maid.

I turned about.

"You had best go, Mistress Avenon," I said.  "The rest must be my work."

"You will not surrender yourself?" she asked, very white.

"If he be dead..." I began, but could not finish for trembling.

"He is not dead, I think," she interrupted hastily, and went back to
the stair, whence she soon returned with the lamp, which she set down
upon a hogshead, and then bent over the wounded man.

"A kerchief," she said, briefly, "a scarf; something linen if you have

I tore off a strip from my sleeve and with that she staunched the
worst.  We made a compress of my band, drenching it in cold water, and
for tightness buckled my belt upon it, which I gave her.

"There is burnt wine in yonder firkin," she said, and I fetched a
draught in the cup of my two hands.

When he sighed we looked at each other, and I said--

"Who is he?"

"It is Master Guido Malpas," she whispered, and added, "I am glad you
have not killed him."

But that speech went near spoiling all, seeing that I had gone into
that tourney her champion.

"Ay, there would have been another tale to tell," I returned very
bitterly, "had your rafters been set but a span higher."

"Oh, you mistake me, Mr. Denis (I think they call you so)," said she,
and bent low over the wounded man again.  "I mean I am glad your
kindness to me hath not run so far as you must needs have wished to
recall it."

It is a maid's voice more than her words that comforts a man, and so,
scarce had she spoken but I saw I had misjudged her.

"Denis is my name," I said eagerly, "but tell me yours now."

"You have heard it, and used it too," she answered smiling.  "'Tis

"Ay, but the other?" I cried.

She paused before she told me "Idonia."

"He loves you?" I said very quick, and nodded toward Malpas.

"He saith so."

"Doth he often trouble you thus?"

"I fear him," she said so low I could scarce hear her.

"But your father?" said I, "or your brothers?  Have you none to protect

"My father was slain in a sea-battle long since," she told me, "when he
went in the _Three Half Moons_ with others that traded with the Seville
merchants, but falling in with a fleet of Turkey, they were nearly all
taken prisoners, but my father was killed."

"You were a child then?" I asked her, and she said she was but an
infant; and that her mother was long since dead also, and that she had
no brothers.

She seemed as though she were about to add more, but just then the sick
man revived, opening his eyes and gazing upon us as one that seemed to
consider how we twain should be together in such a place.  I got up
from where I had been kneeling beside him and stood to stretch myself;
but was surprised to find how painful my own hurts were, which I had
almost forgotten to have received.  I suppose Idonia saw me flinch, for
she suddenly cried out, "Mr. Denis, Mr. Denis, I will come to you," and
leaving Malpas where he lay, rose and came over to me, when she took me
very gently by the arm and made me sit, as indeed I needed little
persuasion to do.  Howbeit I was (as I have said) scarcely scratched,
and should have felt foolish at the elaborate business she made of it,
had not her hair been so near to my lips.

But presently, and while we were thus employed, she with dressing my
hurts, and I with such and such affairs, Idonia whispered--

"Doth he know where you lodge?"

"Yes," said I, "he discovered the place to-night," and told her where
it was, and of the kindness Master Gregory had shown me.

"I knew not his name," she interrupted me hurriedly, while making
pretence to busy herself with the tightening a bandage, "nor of what
authority he were that took you from me when you were hurt before; but
he looked at me as at one that would not use you well, and in the end
spoke something roughly to me, so that I dared not follow you.  Ah!
these upright staid men!" she added with a world of bitterness; but
then, "Now your lodging is known, you must leave it straightway, sir."

"I am not used to run away," said I, more coldly than I had meant to
do, and she said no more.  When we looked up Malpas had gone.

We looked at each other without speaking for admiration of the strength
and secrecy he had shown in thus stealing off.

"I must go too," I said presently, and saw her eyes widen in dismay.

"Beware of him!" she whispered.  "He doth not forget.  And see! he hath
not neglected to take his sword;" as indeed, most marvellously, he had

"Well, he serves an honest gentleman," quoth I carelessly, "so that if
I have cause to think he plots against my life, I shall lay my
complaint before my lord Pembroke."

But she shook her head as doubting the wisdom, or at least the
efficacy, of that, though she said nought either way, but led me soon
after to the great oaken door (which Malpas had left ajar when he went)
and set it wide.  The night was very dark, with the moon now gone down
into the bank of cloud, and so still that we heard a sentinel challenge
one at the Bulwark Gate of the Tower.  I thought too I heard the rattle
of an oar against the thole, as though a boat put off from the Galley
Quay a little below, but of that I was not sure.

"God keep you," I said to the maid; but when she did not answer me I
looked down and saw she was weeping.

When I went away, I heard the bolt shoot into its rusted socket, and
asked myself: how would my case stand now, had Idonia shot it, as she
essayed to do, at the first?



I know not yet (and I thank Heaven for my ignorance) what may be the
peculiar weakness of old age, though I suspect it to lie in an
excessive regard for life; but of youth I have proved it to be a
contempt of life; which, despite the philosophic ring of the phrase, I
do affirm to be a fault, though I am willing to allow that I mean a
contempt, not of our own, but of another man's life, and a surprise
that he should hold dear so vulgar a commodity.

Thus, as I walked away from the house of Idonia, I pondered long and
carefully the small account that Mr. Malpas was of, and could not
conceive how he had the monstrous impudency to cling so tight as he did
to the habit of living, which (as a soiled shirt) he might well enough
have now been content to exchange.  Indeed, the more I thought upon the
matter, the greater increased my sense of the absurdity that such a man
should claim his share of the world, or rather (to select the essential
quality of my complaint) his share of that corner of Thames Street
where Idonia lived, which goeth by the name of Petty Wales.  From
thence, at all hazards, I was determined to exclude him.  For had not
Idonia said: "I fear him"? and that was enough for me.  Indeed it
seemed to elevate my jealousy into an obligation of chivalry, merely to
remember that sallow-faced swaggerer that said he loved her.  Simon
Powell should have fitted me with some knight's part, methought, amidst
his Peredurs and Geraints, and I would have proved myself worthy as the
best of them.

But that was all very well.  It was past ten o'clock, and when I got to
London Bridge I found it barred against me and the watch within the
gate-house snoring.  I knocked twice or thrice pretty hard and at
length woke the watch; but so angered was he at thus losing of his
sleep, besides that he thought perhaps to recover upon his late
remissness, that he flew into an unnecessary zeal of watchfulness,
swearing I was some vagabond rogue, and, bidding me begone, shut the
wicket in my face.  In vain did I endeavour to make myself known,
bawling my name through the gate, and Mr. Nelson's too; the porter had
returned to his interrupted repose, and nothing on earth would move him
again, for that night at least.

So after having launched one or two such observations as I thought
befitted the occasion, I made the best of it I could, and turned away
to seek for some cleanly house of receipt where I might pass the
remainder of the night.  Some while I spent in ranging hither and
thither, without happening on such an hostelry as did please me (for I
confess to a niceness in these matters); but at length, coming into a
place where two streets met, I found there a very decent quiet house
that answered to my wishes so well that I immediately entered and
bespoke a chamber for the night.  Here I slept exceeding soundly, and
in the morning awoke, though yet sore from my scratches, yet otherwise
refreshed and cheerful.

The better part of the travellers that had lain there were already up
and away ere I arose, so that I had the room to myself almost, wherein
I broke my fast, and, save for the lad that served me, held
conversation with none other.  Had I known in what fashion we were to
meet later, I should no doubt have observed him with more closeness
than I did, but I saw in a trice he was one that a groat would buy the
soul of, and another groat the rest of him.

"'Twas late you came hither last night," he said as he set down my
tankard beside me upon the table.

I smiled without replying, and nodded once or twice, to give him a
supposition of my discretion; but he took it otherwise.

"Ay, you say truly," he ran on, "there is a liberty of inns that no
private house hath.  Come when you list and go when you have a mind to;
there's no constraint nor question amongst us."

"Be pleased to fetch me the mustard," said I.

"You know what is convenient," he returned in a voice of keen approval,
as he brought it.  "Now, I was once a serving man in Berkeley Inn,
called so of my lord Berkeley that lodgeth there.  But whether he were
at home or absent, I was ever there.  And where I was, you understand,
there must needs be necessaries bought, and such things as were, as I
say, convenient."

He leered upon me very sly as he spoke these mysteries; by which I
perceived I was already deep in his favour, as he was (like enough)
deep in villainies.

"I marvel how from a lord's mansion you came to serve in a common
tavern," said I, to check him.

"Oh, rest you easy, sir," he laughed, "for the difference is less than
one might suppose.  There be pickings and leavings there as in an
hostelry, a nimble wit needed in both places indifferently, and for the
rest, work to be scanted and lies to be told.  Hey! and lives to be
lived, master, and purses filled, and nought had, here nor there, but
must be paid for or else stolen."

Such light-hearted roguery I owed it to my conscience to condemn, but
for the life of me I could not, so that I fell into a great laughter
that no shame might control.  I hope it was weakness of my body, and
not of virtue, pushed me to this length, but however come by, I could
not help it, and think moreover it did me good.

"Come, that is the note I like," said my tapster, whose name I learnt
was Jocelin; and, setting his lips close to my ear, he added, "London
town is but a lump of fat dough, master, till you set the yeast of wit
to work therein; but after, look you! there be fair risings, and a
handsome great loaf to share."  His eyes sparkled.  "I have the wit,
man, I am the yeast, and so..."

He had not finished his period, or if he did I marked him not, for just
at that season the gate of a great house over the way opening, a party
of horsemen rode forth into the street with a clatter of hoofs.  They
wheeled off at a smart pace to the right-hand, laughing and calling out
to each other as they went, and sending the children a-skelter this way
and that before them.  Yet, notwithstanding they were gone by so
speedily, I had yet espied the device upon their harness and cloaks,
which was the green dragon and Pembroke cognizance.  I flung back my

"Is yon house Baynards Castle?" I cried.

"None other," he replied, nodding while he grinned.  "I have certain
good friends there, too."

"Is Mr. Malpas of the number?" I demanded.

"Oh, he!" he answered with a shrug.  "A bitter secret man!  If 'a has
plots he keeps them close.  He flies alone, though 'tis whispered he
flies boldly.  But we be honest men," quoth he, and held his chin
'twixt finger and thumb.  "We live and let live, and meet fortune with
a smile.  But I hate them that squint upon the world sidelong, as he
doth."  From which I drew inference that they twain had formerly
thieved together, and that Malpas had retained the spoil.

But I soon tossed these thoughts aside for another, which, as it came
without premeditation, so did I put it into practice immediately.
Having satisfied my charges at the inn, therefore, and without a word
to Jocelin, I ran across the street and into the gate-house of the
castle, before the porter had time to close the gate of it behind the

"Is Mr. Malpas within?" I accosted him eagerly.

The porter regarded me awhile from beneath raised brows.

"Have you any business with him, young master?" said he.

"Grave business," I replied, "knowing, as I do, who it was gave him
that hurt he lies sick withal."

The old man pushed the gate to with more dispatch than I had thought
him capable of using.  "Ay, you know that?" he muttered, looking upon
me with extraordinary interest.  "That should be comfortable news to
Signor Guido; that should be honey and oil to his wound;" and I saw by
that he understood his Malpas pretty well.

He led me aside into his lodge, and there, being set in his deep,
leathern chair, spread himself to listen.

"Who is he, now?" he asked, in that rich, low voice a man drops into
that anticipates the savour of scandal.

I looked him up and down as though to assure myself of his secrecy, and

"'Twas Master Cleeve," said I.

Heavy man as he was, he yet near leapt from his chair.

"Is't come to that?" he cried.  "Master Botolph Cleeve!  Now the saints
bless us, young man, that it should be so, and they once so close to
hold as wind and the weather-cock!"

I saw his error and meant to profit by it, but not yet.  If, indeed, my
uncle Botolph were hand-in-glove with Malpas, why, then, I was saved
the pains to deal with them singly.  Having smelled out the smoke, it
should go hard but I would soon tread out the fire.  Howbeit, I judged
that to question the old man further at that season would be to spoil
all; since by manifesting the least curiosity of my uncle, I should
deny my news (as he understood it) that my uncle, and not I, had near
robbed Malpas of his life.  Noting the porter, then, for a man to be
considered later, I returned to my politic resolution to get speech of
Malpas himself, and to tell him, moreover, that Mistress Avenon
abhorred his addresses, which I was therefore determined should cease.

Perhaps I counted upon his sick condition in this, and upon a
correspondent meekness of behaviour, but regard it as you will, I was a
mere fool and deserved my rival should rise from his bed and beat the
folly out of me.  Nevertheless, I take pride that my folly ran no
further, so that when the porter inquired who I might be that desired
to carry this message to the wounded man, I had sufficient wit to
answer frankly that I was Mr. Cleeve's nephew; which reply seemed to
set the seal of truth to that had preceded.

"Mass!" swore the porter, lying back in his chair, "then methinks your
news will doubly astonish Mr. Malpas, seeing who you be that bring it."

"It should somewhat surprise him to learn 'twas my uncle wounded him,"
quoth I modestly.

The porter: "Surprise him!  'Twill make him run mad!  I admire how you
can venture into his chamber with such heady tidings."

"Oh, in the cause of truth, Master Porter," I returned stoutly, "one
should not halt upon the sacrificing of an uncle or so."

"Why, that's religiously said," quoth the porter, who, I could see,
having relieved his conscience in warning me, was glad I would not be
put off, and, indeed (old cock-pit haunter that he was!), did love the
prospect of battle with all his withered heart.

I asked him then what office about my lord's household Mr. Guido held,
and he told me he was keeper of the armoury, and served out the pikes
and new liveries; that, moreover, when my lord was absent he was
advanced to a place of greater trust.

"The which I hope he justifies," said I gravely, but the porter blew
out his cheeks and said nothing.

"Will you lead me to his chamber?" I asked him presently, and he bade
me follow him, first taking up his ring of keys.

We crossed the court together, going towards the west corner of it,
where he opened a door that led on to a winding stair, which we
ascended.  When we had climbed almost to the roof as I thought, he
stayed before another door that I had not observed (so dark and
confined was the place), through which he preceded me into the gallery
beyond it, a low but very lightsome place, with a row of dormer windows
along the outer side of it, from one of which, when I paused to look
forth, I beheld the river Thames directly beneath us, and a fleet of
light craft thereon, wherries and barges and the like, and across the
Southwark flats, far distant, London Bridge, with Nonsuch House in the
midst of it, that cut in twain the morning light with a bar of grey.

While I stood thus gazing idly the great bell of the gate rang out with
a sudden clangour.

"Pox o' the knave that founded thee a brazen ass!" cried the porter.
"Ay, kick thy clapper-heels, ring on!  Again! again!  Shield us,
master, what doomsday din is there!  Well, get gone your ways, Master
Nephew of Cleeve; that long, yellow man's chamber lieth beyond, upon
the right hand, in a bastion of the wall....  List to the bell!" and
with that he turned back in haste and clattered down the stair.

I followed his direction as well as I might, going forward down the
gallery to Malpas' room, although, to speak truly, I had come into some
distaste of that business already, and would have been glad enough to
forego it altogether had not my pride forbidden me so to return upon my
resolution.  At the door I stooped down and listened for any sound of
groaning, which, when I plainly heard, I could not but confess 'twas
something less than merciful to trouble the poor man at such a time.
But having conjured up the figure of Idonia, my pity of her aggressor
fell away again, so that without more ado I knocked smartly upon the

I was answered by a groan deeper than before.

"Have I leave to enter?" I demanded, but was told very petulantly I had

"We are not unacquainted," said I, with my lips to the keyhole.

"The more reason you should stay without," said he, and I could hear
him beat his pillow flat, and turn over heavily upon his side.

"Hast thou forgot my sword so soon?" cried I in a great resentment that
the victor should be pleading thus at the chamber door of the

"Go, hack with thy tongue, Thersites!" came the voice again; but at
that I waited no further, but burst in.  I had got scarce two paces
over the threshold when--

"Why, Master Jordan!" I cried out, for there on the bed lay my ancient
fat friend, his heavy Warham-face peering above the quilt, a tasselled
nightcap bobbing over his nose, and all else of him (and of the
furniture too) hid and o'erlaid by a very locust-swarm of folios.

At the first sight of me I thought he would have called upon the
mountains to bury him, from mere shame of his discovery.

"Away!" he gasped, when he could get breath to say it; "away, graceless
child!  I am no foiner; I know you not.  I am a man of peace, a
reverend doctor.  My trade is in books.  _Impallesco chartis_; I grow
pallid with conning upon the written word.  What be your armies and
your invasions and your marchings to and fro? that lives should be
lived, and brains spent and lost therein.  I tell you, one verse of
Catullus shall outweigh the clatter of a battalion, and Tully is the
only sergeant I salute."  And so, having hurled his defiance, he sank
back amongst the bed clothes and drew down his nightcap an inch lower
upon his brow.

"You know me very well, good doctor," quoth I, and advanced to his
bedside, which was fortified with an huge _vallum_ of the Consolations.
"I am Denis Cleeve."

"'Tis like enough," said the old man with an air of infinite
resignation, and affecting still not to know me.  "And I am my lord of
Pembroke's poor librarian, and at this time somewhat deeply engaged
upon the duties attaching to that service."

He drew forth a volume with a trembling hand as he spoke, and made as
if to consult it.

"Being so accustomed as you are to the use of parchments," said I, "I
had supposed you led a company of foot to tuck of drum."

He was so clearly abashed at my remembering his very words that he had
formerly spoken, that I had not the heart to proceed further in my
jesting, and so sitting down upon the couch beside him I told him that
I applauded this his exchange of resolutions, and that there was enough
of soldiers for any wars we were likely to have, but of scholars not so
ample a supply as he could be spared therefrom, save upon unlooked for
occasion.  Mr. Jordan regarded me very mournfully while I spoke thus,
and when I had done lay a great while silent, fingering his folios and
shaking his tasselled head.  At length he replied thus--

[Illustration: Mr. Jordan regarded me very mournfully.  Chapter XII]

"You have a great heart, my son," said he with a sigh, "and think to
comfort one that lacks not virtue (I hope), although the diligence to
apply it manfully.  Alas! much learning, Denis, hath made me
marvellously to hate confusion and strife.  My mind burroweth as a
coney in the dark places of knowledge, but never my body endureth a
posture of opposition.  Thought is a coward, all said: and philosophy
nought else but the harness we have forged to protect our hinder parts
while we shuffle ingloriously from the fray.  'Tis no hero's person we
assume, lad; and your old fool, your erudite scratchpole--_Graecis
litteris eruditus_, hey?--is everywhere and rightly derided."

I told him very earnestly I thought otherwise, but he would not hear me
out, affirming his contrary opinion, namely, that he was a coward and
trembled at the very name of an enemy, excepting only of his principal
enemy, to wit, his bed.  "And with that," said he, "I have been forced
into concluding an unconditional alliance."

Now I could not bear he should thus contemptuously belittle his valour,
of which I had formerly seen sufficient proof in his dealing with the
thieves about Glastonbury, and said so roundly.

"Well, lad," he replied, and puckering up his face into a grim smile,
"be it as you will; and at bottom I confess I believe I have as much
courage as another man: of which quality indeed it needed some modicum
to encounter my conscience and return to the path I was set in by
Nature.  For there is but little bravery in running counter to our
natures, Denis, and especially when applause and honour lie both that
way.  Ay, I think," quoth he, "I have some obstinacy below, though you
must e'en stir in the sediment to raise it."

In reply to my asking how it had come about that he was installed
keeper of my lord's books, he said it had been consequent upon his
intention (while he yet held to it) of enrolling himself soldier; that
the magistrate to whom he had applied him for that purpose, when he
proposed the oath of allegiance had seen fit to eke it out and amplify
his warrant with so offensive a comparison betwixt the arts of letters
and war, to the utter disadvantage of letters, as he could not abide
the conclusion of, but made off; nor could he ever be induced to return
thither any more.

"And notwithstanding I cried out upon my defection daily," he
proceeded, "I perceived that fate had put the term to my military
service or ever 'twas begun, and so sought elsewhere for employment.
Indeed I had arrived at my last victual, and had scarce wherewithal to
meet the charges of my lodging.  But in a good hour I fell in with
another of the like condition with mine, though for the rest, a poet,
and therefore of a more disordered spirit.  His name was, as I
remember, Andrew Plat, but of where he dwelt I am ignorant.  He was
boldly for stealing what he could not come by honestly, and so far put
his design into practice as, breaking into this very Castle, he
furnished his belly with the best, both of meat and drink.  In the
morning he was found drunk, in which condition he confessed all, but
with such craven and mendacious addition as involved me also, who was
thereupon cited to appear.

"I excused myself, as you may suppose, very easily, but by an
inadvertence I excused myself in Latin.

"'How!' cried my lord, 'you make your apology in Latin?'

"'Have I so done?' said I, 'then judge me as a Roman, for amongst these
barbarians thou and I be the only two civilized.'

"He laughed very heartily at that, and having informed himself of my
merits, soon after delivered up his books into my charge.

"And thus I am, as you see me, returned to my former occupation, which
I shall never again pretermit upon any motion of magnanimity.  If aught
in the future shall offend me, if evil rumours shall penetrate to this
quiet angle of the world, I take up no lance to combat the same, my
son, having a better remedy: which is to rinse out my mouth with great
draughts of Virgil and Cicero, and thereafter with a full voice to
thank the gods that I was not begot of the seed of Achilles."

He invited me to remain to dinner with him, but I would not, and went
away by the way I had come, my head so full of this strange case of Mr.
Jordan (whom I had only chanced upon through the lucky accident of my
having mistaken the porter's direction), that I remembered not so much
as Malpas his name even, until I was safe in the warden's house upon
the Bridge; where I found good Madam Nelson anxiously expecting my
return, who moreover had a steaming hot platter for me that she served
up with certain less palatable satires upon my night's absence.
However, I thought it wise to let them pass for that season, and not
justify myself therein; for a woman loveth not the man that answereth
her again; and especially when he is in the right of it.



If a young man's heels be seldom slow to follow after his heart whither
he hath left it for lost, he hath indeed so many classical examples to
draw upon as he need stand in no fear of censure save of such as have
neither loved at all, nor ever in their lives been young.  And so it
was with me, who had no sooner swallowed down my pudding and as much as
I could stomach of the good wife's reproaches but I was off and away to
Petty Wales to inquire after Idonia, how she did.

'Twas a quiet grey morning of the early year, and as I strode along
very gladsome, methought there could be few places in the world so
pleasant as Thames Street, nor any odour of spices comparable with the
healthful smell about Billingsgate and Somers Quay; although I confess
not to have remarked the fine qualities of either, the night before.  A
great body of soldiers was marching, a little way before me, toward the
Tower, their drums beating, and their ensign raised in the midst; as
heartening a sight and sound as a lad could wish for, and of good omen
too.  But for all my courage was high, and my steps directed towards
the lass I loved, there was yet a fleck of trouble in my mind I would
have wiped out willingly enough, and that was my father's expressed
desire (which I knew, too, was very necessary) that I should set about
earning my living at a trade.  I suppose a boy's thoughts be naturally
averse from buying and selling, and from all the vexatious and mediate
delays which interpose between desires and their satisfaction; for
youth looketh ever to the end itself, and never to the means, whether
the means be money and matters of business, or patient toil, or
increase of knowledge.  Success and the golden moment are youth's
affair, and all else of no account at all.  Ah! of no account when we
be young, seem preparation and discipline and slow acquirement and the
gathering burden of years; but just to live, and to love, and to
win....  Imperious fools that we are: pitiful, glorious spendthrifts!

I got to the great ruined house at length, as the troop swung out onto
Tower Hill, and the roll of their drums died down.  Without loss of
time I drew my poniard and hammered with the haft upon the gate.  To
come to her thus, wearing the arms I had used to defend her from the
man she feared and I had valorously overthrown, surely (said I) this
will get me her admiration and a thousand thanks.  I would dismiss my
wounds with a shrug when she should say she hoped they were mended, and
swear they were not painful, yet with such slight dragging of the words
as she should not believe me but rather commend my fortitude in
suffering (though for that matter they were easy enough and only one of
them anyways deep).  In short I savoured the sweet of our coming
colloquy as greedily as any feast-follower; and at the same time I
continued to rattle my dagger-heel on the oaken door.  After some
minutes thus spent, the grid opened, and behind the bars was Idonia
facing me and very pale.

"What would you, Mr. Denis?" said she.

I dropped my jaw and simply stared upon her.

"What would I?" I gasped out.

"How do your wounds?" she asked hurriedly.  Our conversation seemed
like to stay upon interrogatories.

"But am I not to enter, then?" cried I, as near sobbing as I had ever
been in my life.

"Can we not speak thus?" said Idonia, and glanced backward into the

"Oh, Mistress Avenon!" I said to that, "is it thus you use me?" and so
turned away, smitten to the very heart.  But I had not gone ten paces
from the gate, ere she caught me, and laid a hand upon my arm.

"Ah, Mr. Denis," she whispered, "be not angry with me; say you are not
wroth, and then go.  I beseech you to go away, but first say you are
not angry....  I must not talk with you; must not be seen to talk with
you, I mean."  She might have said more had I not stopped her.

"Not to be seen to talk with me?  Am I a man to be scorned, then?"

She answered below her breath: "'Tis rather I am a maid to be scorned,
methinks....  Oh, look not so!" she added swiftly, "I must go
within....  If they should know you have come..."

"Who should know?" cried I, very big; "and what care I who knows?  I am
not accustomed to shun them that question my behaviour."

"No, no, you are brave," said she, "and 'tis there that my peril lies,
if not your own.  You may defend yourself, a man may do so having a
sword.  But we women have no weapon."

"Who would hurt you?" I asked, moving a step back to the gate.  "Not
Guido Malpas, I warrant, this many a day."

"I live amongst wicked men coming and going," she replied.  I could
feel her hand shake that I now held in mine.  "But now go.  I am not
worth this coil we make; you can do nothing that you have not done
already.  I will remember you," said she in a strange pleading voice,
"and I think you will not forget me awhile either."  She paused a
little, panting as though she had been weary.  "And, Mr. Denis, my
heart is big with pride of your coming hither."

These words she spoke in the deep full voice she used when moved, and
then turning from me, went within and shut to the door.

"Now Heaven forbid me mercy," said I aloud, "if I probe not to the
bottom of this pool."

I pulled down my jerkin in front, and set my ruff even.  Then opening
the purse that hung at my belt, I counted the coins that were in it.
There were a dozen shillings and some few halfpence.  "Certain 'tis
time I got employment," I mused, "yet I allow myself one day more;" and
with that I slid the coins back in my purse, and looked about me.

Now, this great building of Petty Wales before which I stood was once
(or at least is reported to have been) an Inn of the Welsh Princes for
their occasions in the City, but was, upon their long disuse of it,
turned into tenements, as Northumberland House was where Mr. Jordan had
formerly lodged, and was now let out to marine traders, victuallers,
and such other as found it convenient to the quays.  How it came about
that Idonia had her dwelling here I knew not yet, nor indeed did I at
that time know anything of all I am about to set down of this mansion,
which, however, it is very necessary should be understood, seeing how
large a space it occupies in my adventures.

Besides the tenants, then, that by right inhabited there, there had
grown up another sort of secret tenants that lurked amid such odd nooks
and forgotten chambers herein as were overlooked, or of no advantage
for the stowage of merchandise.  Between these mean unnoted folk, that
had crept thither like rats for shelter, and lay as close, there was
maintained a sort of fearful communion and grudged acquaintanceship.
But the house being strongly parted in twain by a stone wall built
throughout the middle of it, from back to front, it was as though there
were two separate houses, of which Idonia used the one, but these the
other.  And since moreover there was but one gate upon the street side
of the house, the men of whom I speak, both the honest ships' brokers
and the lawless poor men, perforce used a certain low-pitched postern
door at the bottom of a narrow alley which ran behind the house.

This door let on to a wide and decayed stair that (I was to learn) was
the poor men's hall and common room; here they met and shared their
stealthy mess together; here elected and deposed their captains, and
celebrated their improvident espousals.  Living on sufferance, stricken
by poverty and terror of the law, hardly allowed as men and women, but
rather as abject orts of nature, they yet preserved amongst themselves
a perfect order from the very necessity of silence; and upon the least
motion of discontent the mutineer was instantly seized, his head
covered, and the captain's knife deep in his heart.  'Twas the women's
office, then, to lay the body out decently; and about midnight four men
bore it secretly to the riverside, and straightway returned.

All this I was to learn from a strange accident that befell me when at
length I left loitering before Idonia's door, and skirted about the
place in search of any index to the riddle she had read me.  For I was
persuaded that to reach the heart of the mystery, I must at all
adventures gain access to the house itself; I being then quite ignorant
of the dividing of it in the manner I have told.  It was with an
extraordinary delight, therefore, that I discovered the lane to the
rearward of the house, and the low door.  Somewhat to my surprise I
found the door not made fast, and so at once entering by it, I began
cautiously to ascend the rotten stair.  But scarce had I gone half-way
to the first stage, when I stumbled over the body of a man that lay
stretched there in the dark, and was, I thought, dead.  Howbeit, he was
not, and when I had him down into the air, and had loosened his
clothing, he opened his eyes.  He stared upon me wildly.

"How?  You are not of the brotherhood?" he stammered.

I said nothing in reply, but leaving him where he was, ran to a tavern
hard by upon Tower Hill, called _The Tiger_, whence I returned
presently with a flask of strong wine.  The drinking of it revived him
marvellously, so that he was soon able to support himself on his feet,
although without strength to walk yet.  I got him some meat, too, and
bread, both of which he ate like a wolf rather than a man; so far had
he gone in starvation.  When he had done, he would have thanked me, but
I interrupted him, asking in my turn who he was, and what trade he was
of.  He straightened his back at that, and looking me very proudly in
the face replied: "My name is Andrew Plat, and by the grace of Heaven I
am a lyrical poet."

Upon the sudden I recalled Mr. Jordan.  "So," I thought, "'tis the
worthy that stole my lord Pembroke's buttery-beer."  However, all I
said was: "I think I have not read any of your writing, Mr. Plat."

"'Tis very possible," said he, "for I write less than I think: and
indeed publish less than I write."

"And how standeth it with your fasting, Master Poet?" quoth I.

"I feed my thoughts that way," he replied simply, "as 'twas in a fast I
conceived my famous lines upon the Spring."

I bade him drink another draught of the wine, having no interest to
scrape acquaintance with his Muse; but he was not so easily to be put

"It begins thus," said he, and tossing back his long and tawny hair
from his eyes, lifted his right hand aloft and beat the air with his
fingers as he proceeded--

  "Fresh Spring, the lovely herald of great Love,
  On whose green tabard are the quarterings
  Of many flowers below and trees above
  In proper colours, as befits such things--
  Go to my love----"

"Hold, hold!" I cried, "methinks I have read something very similar to
these lines of yours in another man's verses."

He held his hand still suspended, though his eyes flashed in disdain of
my commentary.

"An' you were not young and my benefactor," he said, with an extreme
bitterness, "I would be tempted to clap you into a filthy ballad."

"Do you use to write your ballads, full?" I inquired, "seeing 'tis
apparently your custom to steal your lyricks, empty."

He brought down his raised hand clenched upon the other.

"I steal nothing from any man," he cried in a great voice; but even as
he spoke his face went white, and his eyes rolled in his head.  I
thought he had fallen into some fit of poetics, and offered him the
wine again, but he cautioned me to be silent, at the same time cringing
backward into the shadows.

"Why, what ails you?" I asked encouragingly.

He laid his forefinger to his lips, and then, laying his hand upon my
arm, drew me to him.

"Spake I overloud?" he muttered, shivering, too, when I answered that
he certainly had done.

"'Twould be my death were I heard," said the miserable fellow, and then
told me, by starts and elliptic phrases all that I have set down about
this mysterious fellowship of Petty Wales, and the cruel rigour in
which its secrecy was maintained.

"'Tis no place for an honest man," he said, "for all here, but I, be
notable thieves and outlaw villains, bawds, and blasphemers every one.
And were't not for the common table we keep, each man bringing to it
that he may, but all equally partaking, and that we lie sheltered from
foul weather and terror of the watch, I had long since avoided hence.
For I am a lyrical poet, sir, and have no commerce with such as steal."

I could have returned upon him there, with his unconscionable
plagiarism and his assault upon Baynards Castle too, but judged it
Christian to hold my peace.  Furthermore, I had entered this
unwholesome den for another purpose than to argue a point of
authorship, and therefore said quietly enough, but in such a manner as
he should perceive I meant it--

"Now listen to me, Master Poet," quoth I, "and answer me fair, else
will I raise my voice to such pitch as your Captain shall take note of
it for a contingent fault of thine to have loud-speaking friends.

"This great mansion, now," I went on, when I thought he could bear a
part in the argument; "do all the parts of it join, and the dwellers
herein have exchange of intercourse each with the other?"

"No," he said, "they do not."

"But once they had," said I.

"Long since they may have done," replied the poet, "but since the place
hath been converted to its present use, it hath been divided by strong
walls of partition, so as each man is now master of his own."

"How!" I cried, raising my voice of set purpose to frighten him.  "In
this nest of thieves what man is so absolute a master as another may
not possess himself of his goods?"

"I know not, I know nothing," he wailed piteously.

"Are there no cracks in the wainscote even?" I persisted, for something
in his denial led me to suspect he put me off.  He shook his head,
whispering that their new Captain reposed but a dozen paces distant and
would hear, and kill us both.

"Enough," I said pretty stern, "for I see there be privy ways opened
that you have at the least heard tell of (though you may not have dared
investigate them), and communication hence through every party-wall."

"There is none," he repeated, near mad with apprehension.

"It is necessary I discover these passages," I continued, "or rather
one of them, as I think there is one leads to the great hall."

"What know you of such a place?" he almost screamed.

"Rest you easy, sweet singer," said I, laughing at the slip he made,
"for we will not go headlong to this work, nor disturb your Captain's
sleep where he lieth snug till nightfall; but you shall lead me by
quiet ways thither, and when you shall have put me through, I will
suffer you to depart in peace.  But so much I most positively require
of you."

He wept and wrung his hands, protesting I was grievously in error, and
he the most miserable of men; indeed 'twas not until I pulled out my
sword and showed him the blood on it, that he professed himself willing
to serve me, though he still continued to pretend his inability therein.

"That we shall see," said I.  "But first finish your bottle, and then
advance, man, in Master Spenser's name!"

He drank it down, and then cramming the broken morsels of bread and
meat into his wallet (where I saw he kept his verses also with a parcel
of goose quills) he cautioned me to be silent, and stole ahead of me up
the wide and broken stair.

Small light there was to see by, for the few windows which should have
served us were all shuttered or roughly boarded up, and the wind piped
through them shrilly.  Upon the great open gallery he paused as in
doubt which way to proceed, and, to speak justly, 'twould have puzzled
a wiser man in that dimness to pursue any right course between the huge
bales and chests of sea-merchandise that pestered our passage.  Nay,
even the very roof and ceilings were become warehouses, so that once I
espied so great a thing as a ship's cockboat slung from the rafters
above our heads, and once rasped my cheek against the dried slough of a
monstrous water-snake that some adventurer had doubtless brought home
from the Indies.  But I knew well enough that we should have made twice
our progress but for the infinite dread in which the poor poet went of
crossing the lair where the officers of this unholy brotherhood awaited
their hour to steal forth.  At every rustle of wind he staggered so he
could scarce stand, and had it not been for the invigorating coolness
of my sword upon the nape of his neck, he would have fled thence an
hundred times.  Yet for all the dangers (to call them so) of our stolen
march, the thought that stood in the front of my mind was: What lover,
since the world began, hath gone in this fashion to his mistress?  For
insensibly my intention had narrowed down to the mere necessity of
seeing Idonia again.  Surely, never was a house of so many turnings and
bewildered issues; so that we seemed to traverse half the ward in our
quest, and for the most part in pitchy blackness, as I have said, until
I almost could have believed the day had gone down into night while we
shuffled tardily forward.  But at last Mr. Andrew stopped.  We had
turned a coign of the wall, and come into an open space palely lighted
from above; and looking up I saw we stood beneath the vent wherein the
crane worked that I had note from without the night before.

"If it be not closed up, 'tis here," whispered the poet, and enjoining
upon me to succeed him, he took the crane-rope in his hand and pulled
himself up thereby until he had ascended some fifteen feet, when he
swung himself a little to the right hand where was a sort of ledge in
the masonry of the wall (I mean not the front wall of the building, but
a wall that joined it on the square), and there he stood firm.  I was
not slow to join him aloft and there found, behind the ledge or sill, a
low arch in the thick of the wall, and within it a little wicket door.

"You have guided me well," I said, clasping his hand hard, "and I shall
not forget it.  If there be any favour I can show you before we part,
name it, Mr. Plat, and I will use my endeavour to please you."

He considered some while before he replied, and then looking at me very
earnestly, said--

"Since you seem to have some acquaintance with the poets, and thought
fit to remark upon a certain fancied resemblance (though indeed there
is none) betwixt my lyrick of the Spring and another's treatment of
that subject, I would beg you, should you be in any company where my
works are spoken of, as I make no pretence they shall be everywhere as
soon as they be published, I say, I would beg you to refrain yourself
from bringing in that ... from directing the attention of the company
toward ... but I see you take me, sir, and so enough said."

However he would not let me go before he had begged my acceptance of a
copy of his works, which he intended should be decently bound in calf
leather, with a device of Britannia sitting upon Helicon, and his name
of Andrew Plat entwined in a wreath of flowerets at her feet.

"And wherefore not upon her brow?" I asked him.

"Oh, sir," said the poet, flinging an arm about my shoulder, "you
honour me too much."

I got him down the rope soon after, and saw him return along the
passage, his head high and his gait light as though he trod a measure.

"We be both in the same plight," I sighed, "and support ourselves upon
favours not yet received."

Then I set open the door.  A stout ladder reached down from thence to
the hall where I had fought with Guido Malpas, or rather to a part of
it that was full double the height of that part, and had entrance into
it by means of a sort of wide arch betwixt pillars.  The hall was
empty, and I descended to it immediately.

"Well," thought I, pretty grave now I had accomplished this much of my
business, "I would I knew in what case I shall depart hence."

At that moment I heard a footstep on the stair beyond the arches, and
Mistress Avenon entered the hall.

At first she saw me not, but when she did she stood perfectly still,
the colour fading from her face, and one hand upon her bosom.  I bowed
low, having no words to speak, and then expected with an infinite
weight at my heart, until she should declare her will.

At length she came slowly toward me.

"What is this you have dared to do?" she murmured, so low I could
scarce hear her.

"I could not help it," I said, and would have told her there and then
that I loved her, had not my courage all gone to wreck before her
visible anger.  She drew herself to her full height, and keeping her
eyes on mine said in a louder voice--

"Ay, you could not help intruding upon a defenceless girl, and yet you
went nigh enough to slaying Mr. Malpas, poor man! for that same fault.
Have I not given you thanks enough, that you are come hither for more?
Are you greedy of so much praise?  Else indeed wherefore have you come?"

Her words so stung me, and her coldness after all I had suffered to get
speech with her, that I felt the tears very close behind my eyes, and,
as a schoolboy that has been detected in some misdemeanour casts about
for any excuse however vain, so did I; for all in a hurry I stammered

"I came hither to tell you I have twelve shillings."

Was ever any excuse so ill-considered?

"Twelve shillings!" cried Idonia; but my self-respect was all down by
that time, and I could not stop; I spoke of my father's letter, mine
own penury, and the detestation in which I held the necessity to enter
into trade.

"I have but twelve shillings in the whole world," said I, but she not
answering, I turned my head sharply to see how she had received it.  To
my utter astonishment Idonia was laughing at me through a blind of



"Now, cry you mercy, Mr. Denis!" said Idonia, "for indeed I guessed not
that affairs of trade were to be in debate between us."

But so confused as I was by her laughter, I could neither deny nor
confirm that saying, but stood before her very hot in the face and, I
make no question, as sour to look upon as she was merry to see me so.

"I had thought you had forced your way hither," she continued, setting
her head a little aside, "in order to rid me of such dangers as might
beset me here, albeit I know of none."

"And knew you of any," said I, pretty desperate by this, "my sword
should make it none, if you would."

Perhaps it was the bitter tone I used, or the knowledge that I spoke
not in mere idle boastfulness; but upon the sudden her manner changed
wholly and she was pleading with me in so tender and deep a voice as it
thrilled me through to hear it.

"Ah, Mr. Denis," said she, coming close and laying her hand on my arm,
"we be friends surely, or if we be not, I know not where I am to seek
for a friend as true hearted, nor one that would venture as far to aid
me.  I meant no harm, indeed I did not, though my tongue played my
meaning false, as it doth, alas! too often.  If I laughed, 'twas to
fend off weeping, for once I fall to that, I know not when I should be

"Yet you said you had no especial trouble," I returned.

"Nay, if I did, I lied," said Idonia, "for I am beset with troubles

"I thought no less," said I, "and 'twas for that very reason, and in
despite of your refusal to admit me awhile since, that I sought out
other ways to come to you."

She smiled when she heard this honest confession.  "So much trade as
that comes to, Mr. Denis, will hardly satisfy your father's debts, I

"I gave myself this one day more," I told her, "but to-morrow I must
necessarily seek employment, though the doing of it I can scarce abide
to think of."

"Having but an half-handful of shillings," said she, "poor lad! there
seemeth nought else to do, unless indeed you steal."

"Steal!" cried I.

"And wherefore not?" said Idonia, with a little hard laugh, "seeing we
all do worse than steal here, or if we do not all so, yet do we stand
by permissively while others do.  Oh, sir," she cried, "I warned you
this very morning I was not worth your thought of me, and 'twas truth,
or less than the truth, I told, who live amongst evil folk in this
place and secret men that whisper as they come and go."

She hid her face in her hands so overcome was she by the horror she had
waked, and how to comfort her I knew not.

"Of what quality be these men you speak of?" I demanded, thinking
perhaps they were the thieves beyond the partition wall, who overran
into this place too.  "I will lay information against them, before the
magistrate if you will."

Idonia looked at me with a sort of wonder.

"But you know them not," said she, "nor where they bide, when they
leave us."

"Is it not yonder then?" I asked her, and pointed to the little door
aloft in the wall.

"They--poor folk!" she cried.  "A pitiful lean company; would they were
no worse I ope the gate to! ...  If you had known, when you would have
had me admit you, Mr. Denis....  But they be gone for this while ...
oh, I fear them!" said she, and fell again to weeping.

'Twas evident she dared not be open with me as touching the business
nor estate of those she consorted with, nor, I found, dared give over
this life she led amongst them, for all the fear and horror she had of
it.  So, notwithstanding I returned again and again to the question,
she put me off with a manifest dismay.

"No, no," she would cry.  "Even so much as I have already let fall is
haply more than wise for me to speak and you to hear.  But now," in
conclusion she said, "let us return to your own affairs, in the which
it may chance I may assist you."

She conceived from the first an infinite admiration of my father,
bidding me tell over again the tale of his renouncing all his wealth in
order to the ending his brother's supposed confinement, as well as to
pay that added debt which I had so foolishly incurred.  Idonia drew in
her breath sharply when I had done, and then looking me full in the
face, said--

"Whatever may befall you to do, Mr. Denis, 'twill be less than he hath
the right to exact of you; although I believe that the least you will
do he will give you thanks for it."

'Twas my father's nature just, and none could have bettered the

"What can you do?" she demanded briefly, and bade me sit (for we had
both stood this while); she sitting too, on a bundle of folded sails
that lay by the wall.

I hesitated to reply, for leaving the few scraps of Latin and logick
that Master Jordan had been at such pains to drive into me and I had as
easy let slip again, my studies had been woefully neglected, or rather
I had profited by them so little, that there was nothing I knew anyways
whole.  I stammered out at last that what I could do, I doubted would
scarce earn me a scavenger's wages, and looked (I suppose) so glum,
that Idonia laughed outright.

"Come, there be books of account," said she, "can you not make shift to
cast moneys in figure?"

I told her I thought I might compass that if I were given time enough;
though for that matter I did not see how I was like greatly to profit
the merchant that should employ me.

But without replying by so much as a word, Idonia went over to an oaken
press by the stair, presently returning with a soiled leathern volume
clasped with a deal of brass and so heavy as to be hardly portable.
This she set open before me saying it was a record of trade done, and
had belonged to one Mr. Enos Procter, whom she knew, and bade me read
in it.

"Lord!" said I, very grave, for I had never seen so intricate and
mysterious a labyrinth of words and cyphers as she then discovered.
"If Dives the rich man got his wealth that way, I suppose his life to
have been something less easy than our divines would have us believe."

"It is a ledger-book," said Idonia.

"Let it be what it will," said I, "it is more than I bargained for."

"Nay, but observe this superscription," she went on, eagerly, "where it
commenceth as is customary: _Laus Deo_ in London, and so following."
She ran her finger along the line commenting with a facility that
astonished me.  "This is the accompt of one Mendoza, as you see, a
wool-stapler of Antwerp, and as the Jews ever be, a punctual man of his
money.  Look you, now, how differently this other sets to work, Jacob
Hornebolt of Amsterdam, and with what gross irregularity he
transmitteth his bills of exchange ... nay, here, I mean, upon the
Creditor side," cried she, for my eyes ran hither and thither, up and
down the page, like any Jack-apparitor, in quest of her accursed Dutch
Jacob and his pestilent bills.

"Oh, a truce to this," quoth I, "or else turn o'er to a page where a
man's doings be set down in fair Queen's English, and not in such
crabbed and alchemist terms as one must have gone to school to the
Black Witch that should understand 'em.  You point me here and you
point me there, and there's Creditor this and Debitor that, with an
whole history between them, good lack! mistress, but it makes my head
reel to hear tell of."

"I had thought you understood me," said she very simply.

"Then 'tis time you understood I did not," said I, roundly, "and what's
more I think you should not neither.  It is not maidenly reading;" and
indeed I was staggered that so much of a man's actions should lie open
to any girl's eye that had the trick of cyphers, to peruse them.

Idonia lifted her eyebrows pretty high, hearing me speak so, but
presently shut up the book, and putting it by, said a little wearily--

"I had meant to help you, Denis, but you are over-dull, I find; or if
you be apt 'tis not in learning.  Some lads there be think to get a
living other ways, though other ways I know not to be so honest, though
haply as easy."

'Twas on my tongue to retort upon her with a speech in the same kind,
but I had to confess I could not frame one half so wittily, and
therefore said very tragical--

"I stay not where I am not welcome," and taking up my cap, bowed very
low to Idonia, who for her part, paid no heed to me, and although I
halted once or twice on my way to the door, stood averse from me, as
being careless whether I stayed or went.

"I am not reckoned over-dull at sword play," I muttered, when I had got
as far as I could, without departing altogether.

"Oh, if you think to fence for a living, sir," said Idonia, over her
shoulder, "I pity your father."

"He needs none of your pity, mistress," cried I.

"I know not where better to bestow it," she replied, "unless it be upon
a boy with twelve shillings and no wit to add to them."

Now, how one I had so handsomely benefited could yet run into this
excess of obstinacy as she did, I stood astonished to consider, and in
my heart called her a thankless wench, and myself a preposterous ass to
remain there any longer.  Notwithstanding had I had the sense to read
the account between us whole, I doubt Mistress Avenon owed not a whit
more to me than I to her; although in my resentment she seemed then a
very Jacob Hornebolt, and as gross a defaulter upon the balance as that
dilatory Hollander.

"Then I leave you to better companionship," said I, having run my
length, "and to such as have at the least the wit to please you, which
I have not, all done."

What she would have said to that I cannot guess, for before she could
speak there came a thundering rattle at the door and a voice calling
upon her to open in the Queen's name.

"Dear God!" whispered the girl.  "'Tis the soldiers come," and stood
facing me, distraught and quaking.

"Is it you they seek?" I asked, quick, but could not hear what she
answered me, for the knocking drowned all.

"Up the ladder," I bade her.  "Go, and draw it after.  I will abide the

'Twas this advice steadied her, although she refused it.  Instead, she
shook off my hand that would have led her, and going to the ladder by
which I had descended, drew it away from the trap in the wall and laid
it along the floor.

"They would but use the same means to follow me," she said, and so
without more ado went to the door and opened it.  A score of
halberdiers burst into the hall.

"What is your will, masters?" demanded Idonia; and her pride I had
before denounced I found commendable enough, now she directed it
against these intruders.

One that seemed to be their Captain stepped forth, and having slightly
saluted her with a hand to his morion, turned leisurely to his
following, and bade them shut the gate; which done, he posted them,
some before the ways accessible to the hall, and the rest under a
sergeant, in the rooms above it, that he commanded them strictly to
scrutinize.  The soldiers had no sooner obeyed him than he drew forth a
paper largely sealed, which he told us, with a great air, was Her
Grace's commission and gave warrant to search this messuage of Petty
Wales for any such as might seem to be obnoxious to the Queen's peace,
there harbouring.

The Captain was a tall, ill-favoured youth, of a behaviour quite
lacking of courtesy, yet well enough matched to the task he had in
hand; for he spoke in a slow and overbearing voice that betokened as
much doubt of another's honesty, as satisfaction for the power given
him to apprehend all that should withstand him.  Idonia and I stood
some distance apart, and after a swift glance at me, the Captain
addressed himself to the girl solely, and with so evident a mistrust of
her, as it maddened me to hear him.

"Your name, mistress?" said the Captain.

"Idonia Avenon," she replied carelessly, though I could not but grieve
to note how pale she continued.

"And your father, he lives here with you?"

"He is dead," said she.

"Who inhabits here, then, besides yourself?"

"A many," replied Idonia, "though I have not their names."

The Captain turned aside to his lieutenant with some whispered word of
offence that made the fellow smile broadly; and at that I could no
further refrain myself.

"Stay within the limits of your commission, sir," said I hotly, "and
keep your jests for other seasons."

He troubled not so much as to turn his head my way, but took up his
examination of Idonia again.

"Nor you know not their trades either, I suppose?" said he with a sneer.

"Saving this man's here present," replied the girl, "who keeps the
books of accompt in a great merchant's counting-house."

You may judge whether I gasped at that, or no; and perhaps the Captain
noted my alarm, for he inquired at once who the merchant might be I

"'Tis Mr. Edward Osborne," said Idonia, "unless I mistake."

"It is," said I, and remembering Mr. Nelson's words, added boldly that
he was Governor of the Turkey Company; but inwardly I said, "Whither
doth this lying tend?"

"And what purposeth he in this house?" demanded the soldier, somewhat
taken aback by our credible answers.

"What, but to learn me in the keeping of accompts?" replied she.

"Ah, an apt scholar, I doubt not," cried the other, raising his chin

"I think I am not so backward for a maid," said Idonia modestly, and
reached forth her hand to the great ledger-book I had so maligned; the
which I now saw turned to an engine of our salvation; for opening it at
the former place she continued:

"He instructs me that herein is set down the merchant's commerce with
one Mendoza, a wool-stapler of Antwerp, and a Jew, who despite the
scandal of his unbelief, is, as appeareth plainly, an honest man.  I
pray you, sir, follow me," said she, and directed him to the page, "to
the end you may correct me if I be in error."

I never saw a man's countenance fall so as the Captain's did then; who
having formerly stood so stiff upon his right, was now ready to
compound upon almost any terms; only Idonia would not, but interrupted
his pish's, and his well-well's, and go-to's, with a clear exposition
of the whole matter of wool, the while I, her supposed tutor, stood by
with open mouth and a heart charged with admiration of her wit.

"Enough," shouted the Captain, at last.  "I came not hither for this,
as you know, mistress, who are either the completest accountant or else
the prettiest wanton this side Bridewell Dock.  Halberdiers, have a
care!" cried he, and so returning to them with a curse, marshalled them
into a body and would have withdrawn them forthwith, when a cry from
one of the chambers aloft suddenly sounding out, he ordered them again
to stand to their arms and ran forward to the foot of the stairs.  I
chanced to look at Idonia then, and blessed Heaven that her examination
was done, and all eyes save mine averted from her, for she shook like
one in a palsy and staggered backward to the wall.  I had bare leisure
to follow her thither and support her, before the whole troop of those
that had gone above returned down, bearing along with them in their
midst a man whom they held, or rather dragged along with them, so
without strength was he, and all aghast.

"A good capture," said the Captain in his slow, cruel voice, and bade
the guard stand back from the abject fellow, but be ready to prevent
his escape.  "I thought not to have had so fair a fortune," said he,
"although our information was exact enough that you lay here, Master
Jesuit, whom I believe to be (and require you to answer to it) that
notorious Jacques de Courcy, by some called Father Jacques, a Frenchman
and plotting Jesuit."

"I am a poor schoolmaster of Norfolk," said the man, very humbly.

"Do you deny you are this Courcy, and a devilish Papist?" asked the
Captain again.

The prisoner looked around wildly, as if he hoped even now to get free,
but the ring about him was too close for that, and the pikes all
levelled at his breast.  Something of the dignity which despair will
throw over a man that hath come into the extreme of peril, sustained
him mercifully then, so that he who was before but a pitiful shrinking
coward, became (and so remained to the end) a figure not all unmeet to
the part he played.

"Were I to recite my creed," said he very low, "you would but make mock
of it; while for yourself, I see you be already minded to work your
will upon me."

"We go no further than our Prince commands us," said the other loftily.

"And I, no further than my Prince hath enjoined long since," said the

"Pish! words!" replied the Captain.  "Do you still persist in denying
that you are Jacques de Courcy?"

But the prisoner stood silent.  Then one of the soldiers that stood
behind him went forward and took him something roughly by the collar,
bidding him answer; but the Jesuit turning about to see who it was
detained him thus, his coat burst open, and we saw he wore a little
leaden crucifix about his neck.  A shout of laughter greeted the
discovery.  "To the Tower with him, march!" cried the Captain.  But ere
they could seize the man he had leapt forward upon the pikes, and by
main force taking one of the pike-heads into his two hands he thrust it
deep under his shoulder.

After that I thank Heaven that I saw no more, for Idonia swooned away,
and I almost, in horror of that poor hunted man's death.  The
halberdiers bore the body off with them, nor paid the least regard to
us twain, but left us where we were, Idonia prone upon the cold flags
of the hall, and me above her, tending her.



Take a town for all in all, in its sadness and pleasure, the shows that
pass through it, the proclamations of kings, the tolling of the great
bell, marshallings of men-at-arms and sermons of clerks; whatever it be
distracts or engages it, I say you will find, take all in all, full the
ten twelfths of a town's business to lie in the mere getting of wealth.

And in the exercise of this its proper office, I think that government,
whether good or bad, interfereth less than is supposed; for at the
best, that is, when the merchants and retailers be let alone (as would
to Heaven some great Councillors I could name did understand the matter
so), 'tis then that the interchange of goods and money is most readily
and happily effected; but at the worst, that is, when some untoward
imposition or restriction is laid upon the trade of a city, it results
not that men labour any the less at their buying and selling, but that
their lawful and expected profits be diverted, in part, into other
men's pockets.  Which for all it is wrong enough, yet it makes not, I
am bold to say, one single vessel to go lacking her cargo, nor one
merchant to break upon Change.  So a fig for Westminster! this way or
that, trade holds; and men bend their thoughts thereto, howe'er the
wind blow.

Now, I am no philosopher (my father having exhausted the philosophy of
our family), yet no man may live in London (as I had now done, for
above three months) but certain considerations must needs thrust
themselves upon him, and though he be no great thinker I suppose that
everybody knows when he is hungry; and being so, goes the best way he
can to remedy that daily disease.

And so it came to pass that, greatly as I detested to confine myself to
the weary commerce of trade, I nevertheless did so, and for the plain
reason that I could not help myself, having no money left, and not
being willing to remain any longer with the good folk on the Bridge, at
their charges.  How I was received by Mr. Edward Osborne into his
counting-house I will tell later, but received I was, and there strove
to acquit myself honestly, so that within about a month (I think) I
could cast up the moneys of his great Day Book with but a two-three
errors to each sum total; the which, considering my inexperience, I
held to be not amiss.

It was while I was thus employed in the narrow wainscoted business room
where Mr. Osborne did the most of his business, in Chequer Lane off
Dowgate, it was then, I say, that I came to perceive the magnitude and
staggering quality of the City's negotiation and traffick; so that I
came near to rehearsing the Bridge warden's eulogy upon the London
merchants, as also his expressed contempt for all such dignities as did
not issue from the fount of trade.  Nay, I went further, for neglecting
the current rumours and plain news even, that all stood not well with
the State, I applied myself to my accompts and disbursements, deriding
Mr. Secretary Cecil and the Queen's Council for a parcel of busybodies,
and reducing the policy of England to the compass of a balance sheet.

And yet, had I had the wit to know it, we were at that season come into
a crisis where bills of lading availed little, and the petty laws of
invection and navigation seemed like to be rudely set aside for the
sterner laws of conquest and foreign tyranny.  Already, even, and
before I had left the Combe, there had been that business of the
signing of the National Bond and the imprisoning of many that favoured
the overthrow of Her Majesty; the which had been followed and confirmed
by such other acts and precautions as imported no easy continuance in
our old way, but rather the sure entering into that narrow passage and
race of fortune, whence the outlet is to so infinite and clouded a sea,
as a people's help therein lieth solely in God and their own clear
courage.  Queen Mary of Scotland was yet alive, poor scheming desperate
woman! and lay a guarded danger in the land.  The Dutch States,
moreover, that ought to have been our firm ally, we had done our best
to alienate and set at variance against us, who should have helped them
at all adventures; we being of one Faith together, and hating alike the
encroaching cruelties of Spain.  To these considerations there was
added the fear of treason in our midst, and the increasing evidence of
the Jesuits' part therein, which the Queen's advisers sought upon all
occasions to discover and trample out; as indeed I had myself been
witness to, in that unhappy self-murder of Jacques de Courcy in the
secret dark mansion of Petty Wales.

It had been a little subsequent upon that dreadful affair, and when the
soldiers had left us, that I said to Idonia--

"In Heaven's name, mistress, what is this house used for then?"  For I
was all wan and trembling with that sight of sudden death, else I
should not have spoken so harshly to the girl, who was in like case
with myself, and clung to me piteously for comfort.  But at my words
she seemed to recover herself, and loosing her arms from my neck, she

"And what have I to do with other men's takings, that you question me
thus?  If aught displease you, so!  I cannot better it.  And ... and
... oh, Mr. Denis, what a face of pity did he show!"--she covered her
eyes as she spoke--"and when he fell ...  Oh, these things are not
rightly done; they stifle me.  They wrench my faith.  They leave out

I did what I could, but it was with her own strength she must fight
down the terror, I knew, and so after awhile desisted.  When she had
her full reason again she thanked me that I had not confused her with
many words.

"For I know not to what excess I should have run otherwise," she said.
"You have a quiet spirit, and are no talker, Master Denis.  But there
be some things I cannot bear to see, and one is the sight of a single
man, even a malefactor, so overcome and brought to his death....  But
now," assuming a resolute cheerfulness she added, "now we must converse
awhile upon your own affairs, before you go.  For look you, sir, I have
named you already of Mr. Osborne's service, and must make it good.
Else that stark-limbed Captain may hear of it, and discovering we lied,
make us smart for it."

"But how shall I prevail with Mr. Osborne to take me into his service,"
said I, "who know not an invoice from a State paper?"

"Everything hath a beginning," replied Idonia, "and if Rome was not
builded in a day, it is not likely we shall make an accountant of you

"No, nor in less time than it took to build Rome in, I doubt," quoth I,
pretty rueful.  "But tell me how came yourself to be so proficient in
that study of cyphering?"  For indeed the thought had puzzled me not a

"By the good offices of one I purpose shall now assist you," said
Idonia; and told me that it was a certain scrivener named Enos Procter
that had lived a great while in Genoa, where they greatly affect the
putting of their negotiations into ledger-books and have well-nigh
perfected that invention.

"This Procter returning home after many years," she proceeded,
"suffered shipwreck, and was cast away upon the coast of Spain, whence
he was fortunate to escape half dead, and with the loss of all his
goods, saving only that monstrous ledger-book, which he would by no
means relinquish.  He then coming to land here, at the Galley Quay,
besought us to harbour him and give him food and dry clothing, for
which he offered to pay us out of his wages when he was able.  This we
did, and he, being a man of his word, repaid all that he owed, and
more, for he taught me something of his reckoning in cypher, and of the
distributing of every item of receipt or payment, this side and that of
an accompt, according to the practice of the great merchants of Genoa."

And thus it came about that the day following Idonia did as she had
promised, and wrought so with Mr. Enos Procter that I was immediately
taken into his employment upon my faithful promise to serve the lawful
occasions of the Governor and Merchants of the Turkey Company, and
(implicitly) those of Mr. Enos Procter, their principal clerk and

With this worthy gentleman I spent, as was natural, the greatest part
of my time, and under his dark sidelong eye I managed my untrained
quill.  He was a spare small man of an indomitable quick-silver nature,
that by long sojourning in the South, had become half Italian.  When he
worked (which was always) he had a habit of warping his face into the
most diabolical grin, while he rolled upon his stool, back and forward,
with the motion of one rowing in a boat, muttering of a thousand
foreign curses with which was oddly mingled the recital of the
particular matter he had in hand.  Thus, "Corpo di Baccho," would he
cry, "these bills mature not until the fifteenth day of June, and there
is scarce ... a million devils!  Master Cleeve, had I formed my sevens
that gait in Genoa I had been sent to the galleys for a felon....  Of
Cartagena, say you?  There be none but knaves there, and none but fools
to trust them.  'Tis an overdue reckoning, with thirty-five, forty,
forty-five thousand ducats, eh! forty-six thousand, Signor, Don
Cherubin of Cartagena, whom the Devil disport!"

But whatever the frailties of Mr. Procter, he was a kind and forbearing
tutor, and even succeeded in imparting to me also some portion of his
own extravagant affection for his great leather-bound books of account;
for he loved them so, as no man ever perceived more delicate beauties
in his mistress than this fever-hot scrivener did in the nice
adjustment of Debit to Credit; with all the entries, cross entries,
postings and balancings (to use his own crabbed language) that went to
it.  He was, in sooth, a very Clerk-Errant, that ran up and down a
paper world, detecting errors, righting wrongs, spitting some miscreant
discount on his lance of goose-quill, or tearing the cloak from some
dubious monster of exchange.  I could not but admire him, and the way
in which he regarded all things as mere matter for bookkeeping.

"They talk of their philosophies," he would say, "but what do they come
to more than this, and what ethick goes beyond this: that every right
hath a duty corresponding, and every fault its due reward?  Ay, is it
so? and what do we poor scribes, but set down each accident of our
trading first on the left side and after on the right side, the one to
countervail the other, and all at the end to appear justly suspended in
the balance?  We have no preferences, we accountants, we neither
applaud nor condemn, but evenly, and with a cold impartiality, set down
our good and bad, our profits and losses, our receipts and
disbursements, first as they affect ourselves and our honourable
Company, and after as they affect our neighbour.  For consider," he
would proceed, leaping about on his stool, with the excitement that a
defence of his art always engendered, "consider this very item of the
silk bales, upon which my pen chances at this moment to rest--you have
it here to the credit of Mr. Andrea of Naples, seventy-nine pounds in
his tale of goods sold to this house.  But is the matter so disposed
of?  I trow not.  For turn me to the accompt of goods purchased during
this year of our Redemption, and what have you?  Seventy-nine pounds
upon the debtor.  Philosophy, boy!  There is nought beyond that, I say,
nor, for conciseness of statement, aught to equal it.  Mr. Andrea's
rights become, transposed, our duties; and for the silk bales you wot
of, they be a load of debt to us, to account for to our masters, and
likewise a strengthening of the credit of this honest Neapolitan as any
man may read.

"Notwithstanding, there be some," said he in conclusion, with a sigh,
"and they divines of the Church, that call in question the avarice and
hard-dealing of us that live by barter and the negotiation of
merchandize!  Yet where will you find (to ask but this one question,
Mr. Denis), where do you find written more clearly than in these
ledger-books of ours, that oft-disguised truth that what we own we do
also and necessarily owe?"

In such mingling of high discourse and plain work, then, I continued
with Mr. Procter a great while, in the dusty and ill-lighted
counting-house in Chequer Lane; earning my small wages, and upon the
whole not ill content with the changed life I now led, for all 'twas so
far removed from the course I had planned, now many months past, but
had already half forgotten.  Sometimes my duties would take me to the
wharves where a great barque or brigantine would be lying, about to
leave upon our Company's business for Turkey or Barbary; or else some
other vessel would be returning thence to London Pool, whither I
repaired to the captain and supercargo to receive their schedules and
sealed papers.  It was this last employment I especially delighted in,
and indeed I can scarce conceive any pleasure greater than I found
going very early in the morning to one of the quays upon the River or
as far as to Wapping Stairs, where I would watch the great ship slowly
coming up upon the tide, between the misted grey banks and dim roofs of
Limehouse and Rotherhithe; and could hear the rattle of the chains, and
the joyful cries of the mariners that were now, after their perilous
and long voyage, safely arrived at home.  Then would I take boat and
row out into the stream, hailing the master in the Company's name, who
presently would let down a ladder by which I climbed aloft upon the
deck, where the crew would gather round to hear news and to tell it;
which telling of theirs I chiefly delighted in: the thousand adventures
they had had, and the accounts of strange lands and mysterious rich
cities beyond the seas.  Thereafter, when the ship was berthed and our
business settled, I would bear off the master and the other officers to
Mr. Osborne, to be made welcome, when all was told o'er again, though
with more observance paid to such matters as affected profit and loss
than formerly I had heard the tale.  The black little accountant was
had in too, at such times, into Mr. Osborne's privy room, where we all
sat round a great table, with Mr. Osborne at one end of it, very
handsome and stately in his starched ruff and suit of guarded velvet;
and the other principal persons of the Company about him on either
side, to listen to what the shipmen related, as I have said.

Then, if the adventure had been profitably concluded (as sometimes it
had not, though generally there was a fair sum cleared), oftentimes
would the Governor invite us to supper with him, and me with the rest,
I know not wherefore, save it were that Master Procter had praised me
to him for my diligence in his service.  And so we passed many a merry

Yet this so brief summary of that time doth not cover all, nor perhaps
the greater part, since it leaves out my thoughts and hopes, which, all
said, is more of a man's life than all the other; and by so much the
more is noteworthy.  And these thoughts of mine, particularly when I
lay quiet in bed in my little chamber on the Bridge, were concerned
about an infinite number of matters I had no opportunity to consider in
the hurry and press of the day.  So, I would think of my father, his
evil estate, and the increasing pain he suffered, for I had lately
received news of him by the hand of Simon Powell, who, honest lad, had
bound himself to a smith of Tolland in order to be near his old master
and comfort him.  Of Idonia, too, you will guess I thought much, and
the more that my business hindered our often meeting, though sometimes
I saw her when I went early in the morning to meet my ships; for later
in the day she begged me not to come to the house, and greatly though
this condition misliked me, I accepted it to please her.  But, to be
open, it was this consideration of all I dwelt upon which most held me
in suspense, so that many a night I have slept scarce a wink, admiring
what the secret were that compassed Idonia about, and the strangeness
that clouded all her affairs.

"What is it goes on in that great still house?" I cried an hundred
times, and would con over with myself the half hints I had already
received; as of that swaggering Malpas, his attempted entrance; of the
concealed Jesuit; of the way of communication between the part of the
house Idonia lived in and the den of thieves where I had encountered
with Andrew Plat.  Then I would fall into a muse, only to be awakened
on the sudden by the recollection of Guido Malpas, with his lean and
crafty face pressed close against the window of the room I had sat in
with Nelson and the Queen's yeoman, or by that older memory of my uncle
Botolph who, I was assured, was also Skene the attorney.  Why, by how
great a rout of shadows was I compassed! and what a deal of infamy lay
ready to be discovered upon the lightest hazard or unconsidered word!

Nay, had not my love for Mistress Avenon so wholly possessed me, I
doubt I should have found in any the least strict review of her
behaviour something covert, and diffident; as indeed she had already
imparted from time to time much that a man more suspicious than I might
have seized upon to her disadvantage.  But such motes as those troubled
me not, or rather troubled not the passion of love I cherished for her;
though, for the rest, I infinitely desired her removal from
circumstances that I could not but fear to be every way perilous.

Now it befell one day, in the early summer, that all London was
awakened with the news that the _Primrose_, Captain Foster, was coming
up the Thames with the Governor of Biscay aboard, a prisoner.  So
admirable tidings had not often of late been ours to receive, and to
pother one's head with business upon such a day was not to be thought
on, at least not by the younger men; and thus I was soon running down
to the Port to learn the whole history of that memorable adventure,
wherein the _Primrose_, of all our shipping that lay upon the Spanish
Coast, and that were suddenly seized upon by those Papist dogs without
warning or possibility of escape--the _Primrose_, I say, not only got
off free, but in a most bloody fight destroyed the soldiers that had
privily got aboard her, and took prisoner their great Viceregent, or
(as they call him) Corregidor.

A host of men and women pressed upon Master Foster about the hithe,
applauding his so notable courage and triumph, and deriding the poor
Corregidor, who nevertheless remained steadfast, nor seemed not to
regard their taunts and menaces, but stood very quiet, and, I vow, was
as gallant a gentleman to see as any man could be.  Now, all this
taking place about the Tower steps, whither for convenience the
prisoner had been brought, it followed I was but a stone's cast from
Idonia's dwelling, which no sooner had I remembered than I utterly
forgot her admonition not to see her except early, whereas it was now
high noon; but leaving the throng of idle cheering folk, I crept away
at once to the desolate house in Thames Street, where I made sure of
finding her.

As I went along, the bells were ringing from every steeple, which so
filled the air with victory, as I was intoxicated with the sound of
them, and on the sudden resolved that, come what would, I would tell
Idonia I tired of this sleek clerk's life I led, and would be done with
it straightway.  Alas! for all such schemes of youth and stirrings of
liberty! and yet not altogether alas! perhaps, since 'tis the adverse
event of the most of such schemes that prepares and hardens us for
bitterer battles to come, when the ranks are thinning and the drums are
silent, and the powder is wasted to the last keg....

To my satisfaction I perceived the gate to be open, and as I came up I
saw a flutter of white in the dark of the hall, and a moment later the
mist of gold which was Idonia's hair.

"Good-morrow!" I bade her laughingly, as I entered and closed the door
behind me, "you did not look to have me visit you now, I warrant, when
the bells be all pealing without, and a right success of our arms to

Idonia stood, one foot set upon the lowest stair, quite still.  Not one
word of greeting did she give me, nor was any light of welcome in her
eyes, which were wide open and her lips parted as if to speak, though
no word said she.

I hung back astonished, not knowing what to think, when I heard a
rustle among the stuff beside me, and a man's voice that said very
quiet: "How now, master, methinks that is overmuch familiarity to use
with one that is under my ward."

I faced about instantly, laying my hand upon my sword, for this
untoward interference startled me not a little.  Even in the half dark
I knew him; for 'twas none other than the attorney, John Skene.



We had stood awhile fronting each other thus, when "By the Mass!" cried
Mr. Skene, clapping his open palm upon my shoulder, "'tis Mr. Denis
Cleeve or the devil is in it," and so led me forward to the light.

"Are you two acquainted, then?" asked Idonia, her whole countenance of
gravity exchanged for a bewildered expectancy.  "Oh, why knew I not of
this sooner?  Oh, I am glad," she said, as she advanced to us, her
bosom heaving, and such a light of pleasure in her eyes, as it seemed
to lighten the very room itself, that had formerly showed so darksome
and sinister.

"But tell me," she went on eagerly, and came so close that I could feel
the warmth of her breath on my cheek, "is it a long while you have been

Now so struck with amazement was I, no less by the suddenness of this
recognition than by the satire that Idonia's innocent speech implied,
as I could answer nothing; but leaving the handling my sword, I stood
resigned to what should follow.

"I think we be hardly friends yet," said Skene, with a laugh of great
good nature, "and 'twould be a bolder coroner than I, who should
pronounce all enmity dead between us.  Am I not in the right, Master
Cleeve?" he ended, on a note of some sharpness.

I looked up at that, first at Idonia to see how she took the matter,
and then at Skene.

"You are right," said I, "seeing you stole my money."

"I knew your answer before you spoke it," replied Skene, nodding; "but
yet I am glad 'tis out, for all that.  A hidden grievance is like a
dagger worn without a scabbard, that often hurts him that carries it
more than him he means to use it against.  Nay, I am not angry," he
said with a motion of his hand.  "Your case seemed to you perfect; I do
not blame you.  Nor will you me neither, when you shall hear all that
hath befallen me 'twixt that and this.  As for your money, it is safe
enough; and had it passed your mind to inform me of where you lodged
after you left Mr. Malt's in Fetter Lane, why, Mr. Cleeve, you could
have had it any time for the asking."  His tone had changed while he
continued to speak, from a certain eagerness to slow reproach.

"But, sir," I began, when he stopped me peremptorily.

"It is ill bickering thus before a girl," he said, and going to the
great press whence Idonia had before fetched forth her ledger-book he
opened it, and without more ado restored to me my parcels of gold.  I
could have cried for very shame.

"Count them o'er," he said, with some contempt, but that was the word
that sent my blood back into my head again.  For I was assured the man
was a villain and had meant to rob me, though by his cunning he had put
a complexion of honesty upon his dealings, and forced me into the wrong.

"I will do so later," said I, coolly, "but now I would ask of you one
further question.  What name shall I call you by?"  Meaning, should I
name him my uncle Botolph or no, and so waited for the effect of that,
being sure that by how little soever he should falter upon his reply, I
should detect it.  What measure of astonishment was mine, then, when he
turned to Idonia with a smile.

"You shall reply for me," said he, "since you know me pretty well."

"When my father was killed," said Idonia, looking at me with her eyes
all brimmed with tears, "in that affray under John Fox that I have
already related to you, my mother dying soon after of grief, she left
me a babe and quite friendless save for Mr. Skene, whom if you have
anything against, I beseech you put it by for my sake, and because he
had pity on me."

Then going a pace or two nearer to Skene she laid a hand on his arm and

"Sir, Mr. Cleeve has been kind to me, and protected me once from a
man's insolence when you were absent.  I had thought you had been
friends before, but it seems you were enemies.  We have enough of them,
God wot! and a plenty of suspicions and hatreds to contend with.  Then
if it please you, sir, be friends now, you and he, else I know not what
shall be done."

Whatever anger I still held, it died down (for that time) at her
entreaties, and 'twas with no further thought than to have done with
all strife that I offered my hand on the instant to Skene.  And
although later I did somewhat censure myself for such precipitancy of
forgiveness in a case that more concerned my father than myself, yet I
silenced my misgivings with the thought that I might take the occasion
Skene had himself offered (when he said that I should learn what had
befallen to prevent his meeting me on the day appointed in Serjeants
Inn), and, if he should then fail to satisfy me, I would take up my
quarrel anew.

The attorney took my hand with an apparent and equal openness.

"I thank you," he said, quietly, "and so enough.  Much there may be to
tell of that hath passed; but 'twill not lose by the keeping."

A burst of ringing from All Hallow's Church, close at hand, seemed to
greet our new compact, or truce rather, with a shower of music.

"Why, how merry the world goes!" exclaimed Idonia.  "Is it the Queen's
birthday, or some proclaimed holiday?  For I remember not the like of

I told her it was for the victory of the _Primrose_ that had returned
with the Governor of Biscay a prisoner.

"And would to God we had more captures in that kind to show," quoth I,
"for they be a curse to the land, these Spaniards and black lurking

But no sooner were the words spoken, than I remembered the Jesuit
Courcy that had been discovered here in hiding in this house, and so
breaking short off I gazed full at Skene.  He met my glance without

"You speak very truly," he said, slowly, "and I swear by all I hold
most sacred, that had I the ability, I would so deal with that tribe as
the Israelites wrought with them beyond Jordan, and utterly destroy
them."  Now, whether in this sentence the man spoke his true mind, or
damnably forswore himself, it remained with the sequel to be made clear.

Idonia gave a little movement the while he was speaking, but whether by
way of assent or of a natural shrinking I could not tell.  For myself I
said nought, but regarded Skene steadfastly, who soon added--

"I have business above, Idonia, which cannot be stayed.  It is past
dinner time, and if Mr. Cleeve will so honour our poor house, I would
have him remain to dinner.  I am engaged abroad, an hour hence, and
will take my meal then."  He smiled.  "Mr. Denis I leave to your care,
child, and believe you will use him well."  He turned on his heel and
went upstairs, leaving us alone together in the hall.

To relate all that ensued I think not necessary to the understanding of
this history, and also I should find it difficult to set down in
writing or by any understood rule of grammar the things that were said,
or elliptically expressed, between us.  For Syntax helpeth no man at
such seasons, nor Accidence any maid; 'tis an ineffable intercourse
they use, from which slip away both mood and tense and reason, and the
world too ... all which apparatus and tophamper overboard I found it
surprisingly easy to convey my meaning; to which Idonia replied very
modestly that 'twas her meaning no less, and with that I withdrew my
arm and blessed High Heaven for my fortune.

Idonia was a radiant spirit that day.  Her hitherto coldness and the
backwardness with which she had been constrained to receive me I
perceived had been due to no other cause than a fear how her guardian
would regard my visits to the house; for despite his kindness to her
(which she acknowledged) I saw she stood in awe of the man, and hardly
ventured to cross him in the lightest matter.

"Neither doth the company he maintains about him like me overmuch,"
said she.  "But now I care less than a little for such things, who
shall soon leave this place for ever; ah! dear heart, but I shall be
glad of such leaving, and no man shall ever have had so faithful and
loving a wife, nor one," she added swiftly, "so apt at the

I was thinking of her hair, and said so.

"And I was thinking of a long-limbed boy with but three hairs to his
beard," quoth Idonia, "and for wits to his skull, not so much as would
varnish the back of a beetle.  Why, how much doth your worship earn by
the week?"

I told her, seven shillings, besides a new suit twice in the year.

"It must be bettered, master," said Idonia, grave at once.

"It shall be better spent," said I.

"But 'tis not enough by the half," quoth she.

"Well, we will eke out the rest by other ways, of which I have a store
in my head, that, being happily vacant of wits, hath the more room to
accommodate them."

Idonia's answer to this, I, having considered the matter, pass over as
foreign to the argument.

'Twas a little after, that starting up, she cried: "Why, bless my dull
appetite, we have not dined!  And I with a fat hen upon the spit, fresh
from the Cheape this morning."

"'Tis not enough by the half," said I, mocking her; but she would not
stay longer, saying I must eat, for I had a big body to fill; though
for my head, that was another song and a sad one; and ere I could let
her, she was gone from me into the great kitchen beyond the stair.

I sat awhile where I was, marvellous happy and free from cares; and saw
my love of this maid, like a new Creation arising from the waters, to
make a whole world for me where before was nothing; for all seemed to
me as nothing in comparison with her, so that I forgot my troubles and
losses, my wounds and sickness, my father, my home, my uncle...

"What was that?" said I, sitting up straight, for I had, I think,
fallen into a sort of trance, and imagined some noise had disturbed me.

"Hist!" came a whisper from aloft, and I leapt to my feet.

"Who is it speaks?" cried I, searching every corner of the dark hall
with narrowed eyes.

"Hist!" said the voice again.  "There is danger threatening to the folk
of this house."

"What danger is there?" said I, who had now discovered who it was
spoke; for there, lurking in the aperture of the wall to which the
ladder reached up, I saw Andrew Plat, the lyrick poet, his tawny hair
wild about his pale face, and his neck craned forward like a heron's.
Yet for all the comick figure that he made I could not neglect the
apparent seriousness of his warning, and especially when he added in a
hoarse voice--

"Where is Mistress Avenon?  O, fair Idonia, hasten hither, if you be
within this fated mansion!"

"She is in the kitchen cooking a fowl," said I, pretty short, for this
adjuration of his mightily displeased me.

"Cooking!--she!" returned the poet, with a despairing gesture.  "Her
lily hands!  O monstrous indignity, and cruel office of a cook!"

I had thought he would fall headlong down the ladder, so distractedly
did he behave himself, and called upon him sharply to tell me wherein
lay this danger to Idonia he affected to fear.

"I stand alone against a host," said he with a flourish, "but Love
maketh a man sufficient, and will fortify these arms."

"Enough," I shouted, "or I will assuredly call in question the
authorship of a certain rascal poem you wot of."

"It is mine own," he screamed, and danced upon the sill for very rage.
"There is no resemblance betwixt my verses and that preposterous
fellow's--whose name even I know not.  I vow there hath been nought,
since Catullus, writ with so infinite and original an invention as my
Hymn to the Spring," and off he went with his "Fresh Spring, the lovely
herald of Great Love," with so great an eagerness of delight in the
poor cuckoo-chick words, as I could not but pity him.

By this time our loud and contrary arguments had been overheard, and
ere he had done Idonia came running forth from the kitchen, her sleeves
above the elbow, and her dress all tucked up; while a little after,
Skene called over the stair-rail to inquire out the cause of this

"'Tis Mr. Plat, the celebrated poet," I replied, "that says there is a
danger threatening this house, though of what nature I cannot learn."

Suddenly recalled by my protest, the poet clapped his hand to his
forehead and cried out:

"O, whither hath my Muse rapt me?  Return, my soul, and of this tumult

"Out with it, man!" quoth Mr. Skene, in his usual calm manner of
command, that did more than all my attempts to come by the truth.

"They are returning from the Tower," said the poet, "whither they have
carried off the Spaniard.  They are coming hither, an incredible
company with staves and all manner of weapons."

"And wherefore?" demanded Skene.

"Because 'tis constantly affirmed that you have here concealed a sort
of plotting Jesuits and base men that would spy out the land, and
enslave us.  Nay, they go so far as to say that one such was caught
here not so long ago in the open light of day, for which they swear to
beat the house about your ears and slay you every one.

"Be silent," said the attorney briefly, and we all stood awhile
attentive to any sound of menace from without.  We had not long to
wait, for almost on the instant there came a shuffle and rush of many
feet, and that deep unforgettable roll, as of drums, that means the
anger of confused and masterless multitudes.

Skene addressed me: "You alone have a sword, sir.  You will cover our

I bowed without speaking, and unsheathing my sword, went to the door,
where I clapped to the bolts and made all fast.

"Oh, Denis, Denis!" cried Idonia, who saw it was intended I should
remain behind.  "Sir," she pleaded with her guardian, "he must come
with me where'er you lead me."

"He will follow," said he; and then to Plat--

"Do they compass the whole house, or is there a way of escape beyond?"

"There is yet," he answered, having made espial; "for the attack goes
but upon the street side, leaving the lane free.  But lose no time, for
they be already scattering--ah! 'tis for fuel to lay to the door,"
cried he, all aghast now and scarce articulate.  "Come away after me,"
and so was gone.

Skene said no more, but cast a quiet glance at me, that I knew meant he
trusted me, and for which, more than all I had yet had from him, I
thanked him.  But hard work had I to refrain myself, when Idonia
besought me with tears not to leave her and, when presently her
guardian bore her half fainting up the ladder, to appear smiling and

"I will follow you by and by," said I, and then sat down, suddenly sick
at heart, upon a wooden grate of ship's goods; for the tumult at the
gate was now grown intolerably affrighting.

"You must try another way than this," said Skene, who had now gained
the sill, and I comprehended that he was about to draw up the ladder
after, in order to mask their way of escape when the door should be
forced in or burnt.  I nodded, remembering that Idonia had been moved
by the same consideration formerly, when the soldiers came with their
warrant of search; and so the ladder was drawn up and I left.

It is not fit that I should describe all that followed, for no man can
exactly report all, when all is in turmoil and an unchained madness
hurrieth through every mind; madness of defiance and that hideous
madness of fear.  For if ever man gazed into the very eyes of the
spectre of fear, it was I then, whom nameless horror possessed, so that
more than once, when the hammering upon the gate shook even the flags
with which the hall was paven, I shrunk back to the farthest corner in
the dark, biting my knuckles till they bled; and even when the door was
half down, and I at the breach making play with my sword to fend off
the foremost that would enter, I felt my heart turn to water at the
sight of that grinning circle of desperate and blood-hungry faces, and
at the roar as of starved forest beasts ravening after their prey.

My defence came to an end suddenly; for although I might have made
shift awhile longer to avert the danger from the gate (but indeed I was
nigh spent with my labours there), I chanced just then to gaze sidelong
at the shuttered window upon the left of it, and saw the shutter all
splintered, and a fellow with a great swart beard, already astraddle on
the ledge.  Without a moment's parley I ran my sword half to the hilts
into his side, and as he sank down in a huddle, I left the sword
sticking where it was, and ran for my life.

How I got free of the house I know not, but it was by a window of the
kitchen, I think, or else a hole I burst for myself; but by some
venture of frenzy I gained the street, or rather an enclosed court,
arched under at the further end by a sort of conduit or channel in the
wall; and so, half on my belly shuffling through this filthy bow, I
came by good hap into the open street, that I found was Tower Street,
where at length I thought it safe to take leisure to breathe, and look
about me.

But even here I was deceived of my security; for my passage having
been, I suppose, easily discovered, there wanted not a full minute ere
I heard an halloo! and a scraping of feet beneath the arched way, by
which I perceived I was hotly followed.  I stumbled to my feet
straightway and fled westward up the street, while in my ears rang the
alarm: "Stop thief!  Jesuit!  Hold, in the Queen's Name!" which, the
passengers taking it up, and themselves incontinently joining in the
pursuit, made my hopes of safety and my little remnant of strength to
shrink together utterly, like a scroll of parchment in the fire.

I knew not how far I had gone, nor whither I had come, for all was
strange to my disordered vision, but I know now that I had won nigh to
the standard upon Cornhill (having turned to my right hand up
Gracechurch Street); and holding my pursuers a little in check by
repeated doublings, I found myself free to take refuge within a certain
yard giving upon the public way and close against a tavern that is
called the Leaden Porch.  But fearing to remain openly in this place
for any man to apprehend me, I cast about for some means of
concealment, for I could go no further; and there being by good hap a
cart standing under the arch in the entry (the carter having doubtless
betaken himself to the tavern, as is the custom of such men), I got me
up into it, painfully crawling beneath the load it carried, which was,
methought, something oddly protected by a frame of timber hung about
with linen-stuff or such-like, that I skilled not to discover the use
of; and here I lay close, until very soon, as well from mere exhaustion
as from a despairing indifference to the event, I fell asleep.

No thought of the money I had been so near to recovering disturbed my
repose, nor indeed for three full days after did I so much as remember
to have left the treasure bags behind me in the hurry of my flight.



I was in the midst of a most excellent and comforting dream of Idonia,
to whom I was again happily united, and we (if I rightly call it to
mind), Duke and Duchess of Salamanca or of some place like-sounding,
when I was roughly awakened by the jogging forward of the cart, to
which succeeded that a head was thrust in betwixt the curtains of my
extemporary great bed, and a voice cried: "Woe worth the day! what
gallows'-food is here?"

Making no question but that I was arrested, yet being still bedrowsed
by sleep, I felt for my sword to deliver it up, but finding it not,
said very stately: "Master Corregidor of Biscay, I yield myself
prisoner," and so lay quiet, expecting what he should do further.

But that he did, squared so ill with all I had ever heard tell of the
manners and behaviour of Corregidors or persons anyway notable, that I
sat up and stared upon him gaping; for he gave but one look at me, and
after, with such a squealing of laughter as one might, suppose coneys
to utter when they catch a weasel sleeping, he parted the curtains
wider and leapt into the place where I lay, when he seized me by both
my hands and wrung them up and down as they were flails.

I was wide awake enough now, but yet for my life could not comprehend
the carter's apparent joy of seeing me, though as to that, 'twas a
better welcome than I had looked for, either from the Corregidor of my
dreams, or from the rabble I was so vehemently pursued by.

Now when this mad fellow had something slackened the excess of his
complacency, I took occasion to demand whether my remaining within that
frame of timber (that was none too big for us twain) were irksome to
him.  "For," said I, "if it be not, I have my reasons why I should wish
not to leave it."

At this he ceased his exercise altogether and, withdrawing both his
hands from mine, regarded me reproachfully.

"Hast so soon forgot Cayphas his mitre, and the ark of Noah?" said he.

"Now of all the saints," I cried out, "'tis Ptolemy Philpot, the
pageant master!" and saw that the sanctuary into which I had entered
was within the pageant itself, I having my elbow even then resting on
the wooden box of his puppets, while about the narrow chamber were hung
the tabards, hats, pencils, fringed gowns of damask and other necessary
imagery of the interludes he showed.  As to Master Ptolemy himself, he
had altered not a jot, so that I marvelled I had not sooner known him,
except that I was then heavy with sleep; for he spoke still in the same
small child's voice that issued from the middle of his bearded fierce
countenance, as a bird may twitter in the jaws of a pard that hath
caught her.  Methought indeed that the agate colour was somewhat more
richly veined upon his nose, and that his body was more comfortably
overlaid than I had formerly remembered it, and supposed therefore that
his bargain with Skegs had gone happily against my fears and to his
advantage; the which he presently certified.

"But it was not by any of the miracles or moralities he sold me, that I
have prospered," said he, "for wheresoever I played it none would stay
out the Deluge, no, not even in so goodly and well-considered a town as
is Devizes, whither I went first of all, and where I enacted the same
by the special desire of one Sir Matthew Juke, a principal person there
and a famous traveller, as he said; who took upon him to condemn my
navigation of the Ark ere I had half concluded: affirming that if ever
I should use the sea as he had done, and so handled my ship in the
manner of that voyage to Ararat, he would not answer for it, but I
should be utterly cast away and my venture lost.  Howbeit he gave me,
in parting, a tester, which was all I had from that place, and yet more
by a sixpence than I got at Winchester whither I proceeded, and where I
was fain to exchange the Deluge for the Miracle of Cayphas; but 'twould
not serve, and I was suddenly put forth of that town of the beadle.
Thereafter I essayed the Pageant of Melchisedec as they have it at
Chester, and though some part of it liked the people pretty well, yet I
lost as much as I gained by reason of a tempest that broke while the
piece was a playing, whereby the motion was all drenched by the rain
and the hangings torn by the wind and Father Abraham his beard came
ungummed from his jowl, so that it cost me five shillings to repair all
that damage.  Then did I make shift to patch my patriarch figures with
such modern habits and familiar countenances as should betoken our
famous captains (as I told you I meant to do), and to that end paid to
a clerk of Wallingford fifteen shillings for the writing of a
history-comedy, wherein were such assaults and batterings and victories
as suited to our late accomplishments at sea; but the illiterate and
filthy vulgar would have none of it, swearing I had turned Noah into
Captain Drake, and Mount Ararat into Vigo, with so slight addition upon
their originals as 'twas scandal to behold; all which was true enough,
doubtless, but the outcome mighty unprofitable to me, who thereby
beheld my fortune to be slid from under me and myself fallen into
absolute beggary."

"How then came you to repair your fortune, Ptolemy?" said I, who had
listened with an infinite, though secret, struggling against laughter,
the while he had related his tale; "since it seemeth you no longer play
your pieces to an unkind audience."

Mr. Philpot plunged his hand into his great beard, holding his chin
thoughtfully, and after, withdrawing it, rubbed his forefinger slowly
along his nose, as though to assure himself that he had come unchanged,
and with all his attributes, through the storm and multitude of
accidents that had assailed him.

"'Tis an old saw and a true one, which saith, the miracles that happen
daily we suffer to go by us unregarded; as the sunrise, and the return
of consciousness after sleep, and so following," said the pageant
master, in his small reed voice, "and the same holds as with the rest,
with plays also; namely, that what is too well known is still
neglected, and where no itch of expectancy is, there will no wits be
scratching.  'Twas a reproach of the Athenians of old, master, that
they went continually in hopes to see or hear some new thing, and your
stage-audiences differ in nothing from your Athenians, save only in the
tongue they use, and the clothes they wear.  I know not how the truth
came to be revealed to me," he proceeded pensively, "but come it did
and in a good hour; I mean the truth that every man loveth secrecy and
concealment, as a child his coral.  What did I then, but clap all my
stock together, my mysteries, miracles, pageants, interludes and all,
pell mell, Herod and Pilate their proper speeches and cues to boot: the
diverting jests of Noah's wife with the admonitions of Abraham and the
sentences of the Angel; and from this medley so made I fished forth
such chanceable and ill-matched dialogues as a man must needs be
Solomon or a very ass that would read sense into them, or confess to
discovering a propriety between speaker and spoken word.  Why, list but
a moment, and I will show you the whole matter," and with that he drew
forth a torn quire of unstitched papers that was marked at the head,
"The Masque of the Noble Shepherds," which word _Masque_, said Ptolemy,
served to cover all such impertinent matter as he should choose to
bring in, and acquainted me plainly with the way he had gone about his
authorship; in which, nevertheless, I perceived so great an ingenuity,
and such apparent gravity and fantastick leading up to nothing in the
world as, although I could comprehend no meaning in the piece (there
being none to comprehend) yet I could well enough imagine the curious
and close attention with which it would be heard and seen.

"I tell you I have had all sorts of men come away pleased with it,"
said Ptolemy in conclusion; "and each for a different reason, and
because he saw in it something that seemed to him to mean this, which
another said was that, and a third, the other."  He looked upon me
triumphantly, and then added: "Why, I mind me how at Lambeth once,
where I played, a Bishop and two Canons of the Church thanked me
handsomely for my holding up the new sect to ridicule; and
contrariwise, a little after, a Puritanical grocer demanded of me in a
whisper how in this play I dared to rail as I did upon Church

"But do you represent your persons still as prophets and peasants as
they used to appear?"

"I do not," said Ptolemy, winking upon me very shrewdly, "but rather I
have ennobled them all, and call this one a King, and that an Earl, and
the other the Knight Alderman of Tavistock--in which place I was born;
for it behoveth us to honour the place of our birth; besides that, for
the rest, your Englishman loves nothing better than to see great
persons on the stage, and aye to follow the fashions that he sees

We were interrupted at that time by the drawing aside of the curtain,
and a shock-head boy, appearing, said--

"We be arrived at the place, master.  Shall I sound the tabor and speak
the prologue now?"

"Whither are we come?" I asked, for I thought I might safely leave my
city of refuge and depart.

"This is Tower Hill," said Ptolemy, "and I see we shall not lack of a
sufficient audience to-day," he added, looking forth through a chink
upon the throng that was already assembled.

Now when I heard that we were returned to the very place whence I had
fled in fear of my life, I shrank back into a corner of the frame and
begged Mr. Ptolemy to let me remain with him until the place should be
clear of folk and I able to go home without molestation.  He seemed, I
thought, somewhat astonished, but at once agreed to keep me by him, and
indeed to do anything in return for the kindness I had shown him at
Dunster, only requiring me to give him as much room as I could for the
better management of his puppets, which he was now busy fitting to
their wires, while conning o'er the several parts they were due to

Surely, no hunted man hath ever been so fantastically sheltered as I,
above whose head kicked and dangled Mr. Ptolemy's wooden kings, and
Aldermen of Tavistock; and ranted their unintelligible speeches to the
delight of them that would have torn down the show in a fury had they
known how near to them I lay concealed.

In some such sort as follows the Masque commenced; the boy with the
tabor speaking:

  "My worthy master Ptolemy
  Hath writ this prologue painfully
  To th' intent that by it ye may see
  What otherwise were dim.
  The scene though pastorally laid
  Is traversed by an Earl, arrayed
  In shepherd-guise to win a maid
  That loathes the sight of him."

and so retired amidst a buzz of excitement.

We had got through about half the piece in this manner, and without
mishap, when Mr. Ptolemy, that was then in the midst of a complaint of
the wooden Earl for the unkindness of his shepherdess; Mr. Ptolemy (I
say) turned to me suddenly, quite neglecting his book, and very

"How now," quoth he, "here is the very opportunity come I have sought
long since, and yet had nigh forgot it.  What, I prythee, is the
meaning of that little word _Quemadmodum_?"

But ere I could reply, there arose such a shrill murmur of resentment
from the auditors as no seeker after truth might withstand, and Mr.
Philpot, abruptly recalled to the necessary affairs of his love-sick
Earl, had much ado to get him to his feet again, he being by this time
all entangled by the wires of the motion.  However, he did so, and the
play proceeded again.

When all was done and the boy sent round amongst the people to solicit
their gratuities, Mr. Ptolemy breathed a deep sigh, and having put up
his puppets into the box, closed the lid and returned upon me with a
courteous request that I should now deal with him at large upon the
subject of _Quemadmodum_, which word, as he told me, he had oftentimes
met with in the books he continued to collect in the Latin tongue, and
to which, when he should have acquired a competency, he intended to
devote his leisure.

"For there is nothing comparable with your Latin," said he, "to give a
cast of magnificence to that a man may say.  My father had some words
of it that he used chiefly when he was wroth, and they did more, I
warrant you, than all else to bring him off happily in his
disputations.  The principal saying he used was ... nay, I have forgot
it, but 'tis no great matter, for it was not of so catholick an
application as the _Quemadmodum_, nor so well sounding."

I was about to comply with his simple demand, when the lad again thrust
in his head betwixt the hangings, crying out: "Come forth, master,
instantly; for here is my Lord Lumley come from his great house above,
that requires you to answer certain reflections made upon him, as he
thinks, in that character of the rejected Earl; which will lead us the
devil's gait an' you satisfy him not of your simplicity."

"What told I you?" exclaimed the poor baulked Latinist, regarding me
with so tragick a countenance that I lost all inclination to laugh,
"there's none sees aught in all this but he hath brought it himself
hither in the thick o' the head, with a pest! and what is a poor player
to do!"

He went away very sorrowfully to my Lord Lumley's house, and I, that
saw my way open (being unwilling to attend his return), slipped from my
cover and was soon enough safe at home.  This adventure ended, and the
night come and gone, I went the next day to my work again, and there
continued for above a week, casting accompts under the strict eye of
Mr. Enos Procter, and never venturing nearer to Petty Wales than
sufficed to show me there was a pretty strong guard of yeomen kept
about the broken gate, who suffered no man to approach closely, nor
none (if indeed there were any left within) to depart thence.  I
guessed by this, and by their leaving unprotected that lane behind the
other half of the great house, that they knew not of the connection and
passage between the two parts; and so tried to comfort myself that
Idonia was got safely away, or if she yet remained, that she did so
without any extraordinary peril; though for all that I was very
miserable to be kept ignorant of her present lodging, but resolved
that, before many days were passed, I would forcibly undertake her
discovery and rescue, or at the least come by such certain information
as should lead to our meeting, and the renewal of our pledged troth.



The execution of my design was precipitated by a certain accident which
at that time befell me, and was by me regarded as happy or untoward,
according as I dwelt upon the recognition of merit it implied, or upon
the delayed return which it necessitated, to my intercourse with Idonia

It happened then, that about eight or nine days after that riotous
siege of Petty Wales, I was at work upon my high stool in Chequer Lane,
where I was deeply engaged in computing the value of the several shares
the merchants of our Company were willing to take, upon charter party
with the owners of a certain ship called _The Saracen's Head_, Captain
Spurrier, that was about to set forth upon a voyage into Argiers, and
thereafter, unless otherwise ordered, yet further to the eastward.
Being so occupied as I say, there entered the counting-house a servant
of Sir Edward Osborne's that desired of Mr. Procter to tell him whether
one Denis Cleeve were there in that place; to which he answering that
he was, and that I was the man he inquired after, the servant saluted
me very properly and bade me go with him to the Governor's, that is, to
Sir Edward Osborne's, who expected me at his house.

Marvelling what this should intend, I nevertheless made haste to follow
the servant, and was soon after ushered into a great chamber,
wainscoted very high up with walnut-wood, and with a table at one end
of it, whereon was a woollen cloth spread, very rich, and having the
coat and crest of the knight's family woven into the midst of it.
About the walls were hung many fair pictures, all of men save one,
which was of a maid of about ten years, that had a very winsome smiling
face and clustered curls about it.  In this chamber I was left alone to
wait for some small space, when after there came in to me Sir Edward,
very gravely, together with his secretary, who straight sat him down at
the table and mended his pen.

Upon their entering I did my courtesy, which the merchant quietly
received, and then, motioning me to a chair, immediately commenced:

"I have sent for you, Mr. Cleeve," said he, sitting down also, "because
I have had a good report of you from him in whose charge you work, Mr.
Procter, who moreover hath made the addition that you are of a spirit
somewhat higher than seemeth necessary a scrivener should have, they
being for the most part a mild and inoffensive sort of men--what say
you, Mr. Secretary?"

The man of the pen seemed greatly taken aback at this direct challenge
to his manhood, and could but stammer out that secretaries were
doubtless more faithful than arrogant, stealing at the same time such a
spleenful look upon me as I thought he would have sent his quill and
ink-horn after it.

"Faithful--ay," said Master Osborne, with a little smile about the
eyes, "but nowise arrogant.  I hope you be not arrogant either, Mr.
Cleeve," he added, fixing his gaze upon me.

"I hope not, sir," said I, "nor think I am not either, for, as Mr.
Procter hath often told me, there is nothing checks a man's pride like
the book-keeping, that makes him put down a thing on both sides an
accompt in a just balance; which pride forbids a man to do."

"It is as you say," cried the Governor, mighty pleased, "and you answer
well.  But now tell me--and it is necessary you should deal with me
openly--do you truly love your ledger?"

I thought upon this question a few moments ere I replied that I could
not say I loved it, but that I thought it a necessary book; that I
sometimes found a singular delight in the pursuing of the intricacies
of some great reckoning, but that I hated the casting of page upon page
of moneys, which seemed to make a miser of my head though I was none by
my pocket.  In fine, that I honoured accountancy as a servant but could
not live with it as a friend.

The merchant listened with no small amusement until I had done, and
then sat still, dallying with a packet of papers he had on the table
before him, from which at length he took one, and, running his eyes
over it carelessly, said--

"Upon what task were you engaged when I sent for you hither?"

I said, upon the business of the apportioning the affreightment of the
_Saracen's Head_.

"Know you aught of the Captain of that barque?" said he.

"It is one Master Spurrier," I said, "a Harwich man, that was one time
Captain of the _Crane_, a ship of the Queen's."

He nodded the while I spoke, as having knowledge of these particulars
already; and then demanded whether I were advised of how he came to
leave Her Majesty's service, which I had not, and said so.

"Give him the Testament, Mr. Secretary," said the Governor, and made
him propose the oath to me that whatsoever I now heard I should be
secret in and faithful to all just commands laid upon me to fulfil
them.  Which done, he leaned back in his deep chair and said--

"Mr. Cleeve, I am about to put into your hands a commission that may
carry with it some difficulty and more danger, from neither of which
have I any fear that you will anyways shrink.  But there needeth more
yet than either courage or a common promptness to this affair, wherein
must be used an aptitude to see without seeming to do so, and to assume
such a negligence of behaviour as none that watches you (for you shall
be watched) may perceive you be attentive to aught beyond your proper
and understood duties."  He paused awhile, and I was glad of this
respite, for my heart was beating so high that I could scarce conceal
my agitation.  Nevertheless I had commanded myself before he renewed
his discourse.

"I have received intelligence but two days since, from Her Majesty's
principal Secretary, that there be in this realm a sort of dissatisfied
men that, taking advantage of our present dissensions with Spain, and
hoping to secure to themselves an infamous benefit by the same, have
privily made offer of their services to our enemy, as to discover the
nature of our defences and extent of our preparedness to war.  So much
is certainly known, and many names of such spies are set down.  But, as
is always found in these devil's hucksterings, there is as it were a
frayed edge and doubtful margin of disloyalty, upon which a man may
stand in question how to appraise it; and of this quality is our Master
for this voyage, I mean Captain Spurrier.  Something that the Governor
of Biscay hath let fall (that lies now in the Tower) inclines their
lordships of the Council to attach this Spurrier instantly for a
traitor; but yet they would not altogether so, hoping as well for
absolute proof of his villainy as that, by our apparent slackness, he
may be led to betray to one supposed his ordinary companion, the full
scope and ambit of his dealings; which being (to use the figure) noted
in our chart as shoals, we may circumvent them and come safe to harbour.

"I design, therefore, that you go supercargo of the goods of this
vessel, that is to sail from the Pool in a week's time, and mark each
particular accident of the voyage, as what ships spoken, and what
course taken, together with the customary behaviour of the Captain, and
with whom of the officers he chiefly consorts.  If he have any books or
papers you may overlook their general tenour but not handle them, for
sometimes they be traps set for that very purpose.  At Argiers, if you
get so far and be not, as I suspect you will be, waylaid by some
Spanish ship of war, you may send me word; but yet either way, observe
your man closely; to whom, so far as may be possible, you shall make
yourself necessary.  I say no more.  It may happen that my advice shall
receive supplement from Her Majesty's Council, to whom I have already
given in your name as the agent I think likeliest to their occasions;
who on their part received it very well, knowing your father for an
honourable man and a loyal gentleman."

The Governor rose from his place, and, bowing slightly, went from the
chamber, leaving me alone with his secretary, who, with less courtesy
than I thought he might have showed, instructed me in the customary
duties of a supercargo, and further bade me apply to him for whatever
money would be necessary for clothing and the rest, as well as arms,
with which I was now wholly unprovided.

In conclusion he warned me to be discreet, wagging his head three or
four times as he said it, I suppose for my better apprehension of his

"Oh, I warrant you, Mr. Secretary," said I, "I will not write my
suspicions, nor speak them in soliloquy, nor yet clap my ear to the
keyhole, unless I see cause."

"I have a mind to clap my cane to your worship's jolthead," quoth the
secretary, "until you see a thousand stars."

No sooner were we parted (friends enough) and I in the street, than the
desire to see Idonia and bid her bless me to my sea-faring, came so hot
upon me as I made off directly to the thieves' lane of Petty Wales, and
neglecting all discretion, scrupled not to enter it publicly.  But the
door by which I had formerly gained ready admittance was now closed,
and so strongly barred that I knew at the first glance 'twas impossible
of access; while the one small window beside it was likewise shuttered
up and made firm.  I rapped twice or thrice as loud as I dared, but
none answering, I went away at length, exceeding downcast.  On the day
following I came again; and the day after that too; but was still
repulsed by the defences that I supposed the thieves, and perhaps Skene
too, had raised against any attacks of the soldiery, or of the
populace, that were full as formidable as any army, and more cruel
because without discipline.  Meanwhile the day nearly approached when
our barque was to set sail, and I with my secret strange commission to
go with her.  I had writ a large letter to my father at Tolland, in
which I made mention of this voyage, begging him to remember me in his
prayers, and promising him withal, that I would not run into
unnecessary dangers, nor yet (as some have done) be so busy in my
office as to smell out treasons where none was meant.  As to the nature
of my trust I could not deal explicitly with him, because of the oath I
was bound by, but I gave him to understand that our cargo of woollen
stuffs was the least part of my care, and whether safe in the hold, or
at the first occasion to be made jettison of, my owners would (I
thought) require no particular account of it at my hands.  With the
writing of this, and one visit I was called upon to pay to my lords of
the Council, in which I met with more great men and ran into a thicker
mist of wisdom than hath been my fortune either before or since; with
these matters (I say) I eked out my waiting time heavily enough, for I
was necessarily released from my daily attendance at the
counting-house, having besides much to see to in the getting of such
clothing and arms as the crabbed secretary thought necessary to my

Well, walking thus very disconsolate one evening upon the Bridge, where
I had been concerned with a certain armourer there to buy my new sword
and hangers, whom should I light upon but, Master Andrew Plat, the
lyrick poet?  At least by the back I judged it to be him, for he looked
another way, and was, I soon perceived, about the game he had so
decried to me as a nefarious pursuit and never by him followed, namely
stealing; for he stole silk goods from one of the open stalls that are
here set up; the which he so skilfully accomplished as I saw he was no
freshman, but rather an exhibitioner and graduated master.

"Your Spring hath issued into a passing fruitful Summer," I said very
low in his ear, "and I think you did well to leave your lyricks for
this art, and the thankless Apollo for thieving Mercury."

He leapt about with a white face, gasping.

"I have stolen nothing in the world," said he.

"No?  Then come with me, Master Poet, for I must learn this way of
getting stuff that is neither paid for nor yet stolen," and taking him
under the arm I carried him with me at a great pace along the Bridge,
pausing not till we were come near to the end of Thames Street, and in
full view of the watch set about the battered door of Skene's house.

"I go no further this way," cried Plat, struggling to get free.

"We have nothing to fear, friend, being honest men."

"Loose me, I say."

"On conditions I will."


"That you admit me to your house."

"Never!  Besides I have no house.  I am homeless and destitute, master;
indeed I am in bitter want."

"I will mend that," said I, and drew forth a gold piece from the pouch
at my belt.  "But now, ponder the alternatives well, and as you choose,
so shall it be yours to have.  Either you grant me presently the
liberty of that part of Petty Wales which you were used to inhabit, and
take this noble for your pains, or else I will hale you to yonder
watch, and denounce your theft of those silks you have about you."

He shivered throughout at my proposals, and after hung as limp upon my
arm as a drenched clout.

"If I should do as you desire, good master," said he, in a voice I
could scarce hear for its thinness, "our Captain would kill you out of

"Forewarned is forearmed," said I.  "Your next reason?"

"That the place is locked."

"Otherwise I should have had no need of you.  The next?"

"Oh," he wailed pitifully, "do not drive me thus, master.  I dare not
obey you."

"Forward then with a good heart," said I cheerfully, and bore him a
further ten paces down the street.

"Stay, stay," cried the poet, "I yield, I capitulate, I open the gates
... and now give me my gold."

I did so, and released him, when, cautioning me to be silent, he left
the street by a certain byway, and threading such devious passages as
in the growing darkness I could scarce distinguish to follow him by, he
led me on, up and down, through courts and alleys, beneath penthouse
roofs and neglected arches, until I came near to doubting his good
faith and was about to use my old device of retaining his allegiance at
the sword's point, when he came out suddenly into the lane, at the
opposite end to that I had before entered it from Tower Hill; and so
stood still before the secret low door.  In the little light there was
(for the lane was lit by no lantern nor lamp of any sort) I could not
see whether the door was still barricaded, but judged it to be so by
Mr. Plat's climbing up about a fathom's height of the naked wall,
setting his feet within some shallow crevices he knew of, but I could
not perceive, until he made his standing sure, when, he giving a little
strange cry like a bird's, immediately a stone of the wall seemed to be
removed, some three spans' breadth, and into the opening thus made Plat
incontinently disappeared.  I was mad to be fooled thus, for I
questioned not but he would now leave me to shift for myself: when with
an equal suddenness his head was thrust forth again, and he said--

"If you list you may mount up hither, though I warn you a second time,
that all here within, me only excepted, be ungodly thieves, pilferers,
cut-throat knaves, railers against the State, having no honesty nor
purpose to do well, illiterate, owning no government, lawless, base men
that acknowledge no merit of authors nor rules of prosody, ignorant
beasts, amongst whom I, a singular sweet singer, remain until a better
fate calls me hence to crown me with never-fading bay and myrtle," and
so, without more ado, he went away from the aperture, which
nevertheless he left open, as he had promised; but whither he went I
know not, for I did not see him after, nor have I come by his published
poems that were to render him immortal.

I gazed after him a great while, as in doubt whether he would return,
but then shifting my new sword behind me, I addressed myself to the
ascent of the wall, which, after much scraping of my flesh, and one or
two falls headlong, I surmounted, and had my hands fast upon the nether
edge of the vent.  It was but a brief while ere I had drawn myself up
and scrambled through; when I found I stood in a narrow and void
chamber, very foul and ill-smelling, from which I was glad enough to be

But scarce had I gone forth into the passage beyond, when I heard such
a tumult and angry debate of voices as remembering Plat's assertion of
the Trappist silence that was in this house enjoined upon pain of death
I could not but suppose some very especial cause to have hurried the
thieves into so presumptuous an offence.  It was now altogether night
within the building, and with these stifled cries sounding in my ears,
and execrations of men I knew to be desperate villains, I confess my
heart quailed within me and my strength all leaked away, so that I
could not even fly by the way I had come, but stood with my back to the
wall, sweating and staring, with never a thought but to remain
unperceived.  Of the fashion and plan of the house I was perfectly
ignorant, having but once before been within it, and then trusting to
another to guide me through its secret recesses; yet I remembered that
there was somewhere that great wide staircase which Plat had said was
the common room and meeting-place of the thieves, where they transacted
their affairs and shared their food and treasure.  'Twas, then, with a
clutch of horrid surprise that I now saw, low down before me, a sort of
men bearing lanterns that issued from the shadows, and began to scale
the stairs; for by the uncertain light I could both distinguish them
and that I myself was standing in one of the open galleries that
surrounded the stairhead and overlooked the body of the hall.  But no
sooner had I understood this, than any further discovery was thwarted
by a man's brushing past me in the dark, so close I could hear him
fetch his breath, and instantly upon that there followed the click of a

"Stay there, you creeping lice!" he said, speaking in a cool middle
voice, "or I will shoot you down, man by man, where you stand."

At this unlooked-for interruption, the men upon the stair came to a
sudden stand, while some that had advanced higher than the rest, fell
back, so that all hung crowded together, their lanterns raised and
their eyes seeking upward for the man that held them at bay.  I have
never seen so dastardly and scarce human visages as they showed, some
with bleared eyes and matted hair, others dark and vengeful, their
brows and cheeks scarred with wounds or open sores.  Here a man went
half-naked like a savage Indian; there one wore a ragged coat guarded
with silver; all were armed, though with such a hazardous sort of
weapons, that but for the assured skill and practice with which they
wielded them, one might have dared oppose the whole rout single-handed.
But in their hands these weapons seemed proper as claws to beasts, or
tushes to a wild boar, and instinctively, as the man raised his pistol,
I drew my sword from the sheath.  The noise I made attracted the man's
attention to me, and he would perhaps have spoken, had not the
bloodthirsty rout, recking no further opposition, sprung forward again.

"Hold, I say," cried the man, and this time with a dreadful menacing
vehemence.  "I am your Captain, and you know me well.  Another step,
and there's a soul writhing in hell.  Back, go, you and your eggers-on!
I understand this business, as I understand too who 'twas inflamed you
to mutiny."

"You took my wife, you scum!" shouted a great fellow clad in a
shipman's garb, that held a rust-bitten cutlass in his hand, and
struggled forward through the press.

"Ay, did I, Jack?" quoth the Captain satirically, "but 'twas to provide
you with another bride, a bonny lass that the Churchmen say we shall
all embrace by turns.  'Tis that world-old witch I mean, named Death,"
and at the word, he discharged his piece full in the other's blotched
face, and laid him bleeding on the topmost stair.

A great hush came over the mutineers when they saw this deed, that
moreover so sickened me that I had already raised my sword to stab the
murderer in the back and have done with him, when the thieves suddenly
broke with a yell of defiance and charged upward in the mass.  What I
would have done had I had longer to deliberate I know not, but in
default of any counsel to direct me, I sprang into action on the side
of the very man I had intended to slay, and shoulder to shoulder with
him, fought down those ghastly cruel faces and reaching hands.

It was soon enough over.  They were no match against the arms we used,
and the Captain calmly loading and discharging his piece, the while I
kept the stairhead clear with my sword, we made them give back foot by
foot, until at length each was scrambling to be the hindmost, and even
used his knife upon his companion in the urgency of his retreat.  All
the lanterns were out now, save one that a dead man held in his stark
and upraised hand; and by that light the Captain wiped his smoking
barrel clean.

"It is well concluded," said he, "and I thank you for your help, young

I said nothing, so deeply did I loathe him.

"We must be gone," he said, "and that quickly.  The watch is up, and
the whole place will be searched before dawn.  They will be caught like
rats in a drain," he added softly, drawing in his breath.  "Follow me."

He led me to the room I had left, and helped me to get through the hole
in the masonry, after which he followed me.

"This way," said he, and took me through the lane until he came onto
Tower Hill, when, skirting the precincts of the Tower, we crept
unchallenged through the postern in the wall and turned down a narrow
cart-way to the eastward, I beside him, but neither speaking one word,
until after an hour or more, with waiting and going forward, we got to
Wapping a little ere daybreak, to a desolate mean tavern of shipmen
close beside the river, which we entered without question, for none
seemed to be stirring; and here, in the filthy guestroom, the Captain
flung himself down.

"A good night's work, master," said he, grinning, "in which you did
your part so well that it grieves me much to name you my prisoner."



In the wan light, with which the room was now gradually filling, I
looked at the man I had been so strangely moved to succour, and knew
him for my old antagonist, Guido Malpas.  However, I said no more at
that time, but that, prisoner or no, I sufficiently loathed him; and
so, crouching myself together upon a settle by the hearth (for I was
exceeding weary), I fell asleep.

It was bright day when I awoke, stiff and uneasy, and sat up on my
bench.  The room was empty, and 'twas some while ere I could collect
the passages incident to my being there, which, when they had skulked
back like tired truants to my brain, yet so monstrous did they seem as
I could scarce believe them to be acted events, but rather fantasies
left caught in the web of my waking; while as to that boast of the
thieves' Captain, that I was detained prisoner in an open hostelry, I
laughed aloud at the recollection.

I got off my plank bed, and going to the door called for the host to
fetch me something to breakfast on, but he not immediately answering to
my demand, I thought fit to show him something of my quality, as
befitting an agent of the Queen's, and was for jangling down my
accoutrements on the table (which never fails of bringing your tapsters
running to attend on a man) when, to my astonishment, I found sword and
belt both wanting, and my purse gone with the rest.

I stood horror-stricken at this catastrophe, for I perceived that while
I slept that malignant thief had shorn me, and so clapped my hand to
the bosom of my jerkin, where I had put up a letter I had received from
the Lord Treasurer, or rather from his secretary, touching my late
appearance before the Council; but almost before I had my hand in, I
knew certainly that it had been stolen, as indeed it was.  Now, here I
saw instantly was matter enough to ruin me either way; with them that
employed me, whose secret I had so slovenly betrayed; with them I was
to spy upon, if (as I could nowise doubt) Malpas was of their company
and privy to their designs.  Nevertheless, come what would, I must
report my delinquency to Sir Edward Osborne, and abide by his censure,
and for the rest hope that 'twas not yet too late to supersede me by
some other agent upon that voyage wherein I had promised myself no
small success and glory.

Very heavy, then, but otherwise determined to do my plain duty in this
affair, I went out by the door with a firm step, pondering all the
cross accidents that had befallen me within so short a space, and very
wishful that all were at an end.

"Not so fast, Mr. Agent," said that sneering voice of Malpas, whom I
near stumbled over as he sat on an upturned cask by the door.  "I have
been expecting you this two hours, but would not disturb you; for it is
unprofitable discoursing with a man of your capacity to slumber.  Well,
do you walk in your sleep now, little Denis, and dream upon treasons?
or have you your waking sense yet?  I trow you seem reasonable glad to
see me, by which I suppose you to be in your right mind, and so bid you

For answer I drew off my glove, and struck him a stinging blow across
the mouth with it; upon which he leapt up, and, being extraordinarily
powerful, flung me from him into the tavern, where I lay prone upon the
flags.  He did not shut the door, but stood in the doorway, of which
his head brushed the lintel, and, folding his arms, proceeded quietly--

"That was unwisely done, Denis.  This house is well respected, and not
known for brawling.  Besides, I mean we should be friends; that is,
should understand each other, as friends do--and traders.  For in the
way of trade all goes by mutual understanding and a common trust; as I
to sell certain commodities and you to remit certain moneys; or
contrariwise, you to part with such merchandise as I am willing to lay
up in store and to render a good account of, little Denis--as you shall
confess, at the proper season.  'Tis a settlement somewhat deferred
doubtless, having had its beginning, if I mistake not, in a street
before a barber's I used formerly; whereafter was added to the bill a
shrewd item or two, whereby I come near to losing all credit: a grave
chance for such a merchant-adventurer as I; but I am since restored.  I
allow a handsome rebate, Denis, that you put into the reckoning
yesterday.  But the balance, upon the whole, going against me, it
remains that I must pay."

"Had I known you last night," I said bitterly, "I would have cut off my
right hand rather than second you in that pass."

He laughed long and low at that.

"Do you regret the issue so much?" said he, "Then it was your ignorance
more than your sword I have to thank, it seems.  Well, 'tis no more
than the world's way, that generally sees good deeds done at random,
but calculated villainies."

"As stealing that poor devil's wife," said I.

"Ay, or the lying-in-wait for Captain Spurrier upon commission," said
he.  "So all's one for that."

"You have read my packet, then?"

"Even as you were licensed to read his."

"And may do so yet," said I, galled beyond restraint by his gibing.

"I think you something misapprehend the matter," said Malpas, with a
malignant affectation of patience, "or have forgot that I said you were
to be detained here.  In what fashion you shall go forth, I have not
yet decided, but be assured it will not be to do a mischief, Mr. Denis.
There be other interests must be first consulted thereabout, and order

I went over to the hearth, and sitting down upon the settle, strove to
get my position clear in my mind.  That I was to be kept here until the
rest of the conspirators should be assembled to try me, I understood
well enough from Malpas his words; though of whom this council of
treason should consist, I could not guess, except that Spurrier himself
were one, and probably Skene.  To escape I judged was impossible every
way; partly because I was entered into the very home and chosen
fortress of these plotters, of which the retiredness and neglected
condition sufficiently secured it from the vigilance of the watch, and
partly because I was a prize too valuable to be let slip.  I considered
that, besides Malpas, there were certainly others in that house,
pledged to my ward, and answerable for me to him.  Of Malpas I knew
enough, as well from that the poet had told me of the thieves' Captain,
how he killed out of hand any that dared disobey him, as also from my
own observance of his behaviour, to stand in little doubt of the upshot
of my business, how it would go.  Nevertheless, I do not remember to
have had any extraordinary fear; none, I know, comparable with that
palsied terror I suffered when the mutineers came first upon the stairs
in the night.  Perhaps it was the knowledge that formerly when we were
matched together I had come off happily, and left Malpas with so deep a
thrust as even now he went limping withal.

Immersed in such reflections, I did not note the passage of time, and
was surprised when a little neat fellow, dressed like an ordinary
tavern-server, entered, bearing a tray with cheese on and a loaf and a
pot of good foaming ale.

"Is it poisoned?" said I.

"Poisoned?  Sir--in this house!" cried he, starting back from the
table.  "Your worship must be ignorant whither you have come--to the
_Fair Haven_ of Wapping, where all is sound provend and of the best
come to port."

"Is it so, indeed, Master Jocelin?" I returned, for I had immediately
recognized, in this meek servitor, my old acquaintance of the hostelry
over against Baynards Castle.  "And how goes it with that fat lump of
dough you were to set the yeast of your wit to work in?"

But without the flicker of an eyelid, he answered me: "Jocelin is my
name, sir; but as to your dough and your yeast, I understand nothing of
your meaning."

I could not withhold my laughter at his recovered innocence any better
than I did before at the manifest lapse of it; and laughing still, I
watched him put down my breakfast and depart.  I fell to with a will
after that, and having a wholesome fondness for food, had soon made an
end of that meal, which, as Master Jocelin had said, was as good as
needs be.  The whiles I was eating, my mind wandered oddly away to old
Peter Sprot, at home, whose sober admonition to me of the dietary I
should follow in London, I had until now (I fear) given no thought to,
but judged that I must even yet awhile delay the exact observance of it.

Now it chanced that, looking up when I had about done, I saw Malpas
regarding me very earnestly, and with a manner as though he would have
asked me something, but apart from the tenour of our late conversation.
Marvelling what this should be, I kept silence: which 'twas not long
ere he broke, by saying--

"If you confess yourself vanquished and overborne in this business,
Master Cleeve, as I suppose you can scarce otherwise, I upon my part am
willing enough to allow that you came off victorious otherwhiles; so
that thus far we may cry quits.  If there be no love lost between us,
there need be no petty rancours nor jealousies, and I am honest enough
to say that, now I have lost her, I wish you well of your suit to
Mistress Avenon."

"Where is she now?" cried I, starting up.

"Nay, if you know not," said Malpas, "how should I?"

I sat down quite out of heart, for I saw, whether he had news or no, he
was still for fencing.  Malpas came nearer, and bending low over the
table where I sat, laid his two hands upon it, and said--

"You cannot be ignorant that this affair is like to end badly for you,
Mr. Denis, and I am partly glad of it, but partly sorry too.  Now, I
pray you to be open with me; for if I choose I may help you, seeing I
have some direction in this place, and of the occasions it is used for.
Judging from such things as you have seen doing, upon whose part do you
suppose Mr. Skene to stand in these negotiations with Spain?  Oh, keep
your admiration!" said he, with a sudden sneer.  "The reading of your
packet makes away all scruples to be longer secret.  That there be such
negotiations you know as well as I; though of how far they stretch, or
who be deep in, I say nothing.  All I require at your hands, is that
you say frankly whether Skene is on the Queen's part, or upon ours?"

[Illustration: "You cannot be ignorant that this affair is like to end
badly for you, Mr. Denis."  Chapter XIX]

"You acknowledge your part to be contrary to Her Majesty's, then?"

"I said so.  Now as you answer me, I swear I will deal with you.  I
will fling the door wide and let you go forth freely to Mistress
Idonia, whose present hiding-place I know; or else I will deliver you
over to those who shall choke your discretion in your fool's throat."

"Your treason hath not commenced so well," said I, leaning back from
the table, "that hath begun in distrust of each other."

"Be not over long about it," said Malpas darkly; "I am not used to
repeat my offers, that, moreover, you see are abundantly generous."

"So generous," I replied, "that I doubt their worth."

"They be surely worth more," said my captor, upon whose brow the blue
veins stood out, so sharp a curb did he put upon his mood; "they be of
more worth to you, a thousandfold, than the favour or disfavour of that
damned, cogging, glib-spoken traitor, your uncle."

He had let it slip at last!  My uncle Botolph and Skene were one.  And
here, beyond belief, I held 'twixt my naked finger and thumb the
steelyard by which my uncle's fate should be weighed, who had crossed
me at every turn.  A word of mine, and he that had first ruined my
father's life, and after had robbed him of his fortune, might be
contemptuously blotted out, as a man blots out some gross error in a
letter he has writ; for that was how Malpas would serve him, could I
bring myself to say he stood for the Queen.  A little word spoken, and
he was condemned, but I was free ... I and Idonia!

Indeed, it was clear justice, both to myself and to my uncle.  For I
was not to name the man a traitor to his Sovereign; rather, to speak
well of him, as I expected a man should do of me.  It was (now I was
come to think on't) mere decency that I should not be dumb in my
uncle's praise whom I had never had any, or at the least overt, cause
to mistrust.  Put the case the other way; that I thought my uncle's
conduct treasonable.  Should I denounce him to the Lord Treasurer and
the Council?  I knew I should not.  Should I then denounce him to
Malpas for the contrary cause, and upon the slight grounds I had, as of
the confession he made to me when the Jesuit was found in hiding in his
house?  No, certainly.

Why, all that was required of me was that I should confess I thought my
uncle honest, as likely enough he was.  What should follow upon so fair
a declaration imported me nothing.  I was concerned with no grudges nor
disputes of these men, to bethink me how a plain answer should work
with them.  Nay, I stood for the Queen's Majesty, upon oath to serve
her, and would so stand, God willing, come what might; as Malpas was
well assured, who yet had passed his word I was within an hand's
breadth of going free; it only stayed upon my word.  Then why should I
not deal with another so, allowing the honour due to a like
steadfastness with my own?  My uncle would doubtless be let go free
too; or perhaps he was not even so much as come into jeopardy.  I had
no suspicion but that he was still at large....  Indeed it was very

All this while I sat still, musing upon that I should say, and Malpas
stood above me, expecting it.  More than once I tried to speak, and
Heaven forgive me as I believe, had I spoken then, I should have sent
my uncle to his death; but somehow the words would not come.  The
sophistry was too palpable; the truth too black a lie.  I met my
captor's eyes.

"If I tell you where my uncle is at this moment concealed," said I,
"will you let me go free?"

Snatching at the apparent advantage: "I add it to the conditions of
your safety that you do so," he replied swiftly.

"Then you have lost your game," said I, and getting up, I kicked the
chair aside and watched his baffled face of rage.  "For if you know not
that, neither do you know where Idonia is, as you made pretence to do."

"You cursed trickster!" he swore, his voice shaking with an
uncontrolled passion; "petty cheat and viper!  So, that is it to be!
Ay, white face, laugh that you have run me these lengths; I should have
known you.  'Sdeath, ye be true Cleeves, uncle and nephew, unprofitable
knaves both!  Well, I have done my part, but there's more to follow yet
and soon enough, uncle and nephew!  Ah! and who shall be Idonia's
guardian then, when you lie stark? ... Never a word of truth he gave
me, that old fox, but kept me still dangling.  'He could not promise me
her hand, forsooth, but yet he liked me.  She would come to like me
too, in time, no doubt; but I must have patience.'  Patience--had he
such patience to wait when her mother lived, or did he fob off Miles
Avenon her father upon that fool's adventure wherein he was presently
slain, as Uriah was slain, Bathsheba's man?  Ho! a prosperous sleek
lover, I warrant you, and a laugher too, until his Margaret died....  I
knew that Miles, and though I was but a child when he went away, I
remember the pride he had in his pretty frail wife and his joy of
Idonia, for she was his proper child, though Cleeve named himself her
guardian, for her mother's sake.

"It was that made him terrible, that death of Margaret, and few men
dared go near him.  But the fit passed.  There have been Margarets enow
since, in good sooth! though he still held by the child.  Perdition!
but there needs money to that game, a store, and he was glad of our
help at first, and for many a long day after.  It was to be fair
sharing in all, and whiles I think he parted to the hair.  Even to your
coming I trusted him, and spied upon you as he bade me, being content
to take the brunt, while he lay close.  'Twas then I claimed the maid
as a right, but he shook his grey sleek head and paltered.  _Patience_!
that was the word, then.  But it's another word now, Master Denis, for
you and for him.  Ay, and another word for Idonia Avenon...."

I was amazed hearing him talk so wild, whom I had thought tutored to a
perfect secrecy; but his blood was up at my catching him in that
baseness of lying, besides that he was disappointed of the hope I had
extended and withdrawn, of setting him upon my uncle, whose treachery
in their plot he so evidently feared.  Why he did not spring upon me
there and then with his knife I did not understand, though it was
likely he reserved me a morsel to fling amongst his foul co-partners in
this business, and a grateful sacrifice.

"Enough of this chat," said I, at length, "for I well perceive your
purpose both toward me and my uncle.  But I warn you for the last time
I shall that 'tis safest you suffer me, Her Majesty's servant, to go
hence free."

"It is refused," he replied curtly, and turning upon his heel, strode
out of the room and into the street.

Seeing him gone thus, without mounting any especial guard upon me, I
bethought me to examine the defences with my own eyes, and therefore
followed him leisurely to the door.  A stout sea-faring man was there
already, his arms crossed, blocking it.  I saw the gleam of a cutlass
end beneath his rough jacket.

"Be thou the host of this tavern?" he inquired, with a grin.

Being unconcerned in his needs, I made no answer, and returned to my
room.  The windows, which were all unglazed, were strongly barred, and
I at once saw useless to be attempted.  Passing then to the hind part
of the house I noted a little postern door that seemed to give onto a
sort of jetty or wharf, the inn standing upon the riverside as I have
already said; but when I approached it, there was the neat tapster that
had brought my meal whistling some catch of a sea song, and polishing
of a great arquebus.

"Ho! come not too nearly, master," he sang out, when he saw me, "for
these pieces be tickle things, a murrain of 'em!  And I not
comprehending the least of the machine, it may chance shoot off

Perceiving that he had his finger pressed to the snaphance, and the
barrel turned my way, I judged it expedient to leave Mr. Jocelin to his
polishing and retire.  Every avenue then was guarded, as I had looked
it should be, and so, without any particular design, I walked slowly up
the narrow, rotten stair into the chambers aloft.  I went into three or
four, all vacant and ungarnished by any piece of furniture or hanging,
which meant sorry enough entertainment in a place purporting to be an
inn, thought I, though proper enough to a prison.

But scarce had I gone forth into the gallery again, when I thought I
heard a sound that proceeded from a chamber I had not till then
observed, in a retired and somewhat darksome corner beyond the stairs.
I held my breath to listen, and the little rustling noise beginning
again after a space, I went directly to the door and opened it.

Mistress Avenon sat within, in a nook by the window, tearing a paper
she had in her hands.

"Idonia!" I cried, and running forward had her in my arms and her hot
face close against mine.  "My bird," said I--for so she seemed as a
dainty bird caught in an iron trap--"my bird, who hath brought you into
this infamous place?"

She leant back a little from my shoulder, yet without loosing me, and
looked up into my eyes with such a deal of honest, sweet pleasure to
see me there, that I had to pretermit my anxiety some while, and indeed
had near lost it by the time I renewed my question.

"Why infamous?" inquired Idonia in her turn, "save that I knew not you
were here too.  But now it is certainly not infamous, though something
lacking of luxuries, and a thought slack in the attendance they bestow
upon guests!"

"You must not misconstrue my insistence," I said, "and you will not,
when you shall have heard all I have to tell you.  But for the first,
where is Mr. Skene?"

"He brought me here early last night," said she, but with a little of
reproach in her voice that I knew meant I wasted good time idly.

"And whither is he gone?"

"Do you desire he should be present, then?" asked Idonia, very

"No, but I would warn him if I could," I replied gravely, and so told
her everything as it had befallen me.

"Always that Malpas!" whispered the maid, and trembled so I had to
clasp her tight to me.

"He does not know you are here, that is clear," I said, as indeed it
was manifest to both of us.

"My guardian hath used this place often ere this," said Idonia, "and I
suppose none thought to prate of what happened ordinarily."

"Perhaps he has left you to seek out Malpas," I conjectured, and at
this she nodded.

"They have had some design in hand together this great while, of which
I know nothing."

I did not tell her that I knew it well enough, and was even
commissioned to prevent it, but said--

"Wherever he hath gone, Malpas hath certainly gone to seek him; but he
must not be found."

"You owe him small thanks," whispered Idonia, her head low down, "and
if this intends a danger to you..."

I did not suffer her to finish, but asked whether she were well enough
acquainted with the house to know of any means of egress from it,
besides the doors that were so straitly watched.  She thought a great
while before she replied how, once, it might be eight years since, she
being lodged there, she had gone upon some occasion into the cellars,
and remembered to have noted that the window which lighted it was a
sort of grate within the river wall and was even then decayed and
corrupted by the salt water, so that by this time it should, she
thought, be easily broken through.

"The tide is out," said I, "so that if I may but get through, there is
the dry bank above the pirates' gallows to go by; and after, the rest
should be plain enough."  Which gallows I spoke of (now all rotten) yet
stood in the ooze to be flooded at high tide, it having been formerly
used against such pirates and river thieves as were caught and there
hanged, until, the tide rising, they were drowned.

In reply to my further questionings, she said that Skene was to be
sought amidst the streets about the Tower Royal, which was where I had
gone that day I lost my way in the fog, when Idonia found me, and,
indeed, was no great distance from Chequer Lane.

"When you shall have found him, or however it fall out, you will return
to me, dear heart?" said Idonia, who was now weeping so bitterly that I
could scarce keep hold of my resolution to be gone.  But I did so at
length, and, going downstairs to the room I had left, found it to my
delight still free.  Nigh choked with the beating of my heart, I soon
discovered the stone steps that led down to the cellars, which were a
narrow passage-room lit with a swinging lantern, and having three or
four locked doors of other vaults (used, I supposed, for storage of
wines and such-like) to the right and left of it.  But in the
river-wall, when I looked, I could perceive no grid nor aperture of
such sort as Idonia had spoken, and for some moments remained as one
lost, for mere disappointment.  However, recovering myself a little, I
felt along the whole, length of the wall, high and low, until to my
infinite pleasure my hand struck upon a new oaken door, bolted with a
great bolt that I slid back without the least noise.  For the door
itself, I clearly perceived, it had been found necessary to put it in
place of the old, decayed grid, and 'twas sure as provident a repairing
as any it hath been my fortune to light on!

Well, I think it stands not upon me to relate the several stages of my
prison-breaking, nor of my lurking along the river-bank under the very
eyes of my warders into safety; though I confess that more than once my
back burnt hot with the thought of the little peering tapster and of
that great arquebus he so diligently polished.



The events which succeeded upon my escape from the _Fair Haven_ of
Wapping have come to assume in my mind a significance and singular
quality of completeness that hath, therefore, moved me to bestow upon
them the name of the "Adventure of the Chinese Jar;" for, detached from
every circumstance, there yet stands out, clear and hard against my
background of memory, that odd, fantastic shape of a blue-painted jar,
with its dragon-guarded lid, its flowered panels, and a haunting
remnant scent of the spices it had once enclosed.

I left the ooze and filthy slime of the river-bank when I had gone some
furlong or so, and, turning inland up a row of squalid cabins, got at
length into the Minories, and entered through the wall by Aldgate.
Methought that some of the guard I encountered about the gatehouse
regarded me with looks of surprise and ill-will, which, indeed, the
disorderliness of my clothing necessarily invited, as well, perhaps, as
a no very restrained gait and behaviour, for I was in a fever to be
forward upon my errand, and dreaded the least hindrance therein.
However, none accosting me, I passed by into the City, and was already
proceeding at a great rate towards Tower Royal, when I came upon a
group of persons that were talking eagerly and in loud voices, so that
I could not but hear a part of their discourse.

"He will certainly be apprehended before nightfall," said one, a
merchant by his habit; "so close a watch do they keep in these days
upon all suspected malefactors."

"I know not the man by either the names he goeth by; neither Skene nor
Cleeve," said another.

"It is not likely you should," said the first, with a twinkle of his
grey eyes, "that are inquest-man of this wardmote, and brother to a

I stepped close to the man had spoken last, and, doffing my cap, said:
"Sir, I am but just arrived in this town, but overhearing something of
that hath been made mention of betwixt you, I imagined that I heard the
name of one Cleeve in question."

"You did," said the merchant; "Cleeve or Skene, for 'tis all one.  But,
why?  Do you know the fellow?"

"It is my own name," I replied modestly; "at least, Cleeve is, and so
if you were inquiring after me, I am here to serve you."

A great laughter moved the whole party at my seeming ingenuousness, and
the merchant replied--

"No, no, honest Mr. Cleeve; go your ways and keep your innocence.  But
this other Cleeve is one grown old in treachery; a harbourer of Jesuits
and Spanish spies, against whom a writ runs for his immediate
attachment, and upon whose crafty head there is a price set."

"Is he escaped away then?" said I.

"He hath no settled habitation," replied one that held a paper in his
hands, upon which he continually looked, "but was last seen at a
certain great ruined house over against the Galley Quay, from which he
is now fled, no man knows whither.  But from manifest evidence it
appeareth he is engaged in deep and secret designs against the State,
in which moreover he works not singly."

"Now, I marvel how, if his abode were so positively known and his
conduct anyways dubious, he came to be allowed such freedom to go in
and out, as the sequel shows was done," I returned with some study of

"Why, as to that, it is but since he is gone that the case is proved
against him; for upon a search which was then made of all the chambers
of that house, there was discovered a very nest of those he was in
treaty with, whose names be here set down, and themselves are brought
to-day before the Council to be examined."  He handed me the paper as
he spoke, wherein I read the list of them.  There were three Spanish
men of high-sounding titles, and two or three alleged to be malignant
Papists.  Here was answer enough to Master Malpas, I thought, and with
a vengeance!  I returned the paper, and presently saluting, took my

Very full of thought, I went forward until I had come into that web of
mean streets I spoke of, below Tower Royal, which was where Idonia had
said her guardian should probably be found.  But although I spent the
greater part of the afternoon in that quarter, I saw him not, nor any I
dared trust, to inquire after him.  Indeed, the longer I stayed, the
more ill-considered and absurd did my precipitancy to this business
appear, so that at last I gave it over altogether, and being by then
got as far as to the Three Cranes Wharf, I stood idly there a great
while, watching the wharfingers at their task of ordering the heavy
goods that were there piled up and stored.  Against the wharf lay a
barge or lighter moored, which I perceived had but lately discharged
the cargo of some great galley that rested below bridge in the fairway.

There is ever something that fascinates a man in this his own careless
regarding of other men at work; and I had already stayed upon the quay
no small while, before I bethought myself to return; though, when I had
so determined, it came upon me that 'twas one thing to get out of
prison (I mean mine Inn), but altogether a different matter to get in
again, and so fell to considering whether I should make my entrance
boldly by the ordinary door, or whether creep in after nightfall, by
the vent in the cellar-wall I had escaped by.

Now I had not altogether decided this matter, when I found myself in
that steep little lane I had inadvertently descended so many months
since in the fog, of which the houses upon both sides stood almost all
of them closed up and shuttered as though (to repeat what I then said)
the place had been visited by the plague; which deathlike and stealthy
character it yet maintained.  There was nobody, man nor child, in the
street as I slowly mounted it, a strange sense of abhorrence and
foreboding gathering about my heart: while to this distress of my mind
was now added the annoyance of a smart squall of rain and wind, that,
suddenly breaking, had soon wetted me through, but for my crouching
close beneath the shallow porch of a door upon the right hand, where I
availed myself of such shelter as it afforded.

I had stood so about a quarter of an hour, as I suppose, and was
listening to a long roll of thunder that seemed to shake the very
foundations of these palsied buildings when, as if answering to the
call of the storm, there arose within the house behind me a cry so
agonized, so hopeless, and withal so horribly inhuman, as even now my
hair stirs to remember it.  To avoid this cursed spot and begone was my
involuntary and half-acted purpose, checked, however, on the instant by
a blinding flash of lightning that seared my very eyes, while my brain
seemed all shattered in by the accompanying peal.  Painfully wrought
upon as I have ever been by any loudness of sound, it was some moments
before I could recover myself, and indeed I was still reeling from the
shock, when the door was flung wide and the figure of a man
outlandishly clothed, and of a yellowness of skin such as I had never
before seen, hurried by me into the midst of the road, where it fell
quash in the kennel.  The man was dead.  It was evident from the mere
sight of him, and from the formless clutter of gaudy rags he was; I
turned about, and within the gap of the door ere it was shut-to, I saw
the delicate, handsome features of my uncle, Botolph Cleeve.

How the storm went thereafter I know not, but I know that for a full
half-hour I stood wrenching at the door that callous fiend had locked
in my face, but could nowise move it.  Then, with a thrill of disgust,
I went to the dead outcast, where he lay all wet and smirched, and drew
from between his shoulders the long thin knife that was stuck there to
the haft.  This I cleaned and put up in my jerkin.  It was my only
weapon.  The body was of a man stout and of great strength, though not
tall, and as well by the cast of his features as by his clothing I knew
him for one of them they name Cataians, or Chinese, that perhaps had
been led to this inhospitable asylum by rascally allurements of
adventurers upon some Eastward voyage; as I had once seen two Indians,
that sat huddled on the ground in the Exchange, with a ring of laughing
apprentices about them, and of whom I heard it said that they were
princes in their own land.  But by what marches of fate this poor
Chinese had been defeated, and sent down from his home in the East to
death in our inexorable London, I could by no means conjecture; nor yet
could I determine (which imported me more) what course it were fittest
I should herein follow.  Howbeit, a certain strange faintness then
assailing me, partly from sheer hunger, but more by reason of the
horror of this murder, I saw my dilemma settled for that while; and so,
staggering forth of the lane into Royal Street, where is a good tavern,
I there made shift to eat, but principally drank, until I had rid
myself at least of the extremity of distress into which I had fallen.

In that place I stayed a good hour, there being a merry company come
together of players and other (for which I was indeed glad, and it
cheered me more than all else), when the day beginning to fail, the
guests departed their several ways, and I also, upon my own.

"The watch will certainly have been notified by this time," I said to
myself, "for 'tis impossible that a dead body should lie so long in the
streets unperceived.  Well, my uncle will have got hence scot-free, as
he is accustomed to do in despite of all justice, and of writs of
attachment, or of black Malpas either; which saveth my conscience a
toll, and so I hope there's an end of my dealings with him."

Nevertheless I could not refrain from going part way down the hill
again, to see whether the body were indeed removed.  And so it was, as
I had looked that it should be; though it occasioned me some surprise
to note that the door of the house now stood wide, while a little
within the threshold two other Chinese hung wailing and wringing their
hands in the most abject misery.

Excited at this opportunity to learn the cause of the outrage I had
been so close a witness to, I went over to the men, and accosting them,
demanded whether the dead man were their friend; but to my question
they replied by never a word, at least not in English, but continued to
lament as before.  I then made signs that I knew all that had befallen,
and at that they ceased, and soon nodded, making eager signs that I
should tell them more; whereupon I drew forth the knife from my bosom
and handed it to the man I stood closest to, who received it with an
exclamation of fury, passing it to the other with the one significant
word--_Skene_!  The other Chinese now came forward, and in the intense
hatred that twisted his yellow face, I read the recompense that should
be meted out to the murderer if ever they two should meet.  "Skene," he
repeated twice or thrice, tapping his long fingers upon the blade; and
then with a gesture, pointing inward to the house, whispered,
"Here--house;" by which I understood that this was a favourite
lurking-place of my uncle's, who no doubt hoped, upon any domiciliary
inquisition, to divert the vigilance of the officers by making parade
of these uncouth strangers as alone inhabiting there; or in the last
event, perhaps, intended to disguise himself in their clothing, and so
steal off.  I could not but admire the ingenuity of the man, for all my
disgust of his countless villainies.

Meanwhile, the two Chinese were engaged upon a ceremony that at first I
could not come by the meaning of, though I soon perceived it to be a
solemn vow they made upon the dagger, to avenge their dead comrade.
Which concluded, they gave me back my knife, and seemed to wait my
further direction.  All passion had left their faces, that now appeared
serene and patient, as I think the features of those of that nation do
generally, so that it quite overtasks an observer to guess their mood,
whether it be bloody or peaceable.

"Have you any English?" I asked after a pause, at which one shrunk up
his shoulders as meaning he had not; but the other replied with such
childlike boastfulness, "English--much--yes, yes--English," that I
could not forbear laughing.

"Do you propose to return home by ship?" I asked slowly, and made a
motion with my hands as of a ship sailing.  But this neither seemed at
all to comprehend.

"China--Cathay," said I, somewhat at a loss how to suggest my meaning,
but immediately the one who had so much English, replied vehemently--

"Skene--yes, yes--kill!"

There could be no question then that it was to be revenge at all costs,
for the other Chinese, taking up the word, cried out too:
"Skene--kill," which he followed up with a peck of his own Romany cant
that I made no pretence to attend.  However, the upshot was that they
stood upon the fulfilment of their vow, and fully expected I should
direct them therein.  Now, that I was equally determined I would not;
for little as I cared how it should go with my uncle Botolph, I had no
stomach to set two bloodthirsty strangers at his throat, to dispatch
him in cold blood.  So, turning to my interpreter, I bade him in the
simplest terms I might find, to have a care what he did, for that we
lived under a just and peace-loving Queen, whose constables and guards
were sworn to prevent such private revenges as they planned; in the
which if they proceeded, they would themselves certainly be brought
into confinement.  But in truth I might have spared my breath, for I
saw that no intelligence of my warning reached them, though they had
evidently strained their apprehensions to the limit to receive it.

"Skene--kill," they said, when I had done, and without more ado went
into one of the rooms where they kept their stuff, and took each of
them a small curved sword with a marvellous long haft, which, though
they made no pretence to conceal them from me, they carefully hid
within the folds of their loose silken coats.

"This must be thwarted," I said to myself, and debated how it should
best be done.  At length I hit on a plan that promised, I thought,
fairly, which was that I should contrive to divide their forces;
sending forth him that had no word of our language by himself, one way,
to search (and lose himself amidst) the streets thereabout; but as to
the other that was perhaps the more dangerous by reason of his capacity
to put such sloven-mumbled questions as might nevertheless lead to his
discovering Botolph Cleeve (though it was indeed hardly possible): that
I should take him with me as far as to Wapping, where I might easily
fob him off with any tidings of Skene I should profess then to gather;
and so be rid of him.

It needed no small skill of mine to put the case before them in such
sort as they should not guess the motive, but rather should approve the
advantage, of my design; and in the result I brought them to my view.
By this time it was perfectly dark without, though the room where we
remained was faintly illumined by a little bronze lamp fashioned like a
beast with a fish's tail, that one of the men had already lit.  By the
uncertain light it afforded, I gazed in admiration of the scene, so dim
and vague, yet so deeply charged with purpose.  We had left conversing
together, for the two men had things to do that needed no speech to
forward them.  It was manifest that they would not return to the house,
and therefore they applied themselves silently to the selection of such
articles as seemed at once necessary and portable.  So engaged, they
moved about the shadowed chamber, their silken dresses slightly
rustling, and their yellow, peering faces now and again bent towards
the lamp, as they examined some piece of worth that they would carry
away: caskets of sweet-smelling wood, or trinkets of silver, or else
some mere idle toy they had bought in an English shop, not of a groat's
worth but by them infinitely prized.  What a satire was in this their
so contemptible a fardel, who would lightly toss away another man's
dear life!  Amongst the many treasures they thus overlooked, and either
kept or rejected, was a jar of about fifteen or eighteen inches height,
six-sided, and very gay with painted devices of flowers and leaves; and
upon this jar one of the Chinese dwelt long in doubt, as it seemed,
whether it should be saved, for it was something cumbersome, although
not of any groat burden.  However he took it up at last with the rest,
or rather exchanged it for some other trifles that might be of less
value, and so ended his preparation.

"Let us begone," said I, and holding open the door, signed to the one
of them to leave the house, which he did; and after, we, that is the
man with the jar and I, left it likewise, directing our course towards
Wapping and the _Fair Haven_ Inn.

For a considerable time we trudged along together in this way through
the deserted streets; I already more than a little weary of an
enterprise in which I had, as it were, enlisted under force and without
reason.  The tumult of the storm, the murder, the strangeness of the
habits and Eastern features of the two men, the disability to converse
in a common tongue, by which one seemed to be pleading with the masked
presences of some horrid dream, all these circumstances combined to
deject my mind to a degree I have never since experienced; and I
deplored this new plan for my uncle's safety more even than I did the
one upon which I had set forth.  I stole a glance or two at my
companion, but wrapped in his placid reserve he never so much as raised
his dull eyes to mine, nor showed himself scarce aware of my presence,
save by the precision with which he paced by my side.  Once and again
he would shift the weight of the Chinese jar he carried in the slack of
his coat, or finger the hilt of his sword.

As we approached near to the gate in the City wall, I became suddenly
apprehensive of the danger we ran into, and cast about in my mind how
to avoid the guard that, howsoever in ordinary times one might look to
be passed through without much question, yet now in these times of
suspicion would be sure to detain so irregular a pair as we that were
thus about to present ourselves.  Accordingly I turned off suddenly
upon the right hand towards the river, and coming to one of the quays
(I think Smart's Quay), was lucky enough to find a skiff there moored,
which I loosed, and motioning the Chinese to get in, followed him and
pushed off.  The tide was again on the ebb, having passed its height
about an hour since, and so without use of oars we drifted easily down
stream, until in a pretty short while we got to Wapping, where I ran
the boat ashore and leapt out.  I could see the _Fair Haven_ about a
hundred paces ahead, and, although there was no light in Idonia's
chamber, as in precaution she had doubtless left it dark, yet could I
see the dim square of the window frame, and pleased myself with the
hope that she was yet waking, and thought upon me.

A little path of turfs laid upon the piles that here restrain the
river-course led right forward to the Inn, and trusting to the security
which had so far attended us, I perhaps diminished something of the
wariness I should have used; but at all events, we had gone a bare
score of paces when I stumbled upon a man that lay crouched in the rank
grass of the turfs.  Recovering myself speedily, for I had not quite
fallen, I accosted him angrily, who, without replying, but yet
obstructing the narrow path so that I could not get past him, drew
forth a lantern he held concealed in his cloak, and lifting it high,
regarded the pair of us, but me especially, closely.

"One at a time is better than neither," he said coolly, and I heard his
blade grate in the scabbard.

But even as he fetched it forth, the Chinese had his crooked short
sword out, and leaping past me with the swiftness of a cat, brought our
opponent down.  Against the starry sky I could see his arm work forward
and back, as he plunged in and withdrew the steel.  The lantern rolled
from the dead man's hand, but, not immediately extinguished, threw
exaggerated shadows of the grass-bents along the path.

Horrified at the fury of his onslaught, I flung myself upon the
grovelling heathen, crying out--

"This is not your man, you fool!  This is not Skene."

"No, my nephew," he replied quietly enough and in perfect English, "but
it is that black thief, Malpas, that would have done the same for me."
And without awaiting my reply, he took up the Chinese jar, which in the
assault he had necessarily relinquished, and having carefully wiped it,
went whistling softly down the causeway to the silent Inn.



My father once, reading in a favourite philosopher, paused with his
finger on a certain passage to ask me what I made of the sense of that
he should read; and so continuing his lecture aloud, rehearsed some
score of good reasons there set down, why a man should do virtuously;
but that, either way, the gods ruled the event.  When he had done I
asked him in my turn whether the whole book were in that kind, to which
he answered that such was indeed the tenour of it, though there were
yet other reasons given besides those he had read.  But while I was yet
considering of my answer, he intercepted it, himself replying for me.

"You think there are too many reasons," said he smiling, "and that if
these the author calls gods take occasion to correct our errors we may
do as we please; but that if they do not so, then must we do as we can."

Then stroking down his beard with his hand, he bade me do virtuously,
at least so long as I was in any doubt about the gods; "which," said
he, "is a question only to be settled in that manner."

How many times since then I had recalled my father's grave and tolerant
irony, I know not, but it was not often; nor certainly had it ever
returned upon me with so compelling an insistency as now, while I still
stared after his evil-hearted brother, that murderer of the man at my

"If the gods rule the event out of this business," I thought, "how will
it go with thee, my uncle?"  So easy is it to apply to another the
precepts were meant for ourselves!  And truly, when I contrasted my own
qualities with Mr. Botolph Cleeve's, I came near to forgiving him, so
eminently did he make my own uprightness to appear.

Now, very greatly though I desired Idonia should know of my safe
return, I yet could not bring myself to leave Malpas thus exposed and
subject to every chance indignity by the wayside, nor was I willing to
carry him openly to the Inn or any house at hand; so that, after some
while's reflection, I decided to lay him in the boat I had come down
by, covering his face with the sailcloth, and after, to launch him out
into the ebbing stream.  The night was clear above, the thunder having
wholly passed; but from a mounting wrack of cloud that peered above the
edges of the sky and a chill light wind athwart the river, I judged we
should have rain before morning, and so hastened to be done with my
task (which unspeakably revolted me) and get into shelter against the
oncoming tempest.  Notwithstanding 'twas the better part of an hour ere
I had completed these hasty and suspicious rites, and had shoved away
the skiff with its gaunt recumbent passenger outward (or was it
homeward?) bound.

These pious offices done, I turned with a sigh from the black hurrying
water, and approached near to the Inn.  I was surprised to see that a
light now shone in Idonia's chamber, and from the shadows that now and
then traversed it, I understood that she was not yet retired to rest.
How then I might direct her attention to me without at the same time
attracting such attention of others as I might well enough spare, I
very earnestly debated; but at length, minding myself of the knife I
had got from the dead Chinese, I drew it forth; and having torn off a
great burdock leaf where it grew by the bank, pricked with the knife's
point the one word Denis (sufficient for my purpose, I thought), and
running the blade through the midst of the leaf, poised, and let fly
with it at the window.  It struck the sill fairly, and hung quivering.
My heart stood still during the interval that succeeded, but when
presently that sweet small head appeared, all dark against the glory of
her hair, it leapt to my very throat for excess of joy.

"Idonia," I whispered hoarsely, and came right beneath her window as I
spoke her name; "Idonia, I have come back."

"Hush, dear," she besought me, and leaned forth from the sill, so that
a strand or two of her hair hung down and touched the letters of my
name in the leaf.  "Do not speak again....  Oh, I have been waiting for
you, Denis!  But you are come; I can see your face.  I can see your

"You speak as if you feared something," I replied, in disregard of her
warning.  "Are you threatened with any danger?"

"No," she said; "at least I do not comprehend what may be dangers here.
For it is a house of mystery.  My guardian has but now left me.  He is
disguised: I cried out when I saw him....  Oh, Denis, I am horribly
afraid here....  It is all so silent, and yet I know the place is full
of men."

I hesitated no longer.

"Is there anything by which you can make a rope?" I asked, "any sheet
from your bed, or clothing?"

She caught at my intention.

"Yes, yes," she murmured, nodding.  "There is my cloak.  I will tear

"They may hear the sound of the tearing," I said.  "Do not move from
the window."  And so, returning to the little slip or inlet whence I
had sent down the boat, I found the oars which I had removed from it,
and carried them with me to the house.  Idonia could just touch the
blade of one with extended fingers when I held it out at arm's length.

"It is too short," said Idonia, with a pitiful catch in her voice.

I bade her keep her heart up, and, unclasping my belt, laced the two
oars tightly together where they were frayed hollow by the thole.  The
joined staff they made reached high enough now, and without awaiting my
instruction Idonia caught it to her (I holding it upright) and swung
herself lightly to the ground.

"Free, oh free!" came her cry of exultation, and a moment after we held
each other closely in a long embrace.  Her lips were fire.

"Oh, Denis, Denis, do not let me go, nor never leave you," she said,
and I (witless braggart) swore that nought upon earth should sever us.

I led her up the turf path, sheltering her from the rain that had
already begun to fall thickly.  My thoughts were all astray and I had
no plan of any sort, but still to have my arm about her, and feel her
yielding to my touch, as spent with love and weary with the pride of so
much given.

A man must feel humbled by the magnitude of that he asks of a maid, but
all I could say was, brokenly: "I will try to be worthy, sweetheart."
Poor words, but she thanked me for them joyfully.  She besought me to
let her rest soon, and we sat down by a weather-twisted pile at the
water's edge, for I could not run into the jeopardy that might lurk
amid the inhospitable dark houses of this place, where everything
oppressed with a sense of evil.  My cloak kept off the worst of the
rain, but, as the rising wind swept across the river, Idonia shivered
with the cold.  Nevertheless she lost not a whit of her gaiety, which
indeed seemed to increase with her distress, and she would laugh more
loudly than I thought was altogether safe at some odd construction put
upon my remonstrance in her wayward speech.  I could not long disguise
from myself her condition of fever, which at the same time I knew not
how to alleviate; but more than once I caught myself wishing I had left
her that night at the Inn, where, for all her fears, she had not been
any way molested, nor, I now thought, would likely have been, her
guardian having returned, and Malpas beyond the power to annoy her

A little later, and quite suddenly, she relaxed her extravagant
hilarity, and fell into a moodiness equally to be pitied.  She wept a
deal then, and seemed to have got a strange perception of the malignant
influences that surrounded us.  The sound of the wind terrified her,
and she would shrink down whispering that something tugged at her
cloak.  I did what I could to soothe and comfort her, but she only
shook her head, or pressed my fingers with her hot hand.

But the worst was when, by some trick of the brain, she thought herself
back in the Inn-room again, when Cleeve had entered in his horrid
uncouth dress, and with his yellow face and hands.

"He said he was my guardian," she ran on, in a dull low voice, "but I
knew he was no one of this world.  He said it was a foreign habit he
had filched from a dead man he had been enforced to kill, and that he
used it to escape detection of the watch.  Ah! it is all escaping with
us--escaping and killing!  I knew he had some secret lurking-place near
the river; he has often said so, and that he went disguised when any
great danger threatened.  The watch ... and yet he used to laugh at it;
but lately he has come to fear arrest: why is it? and so he killed an
innocent man and took his coat to save himself....  His eyes, when he
told me he had been waylaid at last, and almost at the Inn door! but he
killed that man too, he said: he hindering him.  Christ! how his eyes
do sift you....

"These jewels in the jar, now, I know they have all been worn by men he
has killed.  I remember them perfectly well.  There is the great cross
the Spaniard wore; and these rings.  I wonder when it was you murdered
him.  He was a fair-spoken gentleman, and I thought you were friends...

"I forgot.  This is you, Denis, not he I call my guardian.  I do not
think he altogether trusts me any longer, although he gave me the jar
to keep ... and I have left it behind in the Inn.  It was worth a
king's ransom, he said, and ordered me to keep it by me until he should
have finished a certain work he had below, that would not take him
long.  I have left it, and he will be angry ...  I fear him, Denis.  He
is calm as death when he is angry....

"And yet he can laugh too.  He laughed when he told me of the Chinese
he killed, and how he dared his fellow to betray him.  Oh, he made a
merry tale of it, and of his forcing the poor wretch to simulate a
desire to take vengeance upon a man that had fled--when it was he, the
murderer himself, remained behind!  Yes, and he laughed at you, Denis,
until my blood burnt me ... I shall never forget his wrinkled heathen
face as he laughed."

It may appear an incredible motion of my mind, but I could have cried
out for joy at a diversion which, then befalling, served to turn Idonia
from these crazed memories; albeit the cause was one properly, and at
another time wholly, to be feared.  For chancing to lift my eyes to one
of the houses that be here builded by the water's edge, and serve
doubtless for the storage of marine stores and tackle, I saw a man, and
after, another, and then a whole posse of men armed with cuirass and
halberd, that advanced directly towards us.  Idonia saw them almost at
the same moment, and seeming to recover her wits in the suddenness of
the danger, she broke off, and turned to me with a swift glance of

"Quick," I whispered; "down by the piles to the beach," and helped by
the darkness of the night we scrambled off the path on to the ribbon of
wet bank beneath it, where we crouched, perfectly concealed from the

"Halt!" cried a voice above our heads, and the trampling footsteps
ceased.  "We be thirty men strong, and none too many for this business.
Anthony, take you twelve and post them before the door.  Six men go
with Will Huet; see that none escape by the windows.  There is a light
burns at one yet.  I will take the complement and go within.  Now mark
me well: our warrant is principally to the capture of Skene, alias
Cleeve, and one Guido Malpas, that was of the Earl of Pembroke's
household, but since discharged.  He is a tall black man and a
dangerous.  It standeth upon us to apprehend the whole sort that here
congregate together.  They will make resistance and you will defend
yourselves, but for the rest I have it in my authority that no blood be
wasted needlessly.  A live captive may prove useful; a dead villain is
nothing worth.  The password is _At last_.  Set on."

Idonia had half risen from her place; she watched the retreating men as
they filed along towards the Inn.

"I must warn him," she cried impetuously, and had clambered on to the
turf path ere I could let her.

"What madness is this?" I urged, aghast.  "You would yourself be
arrested or ever you could get sight of that devil."

"Devil or no," she panted, while she struggled to unclasp my
restraining arms, "devil or no, he is my guardian.  Denis, I cannot
stand by idle and see him taken."

"Sweetheart," I entreated her, "you can do nought, indeed.  They be all
armed men..."

"Hinder me no more!"


"Oh, it is cowardly, cowardly!"

"Listen," I said, appealing.

"Ah, Denis, let me not thus, or you will kill me....  See! they are
close to the house already.  A little while and..."  Her voice rose to
a scream of absolute terror that I vainly sought to stifle against my
heart.  She flung her head back; her hair, shaken from the filet and
caught by the wind, streamed betwixt us like a cloud.  We stood long

"Loose my wrists," she whispered, "or I shall grow to hate you, Denis!"
and methought there went a sort of awe with the words.  I let her go,
when suddenly, with a sob, she dropped down unresisting into my arms.

I knew she had spoken under the stress of her disorder, but none the
less her words hurt me like a lash.  It had revolted me to use my
strength upon her, although in love, and to hold her so straitly
against her will, who but a moment before had been leaning in free
confidence beside me.  The wind and rain were now increased to such a
pitch as I have scarce known: the dim bulk of the Inn hung in a mist of
swinging vapour, through which the glimmer of the one light aloft,
shining, touched the edges of the slanted pikes.

Idonia was plucking weakly at my sleeve.  Her eyes were pitifully big.
"You look distressed, Denis," she said, in a crazed dull voice.  "Why
do you look so stern and sad?  We are together....  I forget how I got
away, but that does not matter now, does it?  Some one was holding me
by the wrist and hurting me.  I cried out, and you came.  You always
come when they would be hurting me....  It is very cold," she shivered,
and drew down more closely within my arms; all wet as her cheek was,
its fever heat burnt through to my bosom.

"You cannot walk," I said: "I will carry you."  But all the while I was
thinking: "Is her reason gone?"

"Whither, Denis?  To the Inn?  It would be warm there, out of the wind."

"God forbid!" I answered her.

"Ah! no ... I remember now.  He is there....  His yellow face, and his
eyes when he gave me the jar to keep! ... Denis, Denis, Denis..."

And so, without any further effort to beat off the oppression in her
brain and blood, she fell away into a long swoon: so long, indeed, that
I had almost despaired of reviving her, when I bethought me of the Inn,
to which she had hoped I was about to bear her.  There would be strong
cordial wine in the vault, I knew; and a cordial she needed instantly.
I might quickly go and return again with the wine--if the vent were but

The Inn was scarce ten score paces distant.  There was some risk,
perhaps, but not great: less, surely, than I took, kneeling helpless
beside her in the bitter storm.  I bent over her and kissed her
passionately on her eyes and lips and brow; and then I hastened away.

Had I known the upshot then, I would rather have lost my right hand
than leave her; but that was in God's mercy hid....

To speak my bottom thought, I had hardly dared to hope that the shutter
were still unhasped: but yet it was, and yielded easily to my touch.  I
felt a strange tightening of the throat as I pushed it back and leapt
astride the sill.  The vault below me was wholly dark.  Without more
ado I swung myself in.  I missed my footing, fell, and lay stunned.

How long a while elapsed ere I recovered consciousness I know not, nor
yet how long I remained in that intermediate state where things outward
be still denied for real.  A confusion of sounds assailed my aching
brain, from which I recked not to gather any purpose or tendency.  But
at length, my head having somewhat cleared, I recalled my situation,
where I was in the narrow passage-vault; and soon perceived that the
sounds I had heard were those of men in earnest conference within one
of the vaults adjacent, that had formerly been barred.  The lamp which
had lighted the passage had been removed, and from the pale ray that
issued from the chink of the door, I saw it was now used for their
purposes who spoke together beyond.

Without, the storm raged very furiously, so that there were times when
I could hear nought else; but otherwhiles, whatever snatches of debate
I overheard they went always to the continuous deep second of the wind.
Some instinct of security held me silent, and after a little I dragged
myself painfully along the stone floor, until I had my ear at the
chink.  The halberdiers were certainly not of the party; they had
either not yet entered, or else had come and, failing to discover these
men's place of concealment, had gone.  A man was speaking; a jovial
rough voice it was, interrupted now and again by careless laughter.

"You mind me of that tale of the two robbers," said the fellow, and I
heard the clink of a cup set down, "that were engaged to set upon a
certain Canon who should pass through the wood they lurked within.  Now
a passenger approaching, the one was for killing him out of hand, but
his companion, being something scrupulous, would not, but bade him stay
his hand until the man should sing.

"'I care not a jot how he sing,' says the Captain-robber.

"'Nay, by his singing I can tell in a trice whether he be a canon or
no,' says the robber-squire.

"By this the passenger was got free of their ambush and into a place
where two sheriff's men met him, at which he swore for mere joy.

"'I would he had sung,' says the squire.

"'Go to, buffle-head!' cries the other in a great rage, 'for by his
swearing I know him for the Father Abbot himself, and better your
squealing Canon, by how much noon-sun surpasses candle-light.'"

A round of hoarse merriment went to this shrewd apologue, of which I
was yet to learn the application; but waited not long for it.

"So then, Cutts, 'hold to that you have,' is your advice, trow?"

"Ay, abbot or traitor, or barndoor fowl," replied Cutts (who was none
other, I found, than he that had fled away from Dunster so long since);
"'truss and lay by,' says the housewife."

"Well, you have me trussed already," said a mild voice, that for all
its stillness overbore the murmurs which greeted Cutts his policy; and
at the sound of it I caught in my breath, for 'twas my uncle that
spoke, and by his words I knew they had him bound.

"I am not in case to do you harm, as a traitor, nor yet to benefit you
as an abbot," my uncle proceeded very coolly.  "But if it seem good to
your worships to restore me my freedom, I have my proofs of innocence
at hand to show to any that professes to doubt my faith."

"Too late for that, Master Skene," said another.

"Ay, Captain Spurrier, say you so?" returned my uncle, with a little
menacing thrill in the sweet of his voice.  "I had thought you that use
the sea knew that one must luff and tack upon occasion.  Delay is
sometimes necessary, when haste would mean sudden shipwreck.  Wherefore
then do you say I speak too late?"

"Where is Malpas?" cried Captain Spurrier, and by the grating of a
chair I perceived he had started to his feet.

"I had thought to meet him here," said my uncle.  "Our design stays for

There was a dead pause at that, and I could not but admire the
fortitude with which the baited man met and countered his opposites.

"He denounced you to this council, ere he went forth," said that subtle
voice of the tavern-server, "and upon such positive testimony as we
could not but allow it.  If any lead this enterprise it is Malpas, and
not thou, old fox."

"So thou use better terms, friend Jocelin," said Cleeve, "it shall not
be amiss, nor yet if thou answer me why it was I returned freely hither
amongst you all?  Had I aught to gain from you?  But rather had I not
all to lose?  There is a warrant out against me on the Queen's part;
had I not done wisely, being so disguised as no man might know me, to
avoid this suspected house?  Yet I returned.  Our ship is to sail
to-morrow.  Captain Spurrier is here in his place.  What lacks of our
engagement?  What hath gone untowardly?  Is it Malpas his failure?  I
ask of you in my turn, where is Malpas?  Is it not strange that upon
such a night he should not be here to bear his part, as I do, and Lucas
Spurrier and Jocelin, and the rest?  I say there is something I like
not in this defection; but yet it fears me not.  Let them that be
faint-hearted stay away; this enterprise is not for cowards.  Do you
lack a leader?  You trusted me once.  Malpas trusted me, for all he
cozened you into a belief that he did not so; but he is gone."  He
paused, and then with so strangely intense a malignancy as, despite my
knowledge, I could scarce credit that 'twas assumed, he added: "Would
that I knew whither Guido Malpas hath gone, and what to do!"

There was such clamour of contrary opinions, oaths and hot argument,
when he had done, that I could not tell how it went, but gradually
conceived the opinion that they believed him and were about to set him
free, when, to my utter dismay, I heard the door at the stairhead open
and heavy steps descend to the passage where I lay concealed.  I
crouched down on the instant, but dared not move from the place, nor
indeed had the opportunity to retreat by one step, when the men were
already in the room; but so dark it was I could not see their arms (for
I doubted nothing of their being the halberdiers) nor their numbers
that entered.  They set the door open of the inner vault and trooped in
upon the conspirators.

I saw them now.  They were men that bore a body.  The tide had set in
again.  The boat with its burden had returned upon the flood.



The tide had turned.  The river had given up its dead.  There was no
appeal from this distorted corpse, smirched with yellow so about the
throat and breast, where my uncle's painted hands had gripped him.
Wedged deep in the dead man's heart (I heard it said) a certain
significant shred of blue silk was found that had been drawn in by the
swinging blade, and torn from the murderer's sleeve....  After that
there needed nothing more, and my uncle's luck, which a moment since
had trembled to its apogee, shot downward like a portent star.

My pretence to write calmly of the sequel, to use the ordinary speech
of every day, I support not as purposing to deceive, for it would
deceive none, but rather as impelled thereto, lest writing as I feel
(even yet after so long an interval) I should seem to set down frenzy
itself in character, and illegible wild words.

But I may at least report my uncle's apology, as above the clamour I
caught the most of it; and here affirm that, lying infamous villain as
he was, yet so consummate a dignity did mark his every motion, and as
it were attended upon all the situations in which he stood, as enforced
respect of those even who knew him altogether base.

His judges had found against him to a man.

"Well, then, you have it," said he in his cold clear voice, "and are
content enough this Malpas should have died, so you bring me in his
slayer.  You little men!  I found a scorpion in my path and trampled on
him; that's the sum of my offending.  Or is it not?  Nay, I had forgot
the chief; that I would not betray my country, as you petty thieves
would have done, and thought I did.  What will you get of the
Spaniards, prythee?  Money, honours or what?  Will those creeping
Jesuits bestead you?  Oh, you have their pledged words!  I had as much.
More; for I had their secret plans of conquest; their Enterprise of
England forsooth! as they sat gnawing their crusts in my hall.  There
was to be an universal uprising of Papists, they told me; mutinies of
the Queen's troops, and such; baubles of a fool!

"I have had my laugh, you scum, and I have lost.  Well, then, what you
shall hear may hearten you belike, and move you to laughter.  If I have
not been a traitor all this while, how have I been employed?  Not
having abetted their designs, why did I entertain these strangers?  Let
this example stand: there was the envoy Spurrier brought in, Don
Florida of Seville, a fine bold gentleman and apt to lead a squadron of
such orts as ye.  He laid his plans before me openly.  So, I took him
by the throat and strangled him."

I make no attempt to describe the tumult of their rage who heard him;
sufficient, that it passed.

"He was not singular in this business," the prisoner continued, "though
he was perhaps the properest man.  But what a nasty sort of spies I had
in charge!  I swear I think no starved lazar of Spain but was judged
fit enough to come ambassador among us, and parcel out our land; and
all the while you stood by grinning: When we be altogether conquered,
ran your thoughts, we shall each get his share!  Eh, you jolthead
hucksters, was it to be so?

"But I was your leader, and that was where I had my laugh.  For no
single one of those you gave me into my keeping did I fail to slay save
only that poor crazed Courcy whom the soldiers robbed me of, and some
that the Council took alive.  The residue you may reckon at your
leisure; they lie rotting in two fathom of Thames water, 'twixt the
Customers Quay and the Galley, ay, rotten as their cause....

"It were a pretty thought now that I should crave a favour at the
Queen's hands for stout work done in her cause, though secretly; ay,
and I would do it, but for two or three considerations that something
hinder me; namely, that my life otherwise hath not been altogether
law-worthy.  And, moreover, there is these bonds, that, being I confess
very workmanlike bound upon me, render my present access to Her Majesty
less easy than I could wish; so that I doubt my defence of her realm
shall go unrewarded....

"In such a company as this there is sure one clergyman.  Let him shrive
me, for I am not at all points ready to die....  Well, level your
pieces and be done with it.  I care not how soon.  Foh! but you handle
your weapons awkwardly; I should be ashamed, were I still your
leader....  How--what is that?"

I had heard it too.  "It is the soldiers come," I said to myself, and
strained my ears to listen for a renewal of the sound.  Within the room
all expected in a sudden silence what should ensue.  It came again; a
dull noise as of men that rammed at the door with a heavy beam.

"I had thought they had gone," said one, in a thick voice.

"'Twas a fetch of theirs."

"The cellar door is strong," said the tapster Jocelin, but without
confidence.  "It will last."

"Until what time?" asked my uncle, mocking them.  "And then, whence
will you escape, you rats?"

One had blown out the light at the first alarm, and they conferred in
the absolute dark.

"Ha!" cried Jocelin at that taunt of the prisoner's, and with a
squealing note of triumph, "there is the new door in the sea-wall to
escape by," and scrambling through their midst to the cellar door, he
bade his comrades follow him forth.  But at the door he stayed, as of
necessity he must; for 'twas locked, and I that had locked it was
within the room now, in the dark, with the key in my pocket.  I had
scarce time to slip aside, ere the next man had flung Jocelin by for a
bungler, and the third trampled him down.  Over his prostrate body the
rest passed surging.  Knives were out, for all had run distraught at
this unlooked-for prevention.  Treachery by each suspected was by every
hand revenged.  I heard the sobbing of stricken men, as I felt my way
along the wall to the place where my uncle sat yet pinioned to his
chair.  And all this while the daunting clangour continued, as of a
giant's mallet beating on the door; nay, even upon the stones of the
wall, for the whole room shivered and rocked to the hideous repeated

I unloosed my uncle, cutting his thongs with a cutlass I had kicked
against and groped after on the floor; a hand still held it, but I got
it free.

"Who is that?" asked my uncle composedly.

"Hist!" I whispered.  "I am your nephew, Denis Cleeve."

"You add to my obligations, Mr. Denis," he replied, and stretched
himself.  "But how does my good brother the magistrate?"

"Enough of that," I said curtly; "how be we to get forth?"

"Why, I supposed you had provided for that," he said in some surprise,
"else I were as well bound as free."

I asked whether he could lay hand on his sword, but he answered,
scoffing, that his enemies had saved him the trouble of using it; and
indeed that bloody unseen strife about the door saved us both for that
while.  Presently he drew me a little apart into a corner where, he
said, we might discourse together reasonably and without molestation.
He cleared his voice once or twice ere he made known his mind to me

"When the soldiers shall break in, as nothing can long withstand such
engines as they have brought to bear, slip you forth, Mr. Denis, and
ascend immediately to a small retired chamber above the stair where my
ward lies, Mistress Avenon.  Lay your modesty aside for this once, and
enter.  If she wake not, so much the better; as 'tis better she should
know nothing.  But I am a fool! for who may sleep on such a night of
hell?  Anywise enter, and I will answer for it, she will not repulse
you as she did yon Malpas, the brave lass!

"She hath in keeping a certain jar of mine, Denis, a toy, that
nevertheless I set some value on; this I would have you privily convey
to the house where the Chinese inhabited--I make no question but you
know where it stands.  Do this, my dear nephew, and I shall confess
myself every way bound to serve you when I shall come to be
enfranchised of this place; for I myself may not undertake the bearing
off of this jar (it stands in a little cupboard by the bed, Denis, now
I think on't), my dress being not such, as wearing it, I might hope to
escape challenge of the guard, but with you, Denis, 'twill be a mere
frolick adventure."  He laid his mouth close to my ear.  "Besides,
there is the lass Idonia..."

What more he might have added, I know not, for his beastly greed in so
safeguarding his wealth, and that at my risk, who had delivered him,
sickened me in such sort as I could no longer abide to hear it, but
left him, and going straightway forward into the screaming press about
the door, struck out a path for myself through the midst of them.  At
the same moment the hammering without in one peal ended; the half of a
wall fell in, and through the breach thus made came a wavering and
intermittent light.

Unspeakably astonished, I gazed about me, upon the dead and writhing
bodies that lay at my feet thus uncertainly illumined, and upon my
uncle, huddled up in his torn silken robe.  But when I had averted my
eyes with a shudder to the breach in the wall, I saw a sight I may
neither forget nor endure the remembrance of; for it seemed to me that
there entered in by that way a figure--inhuman tall, black visaged, and
of a most cruel aspect.  Perhaps for the space of a man's counting ten,
he leaned forward through the aperture, regarding us all in that
ghostly dimness, and then, with an equal suddenness, was gone, and the
light with him....

No one word passed our trembling lips, for all felt the horror of
impending destruction.  Only the dying yet moved a little, stirring in
their blood, but even they soon lay still.  Meanwhile, through the
great rent in the wall, the wind blew exceeding strong, so that
although at the first we had postponed all thoughts to that one vision
of the giant presence, we now perceived by the direction of the wind
and the saltness of it that it was the river-wall was down, and not (as
in our confusion we had supposed) the inner wall, by which the soldiers
must necessarily have assaulted us.

I am not altogether sure who it was by this means solved the mystery,
but I think it was Captain Spurrier; howbeit we had not endured that
sweeping gale above an half-minute, before some one cried out that the
apparition was nothing else than the carven prow of the _Saracen's
Head_, that dragging at her moorings by the wharf had run against the
Inn wall and destroyed it; which was presently confirmed by the ship's
again battering us, but broadside, and not head-on as before.  For as I
have (I think) already said, the Inn was jutted out to the extreme edge
of the _Fair Haven_ wharf, so that at the high tide there was a
deepness of water sufficient for any ordinary ship to lie alongside and
discharge her cargo upon the quay; the tide mark running a little below
the vault where we were, that else would have been suddenly flooded by
the inflow of water through the broken wall.  Beyond measure relieved
that we were besieged by neither soldier nor devil, we could not
restrain our joy, and so by a common impulse moved to be gone, the
whole company of us that yet remained alive and able, ran forward to
the breach, and to the ship's side, having her starboard light to
further us that had formerly so stricken us into dismay.  And thus by
this way and that, grasping at whatever projection of blocks and
shrouds lay to our hands, some helping and other hindering our escape,
we had at length all clambered up into the ship, save only that traitor
Cutts, who, upon a sudden lurch of the ship, was crushed betwixt the
bulwark and the wall, and so died.

I looked about for my uncle, and soon found him, leaning over the rail.

"Ha, Denis," said he coolly, "so thou art escaped.  I had a notion
'twas thou wert crushed against the wall."

"You mistook then," said I, and might have said more, had not Captain
Spurrier laid a hand upon my collar, the whiles he clapped his pistol
to my uncle's ear, and called out--

"Lay me these men in irons, Attwood.  I am master on my own good ship,
if not in that fiends' compter."

We were seized upon instantly and hurried down to the hold, where,
heavily shackled, we were thrown among such stuff as there lay stored.
The vessel rolled horribly, and often drove against the impediments
upon the bank with a dreadful grinding noise, but about morning, as I
supposed, they got her about, and into the stream, where, the tempest
somewhat abating, she rode pretty free, though what course she kept I
could not be certain in, and indeed soon gave over the attempt to
follow their purposes that had us so utterly in their power.



Whatever the doubts I may at first have entertained, it was soon enough
abundantly clear that the _Saracen's Head_ was under way toward the
open sea; for from my place in the hold I could hear the shipmen
calling to one another as such and such a landmark or hamlet came into
sight; as the green heights of Greenwich; and Tilbury, where there was
a troop of horse at exercise, the which sight was occasion of a good
deal of rough wit amongst the crew.  At the mouth of the Medway we
spoke a great merchant galley that was returned from Venice, and put in
to Rochester for repairs, she having come by some damage in the late
storm.  Of the passage of time I soon lost count lying in the dark
bottom of the ship, where was nought to denote those petty accidents by
which we customarily reckon it.  So I knew not positively whether
'twere day or night I waked and slept in nor whether we made good
progress or slow.  For awhile I tried to keep measure of the hours by
our meals, as it might be three meals to an whole day; but this would
not hold neither, for there was no regularity in the serving of them,
they being brought us quite by haphazard and as they were thought on:
which was seldom enough, and the food so stale and nauseating, as led
me suppose we only received it by afterthought, or in such grudging
contempt as is sometimes termed charity.  To do him right, I must allow
that my uncle took this reversal of his fortunes with a perfect
indifference; as no doubt in the like situation my father would have
done, though upon a loftier consideration; but however come by, his
patience shamed me, who could by no means attain thereto, nor I think
did seriously attempt it.  My sufferings were indeed very great, and in
that voyage I conceived such a passionate disgust of the sea as hath
caused me to regard it as being (what in fact it is) the element the
nearest to chaos, and therefore the least to be accounted for
perfect--and yet perhaps not altogether the least, for I soon found
myself doubting if a man's stomach were every way a sound device; it
being very certain that mine often fell away into the original
incoherence that all things had before the Creation, or ever I had gone
three leagues from the shore.

No loathing can compare with that a man experienceth at such a time,
when dinner is a greater insult than a blow.  And I am ashamed even now
to remember the hate I cherished for the honest mariner that stumbled
down the companion bearing my platter of salt beef; which feeling found
its vent in my imagining a world of tortures for the bearer of the beef
and for all jovial ruddy mariners, and for every shipwright since the
days of Noah.

Nevertheless, since into what state soever we come, we be so framed as
by degrees to acquire a sort of habit, if not a content, therein, so it
befell that I also, in due time, from my amazing and profound malady
recovered some fragment of a willingness to live.  It might have been
the third or fourth day after, that I ate without such consequences as
I had supposed necessarily incident to the act, and life came to assume
an aspect wherein it stood on favourable terms with sudden death.  This
surprised me, seeing that of late I had conceived life to be (at the
best) but a protracted and indefinite dissolution; and I ate again....

"The devil take you!" I cried to the fellow that had just entered the
hold with a handful of biscuits and a little rundlet of burnt wine.
"What a meal is that to set before starving men?"

"Courage, master," said the mariner with a great laugh, "we be come
within but a few leagues of the Straits, and perhaps shall touch at one
of the Spanish ports, where we may better provision the ship than our
Captain thought it altogether safe to do, the night we set sail."

"And shall we be released then?" I asked eagerly.

The man shrugged up his shoulders with a grin, and for the first time
my uncle, who all these days had lain quite silent in the dark of the
hold, leaned over from his place among the stuff, and thus accosted me--

"Are you so great a fool yet?  When the pawn is taken, it is cast
aside, and the game goes on.  Teach your mind to expect nothing, and
your tongue to require nothing.  There is an hell where they and I
shall meet."  He paused a space, and then with an intensity of purpose
that held my blood in the veins: "We shall meet there," he added
slowly, "and shall need all eternity for that we shall there do.  'Tis
the privilege of hell that no enmities be in that place forgot, nor

When the mariner had left us, I asked my uncle what he considered our
fate would be; who answered that, as it had been put into the articles
of the false contract he had made with Spurrier, that offers of help
should be made to the Spaniards, in the which embassage he himself had
promised (though he intended nothing less) to undertake the chiefest
part; so, he being now deposed, it was probable that Spurrier would
take upon him the fulfilment of that office.

"In the which event," he said with great deliberation, "we shall
certainly be given over to those devils, to be clapped up in their
filthy dungeons, or else sent to New Spain, to work in the mines there.
You spoke of a release a little since; there is but one release from
this pass."

We conversed in this strain from time to time; but ordinarily kept
silence.  By the running out of a cable, we knew that we were come into
that harbour the seaman spoke of, and momently looked for the trap
above in the deck to be opened, and ourselves to be haled out to our
dooms.  A curious sense of unreality came over me in this interval, yet
joined to a minute perception of all that passed, as though I could
actually see the same with my eyes.  For I seemed to detect the
departure of our Captain, that went ashore; I heard the rattle of the
oars against the pins as he was rowed off.  Later, I understood that he
was returned again, and with him another, whose step upon the deck was
firm and stately.  His spurs jangled as he moved.  "It is the Governor
of this Port," I said to myself, "and they debate of treason together."

The most of the crew hung about amidships; the principal persons being
upon the quarterdeck, and there remaining a great while.  Some little
movement as of men dissatisfied, I noted later; and then there was the
business of the Governor's leaving us, I supposed to consult with
others, his lieutenants, upon the quay.

Presently I was startled by the firing of a cannon, which made our ship
to reel as she would have split, and there was trampling and shouted
words of command.  Spurrier's bargain had failed.

"They had best have left it," said my uncle with a sneering laugh, when
he saw how things had gone.  "A greedy boastful knave as Spurrier is,
none will be matched with.  I know this Governor well, if this place we
be come to be, as I think, Puerto Real.  'Twas his brother I slew, Don
Florida.  He would inquire after him, like enough, and wherefore he had
not returned into Spain, to which Spurrier would answer him astray and
then lie to mend it; a paltry bungler as he is!  I might have played
this hand through, Denis, had I chosen.  But being no traitor I would
not.  Well, let them look to their stakes!"

It may appear a strange thing, but 'tis true, that our old animosity
had quite sunk between us and although we used no particular courtesy
in our scanted speech, yet my uncle and I nevertheless found (I
believe) an equal pleasure in our enforced companionship.  In the
presence of almost certain death, whether men fear or contemn it, there
is in the mere thought of it a compelling quality that directs the mind
to it only; and where two minds be thus constrained to the same point,
along whatever paths they may have moved, there is of necessity a kind
of sympathy betwixt them, and a resolution of their differences in that
common attent.

Succeeding upon that firing of the great gun there was an immediate
confusion wherein we in our dungeon were wholly forgot.  A cannon from
the fort answered our challenge a while after, but by its faintness
'twas easy to suppose we had got a good way out of the harbour and thus
were free from any present danger from a land attack.  But whether
there were in the roads gathered any vessels of war that might do us
harm upon the sea we could not conjecture, though it appeared not
altogether likely, or at the least that they were not at all points
prepared upon the sudden to give chase.  Our main fear lay in the
probability that, the alarm being given, messengers would be dispatched
to all points of the coast, with particulars given of the rank and
appearance of our ship, in order that, attempting to sail through the
Straits into the Mediterranean or to slip away again northward, we
should be made to answer for our gunnery salute in such sort as would
hardly please us.

But however these considerations affected his two censors in the hold,
Captain Spurrier was evidently nothing moved thereby, who warped his
ship as it were along the very shore with a most insensate impudency
until he had her within the narrow waters about Gibraltar, where a man
could have slung a stone upon our decks, so nearly did we venture
ourselves into the enemy's power.  Nay, a general madness seemed to
have grown to possess the whole crew, so disappointed were they of the
outcome of their late negotiations and proffers of treachery; and no
folly that presented itself to them, but they took it as a drunken man
takes water, feverishly.  Thus our cannon were continually being shot
off, not of offence but for the mere show of bravery it put upon us;
and so likewise of defence, there was no order taken nor was any
especial guard kept, so far as we could tell who knew not the watches,
but yet could distinguish well enough the sounds of cups clinking and
of quarrelling and curses.  Indeed I doubt whether, at any hour of this
our frenzied voyage, had a cock-boat of resolute men put out to
intercept us, we should not have been made prize of, before we were
aware that opposition was so much as offered.

In the meanwhile we in our chains were, as I say, left undisturbed; and
as hour after hour went by the hunger we suffered increased so that I
think another day of such absolute privation, and of the burning thirst
that went with it, would have ended our business altogether.  Yet it
was to this incredible affliction we owed our resolution to get free,
come what would thereafter.

I must have fallen into some raving speech, that served to make
manifest to my uncle the abject condition I was in, for before I knew
of it, he had dragged himself over to me, and with his skeleton fingers
had loosened the band at my throat and chafed my hands together between
his own.

"Oh, let me die," I cried fiercely.

"You are like to," said he, without the least resentment; "but if you
will take the advice I shall give, you will either notably increase
your chances of it, or else will get what is hardly less to be desired,
I mean food."

Too faint to demand what he intended by that, I lay still, careless
whether he made his purpose clear or not.

"Seeing that we cannot get off our irons," he went on, "we must eat or
die, bound.  Now I believe that it is night and most of the crew drunk.
If it be so, we shall get food enough and perhaps our freedom too.  If
it be not so, you shall have your will presently and die; for it is you
who must go above, Denis, seeing I cannot do so, that have my ankle
broke with this cursed chain."

I got upon my feet, all confused as I was and sick with famine; but his
greater courage moved me to obey him in this if I could, though I
expected but little good of it.

"They will hear my chains," I said.

"I will muffle them," he replied, and tore off three or four strips of
his silken coat that he yet wore, and with them wrapped up the links in
such sort as I should move along without noise, though still heavily.
After that I left him, going up the ladder to the trap in the roof of
the hold, which none had troubled to make fast, knowing, or at least
believing, that we were safe enough in our shackles, without further
precaution taken.

It was indeed night, as my uncle had supposed; and such a night as
seemeth to lift a man out of his present estate, so limited and beat
upon by misfortunes, and to touch his lips with a savour of things
divine.  There is a liberation in the wide spaces of the night, and a
glory unrevealed by any day.

I stood awhile where I was upon the deck, simply breathing in the cool
air and taking no thought for my safety.  A gunner lay beside his gun,
asleep with his head upon the carriage; I could have touched him with
my outstretched arm....

I looked about me.  We were riding at anchor in a little bay that from
the aspect of the stars I took to be upon the Moorish side of the
Straits: an opinion that became certainty when I gradually made out the
form of that huge rock of Gibraltar to the northward and the
mountainous promontory which lieth thereabout.  There was no wind at
all, which something excused the slack seamanship that was used amongst
us, and in this principally showed, that our sails were but some of
them furled up, although we rode at anchor; and the rest of them hung
flat upon the yards.  The moon had not risen, or was already set, but
there was that soft diffused pallor of the stars by which, after
awhile, I could see very well.  In the general negligence the ship's
lanterns were left unlit, but the gunner had one beside him, and also
(what imported me more to find) a few broken morsels of bread.  To
carry these and the lantern down to the hold was my next concern, and
was happily effected; but I judged my enterprise incomplete until I had
got wine, or at least water, to wash it down, for even less to be
supported than our hunger was our horrible scorching thirst.

Now, how I should have fared in my quest of that commodity I know not,
seeing I did not proceed further in it than just so far as the
prostrate gunner, whose leg in passing I chanced to touch and so woke
him.  He raised himself on his elbow, grumbling that he was
o'er-watched, and would stand sentinel no more for all the Moors in
Barbary.  Upon the impulse I fell upon and grappled with him, managing
the chain betwixt my wrists so that I had his neck in a loop of it,
upon which I pulled until his eyes and mouth were wide and the blood
pouring from his nose.  Gradually I slackened my hold to let him
breathe, for he was pretty far gone.

"You must knock off my irons," I whispered, "or else I will strangle
you outright," and made as if to begin again.

He was beyond speech, but made signs he would do it, and implored me
with his eyes to desist.  Then he made me to understand that his tools
were abaft in the gunroom, so that I was fain to follow him thither, or
rather to go beside him with my arms about his neck like a dear friend.
We encountered some dozen men in the way, but all sleeping, save one
that I made my captive put to silence, which he did very properly and

Not to be tedious in this matter, I say that at length I stood free;
for the which enfranchisement when my man had perfected it, perceiving
that he was like to be called in question, he fell on his knees before
me and besought me to let him escape with me.

"I have had pity of you many a time," he cried, "when, but for me, you
must have starved;" which was indeed true, he being the bluff ruddy
fellow that had brought us our meals from time to time.

Nevertheless I would not altogether promise to do as he wished, but
commanded him first to fetch drink and more food to my uncle, and to me
too; which when he had done, I told him we would at our leisure
consider of the success.

"At your leisure, quotha!" cried the man, whose name was Attwood (a
Midland man and a famous forger of iron as I found).  "'Twill be but an
hour ere the sun rise."

"Whither are we bound?" I demanded.

"To some port of Italy," he replied, "or Sicily, as I think.  But upon
our voyage it is intended to snap up whatever craft we shall encounter
and may not be able to withstand us; at which trade, if it prosper, it
is purposed we shall continue, and perhaps join with others that do the
like.  And to this course our Captain is principally moved by one, a
rascal Greek, that affecteth to have knowledge of a certain stronghold
and harbourage in an island to the northward of Sicily, where he saith
he is acquainted with a notable commander of armed galleys that should
welcome our adherence."

"Bring forth our supper therefore, Master Attwood," said I, "for if not
now, I see not when we shall eat it."

We ate and drank very heartily together; for we made Attwood of the
company, who knocked off my uncle's chains and bound his ankle very
deftly betwixt two battens to set it.  Our conversation was naturally
upon what should be our means of escape, which would have been settled
out of hand had it not been for my uncle's broken bone that prevented
his swimming ashore as else we might have done; for our cock-boat had
been lost at the start in the gale, and we had nothing of which to make
a raft, or at least none we could get loose without risk of alarming
the crew.

But as was usual my uncle gave the word by which we were ready to
abide, and that was that I should swim to shore alone and seize upon
one of the boats that would certainly be to be found drawn up on the
sands (for we lay close under the shore), and with this returning with
all dispatch, take them off that awaited me.  Accordingly, I let myself
down by the side, Attwood assisting me, and swam toward the shore.  But
scarce had I set foot upon it, when I saw a long boat, filled with a
troop of half-naked Moors, that rowed out from beyond the point and
aimed directly for the vessel I had left.

Without any other thought but to save them if I could, I shouted to
Attwood that they were threatened by the Moors, and the distance being
as I say but small betwixt us, he heard me, and ran to his cannon.  But
the stir he made aroused two or three of the mariners, so that soon all
stood upon their guard to defend themselves.  The Captain ordered the
gunner to lay to his piece and sink the enemy, but they got away in the
dark, and so nothing was done.  However, the Captain, who was greatly
affrighted by this accident, called out to them to weigh anchor, for he
would presently be gone; and about sunrise, a wind springing up, he
loosed from his moorings and made away eastward under all sail.

Now, if it be admired why I neither returned to the ship, rather than
remain alone in this barbarous unknown country, nor yet extended a
finger to help my uncle and Attwood to their freedom, I must answer
that it was because I could not.  For I had not stood above three
minutes upon that starlit shore, ere I was seized by two Moors, that
carried me with them to a rough hutch of skins they had hard by the
quay.  And here they told me, by signs, I must await their king and by
him be judged for my swimming ashore in the night; which manner of
reaching the country was, I understood, as well open to suspicion as a
notable infraction of the rights of the licensed ferrymen.  They seemed
to be honest fellows enough, and except that they kept me in pretty
close ward in the tent, treated me, in all else, very well.



Now, had I but had the luck to know it, my two captors were themselves
of this guild of the ferrymen whose rights they so stoutly stood by;
and I could have obtained my freedom at any hour of the night for
two-pence: the statutory passage money of which I had unwittingly
defrauded them.  But upon this twopence saved were to depend many
events I could well have spared, together, too, with much I yet thank
Heaven for; so small a matter doth our fate require (as a rudder) to
steer us by along what course she will....

The sun came up, as I say, in a little fresh scud of wind, and athwart
the golden dancing waters went the good ship the _Saracen's Head_, fair
and free; while I, her supercargo, remained behind in this
evil-smelling tent of half-naked and infidel Moors; cursing the
mischance that had led me thither, and altogether discouraged.

The thought of Idonia, that amid all the distractions of my late
captivity on board the ship had been predominant over all, affected me
more than ever now, as I sat in this pure light of dawn, in a perfect
silence save for the little lapping of the waves.  I remembered the
wild look of love that her eyes had held, when she said: "Free, oh,
free!" and: "Denis, Denis, do not let me go!"  I caught again the
drooping lassitude of her posture, when, spent by the varying terrors
of the night, she had swooned in my arms.  For the thousandth time I
reviewed the dangers that threatened her, the bitter cold of the rain,
insults of the soldiers, her wandering wits and the nearness of the
river.  To this was added a fearful burden of doubt whether I should at
all be suffered to return home, to seek her; knowing as I did that not
two or three, but many men that had set foot upon this coast, had been
sold as slaves or slain outright; while others, to escape the seeming
worst, abjuring their faiths (as Nelson the Yeoman's son had done), had
embraced the false religion of this country and by that currish means
gained favour and furtherance in their servitude.  It seemed to me a
strange thing, as I sat in this place where all around was peace and
grave silence, that so small an interval might separate me from such
intolerable cruelties as we in England had oftentimes heard tell of as
continually practised by the men of these parts; and I in particular
had listened to this sort of tales, by the mariners of our Company
narrated, when, as I was used, I went to meet them and bring them to
Osborne the Governor.  But there is (I find) a surprising declension
from the amusement got by hearing of the customs of other nations, to
that is got by going where they are practised; and I settled it in my
mind at that time (nor have I ever exchanged the opinion) that what
lieth beyond the West Country is of very small account; always
excepting the City of London and the Berkshire downs.

Now when the sun had been risen about an hour, I perceived some stir to
grow in the town, and men to begin going about their daily business.
From the petty harbour I saw a barque or two warping their way out, and
was marvellous surprised when, presently, that great boat that had
rowed, as we all supposed, to the attack of the _Saracen's Head_,
returned very peaceably to the quayside laden with a fine catch of
fish; by the which it manifestly appeared that they were no robbers,
but a company of Moorish fisherfolk that had gone before daybreak to
cast their seines; and as the sequel showed, to good purpose.

I laughed aloud at the error into which I had fallen, and the more when
I imagined with what consternation these simple men would have received
Master Attwood's cannon shot, had he prosecuted his intention and fired

My two guards looked upon me with some anxiety, when they saw me
laughing in this manner, and spoke together in a low voice; after which
the one of them got up softly and went away.  Something perturbed, I
questioned the other man, by signs, that being our only method of
converse, whither it was he went; who answered, similarly, that he was
gone to see if the king were yet awake, and ready to administer justice
in my cause.  I should have sought to learn more, had I not chanced to
observe upon one of the ships that lay by the wharf, a flag hauling up,
at which sight I was filled with an excessive joy; for it was the
English flag; and the ship, when I had more particularly noted her, one
of our Turkey Company's merchant vessels, namely, the _Happy
Adventure_, seventy tons burden and very sound craft.

Leaping to my feet, I made signs to my Moor that these were friends of
mine who would speak for my general probity, and at the same time
offered him three or four pieces of silver (all I had) the better to
enforce my request.

Never have I seen a man so metamorphosed as he, who, expecting at the
utmost to receive his legal two-pence, had suddenly thrust upon him a
handful of crowns.  From a petty evader of duties, I became in his eyes
a fountain of generosity, and prince of swimmers.  He fell prone on his
face before me in the sand, and covered my shoes with kisses, naming me
in his language his eternal benefactor, the light of his life, the
supporter of his age (or if not these then what you shall please, for I
understood nothing of it all save his cringing and kissing of my toe).

Now while he was thus engaged, his companion returned together with him
they called their king, but was only an ordinary Moor to see to,
extremely fat (which is perhaps a sign of pre-eminence in these parts)
and abominably filthy.  He had two curved swords stuck in his waist,
and wore a patched green cloak.

But when he saw who it was approached, my newly purchased friend left
kissing me, and did obeisance to his king, very reverently saluting him
with his hands raised to his forehead; and the king in his turn bade
him, as well as he could for lack of breath, be at peace.  Which done,
a long debate ensued among the three of them wherein my gratuity was
displayed and commented upon, with a great show of delight by the Moor,
with astonishment by the king, and with an uncontrolled disappointment
by the Moor that had gone to bring him.  By the greedy looks with which
he, and soon the king too, regarded this chiefest feature of the case,
I understood that my acquittal was likely to depend upon the nature of
the evidence (that is the amount of the bribe) I could bring in, to
satisfy my second accuser, and after him the Judge.  But satisfy them
in this kind I could not, for as I have said, I had imprudently parted
with my entire wealth to my first accuser, who, as I am assured, would
have been perfectly content with half a groat.  The fat king, without
the least disguise, but pointing to my unlucky crown-pieces, told off
upon his fingers the rate at which I might obtain my discharge, while
the ferryman, whom anger seemed to have robbed of speech, convulsively
gripped at the haft of a very dangerous long knife he had, as if to
demonstrate the province of effective law.

What course I might have followed herein I am not careful to imagine;
enough that it was decided for me by one of the ship's company of the
_Adventure_, who, observing us, came over a little way to see what
should be the occasion of this argument.  To him then, without delay, I
dispatched my Moorish friend I had suborned, praying the mariner to
hasten to my assistance.  And no sooner did he see the English pieces
in the fellow's hand than he understood it was a countryman of his in
peril, and so called together the rest of his crew, or at least such as
were within hail.  A little after, therefore, I was set free, the whole
company coming about me, and thrusting away the poor fat king, that
they told me was but a petty chieftain, of no authority at all, except
that he took the half of the harbour dues; which being a mere pittance,
however, he was fain to eke out the stipend with the selling of sweet
oil and justice, as either was called for.

But when they heard I was employed by the Turkey Company, as they were,
and moreover was acquainted with Sir Edward Osborne, whom every one
greatly honoured, there was no end to their protestations of
friendship; and in especial the master of that voyage, one Captain
Tuchet, offered to carry me with him to England; albeit he must first,
he said, finish his trading in these waters, as he had engaged to do.

I thanked him very heartily for his kindness, and, at his request,
opened with him at large of my imprisonment on board the _Saracen's
Head_, and of all matters I have above set down, which he heard very
patiently and advised himself of the principal outrages that were
either committed or intended by Spurrier and the rest.  He was a short,
squat man, of a very heavy appearance and so dull an eye that I had set
him down for almost a fool before he showed me pretty convincingly that
he was not, but rather of a nature at once astute and undaunted, he
being indeed at all points a commander and worthy of trust.

"So you tell me that these gentlemen purpose to join themselves to a
certain pirate of note," he said, blinking his thick-lidded eyes, as we
leaned over the rail of his high deck.  "And where might he be found,

"It was upon some island, as I remember, to the northward of Sicily," I

"'Tis as I thought then," said he, "and having a part of our cargo to
discharge at Amalfi, we will read our instructions something more
liberally than we be wont to do, and shape our course toward--well,
should we chance to make this island of yours upon the way, there's no
harm done, Master Supercargo;" and he blinked again.

"You will give them chase?" cried I.

"We be men peaceably inclined at all times," replied Tuchet, closing
his eyes altogether, "and I should be sorry if resistance to our
demands led to bloodshed."

"But my uncle..." I said and hesitated.

"Is a reasonable villain by all accounts," replied the Captain, and so
for that while dismissed me.

The news that we were to alter our course in order to the end I have
named, soon spread amongst the crew, who one and all rejoiced at the
prospect of fighting it offered them; that being a luxury not often to
be indulged in upon a merchant ship and therefore the more highly
prized.  From the mate I learned that there was an infinite number of
such secret nooks and fastnesses by pirates and desperate thieves
infested, in this sea, and that to any ordinary man it would appear an
absurd thing to attempt, from amongst so many, to discover the
particular refuge that Spurrier might affect.  "So that were it not for
some hint we have to go upon, which our Captain thinks sufficient, we
might indeed run far astray; though now, if we do, I shall greatly
admire it."

"Upon what place hath he fixed as likely?" I asked.

"'Tis a little rock among the Æolian Islands," he answered me, "for it
is indeed hardly more than a bare rock.  The people name it the Three
Towers, because of certain watch-towers formerly set up against the
Saracens and yet remaining: as you may see them likewise in Amalfi, and
other places too.  It hath a fair anchorage and haven and a flat strip
of good land where they used to cultivate vines before the robbers took
the place and killed the islanders.  There was a pleasant village there
among the vineyards, and a temple, nigh perfect, of the old heathen
gods.  But now all is in ruins, except that those men have retained for
their safeguard, or for the storage of their treasure."

"You seem to know their lurking-place pretty well," said I, with a

He let the jest pass, it being none to him as I soon learned.

"I should know it, master," he replied, "having lived there, and there
married and had children.  'Twas those devils of pirates drove me forth
... but not my wife.  My children they slew in the room where the
wine-press stood.  I think if we fall in with that company, sir, by how
much soever their number exceed ours, we shall yet get the better of
them, God helping us."

All that day we held our course eastward, with a pretty strong wind
following, so that we had got about seventy or eighty miles from the
port by sunset.  The night also continuing fair, with lucky weather, we
made a further good progress, by which the Captain hoped, within two or
three days at the most, we should make the Island of Tre Torre (that
is, the Three Towers aforesaid), and therefore set every one to the
preparing of his weapon, and the hauling up of the powder from the

For my part, while these preparations were making, I was full of heavy
thoughts, for it must needs be in this imminent battle that my uncle
and I should be opposites, who but lately were become friends.

I doubted indeed whether Spurrier would grant him liberty to fight; but
the alternative was rather to be feared, namely that, unwilling to be
cumbered with the ward of prisoners at such a time, the Captain would
rid himself of him before the fight should begin.  But either way I
certainly could not refuse to draw my sword against these pirates
merely because my uncle was kept prisoner by them, and especially since
our quarrel was like to extend to all such robbers as should choose to
take sides with Spurrier against us.  It appeared indeed a mad
impossible enterprise we undertook, and had it not been for the extreme
faith all our crew had in Mr. Tuchet, I might perhaps have gone the
length of protesting against the risk we ran.

However I did not, and am glad that I refrained, for no man loveth to
be thought a coward, though some that are not be content to appear so
in a noble cause; which I think is the greatest degree of courage a man
can attain to.

Now, about the fourth morning, when the watch was changed, I being one
of those appointed to serve that turn, we remarked that the sky, which
until then had been quite clear, was now spread over with a thin haze,
such as ordinarily intendeth an excessive heat; and indeed as the day
wore on it became oppressively hot, the vapour remaining the while, or
rather withdrawing to an unusual height, so that there was no mist upon
the waters, but merely a white sky for a blue one.  At noonday this
strange whiteness of the heavens became charged with a dull copper
colour particularly to the eastward, and the wind died away suddenly,
leaving us becalmed.

Tuchet summoned the mate to him, to the upper deck, and held him long
in consultation of this mystery, presently calling me too to join them
there, when he put two or three brief questions to me as touching the
rig and burden of the _Saracen's Head_, which, when I had answered, he
resumed his conference with the mate, jerking his finger impatiently
toward some object far out to sea.

I followed the direction of his finger, and at last perceived right
upon the clear line of the horizon a grey blot, that might have been a
rock or ship, or indeed anything, so great was the distance of it from

"I cannot tell," said the mate; "but I think 'tis not so big."

"Tush!" said the Captain.  "Consider it more closely."

Again I strained my eyes for any indication of sail or hull that should
resolve my doubt; but even as I gazed the thing was lost as completely
as though the sea had opened to swallow it.

"Why, 'tis gone!" I cried.

Neither of the men spoke for a while, but after a full half minute the
mate said in a low voice--

"Yonder comes the eagre," meaning, as I learned afterwards, that great
wave that sometimes comes with the high tide, and is otherwise named
the Bore; the cause of it none knoweth certainly, though it is said to
follow upon an uncommon meeting of tides, or else is rolled back by
earthquakes and such-like horrid disturbances and visitations of the

"Strike sail, lads," shouted the Captain, "and close up all hatches;
there's tempest at hand."

We did what we could, but the time was brief enough, so that before we
had well concluded the wave struck us.  The ship seemed to be lifted
like a plaything and tossed about as lightly as though a giant had put
forth his hand from the deep and flung us.  Three men were washed
overboard at the first assault and our mizzen mast burst asunder, which
falling, grievously hurt one that stood by, who a little after died.

Meanwhile the calm that had previously held us bound, was exchanged for
a furious hurricane worse almost to withstand than the shock of the
eagre-wave itself.  The sky was now as black as night, with great
hurrying clouds urged on as it seemed by the pitiless goad of lightning
that lacerated them as they thundered by.  Wave after wave swept over
us as we rose and fell, abject and waterlogged, now lying low in the
lane of waters, now impelled to the summit from which we looked forth
as from a falling tower in whose ruin we were presently to be

I cannot relate all that followed, for a spar struck me senseless, and
when I recovered we were riding in an untroubled bay, under a lee
shore.  Too sick and weak to question those that stood about me, I
nevertheless could not but note the amazing beauty of the scene.  Upon
an eminence a grove of palm trees stood out against the blue of the
sky, while upon the slope of this hill and below it to the water's edge
extended the buildings of a city, dazzling white and magnificently
builded with long arcades and lofty gateways and tiled domes.  At first
I supposed we had been carried by the storm backward to that Moorish
port where I was held captive, but soon I perceived that this place
greatly exceeded it in splendour and apparent wealth.  The city, in
fact, was Argiers, whither we had been carried wide of our course by
the stress of the storm: but being here our Captain thought fit to make
good our ship that was pretty near stove in.  Some nine or ten days in
all we stayed, during which I not only regained my health but took an
infinite pleasure in going about in the town, which was like nothing I
had ever seen or imagined, so white it was, and so strangely supported
upon deep arches that caught the shade at all hours; and having high
towers with balconies, from which a man called these poor infidels to
prayer.  The flies were abominable, and the stench incredibly
offensive; but saving these things, Argiers is a good town, and the
people of it (that is, the men, for I saw no women) very grave and

Our masts and timbers made good at length, Mr. Tuchet called the crew
aboard, and bade them cast off the hawser that held us, which was soon
done, and we departed.  And because of the privilege extended to me and
the favour of the Captain, I left the common seamen and went upon the
deck that the Captain used, who spoke cheerily to me, saying he hoped
we should meet with no more disasters on this voyage.  I laughed and
said I hoped not neither, and asked him when he thought we should come
to Amalfi; for it never entered my mind that he would prosecute his old
purpose of going against the pirates.

"To Amalfi?" said Tuchet, scratching his grey stubble beard.  "Oh,
about a week hence, Mr. Denis, if we get done with your uncle by
Thursday, as I expect to do."

Nothing deterred him when he had once resolved upon any course, and I
am assured that had we lost half our complement of men and all our
ammunition, he would have gone into it with his fists.  The Thursday
then, having doubled the Cape of Marsala, which is the westward point
of Sicily, we came amongst the Æolian Islands to the very hour Tuchet
had named; and towards evening we clearly descried the little rocky
islet of the Three Towers; whereat every man grasped his weapon, and
the gunner ran out his long brass piece.  'Twas no time for the conning
over of moral sentences but rather of rapid silent preparation; yet I
could not but feel the solemnity of this our slowly sailing onward
through the still autumn evening, whose outgoing seemed so sweetly
attuned to that praise for which the Scripture saith it was created,
but which for us meant no more than an unlucky light to shoot by.  For,
as more than one stout fellow whispered, our ship having the sun behind
it was a mark for any fool to hit, while we upon our part could
distinguish nought upon that barren rock but the crumbled watch-towers
that crowned it.

Without a word, we stole on.  It was dangerous navigation, for there
were said to be sunken reefs to the westward (that is the nearest to us
as we came from the west), where the rock divided into two horns or
spurs, that, jutting out into the sea, enclosed the little parcel of
flat land where the vineyards used to be and the ruined temple.  The
harbourage lay a little to the southward behind the right-hand spur I
have noted, and was therefore not yet to be seen; though we,
approaching so closely, must have been perfectly visible to any one
that lay concealed amidst the innumerable lurking-places and caves of
the rock.

The mate, who knew the island but too well, had gone forward, but now
returned to us, that is to Tuchet and me, upon the high deck.  His face
was very white.

"The shore hath sunk," he said.

"What do you mean?" cried Tuchet, turning about sharply.

"Vineyard and all gone; our cottage and the garden where my boys
played....  The eagre hath whelmed them."

"But the wave hath long since receded, man; it cannot be!  You have
mistaken the place belike."

"Mistaken!" repeated the mate with a hard laugh.  "I tell you the whole
island hath been disturbed; its foundations shaken--Lo, there!" he
cried out.  "A whole cliff hath gone down in the earthquake; and there
is driftwood under the headland, of wrecked ships."

And even as he had said, so it was.

For the late upheaval had had its origin in the recesses of this barren
rock, which it had burst open as a robber bursts forth from his ambush,
and loosed that charging hurricane upon the sea.  And indeed not this
island of Tre Torre only, but all these islands to the northward of
Sicily be so eaten under by fire, and liable to sudden calamity
therefrom, as none may properly be named habitable, though the most of
them be inhabited in despite of almost constant threatenings, until, as
this place was, they be at length in a night destroyed.

We sailed about the place in our ship, but found no living soul, and
night soon after falling, we were fain to use the shattered remnant of
the pirates' harbour, where we lay till the morning, very sad and

But a great while before full day I rose up alone and went ashore, in
the hope to light upon some vestiges of my uncle, or if not of him,
then of any of that infamous crew of the _Saracen's Head_.  From the
one of the watch-towers that I found to be the least shaken I surveyed
the rock over every part, but could discover nothing more than that we
had before espied, namely, the few broken boards of a ship and spars
strewn about the sweep of ground betwixt the two promontories, and so
descended slowly to where they lay.  And having descended but a little
of the broken path that led, as I judged, to the submerged hamlet
amidst the vineyards, I looked out upon the waters of the bay; and on
the sudden, clear beneath them, saw the hamlet, house by house, and the
pergolas of hanging vines.  So translucent and untroubled was the water
at that hour that scarce anything the least was hid, but even the grass
between the stones I saw, yet fresh and waving, and the rusted tools
abandoned in the fields.  An untended way led further off to the
temple, of which I could dimly perceive the pillars, between which
great silver fish swam in and out, and upon its steps the seaweed
slightly stirred.

But caught in the weed on the steps of the temple I saw a drowned man
lying, and when I had gone down to the edge of the shore, I knew him
for my uncle....

Of the rest we could find at first no trace at all, but (having sent
down divers into the deep water about the northward headland) we at
length recovered the bodies of Spurrier and Attwood and one or two
beside.  When the ship had split, idly trusting to such pieces of the
wreck as they could lay hold of, they had evidently been dashed against
the rock, and so perished.  But the prisoner in the hold had been
carried forward, as it seemed, almost into safety, but at the last had
been let slip.  There was no hurt upon his body when we raised it, and
the features were unclouded by any premonition of his fate.



To tell all that befell me ere I set foot in England once more were
scarce less tedious to the reader than it was to me in the happening,
who counted each day for lost until I had got home; which was upon
Christmas Eve; and should prosecute my search for Idonia Avenon.

But so strangely into peace did all my affairs seem to move, after my
uncle's death (as though upon his removal who had every way troubled us
so long, we were come into an unknown liberty and fulfilment of our
hopes), that my search was ended as soon almost as begun, and Idonia
restored to me within an hour of my landing at Wapping Stairs.

'Twas the simplest cause that led me to her, as it was the simplest act
of mere gratitude that I should go at once to the kindly folk on the
Bridge, I mean Gregory Nelson and his wife, to requite them for all
they had done for me and to excuse myself in having gone away from them
so without warning as I did; which must at that time have appeared very
graceless in me and unhandsome.  And being thus come to their house, as
I say, who should be in the doorway, as if expressly to greet me
(although she had heard nought of the arrival of the _Happy
Adventure_), but Idonia herself, sweet lass! and blithe as a carol
burden.  'Twas some while ere we got to relating our histories, but
when Idonia did at length relate her own, I learnt how Nelson's
brother, the yeoman, had found her that dreadful night, lurking about
the precincts of the _Fair Haven_ Inn, nigh distraught with weeping and
the terror of loneliness.  He had questioned her straitly of her
purpose in being there, to whom she presently confessed she sought me,
and told him where I was used to lodge, which was in this house upon
London Bridge.  And no sooner did the yeoman apprehend the matter, than
he got permission of his captain to leave watching of the Inn, and so
carried her home to his brother's wife, who tenderly cared for her,
until I should return.

"As indeed I never doubted of your doing," said Idonia, her eyes
shining for very pride of this ineffable thing we had entered into
possession of; "though you have been gone a weary great while, dear
heart, and no tidings have I had to comfort me."

"Ay, and mickle tidings you needed, housewife!" interposed the scolding
voice of Madam Nelson, that (good soul) had no notion to leave us two
by ourselves, but burst into whatever room we were in, upon the most
impertinent excuse, as of a mislaid thimble, or a paper of pins, or
else a "Lord! be you here still?" or a "Tell me, Denis, how do the
ladies of Barbary wear their hair?" until I swear I was ready to pitch
her out of the window for a second, but more virtuous, Jezebel.

"Small tidings you needed, I wis," said she, "that turned even silence
to advantage, and the very winds of Heaven to your way of thinking!
'He will be safe in this weather,' would 'a say when 'twas calm; or if
it blew fresh, 'Denis hath no fear of a tempest!' and with such a
fulsome patience of belief, as I think, had she had positive news you
were dead, she would have said you feigned it on purpose to have
leisure to think upon her."

"Had it not been for your own good courage, mother," replied Idonia,
with a run of laughter, "I had often enough desponded.  And 'twas you
went to Mr. Osborne for me, as Mr. Nelson did to the Council, to give
account how matters had gone, and to exonerate this long lad of

"Tilly vally!" cried the lady.  "I exonerate none of your lovers, not
I, that steal away at midnight, to leave their sweethearts weeping by
the shore!"  And so, as if blown thence by the strong gust of her
resentment, she was gone from us, ere I could mend her wilful
misconstruction of the part I had been enforced to play.

But that part of captive I was now content enough to continue in for
just so long as Idonia willed, who held me to her, and by a thousand
links bound me, pronouncing my sentence in terms I shall neither ever
forget nor shall I now repeat them.  Such sweet words of a maid are not
singular, I think, but rather be common as death; to which for the
first time they give the only right meaning, as of a little ford that
lies in a hollow of the highway of love....

I told her gently of her guardian's drowning, at which report she
shuddered and turned away her face.  But all she said was: "He was a
kind man to me, but otherwise, I fear, very wicked."

We spoke of the Chinese jar, that had contained that great treasure of
diamonds and precious stones my uncle had rent away and stolen from
those he privily slew.  Idonia said it had been seized upon by the
party of soldiers that had searched the Inn, and that the Queen had
confiscated it to her own use, as indeed she was accustomed to keep
whatever prizes came into her hands, without scruple of lawful
propriety.  "Which was the occasion, I fear, of some sharp passages
betwixt Madam Nelson and her husband," said Idonia, with a smile, "she
being for his boldly demanding them of the Queen's Secretary, as
pertaining to my dowry, but he stoutly dissenting from such a course,
and, I hold, rightly.  But in either case I would not have kept them,
knowing as I do how they were come by; and although the loss of them
leaveth us poor."

I was of her mind in that, and said so.  However, we were not to be so
poor as we then supposed; for besides the jewels which Her Grace had
possessed herself of, with her slender and capable fingers, there was
afterwards discovered a pretty big sum of money her guardian had laid
up, together with his testament and general devise of all he had to
Idonia Avenon, whom he named his sole heir.  This we learned from the
attorney in whose hands as well the money was, as the will, which
himself had drawn; who, upon my solemn attestation, and the witness of
Captain Tuchet, admitted, and procured it to be allowed by the
magistrates, that Botolph Cleeve, the testator, was legally deceased,
and Idonia Avenon, the beneficiary, incontestably alive.  And upon our
counting over the sum (we both being notable accountants, as is already
sufficiently known), we found it more by nigh a thousand pounds than my
father had formerly lost by this man whose death now allowed of the
restitution of all.  For Idonia would hear of nothing done until my
father should be first paid, and of her own motion made proposal that
we should immediately journey down into Somerset to pay him, in the
which course I concurred with great contentment, for it was already
near upon two years since I had set eyes upon him, and upon our old
home of Combe.

The snow lay somewhat less thickly upon the downs, as we rode over them
past Marlborough and Devizes, than it had done when I set out in the
company of that very warlike scholar, Mr. Jordan, whose campaign I had
seen to be diverted against the books and featherbeds of Baynards
Castle, with so singular a valour and so remote a prospect to be ever

Idonia was delighted with these great fields, all white and shining,
that we passed over, they being like nothing she had ever seen, she
said, except once, when she had gone with her guardian into Kent, where
he lay one whole winter in hiding, though she did not know wherefore.

By nights it was my custom to request a lodging for Idonia of the
clergyman of the town we rested at, while I myself would lie at the
inn; and by this means I was enabled to renew my pleasant acquaintance
with the Curate of Newbury; who (it will be remembered) had preached
that Philippic sermon against the Papists, and had moreover so
earnestly desired me that I should tell the Archbishop of his adding a
rood of ground to his churchyard.  He seemed, methought, a little
dejected when I said I had had none occasion to His Grace, who
therefore remained yet in ignorance of the progress the Church made in
Newbury; but he soon so far forgot his disappointment as to tell me of
an improvement of his tithes-rents, by which he was left with seventeen
shillings to the good at Michaelmas; and with a part of this surplus he
had, he confessed, been tempted to purchase of a pedlar a certain book
in the French tongue called _Pantagruel_, from which he had derived no
inconsiderable entertainment, albeit joined to some scruples upon the
matters therein treated of, whether they were altogether such as he
should be known to read them.

"However, since none here hath any French but I," said he, "I bethought
me that no public scandal was to be feared, and so read on."

We rode into the little town of Glastonbury, where it lieth under its
strange and conical steep hill, about four o'clock in the afternoon; it
being then, I think, toward the end of January, and clear still
weather.  And because it was already dusk I would not proceed further
that day; but in the morning, before daybreak, we proceeded again
forward, going by the ridgeway that, as a viaduct, standeth high above
the levels, then all veiled in chill grey mists.  We got into Taunton a
little ere noon, and there baited our horses, being determined to end
our journey before nightfall, which we could not have done except by
this respite.  The name of Simon Powell had been so oft upon my lips,
and I had with so many and lively strokes depainted him in conversation
with Idonia, that she had come to know him almost as well as I, and
thus I was hardly astonished when she turned about in her saddle to
gaze after a young man that walked in a meadow a little apart from the
highway as we were entering the hamlet of Tolland, and asked me whether
he were not, as in truth he was, my old companion.

Marvellous glad to meet with Simon after this long interval, I drew
rein and beckoned to him, who, running forward almost at the same
instant, took my hand, gloved as it was, and covered it with kisses.

"How doth my father?" I demanded eagerly, and ere he had concluded his

"His worship may mend when he sees you come home," said he gravely, and
by that I saw I was not to indulge too large a hope of his mending.

"I would we were indeed arrived home, Simon," I replied; "but at all
events, this lodging shall soon be exchanged for a better; that is, if
he may yet bear to be moved."

We walked our horses along very slowly, Simon between us as we went, to
whom Idonia addressed herself so kindly that the lad, falling instantly
in love with her, had nearly forgot the principal thing of all he had
to say, which was that Sir Matthew Juke had but at the Christmas
quarter-day past renounced his tenancy of the Court and gone to
Bristol, where he had formed the acquaintance of a merchant-adventurer
that was about to attempt the Northwest passage (as it is named,
although none hath yet found it); and upon this voyage the knight also
was set to go.

"His head is full of the design," said Simon, "so that those about him
fear his wits unsettled, and indeed he spends the better part of every
day poring upon books of navigation, treatises of Sir Humphrey Gilbert
and the like, while his speech is ever of victualling and charts and
ships' logs, but of other things, and even in the Justices' room at the
Sessions, never a word."

"Say you he hath resigned his lease of our house at Combe?" cried I,
interrupting him for the very impatience of my joy; and when I knew he
certainly had so done, struck the spurs into my tired beast and
galloped forward to the Inn.

Of the interval I say nothing, nor of the mutual delight with which my
father and I embraced each other; and afterwards of the bestowal of his
welcome upon Idonia, which he did with that accustomed courtly grace of
his, and bound the maid to him in love by the simple manner of his
doing it.

Within a week, or perhaps a little over, we were all returned to the
Court, where Idonia was at once proclaimed mistress; and a week after
Easter we were married.  My father was for giving up to us the great
room, hung about with tapestries, he had always used, but neither
Idonia nor I would allow of it, preferring for our own chamber that
high narrow attic in the tower that had been mine before, and was,
moreover, as wholesome and sweet a place as any man could lead a wife
to, with a rare prospect of meadow and moorland from the window; too,
and away up the deep valley to where it is closed in ascending ranks of

Here yet we live, Idonia and I: "Idonia of Petty Wales" I have named
her, and Simon is therefore wondrous pleased to suppose some affinity
in her to his wild ancestors, of whom he now tells her, as he formerly
did me, incredible long legends; yet none so out of all compass of
belief as is the story we might have told him, had we chosen, of that
ruinous secret house over against the Galley Quay, where she dwelt so
long, pure and brave, amidst desperate evil men.

Here we live, as I say, Idonia and I, but no longer my father, who
after we had been married but a year, died.  Worn out by that lingering
malady of which I have spoken, and having been for so long a while
confined to that poor shelter where, I learned, was to be had the
merest necessaries but nothing to foster his strength, he soon gave
manifest signs that the betterment of his fortune had come too late to
advantage him.  To himself it had of necessity been well known, but the
knowledge neither discouraged him at all, nor caused him to exchange
his habitual discourse for those particular sentences that men in such
case will sometimes burden their speech withal.

In Idonia's company he seemed to take an extraordinary quiet pleasure,
and indeed spoke with her (as she afterwards told me) of matters he had
seldom enlarged upon with me, but to which she opened so ready an
apprehension as drew him on from familiar chat to reveal to her the
most cherished speculations of his mind.  To me he continued as I
always remember him, using that gentle satire that was a sauce to all
his sayings.  He would oftenwhiles question me of the difficulties and
dangers of my sojourn in London, but although he would hear me
attentively, I knew he took small pleasure in tales of tumult and
strife.  There was in his nature that touch of woman that, however, is
not womanliness but rather is responsive to the best a woman hath; and
thus it was, in the perfect sympathy that marked his converse with
Idonia, I read, more clearly than I had done in all the years we had
lived together, the measure of his loss in losing his wife, and the
pitiful great need which he endeavoured so continuously, in his
reading, to fill.

I had supposed him to be a complete Stoick, and to have embraced
without reservation the teaching of that famous school; but Idonia, to
whom I spoke of it, told me that it was not altogether so.

"For," she said, "it was but a week since, as we sat together on the
side of the moor yonder, that he repeated to me a sentence of the Roman
Emperor's, whose works he ever carrieth about with him, in which he
bids a wise man expect each day to meet with idle men and fools and
busybodies and arrogant men.  But that, your father said, was to bid a
man shut himself up alone in a high tower, whence he should look down
upon his fellows instead of mixing with them and trying to understand
them.  Expect rather, he said, to meet each day with honest, kindly
men; in which expectation if you be disappointed, then consider whether
the cause of offence lieth not in you; the other man being full as
likely to be inoffensive as yourself."

Of time he was wont to say, "When one says to you: There is no time
like the present, reply to him that indeed there is no time but the
present: future and past being but as graven figures on a milestone
which a man readeth and passeth upon his road."

"In order to the greatest happiness in this life," he said, "it is well
freely to give to others all they shall require at your hands, being
well assured that they will readily leave you in the enjoyment of that
the only real possession of yours, which is your thoughts."

To Idonia, who once asked him why he had never written down the rules
he lived by, he answered with his grave smile that rules were the false
scent, subtle or obvious, with which the escaping outlaw, thought,
deludes its pursuers, sworn of the law.

But the speech that hath struck the deepest in me was spoken when he
gave Idonia, as he did, that picture of my mother, of whom he said (but
not of himself) that she had known a world of sorrow, and after awhile
added that "he believed ere she died she had found her sorrow fashioned
to a splendid gift."

I accurately remember the last day he lived, in every least accident of
it: the sense of beauty that all things seemed to have above the
ordinary, and the stillness that clung about the Combe.

We had gone up, all three, and old Peter Sprot with us, to a little
coppice of firs upon the moor side, to see a squadron of the Queen's
ships, that went down the Channel under the command of Sir Richard
Grenville, who was lately appointed to survey the defences of the West,
and to marshal the trained bands that had been put into readiness
against the expected, but long delayed, invasion of the Spanish.

Our talk was naturally of war, and the chances we had to withstand so
notable an army as was gathering against us, upon which my father said,
very quiet, that the principal thing was never victory, but the not
being afraid.  Later on, as if pursuing a train of thought that this
observation had set him on, he said--

"That which we are accustomed to call the future hath been by the elder
men of all ages generally despaired of, or at the least feared; and I
think it always will be so, for an old man's courage naturally turneth
backward to the past and occupieth itself in enlarging the obstacles
himself hath overcome, which no young man again might do; and this
maketh him fearful, and oftentimes angry too."

He paused there upon Idonia's pointing with her finger to the Admiral
that just then shook out her standard from the mast-head, but presently
proceeded, smiling: "Had England not already a motto to her shield I
would petition the Heralds to subscribe these words beneath it, that in
what estate so ever we be found, we be neither angry nor afraid."

He sat silent after that, and I thought seemed to fetch his breath
something uneasily.  However, he lay back against the bole of a fir
awhile as resting himself.

"Of ourselves too," he went on at length, "I would have it written when
we die, not that we did no wrong, for of none may that be said, but
that as we entered into life without knowledge, so we departed from it
without shame.  For to be ashamed is to deny."

He closed his eyes then, and we thought slept.  But when the ships had
gone by, Peter Sprot touched my arm and pointed to him.  He was already

We bore him down through the golden sunlight, strangely troubled, but I
think, too, filled with the thought of the majesty of such a dying.
And I was glad his end was upon the hills, rather than in the valley;
for life is ever an ascending, or should be, and to its consummation
reacheth with face upturned toward the vehicle of light.


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