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Title: When London Burned : a Story of Restoration Times and the Great Fire
Author: Henty, G. A. (George Alfred), 1832-1902
Language: English
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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.

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We are accustomed to regard the Reign of Charles II. as one of the
most inglorious periods of English History; but this was far from
being the case. It is true that the extravagance and profligacy of
the Court were carried to a point unknown before or since,
forming,--by the indignation they excited among the people at
large,--the main cause of the overthrow of the House of Stuart. But,
on the other hand, the nation made extraordinary advances in commerce
and wealth, while the valour of our sailors was as conspicuous under
the Dukes of York and Albemarle, Prince Rupert and the Earl of
Sandwich, as it had been under Blake himself, and their victories
resulted in transferring the commercial as well as the naval
supremacy of Holland to this country. In spite of the cruel blows
inflicted on the well-being of the country, alike by the extravagance
of the Court, the badness of the Government, the Great Plague, and
the destruction of London by fire, an extraordinary extension of our
trade occurred during the reign of Charles II. Such a period,
therefore, although its brilliancy was marred by dark shadows, cannot
be considered as an inglorious epoch. It was ennobled by the bravery
of our sailors, by the fearlessness with which the coalition of
France with Holland was faced, and by the spirit of enterprise with
which our merchants and traders seized the opportunity, and, in spite
of national misfortunes, raised England in the course of a few years
to the rank of the greatest commercial power in the world.

                                  G. A. HENTY.









































Lad stood looking out of the dormer window in a scantily furnished
attic in the high-pitched roof of a house in Holborn, in September
1664. Numbers of persons were traversing the street below, many of
them going out through the bars, fifty yards away, into the fields
beyond, where some sports were being held that morning, while country
people were coming in with their baskets from the villages of
Highgate and Hampstead, Tyburn and Bayswater. But the lad noted
nothing that was going on; his eyes were filled with tears, and his
thoughts were in the little room behind him; for here, coffined in
readiness for burial, lay the body of his father.

Sir Aubrey Shenstone had not been a good father in any sense of the
word. He had not been harsh or cruel, but he had altogether neglected
his son. Beyond the virtues of loyalty and courage, he possessed few
others. He had fought, as a young man, for Charles, and even among
the Cavaliers who rode behind Prince Rupert was noted for reckless
bravery. When, on the fatal field of Worcester, the last hopes of the
Royalists were crushed, he had effected his escape to France and
taken up his abode at Dunkirk. His estates had been forfeited; and
after spending the proceeds of his wife's jewels and those he had
carried about with him in case fortune went against the cause for
which he fought, he sank lower and lower, and had for years lived on
the scanty pension allowed by Louis to the King and his adherents.

Sir Aubrey had been one of the wild, reckless spirits whose conduct
did much towards setting the people of England against the cause of
Charles. He gambled and drank, interlarded his conversation with
oaths, and despised as well as hated the Puritans against whom he
fought. Misfortune did not improve him; he still drank when he had
money to do so, gambled for small sums in low taverns with men of his
own kind, and quarrelled and fought on the smallest provocation. Had
it not been for his son he would have taken service in the army of
some foreign Power; but he could not take the child about with him,
nor could he leave it behind.

Sir Aubrey was not altogether without good points. He would divide
his last crown with a comrade poorer than himself. In the worst of
times he was as cheerful as when money was plentiful, making a joke
of his necessities and keeping a brave face to the world.

Wholly neglected by his father, who spent the greater portion of his
time abroad, Cyril would have fared badly indeed had it not been for
the kindness of Lady Parton, the wife of a Cavalier of very different
type to Sir Aubrey. He had been an intimate friend of Lord Falkland,
and, like that nobleman, had drawn his sword with the greatest
reluctance, and only when he saw that Parliament was bent upon
overthrowing the other two estates in the realm and constituting
itself the sole authority in England. After the execution of Charles
he had retired to France, and did not take part in the later risings,
but lived a secluded life with his wife and children. The eldest of
these was of the same age as Cyril; and as the latter's mother had
been a neighbour of hers before marriage, Lady Parton promised her,
on her death-bed, to look after the child, a promise that she
faithfully kept.

Sir John Parton had always been adverse to the association of his boy
with the son of Sir Aubrey Shenstone; but he had reluctantly yielded
to his wife's wishes, and Cyril passed the greater portion of his
time at their house, sharing the lessons Harry received from an
English clergyman who had been expelled from his living by the
fanatics of Parliament. He was a good and pious man, as well as an
excellent scholar, and under his teaching, aided by the gentle
precepts of Lady Parton, and the strict but kindly rule of her
husband, Cyril received a training of a far better kind than he would
ever have been likely to obtain had he been brought up in his
father's house near Norfolk. Sir Aubrey exclaimed sometimes that the
boy was growing up a little Puritan, and had he taken more interest
in his welfare would undoubtedly have withdrawn him from the healthy
influences that were benefiting him so greatly; but, with the usual
acuteness of children, Cyril soon learnt that any allusion to his
studies or his life at Sir John Parton's was disagreeable to his
father, and therefore seldom spoke of them.

Sir Aubrey was never, even when under the influence of his potations,
unkind to Cyril. The boy bore a strong likeness to his mother, whom
his father had, in his rough way, really loved passionately. He
seldom spoke even a harsh word to him, and although he occasionally
expressed his disapproval of the teaching he was receiving, was at
heart not sorry to see the boy growing up so different from himself;
and Cyril, in spite of his father's faults, loved him. When Sir
Aubrey came back with unsteady step, late at night, and threw himself
on his pallet, Cyril would say to himself, "Poor father! How
different he would have been had it not been for his misfortunes! He
is to be pitied rather than blamed!" And so, as years went on, in
spite of the difference between their natures, there had grown up a
sort of fellowship between the two; and of an evening sometimes, when
his father's purse was so low that he could not indulge in his usual
stoup of wine at the tavern, they would sit together while Sir Aubrey
talked of his fights and adventures.

"As to the estates, Cyril," he said one day, "I don't know that
Cromwell and his Roundheads have done you much harm. I should have
run through them, lad--I should have diced them away years ago--and I
am not sure but that their forfeiture has been a benefit to you. If
the King ever gets his own, you may come to the estates; while, if I
had had the handling of them, the usurers would have had such a grip
on them that you would never have had a penny of the income."

"It doesn't matter, father," the boy replied. "I mean to be a soldier
some day, as you have been, and I shall take service with some of the
Protestant Princes of Germany; or, if I can't do that, I shall be
able to work my way somehow."

"What can you work at, lad?" his father said, contemptuously.

"I don't know yet, father; but I shall find some work to do."

Sir Aubrey was about to burst into a tirade against work, but he
checked himself. If Cyril never came into the estates he would have
to earn his living somehow.

"All right, my boy. But do you stick to your idea of earning your
living by your sword; it is a gentleman's profession, and I would
rather see you eating dry bread as a soldier of fortune than
prospering in some vile trading business."

Cyril never argued with his father, and he simply nodded an assent
and then asked some question that turned Sir Aubrey's thoughts on
other matters.

The news that Monk had declared for the King, and that Charles would
speedily return to take his place on his father's throne, caused
great excitement among the Cavaliers scattered over the Continent;
and as soon as the matter was settled, all prepared to return to
England, in the full belief that their evil days were over, and that
they would speedily be restored to their former estates, with honours
and rewards for their many sacrifices.

"I must leave you behind for a short time, Cyril," his father said to
the boy, when he came in one afternoon. "I must be in London before
the King arrives there, to join in his welcome home, and for the
moment I cannot take you; I shall be busy from morning till night. Of
course, in the pressure of things at first it will be impossible for
the King to do everything at once, and it may be a few weeks before
all these Roundheads can be turned out of the snug nests they have
made for themselves, and the rightful owners come to their own again.
As I have no friends in London, I should have nowhere to bestow you,
until I can take you down with me to Norfolk to present you to our
tenants, and you would be grievously in my way; but as soon as things
are settled I will write to you or come over myself to fetch you. In
the meantime I must think over where I had best place you. It will
not matter for so short a time, but I would that you should be as
comfortable as possible. Think it over yourself, and let me know if
you have any wishes in the matter. Sir John Parton leaves at the end
of the week, and ere another fortnight there will be scarce another
Englishman left at Dunkirk."

"Don't you think you can take me with you, father?"

"Impossible," Sir Aubrey said shortly. "Lodgings will be at a great
price in London, for the city will be full of people from all parts
coming up to welcome the King home. I can bestow myself in a garret
anywhere, but I could not leave you there all day. Besides, I shall
have to get more fitting clothes, and shall have many expenses. You
are at home here, and will not feel it dull for the short time you
have to remain behind."

Cyril said no more, but went up, with a heavy heart, for his last
day's lessons at the Partons'. Young as he was, he was accustomed to
think for himself, for it was but little guidance he received from
his father; and after his studies were over he laid the case before
his master, Mr. Felton, and asked if he could advise him. Mr. Felton
was himself in high spirits, and was hoping to be speedily reinstated
in his living. He looked grave when Cyril told his story.

"I think it is a pity that your father, Sir Aubrey, does not take you
over with him, for it will assuredly take longer to bring all these
matters into order than he seems to think. However, that is his
affair. I should think he could not do better for you than place you
with the people where I lodge. You know them, and they are a worthy
couple; the husband is, as you know, a fisherman, and you and Harry
Parton have often been out with him in his boat, so it would not be
like going among strangers. Continue your studies. I should be sorry
to think that you were forgetting all that you have learnt. I will
take you this afternoon, if you like, to my friend, the Curé of St.
Ursula. Although we differ on religion we are good friends, and
should you need advice on any matters he will give it to you, and may
be of use in arranging for a passage for you to England, should your
father not be able himself to come and fetch you."

Sir Aubrey at once assented to the plan when Cyril mentioned it to
him, and a week later sailed for England; Cyril moving, with his few
belongings, to the house of Jean Baudoin, who was the owner and
master of one of the largest fishing-boats in Dunkirk. Sir Aubrey had
paid for his board and lodgings for two months.

"I expect to be over to fetch you long before that, Cyril," he had
said, "but it is as well to be on the safe side. Here are four
crowns, which will furnish you with ample pocket-money. And I have
arranged with your fencing-master for you to have lessons regularly,
as before; it will not do for you to neglect so important an
accomplishment, for which, as he tells me, you show great aptitude."

The two months passed. Cyril had received but one letter from his
father. Although it expressed hopes of his speedy restoration to his
estates, Cyril could see, by its tone, that his father was far from
satisfied with the progress he had made in the matter. Madame Baudoin
was a good and pious woman, and was very kind to the forlorn English
boy; but when a fortnight over the two months had passed, Cyril could
see that the fisherman was becoming anxious. Regularly, on his return
from the fishing, he inquired if letters had arrived, and seemed much
put out when he heard that there was no news. One day, when Cyril was
in the garden that surrounded the cottage, he heard him say to his

"Well, I will say nothing about it until after the next voyage, and
then if we don't hear, the boy must do something for his living. I
can take him in the boat with me; he can earn his victuals in that
way. If he won't do that, I shall wash my hands of him altogether,
and he must shift for himself. I believe his father has left him with
us for good. We were wrong in taking him only on the recommendation
of Mr. Felton. I have been inquiring about his father, and hear
little good of him."

Cyril, as soon as the fisherman had gone, stole up to his little
room. He was but twelve years old, and he threw himself down on his
bed and cried bitterly. Then a thought struck him; he went to his
box, and took out from it a sealed parcel; on it was written, "To my
son. This parcel is only to be opened should you find yourself in
great need, Your Loving Mother." He remembered how she had placed it
in his hands a few hours before her death, and had said to him,--

"Put this away, Cyril. I charge you let no one see it. Do not speak
of it to anyone--not even to your father. Keep it as a sacred gift,
and do not open it unless you are in sore need. It is for you, and
you alone. It is the sole thing that I have to leave you; use it with
discretion. I fear that hard times will come upon you."

Cyril felt that his need could hardly be sorer than it was now, and
without hesitation he broke the seals, and opened the packet. He
found first a letter directed to himself. It began,--

"MY DARLING CYRIL,--I trust that it will be many years before you
open this parcel and read these words. I have left the enclosed as a
parting gift to you. I know not how long this exile may last, or
whether you will ever be able to return to England. But whether you
do or not, it may well be that the time will arrive when you may find
yourself in sore need. Your father has been a loving husband to me,
and will, I am sure, do what he can for you; but he is not provident
in his habits, and may not, after he is left alone, be as careful in
his expenditure as I have tried to be. I fear then that the time will
come when you will be in need of money, possibly even in want of the
necessaries of life. All my other trinkets I have given to him; but
the one enclosed, which belonged to my mother, I leave to you. It is
worth a good deal of money, and this it is my desire that you shall
spend upon yourself. Use it wisely, my son. If, when you open this,
you are of age to enter the service of a foreign Prince, as is, I
know, the intention of your father, it will provide you with a
suitable outfit. If, as is possible, you may lose your father by
death or otherwise while you are still young, spend it on your
education, which is the best of all heritages. Should your father be
alive when you open this, I pray you not to inform him of it. The
money, in his hands, would last but a short time, and might, I fear,
be wasted. Think not that I am speaking or thinking hardly of him.
All men, even the best, have their faults, and his is a carelessness
as to money matters, and a certain recklessness concerning them;
therefore, I pray you to keep it secret from him, though I do not say
that you should not use the money for your common good, if it be
needful; only, in that case, I beg you will not inform him as to what
money you have in your possession, but use it carefully and prudently
for the household wants, and make it last as long as may be. My good
friend, Lady Parton, if still near you, will doubtless aid you in
disposing of the jewels to the best advantage. God bless you, my son!
This is the only secret I ever had from your father, but for your
good I have hidden this one thing from him, and I pray that this
deceit, which is practised for your advantage, may be forgiven me.

It was some time before Cyril opened the parcel; it contained a
jewel-box in which was a necklace of pearls. After some consideration
he took this to the Curé of St. Ursula, and, giving him his mother's
letter to read, asked him for his advice as to its disposal.

"Your mother was a thoughtful and pious woman," the good priest said,
after he had read the letter, "and has acted wisely in your behalf.
The need she foresaw might come, has arisen, and you are surely
justified in using her gift. I will dispose of this trinket for you;
it is doubtless of considerable value. If it should be that your
father speedily sends for you, you ought to lay aside the money for
some future necessity. If he does not come for some time, as may well
be--for, from the news that comes from England, it is like to be many
months before affairs are settled--then draw from it only such
amounts as are needed for your living and education. Study hard, my
son, for so will you best be fulfilling the intentions of your
mother. If you like, I will keep the money in my hands, serving it
out to you as you need it; and in order that you may keep the matter
a secret, I will myself go to Baudoin, and tell him that he need not
be disquieted as to the cost of your maintenance, for that I have
money in hand with which to discharge your expenses, so long as you
may remain with him."

The next day the Curé informed Cyril that he had disposed of the
necklace for fifty louis. Upon this sum Cyril lived for two years.

Things had gone very hardly with Sir Aubrey Shenstone. The King had a
difficult course to steer. To have evicted all those who had obtained
possession of the forfeited estates of the Cavaliers would have been
to excite a deep feeling of resentment among the Nonconformists. In
vain Sir Aubrey pressed his claims, in season and out of season. He
had no powerful friends to aid him; his conduct had alienated the men
who could have assisted him, and, like so many other Cavaliers who
had fought and suffered for Charles I., Sir Aubrey Shenstone found
himself left altogether in the cold. For a time he was able to keep
up a fair appearance, as he obtained loans from Prince Rupert and
other Royalists whom he had known in the old days, and who had been
more fortunate than himself; but the money so obtained lasted but a
short time, and it was not long before he was again in dire straits.

Cyril had from the first but little hope that his father would
recover his estates. He had, shortly before his father left France,
heard a conversation between Sir John Parton and a gentleman who was
in the inner circle of Charles's advisers. The latter had said,--

"One of the King's great difficulties will be to satisfy the exiles.
Undoubtedly, could he consult his own inclinations only, he would on
his return at once reinstate all those who have suffered in their
estates from their loyalty to his father and himself. But this will
be impossible. It was absolutely necessary for him, in his
proclamation at Breda, to promise an amnesty for all offences,
liberty of conscience and an oblivion as to the past, and he
specially says that all questions of grants, sales and purchases of
land, and titles, shall be referred to Parliament. The Nonconformists
are at present in a majority, and although it seems that all parties
are willing to welcome the King back, you may be sure that no
Parliament will consent to anything like a general disturbance of the
possessors of estates formerly owned by Royalists. In a vast number
of cases, the persons to whom such grants were made disposed of them
by sale to others, and it would be as hard on them to be ousted as it
is upon the original proprietors to be kept out of their possession.
Truly it is a most difficult position, and one that will have to be
approached with great judgment, the more so since most of those to
whom the lands were granted were generals, officers, and soldiers of
the Parliament, and Monk would naturally oppose any steps to the
detriment of his old comrades.

"I fear there will be much bitter disappointment among the exiles,
and that the King will be charged with ingratitude by those who think
that he has only to sign an order for their reinstatement, whereas
Charles will have himself a most difficult course to steer, and will
have to govern himself most circumspectly, so as to give offence to
none of the governing parties. As to his granting estates, or
dispossessing their holders, he will have no more power to do so than
you or I. Doubtless some of the exiles will be restored to their
estates; but I fear that the great bulk are doomed to disappointment.
At any rate, for a time no extensive changes can be made, though it
may be that in the distance, when the temper of the nation at large
is better understood, the King will be able to do something for those
who suffered in the cause.

"It was all very well for Cromwell, who leant solely on the Army, to
dispense with a Parliament, and to govern far more autocratically
than James or Charles even dreamt of doing; but the Army that
supported Cromwell would certainly not support Charles. It is
composed for the most part of stern fanatics, and will be the first
to oppose any attempt of the King to override the law. No doubt it
will erelong be disbanded; but you will see that Parliament will then
recover the authority of which Cromwell deprived it; and Charles is a
far wiser man than his father, and will never set himself against the
feeling of the country. Certainly, anything like a general
reinstatement of the men who have been for the last ten years
haunting the taverns of the Continent is out of the question; they
would speedily create such a revulsion of public opinion as might
bring about another rebellion. Hyde, staunch Royalist as he is, would
never suffer the King to make so grievous an error; nor do I think
for a moment that Charles, who is shrewd and politic, and above all
things a lover of ease and quiet, would think of bringing such a nest
of hornets about his ears."

When, after his return to England, it became evident that Sir Aubrey
had but small chance of reinstatement in his lands, his former
friends began to close their purses and to refuse to grant further
loans, and he was presently reduced to straits as severe as those he
had suffered during his exile. The good spirits that had borne him up
so long failed now, and he grew morose and petulant. His loyalty to
the King was unshaken; Charles had several times granted him
audiences, and had assured him that, did it rest with him, justice
should be at once dealt to him, but that he was practically powerless
in the matter, and the knight's resentment was concentrated upon
Hyde, now Lord Clarendon, and the rest of the King's advisers. He
wrote but seldom to Cyril; he had no wish to have the boy with him
until he could take him down with him in triumph to Norfolk, and show
him to the tenants as his heir. Living from hand to mouth as he did,
he worried but little as to how Cyril was getting on.

"The lad has fallen on his feet somehow," he said, "and he is better
where he is than he would be with me. I suppose when he wants money
he will write and say so, though where I should get any to send to
him I know not. Anyhow, I need not worry about him at present."

Cyril, indeed, had written to him soon after the sale of the
necklace, telling him that he need not distress himself about his
condition, for that he had obtained sufficient money for his present
necessities from the sale of a small trinket his mother had given him
before her death, and that when this was spent he should doubtless
find some means of earning his living until he could rejoin him. His
father never inquired into the matter, though he made a casual
reference to it in his next letter, saying that he was glad Cyril had
obtained some money, as it would, at the moment, have been
inconvenient to him to send any over.

Cyril worked assiduously at the school that had been recommended to
him by the Curé, and at the end of two years he had still twenty
louis left. He had several conversations with his adviser as to the
best way of earning his living.

"I do not wish to spend any more, Father," he said, "and would fain
keep this for some future necessity."

The Curé agreed with him as to this, and, learning from his master
that he was extremely quick at figures and wrote an excellent hand,
he obtained a place for him with one of the principal traders of the
town. He was to receive no salary for a year, but was to learn
book-keeping and accounts. Although but fourteen, the boy was so
intelligent and zealous that his employer told the Curé that he found
him of real service, and that he was able to entrust some of his
books entirely to his charge.

Six months after entering his service, however, Cyril received a
letter from his father, saying that he believed his affairs were on
the point of settlement, and therefore wished him to come over in the
first ship sailing. He enclosed an order on a house at Dunkirk for
fifty francs, to pay his passage. His employer parted with him with
regret, and the kind Curé bade him farewell in terms of real
affection, for he had come to take a great interest in him.

"At any rate, Cyril," he said, "your time here has not been wasted,
and your mother's gift has been turned to as much advantage as even
she can have hoped that it would be. Should your father's hopes be
again disappointed, and fresh delays arise, you may, with the
practice you have had, be able to earn your living in London. There
must be there, as in France, many persons in trade who have had but
little education, and you may be able to obtain employment in keeping
the books of such people, who are, I believe, more common in England
than here. Here are the sixteen louis that still remain; put them
aside, Cyril, and use them only for urgent necessity."

Cyril, on arriving in London, was heartily welcomed by his father,
who had, for the moment, high hopes of recovering his estates. These,
however, soon faded, and although Sir Aubrey would not allow it, even
to himself, no chance remained of those Royalists, who had, like him,
parted with their estates for trifling sums, to be spent in the
King's service, ever regaining possession of them.

It was not long before Cyril perceived that unless he himself
obtained work of some sort they would soon be face to face with
actual starvation. He said nothing to his father, but started out one
morning on a round of visits among the smaller class of shopkeepers,
offering to make up their books and write out their bills and
accounts for a small remuneration. As he had a frank and pleasant
face, and his foreign bringing up had given him an ease and
politeness of manner rare among English lads of the day, it was not
long before he obtained several clients. To some of the smaller class
of traders he went only for an hour or two, once a week, while others
required their bills and accounts to be made out daily. The pay was
very small, but it sufficed to keep absolute want from the door. When
he told his father of the arrangements he had made, Sir Aubrey at
first raged and stormed; but he had come, during the last year or
two, to recognise the good sense and strong will of his son, and
although he never verbally acquiesced in what he considered a
degradation, he offered no actual opposition to a plan that at least
enabled them to live, and furnished him occasionally with a few
groats with which he could visit a tavern.

So things had gone on for more than a year. Cyril was now sixteen,
and his punctuality, and the neatness of his work, had been so
appreciated by the tradesmen who first employed him, that his time
was now fully occupied, and that at rates more remunerative than
those he had at first obtained. He kept the state of his resources to
himself, and had no difficulty in doing this, as his father never
alluded to the subject of his work. Cyril knew that, did he hand over
to him all the money he made, it would be wasted in drink or at
cards; consequently, he kept the table furnished as modestly as at
first, and regularly placed after dinner on the corner of the mantel
a few coins, which his father as regularly dropped into his pocket.

A few days before the story opens, Sir Aubrey had, late one evening,
been carried upstairs, mortally wounded in a brawl; he only recovered
consciousness a few minutes before his death.

"You have been a good lad, Cyril," he said faintly, as he feebly
pressed the boy's hand; "far better than I deserve to have had. Don't
cry, lad; you will get on better without me, and things are just as
well as they are. I hope you will come to your estates some day; you
will make a better master than I should ever have done. I hope that
in time you will carry out your plan of entering some foreign
service; there is no chance here. I don't want you to settle down as
a city scrivener. Still, do as you like, lad, and unless your wishes
go with mine, think no further of service."

"I would rather be a soldier, father. I only undertook this work
because I could see nothing else."

"That is right, my boy, that is right. I know you won't forget that
you come of a race of gentlemen."

He spoke but little after that. A few broken words came from his lips
that showed that his thoughts had gone back to old times. "Boot and
saddle," he murmured. "That is right. Now we are ready for them. Down
with the prick-eared knaves! God and King Charles!" These were the
last words he spoke.

Cyril had done all that was necessary. He had laid by more than half
his earnings for the last eight or nine months. One of his clients,
an undertaker, had made all the necessary preparations for the
funeral, and in a few hours his father would be borne to his last
resting-place. As he stood at the open window he thought sadly over
the past, and of his father's wasted life. Had it not been for the
war he might have lived and died a country gentleman. It was the war,
with its wild excitements, that had ruined him. What was there for
him to do in a foreign country, without resource or employment,
having no love for reading, but to waste his life as he had done? Had
his wife lived it might have been different. Cyril had still a vivid
remembrance of his mother, and, though his father had but seldom
spoken to him of her, he knew that he had loved her, and that, had
she lived, he would never have given way to drink as he had done of
late years.

To his father's faults he could not be blind; but they stood for
nothing now. He had been his only friend, and of late they had been
drawn closer to each other in their loneliness; and although scarce a
word of endearment had passed between them, he knew that his father
had cared for him more than was apparent in his manner.

A few hours later, Sir Aubrey Shenstone was laid to rest in a little
graveyard outside the city walls. Cyril was the only mourner; and
when it was over, instead of going back to his lonely room, he turned
away and wandered far out through the fields towards Hampstead, and
then sat himself down to think what he had best do. Another three or
four years must pass before he could try to get service abroad. When
the time came he should find Sir John Parton, and beg him to procure
for him some letter of introduction to the many British gentlemen
serving abroad. He had not seen him since he came to England. His
father had met him, but had quarrelled with him upon Sir John
declining to interest himself actively to push his claims, and had
forbidden Cyril to go near those who had been so kind to him.

The boy had felt it greatly at first, but he came, after a time, to
see that it was best so. It seemed to him that he had fallen
altogether out of their station in life when the hope of his father's
recovering his estates vanished, and although he was sure of a kindly
reception from Lady Parton, he shrank from going there in his present
position. They had done so much for him already, that the thought
that his visit might seem to them a sort of petition for further
benefits was intolerable to him.

For the present, the question in his mind was whether he should
continue at his present work, which at any rate sufficed to keep him,
or should seek other employment. He would greatly have preferred some
life of action,--something that would fit him better to bear the
fatigues and hardships of war,--but he saw no prospect of obtaining
any such position.

"I should be a fool to throw up what I have," he said to himself at
last. "I will stick to it anyhow until some opportunity offers; but
the sooner I leave it the better. It was bad enough before; it will
be worse now. If I had but a friend or two it would not be so hard;
but to have no one to speak to, and no one to think about, when work
is done, will be lonely indeed."

At any rate, he determined to change his room as soon as possible. It
mattered little where he went so that it was a change. He thought
over various tradesmen for whom he worked. Some of them might have an
attic, he cared not how small, that they might let him have in lieu
of paying him for his work. Even if they never spoke to him, it would
be better to be in a house where he knew something of those
downstairs, than to lodge in one where he was an utter stranger to
all. He had gone round to the shops where he worked, on the day after
his father's death, to explain that he could not come again until
after the funeral, and he resolved that next morning he would ask
each in turn whether he could obtain a lodging with them.

The sun was already setting when he rose from the bank on which he
had seated himself, and returned to the city. The room did not feel
so lonely to him as it would have done had he not been accustomed to
spending the evenings alone. He took out his little hoard and counted
it. After paying the expenses of the funeral there would still remain
sufficient to keep him for three or four months should he fall ill,
or, from any cause, lose his work. He had one good suit of clothes
that had been bought on his return to England,--when his father
thought that they would assuredly be going down almost immediately to
take possession of the old Hall,--and the rest were all in fair

The next day he began his work again; he had two visits to pay of an
hour each, and one of two hours, and the spare time between these he
filled up by calling at two or three other shops to make up for the
arrears of work during the last few days.

The last place he had to visit was that at which he had the longest
task to perform. It was at a ship-chandler's in Tower Street, a large
and dingy house, the lower portion being filled with canvas, cordage,
barrels of pitch and tar, candles, oil, and matters of all sorts
needed by ship-masters, including many cannon of different sizes,
piles of balls, anchors, and other heavy work, all of which were
stowed away in a yard behind it. The owner of this store was a
one-armed man. His father had kept it before him, but he himself,
after working there long enough to become a citizen and a member of
the Ironmongers' Guild, had quarrelled with his father and had taken
to the sea. For twenty years he had voyaged to many lands,
principally in ships trading in the Levant, and had passed through a
great many adventures, including several fights with the Moorish
corsairs. In the last voyage he took, he had had his arm shot off by
a ball from a Greek pirate among the Islands. He had long before made
up his differences with his father, but had resisted the latter's
entreaties that he should give up the sea and settle down at the
shop; on his return after this unfortunate voyage he told him that he
had come home to stay.

"I shall be able to help about the stores after a while," he said,
"but I shall never be the man I was on board ship. It will be hard
work to take to measuring out canvas and to weighing iron, after a
free life on the sea, but I don't so much mind now I have had my
share of adventures; though I dare say I should have gone on for a
few more years if that rascally ball had not carried away my arm. I
don't know but that it is best as it is, for the older I got the
harder I should find it to fall into new ways and to settle down

"Anyhow, I am glad you are back, David," his father said.

"You are forty-five, and though I don't say it would not have been
better if you had remained here from the first, you have learnt many
things you would not have learnt here. You know just the sort of
things that masters of ships require, and what canvas and cables and
cordage will suit their wants. Besides, customers like to talk with
men of their own way of thinking, and sailors more, I think, than
other men. You know, too, most of the captains who sail up the
Mediterranean, and may be able to bring fresh custom into the shop.
Therefore, do not think that you will be of no use to me. As to your
wife and child, there is plenty of room for them as well as for you,
and it will be better for them here, with you always at hand, than it
would be for them to remain over at Rotherhithe and only to see you
after the shutters are up."

Eight years later Captain Dave, as he was always called, became sole
owner of the house and business. A year after he did so he was
lamenting to a friend the trouble that he had with his accounts.

"My father always kept that part of the business in his own hands,"
he said, "and I find it a mighty heavy burden. Beyond checking a bill
of lading, or reading the marks on the bales and boxes, I never had
occasion to read or write for twenty years, and there has not been
much more of it for the last fifteen; and although I was a smart
scholar enough in my young days, my fingers are stiff with hauling at
ropes and using the marling-spike, and my eyes are not so clear as
they used to be, and it is no slight toil and labour to me to make up
an account for goods sold. John Wilkes, my head shopman, is a handy
fellow; he was my boatswain in the _Kate_, and I took him on when we
found that the man who had been my father's right hand for twenty
years had been cheating him all along. We got on well enough as long
as I could give all my time in the shop; but he is no good with the
pen--all he can do is to enter receipts and sales.

"He has a man under him, who helps him in measuring out the right
length of canvas and cables or for weighing a chain or an anchor, and
knows enough to put down the figures; but that is all. Then there are
the two smiths and the two apprentices; they don't count in the
matter. Robert Ashford, the eldest apprentice, could do the work, but
I have no fancy for him; he does not look one straight in the face as
one who is honest and above board should do. I shall have to keep a
clerk, and I know what it will be--he will be setting me right, and I
shall not feel my own master; he will be out of place in my crew
altogether. I never liked pursers; most of them are rogues. Still, I
suppose it must come to that."

"I have a boy come in to write my bills and to make up my accounts,
who would be just the lad for you, Captain Dave. He is the son of a
broken-down Cavalier, but he is a steady, honest young fellow, and I
fancy his pen keeps his father, who is a roystering blade, and spends
most of his time at the taverns. The boy comes to me for an hour,
twice a week; he writes as good a hand as any clerk and can reckon as
quickly, and I pay him but a groat a week, which was all he asked."

"Tell him to come to me, then. I should want him every day, if he
could manage it, and it would be the very thing for me."

"I am sure you would like him," the other said; "he is a good-looking
young fellow, and his face speaks for him without any recommendation.
I was afraid at first that he would not do for me; I thought there
was too much of the gentleman about him. He has good manners, and a
gentle sort of way. He has been living in France all his life, and
though he has never said anything about his family--indeed he talks
but little, he just comes in and does his work and goes away--I fancy
his father was one of King Charles's men and of good blood."

"Well, that doesn't sound so well," the sailor said, "but anyhow I
should like to have a look at him."

"He comes to me to-morrow at eleven and goes at twelve," the man
said, "and I will send him round to you when he has done."

Cyril had gone round the next morning to the ships' store.

"So you are the lad that works for my neighbour Anderson?" Captain
Dave said, as he surveyed him closely. "I like your looks, lad, but I
doubt whether we shall get on together. I am an old sailor, you know,
and I am quick of speech and don't stop to choose my words, so if you
are quick to take offence it would be of no use your coming to me."

"I don't think I am likely to take offence," Cyril said quietly; "and
if we don't get on well together, sir, you will only have to tell me
that you don't want me any longer; but I trust you will not have
often the occasion to use hard words, for at any rate I will do my
best to please you."

"You can't say more, lad. Well, let us have a taste of your quality.
Come in here," and he led him into a little room partitioned off from
the shop. "There, you see," and he opened a book, "is the account of
the sales and orders yesterday; the ready-money sales have got to be
entered in that ledger with the red cover; the sales where no money
passed have to be entered to the various customers or ships in the
ledger. I have made out a list--here it is--of twelve accounts that
have to be drawn out from that ledger and sent in to customers. You
will find some of them are of somewhat long standing, for I have been
putting off that job. Sit you down here. When you have done one or
two of them I will have a look at your work, and if that is
satisfactory we will have a talk as to what hours you have got
disengaged, and what days in the week will suit you best."

It was two hours before Captain Dave came in again. Cyril had just
finished the work; some of the accounts were long ones, and the
writing was so crabbed that it took him some time to decipher it.

"Well, how are you getting on, lad?" the Captain asked.

"I have this moment finished the last account."

"What! Do you mean to say that you have done them all! Why, it would
have taken me all my evenings for a week. Now, hand me the books; it
is best to do things ship-shape."

He first compared the list of the sales with the entries, and then
Cyril handed him the twelve accounts he had drawn up. Captain David
did not speak until he had finished looking through them.

"I would not have believed all that work could have been done in two
hours," he said, getting up from his chair. "Orderly and well
written, and without a blot. The King's secretary could not have done
better! Well, now you have seen the list of sales for a day, and I
take it that be about the average, so if you come three times a week
you will always have two days' sales to enter in the ledger. There
are a lot of other books my father used to keep, but I have never had
time to bother myself about them, and as I have got on very well so
far, I do not see any occasion for you to do so, for my part it seems
to me that all these books are only invented by clerks to give
themselves something to do to fill up their time. Of course, there
won't be accounts to send out every day. Do you think with two hours,
three times a week, you could keep things straight?"

"I should certainly think so, sir, but I can hardly say until I try,
because it seems to me that there must be a great many items, and I
can't say how long it will take entering all the goods received under
their proper headings; but if the books are thoroughly made up now, I
should think I could keep them all going."

"That they are not," Captain David said ruefully; "they are all
horribly in arrears. I took charge of them myself three years ago,
and though I spend three hours every evening worrying over them, they
get further and further in arrears. Look at those files over there,"
and he pointed to three long wires, on each of which was strung a
large bundle of papers; "I am afraid you will have to enter them all
up before you can get matters into ship-shape order. The daily sale
book is the only one that has been kept up regularly."

"But these accounts I have made up, sir? Probably in those files
there are many other goods supplied to the same people."

"Of course there are, lad, though I did not think of it before. Well,
we must wait, then, until you can make up the arrears a bit, though I
really want to get some money in."

"Well, sir, I might write at the bottom of each bill 'Account made up
to,' and then put in the date of the latest entry charged."

"That would do capitally, lad--I did not think of that. I see you
will be of great use to me. I can buy and sell, for I know the value
of the goods I deal in; but as to accounts, they are altogether out
of my way. And now, lad, what do you charge?"

"I charge a groat for two hours' work, sir; but if I came to you
three times a week, I would do it for a little less."

"No, lad, I don't want to beat you down; indeed, I don't think you
charge enough. However, let us say, to begin with, three groats a

This had been six weeks before Sir Aubrey Shenstone's death; and in
the interval Cyril had gradually wiped off all the arrears, and had
all the books in order up to date, to the astonishment of his



"I am glad to see you again, lad," Captain David said, when Cyril
entered his shop. "I have been thinking of the news you gave me last
week, and the mistress and I have been talking it over. Where are you

"I have been lodging until now in Holborn," Cyril replied; "but I am
going to move."

"Yes; that is what we thought you would be doing. It is always better
to make a change after a loss. I don't want to interfere in your
business, lad, but have you any friends you are thinking of going

"No, sir; I do not know a soul in London save those I work for."

"That is bad, lad--very bad. I was talking it over with my wife, and
I said that maybe you were lonely. I am sure, lad, you are one of the
right sort. I don't mean only in your work, for as for that I would
back you against any scrivener in London, but I mean about yourself.
It don't need half an eye to see that you have not been brought up to
this sort of thing, though you have taken to it so kindly, but there
is not one in a thousand boys of your age who would have settled down
to work and made their way without a friend to help them as you have
done; it shows that there is right good stuff in you. There, I am so
long getting under weigh that I shall never get into port if I don't
steer a straight course. Now, my ideas and my wife's come to this: if
you have got no friends you will have to take a lodging somewhere
among strangers, and then it would be one of two things--you would
either stop at home and mope by yourself, or you would go out, and
maybe get into bad company. If I had not come across you I should
have had to employ a clerk, and he would either have lived here with
us or I should have had to pay him enough to keep house for himself.
Now in fact you are a clerk; for though you are only here for six
hours a week--you do all the work there is to do, and no clerk could
do more. Well, we have got an attic upstairs which is not used, and
if you like to come here and live with us, my wife and I will make
you heartily welcome."

"Thank you, indeed," Cyril said warmly. "It is of all things what I
should like; but of course I should wish to pay you for my board. I
can afford to do so if you will employ me for the same hours as at

"No, I would not have that, lad; but if you like we can reckon your
board against what I now pay you. We feed John Wilkes and the two
apprentices, and one mouth extra will make but little difference. I
don't want it to be a matter of obligation, so we will put your board
against the work you do for me. I shall consider that we are making a
good bargain."

"It is your pleasure to say so, sir, but I cannot tell you what a
load your kind offer takes off my mind. The future has seemed very
dark to me."

"Very well. That matter is settled, then. Come upstairs with me and I
will present you to my wife and daughter; they have heard me speak of
you so often that they will be glad to see you. In the first place,
though, I must ask you your name. Since you first signed articles and
entered the crew I have never thought of asking you."

"My name is Cyril, sir--Cyril Shenstone."

His employer nodded and at once led the way upstairs. A motherly
looking woman rose from the seat where she was sitting at work, as
they entered the living-room.

"This is my Prince of Scriveners, Mary, the lad I have often spoken
to you about. His name is Cyril; he has accepted the proposal we
talked over last night, and is going to become one of the crew on
board our ship."

"I am glad to see you," she said to Cyril, holding out her hand to
him. "I have not met you before, but I feel very grateful to you.
Till you came, my husband was bothered nearly out of his wits; he
used to sit here worrying over his books, and writing from the time
the shop closed till the hour for bed, and Nellie and I dared not to
say as much as a word. Now we see no more of his books, and he is
able to go out for a walk in the fields with us as he used to do

"It is very kind of you to say so, Mistress," Cyril said earnestly;
"but it is I, on the contrary, who am deeply grateful to you for the
offer Captain Dave has been good enough to make me. You cannot tell
the pleasure it has given me, for you cannot understand how lonely
and friendless I have been feeling. Believe me, I will strive to give
you as little trouble as possible, and to conform myself in all ways
to your wishes."

At this moment Nellie Dowsett came into the room. She was a pretty
girl some eighteen years of age.

"This is Cyril, your father's assistant, Nellie," her mother said.

"You are welcome, Master Cyril. I have been wanting to see you.
Father has been praising you up to the skies so often that I have had
quite a curiosity to see what you could be like."

"Your father is altogether too good, Mistress Nellie, and makes far
more of my poor ability than it deserves."

"And is he going to live with us, mother?" Nellie asked.

"Yes, child; he has accepted your father's offer."

Nellie clapped her hands.

"That is good," she said. "I shall expect you to escort me out
sometimes, Cyril. Father always wants me to go down to the wharf to
look at the ships or to go into the fields; but I want to go
sometimes to see the fashions, and there is no one to take me, for
John Wilkes always goes off to smoke a pipe with some sailor or
other, and the apprentices are stupid and have nothing to say for
themselves; and besides, one can't walk alongside a boy in an
apprentice cap."

"I shall be very happy to, Mistress, when my work is done, though I
fear that I shall make but a poor escort, for indeed I have had no
practice whatever in the esquiring of dames."

"I am sure you will do very well," Nellie said, nodding approvingly.
"Is it true that you have been in France? Father said he was told

"Yes; I have lived almost all my life in France."

"And do you speak French?"

"Yes; I speak it as well as English."

"It must have been very hard to learn?"

"Not at all. It came to me naturally, just as English did."

"You must not keep him any longer now, Nellie; he has other
appointments to keep, and when he has done that, to go and pack up
his things and see that they are brought here by a porter. He can
answer some more of your questions when he comes here this evening."

Cyril returned to Holborn with a lighter heart than he had felt for a
long time. His preparations for the move took him but a short time,
and two hours later he was installed in a little attic in the
ship-chandler's house. He spent half-an-hour in unpacking his things,
and then heard a stentorian shout from below,--

"Masthead, ahoy! Supper's waiting."

Supposing that this hail was intended for himself, he at once went
downstairs. The table was laid. Mistress Dowsett took her seat at the
head; her husband sat on one side of her, and Nellie on the other.
John Wilkes sat next to his master, and beyond him the elder of the
two apprentices. A seat was left between Nellie and the other
apprentice for Cyril.

"Now our crew is complete, John," Captain Dave said. "We have been
wanting a supercargo badly."

"Ay, ay, Captain Dave, there is no doubt we have been short-handed in
that respect; but things have been more ship-shape lately."

"That is so, John. I can make a shift to keep the vessel on her
course, but when it comes to writing up the log, and keeping the
reckoning, I make but a poor hand at it. It was getting to be as bad
as that voyage of the _Jane_ in the Levant, when the supercargo had
got himself stabbed at Lemnos."

"I mind it, Captain--I mind it well. And what a trouble there was
with the owners when we got back again!"

"Yes, yes," the Captain said; "it was worse work than having a brush
with a Barbary corsair. I shall never forget that day. When I went to
the office to report, the three owners were all in.

"'Well, Captain Dave, back from your voyage?' said the littlest of
the three. 'Made a good voyage, I hope?'

"First-rate, says I, except that the supercargo got killed at Lemnos
by one of them rascally Greeks.

"'Dear, dear,' said another of them--he was a prim, sanctimonious
sort--'Has our brother Jenkins left us?'

"I don't know about his leaving us, says I, but we left him sure
enough in a burying-place there.

"'And how did you manage without him?'

"I made as good a shift as I could, I said. I have sold all the
cargo, and I have brought back a freight of six tons of Turkey figs,
and four hundred boxes of currants. And these two bags hold the

"'Have you brought the books with you, Captain?'

"Never a book, said I. I have had to navigate the ship and to look
after the crew, and do the best I could at each port. The books are
on board, made out up to the day before the supercargo was killed,
three months ago; but I have never had time to make an entry since.

"They looked at each other like owls for a minute or two, and then
they all began to talk at once. How had I sold the goods? had I
charged the prices mentioned in the invoice? what percentage had I
put on for profit? and a lot of other things. I waited until they
were all out of breath, and then I said I had not bothered about
invoices. I knew pretty well the prices such things cost in England.
I clapped on so much more for the expenses of the voyage and a fair
profit. I could tell them what I had paid for the figs and the
currants, and for some bags of Smyrna sponges I had bought, but as to
the prices I had charged, it was too much to expect that I could
carry them in my head. All I knew was I had paid for the things I had
bought, I had paid all the port dues and other charges, I had
advanced the men one-fourth of their wages each month, and I had
brought them back the balance.

"Such a hubbub you never heard. One would have thought they would
have gone raving mad. The sanctimonious partner was the worst of the
lot. He threatened me with the Lord Mayor and the Aldermen, and went
on till I thought he would have had a fit.

"Look here, says I, at last, I'll tell you what I will do. You tell
me what the cargo cost you altogether, and put on so much for the
hire of the ship. I will pay you for them and settle up with the
crew, and take the cargo and sell it. That is a fair offer. And I
advise you to keep civil tongues in your heads, or I will knock them
off and take my chance before the Lord Mayor for assault and battery.

"With that I took off my coat and laid it on a bench. I reckon they
saw that I was in earnest, and they just sat as mum as mice. Then the
little man said, in a quieter sort of voice,--

"'You are too hasty, Captain Dowsett. We know you to be an honest man
and a good sailor, and had no suspicion that you would wrong us; but
no merchant in the City of London could hear that his business had
been conducted in such a way as you have carried it through without
for a time losing countenance. Let us talk the matter over reasonably
and quietly.'

"That is just what I am wanting, I said; and if there hasn't been
reason and quiet it is from no fault of mine.

"'Well, please to put your coat on again, Captain, and let us see how
matters stand!'

"Then they took their ink-horns and pens, and, on finding out what I
had paid for the figs and other matters, they reckoned them up; then
they put down what I said was due to the sailors and the mate and
myself; then they got out some books, and for an hour they were busy
reckoning up figures; then they opened the bags and counted up the
gold we had brought home. Well, when they had done, you would hardly
have known them for the same men. First of all, they went through all
their calculations again to be sure they had made no mistake about
them; then they laid down their pens, and the sanctimonious man
mopped the perspiration from his face, and the others smiled at each
other. Then the biggest of the three, who had scarcely spoken before,

"'Well, Captain Dowsett, I must own that my partners were a little
hasty. The result of our calculations is that the voyage has been a
satisfactory one, I may almost say very satisfactory, and that you
must have disposed of the goods to much advantage. It has been a new
and somewhat extraordinary way of doing business, but I am bound to
say that the result has exceeded our expectations, and we trust that
you will command the _Jane_ for many more voyages.'

"Not for me, says I. You can hand me over the wages due to me, and
you will find the _Jane_ moored in the stream just above the Tower.
You will find her in order and shipshape; but never again do I set my
foot on board her or on any other vessel belonging to men who have
doubted my honesty.

"Nor did I. I had a pretty good name among traders, and ten days
later I started for the Levant again in command of a far smarter
vessel than the _Jane_ had ever been."

"And we all went with you, Captain," John Wilkes said, "every man
jack of us. And on her very next voyage the _Jane_ was captured by
the Algerines, and I reckon there are some of the poor fellows
working as slaves there now; for though Blake did blow the place
pretty nigh out of water a few years afterwards, it is certain that
the Christian slaves handed over to him were not half those the Moors
had in their hands."

"It would seem, Captain Dowsett, from your story, that you can manage
very well without a supercargo?" Cyril said quietly.

"Ay, lad; but you see that was a ready-money business. I handed over
the goods and took the cash; there was no accounts to be kept. It was
all clear and above board. But it is a different thing in this ship
altogether, when, instead of paying down on the nail for what they
get, you have got to keep an account of everything and send in all
their items jotted down in order. Why, Nellie, your tongue seems
quieter than usual."

"You have not given me a chance, father. You have been talking ever
since we sat down to table."

Supper was now over. The two apprentices at once retired. Cyril would
have done the same, but Mistress Dowsett said,--

"Sit you still, Cyril. The Captain says that you are to be considered
as one of the officers of the ship, and we shall be always glad to
have you here, though of course you can always go up to your own
room, or go out, when you feel inclined."

"I have to go out three times a week to work," Cyril said; "but all
the other evenings I shall be glad indeed to sit here, Mistress
Dowsett. You cannot tell what a pleasure it is to me to be in an
English home like this."

It was not long before John Wilkes went out.

"He is off to smoke his pipe," the Captain said. "I never light mine
till he goes. I can't persuade him to take his with me; he insists it
would not be manners to smoke in the cabin."

"He is quite right, father," Nellie said. "It is bad enough having
you smoke here. When mother's friends or mine come in they are
well-nigh choked; they are not accustomed to it as we are, for a
respectable London citizen does not think of taking tobacco."

"I am a London citizen, Nellie, but I don't set up any special claim
to respectability. I am a sea-captain, though that rascally Greek
cannon-ball and other circumstances have made a trader of me, sorely
against my will; and if I could not have my pipe and my glass of grog
here I would go and sit with John Wilkes in the tavern at the corner
of the street, and I suppose that would not be even as respectable as
smoking here."

"Nellie doesn't mean, David, that she wants you to give up smoking;
only she thinks that John is quite right to go out to take his pipe.
And I must say I think so too. You know that when you have
sea-captains of your acquaintance here, you always send the maid off
to bed and smoke in the kitchen."

"Ay, ay, my dear, I don't want to turn your room into a fo'castle.
There is reason in all things. I suppose you don't smoke, Master

"No, Captain Dave, I have never so much as thought of such a thing.
In France it is the fashion to take snuff, but the habit seemed to me
a useless one, and I don't think that I should ever have taken to

"I wonder," Captain Dave said, after they had talked for some time,
"that after living in sight of the sea for so long your thoughts
never turned that way."

"I cannot say that I have never thought of it," Cyril said. "I have
thought that I should greatly like to take foreign voyages, but I
should not have cared to go as a ship's boy, and to live with men so
ignorant that they could not even write their own names. My thoughts
have turned rather to the Army; and when I get older I think of
entering some foreign service, either that of Sweden or of one of the
Protestant German princes. I could obtain introductions through which
I might enter as a cadet, or gentleman volunteer. I have learnt
German, and though I cannot speak it as I can French or English, I
know enough to make my way in it."

"Can you use your sword, Cyril?" Nellie Dowsett asked.

"I have had very good teaching," Cyril replied, "and hope to be able
to hold my own."

"Then you are not satisfied with this mode of life?" Mistress Dowsett

"I am satisfied with it, Mistress, inasmuch as I can earn money
sufficient to keep me. But rather than settle down for life as a city
scrivener, I would go down to the river and ship on board the first
vessel that would take me, no matter where she sailed for."

"I think you are wrong," Mistress Dowsett said gravely. "My husband
tells me how clever you are at figures, and you might some day get a
good post in the house of one of our great merchants."

"Maybe it would be so," Cyril said; "but such a life would ill suit
me. I have truly a great desire to earn money: but it must be in some
way to suit my taste."

"And why do you want to earn a great deal of money, Cyril?" Nellie
laughed, while her mother shook her head disapprovingly.

"I wish to have enough to buy my father's estate back again," he
said, "and though I know well enough that it is not likely I shall
ever do it, I shall fight none the worse that I have such a hope in
my mind."

"Bravo, lad!" Captain Dave said. "I knew not that there was an estate
in the case, though I did hear that you were the son of a Royalist.
It is a worthy ambition, boy, though if it is a large one 'tis scarce
like that you will get enough to buy it back again."

"It is not a very large one," Cyril said. "'Tis down in Norfolk, but
it was a grand old house--at least, so I have heard my father say,
though I have but little remembrance of it, as I was but three years
old when I left it. My father, who was Sir Aubrey Shenstone, had
hoped to recover it; but he was one of the many who sold their
estates for far less than their value in order to raise money in the
King's service, and, as you are aware, none of those who did so have
been reinstated, but only those who, having had their land taken from
them by Parliament, recovered them because their owners had no
title-deeds to show, save the grant of Parliament that was of no
effect in the Courts. Thus the most loyal men--those who sold their
estates to aid the King--have lost all, while those that did not so
dispossess themselves in his service are now replaced on their land."

"It seems very unfair," Nellie said indignantly.

"It is unfair to them, assuredly, Mistress Nellie. And yet it would
be unfair to the men who bought, though often they gave but a tenth
of their value, to be turned out again unless they received their
money back. It is not easy to see where that money could come from,
for assuredly the King's privy purse would not suffice to pay all the
money, and equally certain is it that Parliament would not vote a
great sum for that purpose."

"It is a hard case, lad--a hard case," Captain Dave said, as he
puffed the smoke from his pipe. "Now I know how you stand, I blame,
you in no way that you long more for a life of adventure than to
settle down as a city scrivener. I don't think even my wife, much as
she thinks of the city, could say otherwise."

"It alters the case much," Mistress Dowsett said. "I did not know
that Cyril was the son of a Knight, though it was easy enough to see
that his manners accord not with his present position. Still there
are fortunes made in the city, and no honest work is dishonouring
even to a gentleman's son."

"Not at all, Mistress," Cyril said warmly. "'Tis assuredly not on
that account that I would fain seek more stirring employment; but it
was always my father's wish and intention that, should there be no
chance of his ever regaining the estate, I should enter foreign
service, and I have always looked forward to that career."

"Well, I will wager that you will do credit to it, lad," Captain Dave
said. "You have proved that you are ready to turn your hand to any
work that may come to you. You have shown a manly spirit, my boy, and
I honour you for it; and by St. Anthony I believe that some day,
unless a musket-ball or a pike-thrust brings you up with a round
turn, you will live to get your own back again."

Cyril remained talking for another two hours, and then betook himself
to bed. After he had gone, Mistress Dowsett said, after a pause,--

"Do you not think, David, that, seeing that Cyril is the son of a
Knight, it would be more becoming to give him the room downstairs
instead of the attic where he is now lodged?"

The old sailor laughed.

"That is woman-kind all over," he said. "It was good enough for him
before, and now forsooth, because the lad mentioned, and assuredly in
no boasting way, that his father had been a Knight, he is to be
treated differently. He would not thank you himself for making the
change, dame. In the first place, it would make him uncomfortable,
and he might make an excuse to leave us altogether; and in the
second, you may be sure that he has been used to no better quarters
than those he has got. The Royalists in France were put to sore
shifts to live, and I fancy that he has fared no better since he came
home. His father would never have consented to his going out to earn
money by keeping the accounts of little city traders like myself had
it not been that he was driven to it by want. No, no, wife; let the
boy go on as he is, and make no difference in any way. I liked him
before, and I like him all the better now, for putting his
gentlemanship in his pocket and setting manfully to work instead of
hanging on the skirts of some Royalist who has fared better than his
father did. He is grateful as it is--that is easy to see--for our
taking him in here. We did that partly because he proved a good
worker and has taken a lot of care off my shoulders, partly because
he was fatherless and alone. I would not have him think that we are
ready to do more because he is a Knight's son. Let the boy be, and
suffer him to steer his ship his own course. If, when the time comes,
we can further his objects in any way we will do it with right good
will. What do you think of him, Nellie?" he asked, changing the

"He is a proper young fellow, father, and I shall be well content to
go abroad escorted by him instead of having your apprentice, Robert
Ashford, in attendance on me. He has not a word to say for himself,
and truly I like him not in anyway."

"He is not a bad apprentice, Nellie, and John Wilkes has but seldom
cause to find fault with him, though I own that I have no great
liking myself for him; he never seems to look one well in the face,
which, I take it, is always a bad sign. I know no harm of him; but
when his apprenticeship is out, which it will be in another year, I
shall let him go his own way, for I should not care to have him on
the premises."

"Methinks you are very unjust, David. The lad is quiet and regular in
his ways; he goes twice every Sunday to the Church of St. Alphage,
and always tells me the texts of the sermons."

The Captain grunted.

"Maybe so, wife; but it is easy to get hold of the text of a sermon
without having heard it. I have my doubts whether he goes as
regularly to St. Alphage's as he says he does. Why could he not go
with us to St. Bennet's?"

"He says he likes the administrations of Mr. Catlin better, David.
And, in truth, our parson is not one of the stirring kind."

"So much the better," Captain Dave said bluntly. "I like not these
men that thump the pulpit and make as if they were about to jump out
head foremost. However, I don't suppose there is much harm in the
lad, and it may be that his failure to look one in the face is not so
much his fault as that of nature, which endowed him with a villainous
squint. Well, let us turn in; it is past nine o'clock, and high time
to be a-bed."

Cyril seemed to himself to have entered upon a new life when he
stepped across the threshold of David Dowsett's store. All his cares
and anxieties had dropped from him. For the past two years he had
lived the life of an automaton, starting early to his work, returning
in the middle of the day to his dinner,--to which as often as not he
sat down alone,--and spending his evenings in utter loneliness in the
bare garret, where he was generally in bed long before his father
returned. He blamed himself sometimes during the first fortnight of
his stay here for the feeling of light-heartedness that at times came
over him. He had loved his father in spite of his faults, and should,
he told himself, have felt deeply depressed at his loss; but nature
was too strong for him. The pleasant evenings with Captain Dave and
his family were to him delightful; he was like a traveller who, after
a cold and cheerless journey, comes in to the warmth of a fire, and
feels a glow of comfort as the blood circulates briskly through his
veins. Sometimes, when he had no other engagements, he went out with
Nellie Dowsett, whose lively chatter was new and very amusing to him.
Sometimes they went up into Cheapside, and into St. Paul's, but more
often sallied out of the city at Aldgate, and walked into the fields.
On these occasions he carried a stout cane that had been his
father's, for Nellie tried in vain to persuade him to gird on a

"You are a gentleman, Cyril," she would argue, "and have a right to
carry one."

"I am for the present a sober citizen, Mistress Nellie, and do not
wish to assume to be of any other condition. Those one sees with
swords are either gentlemen of the Court, or common bullies, or maybe
highwaymen. After nightfall it is different; for then many citizens
carry their swords, which indeed are necessary to protect them from
the ruffians who, in spite of the city watch, oftentimes attack quiet
passers-by; and if at any time I escort you to the house of one of
your friends, I shall be ready to take my sword with me. But in the
daytime there is no occasion for a weapon, and, moreover, I am full
young to carry one, and this stout cane would, were it necessary, do
me good service, for I learned in France the exercise that they call
the _bâton_, which differs little from our English singlestick."

While Cyril was received almost as a member of the family by Captain
Dave and his wife, and found himself on excellent terms with John
Wilkes, he saw that he was viewed with dislike by the two
apprentices. He was scarcely surprised at this. Before his coming,
Robert Ashford had been in the habit of escorting his young mistress
when she went out, and had no doubt liked these expeditions, as a
change from the measuring out of ropes and weighing of iron in the
store. Then, again, the apprentices did not join in the conversation
at table unless a remark was specially addressed to them; and as
Captain Dave was by no means fond of his elder apprentice, it was but
seldom that he spoke to him. Robert Ashford was between eighteen and
nineteen. He was no taller than Cyril, but it would have been
difficult to judge his age by his face, which had a wizened look;
and, as Nellie said one day, in his absence, he might pass very well
for sixty.

It was easy enough for Cyril to see that Robert Ashford heartily
disliked him; the covert scowls that he threw across the table at
meal-time, and the way in which he turned his head and feigned to be
too busy to notice him as he passed through the shop, were sufficient
indications of ill-will. The younger apprentice, Tom Frost, was but a
boy of fifteen; he gave Cyril the idea of being a timid lad. He did
not appear to share his comrade's hostility to him, but once or
twice, when Cyril came out from the office after making up the
accounts of the day, he fancied that the boy glanced at him with an
expression of anxiety, if not of terror.

"If it were not," Cyril said to himself, "that Tom is clearly too
nervous and timid to venture upon an act of dishonesty, I should say
that he had been pilfering something; but I feel sure that he would
not attempt such a thing as that, though I am by no means certain
that Robert Ashford, with his foxy face and cross eyes, would not
steal his master's goods or any one else's did he get the chance.
Unless he were caught in the act, he could do it with impunity, for
everything here is carried on in such a free-and-easy fashion that
any amount of goods might be carried off without their being missed."

After thinking the matter over, he said, one afternoon when his
employer came in while he was occupied at the accounts,--

"I have not seen anything of a stock-book, Captain Dave. Everything
else is now straight, and balanced up to to-day. Here is the book of
goods sold, the book of goods received, and the ledger with the
accounts; but there is no stock-book such as I find in almost all the
other places where I work."

"What do I want with a stock-book?" Captain Dave asked.

"You cannot know how you stand without it," Cyril replied. "You know
how much you have paid, and how much you have received during the
year; but unless you have a stock-book you do not know whether the
difference between the receipts and expenditure represents profit,
for the stock may have so fallen in value during the year that you
may really have made a loss while seeming to make a profit."

"How can that be?" Captain Dave asked. "I get a fair profit on every

"There ought to be a profit, of course," Cyril said; "but sometimes
it is found not to be so. Moreover, if there is a stock-book you can
tell at any time, without the trouble of opening bins and weighing
metal, how much stock you have of each article you sell, and can
order your goods accordingly."

"How would you do that?"

"It is very simple, Captain Dave," Cyril said. "After taking stock of
the whole of the goods, I should have a ledger in which each article
would have a page or more to itself, and every day I should enter
from John Wilkes's sales-book a list of the goods that have gone out,
each under its own heading. Thus, at any moment, if you were to ask
how much chain you had got in stock I could tell you within a fathom.
When did you take stock last?"

"I should say it was about fifteen months since. It was only
yesterday John Wilkes was saying we had better have a thorough

"Quite time, too, I should think, Captain Dave. I suppose you have
got the account of your last stock-taking, with the date of it?"

"Oh, yes, I have got that;" and the Captain unlocked his desk and
took out an account-book. "It has been lying there ever since. It
took a wonderful lot of trouble to do, and I had a clerk and two men
in for a fortnight, for of course John and the boys were attending to
their usual duties. I have often wondered since why I should have had
all that trouble over a matter that has never been of the slightest
use to me."

"Well, I hope you will take it again, sir; it is a trouble, no doubt,
but you will find it a great advantage."

"Are you sure you think it needful, Cyril?"

"Most needful, Captain Dave. You will see the advantage of it

"Well, if you think so, I suppose it must be done," the Captain said,
with a sigh; "but it will be giving you a lot of trouble to keep this
new book of yours."

"That is nothing, sir. Now that I have got all the back work up it
will be a simple matter to keep the daily work straight. I shall find
ample time to do it without any need of lengthening my hours."

Cyril now set to work in earnest, and telling Mrs. Dowsett he had
some books that he wanted to make up in his room before going to bed,
he asked her to allow him to keep his light burning.

Mrs. Dowsett consented, but shook her head and said he would
assuredly injure his health if he worked by candle light.

Fortunately, John Wilkes had just opened a fresh sales-book, and
Cyril told him that he wished to refer to some particulars in the
back books. He first opened the ledger by inscribing under their
different heads the amount of each description of goods kept in stock
at the last stock-taking, and then entered under their respective
heads all the sales that had been made, while on an opposite page he
entered the amount purchased. It took him a month's hard work, and he
finished it on the very day that the new stock-taking concluded.



Two days after the conclusion of the stock-taking, Cyril said, after
breakfast was over,--

"Would it trouble you, Captain Dave, to give me an hour up here
before you go downstairs to the counting-house. I am free for two
hours now, and there is a matter upon which I should like to speak to
you privately."

"Certainly, lad," the old sailor said, somewhat surprised. "We shall
be quiet enough here, as soon as the table is cleared. My dame and
Nellie will be helping the maid do up the cabins, and will then be
sallying out marketing."

When the maid had cleared the table, Cyril went up to his room and
returned with a large ledger and several smaller books.

"I have, for the last month, Captain Dave, been making up this
stock-book for my own satisfaction."

"Bless me, lad, why have you taken all that trouble? This accounts,
then, for your writing so long at night, for which my dame has been
quarrelling with you!"

"It was interesting work," Cyril said quietly. "Now, you see, sir,"
he went on, opening the big ledger, "here are the separate accounts
under each head. These pages, you see, are for heavy cables for
hawsers; of these, at the date of the last stock-taking, there were,
according to the book you handed to me, five hundred fathoms in
stock. These are the amounts you have purchased since. Now, upon the
other side are all the sales of this cable entered in the sales-book.
Adding them together, and deducting them from the other side, you
will see there should remain in stock four hundred and fifty fathoms.
According to the new stock-taking there are four hundred and
thirty-eight. That is, I take it, as near as you could expect to get,
for, in the measuring out of so many thousand fathoms of cable during
the fifteen months between the two stock-takings, there may well have
been a loss of the twelve fathoms in giving good measurement."

"That is so," Captain Dave said. "I always say to John Wilkes, 'Give
good measurement, John--better a little over than a little under.'
Nothing can be clearer or more satisfactory."

Cyril closed the book.

"I am sorry to say, Captain Dave, all the items are not so
satisfactory, and that I greatly fear that you have been robbed to a
considerable amount."

"Robbed, lad!" the Captain said, starting up from his chair. "Who
should rob me? Not John Wilkes, I can be sworn! Not the two
apprentices for a surety, for they never go out during the day, and
John keeps a sharp look-out upon them, and the entrance to the shop
is always locked and barred after work is over, so that none can
enter without getting the key, which, as you know, John always brings
up and hands to me as soon as he has fastened the door! You are
mistaken, lad, and although I know that your intentions are good, you
should be careful how you make a charge that might bring ruin to
innocent men. Carelessness there may be; but robbery! No; assuredly

"I have not brought the charge without warrant, Captain Dave," Cyril
said gravely, "and if you will bear with me for a few minutes, I
think you will see that there is at least something that wants
looking into."

"Well, it is only fair after the trouble you have taken, lad, that I
should hear what you have to say; but it will need strong evidence
indeed to make me believe that there has been foul play."

"Well, sir," Cyril said, opening the ledger again, "in the first
place, I would point out that in all the heavy articles, such as
could not conveniently be carried away, the tally of the stock-takers
corresponds closely with the figures in this book. In best bower
anchors the figures are absolutely the same and, as you have seen, in
heavy cables they closely correspond. In the large ship's compasses,
the ship's boilers, and ship's galleys, the numbers tally exactly. So
it is with all the heavy articles; the main blocks are correct, and
all other heavy gear. This shows that John Wilkes's book is carefully
kept, and it would be strange indeed if heavy goods had all been
properly entered, and light ones omitted; but yet when we turn to
small articles, we find that there is a great discrepancy between the
figures. Here is the account, for instance, of the half-inch rope.
According to my ledger, there should be eighteen hundred fathoms in
stock, whereas the stock-takers found but three hundred and eighty.
In two-inch rope there is a deficiency of two hundred and thirty
fathoms, in one-inch rope of six hundred and twenty. These sizes, as
you know, are always in requisition, and a thief would find ready
purchasers for a coil of any of them. But, as might be expected, it
is in copper that the deficiency is most serious. Of fourteen-inch
bolts, eighty-two are short, of twelve-inch bolts a hundred and
thirty, of eight-inch three hundred and nine; and so on throughout
almost all the copper stores. According to your expenditure and
receipt-book, Captain Dave, you have made, in the last fifteen
months, twelve hundred and thirty pounds; but according to this book
your stock is less in value, by two thousand and thirty-four pounds,
than it should have been. You are, therefore, a poorer man than you
were at the beginning of this fifteen months' trading, by eight
hundred and four pounds."

Captain Dave sat down in his chair, breathing hard. He took out his
handkerchief and wiped the drops of perspiration from his forehead.

"Are you sure of this, boy?" he said hoarsely. "Are you sure that you
have made no mistake in your figures?"

"Quite sure," Cyril said firmly. "In all cases in which I have found
deficiencies I have gone through the books three times and compared
the figures, and I am sure that if you put the books into the hands
of any city accountant, he will bear out my figures."

For a time Captain Dave sat silent.

"Hast any idea," he said at last, "how this has come about?"

"I have none," Cyril replied. "That John Wilkes is not concerned in
it I am as sure as you are; and, thinking the matter over, I see not
how the apprentices could have carried off so many articles, some
heavy and some bulky, when they left the shop in the evening, without
John Wilkes noticing them. So sure am I, that my advice would be that
you should take John Wilkes into your confidence, and tell him how
matters stand. My only objection to that is that he is a hasty man,
and that I fear he would not be able to keep his countenance, so that
the apprentices would remark that something was wrong. I am far from
saying that they have any hand in it; it would be a grievous wrong to
them to have suspicions when there is no shadow of evidence against
them; but at any rate, if this matter is to be stopped and the
thieves detected, it is most important that they should have, if they
are guilty, no suspicion that they are in any way being watched, or
that these deficiencies have been discovered. If they have had a hand
in the matter they most assuredly had accomplices, for such goods
could not be disposed of by an apprentice to any dealer without his
being sure that they must have been stolen."

"You are right there, lad--quite right. Did John Wilkes know that I
had been robbed in this way he would get into a fury, and no words
could restrain him from falling upon the apprentices and beating them
till he got some of the truth out of them."

"They may be quite innocent," Cyril said. "It may be that the thieves
have discovered some mode of entry into the store either by opening
the shutters at the back, or by loosening a board, or even by delving
up under the ground. It is surely easier to believe this than that
the boys can have contrived to carry off so large a quantity of goods
under John Wilkes's eye."

"That is so, lad. I have never liked Robert Ashford, but God forbid
that I should suspect him of such crime only because his forehead is
as wrinkled as an ape's, and Providence has set his eyes crossways in
his head. You cannot always judge a ship by her upper works; she may
be ugly to the eye and yet have a clear run under water. Still, you
can't help going by what you see. I agree with you that if we tell
John Wilkes about this, those boys will know five minutes afterwards
that the ship is on fire; but if we don't tell him, how are we to get
to the bottom of what is going on?"

"That is a difficult question, but a few days will not make much
difference, when we know that it has been going on for over a year,
and may, for aught we know, have been going on much longer. The first
thing, Captain Dave, is to send these books to an accountant, for him
to go through them and check my figures."

"There is no need for that, lad. I know how careful you are, and you
cannot have gone so far wrong as all this."

"No, sir, I am sure that there is no mistake; but, for your own sake
as well as mine, it were well that you should have the signature of
an accountant to the correctness of the books. If you have to lay the
matter before the magistrates, they would not take my testimony as to
your losses, and might even say that you were rash in acting upon the
word of a boy like myself, and you might then be obliged to have the
accounts made up anew, which would cost you more, and cause much
delay in the process; whereas, if you put in your books and say that
their correctness is vouched for by an accountant, no question would
arise on it; nor would there be any delay now, for while the books
are being gone into, we can be trying to get to the bottom of the
matter here."

"Ay, ay, it shall be done, Master Cyril, as you say. But for the life
of me I don't see how we are to get at the bottom of the ship to find
out where she is leaking!"

"It seems to me that the first thing, Captain Dave, is to see to the
warehouse. As we agreed that the apprentices cannot have carried out
all these goods under John Wilkes's eye, and cannot have come down
night after night through the house, the warehouse must have been
entered from without. As I never go in there, it would be best that
you should see to this matter yourself. There are the fastenings of
the shutters in the first place, then the boardings all round. As for
me, I will look round outside. The window of my room looks into the
street, but if you will take me to one of the rooms at the back we
can look at the surroundings of the yard, and may gather some idea
whether the goods can have been passed over into any of the houses
abutting on it, or, as is more likely, into the lane that runs up by
its side."

The Captain led the way into one of the rooms at the back of the
house, and opening the casement, he and Cyril leaned out. The store
occupied fully half the yard, the rest being occupied by anchors,
piles of iron, ballast, etc. There were two or three score of guns of
various sizes piled on each other. A large store of cannon-ball was
ranged in a great pyramid close by. A wall some ten feet high
separated the yard from the lane Cyril had spoken of. On the left,
adjoining the warehouse, was the yard of the next shop, which
belonged to a wool-stapler. Behind were the backs of a number of
small houses crowded in between Tower Street and Leadenhall Street.

"I suppose you do not know who lives in those houses, Captain Dave?"

"No, indeed. The land is not like the sea. Afloat, when one sees a
sail, one wonders what is her nationality, and whither she is bound,
and still more whether she is an honest trader or a rascally pirate;
but here on land, one scarcely gives a thought as to who may dwell in
the houses round."

"I will walk round presently," Cyril said, "and gather, as far as I
can, who they are that live there; but, as I have said, I fancy it is
over that wall and into the alley that your goods have departed. The
apprentices' room is this side of the house, is it not?"

"Yes; John Wilkes sleeps in the room next to yours, and the door
opposite to his is that of the lads' room."

"Do the windows of any of the rooms look into that lane?"

"No; it is a blank wall on that side."

"There is the clock striking nine," Cyril said, starting. "It is time
for me to be off. Then you will take the books to-day, Captain Dave?"

"I will carry them off at once, and when I return will look narrowly
into the fastenings of the two windows and door from the warehouse
into the yard; and will take care to do so when the boys are engaged
in the front shop."

When his work was done, Cyril went round to the houses behind the
yard, and he found that they stood in a small court, with three or
four trees growing in the centre, and were evidently inhabited by
respectable citizens. Over the door of one was painted, "Joshua
Heddings, Attorney"; next to him was Gilbert Gushing, who dealt in
jewels, silks, and other precious commodities from the East; next to
him was a doctor, and beyond a dealer in spices. This was enough to
assure him that it was not through such houses as these that the
goods had been carried.

Cyril had not been back at the mid-day meal, for his work that day
lay up by Holborn Bar, where he had two customers whom he attended
with but half an hour's interval between the visits, and on the days
on which he went there he was accustomed to get something to eat at a
tavern hard by.

Supper was an unusually quiet meal. Captain Dave now and then asked
John Wilkes a question as to the business matters of the day, but
evidently spoke with an effort. Nellie rattled on as usual; but the
burden of keeping up the conversation lay entirely on her shoulders
and those of Cyril. After the apprentices had left, and John Wilkes
had started for his usual resort, the Captain lit his pipe. Nellie
signed to Cyril to come and seat himself by her in the window that
projected out over the street, and enabled the occupants of the seats
at either side to have a view up and down it.

"What have you been doing to father, Cyril?" she asked, in low tones;
"he has been quite unlike himself all day. Generally when he is out
of temper he rates everyone heartily, as if we were a mutinous crew,
but to-day he has gone about scarcely speaking; he hasn't said a
cross word to any of us, but several times when I spoke to him I got
no answer, and it is easy to see that he is terribly put out about
something. He was in his usual spirits at breakfast; then, you know,
he was talking with you for an hour, and it does not take much
guessing to see that it must have been something that passed between
you that has put him out. Now what was it?"

"I don't see why you should say that, Mistress Nellie. It is true we
did have a talk together, and he examined some fresh books I have
been making out and said that he was mightily pleased with my work. I
went away at nine o'clock, and something may have occurred to upset
him between that and dinner."

"All which means that you don't mean to tell me anything about it,
Master Cyril. Well, then, you may consider yourself in my black books
altogether," she said petulantly.

"I am sorry that you should say so," he said. "If it were true that
anything that I had said to him had ruffled him, it would be for him
to tell you, and not for me."

"Methinks I have treated Robert Ashford scurvily, and I shall take
him for my escort to see His Majesty attend service at St. Paul's

Cyril smiled.

"I think it would be fair to give him a turn, Mistress, and I am glad
to see that you have such a kind thought."

Nellie rose indignantly, and taking her work sat down by the side of
her mother.

"It is a fine evening," Cyril said to Captain Dave, "and I think I
shall take a walk round. I shall return in an hour."

The Captain understood, by a glance Cyril gave him, that he was going
out for some purpose connected with the matter they had in hand.

"Ay, ay, lad," he said. "It is not good for you to be sitting moping
at home every evening. I have often wondered before that you did not
take a walk on deck before you turned in. I always used to do so

"I don't think there is any moping in it, Captain Dave," Cyril said,
with a laugh. "If you knew how pleasant the evenings have been to me
after the life I lived before, you would not say so."

Cyril's only object in going out, however, was to avoid the necessity
of having to talk with Dame Dowsett and Nellie. His thoughts were
running on nothing but the robbery, and he had found it very
difficult to talk in his usual manner, and to answer Nellie's
sprightly sallies. It was dark already. A few oil lamps gave a feeble
light here and there. At present he had formed no plan whatever of
detecting the thieves; he was as much puzzled as the Captain himself
as to how the goods could have been removed. It would be necessary,
of course, to watch the apprentices, but he did not think that
anything was likely to come out of this. It was the warehouse itself
that must be watched, in order to discover how the thieves made an
entry. His own idea was that they got over the wall by means of a
rope, and in some way managed to effect an entry into the warehouse.
The apprentices could hardly aid them unless they came down through
the house.

If they had managed to get a duplicate key of the door leading from
the bottom of the stairs to the shop, they could, of course, unbar
the windows, and pass things out--that part of the business would be
easy; but he could not believe that they would venture frequently to
pass down through the house. It was an old one, and the stairs
creaked. He himself was a light sleeper; he had got into the way of
waking at the slightest sound, from the long watches he had had for
his father's return, and felt sure that he should have heard them
open their door and steal along the passage past his room, however
quietly they might do it. He walked up the Exchange, then along
Cheapside as far as St. Paul's, and back. Quiet as it was in Thames
Street there was no lack of animation elsewhere. Apprentices were
generally allowed to go out for an hour after supper, the regulation
being that they returned to their homes by eight o'clock. Numbers of
these were about. A good many citizens were on their way home after
supping with friends. The city watch, with lanterns, patrolled the
streets, and not infrequently interfered in quarrels which broke out
among the apprentices. Cyril felt more solitary among the knots of
laughing, noisy lads than in the quiet streets, and was glad to be
home again. Captain Dave himself came down to open the door.

"I have just sent the women to bed," he said. "The two boys came in
five minutes ago. I thought you would not be long."

"I did not go out for anything particular," Cyril said; "but Mistress
Nellie insisted that there was something wrong with you, and that I
must know what it was about, so, feeling indeed indisposed to talk, I
thought it best to go out for a short time."

"Yes, yes. Women always want to know, lad. I have been long enough at
sea, you may be sure, to know that when anything is wrong, it is the
best thing to keep it from the passengers as long as you can."

"You took the books away this morning, Captain Dave?" Cyril asked as
they sat down.

"Ay, lad, I took them to Master Skinner, who bears as good a
reputation as any accountant in the city, and he promised to take
them in hand without loss of time; but I have been able to do nothing
here. John, or one or other of the boys, was always in the warehouse,
and I have had no opportunity of examining the door and shutters
closely. When the house is sound asleep we will take a lantern and go
down to look at them. I have been thinking that we must let John
Wilkes into this matter; it is too much to bear on my mind by myself.
He is my first mate, you see, and in time of danger, the first mate,
if he is worth anything, is the man the captain relies on for help."

"By all means tell him, then," Cyril said. "I can keep books, but I
have no experience in matters like this, and shall be very glad to
have his opinion and advice."

"There he is--half-past eight. He is as punctual as clockwork."

Cyril ran down and let John in.

"The Captain wants to speak to you," he said, "before you go up to

John, after carefully bolting the door, followed him upstairs.

"I have got some bad news for you, John. There, light your pipe
again, and sit down. My good dame has gone off to bed, and we have
got the cabin to ourselves."

John touched an imaginary hat and obeyed orders.

"The ship has sprung a bad leak, John. This lad here has found it
out, and it is well he did, for unless he had done so we should have
had her foundering under our feet without so much as suspecting
anything was going wrong."

The sailor took his newly-lighted pipe from between his lips and
stared at the Captain in astonishment.

"Yes, it is hard to believe, mate, but, by the Lord Harry, it is as I
say. There is a pirate about somewhere, and the books show that,
since the stock-taking fifteen months ago, he has eased the craft of
her goods to the tune of two thousand pounds and odd."

John Wilkes flung his pipe on to the table with such force that it
shivered into fragments.

"Dash my timbers!" he exclaimed. "Who is the man? You only give me
the orders, sir, and I am ready to range alongside and board him."

"That is what we have got to find out, John. That the goods have gone
is certain, but how they can have gone beats us altogether."

"Do you mean to say, Captain, that they have stolen them out of the
place under my eyes and me know nothing about it? It can't be, sir.
There must be some mistake. I know naught about figures, save enough
to put down the things I sell, but I don't believe as a thing has
gone out of the shop unbeknown to me. That yarn won't do for me,
sir," and he looked angrily at Cyril.

"It is true enough, John, for all that. The books have been balanced
up. We knew what was in stock fifteen months ago, and we knew from
your sale-book what has passed out of the shop, and from your
entry-book what has come in. We know now what there is remaining. We
find that in bulky goods, such as cables and anchors and ships'
boilers and suchlike, the accounts tally exactly, but in the small
rope, and above all in the copper, there is a big shrinkage. I will
read you the figures of some of them."

John's face grew longer and longer as he heard the totals read.

"Well, I'm jiggered!" he said, when the list was concluded. "I could
have sworn that the cargo was right according to the manifest. Well,
Captain, all I can say is, if that 'ere list be correct, the best
thing you can do is to send me adrift as a blind fool. I have kept my
tallies as correct as I could, and I thought I had marked down every
package that has left the ship, and here they must have been passing
out pretty nigh in cart-loads under my very eyes, and I knew nothing
about it."

"I don't blame you, John, more than I blame myself. I am generally
about on deck, and had no more idea that the cargo was being meddled
with than you had. I have been wrong in letting matters go on so long
without taking stock of them and seeing that it was all right; but I
never saw the need for it. This is what comes of taking to a trade
you know nothing about; we have just been like two children, thinking
that it was all plain and above board, and that we had nothing to do
but to sell our goods and to fill up again when the hold got empty.
Well, it is of no use talking over that part of the business. What we
have got to do is to find out this leak and stop it. We are pretty
well agreed, Cyril and me, that the things don't go out of the shop
by daylight. The question is, how do they go out at night?"

"I always lock up the hatches according to orders, Captain."

"Yes, I have no doubt you do, John; but maybe the fastenings have
been tampered with. The only way in which we see it can have been
managed is that someone has been in the habit of getting over the
wall between the yard and the lane, and then getting into the
warehouse somehow. It must have been done very often, for if the
things had been taken in considerable quantities you would have
noticed that the stock was short directly the next order came in. Now
I propose we light these two lanterns I have got here, and that we go
down and have a look round the hold."

Lighting the candles, they went downstairs. The Captain took out the
key and turned the lock. It grated loudly as he did so.

"That is a noisy lock," Cyril said.

"It wants oiling," John replied. "I have been thinking of doing it
for the last month, but it has always slipped out of my mind."

"At any rate," Cyril said, "it is certain that thieves could not have
got into the shop this way, for the noise would have been heard all
over the house."

The door between the shop and the warehouse was next unlocked. The
fastenings of the shutters and doors were first examined; there was
no sign of their having been tampered with. Each bolt and hasp was
tried, and the screws examined. Then they went round trying every one
of the stout planks that formed the side; all were firm and in good

"It beats me altogether," the Captain said, when they had finished
their examination. "The things cannot walk out of themselves; they
have got to be carried. But how the fellows who carry them get in is
more than I can say. There is nowhere else to look, is there, John?"

"Not that I can see, Captain."

They went to the door into the shop, and were about to close it, when
Cyril said,--

"Some of the things that are gone are generally kept in here,
Captain--the rope up to two inch, for example, and a good deal of
canvas, and most of the smaller copper fittings; so that, whoever the
thief is, he must have been in the habit of coming in here as well as
into the warehouse."

"That is so, lad. Perhaps they entered from this side."

"Will you hold the lantern here, John?" Cyril said.

The sailor held the lantern to the lock.

"There are no scratches nor signs of tools having been used here,"
Cyril said, examining both the lock and the door-post. "Whether the
thief came into the warehouse first, or not, he must have had a key."

The Captain nodded.

"Thieves generally carry a lot of keys with them, Cyril; and if one
does not quite fit they can file it until it does."

The shutters of the shop window and its fastenings, and those of the
door, were as secure as those of the warehouse, and, completely
puzzled, the party went upstairs again.

"There must be some way of getting in and out, although we can't find
it," Captain Dave said. "Things can't have gone off by themselves."

"It may be, Captain," John Wilkes said, "that some of the planks may
be loose."

"But we tried them all, John."

"Ay, they seem firm enough, but it may be that one of them is wedged
in, and that when the wedges are taken out it could be pulled off."

"I think you would have noticed it, John. If there was anything of
that sort it must be outside. However, we will take a good look round
the yard to-morrow. The warehouse is strongly built, and I don't
believe that any plank could be taken off and put back again, time
after time, without making a noise that would be heard in the house.
What do you think, Cyril?"

"I agree with you, Captain Dave. How the thieves make an entry I
can't imagine, but I don't believe that it is through the wall of the
warehouse. I am convinced that the robberies must have been very
frequent. Had a large amount been taken at a time, John Wilkes would
have been sure to notice it. Then, again, the thieves would not come
so often, and each time for a comparatively small amount of booty,
unless it could be managed without any serious risk or trouble.
However, now that we do know that they come, we shall have, I should
think, very little difficulty in finding out how it is done."

"You may warrant we will keep a sharp look-out," John Wilkes said
savagely. "If the Captain will give me the use of a room at the back
of the house, you may be sure I shan't close an eye till I have got
to the bottom of the matter. I am responsible for the cargo below,
and if I had kept as sharp an eye on the stores as I ought to have
done, this would not have happened. Only let me catch them trying to
board, and I will give them such a reception that I warrant me they
will sheer off with a bullet or two in them. I have got that pair of
boarding pistols, and a cutlass, hung up over my bed."

"You must not do that, John," the Captain said. "It isn't a matter of
beating off the pirates by pouring a broadside into them. Maybe you
might cripple them, more likely they would make off, and we want to
capture them. Therefore, I say, let us watch, and find out how they
do it. When we once know that, we can lay our plans for capturing
them the next time they come. I will take watch and watch with you."

"Well, if it goes on long, Captain, I won't say no to that; but for
to-night anyhow I will sit up alone."

"Very well, let it be so, John. But mind, whatever you see, you keep
as still as a mouse. Just steal to my room in your stockinged feet
directly you see anything moving. Open the door and say, 'Strange
sail in sight!' and I will be over at your window in no time. And
now, Cyril, you and I may as well turn in."

The night passed quietly.

"You saw nothing, I suppose, John?" the Captain said next morning,
after the apprentices had gone down from breakfast.

"Not a thing, Captain."

"Now we will go and have a look in the yard. Will you come, Cyril?"

"I should like to come," Cyril replied, "but, as I have never been
out there before, had you not better make some pretext for me to do
so. You might say, in the hearing of the apprentices, 'We may as well
take the measurements for that new shed we were talking about, and
see how much boarding it will require.' Then you can call to me out
from the office to come and help you to measure."

"Then you still think the apprentices are in it?" John Wilkes asked

"I don't say I think so, John. I have nothing against them. I don't
believe they could come down at night without being heard; I feel
sure they could not get into the shop without that stiff bolt making
a noise. Still, as it is possible they may be concerned in the
matter, I think that, now we have it in good train for getting to the
bottom of it, it would be well to keep the matter altogether to

"Quite right," Captain Dave said approvingly. "When you suspect
treachery, don't let a soul think that you have got such a matter in
your mind, until you are in a position to take the traitor by the
collar and put a pistol to his ear. That idea of yours is a very good
one; I will say something about the shed to John this morning, and
then when you go down to the counting-house after dinner I will call
to you to come out to the yard with us."

After dinner, Captain Dave went with Cyril into the counting-house.

"We had an order in this morning for a set of ship's anchors, and
John and I have been in the yard looking them out; we looked over the
place pretty sharply, as you may be sure, but as far as we could see
the place is as solid as when it was built, fifty years ago, by my

The Captain went out into the store, and ten minutes afterwards
re-entered the shop and shouted,--

"Come out here, Cyril, and lend a hand. We are going to take those
measurements. Bring out your ink-horn, and a bit of paper to put them
down as we take them."

The yard was some sixty feet long by twenty-five broad, exclusive of
the space occupied by the warehouse. This, as Cyril had observed from
the window above, did not extend as far as the back wall; but on
walking round there with the two men, he found that the distance was
greater than he had expected, and that there was a space of some
twenty feet clear.

"This is where we are thinking of putting the shed," the Captain said
in a loud voice.

"But I see that you have a crane and door into the loft over the
warehouse there," Cyril said, looking up.

"We never use that now. When my father first began business, he used
to buy up old junk and such-like stores, and store them up there, but
it didn't pay for the trouble; and, besides, as you see, he wanted
every foot of the yard room, and of course at that time they had to
leave a space clear for the carts to come up from the gate round
here, so it was given up, and the loft is empty now."

Cyril looked up at the crane. It was swung round so as to lie flat
against the wooden shutters. The rope was still through the block,
and passed into the loft through a hole cut at the junction of the

They now measured the space between the warehouse and the wall, the
Captain repeating the figures, still in a loud voice; then they
discussed the height of the walls, and after some argument between
the Captain and John Wilkes agreed that this should be the same as
the rest of the building. Still talking on the subject, they returned
through the warehouse, Cyril on the way taking a look at the massive
gate that opened into the lane. In addition to a heavy bar it had a
strong hasp, fastened by a great padlock. The apprentices were busy
at work coiling up some rope when they passed by.

"When we have knocked a door through the end there, John," Captain
Dave said, "it will give you a deal more room, and you will be able
to get rid of all these cables and heavy dunnage, and to have matters
more ship-shape here."

While they had been taking the measurements, all three had carefully
examined the wall of the warehouse.

"There is nothing wrong there, Cyril," his employer said, as, leaving
John Wilkes in the warehouse, they went through the shop into the
little office.

"Certainly nothing that I could see, Captain Dave. I did not before
know the loft had any opening to the outside. Of course I have seen
the ladder going up from the warehouse to that trap-door; but as it
was closed I thought no more of it."

"I don't suppose anyone has been up there for years, lad. What, are
you thinking that someone might get in through those shutters? Why,
they are twenty feet from the ground, so that you would want a long
ladder, and when you got up there you would find that you could not
open the shutters. I said nobody had been up there, but I did go up
myself to have a look round when I first settled down here, and there
is a big bar with a padlock."

Cyril thought no more about it, and after supper it was arranged that
he and Captain Dave should keep watch by turns at the window of the
room that had been now given to John Wilkes, and that the latter
should have a night in his berth, as the Captain expressed it. John
Wilkes had made some opposition, saying that he would be quite
willing to take his watch.

"You will just obey orders, John," the Captain said. "You have had
thirty-six hours off the reel on duty, and you have got to be at work
all day to-morrow again. You shall take the middle watch to-morrow
night if you like, but one can see with half an eye that you are not
fit to be on the lookout to-night. I doubt if any of us could see as
far as the length of the bowsprit. It is pretty nearly pitch dark;
there is not a star to be seen, and it looked to me, when I turned
out before supper, as if we were going to have a storm."



It was settled that Cyril was to take the first watch, and that the
Captain should relieve him at one o'clock. At nine, the family went
to bed. A quarter of an hour later, Cyril stole noiselessly from his
attic down to John Wilkes's room. The door had been left ajar, and
the candle was still burning.

"I put a chair by the window," the sailor said, from his bed, "and
left the light, for you might run foul of something or other in the
dark, though I have left a pretty clear gangway for you."

Cyril blew out the candle, and seated himself at the window. For a
time he could see nothing, and told himself that the whole contents
of the warehouse might be carried off without his being any the

"I shall certainly see nothing," he said to himself; "but, at least,
I may hear something."

So saying, he turned the fastening of the casement and opened it
about half an inch. As his eyes became accustomed to the darkness, he
was able to make out the line of the roof of the warehouse, which was
some three or four feet below the level of his eyes, and some twenty
feet away on his left. The time passed slowly. He kept himself awake
by thinking over the old days in France, the lessons he had learnt
with his friend, Harry Parton, and the teaching of the old clergyman.

He heard the bell of St. Paul's strike ten and eleven. The last
stroke had scarcely ceased to vibrate when he rose to his feet
suddenly. He heard, on his left, a scraping noise. A moment later it
ceased, and then was renewed again. It lasted but a few seconds; then
he heard an irregular, shuffling noise, that seemed to him upon the
roof of the warehouse. Pressing his face to the casement, he suddenly
became aware that the straight line of the ridge was broken by
something moving along it, and a moment later he made out a second
object, just behind the first. Moving with the greatest care, he made
his way out of the room, half closed the door behind him, crossed the
passage, and pushed at a door opposite.

"Captain Dave," he said, in a low voice, "get up at once, and please
don't make a noise."

"Ay, ay, lad."

There was a movement from the bed, and a moment later the Captain
stood beside him.

"What is it, lad?" he whispered.

"There are two figures moving along on the ridge of the roof of the
warehouse. I think it is the apprentices. I heard a slight noise, as
if they were letting themselves down from their window by a rope. It
is just over that roof, you know."

There was a rustling sound as the Captain slipped his doublet on.

"That is so. The young scoundrels! What can they be doing on the

They went to the window behind. Just as they reached it there was a
vivid flash of lightning. It sufficed to show them a figure lying at
full length at the farther end of the roof; then all was dark again,
and a second or two later came a sharp, crashing roar of thunder.

"We had better stand well back from the window," Cyril whispered.
"Another flash might show us to anyone looking this way."

"What does it mean, lad? What on earth is that boy doing there? I
could not see which it was."

"I think it is Ashford," Cyril said. "The figure in front seemed the
smaller of the two."

"But where on earth can Tom have got to?"

"I should fancy, sir, that Robert has lowered him so that he can get
his feet on the crane and swing it outwards; then he might sit down
on it and swing himself by the rope into the loft if the doors are
not fastened inside. Robert, being taller, would have no difficulty
in lowering himself--There!" he broke off, as another flash of
lightning lit up the sky. "He has gone, now; there is no one on the

John Wilkes was by this time standing beside them, having started up
at the first flash of lightning.

"Do you go up, John, into their room," the Captain said. "I think
there can be no doubt that these fellows on the roof are Ashford and
Frost, but it is as well to be able to swear to it."

The foreman returned in a minute or two.

"The room is empty, Captain; the window is open, and there is a rope
hanging down from it. Shall I cast it adrift?"

"Certainly not, John. We do not mean to take them tonight, and they
must be allowed to go back to their beds without a suspicion that
they have been watched. I hope and trust that it is not so bad as it
looks, and that the boys have only broken out from devilry. You know,
boys will do things of that sort just because it is forbidden."

"There must be more than that," John Wilkes said. "If it had been
just after they went to their rooms, it might be that they went to
some tavern or other low resort, but the town is all asleep now."

They again went close to the window, pushed the casement a little
more open, and stood listening there. In two or three minutes there
was a very slight sound heard.

"They are unbolting the door into the yard," John Wilkes whispered.
"I would give a month's pay to be behind them with a rope's end."

Half a minute later there was a sudden gleam of light below, and they
could see the door open. The light disappeared again, but they heard
footsteps; then they saw the light thrown on the fastening to the
outer gate, and could make out that two figures below were applying a
key to the padlock. This was taken off and laid down; then the heavy
wooden bar was lifted, and also laid on the ground. The gate opened
as if pushed from the other side. The two figures went out; the sound
of a low murmur of conversation could be heard; then they returned,
the gate was closed and fastened again, they entered the warehouse,
the light disappeared, and the door was closed.

"That's how the things went, John."

"Ay, ay, sir," the foreman growled.

"As they were undoing the gate, the light fell on a coil of rope they
had set down there, and a bag which I guess had copper of some kind
in it. They have done us cleverly, the young villains! There was not
noise enough to wake a cat. They must have had every bolt and hinge
well oiled."

"We had better close the casement now, sir, for as they come back
along the ridge they will be facing it, and if a flash of lightning
came they would see that it was half open, and even if they did not
catch sight of our faces they would think it suspicious that the
window should be open, and it might put them on their guard."

"Yes; and we may as well turn in at once, John. Like enough when they
get back they will listen for a bit at their door, so as to make sure
that everything is quiet before they turn in. There is nothing more
to see now. Of course they will get in as they got out. You had
better turn in as you are, Cyril; they may listen at your door."

Cyril at once went up to his room, closed the door, placed a chair
against it, and then lay down on his bed. He listened intently, and
four or five minutes later thought that he heard a door open; but he
could not be sure, for just at that moment heavy drops began to
patter down upon the tiles. The noise rose louder and louder until he
could scarce have heard himself speak. Then there was a bright flash
and the deep rumble of the thunder mingled with the sharp rattle of
the raindrops overhead. He listened for a time to the storm, and then
dropped off to sleep.

Things went on as usual at breakfast the next morning. During the
meal, Captain Dave gave the foreman several instructions as to the
morning's work.

"I am going on board the _Royalist_," he said. "John Browning wants
me to overhaul all the gear, and see what will do for another voyage
or two, and what must be new. His skipper asked for new running
rigging all over, but he thinks that there can't be any occasion for
its all being renewed. I don't expect I shall be in till dinner-time,
so anyone that wants to see me must come again in the afternoon."

Ten minutes later, Cyril went out, on his way to his work. Captain
Dave was standing a few doors away.

"Before I go on board the brig, lad, I am going up to the Chief
Constable's to arrange about this business. I want to get four men of
the watch. Of course, it may be some nights before this is tried
again, so I shall have the men stowed away in the kitchen. Then we
must keep watch, and as soon as we see those young villains on the
roof, we will let the men out at the front door. Two will post
themselves this end of the lane, and two go round into Leadenhall
Street and station themselves at the other end. When the boys go out
after supper we will unlock the door at the bottom of the stairs into
the shop, and the door into the warehouse. Then we will steal down
into the shop and listen there until we hear them open the door into
the yard, and then go into the warehouse and be ready to make a rush
out as soon as they get the gate open. John will have his boatswain's
whistle ready, and will give the signal. That will bring the watch
up, so they will be caught in a trap."

"I should think that would be a very good plan, Captain Dave, though
I wish that it could have been done without Tom Frost being taken. He
is a timid sort of boy, and I have no doubt that he has been entirely
under the thumb of Robert."

"Well, if he has he will get off lightly," the Captain said. "Even if
a boy is a timid boy, he knows what will be the consequences if he is
caught robbing his master. Cowardice is no excuse for crime, lad. The
boys have always been well treated, and though I dare say Ashford is
the worst of the two, if the other had been honest he would not have
seen him robbing me without letting me know."

For six nights watch was kept without success. Every evening, when
the family and apprentices had retired to rest, John Wilkes went
quietly downstairs and admitted the four constables, letting them out
in the morning before anyone was astir. Mrs. Dowsett had been taken
into her husband's confidence so far as to know that he had
discovered he had been robbed, and was keeping a watch for the
thieves. She was not told that the apprentices were concerned in the
matter, for Captain Dave felt sure that, however much she might try
to conceal it, Robert Ashford would perceive, by her looks, that
something was wrong.

Nellie was told a day or two later, for, although ignorant of her
father's nightly watchings, she was conscious from his manner, and
that of her mother, that something was amiss, and was so persistent
in her inquiries, that the Captain consented to her mother telling
her that he had a suspicion he was being robbed, and warning her that
it was essential that the subject must not be in any way alluded to.

"Your father is worrying over it a good deal, Nellie, and it is
better that he should not perceive that you are aware of it. Just let
things go on as they were."

"Is the loss serious, mother?"

"Yes; he thinks that a good deal of money has gone. I don't think he
minds that so much as the fact that, so far, he doesn't know who the
people most concerned in it may be. He has some sort of suspicion in
one quarter, but has no clue whatever to the men most to blame."

"Does Cyril know anything about it?" Nellie asked suddenly.

"Yes, he knows, my dear; indeed, it was owing to his cleverness that
your father first came to have suspicions."

"Oh! that explains it," Nellie said. "He had been talking to father,
and I asked what it was about and he would not tell me, and I have
been very angry with him ever since."

"I have noticed that you have been behaving very foolishly," Mrs.
Dowsett said quietly, "and that for the last week you have been
taking Robert with you as an escort when you went out of an evening.
I suppose you did that to annoy Cyril, but I don't think that he
minded much."

"I don't think he did, mother," Nellie agreed, with a laugh which
betrayed a certain amount of irritation. "I saw that he smiled, two
or three evenings back, when I told Robert at supper that I wanted
him to go out with me, and I was rarely angry, I can tell you."

Cyril had indeed troubled himself in no way about Nellie's coolness;
but when she had so pointedly asked Robert to go with her, he had
been amused at the thought of how greatly she would be mortified,
when Robert was haled up to the Guildhall for robbing her father, at
the thought that he had been accompanying her as an escort.

"I rather hope this will be our last watch, Captain Dave," he said,
on the seventh evening.

"Why do you hope so specially to-night, lad?"

"Of course I have been hoping so every night. But I think it is
likely that the men who take the goods come regularly once a week;
for in that case there would be no occasion for them to meet at other
times to arrange on what night they should be in the lane."

"Yes, that is like enough, Cyril; and the hour will probably be the
same, too. John and I will share your watch to-night, so as to be
ready to get the men off without loss of time."

Cyril had always taken the first watch, which was from half-past nine
till twelve. The Captain and Wilkes had taken the other watches by

As before, just as the bell finished striking eleven, the three
watchers again heard through the slightly open casement the scraping
noise on the left. It had been agreed that they should not move, lest
the sound should be heard outside. Each grasped the stout cudgel he
held in his hand, and gazed at the roof of the warehouse, which could
now be plainly seen, for the moon was half full and the sky was
clear. As before, the two figures went along, and this time they
could clearly recognise them. They were both sitting astride of the
ridge tiles, and moved themselves along by means of their hands. They
waited until they saw one after the other disappear at the end of the
roof, and then John Wilkes quietly stole downstairs. The four
constables had been warned to be specially wakeful.

"They are at it again to-night," John said to them, as he entered.
"Now, do you two who go round into Leadenhall Street start at once,
but don't take your post at the end of the lane for another five or
six minutes. The thieves outside may not have come up at present. As
you go out, leave the door ajar; in five minutes you others should
stand ready. Don't go to the corner, but wait in the doorway below
until you hear the whistle. They will be only fifteen or twenty yards
up the lane, and would see you if you took up your station at the
corner; but the moment you hear the whistle, rush out and have at
them. We shall be there before you will."

John went down with the last two men, entered the shop, and stood
there waiting until he should be joined by his master. The latter and
Cyril remained at the window until they saw the door of the warehouse
open, and then hurried downstairs. Both were in their stockinged
feet, so that their movements should be noiseless.

"Come on, John; they are in the yard," the Captain whispered; and
they entered the warehouse and went noiselessly on, until they stood
at the door. The process of unbarring the gate was nearly
accomplished. As it swung open, John Wilkes put his whistle to his
lips and blew a loud, shrill call, and the three rushed forward.
There was a shout of alarm, a fierce imprecation, and three of the
four figures at the gate sprang at them. Scarce a blow had been
struck when the two constables ran up and joined in the fray. Two men
fought stoutly, but were soon overpowered. Robert Ashford, knife in
hand, had attacked John Wilkes with fury, and would have stabbed him,
as his attention was engaged upon one of the men outside, had not
Cyril brought his cudgel down sharply on his knuckles, when, with a
yell of pain, he dropped the knife and fled up the lane. He had gone
but a short distance, however, when he fell into the hands of the two
constables, who were running towards him. One of them promptly
knocked him down with his cudgel, and then proceeded to bind his
hands behind him, while the other ran on to join in the fray. It was
over before he got there, and his comrades were engaged in binding
the two robbers. Tom Frost had taken no part in the fight. He stood
looking on, paralysed with terror, and when the two men were
overpowered he fell on his knees beseeching his master to have mercy
on him.

"It is too late, Tom," the Captain said. "You have been robbing me
for months, and now you have been caught in the act you will have to
take your share in the punishment. You are a prisoner of the
constables here, and not of mine, and even if I were willing to let
you go, they would have their say in the matter. Still, if you make a
clean breast of what you know about it, I will do all I can to get
you off lightly; and seeing that you are but a boy, and have been,
perhaps, led into this, they will not be disposed to be hard on you.
Pick up that lantern and bring it here, John; let us see what
plunder, they were making off with."

There was no rope this time, but a bag containing some fifty pounds'
weight of brass and copper fittings. One of the constables took
possession of this.

"You had better come along with us to the Bridewell, Master Dowsett,
to sign the charge sheet, though I don't know whether it is
altogether needful, seeing that we have caught them in the act; and
you will all three have to be at the Court to-morrow at ten o'clock."

"I will go with you," the Captain said; "but I will first slip in and
put my shoes on; I brought them down in my hand and shall be ready in
a minute. You may as well lock up this gate again, John. I will go
out through the front door and join them in the lane." As he went
into the house, John Wilkes closed the gate and put up the bar, then
took up the lantern and said to Cyril,--

"Well, Master Cyril, this has been a good night's work, and mighty
thankful I am that we have caught the pirates. It was a good day for
us all when you came to the Captain, or they might have gone on
robbing him till the time came that there was nothing more to rob;
and I should never have held up my head again, for though the Captain
would never believe that I had had a hand in bringing him to ruin,
other people would not have thought so, and I might never have got a
chance of proving my innocence. Now we will just go to the end of the
yard and see if they did manage to get into the warehouse by means of
that crane, as you thought they did."

They found that the crane had been swung out just far enough to
afford a foot-hold to those lowering themselves on to it from the
roof. The door of the loft stood open.

"Just as you said. You could not have been righter, not if you had
seen them at it. And now I reckon we may as well lock up the place
again, and turn in. The Captain has got the key of the front door,
and we will leave the lantern burning at the bottom of the stairs."

Cyril got up as soon as he heard a movement in the house, and went
down to the shop, which had been already opened by John Wilkes.

"It seems quiet here, without the apprentices, John. Is there any way
in which I can help?"

"No, thank you, sir. We shan't be moving the goods about till after
breakfast, and then, no doubt, the Captain will get an extra man in
to help me. I reckon he will have to get a neighbour in to give an
eye to the place while we are all away at the Court."

"I see there is the rope still hanging from their window," Cyril
said, as he went out into the yard.

"I thought it best to leave it there," John Wilkes replied, "and I
ain't been up into the loft either. It is best to leave matters just
as they were. Like enough, they will send an officer down from the
Court to look at them."

When the family assembled at breakfast, Mrs. Dowsett was looking very
grave. The Captain, on the other hand, was in capital spirits.
Nellie, as usual, was somewhat late.

"Where is everybody?" she asked in surprise, seeing that Cyril alone
was in his place with her father and mother.

"John Wilkes is downstairs, looking after the shop, and will come up
and have his breakfast when we have done," her father replied.

"Are both the apprentices out, then?" she asked.

"The apprentices are in limbo," the Captain said grimly.

"In limbo, father! What does that mean?"

"It means that they are in gaol, my dear."

Nellie put down the knife and fork that she had just taken up.

"Are you joking, father?"

"Very far from it, my dear; it is no joke to any of us--certainly not
to me, and not to Robert Ashford, or Tom Frost. They have been
robbing me for the last year, and, for aught I know, before that. If
it had not been for Master Cyril it would not have been very long
before I should have had to put my shutters up."

"But how could they rob you, father?"

"By stealing my goods, and selling them, Nellie. The way they did it
was to lower themselves by a rope from their window on to the roof of
the warehouse, and to get down at the other end on to the crane, and
then into the loft. Then they went down and took what they had a
fancy to, undid the door, and went into the yard, and then handed
over their booty to the fellows waiting at the gate for it. Last
night we caught them at it, after having been on the watch for ten

"That is what I heard last night, then," she said. "I was woke by a
loud whistle, and then I heard a sound of quarrelling and fighting in
the lane. I thought it was some roysterers going home late. Oh,
father, it is dreadful to think of! And what will they do to them?"

"It is a hanging matter," the Captain said; "it is not only theft,
but mutiny. No doubt the judges will take a lenient view of Tom
Frost's case, both on the ground of his youth, and because, no doubt,
he was influenced by Ashford; but I would not give much for Robert's
chances. No doubt it will be a blow to you, Nellie, for you seem to
have taken to him mightily of late."

Nellie was about to give an emphatic contradiction, but as she
remembered how pointedly she had asked for his escort during the last
few days, she flushed up, and was silent.

"It is terrible to think of," she said, after a pause. "I suppose
this is what you and Cyril were consulting about, father. I have to
ask your pardon, Master Cyril, for my rudeness to you; but of course
I did not think it was anything of consequence, or that you could not
have told me if you had wished to do so."

"You need not beg my pardon, Mistress Nellie. No doubt you thought it
churlish on my part to refuse to gratify your curiosity, and I am not
surprised that you took offence. I knew that when you learned how
important it was to keep silence over the matter, that you would
acquit me of the intention of making a mystery about nothing."

"I suppose you knew, mother?" Nellie asked.

"I knew that your father believed that he was being robbed, Nellie,
and that he was keeping watch for some hours every night, but I did
not know that he suspected the apprentices. I am glad that we did
not, for assuredly we should have found it very hard to school our
faces so that they should not guess that aught was wrong."

"That was why we said nothing about it, Nellie. It has been as much
as I have been able to do to sit at table, and talk in the shop as
usual, with boys I knew were robbing me; and I know honest John
Wilkes must have felt it still more. But till a week ago we would not
believe that they had a hand in the matter. It is seven nights since
Cyril caught them creeping along the roof, and called me to the
window in John Wilkes's room, whence he was watching the yard, not
thinking the enemy was in the house."

"And how did you come to suspect that robbery was going on, Cyril?"

"Simply because, on making up the books, I found there was a great
deficiency in the stores."

"That is what he was doing when he was sitting up at night, after you
were in bed, Miss Nellie," her father said. "You may thank your stars
that he took a berth in this ship, for the scoundrels would have
foundered her to a certainty, if he had not done so. I tell you,
child, he has saved this craft from going to the bottom. I have not
said much to him about it, but he knows that I don't feel it any the

"And who were the other men who were taken, father?"

"That I can't tell you, Nellie. I went to the Bridewell with them,
and as soon as I saw them safely lodged there I came home. They will
be had up before the Lord Mayor this morning, and then I dare say I
shall know all about them. Now I must go and take my watch below, and
let John Wilkes come off duty."

"Why, John, what is the matter?" Mrs. Dowsett said, when the foreman

"Nothing worth speaking of, Mistress. I got a clip over the eye from
one of the pirates we were capturing. The thing mattered nothing, one
way or the other, but it might have cost me my life, because, for a
moment, it pretty well dazed me. That young villain, Bob, was just
coming at me with his knife, and I reckon it would have gone hard
with me if Master Cyril here hadn't, just in the nick of time,
brought his stick down on Robert's knuckles, and that so sharply that
the fellow dropped his knife with a yell, and took to his heels, only
to fall into the hands of two of the watch coming from the other end
of the lane. You did me a good turn, lad, and if ever I get the
chance of ranging up alongside of you in a fray, you may trust me to
return it."

He held out his hand to Cyril, and gave a warm grip to the hand the
latter laid in it.

"It is a rum start, Mistress," John went on, as he sat down to his
meal, "that two old hands like the Captain and I were sailing on, not
dreaming of hidden rocks or sand-banks, when this lad, who I used to
look upon as a young cockerel who was rather above his position,
should come forward and have saved us all from shipwreck."

"It is indeed, John," his mistress said earnestly, "and I thank God
indeed that He put the thought into the minds of Captain Dave and
myself to ask him to take up his abode with us. It seemed to us then
that we were doing a little kindness that would cost us nothing,
whereas it has turned out the saving of us."

"Dear, dear!" Nellie, who had been sitting with a frown on her pretty
face, said pettishly. "What a talk there will be about it all, and
how Jane Greenwood and Martha Stebbings and the rest of them will
laugh at me! They used to say they wondered how I could go about with
such an ugly wretch behind me, and of course I spoke up for him and
said that he was an honest knave and faithful; and now it turns out
that he is a villain and a robber. I shall never hear the last of

"You will get over that, Nellie," her mother said severely. "It would
be much better if, instead of thinking of such trifles, you would
consider how sad a thing it is that two lads should lose their
character, and perhaps their lives, simply for their greed of other
people's goods. I could cry when I think of it. I know that Robert
Ashford has neither father nor mother to grieve about him, for my
husband's father took him out of sheer charity; but Tom's parents are
living, and it will be heart-breaking indeed to them when they hear
of their son's misdoings."

"I trust that Captain Dave will get him off," Cyril said. "As he is
so young he may turn King's evidence, and I feel sure that he did not
go willingly into the affair. I have noticed many times that he had a
frightened look, as if he had something on his mind. I believe that
he acted under fear of the other."

As soon as John Wilkes had finished his breakfast he went with
Captain Dave and Cyril to the Magistrates' Court at the Guildhall.
Some other cases were first heard, and then the apprentices, with the
two men who had been captured in the lane, were brought in and placed
in the dock. The men bore marks that showed they had been engaged in
a severe struggle, and that the watch had used their staves with
effect. One was an elderly man with shaggy grey eyebrows; the other
was a very powerfully built fellow, who seemed, from his attire, to
follow the profession of a sailor. Tom Frost was sobbing bitterly.
One of Robert Ashford's hands was bandaged up. As he was placed in
the dock he cast furtive glances round with his shifty eyes, and as
they fell upon Cyril an expression of deadly hate came over his face.
The men of the watch who had captured them first gave their evidence
as to finding them in the act of robbery, and testified to the
desperate resistance they had offered to capture. Captain Dave then
entered the witness-box, and swore first to the goods that were found
on them being his property, and then related how, it having come to
his knowledge that he was being robbed, he had set a watch, and had,
eight days previously, seen his two apprentices getting along the
roof, and how they had come out from the warehouse door, had opened
the outer gate, and had handed over some goods they had brought out
to persons unknown waiting to receive them.

"Why did you not stop them in their commission of the theft?" the
Alderman in the Chair asked.

"Because, sir, had I done so, the men I considered to be the chief
criminals, and who had doubtless tempted my apprentices to rob me,
would then have made off. Therefore, I thought it better to wait
until I could lay hands on them also, and so got four men of the
watch to remain in the house at night."

Then he went on to relate how, after watching seven nights, he had
again seen the apprentices make their way along the roof, and how
they and the receivers of their booty were taken by the watch, aided
by himself, his foreman, and Master Cyril Shenstone, who was dwelling
in his house.

After John Wilkes had given his evidence, Cyril went into the box and
related how, being engaged by Captain David Dowsett to make up his
books, he found, upon stock being taken, that there was a deficiency
to the amount of many hundreds of pounds in certain stores, notably
such as were valuable without being bulky.

"Is anything known as to the prisoners?" the magistrate asked the
officer of the city watch in charge of the case.

"Nothing is known of the two boys, your honour; but the men are well
known. The elder, who gave the name of Peter Johnson, is one Joseph
Marner; he keeps a marine shop close to the Tower. For a long time he
has been suspected of being a receiver of stolen goods, but we have
never been able to lay finger on him before. The other man has, for
the last year, acted as his assistant in the shop; he answers closely
to the description of a man, Ephraim Fowler, who has long been
wanted. This man was a seaman in a brig trading to Yarmouth. After an
altercation with the captain he stabbed him, and then slew the mate
who was coming to his assistance; then with threats he compelled the
other two men on board to let him take the boat. When they were off
Brightlingsea he rowed away, and has not been heard of since. If you
will remand them, before he comes up again I hope to find the men who
were on board, and see if they identify him. We are in possession of
Joseph Marner's shop, and have found large quantities of goods that
we have reason to believe are the proceeds of these and other

After the prisoners had left the dock, Captain Dave went up to the

"I believe," he said, "that the boy has not voluntarily taken part in
these robberies, but has been led away, or perhaps obliged by threats
to take part in them; he may be able to give you some assistance, for
maybe these men are not the only persons to whom the stolen goods
have been sold, and he may be able to put you on the track of other

"The matter is out of my hands now," the officer said, "but I will
represent what you say in the proper quarter; and now you had better
come round with me; you may be able to pick out some of your
property. We only made a seizure of the place an hour ago. I had all
the men who came in on duty this morning to take a look at the
prisoners. Fortunately two or three of them recognised Marner, and
you may guess we lost no time in getting a search warrant and going
down to his place. It is the most important capture we have made for
some time, and may lead to the discovery of other robberies that have
been puzzling us for months past. There is a gang known as the Black
Gang, but we have never been able to lay hands on any of their
leaders, and such fellows as have been captured have refused to say a
word, and have denied all knowledge of it. There have been a number
of robberies of a mysterious kind, none of which have we been able to
trace, and they have been put down to the same gang. The Chief
Constable is waiting for me there, and we shall make a thorough
search of the premises, and it is like enough we shall come across
some clue of importance. At any rate, if we can find some of the
articles stolen in the robberies I am speaking of, it will be a
strong proof that Marner is one of the chiefs of the gang, and that
may lead to further discoveries."

"You had better come with us, John," Captain Dave said. "You know our
goods better than I do myself. Will you come, Cyril?"

"I should be of no use in identifying the goods, sir, and I am due in
half an hour at one of my shops."

The search was an exhaustive one. There was no appearance of an
underground cellar, but on some of the boards of the shop being taken
up, it was found that there was a large one extending over the whole
house. This contained an immense variety of goods. In one corner was
a pile of copper bolts that Captain Dave and John were able to claim
at once, as they bore the brand of the maker from whom they obtained
their stock. There were boxes of copper and brass ship and house
fittings, and a very large quantity of rope, principally of the sizes
in which the stock had been found deficient; but to these Captain
Dave was unable to swear. In addition to these articles the cellar
contained a number of chests, all of which were found to be filled
with miscellaneous articles of wearing apparel--rolls of silk,
velvet, cloth, and other materials--curtains, watches, clocks,
ornaments of all kinds, and a considerable amount of plate. As among
these were many articles which answered to the descriptions given of
goods that had been stolen from country houses, the whole were
impounded by the Chief Constable, and carried away in carts. The
upper part of the house was carefully searched, the walls tapped,
wainscotting pulled down, and the floors carefully examined. Several
hiding-places were found, but nothing of any importance discovered in

"I should advise you," the Chief Constable said to Captain Dave, "to
put in a claim for every article corresponding with those you have
lost. Of course, if anyone else comes forward and also puts in a
claim, the matter will have to be gone into, and if neither of you
can absolutely swear to the things, I suppose you will have to settle
it somehow between you. If no one else claims them, you will get them
all without question, for you can swear that, to the best of your
knowledge and belief, they are yours, and bring samples of your own
goods to show that they exactly correspond with them. I have no doubt
that a good deal of the readily saleable stuff, such as ropes, brass
sheaves for blocks, and things of that sort, will have been sold, but
as it is clear that there is a good deal of your stuff in the stock
found below, I hope your loss will not be very great. There is no
doubt it has been a splendid find for us. It is likely enough that we
shall discover among those boxes goods that have been obtained from a
score of robberies in London, and likely enough in the country. We
have arrested three men we found in the place, and two women, and may
get from some of them information that will enable us to lay hands on
some of the others concerned in these robberies."



That afternoon Captain Dave went down to the Bridewell, and had an
interview with Tom Frost, in the presence of the Master of the

"Well, Tom, I never expected to have to come to see you in a place
like this."

"I am glad I am here, master," the boy said earnestly, with tears in
his eyes. "I don't mind if they hang me; I would rather anything than
go on as I have been doing. I knew it must come, and whenever I heard
anyone walk into the shop I made sure it was a constable. I am ready
to tell everything, master; I know I deserve whatever I shall get,
but that won't hurt me half as much as it has done, having to go on
living in the house with you, and knowing I was helping to rob you
all along."

"Anything that you say must be taken down," the officer said; "and I
can't promise that it will make any difference in your sentence."

"I do not care anything about that; I am going to tell the truth."

"Very well, then, I will take down anything you say. But wait a

He went to the door of the room and called.

"Is the Chief Constable in?" he asked a man who came up. "If he is,
ask him to step here."

A minute later the Chief Constable came in.

"This prisoner wishes to make a confession, Master Holmes. I thought
it best that you should be here. You can hear what he says then, and
it may help you in your inquiry. Besides, you may think of questions
on points he may not mention; he understands that he is speaking
entirely of his own free will, and that I have given him no promise
whatever that his so doing will alter his sentence, although no doubt
it will be taken into consideration."

"Quite so," the constable said. "This is not a case where one
prisoner would be ordinarily permitted to turn King's evidence
against the others, because, as they were caught in the act, no such
evidence is necessary. We know all about how the thing was done, and
who did it."

"I want to tell how I first came to rob my master," the boy said. "I
never thought of robbing him. When I came up to London, my father
said to me, 'Whatever you do, Tom, be honest. They say there are
rogues up in London; don't you have anything to do with them.' One
evening, about a year ago I went out with Robert, and we went to a
shop near the wall at Aldgate. I had never been there before, but
Robert knew the master, who was the old man that was taken in the
lane. Robert said the man was a relation of his father's, and had
been kind to him. We sat down and talked for a time, and then Robert,
who was sitting close to me, moved for something, and put his hand
against my pocket.

"'Hullo!' he said; 'what have you got there?'

"'Nothing,' I said.

"'Oh, haven't you?' and he put his hand in my pocket, and brought out
ten guineas. 'Hullo!' he said; 'where did you get these? You told me
yesterday you had not got a groat. Why, you young villain, you must
have been robbing the till!'

"I was so frightened that I could not say anything, except that I did
not know how they came there and I could swear that I had not touched
the till. I was too frightened to think then, but I have since
thought that the guineas were never in my pocket at all, but were in
Robert's hand.

"'That won't do, boy,' the man said. 'It is clear that you are a
thief. I saw Robert take them from your pocket, and, as an honest
man, it is my duty to take you to your master and tell him what sort
of an apprentice he has. You are young, and you will get off with a
whipping at the pillory, and that will teach you that honesty is the
best policy.'

"So he got his hat and put it on, and took me by the collar as if to
haul me out into the street. I went down on my knees to beg for
mercy, and at last he said that he would keep the matter quiet if I
would swear to do everything that Robert told me; and I was so
frightened that I swore to do so.

"For a bit there wasn't any stealing, but Robert used to take me out
over the roof, and we used to go out together and go to places where
there were two or three men, and they gave us wine. Then Robert
proposed that we should have a look through the warehouse. I did not
know what he meant, but as we went through he filled his pockets with
things and told me to take some too. I said I would not. Then he
threatened to raise the alarm, and said that when Captain Dave came
down he should say he heard me get up to come down by the rope on to
the warehouse, and that he had followed me to see what I was doing,
and had found me in the act of taking goods, and that, as he had
before caught me with money stolen from the till, as a friend of his
could testify, he felt that it was his duty to summon you at once. I
know I ought to have refused, and to have let him call you down, but
I was too frightened. At last I agreed to do what he told me, and
ever since then we have been robbing you."

"What have you done with the money you got for the things?" the
constable asked.

"I had a groat sometimes," the boy said, "but that is all. Robert
said first that I should have a share, but I said I would have
nothing to do with it. I did as he ordered me because I could not
help it. Though I have taken a groat or two sometimes, that is all I
have had."

"Do you know anything about how much Robert had?"

"No, sir; I never saw him paid any money. I supposed that he had some
because he has said sometimes he should set up a shop for himself,
down at some seaport town, when he was out of his apprenticeship; but
I have never seen him with any money beyond a little silver. I don't
know what he used to do when we had given the things to the men that
met us in the lane. I used always to come straight back to bed, but
generally he went out with them. I used to fasten the gate after him,
and he got back over the wall by a rope. Most times he didn't come in
till a little before daybreak."

"Were they always the same men that met you in the lane?"

"No, sir. The master of the shop was very seldom there. The big man
has come for the last three or four months, and there were two other
men. They used to be waiting for us together until the big man came,
but since then one or other of them came with him, except when the
master of the shop was there himself."

"Describe them to me."

The boy described them as well as he could.

"Could you swear to them if you saw them?"

"I think so. Of course, sometimes it was moonlight, and I could see
their faces well; and besides, the light of the lantern often fell
upon their faces."

The constable nodded.

"The descriptions answer exactly," he said to Captain Dave, "to the
two men we found in the shop. The place was evidently the
headquarters of a gang of thieves."

"Please, sir," the boy said, "would you have me shut up in another
place? I am afraid of being with the others. They have sworn they
will kill me if I say a word, and when I get back they will ask me
who I have seen and what I have said."

Captain Dave took the other two men aside.

"Could you not let the boy come home with me?" he said. "I believe
his story is a true one. He has been terrified into helping that
rascal, Robert Ashford. Of course he himself was of no good to them,
but they were obliged to force him into it, as otherwise he would
have found out Robert's absences and might have reported them to me.
I will give what bail you like, and will undertake to produce him
whenever he is required."

"I could not do that myself," the constable said, "but I will go
round to the Court now with the boy's confession, and I have no doubt
the Alderman will let him go. But let me give you a word of advice:
don't let him stir out of the house after dark. We have no doubt that
there is a big gang concerned in this robbery, and the others of
which we found the booty at the receiver's. They would not know how
much this boy could tell about them, but if he went back to you they
would guess that he had peached. If he went out after dark, the
chances would be against his ever coming back again. No, now I think
of it, I am sure you had better let him stay where he is. The Master
will put him apart from the others, and make him comfortable. You
see, at present we have no clue as to the men concerned in the
robberies. You may be sure that they are watching every move on our
part, and if they knew that this boy was out, they might take the
alarm and make off."

"Well, if you think so, I will leave him here."

"I am sure that it would be the best plan."

"You will make him comfortable, Master Holroyd?"

"Yes; you need not worry about him, Captain Dowsett."

They then turned to the boy.

"You will be moved away from the others, Tom," Captain Dave said,
"and Mr. Holroyd has promised to make you comfortable."

"Oh, Captain Dave," the boy burst out, "will you forgive me? I don't
mind being punished, but if you knew how awfully miserable I have
been all this time, knowing that I was robbing you while you were so
kind to me, I think you would forgive me."

"I forgive you, Tom," Captain Dave said, putting his hand on the
boy's shoulder. "I hope that this will be a lesson to you, all your
life. You see all this has come upon you because you were a coward.
If you had been a brave lad you would have said, 'Take me to my
master.' You might have been sure that I would have heard your story
as well as theirs, and I don't think I should have decided against
you under the circumstances. It was only your word against Robert's;
and his taking you to this man's, and finding the money in your
pocket in so unlikely a way, would certainly have caused me to have
suspicions. There is nothing so bad as cowardice; it is the father of
all faults. A coward is certain to be a liar, for he will not
hesitate to tell any falsehood to shelter him from the consequences
of a fault. In your case, you see, cowardice has made you a thief;
and in some cases it might drive a man to commit a murder. However,
lad, I forgive you freely. You have been weak, and your weakness has
made you a criminal; but it has been against your own will. When all
this is over, I will see what can be done for you. You may live to be
an honest man and a good citizen yet."

Two days later Cyril was returning home late in the evening after
being engaged longer than usual in making up a number of accounts for
one of his customers. He had come through Leadenhall Street, and had
entered the lane where the capture of the thieves had been made, when
he heard a footstep behind him. He turned half round to see who was
following him, when he received a tremendous blow on the head which
struck him senseless to the ground.

After a time he was dimly conscious that he was being carried along.
He was unable to move; there was something in his mouth that
prevented him from calling out, and his head was muffled in a cloak.
He felt too weak and confused to struggle. A minute later he heard a
voice, that sounded below him, say,--

"Have you got him?"

"I have got him all right," was the answer of the man who was
carrying him.

Then he felt that he was being carried down some stairs.

Someone took him, and he was thrown roughly down; then there was a
slight rattling noise, followed by a regular sound. He wondered
vaguely what it was, but as his senses came back it flashed upon him;
it was the sound of oars; he was in a boat. It was some time before
he could think why he should be in a boat. He had doubtless been
carried off by some of the friends of the prisoners', partly,
perhaps, to prevent his giving evidence against them, partly from
revenge for the part he had played in the discovery of the crime.

In a few minutes the sound of oars ceased, and there was a bump as
the boat struck against something hard. Then he was lifted up, and
someone took hold of him from above. He was carried a few steps and
roughly thrust in somewhere. There was a sound of something heavy
being thrown down above him, and then for a long time he knew nothing

When he became conscious again, he was able, as he lay there, to come
to a distinct conclusion as to where he was. He had been kidnapped,
carried off, taken out in a boat to some craft anchored in the river,
and was now in the hold. He felt almost suffocated. The wrap round
his head prevented his breathing freely, the gag in his mouth pressed
on his tongue, and gave him severe pain, while his head ached acutely
from the effects of the blow.

The first thing to do was, if possible, to free his hands, so as to
relieve himself from the gag and muffling. An effort or two soon
showed him that he was but loosely bound. Doubtless the man who had
attacked him had not wasted much time in securing his arms, believing
that the blow would be sufficient to keep him quiet until he was safe
on board ship. It was, therefore, without much difficulty that he
managed to free one of his hands, and it was then an easy task to get
rid of the rope altogether. The cloak was pulled from his face, and,
feeling for his knife, he cut the lashings of the gag and removed it
from his mouth. He lay quiet for a few minutes, panting from his
exhaustion. Putting up his hand he felt a beam about a foot above his
body. He was, then, in a hold already stored with cargo. The next
thing was to shift his position among the barrels and bales upon
which he was lying, until he found a comparatively level spot. He was
in too great pain to think of sleep; his head throbbed fiercely, and
he suffered from intense thirst.

From time to time heavy footsteps passed overhead. Presently he heard
a sudden rattling of blocks, and the flapping of a sail. Then he
noticed that there was a slight change in the level of his position,
and knew that the craft was under way on her voyage down the river.

It seemed an immense time to him before he saw a faint gleam of
light, and edging himself along, found himself again under the
hatchway, through a crack in which the light was shining. It was some
hours before the hatch was lifted off, and he saw two men looking

"Water!" he said. "I am dying of thirst."

"Bring a pannikin of water," one of the men said, "but first give us
a hand, and we will have him on deck."

Stooping down, they took Cyril by the shoulders and hoisted him out.

"He is a decent-looking young chap," the speaker went on. "I would
have seen to him before, if I had known him to be so bad. Those
fellows didn't tell us they had hurt him. Here is the water, young
fellow. Can you sit up to drink it?"

Cyril sat up and drank off the contents of the pannikin.

"Why, the back of your head is all covered with blood!" the man who
had before spoken said. "You must have had an ugly knock?"

"I don't care so much for that," Cyril replied. "It's the gag that
hurt me. My tongue is so much swollen I can hardly speak."

"Well, you can stay here on deck if you will give me your promise not
to hail any craft we may pass. If you won't do that I must put you
down under hatches again."

"I will promise that willingly," Cyril said; "the more so that I can
scarce speak above a whisper."

"Mind, if you as much as wave a hand, or do anything to bring an eye
on us, down you go into the hold again, and when you come up next
time it will be to go overboard. Now just put your head over the
rail, and I will pour a few buckets of water over it. I agreed to get
you out of the way, but I have got no grudge against you, and don't
want to do you harm."

Getting a bucket with a rope tied to the handle, he dipped it into
the river, and poured half-a-dozen pailfuls over Cyril's head. The
lad felt greatly refreshed, and, sitting down on the deck, was able
to look round. The craft was a coaster of about twenty tons burden.
There were three men on deck besides the man who had spoken to him,
and who was evidently the skipper. Besides these a boy occasionally
put up his head from a hatchway forward. There was a pile of barrels
and empty baskets amidship, and the men presently began to wash down
the decks and to tidy up the ropes and gear lying about. The shore on
both sides was flat, and Cyril was surprised at the width of the
river. Behind them was a small town, standing on higher ground.

"What place is that?" he asked a sailor who passed near him.

"That is Gravesend."

A few minutes afterwards the boy again put his head out of the
hatchway and shouted,--


"Can you eat anything, youngster?" the skipper asked Cyril.

"No, thank you, my head aches too much; and my mouth is so sore I am
sure I could not get anything down."

"Well, you had best lie down, then, with your head on that coil of
rope; I allow you did not sleep much last night."

In a few minutes Cyril was sound asleep, and when he awoke the sun
was setting.

"You have had a good bout of it, lad," the skipper said, as he raised
himself on his elbow and looked round. "How are you feeling now?"

"A great deal better," Cyril said, as he rose to his feet.

"Supper will be ready in a few minutes, and if you can manage to get
a bit down it will do you good."

"I will try, anyhow," Cyril said. "I think that I feel hungry."

The land was now but a faint line on either hand. A gentle breeze was
blowing from the south-west, and the craft was running along over the
smooth water at the rate of three or four miles an hour. Cyril
wondered where he was being taken to, and what was going to be done
with him, but determined to ask no questions. The skipper was
evidently a kind-hearted man, although he might be engaged in lawless
business, but it was as well to wait until he chose to open the

As soon as the boy hailed, the captain led the way to the hatchway.
They descended a short ladder into the fo'castle, which was low, but
roomy. Supper consisted of boiled skate--a fish Cyril had never
tasted before--oaten bread, and beer. His mouth was still sore, but
he managed to make a hearty meal of fish, though he could not manage
the hard bread. One of the men was engaged at the helm, but the other
two shared the meal, all being seated on lockers that ran round the
cabin. The fish were placed on an earthenware dish, each man cutting
off slices with his jack-knife, and using his bread as a platter.
Little was said while the meal went on; but when they went on deck
again, the skipper, having put another man at the tiller, while the
man released went forward to get his supper, said,--

"Well, I think you are in luck, lad."

Cyril opened his eyes in surprise.

"You don't think so?" the man went on. "I don't mean that you are in
luck in being knocked about and carried off, but that you are not
floating down the river at present instead of walking the deck here.
I can only suppose that they thought your body might be picked up,
and that it would go all the harder with the prisoners, if it were
proved that you had been put out of the way. You don't look like an
informer either!"

"I am not an informer," Cyril said indignantly. "I found that my
employer was being robbed, and I aided him to catch the thieves. I
don't call that informing. That is when a man betrays others engaged
in the same work as himself."

"Well, well, it makes no difference to me," the skipper said. "I was
engaged by a man, with whom I do business sometimes, to take a fellow
who had been troublesome out of the way, and to see that he did not
come back again for some time. I bargained that there was to be no
foul play; I don't hold with things of that sort. As to carrying down
a bale of goods sometimes, or taking a few kegs of spirits from a
French lugger, I see no harm in it; but when it comes to cutting
throats, I wash my hands of it. I am sorry now I brought you off,
though maybe if I had refused they would have put a knife into you,
and chucked you into the river. However, now that I have got you I
must go through with it. I ain't a man to go back from my word, and
what I says I always sticks to. Still, I am sorry I had anything to
do with the business. You look to me a decent young gentleman, though
your looks and your clothes have not been improved by what you have
gone through. Well, at any rate, I promise you that no harm shall
come to you as long as you are in my hands."

"And how long is that likely to be, captain?"

"Ah! that is more than I can tell you. I don't want to do you harm,
lad, and more than that, I will prevent other people from doing you
harm as long as you are on board this craft. But more than that I
can't say. It is likely enough I shall have trouble in keeping that
promise, and I can't go a step farther. There is many a man who would
have chucked you overboard, and so have got rid of the trouble
altogether, and of the risk of its being afterwards proved that he
had a hand in getting you out of the way."

"I feel that, captain," Cyril said, "and I thank you heartily for
your kind treatment of me. I promise you that if at any time I am set
ashore and find my way back to London, I will say no word which can
get you into trouble."

"There is Tom coming upon deck. You had better turn in. You have had
a good sleep, but I have no doubt you can do with some more, and a
night's rest will set you up. You take the left-hand locker. The boy
sleeps on the right hand, and we have bunks overhead."

Cyril was soon soundly asleep, and did not wake when the others
turned in. He was alone in the cabin when he opened his eyes, but the
sun was shining brightly through the open hatchway. He sprang up and
went on deck. The craft was at anchor. No land could be seen to the
south, but to the north a low shore stretched away three or four
miles distant. There was scarcely a breath of wind.

"Well, you have had a good sleep, lad," the captain said. "You had
best dip that bucket overboard and have a wash; you will feel better
after it. Now, boy, slip down and get your fire going; we shall be
ready for breakfast as soon as it is ready for us."

Cyril soused his head with the cold water, and felt, as the captain
had said, all the better for it, for the air in the little cabin was
close and stuffy, and he had felt hot and feverish before his wash.

"The wind died out, you see," the captain said, "and we had to anchor
when tide turned at two o'clock. There is a dark line behind us, and
as soon as the wind reaches us, we will up anchor. The force of the
tide is spent."

The wind, however, continued very light, and the vessel did little
more than drift with the tide, and when it turned at two o'clock they
had to drop anchor again close under some high land, on the top of
which stood a lofty tower.

"That is a land-mark," the captain said. "There are some bad sands
outside us, and that stands as a mark for vessels coming through."

Cyril had enjoyed the quiet passage much. The wound at the back of
his head still smarted, and he had felt disinclined for any exertion.
More than once, in spite of the good allowance of sleep he had had,
he dozed off as he sat on the deck with his back against the bulwark,
watching the shore as they drifted slowly past it, and wondering
vaguely, how it would all end. They had been anchored but half an
hour when the captain ordered the men to the windlass.

"There is a breeze coming, lads," he said; "and even if it only lasts
for an hour, it will take us round the head and far enough into the
bay to get into the tide running up the rivers."

The breeze, however, when it came, held steadily, and in two hours
they were off Harwich; but on coming opposite the town they turned
off up the Orwell, and anchored, after dark, at a small village some
six miles up the river.

"If you will give me your word, lad, that you will not try to escape,
and will not communicate with anyone who may come off from the shore,
I will continue to treat you as a passenger; but if not, I must
fasten you up in the cabin, and keep a watch over you."

"I will promise, captain. I should not know where to go if I landed.
I heard you say, 'There is Harwich steeple,' when we first came in
sight of it, but where that is I have no idea, nor how far we are
from London. As I have not a penny in my pocket, I should find it
well-nigh impossible to make my way to town, which may, for aught I
know, be a hundred miles away; for, in truth, I know but little of
the geography of England, having been brought up in France, and not
having been out of sight of London since I came over."

Just as he was speaking, the splash of an oar was heard close by.

"Up, men," the captain said in a low tone to those in the fo'castle.
"Bring up the cutlasses. Who is that?" he called, hailing the boat.

"Merry men all," was the reply.

"All right. Come alongside. You saw our signal, then?"

"Ay, ay, we saw it; but there is an officer with a boat-load of
sailors ashore from the King's ship at Harwich. He is spending the
evening with the revenue captain here, and we had to wait until the
two men left in charge of the boat went up to join their comrades at
the tavern. What have you got for us?"

"Six boxes and a lot of dunnage, such as cables, chains, and some
small anchors."

"Well, you had better wait for an hour before you take the hatches
off. You will hear the gig with the sailors row past soon. The tide
has begun to run down strong, and I expect the officer won't be long
before he moves. As soon as he has gone we will come out again. We
shall take the goods up half a mile farther. The revenue man on that
beat has been paid to keep his eyes shut, and we shall get them all
stored in a hut, a mile away in the woods, before daybreak. You know
the landing-place; there will be water enough for us to row in there
for another two hours."

The boat rowed away to the shore, which was not more than a hundred
yards distant. A little later they heard a stir on the strand, then
came the sound of oars, and two minutes later a boat shot past close
to them, and then, bearing away, rowed down the river.

"Now, lads," the captain said, "get the hatches off. The wind is
coming more offshore, which is all the better for us, but do not make
more noise than you can help."

The hatches were taken off, and the men proceeded to get up a number
of barrels and bales, some sail-cloth being thrown on the deck to
deaden the sound. Lanterns, passed down into the hold, gave them
light for their operations.

"This is the lot," one of the sailors said presently.

Six large boxes were then passed up and put apart from the others.
Then followed eight or ten coils of rope, a quantity of chain, some
kedge anchors, a number of blocks, five rolls of canvas, and some
heavy bags that, by the sound they made when they were laid down,
Cyril judged to contain metal articles of some sort. Then the other
goods were lowered into the hold and the hatches replaced. The work
had scarcely concluded when the boat again came alongside, this time
with four men on board. Scarcely a word was spoken as the goods were
transferred to the boat.

"You will be going to-morrow?" one of the men in the boat asked.

"Yes, I shall get up to Ipswich on the top of the tide--that is, if I
don't stick fast in this crooked channel. My cargo is all either for
Ipswich or Aldborough. Now let us turn in," as the boatmen made their
way up the river. "We must be under way before daylight, or else we
shall not save the tide down to-morrow evening. I am glad we have got
that lot safely off. I always feel uncomfortable until we get rid of
that part of the cargo. If it wasn't that it paid better than all the
rest together I would not have anything to do with it."

Cyril was very glad to lie down on the locker, while the men turned
into their berths overhead. He had not yet fully recovered from the
effects of the blow he had received, but in spite of the aching of
his head he was soon sound asleep. It seemed to him that he had
scarcely closed his eyes when he was roused by the captain's voice,--

"Tumble up, lads. The light is beginning to show."

Ten minutes later they were under way. The breeze had almost died
out, and after sailing for some two miles in nearly a straight
course, the boat was thrown over, two men got into it, and, fastening
a rope to the ketch's bow, proceeded to tow her along, the captain
taking the helm.

To Cyril's surprise, they turned off almost at right angles to the
course they had before been following, and made straight for the
opposite shore. They approached it so closely that Cyril expected
that in another moment the craft would take ground, when, at a shout
from the captain, the men in the boat started off parallel with the
shore, taking the craft's head round. For the next three-quarters of
an hour they pursued a serpentine course, the boy standing in the
chains and heaving the lead continually. At last the captain
shouted,--"You can come on board now, lads. We are in the straight
channel at last." Twenty minutes later they again dropped their
anchor opposite a town of considerable size.

"That is Ipswich, lad," the captain said. "It is as nasty a place to
get into as there is in England, unless you have got the wind due

The work of unloading began at once, and was carried on until after

"That is the last of them," the captain said, to Cyril's
satisfaction. "We can be off now when the tide turns, and if we
hadn't got clear to-night we might have lost hours, for there is no
getting these people on shore to understand that the loss of a tide
means the loss of a day, and that it is no harder to get up and do
your work at one hour than it is at another. I shall have a clean up,
now, and go ashore. I have got your promise, lad, that you won't try
to escape?"

Cyril assented. Standing on the deck there, with the river bank but
twenty yards away, it seemed hard that he should not be able to
escape. But, as he told himself, he would not have been standing
there if it had not been for that promise, but would have been lying,
tightly bound, down in the hold.

Cyril and the men were asleep when the captain came aboard, the boy
alone remaining up to fetch him off in the boat when he hailed.

"There is no wind, captain," Cyril said, as the anchor was got up.

"No, lad, I am glad there is not. We can drop down with the tide and
the boat towing us, but if there was a head wind we might have to
stop here till it either dropped or shifted. I have been here three
weeks at a spell. I got some news ashore," he went on, as he took his
place at the helm, while the three men rowed the boat ahead. "A man I
sometimes bring things to told me that he heard there had been an
attempt to rescue the men concerned in that robbery. I heard, before
I left London, it was likely that it would be attempted."

There were a lot of people concerned in that affair, one way and
another, and I knew they would move heaven and earth to get them out,
for if any of them peached there would be such a haul as the
constables never made in the city before. Word was passed to the
prisoners to be ready, and as they were being taken from the
Guildhall to Newgate there was a sudden rush made. The constables
were not caught napping, and there was a tough fight, till the
citizens ran out of their shops and took part with them, and the men,
who were sailors, watermen, 'longshore-men, and rascals of all sorts,

"But two of the prisoners were missing. One was, I heard, an
apprentice who was mixed up in the affair, and no one saw him go.
They say he must have stooped down and wriggled away into the crowd.
The other was a man they called Black Dick; he struck down two
constables, broke through the crowd, and got clean away. There is a
great hue and cry, but so far nothing has been heard of them. They
will be kept in hiding somewhere till there is a chance of getting
them through the gates or on board a craft lying in the river. Our
men made a mess of it, or they would have got them all off. I hear
that they are all in a fine taking that Marner is safely lodged in
Newgate with the others taken in his house; he knows so much that if
he chose to peach he could hang a score of men. Black Dick could tell
a good deal, but he wasn't in all the secrets, and they say Marner is
really the head of the band and had a finger in pretty nigh every
robbery through the country. All those taken in his place are also in
Newgate, and they say the constables are searching the city like
ferrets in a rabbit-warren, and that several other arrests have been

"I am not sorry the apprentice got away," Cyril said. "He is a bad
fellow, there is no doubt, and, by the look he gave me, he would do
me harm if he got a chance, but I suppose that is only natural. As to
the other man, he looked to me to be a desperate villain, and he also
gave me so evil a look that, though he was in the dock with a
constable on either side of him, I felt horribly uncomfortable,
especially when I heard what sort of man he was."

"What did they say of him?"

"They said they believed he was a man named Ephraim Fowler, who had
murdered the skipper and mate of a coaster and then went off in the

"Is that the man? Then truly do I regret that he has escaped. I knew
both John Moore, the master, and George Monson, the mate, and many a
flagon of beer we have emptied together. If I had known the fellow's
whereabouts, I would have put the constables on his track. I am
heartily sorry now, boy, that I had a hand in carrying you off,
though maybe it is best for you that it has been so. If I hadn't
taken you someone else would, and more than likely you would not have
fared so well as you have done, for some of them would have saved
themselves all further trouble and risk, by chucking you overboard as
soon as they were well out of the Pool."

"Can't you put me ashore now, captain?"

"No, boy; I have given my word and taken my money, and I am not one
to fail to carry out a bargain because I find that I have made a bad
one. They have trusted me with thousands of pounds' worth of goods,
and I have no reason to complain of their pay, and am not going to
turn my back on them now they have got into trouble; besides, though
I would trust you not to round upon me, I would not trust them. If
you were to turn up in London they would know that I had sold them,
and Marner would soon hear of it. There is a way of getting messages
to a man even in prison. Then you may be sure that, if he said
nothing else, he would take good care to let out that I was the man
who used to carry their booty away, sometimes to quiet places on the
coast, and sometimes across to Holland, and the first time I dropped
anchor in the Pool I should find myself seized and thrown into limbo.
No, lad; I must carry out my agreement--which is that I am not to
land you in England, but that I am to take you across to Holland or
elsewhere--the elsewhere meaning that if you fall overboard by the
way there will be no complaints as to the breach of the agreement.
That is, in fact, what they really meant, though they did not
actually put it into words. They said, 'We have a boy who is an
informer, and has been the means of Marner being seized and his place
broken up, and there is no saying that a score of us may not get a
rope round our necks. In consequence, we want him carried away. What
you do with him is nothing to us so long as he don't set foot in
England again.' 'Will Holland suit you? I am going across there,' I
said, 'after touching at Ipswich and Aldborough.' 'It would be much
safer for you and everyone else if it happen that he falls over
before he gets there. However, we will call it Holland.'"

"Then if I were to fall overboard," Cyril said, with a smile, "you
would not be breaking your agreement, captain? I might fall overboard
to-night, you know."

"I would not advise it, lad. You had much better stay where you are.
I don't say I mightn't anchor off Harwich, and that if you fell
overboard you couldn't manage to swim ashore, but I tell you I would
not give twopence for your life when you got back to London. It is to
the interest of a score of men to keep Marner's mouth shut. They have
shown their willingness to help him as far as they could, by getting
you out of the way, and if you got back they would have your life the
first time you ventured out of doors after dark; they would be afraid
Marner would suppose they had sold him if you were to turn up at his
trial, and as like as not he would round on the whole lot. Besides, I
don't think it would be over safe for me the first time I showed
myself in London afterwards, for, though I never said that I would do
it, I have no doubt they reckoned that I should chuck you overboard,
and if you were to make your appearance in London they would
certainly put it down that I had sold them. You keep yourself quiet,
and I will land you in Holland, but not as they would expect, without
a penny or a friend; I will put you into good hands, and arrange that
you shall be sent back again as soon as the trial is over."

"Thank you very much, captain. I have no relations in London, and no
friends, except my employer, Captain David Dowsett, and by this time
he will have made up his mind that I am dead, and it won't make much
difference whether I return in four or five days or as many weeks."



The _Eliza_, for this Cyril, after leaving Ipswich, learnt was her
name, unloaded the rest of her cargo at Aldborough, and then sailed
across to Rotterdam. The skipper fulfilled his promise by taking
Cyril to the house of one of the men with whom he did business, and
arranging with him to board the boy until word came that he could
safely return to England. The man was a diamond-cutter, and to him
packets of jewellery and gems that could not be disposed of in
England had often been brought over by the captain. The latter had
nothing to do with the pecuniary arrangements, which were made direct
by Marner, and he had only to hand over the packets and take back
sums of money to England.

"You understand," the captain said to Cyril, "that I have not said a
word touching the matter for which you are here. I have only told him
that it had been thought it was as well you should be out of England
for a time. Of course, he understood that you were wanted for an
affair in which you had taken part; but it matters not what he
thinks. I have paid him for a month's board for you, and here are
three pounds, which will be enough to pay for your passage back if I
myself should not return. If you do not hear from me, or see the
_Eliza_, within four weeks, there is no reason why you should not
take passage back. The trial will be over by that time, and as the
members of the gang have done their part in preventing you from
appearing, I see not why they should have further grudge against

"I cannot thank you too much for your kindness, captain. I trust that
when I get back you will call at Captain Dowsett's store in Tower
Street, so that I may see you and again thank you; I know that the
Captain himself will welcome you heartily when I tell him how kindly
you have treated me. He will be almost as glad as I shall myself to
see you. I suppose you could not take him a message or letter from me

"I think not, lad. It would never do for him to be able to say at the
trial that he had learnt you had been kidnapped. They might write
over here to the Dutch authorities about you. There is one thing
further. From what I heard when I landed yesterday, it seems that
there is likely to be war between Holland and England."

"I heard a talk of it in London," Cyril said, "but I do not rightly
understand the cause, nor did I inquire much about the matter."

"It is something about the colonies, and our taxing their goods, but
I don't rightly understand the quarrel, except that the Dutch think,
now that Blake is gone and our ships for the most part laid up, they
may be able to take their revenge for the lickings we have given
them. Should there be war, as you say you speak French as well as
English, I should think you had best make your way to Dunkirk as a
young Frenchman, and from there you would find no difficulty in
crossing to England."

"I know Dunkirk well, captain, having indeed lived there all my life.
I should have no difficulty in travelling through Holland as a French

"If there is a war," the captain said, "I shall, of course, come here
no more; but it may be that you will see me at Dunkirk. French brandy
sells as well as Dutch Schiedam, and if I cannot get the one I may
perhaps get the other; and there is less danger in coming to Dunkirk
and making across to Harwich than there is in landing from Calais or
Nantes on the south coast, where the revenue men are much more on the
alert than they are at Harwich."

"Are you not afraid of getting your boat captured? You said it was
your own."

"Not much, lad. I bring over a regular cargo, and the kegs are stowed
away under the floor of the cabin, and I run them at Pin-mill--that
is the place we anchored the night before we got to Ipswich. I have
been overhauled a good many times, but the cargo always looks right,
and after searching it for a bit, they conclude it is all regular.
You see, I don't bring over a great quantity--fifteen or twenty kegs
is as much as I can stow away--and it is a long way safer being
content with a small profit than trying to make a big one."

Cyril parted with regret from the captain, whose departure had been
hastened by a report that war might be declared at any moment, in
which case the _Eliza_ might have been detained for a considerable
time. He had, therefore, been working almost night and day to get in
his cargo, and Cyril had remained on board until the last moment. He
had seen the diamond dealer but once, and hoped that he should not
meet him often, for he felt certain that awkward questions would be
asked him. This man was in the habit of having dealings with Marner,
and had doubtless understood from the captain that he was in some way
connected with his gang; and were he to find out the truth he would
view him with the reverse of a friendly eye. He had told him that he
was to take his meals with his clerk, and Cyril hoped, therefore,
that he should seldom see him.

He wandered about the wharf until it became dark. Then he went in and
took supper with the clerk. As the latter spoke Dutch only, there was
no possibility of conversation. Cyril was thinking of going up to his
bed when there was a ring at the bell. The clerk went to answer it,
leaving the door open as he went out, and Cyril heard a voice ask, in
English, if Herr Schweindorf was in. The clerk said something in

"The fool does not understand English, Robert," the man said.

"Tell him," he said, in a louder voice, to the clerk, "that two
persons from England--England, you understand--who have only just
arrived, want to see him on particular business. There, don't be
blocking up the door; just go and tell your master what I told you."

He pushed his way into the passage, and the clerk, seeing that there
was nothing else to do, went upstairs.

A minute later he came down again, and made a sign for them to follow
him. As they went up Cyril stole out and looked after them. The fact
that they had come from England, and that one of them was named
Robert, and that they had business with this man, who was in
connection with Marner, had excited his suspicions, but he felt a
shiver of fear run through him as he recognised the figures of Robert
Ashford and the man who was called Black Dick. He remembered the
expression of hatred with which they had regarded him in the Court,
and felt that his danger would be great indeed did they hear that he
was in Rotterdam. A moment's thought convinced him that they would
almost certainly learn this at once from his host. The letter would
naturally mention that the captain had left a lad in his charge who
was, as he believed, connected with them. They would denounce him as
an enemy instead of a friend. The diamond merchant would expel him
from his house, terrified at the thought that he possessed
information as to his dealings with this band in England; and once
beyond the door he would, in this strange town, be at the mercy of
his enemies. Cyril's first impulse was to run back into the room,
seize his cap, and fly. He waited, however, until the clerk came down
again; then he put his cap carelessly on his head.

"I am going for a walk," he said, waving his hand vaguely.

The man nodded, went with him to the door, and Cyril heard him put up
the bar after he had gone out. He walked quietly away, for there was
no fear of immediate pursuit.

Black Dick had probably brought over some more jewels to dispose of,
and that business would be transacted, before there would be any talk
of other matters. It might be a quarter of an hour before they heard
that he was an inmate of the house; then, when they went downstairs
with the dealer, they would hear that he had gone out for a walk and
would await his return, so that he had two or three hours at least
before there would be any search.

It was early yet. Some of the boats might be discharging by
torchlight. At any rate, he might hear of a ship starting in the
morning. He went down to the wharf. There was plenty of bustle here;
boats were landing fish, and larger craft were discharging or taking
in cargo; but his inability to speak Dutch prevented his asking
questions. He crossed to the other side of the road. The houses here
were principally stores or drinking taverns. In the window of one was
stuck up, "English and French Spoken Here." He went inside, walked up
to the bar, and called for a glass of beer in English.

"You speak English, landlord?" he asked, as the mug was placed before

The latter nodded.

"I want to take passage either to England or to France," he said. "I
came out here but a few days ago, and I hear that there is going to
be trouble between the two countries. It will therefore be of no use
my going on to Amsterdam. I wish to get back again, for I am told
that if I delay I may be too late. I cannot speak Dutch, and
therefore cannot inquire if any boat will be sailing in the morning
for England or Dunkirk. I have acquaintances in Dunkirk, and speak
French, so it makes no difference to me whether I go there or to

"My boy speaks French," the landlord said, "and if you like he can go
along the port with you. Of course, you will give him something for
his trouble?"

"Willingly," Cyril said, "and be much obliged to you into the

The landlord left the bar and returned in a minute with a boy twelve
years old.

"He does not speak French very well," he said, "but I dare say it
will be enough for your purpose. I have told him that you want to
take ship to England, or that, if you cannot find one, to Dunkirk. If
that will not do, Ostend might suit you. They speak French there, and
there are boats always going between there and England."

"That would do; though I should prefer the other."

"There would be no difficulty at any other time in getting a boat for
England, but I don't know whether you will do so now. They have been
clearing off for some days, and I doubt if you will find an English
ship in port now, though of course there may be those who have been
delayed for their cargo."

Cyril went out with the boy, and after making many inquiries learnt
that there was but one English vessel still in port. However, Cyril
told his guide that he would prefer one for Dunkirk if they could
find one, for if war were declared before the boat sailed, she might
be detained. After some search they found a coasting scow that would
sail in the morning.

"They will touch at two or three places," the boy said to Cyril,
after a talk with the captain; "but if you are not in a hurry, he
will take you and land you at Dunkirk for a pound--that is, if he
finds food; if you find food he will take you for eight shillings. He
will start at daybreak."

"Tell him that I agree to his price. I don't want the trouble of
getting food. As he will be going so early, I will come on board at
once. I will get my bundle, and will be back in half an hour."

He went with the boy to one of the sailors' shops near, bought a
rough coat and a thick blanket, had them wrapped up into a parcel,
and then, after paying the boy, went on board.

As he expected, he found there were no beds or accommodation for
passengers, so he stretched himself on a locker in the cabin, covered
himself with his blanket, and put the coat under his head for a
pillow. His real reason for choosing this craft in preference to the
English ship was that he thought it probable that, when he did not
return to the house, it would at once be suspected that he had
recognised the visitors, and was not going to return at all. In that
case, they might suspect that he would try to take passage to
England, and would, the first thing in the morning, make a search for
him on board any English vessels that might be in the port.

It would be easy then for them to get him ashore, for the diamond
merchant might accuse him of theft, and so get him handed over to
him. Rather than run that risk, he would have started on foot had he
not been able to find a native craft sailing early in the morning.
Failing Dunkirk and Ostend, he would have taken a passage to any
other Dutch port, and run his chance of getting a ship from there.
The great point was to get away from Rotterdam.

The four men forming the crew of the scow returned late, and by their
loud talk Cyril, who kept his eyes closed, judged that they were in
liquor. In a short time they climbed up into their berths, and all
was quiet. At daybreak they were called up by the captain. Cyril lay
quiet until, by the rippling of the water against the side, he knew
that the craft was under way. He waited a few minutes, and then went
up on deck. The scow, clumsy as she looked, was running along fast
before a brisk wind, and in an hour Rotterdam lay far behind them.

The voyage was a pleasant one. They touched at Dordrecht, at
Steenbergen on the mainland, and Flushing, staying a few hours in
each place to take in or discharge cargo. After this, they made out
from the Islands, and ran along the coast, putting into Ostend and
Nieuport, and, four days after starting, entered the port of Dunkirk.

Cyril did not go ashore at any of the places at which they stopped.
It was possible that war might have been declared with England, and
as it might be noticed that he was a foreigner he would in that case
be questioned and arrested. As soon, therefore, as they neared a
quay, he went down to the cabin and slept until they got under way
again. The food was rough, but wholesome; it consisted entirely of
fish and black bread; but the sea air gave him a good appetite, and
he was in high spirits at the thought that he had escaped from danger
and was on his way back again. At Dunkirk he was under the French
flag, and half an hour after landing had engaged a passage to London
on a brig that was to sail on the following day. The voyage was a
stormy one, and he rejoiced in the possession of his great-coat,
which he had only bought in order that he might have a packet to
bring on board the scow, and so avoid exciting any suspicion or
question as to his being entirely unprovided with luggage.

It was three days before the brig dropped anchor in the Pool. As soon
as she did so, Cyril hailed a waterman, and spent almost his last
remaining coin in being taken to shore. He was glad that it was late
in the afternoon and so dark that his attire would not be noticed.
His clothes had suffered considerably from his capture and
confinement on board the _Eliza_, and his great-coat was of a rough
appearance that was very much out of character in the streets of
London. He had, however, but a short distance to traverse before he
reached the door of the house. He rang at the bell, and the door was
opened by John Wilkes.

"What is it?" the latter asked. "The shop is shut for the night, and
I ain't going to open for anyone. At half-past seven in the morning
you can get what you want, but not before."

"Don't you know me, John?" Cyril laughed. The old sailor stepped back
as if struck with a blow.

"Eh, what?" he exclaimed. "Is it you, Cyril? Why, we had all thought
you dead! I did not know you in this dim light and in that big coat
you have got on. Come upstairs, master. Captain Dave and the ladies
will be glad indeed to see you. They have been mourning for you
sadly, I can tell you."

Cyril took off his wrap and hung it on a peg, and then followed John

"There, Captain Dave," the sailor said, as he opened the door of the
sitting-room. "There is a sight for sore eyes!--a sight you never
thought you would look on again."

For a moment Captain Dave, his wife, and daughter stared at Cyril as
if scarce believing their eyes. Then the Captain sprang to his feet.

"It's the lad, sure enough. Why, Cyril," he went on, seizing him by
the hand, and shaking it violently, "we had never thought to see you
alive again; we made sure that those pirates had knocked you on the
head, and that you were food for fishes by this time. There has been
no comforting my good wife; and as to Nellie, if it had been a
brother she had lost, she could not have taken it more hardly."

"They did knock me on the head, and very hard too, Captain Dave. If
my skull hadn't been quite so thick, I should, as you say, have been
food for fishes before now, for that is what they meant me for, and
there is no thanks to them that I am here at present. I am sorry that
you have all been made so uncomfortable about me."

"We should have been an ungrateful lot indeed if we had not,
considering that in the first place you saved us from being ruined by
those pirates, and that it was, as we thought, owing to the services
you had done us that you had come to your end."

 "But where have you been, Master Cyril?" Nellie broke in. "What has
happened to you? We have been picturing all sorts of horrors, mother
and I. That evil had befallen you we were sure, for we knew that you
would not go away of a sudden, in this fashion, without so much as
saying goodbye. We feared all the more when, two days afterwards, the
wretches were so bold as to attack the constables, and to rescue
Robert Ashford and another from their hands. Men who would do this in
broad daylight would surely hesitate at nothing."

"Let him eat his supper without asking further questions, Nellie,"
her father said. "It is ill asking one with victuals before him to
begin a tale that may, for aught I know, last an hour. Let him have
his food, lass, and then I will light my pipe, and John Wilkes shall
light his here instead of going out for it, and we will have the yarn
in peace and comfort. It spoils a good story to hurry it through.
Cyril is here, alive and well; let that content you for a few

"If I must, I must," Nellie said, with a little pout. "But you should
remember, father, that, while you have been all your life having
adventures of some sort, this is the very first that I have had; for
though Cyril is the one to whom it befell, it is all a parcel with
the robbery of the house and the capture of the thieves."

"When does the trial come off, Captain Dave?"

"It came off yesterday. Marner is to be hung at the end of the week.
He declared that he was but in the lane by accident when two lads
opened the gate. He and the man with him, seeing that they were laden
with goods, would have seized them, when they themselves were
attacked and beaten down. But this ingenuity did not save him. Tom
Frost had been admitted as King's evidence, and testified that Marner
had been several times at the gate with the fellow that escaped, to
receive the stolen goods. Moreover, there were many articles among
those found at his place that I was able to swear to, besides the
proceeds of over a score of burglaries. The two men taken in his
house will have fifteen years in gaol. The women got off scot-free;
there was no proof that they had taken part in the robberies, though
there is little doubt they knew all about them."

"But how did they prove the men were concerned?"

"They got all the people whose property had been found there, and
four of these, on seeing the men in the yard at Newgate, were able to
swear to them as having been among those who came into their rooms
and frightened them well-nigh to death. It was just a question
whether they should be hung or not, and there was some wonder that
the Judge let them escape the gallows."

"And what has become of Tom?"

"They kept Tom in the prison till last night. I saw him yesterday,
and I am sure the boy is mighty sorry for having been concerned in
the matter, being, as I truly believe, terrified into it. I had
written down to an old friend of mine who has set up in the same way
as myself at Plymouth. Of course I told him all the circumstances,
but assured him, that according to my belief, the boy was not so much
to blame, and that I was sure the lesson he had had, would last him
for life; so I asked him to give Tom another chance, and if he did
so, to keep the knowledge of this affair from everyone. I got his
answer yesterday morning, telling me to send him down to him; he
would give him a fair trial, and if he wasn't altogether satisfied
with him, would then get him a berth as ship's boy. So, last night
after dark, he was taken down by John Wilkes, and put on board a
coaster bound for Plymouth. I would have taken him back here, but
after your disappearance I feared that his life would not be safe;
for although they had plenty of other cases they could have proved
against Marner, Tom's evidence brought this business home to him."

Captain Dave would not allow Cyril to begin his story until the table
had been cleared and he and John Wilkes had lighted their pipes. Then
Cyril told his adventure, the earlier part of which elicited many
exclamations of pity from Dame Dowsett and Mistress Nellie, and some
angry ejaculations from the Captain when he heard that Black Dick and
Robert Ashford had got safely off to Holland.

"By St. Anthony, lad," he broke out, when the story was finished,
"you had a narrow escape from those villains at Rotterdam. Had it
chanced that you were out at the time they came, I would not have
given a groat for your life. By all accounts, that fellow Black Dick
is a desperate villain. They say that they had got hold of evidence
enough against him to hang a dozen men, and it seems that there is
little doubt that he was concerned in several cases, where, not
content with robbing, the villain had murdered the inmates of lonely
houses round London. He had good cause for hating you. It was through
you that he had been captured, and had lost his share in all that
plunder at Marner's. Well, I trust the villain will never venture to
show his face in London again; but there is never any saying. I
should like to meet that captain who behaved so well to you, and I
will meet him too, and shake him by the hand and tell him that any
gear he may want for that ketch of his, he is free to come in here to
help himself. There is another thing to be thought of. I must go
round in the morning to the Guildhall and notify the authorities that
you have come back. There has been a great hue and cry for you. They
have searched the thieves' dens of London from attic to cellar; there
have been boats out looking for your body; and on the day after you
were missing they overhauled all the ships in the port. Of course the
search has died out now, but I must go and tell them, and you will
have to give them the story of the affair."

"I shan't say a word that will give them a clue that will help them
to lay hands on the captain. He saved my life, and no one could have
been kinder than he was. I would rather go away for a time
altogether, for I don't see how I am to tell the story without
injuring him."

"No; it is awkward, lad. I see that, even if you would not give them
the name of the craft, they might find out what vessels went into
Ipswich on that morning, and also the names of those that sailed from
Rotterdam on the day she left."

"It seems to me, Captain, that the only way will be for me to say the
exact truth, namely, that I gave my word to the captain that I would
say naught of the matter. I could tell how I was struck down, and how
I did not recover consciousness until I found myself in a boat, and
was lifted on board a vessel and put down into the hold, and was
there kept until morning. I could say that when I was let out I found
we were far down the river, that the captain expressed great regret
when he found that I had been hurt so badly, that he did everything
in his power for me, and that after I had been some days on board the
ship he offered to land me in Holland, and to give me money to pay my
fare back here if I would give him my word of honour not to divulge
his name or the name of the ship, or that of the port at which he
landed me. Of course, they can imprison me for a time if I refuse to
tell, but I would rather stay in gaol for a year than say aught that
might set them upon the track of Captain Madden. It was not until the
day he left me in Holland that I knew his name, for of course the men
always called him captain, and so did I."

"That is the only way I can see out of it, lad. I don't think they
will imprison you after the service you have done in enabling them to
break up this gang, bring the head of it to justice, and recover a
large amount of property."

So indeed, on their going to the Guildhall next morning, it turned
out. The sitting Alderman threatened Cyril with committal to prison
unless he gave a full account of all that had happened to him, but
Captain Dowsett spoke up for him, and said boldly that instead of
punishment he deserved honour for the great service he had done to
justice, and that, moreover, if he were punished for refusing to keep
the promise of secrecy he had made, there was little chance in the
future of desperate men sparing the lives of those who fell into
their hands. They would assuredly murder them in self-defence if they
knew that the law would force them to break any promise of silence
they might have made. The Magistrate, after a consultation with the
Chief Constable, finally came round to this view, and permitted Cyril
to leave the Court, after praising him warmly for the vigilance he
had shown in the protection of his employer's interests. He regretted
that he had not been able to furnish them with the name of a man who
had certainly been, to some extent, an accomplice of those who had
assaulted him, but this was not, however, so much to be regretted,
since the man had done all in his power to atone for his actions.

"There is no further information you can give us, Master Cyril?"

"Only this, your worship: that on the day before I left Holland, I
caught sight of the two persons who had escaped from the constables.
They had just landed."

"I am sorry to hear it," the Alderman said. "I had hoped that they
were still in hiding somewhere in the City, and that the constables
might yet be able to lay hands on them. However, I expect they will
be back again erelong. Your ill-doer is sure to return here sooner or
later, either with the hope of further gain, or because he cannot
keep away from his old haunts and companions. If they fall into the
hands of the City Constables, I will warrant they won't escape

He nodded to Cyril, who understood that his business was over and
left the Court with Captain Dave.

"I am not so anxious as the Alderman seemed to be that Black Dick and
Robert Ashford should return to London, Captain Dave."

"No; I can understand that, Cyril. And even now that you know they
are abroad, it would be well to take every precaution, for the others
whose business has been sorely interrupted by the capture of that
villain Marner may again try to do you harm. No doubt other receivers
will fill his place in time, but the loss of a ready market must
incommode them much. Plate they can melt down themselves, and I
reckon they would have but little difficulty in finding knaves ready
to purchase the products of the melting-pot; but it is only a man
with premises specially prepared for it who will buy goods of all
kinds, however bulky, without asking questions about them."

Cyril was now in high favour with Mistress Nellie, and whenever he
was not engaged when she went out he was invited to escort her.

One day he went with her to hear a famous preacher hold forth at St.
Paul's. Only a portion of the cathedral was used for religious
services; the rest was utilised as a sort of public promenade, and
here people of all classes met--gallants of the Court, citizens,
their wives and daughters, idlers and loungers, thieves and

As Nellie walked forward to join the throng gathered near the pulpit,
Cyril noticed a young man in a Court suit, standing among a group who
were talking and laughing much louder than was seemly, take off his
plumed hat, and make a deep bow, to which she replied by a slight
inclination of the head, and passed on with somewhat heightened

Cyril waited until the service was over, when, as he left the
cathedral with her, he asked,--

"Who was that ruffler in gay clothes, who bowed so deeply to you,
Mistress Nellie?--that is, if there is no indiscretion in my asking."

"I met him in a throng while you were away," she said, with an
attempt at carelessness which he at once detected. "There was a great
press, and I well-nigh fainted, but he very courteously came to my
assistance, and brought me safely out of the crowd."

"And doubtless you have seen him since, Mistress?"

Nellie tossed her head.

"I don't see what right you have to question me, Master Cyril?"

"No right at all," Cyril replied good-temperedly, "save that I am an
inmate of your father's house, and have received great kindness from
him, and I doubt if he would be pleased if he knew that you bowed to
a person unknown to him and unknown, I presume, to yourself, save
that he has rendered you a passing service."

"He is a gentleman of the Court, I would have you know," she said

"I do not know that that is any great recommendation if the tales one
hears about the Court are true," Cyril replied calmly. "I cannot say
I admire either his companions or his manners, and if he is a
gentleman he should know that if he wishes to speak to an honest
citizen's daughter it were only right that he should first address
himself to her father."

"Heigh ho!" Nellie exclaimed, with her face flushed with indignation.
"Who made you my censor, I should like to know? I will thank you to
attend to your own affairs, and to leave mine alone."

"The affairs of Captain Dave's daughter are mine so long as I am
abroad with her," Cyril said firmly. "I am sorry to displease you,
but I am only doing what I feel to be my duty. Methinks that, were
John Wilkes here in charge of you, he would say the same, only
probably he would express his opinion as to yonder gallant more
strongly than I do;" he nodded in the direction of the man, who had
followed them out of the cathedral, and was now walking on the other
side of the street and evidently trying to attract Nellie's

Nellie bit her lips. She was about to answer him passionately, but
restrained herself with a great effort.

"You are mistaken in the gentleman, Cyril," she said, after a pause;
"he is of a good family, and heir to a fine estate."

"Oh, he has told you as much as that, has he? Well, Mistress Nellie,
it may be as he says, but surely it is for your father to inquire
into that, when the gentleman comes forward in due course and
presents himself as a suitor. Fine feathers do not always make fine
birds, and a man may ruffle it at King Charles's Court without ten
guineas to shake in his purse."

At this moment the young man crossed the street, and, bowing deeply
to Nellie, was about to address her when Cyril said gravely,--

"Sir, I am not acquainted with your name, nor do I know more about
you save that you are a stranger to this lady's family. That being
so, and as she is at present under my escort, I must ask you to
abstain from addressing her."

"You insolent young varlet!" the man said furiously. "Had I a cane
instead of a sword I would chastise you for your insolence."

"That is as it may be," Cyril said quietly. "That sort of thing may
do down at Whitehall, but if you attempt to make trouble here in
Cheapside you will very speedily find yourself in the hands of the

"For Heaven's sake, sir," Nellie said anxiously, as several
passers-by paused to see what was the matter, "do not cause trouble.
For my sake, if not for your own, pray leave me."

"I obey you, Mistress," the man said again, lifting his hat and
bowing deeply. "I regret that the officiousness of this blundering
varlet should have mistaken my intentions, which were but to salute
you courteously."

So saying, he replaced his hat, and, with a threatening scowl at
Cyril, pushed his way roughly through those standing round, and
walked rapidly away.

Nellie was very pale, and trembled from head to foot.

"Take me home, Cyril," she murmured.

He offered her his arm, and he made his way along the street, while
his face flushed with anger at some jeering remarks he heard from one
or two of those who looked on at the scene. It was not long before
Nellie's anger gained the upper hand of her fears.

"A pretty position you have placed me in, with your interference!"

"You mean, I suppose, Mistress Nellie, a pretty position that man
placed you in, by his insolence. What would Captain Dave say if he
heard that his daughter had been accosted by a Court gallant in the

"Are you going to tell him?" she asked, removing her hand sharply
from his arm.

"I have no doubt I ought to do so, and if you will take my advice you
will tell him yourself as soon as you reach home, for it may be that
among those standing round was someone who is acquainted with both
you and your father; and you know as well as I do what Captain Dave
would say if it came to his ears in such fashion."

Nellie walked for some time in silence. Her anger rose still higher
against Cyril at the position in which his interference had placed
her, but she could not help seeing that his advice was sound. She had
indeed met this man several times, and had listened without chiding
to his protestations of admiration and love. Nellie was ambitious.
She had been allowed to have her own way by her mother, whose sole
companion she had been during her father's absence at sea. She knew
that she was remarkably pretty, and saw no reason why she, like many
another citizen's daughter, should not make a good match. She had
readily given the man her promise to say nothing at home until he
gave her leave to do so, and she had been weak, enough to take all
that he said for gospel. Now she felt that, at any rate, she must
smooth matters over and put it so that as few questions as possible
should be asked. After a long pause, then, she said,--

"Perhaps you are right, Cyril. I will myself tell my father and
mother. I can assure you that I had no idea I should meet him

This Cyril could readily believe, for certainly she would not have
asked him to accompany her if she had known. However, he only replied

"I am glad to hear that you will tell them, Mistress Nellie, and
trust that you will take them entirely into your confidence."

This Nellie had no idea of doing; but she said no further word until
they reached home.



"I find that I have to give you thanks for yet another service,
Cyril," Captain Dave said heartily, when they met the next morning.
"Nellie tells me a young Court gallant had the insolence to try to
address her yesterday in Cheapside, on her way back from St. Paul's,
that you prevented his doing so, and that there was quite a scene in
the street. If I knew who he was I would break his sconce for him,
were he Rochester himself. A pretty pass things have come to, when a
citizen's daughter cannot walk home from St. Paul's without one of
these impudent vagabonds of the Court venturing to address her! Know
you who he was?"

"No; I have never seen the fellow before, Captain Dave. I do know
many of the courtiers by sight, having, when we first came over,
often gone down to Whitehall with my father when he was seeking to
obtain an audience with the King; but this man's face is altogether
strange to me."

"Well, well! I will take care that Nellie shall not go abroad again
except under her mother's escort or mine. I know, Cyril, that she
would be as safe under your charge as in ours, but it is better that
she should have the presence of an older person. It is not that I
doubt your courage or your address, lad, but a ruffling gallant of
this sort would know naught of you, save that you are young, and
besides, did you interfere, there might be a scene that would do
serious harm to Nellie's reputation."

"I agree with you thoroughly, Captain Dave," Cyril said warmly. "It
will be far better that you or Mrs. Dowsett should be by her side as
long as there is any fear of further annoyance from this fellow. I
should ask nothing better than to try a bout with him myself, for I
have been right well taught how to use my sword; but, as you say, a
brawl in the street is of all things to be avoided."

Three or four weeks passed quietly. Nellie seldom went abroad; when
she did so her mother always accompanied her if it were in the
daytime, and her father whenever she went to the house of any friend
after dusk.

Cyril one day caught sight of the gallant in Tower Street, and
although he was on his way to one of his customers, he at once
determined to break his appointment and to find out who the fellow
was. The man sauntered about looking into the shops for full half an
hour, but it was apparent to Cyril that he paid little attention to
their contents, and was really waiting for someone. When the clock
struck three he started, stamped his foot angrily on the ground, and,
walking away rapidly to the stairs of London Bridge, took a seat in a
boat, and was rowed up the river.

Cyril waited until he had gone a short distance, and then hailed a
wherry rowing two oars.

"You see that boat over there?" he said. "I don't wish to overtake it
at present. Keep a hundred yards or so behind it, but row inshore so
that it shall not seem that you are following them."

The men obeyed his instructions until they had passed the Temple;
then, as the other boat still kept in the middle of the stream, Cyril
had no doubt that it would continue its course to Westminster.

"Now stretch to your oars," he said to the watermen. "I want to get
to Westminster before the other boat, and to be well away from the
stairs before it comes up."

The rest of the journey was performed at much greater speed, and
Cyril alighted at Westminster while the other boat was some three or
four hundred yards behind. Paying the watermen, he went up the
stairs, walked away fifty or sixty yards, and waited until he saw the
man he was following appear. The latter walked quietly up towards
Whitehall and entered a tavern frequented by young bloods of the
Court. Cyril pressed his hat down over his eyes. His dress was not
the same as that in which he had escorted Nellie to the cathedral,
and he had but small fear of being recognised.

When he entered he sat down at a vacant table, and, having ordered a
stoup of wine, looked round. The man had joined a knot of young
fellows like himself, seated at a table. They were dissipated-looking
blades, and were talking loudly and boisterously.

"Well, Harvey, how goes it? Is the lovely maiden we saw when we were
with you at St. Paul's ready to drop into your arms?"

"Things are going on all right," Harvey said, with an air of
consciousness; "but she is watched by two griffins, her father and
mother. 'Tis fortunate they do not know me by sight, and I have thus
chances of slipping a note in her hand when I pass her. I think it
will not be long before you will have to congratulate me."

"She is an heiress and only daughter, is she not, honest John?"
another asked.

"She is an only child, and her father bears the reputation of doing a
good business; but as to what I shall finally do, I shall not yet
determine. As to that, I shall be guided by circumstances."

"Of course, of course," the one who had first spoken said.

Cyril had gained the information he required. The man's name was John
Harvey, and Nellie was keeping up a clandestine correspondence with
him. Cyril felt that were he to listen longer he could not restrain
his indignation, and, without touching the wine he had paid for, he
hastily left the tavern.

As he walked towards the city, he was unable to decide what he had
better do. Were he to inform Captain Dave of what he had heard there
would be a terrible scene, and there was no saying what might happen.
Still, Nellie must be saved from falling into the hands of this
fellow, and if he abstained from telling her father he must himself
take steps to prevent the possibility of such a thing taking place.
The more he thought of it the more he felt of the heavy
responsibility it would be. Anxious as he was to save Nellie from the
anger of her father, it was of far greater consequence to save her
from the consequences of her own folly. At last he resolved to take
John Wilkes into his counsels. John was devoted to his master, and
even if his advice were not of much value, his aid in keeping watch
would be of immense service. Accordingly, that evening, when John
went out for his usual pipe after supper, Cyril, who had to go to a
trader in Holborn, followed him out quickly and overtook him a few
yards from the door.

"I want to have a talk with you, John."

"Ay, ay, sir. Where shall it be? Nothing wrong, I hope? That new
apprentice looks to me an honest sort of chap, and the man we have
got in the yard now is an old mate of mine. He was a ship's boy on
board the _Dolphin_ twenty-five years back, and he sailed under the
Captain till he left the sea. I would trust that chap just as I would

"It is nothing of that sort, John. It is another sort of business
altogether, and yet it is quite as serious as the last. I have got
half an hour before I have to start to do those books at Master
Hopkins'. Where can we have a talk in a quiet place where there is no
chance of our being overheard?"

"There is a little room behind the bar at the place I go to, and I
have no doubt the landlord will let us have it, seeing as I am a
regular customer."

"At any rate we can see, John. It is too cold for walking about
talking here; and, besides, I think one can look at a matter in all
lights much better sitting down than one can walking about."

"That is according to what you are accustomed to," John said, shaking
his head. "It seems to me that I can look further into the innards of
a question when I am walking up and down the deck on night watch with
just enough wind aloft to take her along cheerful, and not too much
of it, than I can at any other time; but then, you see, that is just
what one is accustomed to. This is the place."

He entered a quiet tavern, and, nodding to five or six
weather-beaten-looking men, who were sitting smoking long pipes, each
with a glass of grog before him, went up to the landlord, who formed
one of the party. He had been formerly the master of a trader, and
had come into the possession of the tavern by marriage with its
mistress, who was still the acting head of the establishment.

"We have got a piece of business we want to overhaul, Peter. I
suppose we can have that cabin in yonder for a bit?"

"Ay, ay. There is a good fire burning. You will find pipes on the
table. You will want a couple of glasses of grog, of course?"

John nodded, and then led the way into the little snuggery at the end
of the room. It had a glass door, so that, if desired, a view could
be obtained of the general room, but there was a curtain to draw
across this. There was a large oak settle on either side of the fire,
and there was a table, with pipes and a jar of tobacco standing
between them.

"This is a tidy little crib," John said, as he seated himself and
began to fill a pipe. "There is no fear of being disturbed here.
There has been many a voyage talked over and arranged in this 'ere
room. They say that Blake himself, when the Fleet was in the river,
would drop in here sometimes, with one of his captains, for a quiet

A minute later a boy entered and placed two steaming glasses of grog
on the table. The door closed after him, and John said,--

"Now you can get under way, Master Cyril. You have got a fair course
now, and nothing to bring you up."

"It is a serious matter, John. And before I begin, I must tell you
that I rely on your keeping absolute silence as to what I am going to
tell you."

"That in course," John said, as he lifted his glass to his lips. "You
showed yourself a first-rate pilot in that last job, and I am content
to sail under you this time without asking any questions as to the
ship's course, and to steer according to orders."

Cyril told the story, interrupted frequently by angry ejaculations on
the part of the old bo'swain.

"Dash my wig!" he exclaimed, when Cyril came to an end. "But this is
a bad business altogether, Master Cyril. One can engage a pirate and
beat him off if the crew is staunch, but when there is treason on
board ship, it makes it an awkward job for those in command."

"The question is this, John: ought we to tell the Captain, or shall
we try to take the affair into our own hands, and so to manage it
that he shall never know anything about it?"

The sailor was silent for a minute or two, puffing his pipe

"I see it is an awkward business to decide," he said. "On one side,
it would pretty nigh kill Captain Dave to know that Mistress Nellie
has been steering wild and has got out of hand. She is just the apple
of his eye. Then, on the other hand, if we undertook the job without
telling him, and one fine morning we was to find out she was gone, we
should be in a mighty bad fix, for the Captain would turn round and
say, 'Why didn't you tell me? If you had done so, I would have locked
her up under hatches, and there she would be, safe now.'"

"That is just what I see, and it is for that reason I come to you. I
could not be always on the watch, but I think that you and I together
would keep so sharp a look-out that we might feel pretty sure that
she could not get away without our knowledge."

"We could watch sharply enough at night, Master Cyril. There would be
no fear of her getting away then without our knowing it. But how
would it be during the day? There am I in the shop or store from
seven in the morning until we lock up before supper-time. You are out
most of your time, and when you are not away, you are in the office
at the books, and she is free to go in and out of the front door
without either of us being any the wiser."

"I don't think he would venture to carry her off by daylight," Cyril
said. "She never goes out alone now, and could scarcely steal away
unnoticed. Besides, she would know that she would be missed directly,
and a hue and cry set up. I should think she would certainly choose
the evening, when we are all supposed to be in bed. He would have a
chair waiting somewhere near; and there are so often chairs going
about late, after city entertainments, that they would get off
unnoticed. I should say the most dangerous time is between nine
o'clock and midnight. She generally goes off to bed at nine or soon
after, and she might very well put on her hood and cloak and steal
downstairs at once, knowing that she would not be missed till
morning. Another dangerous time would be when she goes out to a
neighbour's. The Captain always takes her, and goes to fetch her at
nine o'clock, but she might make some excuse to leave quite early,
and go off in that way."

"That would be awkward, Mr. Cyril, for neither you nor I could be
away at supper-time without questions being asked. It seems to me
that I had better take Matthew into the secret. As he don't live in
the house he could very well watch wherever she is, till I slip round
after supper to relieve him, and he could watch outside here in the
evening till either you or I could steal downstairs and take his
place. You can count on him keeping his mouth shut just as you can on
me. The only thing is, how is he to stop her if he finds her coming
out from a neighbour's before the Captain has come for her?"

"If he saw her coming straight home he could follow her to the door
without being noticed, John, but if he found her going some other way
he must follow her till he sees someone speak to her, and must then
go straight up and say, 'Mistress Dowsett, I am ready to escort you
home.' If she orders him off, or the man she meets threatens him, as
is like enough, he must say, 'Unless you come I shall shout for aid,
and call upon passers-by to assist me'; and, rather than risk the
exposure, she would most likely return with him. Of course, he would
carry with him a good heavy cudgel, and choose a thoroughfare where
there are people about to speak to her, and not an unfrequented
passage, for you may be sure the fellow would have no hesitation in
running him through if he could do so without being observed."

"Matthew is a stout fellow," John Wilkes said, "and was as smart a
sailor as any on board till he had his foot smashed by being jammed
by a spare spar that got adrift in a gale, so that the doctors had to
cut off the leg under the knee, and leave him to stump about on a
timber toe for the rest of his life. I tell you what, Master Cyril:
we might make the thing safer still if I spin the Captain a yarn as
how Matthew has strained his back and ain't fit to work for a bit;
then I can take on another hand to work in the yard, and we can put
him on watch all day. He might come on duty at nine o'clock in the
morning, and stop until I relieve him as soon as supper is over. Of
course, he would not keep opposite the house, but might post himself
a bit up or down the street, so that he could manage to keep an eye
on the door."

"That would be excellent," Cyril said. "Of course, at the supper-hour
he could go off duty, as she could not possibly leave the house
between that time and nine o'clock. You always come in about that
hour, and I hear you go up to bed. When you get there, you should at
once take off your boots, slip downstairs again with them, and go
quietly out. I often sit talking with Captain Dave till half-past
nine or ten, but directly I can get away I will come down and join
you. I think in that way we need feel no uneasiness as to harm coming
from our not telling Captain Dave, for it would be impossible for her
to get off unnoticed. Now that is all arranged I must be going, for I
shall be late at my appointment unless I hurry."

"Shall I go round and begin my watch at once, Master Cyril?".

"No, there is no occasion for that. We know that he missed her
to-day, and therefore can have made no appointment; and I am
convinced by what he said to the fellows he met, that matters are not
settled yet. However, we will begin to-morrow. You can take an
opportunity during the day to tell Matthew about it, and he can
pretend to strain his back in the afternoon, and you can send him
away. He can come round again next morning early, and when the
Captain comes down you can tell him that you find that Matthew will
not be able to work for the present, and ask him to let you take
another man on until he can come back again."

Cyril watched Nellie closely at meal-times and in the evening for the
next few days. He thought that he should be certain to detect some
slight change in her manner, however well she might play her part,
directly she decided on going off with this man. She would not dream
that she was suspected in any way, and would therefore be the less
cautious. Matthew kept watch during the day, and followed if she went
out with her father to a neighbour's, remaining on guard outside the
house until John Wilkes relieved him as soon as he had finished his
supper. If she remained at home in the evening John went out
silently, after his return at his usual hour, and was joined by Cyril
as soon as Captain Dave said good-night and went in to his bedroom.
At midnight they re-entered the house and stole up to their rooms,
leaving their doors open and listening attentively for another hour
before they tried to get to sleep.

On the sixth morning Cyril noticed that Nellie was silent and
abstracted at breakfast-time. She went out marketing with her mother
afterwards, and at dinner her mood had changed. She talked and
laughed more than usual. There was a flush of excitement on her
cheeks, and he drew the conclusion that in the morning she had not
come to an absolute decision, but had probably given an answer to the
man during the time she was out with her mother, and that she felt
the die was now cast.

"Pass the word to Matthew to keep an extra sharp watch this afternoon
and to-morrow, John. I think the time is close at hand," he said, as
they went downstairs together after dinner.

"Do you think so? Well, the sooner the better. It is trying work,
this here spying, and I don't care how soon it is over. I only hope
it will end by our running down this pirate and engaging him."

"I hope so too, John. I feel it very hard to be sitting at table with
her and Captain Dave and her mother, and to know that she is
deceiving them."

"I can't say a word for her," the old sailor said, shaking his head.
"She has as good parents as a girl could want to have. They would
give their lives for her, either of them, cheerful, and there she is
thinking of running away from them with a scamp she knows nothing of
and has probably never spoken with for an hour. I knew her head was a
bit turned with young fellows dangling after her, and by being
noticed by some of the Court gallants at the last City ball, and by
being made the toast by many a young fellow in City taverns--'Pretty
Mistress Nellie Dowsett'; but I did not think her head was so turned
that she would act as she is doing. Well, well, we must hope that
this will be a lesson, Master Cyril, that she will remember all her

"I hope so, John, and I trust that we shall be able to manage it all
so that the matter will never come to her parents' ears."

"I hope so, and I don't see why it should. The fellow may bluster,
but he will say nothing about it because he would get into trouble
for trying to carry off a citizen's daughter."

"And besides that, John,--which would be quite as serious in the eyes
of a fellow of this sort,--he would have the laugh against him among
all his companions for having been outwitted in the City. So I think
when he finds the game is up he will be glad enough to make off
without causing trouble."

"Don't you think we might give him a sound thrashing? It would do him
a world of good."

"I don't think it would do a man of that sort much good, John, and he
would be sure to shout, and then there would be trouble, and the
watch might come up, and we should all get hauled off together. In
the morning the whole story would be known, and Mistress Nellie's
name in the mouth of every apprentice in the City. No, no; if he is
disposed to go off quietly, by all means let him go."

"I have no doubt that you are right, Master Cyril, but it goes
mightily against the grain to think that a fellow like that is to get
off with a whole skin. However, if one should fall foul of him some
other time, one might take it out of him."

Captain Dave found Cyril but a bad listener to his stories that
evening, and, soon after nine, said he should turn in.

"I don't know what ails you to-night, Cyril," he said. "Your wits are
wool-gathering, somewhere. I don't believe that you heard half that
last story I was telling you."

"I heard it all, sir; but I do feel a little out of sorts this

"You do too much writing, lad. My head would be like to go to pieces
if I were to sit half the hours that you do at a desk."

When Captain Dave went into his room, Cyril walked upstairs and
closed his bedroom door with a bang, himself remaining outside. Then
he took off his boots, and, holding them in his hand, went
noiselessly downstairs to the front door. The lock had been carefully
oiled, and, after putting on his boots again, he went out.

"You are right, Master Cyril, sure enough," John Wilkes said when he
joined him, fifty yards away from the house. "It is to-night she is
going to try to make off. I thought I had best keep Matthew at hand,
so I bid him stop till I came out, then sent him round to have a pint
of ale at the tavern, and when he came back told him he had best
cruise about, and look for signs of pirates. He came back ten minutes
ago, and told me that a sedan chair had just been brought to the
other end of the lane. It was set down some thirty yards from
Fenchurch Street. There were the two chairmen and three fellows
wrapped up in cloaks."

"That certainly looks like action, John. Well, I should say that
Matthew had better take up his station at the other end of the lane,
there to remain quiet until he hears an uproar at the chair; then he
can run up to our help if we need it. We will post ourselves near the
door. No doubt Harvey, and perhaps one of his friends, will come and
wait for her. We can't interfere with them here, but must follow and
come up with her just before they reach the chair. The further they
are away from the house the better. Then if there is any trouble
Captain Dave will not hear anything of it."

"That will be a good plan of operations," John agreed. "Matthew is
just round the next corner. I will send him to Fenchurch Street at

He went away, and rejoined Cyril in two or three minutes. They then
went along towards the house, and took post in a doorway on the other
side of the street, some thirty yards from the shop. They had
scarcely done so, when they heard footsteps, and presently saw two
men come along in the middle of the street. They stopped and looked

"There is not a soul stirring," one said. "We can give the signal."

So saying, he sang a bar or two of a song popular at the time, and
they then drew back from the road into a doorway and waited.

Five minutes later, Cyril and his fellow-watcher heard a very slight
sound, and a figure stepped out from Captain Dowsett's door. The two
men crossed at once and joined her. A few low words were spoken, and
they moved away together, and turned up the lane.

As soon as they disappeared from sight, Cyril and John Wilkes issued
out. The latter had produced some long strips of cloth, which he
wound round both their boots, so as, he said, to muffle the oars.
Their steps, therefore, as they followed, were almost noiseless.
Walking fast, they came up to the three persons ahead of them just as
they reached the sedan chair. The two chairmen were standing at the
poles, and a third man was holding the door open with his hat in his

"Avast heaving, mates!" John Wilkes said. "It seems to me as you are
running this cargo without proper permits."

Nellie gave a slight scream on hearing the voice, while the man
beside her stepped forward, exclaiming furiously:

"S" death, sir! who are you, and what are you interfering about?"

"I am an honest man I hope, master. My name is John Wilkes, and, as
that young lady will tell you, I am in the employ of her father."

"Then I tell you, John Wilkes, or John the Devil, or whatever your
name maybe, that if you don't at once take yourself off, I will let
daylight into you," and he drew his sword, as did his two companions.

John gave a whistle, and the wooden-legged man was heard hurrying up
from Fenchurch Street.

"Cut the scoundrel down, Penrose," Harvey exclaimed, "while I put the
lady into the chair."

The man addressed sprang at Wilkes, but in a moment his Court sword
was shivered by a blow from the latter's cudgel, which a moment later
fell again on his head, sending him reeling back several paces.

"Stay, sir, or I will run you through," Cyril said, pricking Harvey
sharply in the arm as he was urging Nellie to enter the chair.

"Oh, it's you, is it?" the other exclaimed, in a tone of fury. "My
boy of Cheapside! Well, I can spare a moment to punish you."

"Oh, do not fight with him, my lord!" Nellie exclaimed.

"My lord!" Cyril laughed. "So he has become a lord, eh?"

Then he changed his tone.

"Mistress Nellie, you have been deceived. This fellow is no lord. He
is a hanger-on of the Court, one John Harvey, a disreputable
blackguard whom I heard boasting to his boon-companions of his
conquest. I implore you to return home as quietly as you went. None
will know of this."

He broke off suddenly, for, with an oath, Harvey rushed at him. Their
swords clashed, there was a quick thrust and parry, and then Harvey
staggered back with a sword-wound through the shoulder, dropping his
sword to the ground.

"Your game is up, John Harvey," Cyril said. "Did you have your
deserts I would pass my sword through your body. Now call your
fellows off, or it will be worse for them."

"Oh, it is not true? Surely it cannot be true?" Nellie cried,
addressing Harvey. "You cannot have deceived me?"

The fellow, smarting with pain, and seeing that the game was up,
replied with a savage curse.

"You may think yourself lucky that you are only disabled, you
villain!" Cyril said, taking a step towards him with his sword
menacingly raised. "Begone, sir, before my patience is exhausted, or,
by heaven! it will be your dead body that the chairmen will have to
carry away."

"Disabled or not," John Wilkes exclaimed, "I will have a say in the
matter;" and, with a blow with his cudgel, he stretched Harvey on the
ground, and belaboured him furiously until Cyril dragged him away by
force. Harvey rose slowly to his feet.

"Take yourself off, sir," Cyril said. "One of your brave companions
has long ago bolted; the other is disarmed, and has his head broken.
You may thank your stars that you have escaped with nothing worse
than a sword-thrust through your shoulder, and a sound drubbing.
Hanging would be a fit punishment for knaves like you. I warn you, if
you ever address or in any way molest this lady again, you won't get
off so easily."

Then he turned and offered his arm to Nellie, who was leaning against
the wall in a half-fainting state. Not a word was spoken until they
emerged from the lane.

"No one knows of this but ourselves, Mistress Nellie, and you will
never hear of it from us. Glad indeed I am that I have saved you from
the misery and ruin that must have resulted from your listening to
that plausible scoundrel. Go quietly upstairs. We will wait here till
we are sure that you have gone safely into your room; then we will
follow. I doubt not that you are angry with me now, but in time you
will feel that you have been saved from a great danger."

The door was not locked. He lifted the latch silently, and held the
door open for her to pass in. Then he closed it again, and turned to
the two men who followed them.

"This has been a good night's work, John."

"That has it. I don't think that young spark will be coming after
City maidens again. Well, it has been a narrow escape for her. It
would have broken the Captain's heart if she had gone in that way.
What strange things women are! I have always thought Mistress Nellie
as sensible a girl as one would want to see. Given a little
over-much, perhaps, to thinking of the fashion of her dress, but that
was natural enough, seeing how pretty she is and how much she is made
of; and yet she is led, by a few soft speeches from a man she knows
nothing of, to run away from home, and leave father, and mother, and
all. Well, Matthew, lad, we sha'n't want any more watching. You have
done a big service to the master, though he will never know it. I
know I can trust you to keep a stopper on your jaws. Don't you let a
soul know of this--not even your wife."

"You trust me, mate," the man replied. "My wife is a good soul, but
her tongue runs nineteen to the dozen, and you might as well shout a
thing out at Paul's Cross as drop it into her ear. I think my back
will be well enough for me to come to work again to-morrow," he
added, with a laugh.

"All right, mate. I shall be glad to have you again, for the chap who
has been in your place is a landsman, and he don't know a
marling-spike from an anchor. Good-night, mate."

"Well, Master Cyril," he went on, as the sailor walked away, "I don't
think there ever was such a good wind as that which blew you here.
First of all you saved Captain Dave's fortune, and now you save his
daughter. I look on Captain Dave as being pretty nigh the same as
myself, seeing as I have been with him man and boy for over thirty
years, and I feel what you have done for him just as if you had done
it for me. I am only a rough sailor-man, and I don't know how to put
it in words, but I feel just full up with a cargo of thankfulness."

"That is all right," Cyril said, holding out his hand, which John
Wilkes shook with a heartiness that was almost painful. "Captain Dave
offered me a home when I was alone without a friend in London, and I
am glad indeed that I have been able to render him service in return.
I myself have done little enough, though I do not say that the
consequences have not been important. It has been just taking a
little trouble and keeping a few watches--a thing not worth talking
about one way or the other. I hope this will do Mistress Nellie good.
She is a nice girl, but too fond of admiration, and inclined to think
that she is meant for higher things than to marry a London citizen. I
think to-night's work will cure her of that. This fellow evidently
made himself out to her to be a nobleman of the Court. Now she sees
that he is neither a nobleman nor a gentleman, but a ruffian who took
advantage of her vanity and inexperience, and that she would have
done better to have jumped down the well in the yard than to have put
herself in his power. Now we can go up to bed. There is no more
probability of our waking the Captain than there has been on other
nights; but mind, if we should do so, you stick to the story we
agreed on, that you thought there was someone by the gate in the lane
again, and so called me to go down with you to investigate, not
thinking it worth while to rouse up the Captain on what might be a
false alarm."

Everything remained perfectly quiet as they made their way upstairs
to their rooms as silently as possible.

"Where is Nellie?" Captain Dave asked, when they assembled at

"She is not well," his wife replied, "I went to her room just now and
found that she was still a-bed. She said that she had a bad headache,
and I fear that she is going to have a fever, for her face is pale
and her eyes red and swollen, just as if she had been well-nigh
crying them out of her head; her hands are hot and her pulse fast.
Directly I have had breakfast I shall make her some camomile tea, and
if that does not do her good I shall send for the doctor."

"Do so, wife, without delay. Why, the girl has never ailed a day for
years! What can have come to her?"

"She says it is only a bad headache--that all she wants is to be left

"Yes, yes; that is all very well, but if she does not get better soon
she must be seen to. They say that there were several cases last week
of that plague that has been doing so much harm in foreign parts, and
if that is so it behoves us to be very careful, and see that any
illness is attended to without delay."

"I don't think that there is any cause for alarm," his wife said
quietly. "The child has got a headache and is a little feverish, but
there is no occasion whatever for thinking that it is anything more.
There is nothing unusual in a girl having a headache, but Nellie has
had such good health that if she had a prick in the finger you would
think it was serious."

"By the way, John," Captain Dave said suddenly, "did you hear any
noise in the lane last night? Your room is at the back of the house,
and you were more likely to have heard it than I was. I have just
seen one of the watch, and he tells me that there was a fray there
last night, for there is a patch of blood and marks of a scuffle. It
was up at the other end. There is some mystery about it, he thinks,
for he says that one of his mates last night saw a sedan chair
escorted by three men turn into the lane from Fenchurch Street just
before ten o'clock, and one of the neighbours says that just after
that hour he heard a disturbance and a clashing of swords there. On
looking out, he saw something dark that might have been a chair
standing there, and several men engaged in a scuffle. It seemed soon
over, and directly afterwards three people came down the lane this
way. Then he fancied that someone got into the chair, which was
afterwards carried out into Fenchurch Street."

"I did hear something that sounded like a quarrel or a fray," John
Wilkes said, "but there is nothing unusual about that. As everything
was soon quiet again, I gave no further thought to it."

"Well, it seems a curious affair, John. However, it is the business
of the City watch and not mine, so we need not bother ourselves about
it. I am glad to see you have got Matthew at work again this morning.
He tells me that he thinks he has fairly got over that sprain in his



Mindful of the fact that this affair had added a new enemy to those
he had acquired by the break-up of the Black Gang, Cyril thought it
as well to go round and give notice to the two traders whose books he
attended to in the evening, that unless they could arrange for him to
do them in the daytime he must give up the work altogether. Both
preferred the former alternative, for they recognised the advantage
they had derived from his work, and that at a rate of pay for which
they could not have obtained the services of any scrivener in the

It was three or four days before Nellie Dowsett made her appearance
at the general table.

"I can't make out what ails the girl," her mother said, on the
previous evening. "The fever speedily left her, as I told you, but
she is weak and languid, and seems indisposed to talk."

"She will soon get over that, my dear," Captain Dave said. "Girls are
not like men. I have seen them on board ship. One day they are
laughing and fidgeting about like wild things, the next day they are
poor, woebegone creatures. If she gets no better in a few days, I
will see when my old friend, Jim Carroll, is starting in his brig for
Yarmouth, and will run down with her myself--and of course with you,
wife, if you will go--and stay there a few days while he is unloading
and filling up again. The sea-air will set her up again, I warrant."

"Not at this time of year," Dame Dowsett said firmly. "With these
bitter winds it is no time for a lass to go a-sailing; and they say
that Yarmouth is a great deal colder than we are here, being exposed
to the east winds."

"Well, well, Dame, then we will content ourselves with a run in the
hoy down to Margate. If we choose well the wind and tide we can start
from here in the morning and maybe reach there late in the evening,
or, if not, the next morning to breakfast. Or if you think that too
far we will stop at Sheerness, where we can get in two tides easily
enough if the wind be fair."

"That would be better, David; but it were best to see how she goes
on. It may be, as you say, that she will shortly gain her strength
and spirits again."

It was evident, when Nellie entered the room at breakfast-time the
next morning, that her mother's reports had not been exaggerated. She
looked, indeed, as if recovering from a severe illness, and when she
said good-morning to her father her voice trembled and her eyes
filled with tears.

"Tut, tut, lass! This will never do. I shall soon hardly own you for
my Nellie. We shall have to feed you up on capons and wine, child, or
send you down to one of the baths for a course of strengthening

She smiled faintly, and then turning, gave her hand to Cyril. As she
did so, a slight flush of colour came into her cheeks.

"I am heartily glad to see you down again, Mistress Nellie," he said,
"and wish you a fair and speedy recovery."

"I shall be better presently," she replied, with an effort.
"Good-morning, John."

"Good-morning, Mistress Nellie. Right glad are we to see you down
again, for it makes but a dull table without your merry laugh to give
an edge to our appetites."

She sat down now, and the others, seeing that it was best to let her
alone for a while, chatted gaily together.

"There is no talk in the City but of the war, Cyril," the Captain
said presently. "They say that the Dutch make sure of eating us up,
but they won't find it as easy a job as they fancy. The Duke of York
is to command the Fleet. They say that Prince Rupert will be second.
To my mind they ought to have entrusted the whole matter to him. He
proved himself as brave a captain at sea as he was on land, and I
will warrant he would lead his ships into action as gallantly as he
rode at the head of his Cavaliers on many a stricken field. The ships
are fitting out in all haste, and they are gathering men at every
sea-port. I should say they will have no lack of hands, for there are
many ships laid up, that at other times trade with Holland, and
Dantzic, and Dunkirk, and many a bold young sailor who will be glad
to try whether he can fight as stoutly against the Dutch under York
and Rupert as his father did under Blake."

"For my part," Cyril said, "I cannot understand it; for it seems to
me that the English and Dutch have been fighting for the last year. I
have been too busy to read the Journal, and have not been in the way
of hearing the talk of the coffeehouses and taverns; but, beyond that
it is some dispute about the colonies, I know little of the matter."

"I am not greatly versed in it myself, lad. Nellie here reads the
Journal, and goes abroad more than any of us, and should be able to
tell us something about it. Now, girl, can't you do something to set
us right in this matter, for I like not to be behind my neighbours,
though I am such a stay-at-home, having, as I thank the Lord, much
happiness here, and no occasion to go out to seek it."

"There was much discourse about it, father, the evening I went to
Dame King's. There were several gentlemen there who had trade with
the East, and one of them held shares in the English Company trading
thither. After supper was over, they discoursed more fully on the
matter than was altogether pleasing to some of us, who would much
rather that, as we had hoped, we might have dancing or singing. I
could see that Dame King herself was somewhat put out that her
husband should have, without her knowing of his intention, brought in
these gentlemen. Still, the matter of their conversation was new to
us, and we became at last so mightily interested in it that we
listened to the discourse without bemoaning ourselves that we had
lost the amusement we looked for. I know I wished at the time that
you had been there. I say not that I can repeat all that I heard, but
as I had before read some of the matters spoken of in the Journal, I
could follow what the gentlemen said more closely. Soon after the
coming of the King to the throne the friendship between us and the
Spaniards, that had been weakened during the mastership of Cromwell,
was renewed, and they gave our ships many advantages at their ports,
while, on the other hand, they took away the privileges the Dutch had
enjoyed there, and thus our commerce with Spain increased, while that
of the Dutch diminished."

"That is certainly true, Nellie," her father said. "We have three
ships sailing through the Mediterranean now to one that sailed there
ten years ago, and doubtless the Dutch must have suffered by the
increase in our trade."

"Then he said that, as we had obtained the Island of Bombay in the
East Indies and the City of Tangier in Africa as the dowry of the
Queen, and had received the Island of Poleron for our East India
Company by the treaty with Holland, our commerce everywhere
increased, and raised their jealousy higher and higher. There was
nothing in this of which complaint could be made by the Dutch
Government, but nevertheless they gave encouragement to their East
and West India Companies to raise trouble. Their East India Company
refused to hand over the Island, and laid great limitations as to the
places at which our merchants might trade in India. The other Company
acted in the same manner, and lawlessly took possession of Cape Coast
Castle, belonging to our English Company.

"The Duke of York, who was patron and governor of our African
Company, sent Sir Robert Holmes with four frigates to Guinea to make
reprisals. He captured a place from the Dutch and named it James's
Fort, and then, proceeding to the river Gambia, he turned out the
Dutch traders there and built a fort. A year ago, as the Dutch still
held Cape Coast Castle, Sir Robert was sent out again with orders to
take it by force, and on the way he overhauled a Dutch ship and found
she carried a letter of secret instructions from the Dutch Government
to the West India Company to take the English Fort at Cormantin.
Seeing that the Hollanders, although professing friendship, were thus
treacherously inclined, he judged himself justified in exceeding the
commission he had received, and on his way south he touched at Cape
Verde. There he first captured two Dutch ships and then attacked
their forts on the Island of Gorse and captured them, together with a
ship lying under their guns.

"In the fort he found a great quantity of goods ready to be shipped.
He loaded his own vessels, and those that he had captured, with the
merchandise, and carried it to Sierra Leone. Then he attacked the
Dutch fort of St. George del Mena, the strongest on the coast, but
failed there; but he soon afterwards captured Cape Coast Castle,
though, as the gentlemen said, a mightily strong place. Then he
sailed across to America, and, as you know, captured the Dutch
Settlements of New Netherlands, and changed the name into that of New
York. He did this not so much out of reprisal for the misconduct of
the Dutch in Africa, but because the land was ours by right, having
been discovered by the Cabots and taken possession of in the name of
King Henry VII., and our title always maintained until the Dutch
seized it thirty years ago.

"Then the Dutch sent orders to De Ruyter, who commanded the fleet
which was in the Mediterranean, to sail away privately and to make
reprisals on the Coast of Guinea and elsewhere. He first captured
several of our trading forts, among them that of Cormantin, taking
great quantities of goods belonging to our Company; he then sailed to
Barbadoes, where he was beaten off by the forts. Then he captured
twenty of our ships off Newfoundland, and so returned to Holland,
altogether doing damage, as the House of Commons told His Majesty, to
the extent of eight hundred thousand pounds. All this time the Dutch
had been secretly preparing for war, which they declared in January,
which has forced us to do the same, although we delayed a month in
hopes that some accommodation might be arrived at. I think, father,
that is all that he told us, though there were many details that I do
not remember."

"And very well told, lass, truly. I wonder that your giddy head
should have taken in so much matter. Of course, now you tell them
over, I have heard these things before--the wrong that the Dutch did
our Company by seizing their post at Cape Coast, and the reprisals
that Sir Robert Holmes took upon them with our Company's ships--but
they made no great mark on my memory, for I was just taking over my
father's work when the first expedition took place. At any rate, none
can say that we have gone into this war unjustly, seeing that the
Dutch began it, altogether without cause, by first attacking our
trading posts."

"It seems to me, Captain Dave," John Wilkes said, "that it has been
mighty like the war that our English buccaneers waged against the
Spaniards in the West Indies, while the two nations were at peace at

"It is curious," Cyril said, "that the trouble begun in Africa should
have shifted to the other side of the Atlantic."

"Ay, lad; just as that first trouble was at last fought out in the
English Channel, off the coast of France, so this is likely to be
decided in well-nigh the same waters."

"The gentlemen, the other night, were all of opinion," Nellie said,
"that the matter would never have come to such a head had it not been
that De Witt, who is now the chief man in Holland, belongs to the
French party there, and has been urged on by King Louis, for his own
interest, to make war with us."

"That may well be, Nellie. In all our English wars France has ever
had a part either openly or by intrigues. France never seems to be
content with attending to her own business, but is ever meddling with
her neighbours', and, if not fighting herself, trying to set them by
the ears against each other. If I were a bit younger, and had not
lost my left flipper, I would myself volunteer for the service. As
for Master Cyril here, I know he is burning to lay aside the pen and
take to the sword."

"That is so, Captain Dave. As you know, I only took up the pen to
keep me until I was old enough to use a sword. I have been two years
at it now, and I suppose it will be as much longer before I can think
of entering the service of one of the Protestant princes; but as soon
as I am fit to do so, I shall get an introduction and be off; but I
would tenfold rather fight for my own country, and would gladly sail
in the Fleet, though I went but as a ship's boy."

"That is the right spirit, Master Cyril," John Wilkes exclaimed. "I
would go myself if the Captain could spare me and they would take
such a battered old hulk."

"I couldn't spare you, John," Captain Dave said. "I have been mighty
near making a mess of it, even with you as chief mate, and I might as
well shut up shop altogether if you were to leave me. I should miss
you, too, Cyril," he went on, stretching his arm across the table to
shake hands with the lad. "You have proved a real friend and a true;
but were there a chance of your going as an officer, I would not balk
you, even if I could do so. It is but natural that a lad of spirit
should speak and think as you do; besides, the war may not last for
long, and when you come back, and the ships are paid off, you would
soon wipe off the arrears of work, and get the books into ship-shape
order. But, work or no work, that room of yours will always stand
ready for you while I live, and there will always be a plate for you
on this table."

"Thank you, Captain Dave. You always overrate my services, and forget
that they are but the consequence of the kindness that you have shown
to me. But I have no intention of going. It was but a passing
thought. I have but one friend who could procure me a berth as a
volunteer, and as it is to him I must look for an introduction to
some foreign prince, I would not go to him twice for a favour,
especially as I have no sort of claim on his kindness. To go as a
cabin boy would be to go with men under my own condition, and
although I do not shirk hard work and rough usage, I should not care
for them in such fashion. Moreover, I am doing work which, even
without your hospitality, would suffice to keep me comfortably, and
if I went away, though but for a month, I might find that those for
whom I work had engaged other assistance. Spending naught, I am
laying by money for the time when I shall have to travel at my own
expense and to provide myself necessaries, and, maybe, to keep myself
for a while until I can procure employment. I have the prospect that,
by the end of another two years, I shall have gathered a sufficient
store for all my needs, and I should be wrong to throw myself out of
employment merely to embark on an adventure, and so to make a break,
perhaps a long one, in my plans."

"Don't you worry yourself on that score," Captain Dave said warmly,
and then checked himself. "It will be time to talk about that when
the time comes. But you are right, lad. I like a man who steadfastly
holds on the way he has chosen, and will not turn to the right or
left. There is not much that a man cannot achieve if he keeps his aim
steadily in view. Why, Cyril, if you said you had made up your mind
to be Lord Mayor of London, I would wager that you would some day be

Cyril laughed.

"I shall never set my eyes in that direction, nor do I think the
thing I have set myself to do will ever be in my power--that is, to
buy back my father's estate; but so long as I live I shall keep that
in view."

"More unlikely things have happened, lad. You have got first to rise
to be a General; then, what with your pay and your share in the sack
of a city or two, and in other ways, you may come home with a purse
full enough even for that. But it is time for us to be going down
below. Matthew will think that we have forgotten him altogether."

Another fortnight passed. Nellie had, to a considerable extent,
recovered from the shock that she had suffered, but her manner was
still quiet and subdued, her sallies were less lively, and her father
noticed, with some surprise, that she no longer took any great
interest in the gossip he retailed of the gay doings of the Court.

"I can't think what has come over the girl," he said to his wife.
"She seems well in health again, but she is changed a good deal,
somehow. She is gentler and softer. I think she is all the better for
it, but I miss her merry laugh and her way of ordering things about,
as if her pleasure only were to be consulted."

"I think she is very much improved," Mrs. Dowsett said decidedly;
"though I can no more account for it than you can. She never used to
have any care about the household, and now she assists me in my work,
and is in all respects dutiful and obedient, and is not for ever bent
upon gadding about as she was before. I only hope it will continue
so, for, in truth, I have often sighed over the thought that she
would make but a poor wife for an honest citizen."

"Tut, tut, wife. It has never been as bad as that. Girls will be
girls, and if they are a little vain of their good looks, that will
soften down in time, when they get to have the charge of a household.
You yourself, dame, were not so staid when I first wooed you, as you
are now; and I think you had your own little share of vanity, as was
natural enough in the prettiest girl in Plymouth."

When Nellie was in the room Cyril did his best to save her from being
obliged to take part in the conversation, by inducing Captain Dave to
tell him stories of some of his adventures at sea.

"You were saying, Captain Dave, that you had had several engagements
with the Tunis Rovers," he said one evening. "Were they ever near
taking you?"

"They did take me once, lad, and that without an engagement; but,
fortunately, I was not very long a prisoner. It was not a pleasant
time though, John, was it?"

"It was not, Captain Dave. I have been in sore danger of wreck
several times, and in three big sea-fights; but never did I feel so
out of heart as when I was lying, bound hand and foot, on the ballast
in the hold of that corsair. No true sailor is afraid of being
killed; but the thought that one might be all one's life a slave
among the cruel heathen was enough to take the stiffness out of any
man's courage."

"But how was it that you were taken without an engagement, Captain
Dave? And how did you make your escape?"

"Well, lad, it was the carelessness of my first mate that did it; but
as he paid for his fault with his life let us say naught against him.
He was a handsome, merry young fellow, and had shipped as second
mate, but my first had died of fever in the Levant, and of course he
got the step, though all too young for the responsibility. We had met
with some bad weather when south of Malta, and had had a heavy gale
for three days, during which time we lost our main topmast, and badly
strained the mizzen. The weather abated when we were off Pantellaria,
which is a bare rock rising like a mountain peak out of the sea, and
with only one place where a landing can be safely effected. As the
gale had blown itself out, and it was likely we should have a spell
of settled weather, I decided to anchor close in to the Island, and
to repair damages.

"We were hard at work for two days. All hands had had a stiff time of
it, and the second night, having fairly repaired damages, I thought
to give the crew a bit of a rest, and, not dreaming of danger,
ordered that half each watch might remain below. John Wilkes was
acting as my second mate. Pettigrew took the first watch; John had
the middle watch; and then the other came up again. I turned out once
or twice, but everything was quiet--we had not seen a sail all day.
There was a light breeze blowing, but no chance of its increasing,
and as we were well sheltered in the only spot where the anchorage
was good, I own that I did not impress upon Pettigrew the necessity
for any particular vigilance. Anyhow, just as morning was breaking I
was woke by a shout. I ran out on deck, but as I did so there was a
rush of dark figures, and I was knocked down and bound before I knew
what had happened. As soon as I could think it over, it was clear
enough. The Moor had been coming into the anchorage, and, catching
sight of us in the early light, had run alongside and boarded us.

"The watch, of course, must have been asleep. There was not a shot
fired nor a drop of blood shed, for those on deck had been seized and
bound before they could spring to their feet, and the crew had all
been caught in their bunks. It was bitter enough. There was the
vessel gone, and the cargo, and with them my savings of twenty years'
hard work, and the prospect of slavery for life. The men were all
brought aft and laid down side by side. Young Pettigrew was laid next
to me.

"'I wish to heaven, captain,' he said, 'you had got a pistol and your
hand free, and would blow out my brains for me. It is all my fault,
and hanging at the yard-arm is what I deserve. I never thought there
was the slightest risk--not a shadow of it--and feeling a bit dozy,
sat down for five minutes' caulk. Seeing that, no doubt the men
thought they might do the same; and this is what has come of it. I
must have slept half an hour at least, for there was no sail in sight
when I went off, and this Moor must have come round the point and
made us out after that.'

"The corsair was lying alongside of us, her shrouds lashed to ours.
There was a long jabbering among the Moors when they had taken off
our hatches and seen that we were pretty well full up with cargo;
then, after a bit, we were kicked, and they made signs for us to get
on our feet and to cross over into their ship. The crew were sent
down into the forward hold, and some men went down with them to tie
them up securely. John Wilkes, Pettigrew, and myself were shoved down
into a bit of a place below the stern cabin. Our legs were tied, as
well as our arms. The trap was shut, and there we were in the dark.
Of course I told Pettigrew that, though he had failed in his duty,
and it had turned out badly, he wasn't to be blamed as if he had gone
to sleep in sight of an enemy.

"'I had never given the Moors a thought myself,' I said, 'and it was
not to be expected that you would. But no sailor, still less an
officer, ought to sleep on his watch, even if his ship is anchored in
a friendly harbour, and you are to blame that you gave way to
drowsiness. Still, even if you hadn't, it might have come to the same
thing in the long run, for the corsair is a large one, and might have
taken us even if you had made her out as she rounded the point.'

"But, in spite of all I could say to cheer him, he took it to heart
badly, and was groaning and muttering to himself when they left us in
the dark, so I said to him,--

"'Look here, lad, the best way to retrieve the fault you have
committed is to try and get us out of the scrape. Set your brains to
work, and let us talk over what had best be done. There is no time to
be lost, for with a fair wind they can run from here to Tunis in
four-and-twenty hours, and once there one may give up all hope. There
are all our crew on board this ship. The Moor carried twice as many
men as we do, but we may reckon they will have put more than half of
them on board our barque; they don't understand her sails as well as
they do their own, and will therefore want a strong prize crew on

"'I am ready to do anything, captain,' the young fellow said firmly.
'If you were to give me the word, I would get into their magazine if
I could, and blow the ship into the air.'

"'Well, I don't know that I will give you that order, Pettigrew. To
be a heathen's slave is bad, but, at any rate, I would rather try
that life for a bit than strike my colours at once. Now let us think
it over. In the first place we have to get rid of these ropes; then
we have to work our way forward to the crew; and then to get on deck
and fight for it. It is a stiff job, look at it which way one will,
but at any rate it will be better to be doing something--even if we
find at last that we can't get out of this dog-kennel--than to lie
here doing nothing.'

"After some talk, we agreed that it was not likely the Moors would
come down to us for a long time, for they might reckon that we could
hold on without food or water easy enough until they got to Tunis;
having agreed as to that point, we set to work to get our ropes
loose. Wriggling wouldn't do it, though we tried until the cords cut
into our flesh.

"At last Pettigrew said,--

"'What a fool I am! I have got my knife hanging from a lanyard round
my neck. It is under my blouse, so they did not notice it when they
turned my pockets out.'

"It was a long job to get at that knife. At last I found the string
behind his neck, and, getting hold of it with my teeth, pulled till
the knife came up to his throat. Then John got it in his teeth, and
the first part of the job was done. The next was easy enough. John
held the handle of the knife in his teeth and Pettigrew got hold of
the blade in his, and between them they made a shift to open it;
then, after a good deal of trouble, Pettigrew shifted himself till he
managed to get the knife in his hands. I lay across him and worked
myself backwards and forwards till the blade cut through the rope at
my wrist; then, in two more minutes, we were free. Then we felt
about, and found that the boarding between us and the main hold was
old and shaky, and, with the aid of the knife and of our three
shoulders, we made a shift at last to wrench one of the boards from
its place.

"Pettigrew, who was slightest, crawled through, and we soon got
another plank down. The hold was half full of cargo, which, no doubt,
they had taken out of some ship or other. We made our way forward
till we got to the bulkhead, which, like the one we had got through,
was but a make-shift sort of affair, with room to put your fingers
between the planks. So we hailed the men and told them how we had got
free, and that if they didn't want to work all their lives as slaves
they had best do the same. They were ready enough, you may be sure,
and, finding a passage between the planks wider in one place than the
rest, we passed the knife through to them, and told them how to set
about cutting the rope. They were a deal quicker over it than we had
been, for in our place there had been no height where we could stand
upright, but they were able to do so. Two men, standing back to back
and one holding the knife, made quick work of cutting the rope.

"We had plenty of strength now, and were not long in getting down a
couple of planks. The first thing was to make a regular overhaul of
the cargo--as well as we could do it, without shifting things and
making a noise--to look for weapons or for anything that would come
in handy for the fight. Not a thing could we find, but we came upon a
lot of kegs that we knew, by their feel, were powder. If there had
been arms and we could have got up, we should have done it at once,
trusting to seize the ship before the other could come up to her
help. But without arms it would be madness to try in broad daylight,
and we agreed to wait till night, and to lie down again where we were
before, putting the ropes round our legs again and our hands behind
our backs, so that, if they did look in, everything should seem

"'We shall have plenty of time,' one of the sailors said, 'for they
have coiled a big hawser down on the hatch.'

"When we got back to our lazaret, we tried the hatch by which we had
been shoved down, but the three of us couldn't move it any more than
if it had been solid stone. We had a goodish talk over it, and it was
clear that the hatchway of the main hold was our only chance of
getting out; and we might find that a tough job.

"'If we can't do it in any other way,' Pettigrew said, 'I should say
we had best bring enough bales and things to fill this place up to
within a foot of the top; then on that we might put a keg of powder,
bore a hole in it, and make a slow match that would blow the cabin
overhead into splinters, while the bales underneath it would prevent
the force of the explosion blowing her bottom out.'

"We agreed that, if the worst came to the worst, we would try this,
and having settled that, went back to have a look at the main hatch.
Feeling about round it, we found the points of the staple on which
the hatchway bar worked above; they were not fastened with nuts as
they would have been with us, but were simply turned over and
clinched. We had no means of straightening them out, but we could cut
through the woodwork round them. Setting to work at that, we took it
by turns till we could see the light through the wood; then we left
it to finish after dark. All this time we knew we were under sail by
the rippling of the water along the sides. The men on board were
evidently in high delight at their easy capture, and kicked up so
much noise that there was no fear of their hearing any slight stir we
made below.

"Very carefully we brought packages and bales under the hatchway,
till we built up a sort of platform about four feet below it. We
reckoned that, standing as thick as we could there, and all lifting
together, we could make sure of hoisting the hatchway up, and could
then spring out in a moment.

"Pettigrew still stuck to his plan, and talked us into carrying it
out, both under the fore and aft hatches, pointing out that the two
explosions would scare the crew out of their wits, that some would be
killed, and many jump overboard in their fright. We came to see that
the scheme was really a good one, so set all the crew to carry out
the business, and they, working with stockinged feet, built up a
platform under their hatch, as well as in our den aft. Then we made
holes in two of the kegs of powder, and, shaking a little out, damped
it, and rubbed it into two strips of cotton. Putting an end of a slow
match into each of the holes, we laid the kegs in their places and

"We made two other fuses, so that a man could go forward, and another
aft, to fire them both together. Two of the men were told off for
this job, and the rest of us gathered under the main hatch, for we
had settled now that if we heard them making any move to open the
hatches we would fire the powder at once, whatever hour it was. In
order to be ready, we cut deeper into the woodwork round the staple
till there was but the thickness of a card remaining, and we could
tell by this how light it was above.

"It don't take long to tell you, but all this had taken us a good
many hours; and so baked were we by the heat down below, and parched
by thirst, that it was as much as I could do to persuade the men to
wait until nightfall. At last we saw the light in the cut fade and
darken. Again the men wanted to be at work, but I pointed out that if
we waited till the crew had laid down on the deck, we might carry it
through without losing a life, but if they were all awake, some of
them would be sure to come at us with their weapons, and, unarmed as
we were, might do us much harm. Still, though I succeeded in keeping
the men quiet, I felt it was hard work to put a stopper on my own

"At last even John here spoke up for action.

"'I expect those who mean to sleep are off by this time,' he said.
'As to reckoning upon them all going off, there ain't no hope of it;
they will sit and jabber all night. They have made a good haul, and
have taken a stout ship with a full hold, and five-and-twenty stout
slaves, and that without losing a man. There won't be any sleep for
most of them. I reckon it is two bells now. I do think, Captain, we
might as well begin, for human nature can't stand this heat and
thirst much longer.'

"'All right, John,' I said. 'Now, lads, remember that when the first
explosion comes--for we can't reckon on the two slow matches burning
just the same time--we all heave together till we find the hatch
lifts; then, when the second comes, we chuck it over and leap out. If
you see a weapon, catch it up, but don't waste time looking about,
but go at them with your fists. They will be scared pretty well out
of their senses, and you will not be long before you all get hold of
weapons of some sort. Now, Pettigrew, shove your blade up through the
wood and cut round the staple. Now, Jack Brown, get out that
tinder-box you said you had about you, and get a spark going.'

"Three or four clicks were heard as the sailor struck his flint
against the steel lid of the tinder-box.

"'All right, yer honour,' he said, 'I have got the spark.'

"Then the two hands we had given the slow matches to, lit them at the
tinder-box, and went fore and aft, while as many of the rest of us as
could crowded under the hatch.

"'Are you ready, fore and aft?' I asked.

"The two men hailed in reply.

"'Light the matches, then, and come here.'

"I suppose it was not above a minute, but it seemed ten before there
was a tremendous explosion aft. The ship shook from stem to stern.
There was a moment's silence, and then came yells and screams mixed
with the sound of timbers and wreckage falling on the deck.

"'Now lift,' I said. 'But not too high. That is enough--she is free.
Wait for the other.'

"There was a rush of feet overhead as the Moors ran forward. Then
came the other explosion.

"'Off with her, lads!' I shouted, and in a moment we flung the hatch
off and leapt out with a cheer. There was no fighting to speak of.
The officers had been killed by the first explosion under their
cabin, and many of the men had either been blown overboard or lay
crushed under the timber and wreckage.

"The second explosion had been even more destructive, for it happened
just as the crew, in their terror, had rushed forward. Many of those
unhurt had sprung overboard at once, and as we rushed up most of the
others did the same. There was no difficulty about arms, for the deck
was strewn with weapons. Few of us, however, stopped to pick one up,
but, half mad with rage and thirst, rushed forward at the Moors. That
finished them; and before we got to them the last had sprung
overboard. There was a rush on the part of the men to the scuttle

"'Take one drink, lads,' I shouted, 'and then to the buckets.'

"It took us a quarter of an hour's hard work to put out the flames,
and it was lucky the powder had blown so much of the decks up that we
were enabled to get at the fire without difficulty, and so extinguish
it before it got any great hold.

"As soon as we had got it out I called a muster. There was only one
missing;--it was Pettigrew, he being the first to leap out and rush
aft. There had been but one shot fired by the Moors. One fellow, as
he leapt on to the rail, drew his pistol from his belt and fired
before he sprang overboard. In the excitement and confusion no one
had noticed whether the shot took effect, for two or three men had
stumbled and fallen over fragments of timber or bodies as we rushed
aft. But now we searched, and soon came on the poor young fellow. The
ball had struck him fair on the forehead, and he had fallen dead
without a word or a cry.

"There was, however, no time to grieve. We had got to re-capture the
barque, which had been but a cable's length away when we rushed on
deck; while we had been fighting the fire she had sailed on,
regardless of the shrieks and shouts of the wretches who had sprung
overboard from us. But she was still near us; both vessels had been
running before the wind, for I had sent John Wilkes to the tiller the
moment that we got possession of the corsair, and the barque was but
about a quarter of a mile ahead.

"The wind was light, and we were running along at four knots an hour.
The Moors on board the _Kate_ had, luckily, been too scared by the
explosion to think of getting one of the guns aft and peppering us
while we were engaged in putting out the fire; and indeed, they could
not have done us much harm if they had, for the high fo'castle hid us
from their view.

"As soon as we had found Pettigrew's body and laid it on the hatch we
had thrown off, I went aft to John.

"'Are we gaining on her, John?'

"'No; she has drawn away a little. But this craft is not doing her
best. I expect they wanted to keep close to the barque, and so kept
her sheets in. If you square the sails, captain, we shall soon be
upon her.'

"That was quickly done, and then the first thing was to see that the
men were all armed. We could have got a gun forward, but I did not
want to damage the _Kate_, and we could soon see that we were
closing on her. We shoved a bag of musket-balls into each cannon, so
as to sweep her decks as we came alongside, for we knew that her crew
was a good deal stronger than we were. Still, no one had any doubt as
to the result, and it was soon evident that the Moors had got such a
scare from the fate of their comrades that they had no stomach for

"'They are lowering the boats,' John shouted.

"'All the better,' I said. 'They would fight like rats caught in a
trap if we came up to them, and though we are men enough to capture
her, we might lose half our number.'

"As soon as the boats reached the water they were all pulled up to
the starboard side, and then the helm was put down, and the barque
came round till she was broadside on to us.

"'Down with your helm, John Wilkes!' I shouted. 'Hard down, man!'

"John hesitated, for he had thought that I should have gone round to
the other side of her and so have caught all the boats; but, in
truth, I was so pleased at the thought of getting the craft back
again that I was willing to let the poor villains go, since they were
of a mind to do so without giving us trouble. We had punished them
enough, and the shrieks and cries of those left behind to drown were
ringing in my ears then. So we brought the corsair up quietly by the
side of the _Kate_, lashed her there, and then, with a shout of
triumph, sprang on board the old barky.

"Not a Moor was left on board. The boats were four or five hundred
yards away, rowing at the top of their speed. The men would have run
to the guns, but I shouted,--

"'Let them go, lads. We have punished them heavily enough; we have
taken their ship, and sent half of them to Eternity. Let them take
the tale back to Tunis how a British merchantman re-captured their
ship. Now set to work to get some of the sail off both craft, and
then, when we have got things snug, we will splice the main brace and
have a meal.'

"There is no more to tell. We carried the rover into Gibraltar and
sold her and her cargo there. It brought in a good round sum, and,
except for the death of Pettigrew, we had no cause to regret the
corsair having taken us by surprise that night off Pantellaria."

"That was an exciting business, indeed, Captain Dave," Cyril said,
when the Captain brought his story to a conclusion. "If it had not
been for your good fortune in finding those kegs of powder, and
Pettigrew's idea of using them as he did, you and John might now, if
you had been alive, have been working as slaves among the Moors."

"Yes, lad. And not the least lucky thing was that Pettigrew's knife
and Jack Brown's tinder-box had escaped the notice of the Moors. Jack
had it in an inside pocket sewn into his shirt so as to keep it dry.
It was a lesson to me, and for the rest of the time I was at sea I
always carried a knife, with a lanyard round my neck, and stowed away
in an inside pocket of my shirt, together with a tinder-box. They are
two as useful things as a sailor can have about him, for, if cast
upon a desert shore after a wreck, a man with a knife and tinder-box
may make shift to live, when, without them, he and his comrades might
freeze to death."



The next evening John Wilkes returned after an absence of but half an

"Why, John, you can but have smoked a single pipe! Did you not find
your cronies there?"

"I hurried back, Captain, because a man from one of the ships in the
Pool landed and said there was a great light in the sky, and that it
seemed to him it was either a big fire in the Temple, or in one of
the mansions beyond the walls; so methought I would come in and ask
Cyril if he would like to go with me to see what was happening."

"I should like it much, John. I saw a great fire in Holborn just
after I came over from France, and a brave sight it was, though very
terrible; and I would willingly see one again."

He took his hat and cloak and was about to be off, when Captain Dave
called after him,--

"Buckle on your sword, lad, and leave your purse behind you. A fire
ever attracts thieves and cut-throats, who flock round in hopes of
stealing something in the confusion. Besides, as I have told you
before, you should never go out after dark without your sword, even
were it but to cross the road."

Cyril ran upstairs to his room, buckled on his weapon, and ran down

"The Captain is right," John Wilkes said, as he joined him at the
door. "After your two adventures, it would be folly for you to go out

"Oh, I expect they have forgotten about me long ago," Cyril laughed

"I don't know," John Wilkes said seriously. "As to Marner's gang, I
think that there is not much fear from them, unless that young rascal
Robert and the scoundrel who was with him have returned from Holland;
and that they are not likely to do for some time to come. But it
would not be in human nature if the man you call John Harvey should
take his defeat without trying to pay you back for that wound you
gave him, for getting Mistress Nellie out of his hands, and for
making him the laughing-stock of his comrades. I tell you that there
is scarce an evening that I have gone out but some fellow passes me
before I have gone twenty yards, and, as he brushes my sleeve, turns
his head to look at me. But yesternight I said to one who so behaved,
'Look here, mate, this is not the first time you have run against me.
I warn you that if it happens again I will crack your head with my
cudgel.' The fellow went off, muttering and grumbling, but I have no
doubt that he and the others, for it certainly was not always the
same man, were watching for you. To-night there was no one about, or,
if there was, he did not come near me, and it may be that, finding
you never leave the house after nightfall, they have decided to give
it up for the present. But I thought I heard a footfall lower down
the street, just as we came out of the house, and it is like enough
that we are followed now."

"At any rate, they would scarce attack two of us, John, and I should
not mind if they did. It is a stab in the back that I am afraid of
more than an open quarrel."

"You may have a better swordsman to deal with next time. The fellow
himself would scarcely care to cross swords with you again, but he
would have no difficulty in getting half-a-dozen cut-throats from the
purlieus of the Temple or Westminster, professional bullies, who are
ready to use their swords to those who care to purchase them, and who
would cut a throat for a few crowns, without caring a jot whose
throat it was. Some of these fellows are disbanded soldiers. Some are
men who were ruined in the wars. Some are tavern bullies--broken men,
reckless and quarrelsome gamblers so long as they have a shilling in
their pockets, but equally ready to take to the road or to rob a
house when their pockets are empty."

By this time they had passed the Exchange into Cheapside. Many people
were hurrying in the same direction and wondering where the fire was.
Presently one of the Fire Companies, with buckets, ladders, and axes,
passed them at a run. Even in Cheapside the glow in the sky ahead
could be plainly seen, but it was not until they passed St. Paul's
and stood at the top of Ludgate Hill that the flames, shooting up
high in the air, were visible. They were almost straight ahead.

"It must be at the other end of Fleet Street," Cyril said, as they
broke into a run.

"Farther than that, lad. It must be one of the mansions along the
Strand. A fire always looks closer than it is. I have seen a ship in
flames that looked scarce a mile away, and yet, sailing with a brisk
wind, it took us over an hour to come up to it."

The crowd became thicker as they approached Temple Bar. The upper
windows of the houses were all open, and women were leaning out
looking at the sight. From every lane and alley men poured into the
street and swelled the hurrying current. They passed through the Bar,
expecting to find that the fire was close at hand. They had, however,
some distance farther to go, for the fire was at a mansion in the
Savoy. Another Fire Company came along when they were within a
hundred yards of the spot.

"Join in with them," Cyril said; and he and John Wilkes managed to
push their way into the ranks, joining in the shout, "Way there, way!
Make room for the buckets!"

Aided by some of the City watch the Company made its way through the
crowd, and hurried down the hill from the Strand into the Savoy. A
party of the King's Guard, who had just marched up, kept back the
crowd, and, when once in the open space, Cyril and his companion
stepped out from the ranks and joined a group of people who had
arrived before the constables and soldiers had come up.

The mansion from which the fire had originated was in flames from top
to bottom. The roof had fallen in. Volumes of flame and sparks shot
high into the air, threatening the safety of several other houses
standing near. The Fire Companies were working their hand-pumps,
throwing water on to the doors and woodwork of these houses. Long
lines of men were extended down to the edge of the river and passed
the buckets backwards and forwards. City officials, gentlemen of the
Court, and officers of the troops, moved to and fro shouting
directions and superintending the work. From many of the houses the
inhabitants were bringing out their furniture and goods, aided by the
constables and spectators.

"It is a grand sight," Cyril said, as, with his companion, he took
his place in a quiet corner where a projecting portico threw a deep

"It will soon be grander still. The wind is taking the sparks and
flames westwards, and nothing can save that house over there. Do you
see the little jets of flame already bursting through the roof?"

"The house seems empty. There is not a window open."

"It looks so, Cyril, but there may be people asleep at the back. Let
us work round and have a look from behind."

They turned down an alley, and in a minute or two came out behind the
house. There was a garden and some high trees, but it was surrounded
by a wall, and they could not see the windows.

"Here, Cyril, I will give you a hoist up. If you stand on my
shoulders, you can reach to the top of the wall and pull yourself up.
Come along here to where that branch projects over. That's it. Now
drop your cloak, and jump on to my back. That is right. Now get on to
my shoulders."

Cyril managed to get up.

"I can just touch the top, but I can't get my fingers on to it."

"Put your foot on my head. I will warrant it is strong enough to bear
your weight."

Cyril did as he was told, grasped the top of the wall, and, after a
sharp struggle, seated himself astride on it. Just as he did so, a
window in a wing projecting into the garden was thrown open, and a
female voice uttered a loud scream for help. There was light enough
for Cyril to see that the lower windows were all barred. He shouted

"Can't you get down the staircase?"

"No; the house is full of smoke. There are some children here. Help!
Help!" and the voice rose in a loud scream again.

Cyril dropped down into the roadway by the side of John Wilkes.

"There are some women and children in there, John. They can't get
out. We must go round to the other side and get some axes and break
down the door."

Snatching up his cloak, he ran at full speed to his former position,
followed by Wilkes. The roof of the house was now in flames. Many of
the shutters and window-frames had also caught fire, from the heat.
He ran up to two gentlemen who seemed to be directing the operations.

"There are some women and children in a room at the back of that
house," he said. "I have just been round there to see. They are in
the second storey, and are crying for help."

"I fear the ladders are too short."

"I can tie two or three of them together," Wilkes said. "I am an old
sailor and can answer for the knots."

The firemen were already dashing water on the lower windows of the
front of the house. A party with axes were cutting at the door, but
this was so massive and solid that it resisted their efforts. One of
the gentlemen went down to them. At his orders eight or ten men
seized ladders. Cyril snatched some ropes from a heap that had been
thrown down by the firemen, and the party, with one of the gentlemen,
ran round to the back of the house. Two ladders were placed against
the wall. John Wilkes, running up one of them, hauled several of the
others up, and lowered them into the garden.

The flames were now issuing from some of the upper windows. Cyril
dropped from the wall into the garden, and, running close up to the
house, shouted to three or four women, who were screaming loudly, and
hanging so far out that he thought they would fall, that help was at
hand, and that they would be speedily rescued. John Wilkes rapidly
tied three of the short ladders together. These were speedily raised,
but it was found that they just reached the window. One of the
firemen ran up, while John set to work to prepare another long
ladder. As there was no sign of life at any other window he laid it
down on the grass when finished.

"If you will put it up at the next window," Cyril said, "I will mount
it. The woman said there were children in the house, and possibly I
may find them. Those women are so frightened that they don't know
what they are doing."

One woman had already been got on to the other ladder, but instead of
coming down, she held on tightly, screaming at the top of her voice,
until the fireman with great difficulty got up by her side, wrenched
her hands from their hold, threw her across his shoulder, and carried
her down.

The room was full of smoke as Cyril leapt into it, but he found that
it was not, as he had supposed, the one in which the women at the
next window were standing. Near the window, however, an elderly woman
was lying on the floor insensible, and three girls of from eight to
fourteen lay across her. Cyril thrust his head out of the window.

"Come up, John," he shouted. "I want help."

He lifted the youngest of the girls, and as he got her out of the
window, John's head appeared above the sill.

"Take her down quick, John," he said, as he handed the child to him.
"There are three others. They are all insensible from the smoke."

Filling his lungs with fresh air, he turned into the blinding smoke
again, and speedily reappeared at the window with another of the
girls. John was not yet at the bottom; he placed her with her head
outside the window, and was back with the eldest girl by the time
Wilkes was up again. He handed her to him, and then, taking the
other, stepped out on to the ladder and followed Wilkes down.

"Brave lad!" the gentleman said, patting him on the shoulder. "Are
there any more of them?"

"One more--a woman, sir. Do you go up, John. I will follow, for I
doubt whether I can lift her by myself."

He followed Wilkes closely up the ladder. There was a red glow now in
the smoke. Flames were bursting through the door. John was waiting at
the window.

"Which way, lad? There is no seeing one's hand in the smoke."

"Just in front, John, not six feet away. Hold your breath."

They dashed forward together, seized the woman between them, and,
dragging her to the window, placed her head and shoulders on the

"You go first, John. She is too heavy for me," Cyril gasped.

John stumbled out, half suffocated, while Cyril thrust his head as
far as he could outside the window.

"That is it, John; you take hold of her shoulder, and I will help you
get her on to your back."

Between them they pushed her nearly out, and then, with Cyril's
assistance, John got her across his shoulders. She was a heavy woman,
and the old sailor had great difficulty in carrying her down. Cyril
hung far out of the window till he saw him put his foot on the
ground; then he seized a rung of the ladder, swung himself out on to
it, and was soon down.

For a time he felt confused and bewildered, and was conscious that if
he let go the ladder he should fall. He heard a voice say, "Bring one
of those buckets of water," and directly afterwards, "Here, lad, put
your head into this," and a handful of water was dashed into his
face. It revived him, and, turning round, he plunged his head into a
bucket that a man held up for him. Then he took a long breath or two,
pressed the water from his hair, and felt himself again. The women at
the other window had by this time been brought down. A door in the
garden wall had been broken down with axes, and the women and girls
were taken away to a neighbouring house.

"There is nothing more to do here," the gentlemen said. "Now, men,
you are to enter the houses round about. Wherever a door is fastened,
break it in. Go out on to the roofs with buckets, put out the sparks
as fast as they fall. I will send some more men to help you at once."
He then put his hand on Cyril's shoulder, and walked back with him to
the open space.

"We have saved them all," he said to the other gentleman who had now
come up, "but it has been a close touch, and it was only by the
gallantry of this young gentleman and another with him that the lives
of three girls and a woman were rescued. I think all the men that can
be spared had better go round to the houses in that direction. You
see, the wind is setting that way, and the only hope of stopping the
progress of the fire is to get plenty of men with buckets out on the
roofs and at all the upper windows."

The other gentleman gave the necessary orders to an officer.

"Now, young sir, may I ask your name?" the other said to Cyril.

"Cyril Shenstone, sir," he replied respectfully; for he saw that the
two men before him were persons of rank.

"Shenstone? I know the name well. Are you any relation of Sir Aubrey

"He was my father, sir."

"A brave soldier, and a hearty companion," the other said warmly. "He
rode behind me scores of times into the thick of the fight. I am
Prince Rupert, lad."

Cyril doffed his hat in deep respect. His father had always spoken of
the Prince in terms of boundless admiration, and had over and over
again lamented that he had not been able to join the Prince in his
exploits at sea.

"What has become of my old friend?" the Prince asked.

"He died six months ago, Prince."

"I am sorry to hear it. I did hear that, while I was away, he had
been suing at Court. I asked for him, but could get no tidings of his
whereabouts. But we cannot speak here. Ask for me to-morrow at
Whitehall. Do you know this gentleman?"

"No, sir, I have not the honour."

"This is the Duke of Albemarle, my former enemy, but now my good
friend. You will like the lad no worse, my Lord, because his father
more than once rode with me into the heart of your ranks."

"Certainly not," the Duke said. "It is clear that the son will be as
gallant a gentleman as his father was before him, and, thank God! it
is not against Englishmen that he will draw his sword. You may count
me as your friend, sir, henceforth."

Cyril bowed deeply and retired, while Prince Rupert and the Duke
hurried away again to see that the operations they had directed were
properly carried out.



After leaving Prince Rupert, Cyril returned to John Wilkes, who was
standing a short distance away.

"John! John!" he said eagerly, as he joined him. "Who do you think
those gentlemen are?"

"I don't know, lad. It is easy to see that they are men of importance
by the way they order everyone about."

"The one who went with us to the garden is Prince Rupert; the other
is the Duke of Albemarle. And the Prince has told me to call upon him
to-morrow at Whitehall."

"That is a stroke of luck, indeed, lad, and right glad am I that I
took it into my head to fetch you out to see the fire. But more than
that, you have to thank yourself, for, indeed, you behaved right
gallantly. You nearly had the Prince for your helper, for just before
I went up the ladder the last time he stepped forward and said to me,
'You must be well-nigh spent, man. I will go up this time.' However,
I said that I would finish the work, and so, without more ado, I
shook off the hand he had placed on my arm, and ran up after you.
Well, it is a stroke of good fortune to you, lad, that you should
have shown your courage under his eye--no one is more able to
appreciate a gallant action. This may help you a long way towards
bringing about the aim you were talking about the other night, and I
may live to see you Sir Cyril Shenstone yet."

"You can see me that now," Cyril said, laughing. "My father was a
baronet, and therefore at his death I came into the title, though I
am not silly enough to go about the City as Sir Cyril Shenstone when
I am but a poor clerk. It will be time enough to call myself 'Sir'
when I see some chance of buying back our estate, though, indeed, I
have thought of taking the title again when I embark on foreign
service, as it may help me somewhat in obtaining promotion. But do
not say anything about it at home. I am Cyril Shenstone, and have
been fortunate enough to win the friendship of Captain Dave, and I
should not be so comfortable were there any change made in my
position in the family. A title is an empty thing, John, unless there
are means to support it, and plain Cyril Shenstone suits my position
far better than a title without a guinea in my purse. Indeed, till
you spoke just now, I had well-nigh forgotten that I have the right
to call myself 'Sir.'"

They waited for two hours longer. At the end of that time four
mansions had been burnt to the ground, but the further progress of
the flames had been effectually stayed. The crowd had already begun
to scatter, and as they walked eastward the streets were full of
people making their way homeward. The bell of St. Paul's was striking
midnight as they entered. The Captain and his family had long since
gone off to bed.

"This reminds one of that last business," John whispered, as they
went quietly upstairs.

"It does, John. But it has been a pleasanter evening in every way
than those fruitless watches we kept in the street below."

The next morning the story of the fire was told, and excited great

"Who were the girls you saved, Cyril?" Nellie asked.

"I don't know. I did not think of asking to whom the house belonged,
nor, indeed, was there anyone to ask. Most of the people were too
busy to talk to, and the rest were spectators who had, like
ourselves, managed to make their way in through the lines of the
soldiers and watch."

"Were they ladies?"

"I really don't know," Cyril laughed. "The smoke was too thick to see
anything about them, and I should not know them if I met them to-day;
and, besides, when you only see a young person in her nightdress, it
is hard to form any opinion as to her rank."

Nellie joined in the laugh.

"I suppose not, Cyril. It might make a difference to you, though.
Those houses in the Savoy are almost all the property of noblemen,
and you might have gained another powerful friend if they had been
the daughters of one."

"I should not think they were so," Cyril said. "There seemed to be no
one else in the house but three maid servants and the woman who was
in the room with them. I should say the family were all away and the
house left in charge of servants. The woman may have been a
housekeeper, and the girls her children; besides, even had it been
otherwise, it was merely by chance that I helped them out. It was
John who tied the ladders together and who carried the girls down,
one by one. If I had been alone I should only have had time to save
the youngest, for I am not accustomed to running up and down ladders,
as he is, and by the time I had got her down it would have been too
late to have saved the others. Indeed, I am not sure that we did save
them; they were all insensible, and, for aught I know, may not have
recovered from the effects of the smoke. My eyes are smarting even

"And so you are to see Prince Rupert to-day, Cyril?" Captain Dave
said. "I am afraid we shall be losing you, for he will, I should say,
assuredly appoint you to one of his ships if you ask him."

"That would be good fortune indeed," Cyril said. "I cannot but think
myself that he may do so, though it would be almost too good to be
true. Certainly he spoke very warmly, and, although he may not
himself have the appointment of his officers, a word from him at the
Admiralty would, no doubt, be sufficient. At any rate, it is a great
thing indeed to have so powerful a friend at Court. It may be that,
at the end of another two years, we may be at war with some other
foreign power, and that I may be able to enter our own army instead
of seeking service abroad. If not, much as I should like to go to sea
to fight against the Dutch, service in this Fleet would be of no real
advantage to me, for the war may last but for a short time, and as
soon as it is over the ships will be laid up again and the crews

"Ay, but if you find the life of a sailor to your liking, Cyril, you
might do worse than go into the merchant service. I could help you
there, and you might soon get the command of a trader. And, let me
tell you, it is a deal better to walk the decks as captain than it is
to be serving on shore with twenty masters over you; and there is
money to be made, too. A captain is always allowed to take in a
certain amount of cargo on his own account; that was the way I
scraped together money enough to buy my own ship at last, and to be
master as well as owner, and there is no reason why you should not do
the same."

"Thank you, Captain Dave. I will think it over when I find out
whether I like a sea life, but at present it seems to me that my
inclinations turn rather towards the plan that my father recommended,
and that, for the last two years, I have always had before me. You
said, the other day, you had fought the Dutch, John?"

"Ay, ay, Master Cyril; but, in truth, it was from no wish or desire
on my part that I did so. I had come ashore from Captain Dave's ship
here in the Pool, and had been with some of my messmates who had
friends in Wapping and had got three days' leave ashore, as the cargo
we expected had not come on board the ship. We had kept it up a bit,
and it was latish when I was making my way down to the stairs. I
expect that I was more intent on making a straight course down the
street than in looking about for pirates, when suddenly I found
myself among a lot of men. One of them seized me by the arm.

"'Hands off, mate!' says I, and I lifted my fist to let fly at him,
when I got a knock at the back of the head. The next thing I knew
was, I was lying in the hold of a ship, and, as I made out presently,
with a score of others, some of whom were groaning, and some cursing.

"'Hullo, mates!' says I. 'What port is this we are brought up in?'

"'We are on board the _Tartar_,' one said.

"I knew what that meant, for the _Tartar_ was the receiving hulk
where they took the pressed men.

"The next morning, without question asked, we were brought up on
deck, tumbled into a small sloop, and taken down to Gravesend, and
there put, in batches of four or five, into the ships of war lying
there. It chanced that I was put on board Monk's flagship the
_Resolution_. And that is how it was I came to fight the Dutch."

"What year was that in, John?"

"'53--in May it was. Van Tromp, at that time, with ninety-eight ships
of war, and six fire-ships, was in the Downs, and felt so much Master
of the Sea that he sailed in and battered Dover Castle."

"Then you were in the fight of the 2nd of June?"

"Ay; and in that of the 31st of July, which was harder still."

"Tell me all about it, John."

"Lor' bless you, sir, there is nothing to tell as far as I was
concerned. I was at one of the guns on the upper deck, but I might as
well have been down below for anything I saw of it. It was just load
and fire, load and fire. Sometimes, through the clouds of smoke, one
caught a sight of the Dutchman one was firing at; more often one
didn't. There was no time for looking about, I can tell you, and if
there had been time there was nothing to see. It was like being in a
big thunderstorm, with thunderbolts falling all round you, and a
smashing and a grinding and a ripping that would have made your hair
stand on end if you had only had time to think of it. But we hadn't
time. It was 'Now then, my hearties, blaze away! Keep it up, lads!
The Dutchmen have pretty near had enough of it!' And then, at last,
'They are running, lads. Run in your guns, and tend the sails.' And
then a cheer as loud as we could give--which wasn't much, I can tell
you, for we were spent with labour, and half choked with powder, and
our tongues parched up with thirst."

"How many ships had you?"

"We had ninety-five war-ships, and five fire-ships, so the game was
an equal one. They had Tromp and De Ruyter to command them, and we
had Monk and Deane. Both Admirals were on board our ship, and in the
very first broadside the Dutch fired a chain-shot, and pretty well
cut Admiral Deane in two. I was close to him at the time. Monk, who
was standing by his side, undid his own cloak in a moment, threw it
over his comrade, and held up his hand to the few of us that had seen
what had happened, to take no notice of it.

"It was a good thing that Deane and Monk were on board the same ship.
If it had not been so, Deane's flag would have been hauled down and
all the Fleet would have known of his death, which, at the
commencement of the fight, would have greatly discouraged the men.

"They told me, though I know naught about it, that Rear-Admiral
Lawson charged with the Blue Squadron right through the Dutch line,
and so threw them into confusion. However, about three o'clock, the
fight having begun at eleven, Van Tromp began to draw off, and we got
more sail on the _Resolution_ and followed them for some hours, they
making a sort of running fight of it, till one of their big ships
blew up, about nine in the evening, when they laid in for shore.
Blake came up in the night with eighteen ships. The Dutch tried to
draw off, but at eight o'clock we came up to them, and, after
fighting for four hours, they hauled off and ran, in great confusion,
for the flats, where we could not follow them, and so they escaped to
Zeeland. We heard that they had six of their best ships sunk, two
blown up and eleven taken, but whether it was so or not I knew not,
for, in truth, I saw nothing whatever of the matter.

"We sailed to the Texel, and there blocked in De Ruyter's squadron of
twenty-five large ships, and we thought that there would be no more
fighting, for the Dutch had sent to England to ask for terms of
peace. However, we were wrong, and, to give the Dutchmen their due,
they showed resolution greater than we gave them credit for, for we
were astonished indeed to hear, towards the end of July, that Van
Tromp had sailed out again with upwards of ninety ships.

"On the 29th they came in view, and we sailed out to engage them, but
they would not come to close quarters, and it was seven at night
before the _Resolution_, with some thirty other ships, came up to
them and charged through their line. By the time we had done that it
was quite dark, and we missed them altogether and sailed south,
thinking Van Tromp had gone that way; but, instead, he had sailed
north, and in the morning we found he had picked up De Ruyter's
fleet, and was ready to fight. But we had other things to think of
besides fighting that day, for the wind blew so hard that it was as
much as we could do to keep off the shore, and if the gale had
continued a good part of the ships would have left their bones there.
However, by nightfall the gale abated somewhat, and by the next
morning the sea had gone down sufficient for the main deck ports to
be opened. So the Dutch, having the weather gauge, sailed down to
engage us.

"I thought it rough work in the fight two months before, but it was
as nothing to this. To begin with, the Dutch fire-ships came down
before the wind, and it was as much as we could do to avoid them.
They did, indeed, set the _Triumph_ on fire, and most of the crew
jumped overboard; but those that remained managed to put out the

"Lawson, with the Blue Squadron, began the fighting, and that so
briskly, that De Ruyter's flagship was completely disabled and towed
out of the fight. However, after I had seen that, our turn began, and
I had no more time to look about. I only know that ship after ship
came up to engage us, seeming bent upon lowering Monk's flag. Three
Dutch Admirals, Tromp, Evertson, and De Ruyter, as I heard
afterwards, came up in turn. We did not know who they were, but we
knew they were Admirals by their flags, and pounded them with all our
hearts; and so good was our aim that I myself saw two of the
Admirals' flags brought down, and they say that all three of them
were lowered. But you may guess the pounding was not all on our side,
and we suffered very heavily.

"Four men were hurt at the gun I worked, and nigh half the crew were
killed or wounded. Two of our masts were shot away, many of our guns
disabled, and towards the end of the fight we were towed out of the
line. How the day would have gone if Van Tromp had continued in
command of the Dutch, I cannot say, but about noon he was shot
through the body by a musket-ball, and this misfortune greatly
discouraged the Dutchmen, who fight well as long as things seem to be
going their way, but lose heart very easily when they think the
matter is going against them.

"By about two o'clock the officers shouted to us that the Dutch were
beginning to draw off, and it was not long before they began to fly,
each for himself, and in no sort of order. Some of our light
frigates, that had suffered less than the line-of-battle ships,
followed them until the one Dutch Admiral whose flag was left flying,
turned and fought them till two or three of our heavier ships came up
and he was sunk.

"We could see but little of the chase, having plenty of work, for,
had a gale come on, our ship, and a good many others, would assuredly
have been driven ashore, in the plight we were in. Anyhow, at night
their ships got into the Texel, and our vessels, which had been
following them, anchored five or six leagues out, being afraid of the
sands. Altogether we had burnt or sunk twenty-six of their ships of
war, while we lost only two frigates, both of which were burnt by
their fire-ships.

"As it was certain that they would not come out for some time again,
and many of our ships being unfit for further contention until
repaired, we returned to England, and I got my discharge and joined
Captain Dave again a fortnight later, when his ship came up the

"Monk is a good fighter, Master Cyril, and should have the command of
the Fleet instead of, as they say, the Duke of York. Although he is
called General, and not Admiral, he is as good a sea-dog as any of
them, and he can think as well as fight.

"Among our ships that day were several merchantmen that had been
taken up for the service at the last moment and had guns slapped on
board, with gunners to work them. Some of them had still their
cargoes in the hold, and Monk, thinking that it was likely the
captains would think more of saving their ships and goods than of
fighting the Dutch, changed the captains all round, so that no man
commanded his own vessel. And the consequence was that, as all
admitted, the merchantmen were as willing to fight as any, and bore
themselves right stoutly.

"Don't you think, Master Cyril, if you go with the Fleet, that you
are going to see much of what goes on. It will be worse for you than
it was for me, for there was I, labouring and toiling like a dumb
beast, with my mind intent upon working the gun, and paying no heed
to the roar and confusion around, scarce even noticing when one
beside me was struck down. You will be up on the poop, having naught
to do but to stand with your hand on your sword hilt, and waiting to
board an enemy or to drive back one who tries to board you. You will
find that you will be well-nigh dazed and stupid with the din and

"It does not sound a very pleasant outlook, John," Cyril laughed.
"However, if I ever do get into an engagement, I will think of what
you have said, and will try and prevent myself from getting either
dazed or stupid; though, in truth, I can well imagine that it is
enough to shake anyone's nerves to stand inactive in so terrible a

"You will have to take great care of yourself, Cyril," Nellie said

Captain Dave and John Wilkes both burst into a laugh.

"How is he to take care of himself, Nellie?" her father said. "Do you
suppose that a man on deck would be any the safer were he to stoop
down with his head below the rail, or to screw himself up on the
leeward side of a mast? No, no, lass; each man has to take his share
of danger, and the most cowardly runs just as great a risk as the man
who fearlessly exposes himself."



The next day Cyril went down to breakfast in what he had often
called, laughingly, his Court suit. This suit he had had made for him
a short time before his father's death, to replace the one he had
when he came over, that being altogether outgrown. He had done so to
please Sir Aubrey, who had repeatedly expressed his anxiety that
Cyril should always be prepared to take advantage of any good fortune
that might befall him. This was the first time he had put it on.

"Well, truly you look a pretty fellow, Cyril," the Captain said, as
he entered. "Don't you think so, Nellie?"

The girl nodded.

"I don't know that I like him better than in his black suit, father.
But he looks very well."

"Hullo, lass! This is a change of opinion, truly! For myself I care
not one jot for the fashion of a man's clothes, but I had thought
that you always inclined to gay attire, and Cyril now would seem
rather to belong to the Court than to the City."

"If it had been any other morning, father, I might have thought more
of Cyril's appearance; but what you were telling us but now of the
continuance of the Plague is so sad, that mourning, rather than Court
attire, would seem to be the proper wear."

"Is the Plague spreading fast, then, Captain Dave?"

"No; but it is not decreasing, as we had hoped it would do. From the
beginning of December the deaths rose steadily until the end of
January. While our usual death-rate is under three hundred it went to
four hundred and seventy-four. Then the weather setting in very
severe checked it till the end of February, and we all hoped that the
danger was over, and that we should be rid of the distemper before
the warm weather set in; but for the last fortnight there has been a
rise rather than a fall--not a large one, but sufficient to cause
great alarm that it will continue until warm weather sets in, and may
then grow into terrible proportions. So far, there has been no case
in the City, and it is only in the West that it has any hold, the
deaths being altogether in the parishes of St. Giles's, St. Andrew's,
St. Bride's, and St. James's, Clerkenwell. Of course, there have been
cases now and then for many years past, and nine years ago it spread
to a greater extent than now, and were we at the beginning of winter
instead of nearing summer there would be no occasion to think much of
the matter; but, with the hot weather approaching, and the tales we
hear of the badness of the Plague in foreign parts one cannot but
feel anxious."

"And they say, too, that there have been prophecies of grievous evils
in London," Nellie put in.

"We need not trouble about that," her father replied. "The
Anabaptists prophesied all sorts of evils in Elizabeth's time, but
naught came of it. There are always men and women with disordered
minds, who think that they are prophets, and have power to see
further into the future than other people, but no one minds them or
thinks aught of their wild words save at a time like the present,
when there is a danger of war or pestilence. You remember Bill Vokes,

"I mind him, yer honour. A poor, half-crazed fellow he was, and yet a
good seaman, who would do his duty blow high or blow low. He sailed
six voyages with us, Captain."

"And never one of them without telling the crew that the ship would
never return to port. He had had dreams about it, and the black cat
had mewed when he left home, and he saw the three magpies in a tree
hard by when he stepped from the door, and many other portents of
that kind. The first time he well-nigh scared some of the crew, but
after the first voyage--from which we came back safely, of
course--they did but laugh at him; and as in all other respects he
was a good sailor, and a willing fellow, I did not like to discharge
him, for, once the men found out that his prophecies came to naught,
they did no harm, and, indeed, they afforded them much amusement.
Just as it is on board a ship, so it is elsewhere. If our vessel had
gone down that first voyage, any man who escaped drowning would have
said that Bill Vokes had not been without reason in his warnings, and
that it was nothing less than flying in the face of Providence, to
put to sea when the loss of the ship had been so surely foretold. So,
on shore, the fools or madmen who have dreams and visions are not
heeded when times are good, and men's senses sound, whereas, in
troubled times, men take their ravings to heart. If all the
scatterbrains had a good whipping at the pillory it would be well,
both for them and for the silly people who pay attention to their

A few minutes later, Cyril took a boat to the Whitehall steps, and
after some delay was shown up to Prince Rupert's room.

"None the worse for your exertions yester-even, young gentleman, I
hope?" the Prince said, shaking hands with him warmly.

"None, sir. The exertion was not great, and it was but the
inconvenience of the smoke that troubled me in any way."

"Have you been to inquire after the young ladies who owe their lives
to you?"

"No, sir; I know neither their names nor their condition, nor, had I
wished it, could I have made inquiries, for I know not whither they
were taken."

"I sent round early this morning," the Prince said, "and heard that
they were as well as might be expected after the adventure they went
through. And now tell me about yourself, and what you have been
doing. 'Tis one of the saddest things to me, since I returned to
England, that so many good men who fought by my side have been made
beggars in the King's service, and that I could do naught for them.
'Tis a grievous business, and yet I see not how it is to be mended.
The hardest thing is, that those who did most for the King's service
are those who have suffered most deeply. None of those who were
driven to sell their estates at a fraction of their value, in order
to raise money for the King's treasury or to put men into the field,
have received any redress. It would need a vast sum to buy back all
their lands, and Parliament would not vote money for that purpose;
nor would it be fair to turn men out of the estates that they bought
and paid for. Do you not think so?" he asked suddenly, seeing, by the
lad's face, that he was not in agreement with him.

"No, sir; it does not seem to me that it would be unfair. These men
bought the lands for, as you say, but a fraction of their value; they
did so in the belief that Parliament would triumph, and their
purchase was but a speculation grounded on that belief. They have had
the enjoyment of the estates for years, and have drawn from them an
income which has, by this time, brought them in a sum much exceeding
that which they have adventured, and it does not seem to me that
there would be any hardship whatever were they now called upon to
restore them to their owners. 'Tis as when a man risks his money in a
venture at sea. If all goes as he hopes he will make a great profit
on his money. If the ship is cast away or taken by pirates, it is
unfortunate, but he has no reason to curse his ill-luck if the ship
had already made several voyages which have more than recouped the
money he ventured."

"Well and stoutly argued!" the Prince said approvingly. "But you must
remember, young sir, that the King, on his return, was by no means
strongly seated on the throne. There was the Army most evilly
affected towards him; there were the Puritans, who lamented the upset
of the work they or their fathers had done. All those men who had
purchased the estates of the Royalists had families and friends, and,
had these estates been restored to their rightful owners, there might
have been an outbreak that would have shaken the throne again. Many
would have refused to give up possession, save to force; and where
was the force to come from? Even had the King had troops willing to
carry out such a measure, they might have been met by force, and had
blood once been shed, none can say how the trouble might have spread,
or what might have been the end of it. And now, lad, come to your own

Cyril briefly related the story of his life since his return to
London, stating his father's plan that he should some day take
foreign service.

"You have shown that you have a stout heart, young sir, as well as a
brave one, and have done well, indeed, in turning your mind to earn
your living by such talents as you have, rather than in wasting your
time in vain hopes and in ceaseless importunities for justice. It may
be that you have acted wisely in thinking of taking service on the
Continent, seeing that we have no Army; and when the time comes, I
will further your wishes to the utmost of my power. But in the
meantime there is opportunity for service at home, and I will gladly
appoint you as a Volunteer in my own ship. There are many gentlemen
going with me in that capacity, and it would be of advantage to you,
if, when I write to some foreign prince on your behalf, I can say
that you have fought under my eye."

"Thank you greatly, Prince. I have been wishing, above all things,
that I could join the Fleet, and it would be, indeed, an honour to
begin my career under the Prince of whom I heard so often from my

Prince Rupert looked at his watch.

"The King will be in the Mall now," he said. "I will take you across
and present you to him. It is useful to have the _entrée_ at Court,
though perhaps the less you avail yourself of it the better."

So saying, he rose, put on his hat, and, throwing his cloak over his
shoulder, went across to the Mall, asking questions of Cyril as he
went, and extracting from him a sketch of the adventure of his being
kidnapped and taken to Holland.

Presently they arrived at the spot where the King, with three or four
nobles and gentlemen, had been playing. Charles was in a good humour,
for he had just won a match with the Earl of Rochester.

"Well, my grave cousin," he said merrily, "what brings you out of
your office so early? No fresh demands for money, I hope?"

"Not at present. And indeed, it is not to you that I should come on
such a quest, but to the Duke of York."

"And he would come to me," said the King; "so it is the same thing."

"I have come across to present to your Majesty a very gallant young
gentleman, who yesterday evening, at the risk of his life, saved the
three daughters of the Earl of Wisbech from being burned at the fire
in the Savoy, where his Lordship's mansion was among those that were
destroyed. I beg to present to your Majesty Sir Cyril Shenstone, the
son of the late Sir Aubrey Shenstone, a most gallant gentleman, who
rode under my banner in many a stern fight in the service of your
royal father."

"I knew him well," the King said graciously, "but had not heard of
his death. I am glad to hear that his son inherits his bravery. I
have often regretted deeply that it was out of my power to requite,
in any way, the services Sir Aubrey rendered, and the sacrifices he
made for our House."

His brow clouded a little, and he looked appealingly at Prince

"Sir Cyril Shenstone has no more intention of asking for favours than
I have, Charles," the latter said. "He is going to accompany me as a
Volunteer against the Dutch, and if the war lasts I shall ask for a
better appointment for him."

"That he shall have," the King said warmly. "None have a better claim
to commissions in the Navy and Army than sons of gentlemen who fought
and suffered in the cause of our royal father. My Lords," he said to
the little group of gentlemen, who had been standing a few paces away
while this conversation had been going on, "I would have you know Sir
Cyril Shenstone, the son of a faithful adherent of my father, and
who, yesterday evening, saved the lives of the three daughters of My
Lord of Wisbech in the fire at the Savoy. He is going as a Volunteer
with my cousin Rupert when he sails against the Dutch."

The gentlemen all returned Cyril's salute courteously.

"He will be fortunate in beginning his career under the eyes of so
brave a Prince," the Earl of Rochester said, bowing to Prince Rupert.

"It would be well if you all," the latter replied bluntly, "were to
ship in the Fleet for a few months instead of wasting your time in
empty pleasures."

The Earl smiled. Prince Rupert's extreme disapproval of the life at
Court was well known.

"We cannot all be Bayards, Prince, and most of us would, methinks, be
too sick at sea to be of much assistance, were we to go. But if the
Dutchmen come here, which is not likely--for I doubt not, Prince,
that you will soon send them flying back to their own ports--we shall
all be glad to do our best to meet them when they land."

The Prince made no reply, but, turning to the King, said,--

"We will not detain you longer from your game, Cousin Charles. I have
plenty to do, with all the complaints as to the state of the ships,
and the lack of stores and necessaries."

"Remember, I shall be glad to see you at my _levées_, Sir Cyril,"
the King said, holding out his hand. "Do not wait for the Prince to
bring you, for if you do you will wait long."

Cyril doffed his hat, raised the King's hand to his lips, then, with
a deep bow and an expression of thanks, followed Prince Rupert, who
was already striding away.

"You might have been better introduced," the Prince said when he
overtook him. "Still it is better to be badly introduced than to have
no introduction at all. I am too old for the flippancies of the
Court. You had better show yourself there sometimes; you will make
friends that may be useful. By the way, I have not your address, and
it may be a fortnight or more before the _Henrietta_ is ready to
take her crew on board." He took out his tablet and wrote down the
address. "Come and see me if there is anything you want to ask me. Do
not let the clerks keep you out with the pretence that I am busy, but
send up your name to me, and tell them that I have ordered it shall
be taken up, however I may be engaged."

Having no occasion for haste, Cyril walked back to the City after
leaving Prince Rupert. A great change had taken place in his fortunes
in the last twenty-four hours. Then he had no prospects save
continuing his work in the City for another two years, and even after
that time he foresaw grave difficulties in the way of his obtaining a
commission in a foreign army; for Sir John Parton, even if ready to
carry out the promise he had formerly made him, might not have
sufficient influence to do so. Now he was to embark in Prince
Rupert's own ship. He would be the companion of many other gentlemen
going out as Volunteers, and, at a bound, spring from the position of
a writer in the City to that occupied by his father before he became
involved in the trouble between King and Parliament. He was already
admitted to Court, and Prince Rupert himself had promised to push his
fortunes abroad.

And yet he felt less elated than he would have expected from his
sudden change. The question of money was the cloud that dulled the
brightness of his prospects. As a Volunteer he would receive no pay,
and yet he must make a fair show among the young noblemen and
gentlemen who would be his companions. Doubtless they would be
victualled on board, but he would have to dress well and probably pay
a share in the expenses that would be incurred for wine and other
things on board. Had it not been for the future he would have been
inclined to regret that he had not refused the tempting offer; but
the advantages to be gained by Prince Rupert's patronage were so
large that he felt no sacrifice would be too great to that end--even
that of accepting the assistance that Captain Dave had more than once
hinted he should give him. It was just the dinner-hour when he
arrived home.

"Well, Cyril, I see by your face that the Prince has said nothing in
the direction of your wishes," Captain Dave said, as he entered.

"Then my face is a false witness, Captain Dave, for Prince Rupert has
appointed me a Volunteer on board his own ship."

"I am glad, indeed, lad, heartily glad, though your going will be a
heavy loss to us all. But why were you looking so grave over it?"

"I have been wondering whether I have acted wisely in accepting it,"
Cyril said. "I am very happy here, I am earning my living, I have no
cares of any sort, and I feel that it is a very serious matter to
make a change. The Prince has a number of noblemen and gentlemen
going with him as Volunteers, and I feel that I shall be out of my
element in such company. At the same time I have every reason to be
thankful, for Prince Rupert has promised that he will, after the war
is over, give me introductions which will procure me a commission

"Well, then, it seems to me that things could not look better,"
Captain Dave said heartily. "When do you go on board?"

"The Prince says it may be another fortnight; so that I shall have
time to make my preparations, and warn the citizens I work for, that
I am going to leave them."

"I should say the sooner the better, lad. You will have to get your
outfit and other matters seen to. Moreover, now that you have been
taken under Prince Rupert's protection, and have become, as it were,
an officer on his ship--for gentlemen Volunteers, although they have
no duties in regard to working the ship, are yet officers--it is
hardly seemly that you should be making up the accounts of bakers and
butchers, ironmongers, and ship's storekeepers."

"The work is honest, and I am in no way ashamed of it," Cyril said;
"but as I have many things to see about, I suppose I had better give
them notice at once. Prince Rupert presented me to the King to-day,
and His Majesty requested me to attend at Court, which I should be
loath to do, were it not that the Prince urged upon me that it was of
advantage that I should make myself known."

"One would think, Master Cyril, that this honour which has suddenly
befallen you is regarded by you as a misfortune," Mrs. Dowsett said,
laughing. "Most youths would be overjoyed at such a change in their

"It would be all very pleasant," Cyril said, "had I the income of my
father's estate at my back; but I feel that I shall be in a false
position, thus thrusting myself among men who have more guineas in
their pockets than I have pennies. However, it seems that the matter
has been taken out of my own hands, and that, as things have turned
out, so I must travel. Who would have thought, when John Wilkes
fetched me out last night to go to the fire, it would make an
alteration in my whole life, and that such a little thing as climbing
up a ladder and helping to get three girls out of a room full of
smoke--and John Wilkes did the most difficult part of the work--was
to change all my prospects?"

"There was a Providence in it, Cyril," Mrs. Dowsett said gently.
"Why, else, should you have gone up that ladder, when, to all
seeming, there was no one there. The maids were so frightened, John
says, that they would never have said a word about there being anyone
in that room, and the girls would have perished had you not gone up.
Now as, owing to that, everything has turned out according to your
wishes, it would be a sin not to take advantage of it, for you may be
sure that, as the way has thus been suddenly opened to you, so will
all other things follow in due course."

"Thank you, madam," Cyril said simply. "I had not thought of it in
that light, but assuredly you are right, and I will not suffer myself
to be daunted by the difficulties there may be in my way."

John Wilkes now came in and sat down to the meal. He was vastly
pleased when he heard of the good fortune that had befallen Cyril.

"It seems to me," Cyril said, "that I am but an impostor, and that at
least some share in the good luck ought to have fallen to you, John,
seeing that you carried them all down the ladder."

"I have carried heavier bales, many a time, much longer distances
than that--though I do not say that the woman was not a tidy weight,
for, indeed, she was; but I would have carried down ten of them for
the honour I had in being shaken by the hand by Prince Rupert, as
gallant a sailor as ever sailed a ship. No, no; what I did was all in
a day's work, and no more than lifting anchors and chains about in
the storehouse. As for honours, I want none of them. I am moored in a
snug port here, and would not leave Captain Dave if they would make a
Duke of me."

Nellie had said no word of congratulation to Cyril, but as they rose
from dinner, she said, in low tones,--

"You know I am pleased, and hope that you will have all the good
fortune you deserve."

Cyril set out at once to make a round of the shops where he worked.
The announcement that he must at once terminate his connection with
them, as he was going on board the Fleet, was everywhere received
with great regret.

"I would gladly pay double," one said, "rather than that you should
go, for, indeed, it has taken a heavy load off my shoulders, and I
know not how I shall get on in the future."

"I should think there would be no difficulty in getting some other
young clerk to do the work," Cyril said.

"Not so easy," the man replied. "I had tried one or two before, and
found they were more trouble than they were worth. There are not many
who write as neatly as you do, and you do as much in an hour as some
would take a day over. However, I wish you good luck, and if you
should come back, and take up the work again, or start as a scrivener
in the City, I can promise you that you shall have my books again,
and that among my friends I can find you as much work as you can get

Something similar was said to him at each of the houses where he
called, and he felt much gratified at finding that his work had given
such satisfaction.

When he came in to supper, Cyril was conscious that something had
occurred of an unusual nature. Nellie's eyes were swollen with
crying; Mrs. Dowsett had also evidently been in tears; while Captain
Dave was walking up and down the room restlessly.

The servant was placing the things upon the table, and, just as they
were about to take their seats, the bell of the front door rang

"See who it is, John," Captain Dave said. "Whoever it is seems to be
in a mighty hurry."

In a minute or two John returned, followed by a gentleman. The latter
paused at the door, and then said, bowing courteously, as he
advanced, to Mrs. Dowsett,--

"I must ask pardon for intruding on your meal, madam, but my business
is urgent. I am the Earl of Wisbech, and I have called to see Sir
Cyril Shenstone, to offer him my heartfelt thanks for the service he
has rendered me by saving the lives of my daughters."

All had risen to their feet as he entered, and there was a slight
exclamation of surprise from the Captain, his wife, and daughter, as
the Earl said "Sir Cyril Shenstone."

Cyril stepped forward.

"I am Cyril Shenstone, my Lord," he said, "and had the good fortune
to be able, with the assistance of my friend here, John Wilkes, to
rescue your daughters, though, at the time, indeed, I was altogether
ignorant of their rank. It was a fortunate occurrence, but I must
disclaim any merit in the action, for it was by mere accident that,
mounting to the window by a ladder, I saw them lying insensible on
the ground."

"Your modesty does you credit, sir," the Earl said, shaking him
warmly by the hand. "But such is not the opinion of Prince Rupert,
who described it to me as a very gallant action; and, moreover, he
said that it was you who first brought him the news that there were
females in the house, which he and others had supposed to be empty,
and that it was solely owing to you that the ladders were taken

"Will you allow me, my Lord, to introduce to you Captain Dowsett, his
wife, and daughter, who have been to me the kindest of friends?"

"A kindness, my Lord," Captain Dave said earnestly, "that has been
repaid a thousandfold by this good youth, of whose rank we were
indeed ignorant until you named it. May I ask you to honour us by
joining in our meal?"

"That will I right gladly, sir," the Earl said, "for, in truth, I
have scarce broke my fast to-day. I was down at my place in Kent when
I was awoke this morning by one of my grooms, who had ridden down
with the news that my mansion in the Savoy had been burned, and that
my daughters had had a most narrow escape of their lives. Of course,
I mounted at once and rode to town, where I was happy in finding that
they had well-nigh recovered from the effects of their fright and the
smoke. Neither they nor the nurse who was with them could give me any
account of what had happened, save that they had, as they supposed,
become insensible from the smoke. When they recovered, they found
themselves in the Earl of Surrey's house, to which it seems they had
been carried. After inquiry, I learned that the Duke of Albemarle and
Prince Rupert had both been on the scene directing operations. I went
to the latter, with whom I have the honour of being well acquainted,
and he told me the whole story, saying that had it not been for Sir
Cyril Shenstone, my daughters would certainly have perished. He gave
credit, too, to Sir Cyril's companion, who, he said, carried them
down the ladder, and himself entered the burning room the last time,
to aid in bringing out the nurse, who was too heavy for the rescuer
of my daughters to lift. Save a cup of wine and a piece of bread,
that I took on my first arrival, I have not broken my fast to-day."

Then he seated himself on a chair that Cyril had placed for him
between Mrs. Dowsett and Nellie.

Captain Dave whispered to John Wilkes, who went out, and returned in
two or three minutes with three or four flasks of rare Spanish wine
which the Captain had brought back on his last voyage, and kept for
drinking on special occasions. The dame always kept an excellent
table, and although she made many apologies to the Earl, he assured
her that none were needed, for that he could have supped no better in
his own house.

"I hear," he said presently to Cyril, "that you are going out as a
Volunteer in Prince Rupert's ship. My son is also going with him, and
I hope, in a day or two, to introduce him to you. He is at present at
Cambridge, but, having set his mind on sailing with the Prince, I
have been fain to allow him to give up his studies. I heard from
Prince Rupert that you had recently been kidnapped and taken to
Holland. He gave me no particulars, nor did I ask them, being
desirous of hurrying off at once to express my gratitude to you. How
was it that such an adventure befell you--for it would hardly seem
likely that you could have provoked the enmity of persons capable of
such an outrage?"

"It was the result of his services to me, my Lord," Captain Dave
said. "Having been a sea-captain, I am but a poor hand at accounts;
but, having fallen into this business at the death of my father, it
seemed simple enough for me to get on without much book-learning. I
made but a bad shape at it; and when Master Shenstone, as he then
called himself, offered to keep my books for me, it seemed to me an
excellent mode of saving myself worry and trouble. However, when he
set himself to making up the accounts of my stock, he found that I
was nigh eight hundred pounds short; and, setting himself to watch,
discovered that my apprentices were in alliance with a band of
thieves, and were nightly robbing me. We caught them and two of the
thieves in the act. One of the latter was the receiver, and on his
premises the proceeds of a great number of robberies were found, and
there was no doubt that he was the chief of a notorious gang, called
the 'Black Gang,' which had for a long time infested the City and the
surrounding country. It was to prevent Sir Cyril from giving evidence
at the trial that he was kidnapped and sent away. He was placed in
the house of a diamond merchant, to whom the thieves were in the
habit of consigning jewels; and this might well have turned out fatal
to him, for to the same house came my elder apprentice and one of the
men captured with him--a notorious ruffian--who had been rescued from
the constables by a gang of their fellows, in open daylight, in the
City. These, doubtless, would have compassed his death had he not
happily seen them enter the house, and made his escape, taking
passage in a coaster bound for Dunkirk, from which place he took
another ship to England. Thus you see, my Lord, that I am indebted to
him for saving me from a further loss that might well have ruined

He paused, and glanced at Nellie, who rose at once, saying to the

"I trust that your Lordship will excuse my mother and myself. My
father has more to tell you; at least, I should wish him to do so."

Then, taking her mother's hand, she curtsied deeply, and they left
the room together.

"Such, my Lord, as I have told you, is the service, so far as I knew
till this afternoon, Sir Cyril Shenstone has rendered me. That was no
small thing, but it is very little to what I know now that I am
indebted to him. After he went out I was speaking with my wife on
money matters, desiring much to be of assistance to him in the matter
of the expedition on which he is going. Suddenly my daughter burst
into tears and left the room. I naturally bade my wife follow her and
learn what ailed her. Then, with many sobs and tears, she told her
mother that we little knew how much we were indebted to him. She said
she had been a wicked girl, having permitted herself to be accosted
several times by a well-dressed gallant, who told her that he was the
Earl of Harwich, who had professed great love for her, and urged her
to marry him privately.

"He was about to speak to her one day when she was out under Master
Cyril's escort. The latter interfered, and there was well-nigh a
_fracas_ between them. Being afraid that some of the lookers-on
might know her, and bring the matter to our ears, she mentioned so
much to us, and, in consequence, we did not allow her to go out
afterwards, save in the company of her mother. Nevertheless, the man
continued to meet her, and, as he was unknown to her mother, passed
notes into her hand. To these she similarly replied, and at last
consented to fly with him. She did so at night, and was about to
enter a sedan chair in the lane near this house when they were
interrupted by the arrival of Master Shenstone and my friend John
Wilkes. The former, it seems, had his suspicions, and setting himself
to watch, had discovered that she was corresponding with this
man--whom he had found was not the personage he pretended to be, but
a disreputable hanger-on of the Court, one John Harvey--and had then
kept up an incessant watch, with the aid of John Wilkes, outside the
house at night, until he saw her come out and join the fellow with
two associates, when he followed her to the chair they had in
readiness for her.

"There was, she says, a terrible scene. Swords were drawn. John
Wilkes knocked down one of the men, and Master Shenstone ran John
Harvey through the shoulder. Appalled now at seeing how she had been
deceived, and how narrowly she had escaped destruction, she returned
with her rescuers to the house, and no word was ever said on the
subject until she spoke this afternoon. We had noticed that a great
change had come over her, and that she seemed to have lost all her
tastes for shows and finery, but little did we dream of the cause.
She said that she could not have kept the secret much longer in any
case, being utterly miserable at the thought of how she had degraded
herself and deceived us.

"It was a sad story to have to hear, my Lord, but we have fully
forgiven her, having, indeed, cause to thank God both for her
preservation and for the good that this seems to have wrought in her.
She had been a spoilt child, and, being well-favoured, her head had
been turned by flattery, and she indulged in all sorts of foolish
dreams. Now she is truly penitent for her folly. Had you not arrived,
my Lord, I should, when we had finished our supper, have told Master
Shenstone that I knew of this vast service he has rendered us--a
service to which the other was as nothing. That touched my pocket
only; this my only child's happiness. I have told you the story, my
Lord, by her consent, in order that you might know what sort of a
young fellow this gentleman who has rescued your daughter is. John, I
thank you for your share in this matter," and, with tears in his
eyes, he held out his hand to his faithful companion.

"I thank you deeply, Captain Dowsett, for having told me this story,"
the Earl said gravely. "It was a painful one to tell, and I feel sure
that the circumstance will, as you say, be of lasting benefit to your
daughter. It shows that her heart is a true and loyal one, or she
would not have had so painful a story told to a stranger, simply that
the true character of her preserver should be known. I need not say
that it has had the effect she desired of raising Sir Cyril Shenstone
highly in my esteem. Prince Rupert spoke of him very highly and told
me how he had been honourably supporting himself and his father,
until the death of the latter. Now I see that he possesses unusual
discretion and acuteness, as well as bravery. Now I will take my
leave, thanking you for the good entertainment that you have given
me. I am staying at the house of the Earl of Surrey, Sir Cyril, and I
hope that you will call to-morrow morning, in order that my daughters
may thank you in person."

Captain Dave and Cyril escorted the Earl to the door and then
returned to the chamber above.



On arriving at the room upstairs, Captain Dave placed his hand on
Cyril's shoulder and said:

"How can I thank you, lad, for what you have done for us?"

"By saying nothing further about it, Captain Dave. I had hoped that
the matter would never have come to your ears, and yet I rejoice, for
her own sake, that Mistress Nellie has told you all. I thought that
she would do so some day, for I, too, have seen how much she has been
changed since then, and though it becomes me not to speak of one
older than myself, I think that the experience has been for her good,
and, above all, I am rejoiced to find that you have fully forgiven
her, for indeed I am sure that she has been grievously punished."

"Well, well, lad, it shall be as you say, for indeed I am but a poor
hand at talking, but believe me that I feel as grateful as if I could
express myself rightly, and that the Earl of Wisbech cannot feel one
whit more thankful to you for having saved the lives of his three
children than I do for your having saved my Nellie from the
consequences of her own folly. There is one thing that you must let
me do--it is but a small thing, but at present I have no other way of
showing what I feel: you must let me take upon myself, as if you had
been my son, the expenses of this outfit of yours. I was talking of
the matter, as you may have guessed by what I said to the Earl, when
Nellie burst into tears; and if I contemplated this when I knew only
you had saved me from ruin, how much more do I feel it now that you
have done this greater thing? I trust that you will not refuse me and
my wife this small opportunity of showing our gratitude. What say
you, John Wilkes?"

"I say, Captain Dave, that it is well spoken, and I am sure Master
Cyril will not refuse your offer."

"I will not, Captain Dave, providing that you let it be as a loan
that I may perhaps some day be enabled to repay you. I feel that it
would be churlish to refuse so kind an offer, and it will relieve me
of the one difficulty that troubled me when the prospects in all
other respects seemed so fair."

"That is right, lad, and you have taken a load off my mind. You have
not acted quite fairly by us in one respect, Master Cyril!"

"How is that?" Cyril asked in surprise.

"In not telling us that you were Sir Cyril Shenstone, and in letting
us put you up in an attic, and letting you go about as Nellie's
escort, as if you had been but an apprentice."

Cyril laughed.

"I said that my father was Sir Aubrey Shenstone, though I own that I
did not say so until I had been here some time; but the fact that he
was a Baronet and not a Knight made little difference. It was a
friendless lad whom you took in and gave shelter to, Captain Dave,
and--it mattered not whether he was plain Cyril or Sir Cyril. I had
certainly no thought of taking my title again until I entered a
foreign army, and indeed it would have been a disservice to me here
in London. I should have cut but a poor figure asking for work and
calling myself Sir Cyril Shenstone. I should have had to enter into
all sorts of explanations before anyone would have believed me, and I
don't think that, even with you, I should have been so comfortable as
I have been."

"Well, at any rate, no harm has been done," Captain Dave said; "but I
think you might have told me."

"If I had, Captain Dave, you would assuredly have told your wife and
Mistress Nellie; and it was much more pleasant for me that things
should be as they were."

"Well, perhaps you were right, lad. And I own that I might not have
let you work at my books, and worry over that robbery, had I known
that you were of a station above me."

"That you could never have known," Cyril said warmly. "We have been
poor ever since I can remember. I owed my education to the kindness
of friends of my mother, and in no way has my station been equal to
that of a London trader like yourself. As to the title, it was but a
matter of birth, and went but ill with an empty purse and a shabby
doublet. In the future it may be useful, but until now, it has been
naught, and indeed worse than naught, to me."

The next morning when Cyril went into the parlour he found that
Nellie was busy assisting the maid to lay the table. When the latter
had left the room, the girl went up to Cyril and took his hand.

"I have never thanked you yet," she said. "I could not bring myself
to speak of it, but now that I have told them I can do so. Ever since
that dreadful night I have prayed for you, morning and evening, and
thanked God for sending you to my rescue. What a wicked girl you must
have thought me--and with reason! But you could not think of me worse
than I thought of myself. Now that my father and mother have forgiven
me I shall be different altogether. I had before made up my mind to
tell them. Still, it did not seem to me that I should ever be happy
again. But now that I have had the courage to speak out, and they
have been so good to me, a great weight is lifted off my mind, and I
mean to learn to be a good housewife like my mother, and to try to be
worthy, some day, of an honest man's love."

"I am sure you will be," Cyril said warmly. "And so, Mistress Nellie,
it has all turned out for the best, though it did not seem so at one

At this moment Captain Dave came in. "I am glad to see you two
talking together as of old," he said. "We had thought that there must
be some quarrel between you, for you had given up rating him, Nellie.
Give her a kiss, Cyril; she is a good lass, though she has been a
foolish one. Nay, Nellie, do not offer him your cheek--it is the
fashion to do that to every idle acquaintance. Kiss him heartily, as
if you loved him. That is right, lass. Now let us to breakfast. Where
is your mother? She is late."

"I told her that I would see after the breakfast in future, father,
and I have begun this morning--partly because it is my duty to take
the work off her hands, and partly because I wanted a private talk
with Sir Cyril."

"I won't be called Sir Cyril under this roof," the lad said,
laughing. "And I warn you that if anyone calls me so I will not
answer. I have always been Cyril with you all, and I intend to remain
so to the end, and you must remember that it is but a few months that
I have had the right to the title, and was never addressed by it
until by Prince Rupert. I was for the moment well nigh as much
surprised as you were last night."

An hour later Cyril again donned his best suit, and started to pay
his visit to the Earl. Had he not seen him over-night, he would have
felt very uncomfortable at the thought of the visit; but he had found
him so pleasant and friendly, and so entirely free from any air of
pride or condescension, that it seemed as if he were going to meet a
friend. He was particularly struck with the manner in which he had
placed Captain Dave and his family at their ease, and got them to
talk as freely and naturally with him as if he had been an
acquaintance of long standing. It seemed strange to him to give his
name as Sir Cyril Shenstone to the lackeys at the door, and he almost
expected to see an expression of amusement on their faces. They had,
however, evidently received instructions respecting him, for he was
without question at once ushered into the room in which the Earl of
Wisbech and his daughters were sitting.

The Earl shook him warmly by the hand, and then, turning to his
daughters, said,--

"This is the gentleman to whom you owe your lives, girls. Sir Cyril,
these are my daughters--Lady Dorothy, Lady Bertha, and Lady Beatrice.
It seems somewhat strange to have to introduce you, who have saved
their lives, to them; but you have the advantage of them, for you
have seen them before, but they have not until now seen your face."

Each of the girls as she was named made a deep curtsey, and then
presented her cheek to be kissed, as was the custom of the times.

"They are somewhat tongue-tied," the Earl said, smiling, as the
eldest of the three cast an appealing glance to him, "and have begged
me to thank you in their names, which I do with all my heart, and beg
you to believe that their gratitude is none the less deep because
they have no words to express it. They generally have plenty to say,
I can assure you, and will find their tongues when you are a little
better acquainted."

"I am most happy to have been of service to you, ladies," Cyril said,
bowing deeply to them. "I can hardly say that I have the advantage
your father speaks of, for in truth the smoke was so thick, and my
eyes smarted so with it, that I could scarce see your faces."

"Their attire, too, in no way helped you," the Earl said, with a
laugh, "for, as I hear, their costume was of the slightest. I believe
that Dorothy's chief concern is that she did not have time to attire
herself in a more becoming toilette before the smoke overpowered

"Now, father," the girl protested, with a pretty colour in her
cheeks, "you know I have never said anything of the sort, though I
did say that I wished I had thrown a cloak round me. It is not
pleasant, whatever you may think, to know that one was handed down a
ladder in one's nightdress."

"I don't care about that a bit," Beatrice said; "but you did not say,
father, that it was a young gentleman, no older than Sydney, who
found us and carried us out. I had expected to see a great big man."

"I don't think I said anything about his age, Beatrice, but simply
told you that I had found out that it was Sir Cyril Shenstone that
had saved you."

"Is the nurse recovering, my Lord?"

"She is still in bed, and the doctor says she will be some time
before she quite recovers from the fright and shock. They were all
sleeping in the storey above. It was Dorothy who first woke, and,
after waking her sisters, ran into the nurse's room, which was next
door, and roused her. The silly woman was so frightened that she
could do nothing but stand at the window and scream until the girls
almost dragged her away, and forced her to come downstairs. The
smoke, however, was so thick that they could get no farther than the
next floor; then, guided by the screams of the other servants, they
opened a door and ran in, but, as you know, it was not the room into
which the women had gone. The nurse fell down in a faint as soon as
she got in. The girls, as it seems, dragged her as far as they could
towards the window, but she was too heavy for them; and as they had
not shut the door, the smoke poured in and overpowered them, and they
fell beside her. The rest you know. She is a silly woman, and she has
quite lost my confidence by her folly and cowardice, but she has been
a good servant, and the girls, all of whom she nursed, were fond of
her. Still, it is evident that she is not to be trusted in an
emergency, and it was only because the girls' governess is away on a
visit to her mother that she happened to be left in charge of them.
Now, young ladies, you can leave us, as I have other matters to talk
over with Sir Cyril."

The three girls curtsied deeply, first to their father, and then to
Cyril, who held the door for them to pass out.

"Now, Sir Cyril," the Earl said, as the door closed behind them, "we
must have a talk together. You may well believe that, after what has
happened, I look upon you almost as part of my family, and that I
consider you have given me the right to look after your welfare as if
you were a near relation of my own; and glad I am to have learned
yesterday evening that you are, in all respects, one whom I might be
proud indeed to call a kinsman. Had you been a cousin of mine, with
parents but indifferently off in worldly goods, it would have been my
duty, of course, to push you forward and to aid you in every way to
make a proper figure on this expedition. I think that, after what has
happened, I have equally the right to do so, and what would have been
my duty, had you been a relation, is no less a duty, and will
certainly be a great gratification to me to do now. You understand
me, do you not? I wish to take upon myself all the charges connected
with your outfit, and to make you an allowance, similar to that which
I shall give to my son, for your expenses on board ship. All this is
of course but a slight thing, but, believe me, that when the
expedition is over it will be my pleasure to help you forward to
advancement in any course which you may choose."

"I thank you most heartily, my Lord," Cyril said, "and would not
hesitate to accept your help in the present matter, did I need it.
However, I have saved some little money during the past two years,
and Captain Dowsett has most generously offered me any sum I may
require for my expenses, and has consented to allow me to take it as
a loan to be repaid at some future time, should it be in my power to
do so. Your offer, however, to aid me in my career afterwards, I most
thankfully accept. My idea has always been to take service under some
foreign prince, and Prince Rupert has most kindly promised to aid me
in that respect; but after serving for a time at sea I shall be
better enabled to judge than at present as to whether that course is
indeed the best, and I shall be most thankful for your counsel in
this and all other matters, and feel myself fortunate indeed to have
obtained your good will and patronage."

"Well, if it must be so, it must," the Earl said. "Your friend
Captain Dowsett seems to me a very worthy man. You have placed him
under an obligation as heavy as my own, and he has the first claim to
do you service. In this matter, then, I must be content to stand
aside, but on your return from sea it will be my turn, and I shall be
hurt and grieved indeed if you do not allow me an opportunity of
proving my gratitude to you. As to the career you speak of, it is a
precarious one. There are indeed many English and Scotch officers who
have risen to high rank and honour in foreign service; but to every
one that so succeeds, how many fall unnoticed, and lie in unmarked
graves, in well-nigh every country in Europe? Were you like so many
of your age, bent merely on adventure and pleasure, the case would be
different, but it is evident that you have a clear head for business,
that you are steady and persevering, and such being the case, there
are many offices under the Crown in which you might distinguish
yourself and do far better than the vast majority of those who sell
their swords to foreign princes, and become mere soldiers of fortune,
fighting for a cause in which they have no interest, and risking
their lives in quarrels that are neither their own nor their

"However, all this we can talk over when you come back after having,
as I hope, aided in destroying the Dutch Fleet. I expect my son up
to-morrow, and trust that you will accompany him to the King's
_levée_, next Monday. Prince Rupert tells me that he has already
presented you to the King, and that you were well received by him, as
indeed you had a right to be, as the son of a gentleman who had
suffered and sacrificed much in the Royal cause. But I will take the
opportunity of introducing you to several other gentlemen who will
sail with you. On the following day I shall be going down into Kent,
and shall remain there until it is time for Sydney to embark. If you
can get your preparations finished by that time, I trust that you
will give us the pleasure of your company, and will stay with me
until you embark with Sydney. In this way you will come to know us
better, and to feel, as I wish you to feel, as one of the family."

Cyril gratefully accepted the invitation, and then took his leave.

Captain Dave was delighted when he heard the issue of his visit to
the Earl.

"I should never have forgiven you, lad, if you had accepted the
Earl's offer to help you in the matter of this expedition. It is no
great thing, and comes well within my compass, and I should have been
sorely hurt had you let him come between us; but in the future I can
do little, and he much. I have spoken to several friends who are
better acquainted with public affairs than I am, and they all speak
highly of him. He holds, for the most part, aloof from Court, which
is to his credit seeing how matters go on there; but he is spoken of
as a very worthy gentleman and one of merit, who might take a
prominent part in affairs were he so minded. He has broad estates in
Kent and Norfolk, and spends the greater part of his life at one or
other of his country seats. Doubtless, he will be able to assist you
greatly in the future."

"I did not like to refuse his offer to go down with him to Kent,"
Cyril said, "though I would far rather have remained here with you
until we sail."

"You did perfectly right, lad. It will cut short your stay here but a
week, and it would be madness to refuse the opportunity of getting to
know him and his family better. The Countess died three years ago, I
hear, and he has shown no disposition to take another wife, as he
might well do, seeing he is but a year or two past forty, and has as
pleasant a face and manner as I have ever seen. He is not the sort of
man to promise what he will not perform, Cyril, and more than ever do
I think that it was a fortunate thing for you that John Wilkes
fetched you to that fire in the Savoy. And now, lad, you have no time
to lose. You must come with me at once to Master Woods, the tailor,
in Eastcheap, who makes clothes not only for the citizens but for
many of the nobles and gallants of the Court. In the first place, you
will need a fitting dress for the King's _levée_; then you will need
at least one more suit similar to that you now wear, and three for on
board ship and for ordinary occasions, made of stout cloth, but in
the fashion; then you must have helmet, and breast- and back-pieces
for the fighting, and for these we will go to Master Lawrence, the
armourer, in Cheapside. All these we will order to-day in my name,
and put them down in your account to me. As to arms, you have your
sword, and there is but a brace of pistols to be bought. You will
want a few things such as thick cloaks for sea service; for though I
suppose that Volunteers do not keep their watch, you may meet with
rains and heavy weather, and you will need something to keep you

They sallied out at once. So the clothes were ordered, and the Court
suit, with the best of the others promised by the end of the week;
the armour was fitted on and bought, and a stock of fine shirts with
ruffles, hose, and shoes, was also purchased. The next day Sydney
Oliphant, the Earl's son, called upon Cyril. He was a frank, pleasant
young fellow, about a year older than Cyril. He was very fond of his
sisters, and expressed in lively terms his gratitude for their

"This expedition has happened in the nick of time for me," he said,
when, in accordance with his invitation, Cyril and he embarked in the
Earl's boat in which he had been rowed to the City, "for I was in bad
odour with the authorities, and was like, erelong, to have been sent
home far less pleasantly; and although the Earl, my father, is very
indulgent, he would have been terribly angry with me had it been so.
To tell you the truth, at the University we are divided into two
sets--those who read and those who don't--and on joining I found
myself very soon among the latter. I don't think it was quite my
fault, for I naturally fell in with companions whom I had known
before, and it chanced that some of these were among the wildest
spirits in the University.

"Of course I had my horses, and, being fond of riding, I was more
often in the saddle than in my seat in the college schools. Then
there were constant complaints against us for sitting up late and
disturbing the college with our melodies, and altogether we stood in
bad odour with the Dons; and when they punished us we took our
revenge by playing them pranks, until lately it became almost open
war, and would certainly have ended before long in a score or more of
us being sent down. I should not have minded that myself, but it
would have grieved the Earl, and I am not one of the new-fashioned
ones who care naught for what their fathers may say. He has been
praising you up to the skies this morning, I can tell you--I don't
mean only as to the fire but about other things--and says he hopes we
shall be great friends, and I am sure I hope so too, and think so. He
had been telling me about your finding out about their robbing that
good old sea-captain you live with, and how you were kidnapped
afterwards, and sent to Holland; and how, in another adventure,
although he did not tell me how that came about, you pricked a
ruffling gallant through the shoulder; so that you have had a larger
share of adventure, by a great deal, than I have. I had expected to
see you rather a solemn personage, for the Earl told me you had more
sense in your little finger than I had in my whole body, which was
not complimentary to me, though I dare say it is true."

"Now, as a rule, they say that sensible people are very disagreeable;
but I hope I shall not be disagreeable," Cyril laughed, "and I am
certainly not aware that I am particularly sensible."

"No, I am sure you won't be disagreeable, but I should have been
quite nervous about coming to see you if it had not been for the
girls. Little Beatrice told me she thought you were a prince in
disguise, and had evidently a private idea that the good fairies had
sent you to her rescue. Bertha said that you were a very proper young
gentleman, and that she was sure you were nice. Dorothy didn't say
much, but she evidently approved of the younger girls' sentiments, so
I felt that you must be all right, for the girls are generally pretty
severe critics, and very few of my friends stand at all high in their
good graces. What amusement are you most fond of?"

"I am afraid I have had very little time for amusements," Cyril said.
"I was very fond of fencing when I was in France, but have had no
opportunity of practising since I came to England. I went to a
bull-bait once, but thought it a cruel sport."

"I suppose you go to a play-house sometimes?"

"No; I have never been inside one. A good deal of my work has been
done in the evening, and I don't know that the thought ever occurred
to me to go. I know nothing of your English sports, and neither ride
nor shoot, except with a pistol, with which I used to be a good shot
when I was in France."

They rowed down as low as Greenwich, then, as the tide turned, made
their way back; and by the time Cyril alighted from the boat at
London Bridge stairs the two young fellows had become quite intimate
with each other.

Nellie looked with great approval at Cyril as he came downstairs in a
full Court dress. Since the avowal she had made of her fault she had
recovered much of her brightness. She bustled about the house, intent
upon the duties she had newly taken up, to the gratification of Mrs.
Dowsett, who protested that her occupation was gone.

"Not at all, mother. It is only that you are now captain of the ship,
and have got to give your orders instead of carrying them out
yourself. Father did not pull up the ropes or go aloft to furl the
sails, while I have no doubt he had plenty to do in seeing that his
orders were carried out. You will be worse off than he was, for he
had John Wilkes, and others, who knew their duty, while I have got
almost everything to learn."

Although her cheerfulness had returned, and she could again be heard
singing snatches of song about the house, her voice and manner were
gentler and softer, and Captain Dave said to Cyril,--

"It has all turned out for the best, lad. The ship was very near
wrecked, but the lesson has been a useful one, and there is no fear
of her being lost from want of care or good seamanship in future. I
feel, too, that I have been largely to blame in the matter. I spoilt
her as a child, and I spoilt her all along. Her mother would have
kept a firmer hand upon the helm if I had not always spoken up for
the lass, and said, 'Let her have her head; don't check the sheets in
too tautly.' I see I was wrong now. Why, lad, what a blessing it is
to us all that it happened when it did! for if that fire had been but
a month earlier, you would probably have gone away with the Earl, and
we should have known nothing of Nellie's peril until we found that
she was gone."

"Sir Cyril--no, I really cannot call you Cyril now," Nellie said,
curtseying almost to the ground after taking a survey of the lad,
"your costume becomes you rarely; and I am filled with wonder at the
thought of my own stupidity in not seeing all along that you were a
prince in disguise. It is like the fairy tales my old nurse used to
tell me of the king's son who went out to look for a beautiful wife,
and who worked as a scullion in the king's palace without anyone
suspecting his rank. I think fortune has been very hard upon me, in
that I was born five years too soon. Had I been but fourteen instead
of nineteen, your Royal Highness might have cast favourable eyes upon

"But then, Mistress Nellie," Cyril said, laughing, "you would be
filled with grief now at the thought that I am going away to the

The girl's face changed. She dropped her saucy manner and said

"I am grieved, Cyril; and if it would do any good I would sit down
and have a hearty cry. The Dutchmen are brave fighters, and their
fleet will be stronger than ours; and there will be many who sail
away to sea who will never come back again. I have never had a
brother; but it seems to me that if I had had one who was wise, and
thoughtful, and brave, I should have loved him as I love you. I think
the princess must always have felt somehow that the scullion was not
what he seemed; and though I have always laughed at you and scolded
you, I have known all along that you were not really a clerk. I don't
know that I thought you were a prince; but I somehow felt a little
afraid of you. You never said that you thought me vain and giddy, but
I knew you did think so, and I used to feel a little malice against
you; and yet, somehow, I respected and liked you all the more, and
now it seems to me that you are still in disguise, and that, though
you seem to be but a boy, you are really a man to whom some good
fairy has given a boy's face. Methinks no boy could be as thoughtful
and considerate, and as kind as you are."

"You are exaggerating altogether," Cyril said; "and yet, in what you
say about my age, I think you are partly right. I have lived most of
my life alone; I have had much care always on my shoulders, and grave
responsibility; thus it is that I am older in many ways than I should
be at my years. I would it were not so. I have not had any boyhood,
as other boys have, and I think it has been a great misfortune for

"It has not been a misfortune for us, Cyril; it has been a blessing
indeed to us all that you have not been quite like other boys, and I
think that all your life it will be a satisfaction for you to know
that you have saved one house from ruin, one woman from misery, and
disgrace. Now it is time for you to be going; but although you are
leaving us tomorrow, Cyril, I hope that you are not going quite out
of our lives."

"That you may be sure I am not, Nellie. If you have reason to be
grateful to me, truly I have much reason to be grateful to your
father. I have never been so happy as since I have been in this
house, and I shall always return to it as to a home where I am sure
of a welcome--as the place to which I chiefly owe any good fortune
that may ever befall me."

The _levée_ was a brilliant one, and was attended, in addition to
the usual throng of courtiers, by most of the officers and gentlemen
who were going with the Fleet. Cyril was glad indeed that he was with
the Earl of Wisbech and his son, for he would have felt lonely and
out of place in the brilliant throng, in which Prince Rupert's face
would have been the only one with which he was familiar. The Earl
introduced him to several of the gentlemen who would be his
shipmates, and by all he was cordially received when the Earl named
him as the gentleman who had rescued his daughters from death.

At times, when the Earl was chatting with his friends, Cyril moved
about through the rooms with Sydney, who knew by appearance a great
number of those present, and was able to point out all the
distinguished persons of the Court to him.

"There is the Prince," he said, "talking with the Earl of Rochester.
What a grave face he has now! It is difficult to believe that he is
the Rupert of the wars, and the headstrong prince whose very bravery
helped to lose well-nigh as many battles as he won. We may be sure
that he will take us into the very thick of the fight, Cyril. Even
now his wrist is as firm, and, I doubt not, his arm as strong as when
he led the Cavaliers. I have seen him in the tennis-court; there is
not one at the Court, though many are well-nigh young enough to be
his sons, who is his match at tennis. There is the Duke of York. They
say he is a Catholic, but I own that makes no difference to me. He is
fond of the sea, and is never so happy as when he is on board ship,
though you would hardly think it by his grave face. The King is fond
of it, too. He has a pleasure vessel that is called a yacht, and so
has the Duke of York, and they have races one against the other; but
the King generally wins. He is making it a fashionable pastime. Some
day I will have one myself--that is, if I find I like the sea; for it
must be pleasant to sail about in your own vessel, and to go
wheresoever one may fancy without asking leave from any man."

When it came to his turn Cyril passed before the King with the Earl
and his son. The Earl presented Sydney, who had not before been at
Court, to the King, mentioning that he was going out as a Volunteer
in Prince Rupert's vessel.

"That is as it should be, my Lord," the King said. "England need
never fear so long as her nobles and gentlemen are ready themselves
to go out to fight her battles, and to set an example to the seamen.
You need not present this young gentleman to me; my cousin Rupert has
already done so, and told me of the service he has rendered to your
daughters. He, too, sails with the Prince, and after what happened
there can be no doubt that he can stand fire well. I would that this
tiresome dignity did not prevent my being of the party. I would
gladly, for once, lay my kingship down and go out as one of the
company to help give the Dutchmen a lesson that will teach them that,
even if caught unexpectedly, the sea-dogs of England can well hold
their own, though they have no longer a Blake to command them."

"I wonder that the King ventures to use Blake's name," Sydney
whispered, as they moved away, "considering the indignities that he
allowed the judges to inflict on the body of the grand old sailor."

"It was scandalous!" Cyril said warmly; "and I burned with
indignation when I heard of it in France. They may call him a traitor
because he sided with the Parliament, but even Royalists should never
have forgotten what great deeds he did for England. However, though
they might have dishonoured his body, they could not touch his fame,
and his name will be known and honoured as long as England is a
nation and when the names of the men who condemned him have been long

After leaving the _levée_, Cyril went back to the City, and the next
morning started on horseback, with the Earl and his son, to the
latter's seat, near Sevenoaks, the ladies having gone down in the
Earl's coach on the previous day. Wholly unaccustomed as Cyril was to
riding, he was so stiff that he had difficulty in dismounting when
they rode up to the mansion. The Earl had provided a quiet and
well-trained horse for his use, and he had therefore found no
difficulty in retaining his seat.

"You must ride every day while you are down here," the Earl said,
"and by the end of the week you will begin to be fairly at home in
the saddle. A good seat is one of the prime necessities of a
gentleman's education, and if it should be that you ever carry out
your idea of taking service abroad it will be essential for you,
because, in most cases, the officers are mounted. You can hardly
expect ever to become a brilliant rider. For that it is necessary to
begin young; but if you can keep your seat under all circumstances,
and be able to use your sword on horseback, as well as on foot, it
will be all that is needful."

The week passed very pleasantly. Cyril rode and fenced daily with
Sydney, who was surprised to find that he was fully his match with
the sword. He walked in the gardens with the girls, who had now quite
recovered from the effects of the fire. Bertha and Beatrice, being
still children, chatted with him as freely and familiarly as they did
with Sydney. Of Lady Dorothy he saw less, as she was in charge of her
_gouvernante_, who always walked beside her, and was occupied in
training her into the habits of preciseness and decorum in vogue at
the time.

"I do believe, Dorothy," Sydney said, one day, "that you are
forgetting how to laugh. You walk like a machine, and seem afraid to
move your hands or your feet except according to rule. I like you
very much better as you were a year ago, when you did not think
yourself too fine for a romp, and could laugh when you were pleased.
That dragon of yours is spoiling you altogether."

"That is a matter of opinion, Sydney," Dorothy said, with a deep
curtsey. "When you first began to fence, I have no doubt you were
stiff and awkward, and I am sure if you had always had someone by
your side, saying, 'Keep your head up!' 'Don't poke your chin
forward!' 'Pray do not swing your arms!' and that sort of thing, you
would be just as awkward as I feel. I am sure I would rather run
about with the others; the process of being turned into a young lady
is not a pleasant one. But perhaps some day, when you see the
finished article, you will be pleased to give your Lordship's august
approval," and she ended with a merry laugh that would have shocked
her _gouvernante_ if she had heard it.



The Earl returned with his son and Cyril to town, and the latter
spent the night in the City.

"I do not know, Cyril," Captain Dave said, as they talked over his
departure, "that you run much greater risk in going than do we in
staying here. The Plague makes progress, and although it has not
invaded the City, we can hardly hope that it will be long before it
appears here. There are many evil prophecies abroad, and it is the
general opinion that a great misfortune hangs over us, and they say
that many have prepared to leave London. I have talked the matter
over with my wife. We have not as yet thought of going, but should
the Plague come heavily, it may be that we shall for a time go away.
There will be no business to be done, for vessels will not come up
the Thames and risk infection, nor, indeed, would they be admitted
into ports, either in England or abroad, after coming from an
infected place. Therefore I could leave without any loss in the way
of trade. It will, of course, depend upon the heaviness of the
malady, but if it becomes widespread we shall perhaps go for a visit
to my wife's cousin, who lives near Gloucester, and who has many
times written to us urging us to go down with Nellie for a visit to
her. Hitherto, business has prevented my going, but if all trade
ceases, it would be a good occasion for us, and such as may never
occur again. Still, I earnestly desire that it may not arise, for it
cannot do so without sore trouble and pain alighting on the City. Did
the Earl tell you, Cyril, what he has done with regard to John?"

"No; he did not speak to me on the subject."

"His steward came here three days since with a gold watch and chain,
as a gift from the Earl. The watch has an inscription on the case,
saying that it is presented to John Wilkes from the Earl of Wisbech,
as a memorial of his gratitude for the great services rendered to his
daughters. Moreover, he brought a letter from the Earl saying that if
John should at any time leave my service, owing to my death or
retirement from business, or from John himself wishing, either from
age or other reason, to leave me, he would place at his service a
cottage and garden on his estate, and a pension of twenty pounds a
year, to enable him to live in comfort for the remainder of his days.
John is, as you may suppose, mightily pleased, for though I would
assuredly never part with him as long as I live, and have by my will
made provision that will keep him from want in case I die before him,
it was mighty pleasant to receive so handsome a letter and offer of
service from the Earl. Nellie wrote for him a letter in which he
thanked the Earl for the kindness of his offer, for which, although
he hoped he should never be forced to benefit from it, he was none
the less obliged and grateful, seeing that he had done nothing that
any other bystander would not have done, to deserve it."

Early the next morning Sydney Oliphant rode up to the door, followed
by two grooms, one of whom had a led horse, and the other a
sumpter-mule, which was partly laden. Captain Dave went down with
Cyril to the door.

"I pray you to enter, my Lord," he said. "My wife will not be happy
unless you take a cup of posset before you start. Moreover, she and
my daughter desire much to see you, as you are going to sail with Sir
Cyril, whom we regard as a member of our family."

"I will come up right willingly," the young noble said, leaping
lightly from his horse. "If your good dame's posset is as good as the
wine the Earl, my father, tells me you gave him, it must be good
indeed; for he told me he believed he had none in his cellar equal to

He remained for a few minutes upstairs, chatting gaily, vowing that
the posset was the best he had ever drank, and declaring to Nellie
that he regarded as a favourable omen for his expedition that he
should have seen so fair a face the last thing before starting. He
shook hands with John Wilkes heartily when he came up to say that
Cyril's valises were all securely packed on the horses, and then went
off, promising to send Captain Dave a runnet of the finest schiedam
from the Dutch Admiral's ship.

"Truly, I am thankful you came up," Cyril said, as they mounted and
rode off. "Before you came we were all dull, and the Dame and
Mistress Nellie somewhat tearful; Now we have gone off amidst smiles,
which is vastly more pleasant."

Crossing London Bridge, they rode through Southwark, and then out
into the open country. Each had a light valise strapped behind the
saddle, and the servants had saddle-bags containing the smaller
articles of luggage, while the sumpter-mule carried two trunks with
their clothes and sea necessaries. It was late in the evening when
they arrived at Chatham. Here they put up at an hotel which was
crowded with officers of the Fleet, and with Volunteers like

"I should grumble at these quarters, Cyril," Sydney said, as the
landlord, with many apologies, showed them into a tiny attic, which
was the only place he had unoccupied, "were it not that we are going
to sea to-morrow, and I suppose that our quarters will be even
rougher there. However, we may have elbow-room for a time, for most
of the Volunteers will not join, I hear, until the last thing before
the Fleet sails, and it may be a fortnight yet before all the ships
are collected. I begged my father to let me do the same, but he goes
back again to-day to Sevenoaks, and he liked not the idea of my
staying in town, seeing that the Plague is spreading so rapidly. I
would even have stayed in the country had he let me, but he was of
opinion that I was best on board--in the first place, because I may
not get news down there in time to join the Fleet before it sails,
and in the second, that I might come to get over this sickness of the
sea, and so be fit and able to do my part when we meet the Dutch.
This was so reasonable that I could urge nothing against it; for, in
truth, it would be a horrible business if I were lying like a sick
dog, unable to lift my head, while our men were fighting the Dutch. I
have never been to sea, and know not how I shall bear it. Are you a
good sailor?"

"Yes; I used to go out very often in a fishing-boat at Dunkirk, and
never was ill from the first. Many people are not ill at all, and it
will certainly be of an advantage to you to be on board for a short
time in quiet waters before setting out for sea."

On going downstairs, Lord Oliphant found several young men of his
acquaintance among those staying in the house. He introduced Cyril to
them. But the room was crowded and noisy; many of those present had
drunk more than was good for them, and it was not long before Cyril
told his friend that he should go up to bed.

"I am not accustomed to noisy parties, Sydney, and feel quite
confused with all this talk."

"You will soon get accustomed to it, Cyril. Still, do as you like. I
dare say I shall not be very long before I follow you."

The next morning after breakfast they went down to the quay, and took
a boat to the ship, which was lying abreast of the dockyard. The
captain, on their giving their names, consulted the list.

"That is right, gentlemen, though indeed I know not why you should
have come down until we are ready to sail, which may not be for a
week or more, though we shall go out from here to-morrow and join
those lying in the Hope; for indeed you can be of no use while we are
fitting, and would but do damage to your clothes and be in the way of
the sailors. It is but little accommodation you will find on board
here, though we will do the best we can for you."

"We do not come about accommodation, captain," Lord Oliphant laughed,
"and we have brought down gear with us that will not soil, or rather,
that cannot be the worse for soiling. There are three or four others
at the inn where we stopped last night who are coming on board, but I
hear that the rest of the Volunteers will probably join when the
Fleet assembles in Yarmouth roads."

"Then they must be fonder of journeying on horseback than I am," the
captain said. "While we are in the Hope, where, indeed, for aught I
know, we may tarry but a day or two, they could come down by boat
conveniently without trouble, whereas to Yarmouth it is a very long
ride, with the risk of losing their purses to the gentlemen of the
road. Moreover, though the orders are at present that the Fleet
gather at Yarmouth, and many are already there 'tis like that it may
be changed in a day for Harwich or the Downs. I pray you get your
meals at your inn to-day, for we are, as you see, full of work taking
on board stores. If it please you to stay and watch what is doing
here you are heartily welcome, but please tell the others that they
had best not come off until late in the evening, by which time I will
do what I can to have a place ready for them to sleep. We shall sail
at the turn of the tide, which will be at three o'clock in the

Oliphant wrote a few lines to the gentlemen on shore, telling them
that the captain desired that none should come on board until the
evening, and having sent it off by their boatmen, telling them to
return in time to take them back to dinner, he and Cyril mounted to
the poop and surveyed the scene round them. The ship was surrounded
with lighters and boats from the dockyards, and from these casks and
barrels, boxes and cases, were being swung on board by blocks from
the yards, or rolled in at the port-holes. A large number of men were
engaged at the work, and as fast as the stores came on board they
were seized by the sailors and carried down into the hold, the
provisions piled in tiers of barrels, the powder-kegs packed in the

"'Tis like an ant-hill," Cyril said. "'Tis just as I have seen when a
nest has been disturbed. Every ant seizes a white egg as big as
itself, and rushes off with it to the passage below."

"They work bravely," his companion said. "Every man seems to know
that it is important that the ship should be filled up by to-night.
See! the other four vessels lying above us are all alike at work, and
may, perhaps, start with us in the morning. The other ships are busy,
too, but not as we are. I suppose they will take them in hand when
they have got rid of us."

"I am not surprised that the captain does not want idlers here, for,
except ourselves, every man seems to have his appointed work."

"I feel half inclined to take off my doublet and to go and help to
roll those big casks up the planks."

"I fancy, Sydney, we should be much more in the way there than here.
There is certainly no lack of men, and your strength and mine
together would not equal that of one of those strong fellows;
besides, we are learning something here. It is good to see how
orderly the work is being carried on, for, in spite of the number
employed, there is no confusion. You see there are three barges on
each side; the upper tiers of barrels and bales are being got on
board through the portholes, while the lower ones are fished up from
the bottom by the ropes from the yards and swung into the waist, and
so passed below; and as fast as one barge is unloaded another drops
alongside to take its place."

They returned to the inn to dinner, after which they paid a visit to
the victualling yard and dockyard, where work was everywhere going
on. After supper they, with the other gentlemen for Prince Rupert's
ship, took boat and went off together. They had learned that, while
they would be victualled on board, they must take with them wine and
other matters they required over and above the ship's fare. They had
had a consultation with the other gentlemen after dinner, and
concluded that it would be best to take but a small quantity of
things, as they knew not how they would be able to stow them away,
and would have opportunities of getting, at Gravesend or at Yarmouth,
further stores, when they saw what things were required. They
therefore took only a cheese, some butter, and a case of wine. As
soon as they got on board they were taken below. They found that a
curtain of sail-cloth had been hung across the main deck, and
hammocks slung between the guns. Three or four lanterns were hung
along the middle.

"This is all we can do for you, gentlemen," the officer who conducted
them down said. "Had we been going on a pleasure trip we could have
knocked up separate cabins, but as we must have room to work the
guns, this cannot be done. In the morning the sailors will take down
these hammocks, and will erect a table along the middle, where you
will take your meals. At present, as you see, we have only slung
hammocks for you, but when you all come on board there will be
twenty. We have, so far, only a list of sixteen, but as the Prince
said that two or three more might come at the last moment we have
railed off space enough for ten hammocks on each side. We will get
the place cleaned for you to-morrow, but the last barge was emptied
but a few minutes since, and we could do naught but just sweep the
deck down. To-morrow everything shall be scrubbed and put in order."

"It will do excellently well," one of the gentlemen said. "We have
not come on board ship to get luxuries, and had we to sleep on the
bare boards you would hear no grumbling."

"Now, gentlemen, as I have shown you your quarters, will you come up
with me to the captain's cabin? He has bade me say that he will be
glad if you will spend an hour with him there before you retire to

On their entering, the captain shook hands with Lord Oliphant and

"I must apologise, gentlemen, for being short with you when you came
on board this morning; but my hands were full, and I had no time to
be polite. They say you can never get a civil answer from a housewife
on her washing-day, and it is the same thing with an officer on board
a ship when she is taking in her stores. However, that business is
over, and now I am glad to see you all, and will do my best to make
you as comfortable as I can, which indeed will not be much; for as we
shall, I hope, be going into action in the course of another ten
days, the decks must all be kept clear, and as we have the Prince on
board, we have less cabin room than we should have were we not an
admiral's flagship."

Wine was placed on the table, and they had a pleasant chat. They
learnt that the Fleet was now ready for sea.

"Four ships will sail with ours to-morrow," the captain said, "and
the other five will be off the next morning. They have all their
munitions on board, and will take in the rest of their provisions
to-morrow. The Dutch had thought to take us by surprise, but from
what we hear they are not so forward as we, for things have been
pushed on with great zeal at all our ports, the war being generally
popular with the nation, and especially with the merchants, whose
commerce has been greatly injured by the pretensions and violence of
the Dutch. The Portsmouth ships, and those from Plymouth, are already
on their way round to the mouth of the Thames, and in a week we may
be at sea. I only hope the Dutch will not be long before they come
out to fight us. However, we are likely to pick up a great many
prizes, and, next to fighting, you know, sailors like prize-money."

After an hour's talk the five gentlemen went below to their hammocks,
and then to bed, with much laughter at the difficulty they had in
mounting into their swinging cots.

It was scarce daylight when they were aroused by a great stir on
board the ship, and, hastily putting on their clothes, went on deck.
Already a crowd of men were aloft loosening the sails. Others had
taken their places in boats in readiness to tow the ship, for the
wind was, as yet, so light that it was like she would scarce have
steerage way, and there were many sharp angles in the course down the
river to be rounded, and shallows to be avoided. A few minutes later
the moorings were cast off, the sails sheeted home, and the crew gave
a great cheer, which was answered from the dockyard, and from boats
alongside, full of the relations and friends of the sailors, who
stood up and waved their hats and shouted good bye.

The sails still hung idly, but the tide swept the ship along, and the
men in the boats ahead simply lay on their oars until the time should
come to pull her head round in one direction or another. They had not
long to wait, for, as they reached the sharp corner at the end of the
reach, orders were shouted, the men bent to their oars, and the
vessel was taken round the curve until her head pointed east.
Scarcely had they got under way when they heard the cheer from the
ship astern of them, and by the time they had reached the next curve,
off the village of Gillingham, the other four ships had rounded the
point behind them, and were following at a distance of about a
hundred yards apart. Soon afterwards the wind sprang up and the sails
bellied out, and the men in the boats had to row briskly to keep
ahead of the ship. The breeze continued until they passed Sheerness,
and presently they dropped anchor inside the Nore sands. There they
remained until the tide turned, and then sailed up the Thames to the
Hope, where some forty men-of-war were already at anchor.

The next morning some barges arrived from Tilbury, laden with
soldiers, of whom a hundred and fifty came on board, their quarters
being on the main deck on the other side of the canvas division. A
cutter also brought down a number of impressed men, twenty of whom
were put on board the _Henrietta_ to complete her crew. Cyril was
standing on the poop watching them come on board, when he started as
his eye fell on two of their number. One was Robert Ashford; the
other was Black Dick. They had doubtless returned from Holland when
war was declared. Robert Ashford had assumed the dress of a sailor
the better to disguise himself, and the two had been carried off
together from some haunt of sailors at Wapping. He pointed them out
to his friend Sydney.

"So those are the two scamps? The big one looks a truculent ruffian.
Well, they can do you no harm here, Cyril. I should let them stay and
do their share of the fighting, and then, when the voyage is over, if
they have not met with a better death than they deserve at the hands
of the Dutch, you can, if you like, denounce them, and have them
handed over to the City authorities."

"That I will do, as far as the big ruffian they call Black Dick is
concerned. He is a desperate villain, and for aught I know may have
committed many a murder, and if allowed to go free might commit many
more. Besides, I shall never feel quite safe as long as he is at
large. As to Robert Ashford, he is a knave, but I know no worse of
him, and will therefore let him go his way."

In the evening the other ships from Chatham came up, and the captain
told them later that the Earl of Sandwich, who was in command, would
weigh anchor in the morning, as the contingent from London, Chatham,
and Sheerness was now complete. Cyril thought that he had never seen
a prettier sight, as the Fleet, consisting of fifty men-of-war, of
various sizes, and eight merchant vessels that had been bought and
converted into fire-ships, got under way and sailed down the river.
That night they anchored off Felixstowe, and the next day proceeded,
with a favourable wind, to Yarmouth, where already a great number of
ships were at anchor. So far the five Volunteers had taken their
meals with the captain, but as the others would be coming on board,
they were now to mess below, getting fresh meat and vegetables from
the shore as they required them. As to other stores, they resolved to
do nothing till the whole party arrived.

They had not long to wait, for, on the third day after their arrival,
the Duke of York and Prince Rupert, with a great train of gentlemen,
arrived in the town, and early the next morning embarked on board
their respective ships. A council was held by the Volunteers in their
quarters, three of their number were chosen as caterers, and, a
contribution of three pounds a head being agreed upon, these went
ashore in one of the ship's boats, and returned presently with a
barrel or two of good biscuits, the carcasses of five sheep, two or
three score of ducks and chickens, and several casks of wine,
together with a large quantity of vegetables. The following morning
the signal was hoisted on the mast-head of the _Royal Charles_, the
Duke of York's flagship, for the Fleet to prepare to weigh anchor,
and they presently got under way in three squadrons, the red under
the special orders of the Duke, the white under Prince Rupert, and
the blue under the Earl of Sandwich.

The Fleet consisted of one hundred and nine men-of-war and frigates,
and twenty-eight fire-ships and ketches, manned by 21,006 seamen and
soldiers. They sailed across to the coast of Holland, and cruised,
for a few days, off Texel, capturing ten or twelve merchant vessels
that tried to run in. So far, the weather had been very fine, but
there were now signs of a change of weather. The sky became overcast,
the wind rose rapidly, and the signal was made for the Fleet to
scatter, so that each vessel should have more sea-room, and the
chance of collision be avoided. By nightfall the wind had increased
to the force of a gale, and the vessels were soon labouring heavily.
Cyril and two or three of his comrades who, like himself, did not
suffer from sickness, remained on deck; the rest were prostrate

For forty-eight hours the gale continued, and when it abated and the
ships gradually closed up round the three admirals' flags, it was
found that many had suffered sorely in the gale. Some had lost their
upper spars, others had had their sails blown away, some their
bulwarks smashed in, and two or three had lost their bowsprits. There
was a consultation between the admirals and the principal captains,
and it was agreed that it was best to sail back to England for
repairs, as many of the ships were unfitted to take their place in
line of battle, and as the Dutch Fleet was known to be fully equal to
their own in strength, it would have been hazardous to risk an
engagement. So the ketches and some of the light frigates were at
once sent off to find the ships that had not yet joined, and give
them orders to make for Yarmouth, Lowestoft, or Harwich. All vessels
uninjured were to gather off Lowestoft, while the others were to make
for the other ports, repair their damages as speedily as possible,
and then rejoin at Lowestoft.

No sooner did the Dutch know that the English Fleet had sailed away
than they put their fleet to sea. It consisted of one hundred and
twelve men-of-war, and thirty fire-ships, and small craft manned by
22,365 soldiers and sailors. It was commanded by Admiral Obdam,
having under him Tromp, Evertson, and other Dutch admirals. On their
nearing England they fell in with nine ships from Hamburg, with rich
cargoes, and a convoy of a thirty-four gun frigate. These they
captured, to the great loss of the merchants of London.

The _Henrietta_ had suffered but little in the storm, and speedily
repaired her damages without going into port. With so much haste and
energy did the crews of the injured ships set to work at refitting
them, that in four days after the main body had anchored off
Lowestoft, they were rejoined by all the ships that had made for
Harwich and Yarmouth.

At midnight on June 2nd, a fast-sailing fishing-boat brought in the
news that the Dutch Fleet were but a few miles away, sailing in that
direction, having apparently learnt the position of the English from
some ship or fishing-boat they had captured.

The trumpets on the admiral's ship at once sounded, and Prince Rupert
and the Earl of Sandwich immediately rowed to her. They remained but
a few minutes, and on their return to their respective vessels made
the signals for their captains to come on board. The order, at such
an hour, was sufficient to notify all that news must have been
received of the whereabouts of the Dutch Fleet, and by the time the
captains returned to their ships the crews were all up and ready to
execute any order. At two o'clock day had begun to break, and soon
from the mastheads of several of the vessels the look-out shouted
that they could perceive the Dutch Fleet but four miles away. A
mighty cheer rose throughout the Fleet, and as it subsided a gun from
the _Royal Charles_ gave the order to weigh anchor, and a few
minutes later the three squadrons, in excellent order, sailed out to
meet the enemy.

They did not, however, advance directly towards them, but bore up
closely into the wind until they had gained the weather gauge of the
enemy. Having obtained this advantage, the Duke flew the signal to
engage. The Volunteers were all in their places on the poop, being
posted near the rail forward, that they might be able either to run
down the ladder to the waist and aid to repel boarders, or to spring
on to a Dutch ship should one come alongside, and also that the
afterpart of the poop, where Prince Rupert and the captain had taken
their places near the wheel, should be free. The Prince himself had
requested them so to station themselves.

"At other times, gentlemen, you are my good friends and comrades," he
said, "but, from the moment that the first gun fires, you are
soldiers under my orders; and I pray you take your station and remain
there until I call upon you for action, for my whole attention must
be given to the manoeuvring of the ship, and any movement or talking
near me might distract my thoughts. I shall strive to lay her
alongside of the biggest Dutchman I can pick out, and as soon as the
grapnels are thrown, and their sides grind together, you will have
the post of honour, and will lead the soldiers aboard her. Once among
the Dutchmen, you will know what to do without my telling you."

"'Tis a grand sight, truly, Cyril," Sydney said, in a low tone, as
the great fleets met each other.

"A grand sight, truly, Sydney, but a terrible one. I do not think I
shall mind when I am once at it, but at present I feel that, despite
my efforts, I am in a tremor, and that my knees shake as I never felt
them before."

"I am glad you feel like that, Cyril, for I feel much like it myself,
and began to be afraid that I had, without knowing it, been born a
coward. There goes the first gun."

As he spoke, a puff of white smoke spouted out from the bows of one
of the Dutch ships, and a moment later the whole of their leading
vessels opened fire. There was a rushing sound overhead, and a ball
passed through the main topsail of the _Henrietta_. No reply was
made by the English ships until they passed in between the Dutchmen;
then the _Henrietta_ poured her broadsides into the enemy on either
side of her, receiving theirs in return. There was a rending of wood,
and a quiver through the ship. One of the upper-deck-guns was knocked
off its carriage, crushing two of the men working it as it fell.
Several others were hurt with splinters, and the sails pierced with
holes. Again and again as she passed, did the _Henrietta_ exchange
broadsides with the Dutch vessels, until--the two fleets having
passed through each other--she bore up, and prepared to repeat the

"I feel all right now," Cyril said, "but I do wish I had something to
do instead of standing here useless. I quite envy the men there,
stripped to the waist, working the guns. There is that fellow Black
Dick, by the gun forward; he is a scoundrel, no doubt, but what
strength and power he has! I saw him put his shoulder under that gun
just now, and slew it across by sheer strength, so as to bear upon
the stern of the Dutchman. I noticed him and Robert looking up at me
just before the first gun was fired, and speaking together. I have no
doubt he would gladly have pointed the gun at me instead of at the
enemy, for he knows that, if I denounce him, he will get the due
reward of his crimes."

As soon as the ships were headed round they passed through the Dutch
as before, and this manoeuvre was several times repeated. Up to one
o'clock in the day no great advantage had been gained on either side.
Spars had been carried away; there were yawning gaps in the bulwarks;
portholes had been knocked into one, guns dismounted, and many
killed; but as yet no vessel on either side had been damaged to an
extent that obliged her to strike her flag, or to fall out of the
fighting line. There had been a pause after each encounter, in which
both fleets had occupied themselves in repairing damages, as far as
possible, reeving fresh ropes in place of those that had been shot
away, clearing the wreckage of fallen spars and yards, and carrying
the wounded below. Four of the Volunteers had been struck down--two
of them mortally wounded, but after the first passage through the
enemy's fleet, Prince Rupert had ordered them to arm themselves with
muskets from the racks, and to keep up a fire at the Dutch ships as
they passed, aiming specially at the man at the wheel. The order had
been a very welcome one, for, like Cyril, they had all felt
inactivity in such a scene to be a sore trial. They were now ranged
along on both sides of the poop.

At one o'clock Lord Sandwich signalled to the Blue Squadron to close
up together as they advanced, as before, against the enemy's line.
His position at the time was in the centre, and his squadron, sailing
close together, burst into the Dutch line before their ships could
make any similar disposition. Having thus broken it asunder, instead
of passing through it, the squadron separated, and the ships, turning
to port and starboard, each engaged an enemy. The other two squadrons
similarly ranged up among the Dutch, and the battle now became
furious all along the line. Fire-ships played an important part in
the battles of the time, and the thoughts of the captain of a ship
were not confined to struggles with a foe of equal size, but were
still more engrossed by the need for avoiding any fire-ship that
might direct its course towards him.

Cyril had now no time to give a thought as to what was passing
elsewhere. The _Henrietta_ had ranged up alongside a Dutch vessel of
equal size, and was exchanging broadsides with her. All round were
vessels engaged in an equally furious encounter. The roar of the guns
and the shouts of the seamen on both sides were deafening. One moment
the vessel reeled from the recoil of her own guns, the next she
quivered as the balls of the enemy crashed through her sides.

Suddenly, above the din, Cyril heard the voice of Prince Rupert sound
like a trumpet.

"Hatchets and pikes on the starboard quarter! Draw in the guns and
keep off this fire-ship."

Laying their muskets against the bulwarks, he and Sydney sprang to
the mizzen-mast, and each seized a hatchet from those ranged against
it. They then rushed to the starboard side, just as a small ship came
out through the cloud of smoke that hung thickly around them.

There was a shock as she struck the _Henrietta_, and then, as she
glided alongside, a dozen grapnels were thrown by men on her yards.
The instant they had done so, the men disappeared, sliding down the
ropes and running aft to their boat. Before the last leaped in he
stooped. A flash of fire ran along the deck, there was a series of
sharp explosions, and then a bright flame sprang up from the
hatchways, ran up the shrouds and ropes, that had been soaked with
oil and tar, and in a moment the sails were on fire. In spite of the
flames, a score of men sprang on to the rigging of the _Henrietta_
and cut the ropes of the grapnels, which, as yet--so quickly had the
explosion followed their throwing--had scarce begun to check the way
the fire-ship had on her as she came up.

Cyril, having cast over a grapnel that had fallen on the poop, looked
down on the fire-ship as she drifted along. The deck, which, like
everything else, had been smeared with tar, was in a blaze, but the
combustible had not been carried as far as the helm, where doubtless
the captain had stood to direct her course. A sudden thought struck
him. He ran along the poop until opposite the stern of the fire-ship,
climbed over the bulwark and leapt down on to the deck, some fifteen
feet below him. Then he seized the helm and jammed it hard down. The
fire-ship had still steerage way on her, and he saw her head at once
begin to turn away from the _Henrietta_; the movement was aided by
the latter's crew, who, with poles and oars, pushed her off.

The heat was terrific, but Cyril's helmet and breast-piece sheltered
him somewhat; yet though he shielded his face with his arm, he felt
that it would speedily become unbearable. His eye fell upon a coil of
rope at his feet. Snatching it up, he fastened it to the tiller and
then round a belaying-pin in the bulwark, caught up a bucket with a
rope attached, threw it over the side and soused its contents over
the tiller-rope, then, unbuckling the straps of his breast- and
back-pieces, he threw them off, cast his helmet on the deck,
blistering his hands as he did so, and leapt overboard. It was with a
delicious sense of coolness that he rose to the surface and looked
round. Hitherto he had been so scorched by the flame and smothered by
the smoke that it was with difficulty he had kept his attention upon
what he was doing, and would doubtless, in another minute, have
fallen senseless. The plunge into the sea seemed to restore his
faculties, and as he came up he looked eagerly to see how far success
had attended his efforts.

He saw with delight that the bow of the fire-ship was thirty or forty
feet distant from the side of the _Henrietta_ and her stern half
that distance. Two or three of the sails of the man-of-war had caught
fire, but a crowd of seamen were beating the flames out of two of
them while another, upon which the fire had got a better hold, was
being cut away from its yard. As he turned to swim to the side of the
_Henrietta_, three or four ropes fell close to him. He twisted one
of these round his body, and, a minute later, was hauled up into the
waist. He was saluted with a tremendous cheer, and was caught up by
three or four strong fellows, who, in spite of his remonstrances,
carried him up on to the poop. Prince Rupert was standing on the top
of the ladder.

"Nobly done, Sir Cyril!" he exclaimed. "You have assuredly saved the
_Henrietta_ and all our lives. A minute later, and we should have
been on fire beyond remedy. But I will speak more to you when we have
finished with the Dutchman on the other side."



During the time that the greater part of the crew of the _Henrietta_
had been occupied with the fire-ship, the enemy had redoubled their
efforts, and as the sailors returned to their guns, the mizzen-mast
fell with a crash. A minute later, a Dutch man-of-war ran alongside,
fired a broadside, and grappled. Then her crew, springing over the
bulwarks, poured on to the deck of the _Henrietta_. They were met
boldly by the soldiers, who had hitherto borne no part in the fight,
and who, enraged at the loss they had been compelled to suffer, fell
upon the enemy with fury. For a moment, however, the weight of
numbers of the Dutchmen bore them back, but the sailors, who had at
first been taken by surprise, snatched up their boarding pikes and

Prince Rupert, with the other officers and Volunteers, dashed into
the thick of the fray, and, step by step, the Dutchmen were driven
back, until they suddenly gave way and rushed back to their own ship.
The English would have followed them, but the Dutch who remained on
board their ship, seeing that the fight was going against their
friends, cut the ropes of the grapnels, and the ships drifted apart,
some of the last to leave the deck of the _Henrietta_ being forced
to jump into the sea. The cannonade was at once renewed on both
sides, but the Dutch had had enough of it--having lost very heavily
in men--and drew off from the action.

Cyril had joined in the fray. He had risen to his feet and drawn his
sword, but he found himself strangely weak. His hands were blistered
and swollen, his face was already so puffed that he could scarce see
out of his eyes; still, he had staggered down the steps to the waist,
and, recovering his strength from the excitement, threw himself into
the fray.

Scarce had he done so, when a sailor next to him fell heavily against
him, shot through the head by one of the Dutch soldiers. Cyril
staggered, and before he could recover himself, a Dutch sailor struck
at his head. He threw up his sword to guard the blow, but the guard
was beaten down as if it had been a reed. It sufficed, however,
slightly to turn the blow, which fell first on the side of the head,
and then, glancing down, inflicted a terrible wound on the shoulder.

He fell at once, unconscious, and, when he recovered his senses,
found himself laid out on the poop, where Sydney, assisted by two of
the other gentlemen, had carried him. His head and shoulder had
already been bandaged, the Prince having sent for his doctor to come
up from below to attend upon him.

The battle was raging with undiminished fury all round, but, for the
moment, the _Henrietta_ was not engaged, and her crew were occupied
in cutting away the wreckage of the mizzen-mast, and trying to repair
the more important of the damages that she had suffered. Carpenters
were lowered over the side, and were nailing pieces of wood over the
shot-holes near the water-line. Men swarmed aloft knotting and
splicing ropes and fishing damaged spars.

Sydney, who was standing a short distance away, at once came up to

"How are you, Cyril?"

"My head sings, and my shoulder aches, but I shall do well enough.
Please get me lifted up on to that seat by the bulwark, so that I can
look over and see what is going on."

"I don't think you are strong enough to sit up, Cyril."

"Oh, yes I am; besides, I can lean against the bulwark."

Cyril was placed in the position he wanted, and, leaning his arm on
the bulwark and resting his head on it, was able to see what was

Suddenly a tremendous explosion was heard a quarter of a mile away.

"The Dutch admiral's ship has blown up," one of the men aloft
shouted, and a loud cheer broke from the crew.

It was true. The Duke of York in the _Royal Charles_, of eighty
guns, and the _Eendracht_, of eighty-four, the flagship of Admiral
Obdam, had met and engaged each other fiercely. For a time the
Dutchmen had the best of it. A single shot killed the Earl of
Falmouth, Lord Muskerry, and Mr. Boyle, three gentlemen Volunteers,
who at the moment were standing close to the Duke, and the _Royal
Charles_ suffered heavily until a shot from one of her guns struck
the Dutchman's magazine, and the _Eendracht_ blew up, only five men
being rescued out of the five hundred that were on board of her.

This accident in no small degree decided the issue of the engagement,
for the Dutch at once fell into confusion. Four of their ships, a few
hundred yards from the _Henrietta_, fell foul of each other, and
while the crews were engaged in trying to separate them an English
fire-ship sailed boldly up and laid herself alongside. A moment later
the flames shot up high, and the boat with the crew of the fire-ship
rowed to the _Henrietta_. The flames instantly spread to the Dutch
men-of-war, and the sailors were seen jumping over in great numbers.
Prince Rupert ordered the boats to be lowered, but only one was found
to be uninjured. This was manned and pushed off at once, and, with
others from British vessels near, rescued a good many of the Dutch

Still the fight was raging all round; but a short time afterwards
three other of the finest ships in the Dutch Fleet ran into each
other. Another of the English fire-ships hovering near observed the
opportunity, and was laid alongside, with the same success as her
consort, the three men-of-war being all destroyed.

This took place at some distance from the _Henrietta_, but the
English vessels near them succeeded in saving, in their boats, a
portion of the crews. The Dutch ship _Orange_, of seventy-five guns,
was disabled after a sharp fight with the _Mary_, and was likewise
burnt. Two Dutch vice-admirals were killed, and a panic spread
through the Dutch Fleet. About eight o'clock in the evening between
thirty and forty of their ships made off in a body, and the rest
speedily followed. During the fight and the chase eighteen Dutch
ships were taken, though some of these afterwards escaped, as the
vessels to which they had struck joined the rest in the chase.
Fourteen were sunk, besides those burnt and blown up. Only one
English ship, the _Charity_, had struck, having, at the beginning of
the fight been attacked by three Dutch vessels, and lost the greater
part of her men, and was then compelled to surrender to a Dutch
vessel of considerably greater strength that came up and joined the
others. The English loss was, considering the duration of the fight,
extremely small, amounting to but 250 killed, and 340 wounded. Among
the killed were the Earl of Marlborough, the Earl of Portland, who
was present as a Volunteer, Rear-Admiral Sampson, and Vice-Admiral
Lawson, the latter of whom died after the fight, from his wounds.

The pursuit of the Dutch was continued for some hours, and then
terminated abruptly, owing to a Member of Parliament named Brounker,
who was in the suite of the Duke of York, giving the captain of the
_Royal Charles_ orders, which he falsely stated emanated from the
Duke, for the pursuit to be abandoned. For this he was afterwards
expelled the House of Commons, and was ordered to be impeached, but
after a time the matter was suffered to drop.

As soon as the battle was over Cyril was taken down to a hammock
below. He was just dozing off to sleep when Sydney came to him.

"I am sorry to disturb you, Cyril, but an officer tells me that a man
who is mortally wounded wishes to speak to you; and from his
description I think it is the fellow you call Black Dick. I thought
it right to tell you, but I don't think you are fit to go to see

"I will go," Cyril said, "if you will lend me your arm. I should like
to hear what the poor wretch has to say."

"He lies just below; the hatchway is but a few yards distant."

There had been no attempt to remove Cyril's clothes, and, by the aid
of Lord Oliphant and of a sailor he called to his aid, he made his
way below, and was led through the line of wounded, until a doctor,
turning round, said,--

"This is the man who wishes to see you, Sir Cyril."

Although a line of lanterns hung from the beams, so nearly blind was
he that Cyril could scarce distinguish the man's features.

"I have sent for you," the latter said faintly, "to tell you that if
it hadn't been for your jumping down on to that fire-ship you would
not have lived through this day's fight. I saw that you recognised
me, and knew that, as soon as we went back, you would hand us over to
the constables. So I made up my mind that I would run you through in
the _mêlée_ if we got hand to hand with the Dutchmen, or would put a
musket-ball into you while the firing was going on. But when I saw
you standing there with the flames round you, giving your life, as it
seemed, to save the ship, I felt that, even if I must be hung for it,
I could not bring myself to hurt so brave a lad; so there is an end
of that business. Robert Ashford was killed by a gun that was knocked
from its carriage, so you have got rid of us both. I thought I should
like to tell you before I went that the brave action you did saved
your life, and that, bad as I am, I had yet heart enough to feel that
I would rather take hanging than kill you."

The last words had been spoken in a scarcely audible whisper. The man
closed his eyes; and the doctor, laying his hand on Cyril's arm,

"You had better go back to your hammock now, Sir Cyril. He will never
speak again. In a few minutes the end will come."

Cyril spent a restless night. The wind was blowing strongly from the
north, and the crews had hard work to keep the vessels off the shore.
His wounds did not pain him much, but his hands, arms, face, and legs
smarted intolerably, for his clothes had been almost burnt off him,
and, refreshing as the sea-bath had been at the moment, it now added
to the smarting of the wounds.

In the morning Prince Rupert came down to see him.

"It was madness of you to have joined in that _mêlée_, lad, in the
state in which you were. I take the blame on myself in not ordering
you to remain behind; but when the Dutchmen poured on board I had no
thought of aught but driving them back again. It would have marred
our pleasure in the victory we have won had you fallen, for to you we
all owe our lives and the safety of the ship. No braver deed was
performed yesterday than yours. I fear it will be some time before
you are able to fight by my side again; but, at least, you have done
your share, and more, were the war to last a lifetime."

Cyril was in less pain now, for the doctor had poured oil over his
burns, and had wrapped up his hands in soft bandages.

"It was the thought of a moment, Prince," he said. "I saw the
fire-ship had steerage way on her, and if the helm were put down she
would drive away from our side, so without stopping to think about it
one way or the other, I ran along to the stern, and jumped down to
her tiller."

"Yes, lad, it was but a moment's thought, no doubt, but it is one
thing to think, and another to execute, and none but the bravest
would have ventured that leap on to the fire-ship. By to-morrow
morning we shall be anchored in the river. Would you like to be
placed in the hospital at Sheerness, or to be taken up to London?"

"I would rather go to London, if I may," Cyril said. "I know that I
shall be well nursed at Captain Dave's, and hope, erelong, to be able
to rejoin."

"Not for some time, lad--not for some time. Your burns will doubtless
heal apace, but the wound in your shoulder is serious. The doctor
says that the Dutchman's sword has cleft right through your
shoulder-bone. 'Tis well that it is your left, for it may be that you
will never have its full use again. You are not afraid of the Plague,
are you? for on the day we left town there was a rumour that it had
at last entered the City."

"I am not afraid of it," Cyril said; "and if it should come to
Captain Dowsett's house, I would rather be there, that I may do what
I can to help those who were so kind to me."

"Just as you like, lad. Do not hurry to rejoin. It is not likely
there will be any fighting for some time, for it will be long before
the Dutch are ready to take the sea again after the hammering we have
given them, and all there will be to do will be to blockade their
coast and to pick up their ships from foreign ports as prizes."

The next morning Cyril was placed on board a little yacht, called the
_Fan Fan_, belonging to the Prince, and sailed up the river, the
ship's company mustering at the side and giving him a hearty cheer.
The wind was favourable, and they arrived that afternoon in town.
According to the Prince's instructions, the sailors at once placed
Cyril on a litter that had been brought for the purpose, and carried
him up to Captain Dowsett's.

The City was in a state of agitation. The news of the victory had
arrived but a few hours before, and the church bells were all
ringing, flags were flying, the shops closed, and the people in the
streets. John Wilkes came down in answer to the summons of the bell.

"Hullo!" he said; "whom have we here?"

"Don't you know me, John?" Cyril said.

John gave a start of astonishment.

"By St. Anthony, it is Master Cyril! At least, it is his voice,
though it is little I can see of him, and what I see in no way
resembles him."

"It is Sir Cyril Shenstone," the captain of the _Fan Fan_, who had
come with the party, said sternly, feeling ruffled at the familiarity
with which this rough-looking servitor of a City trader spoke of the
gentleman in his charge. "It is Sir Cyril Shenstone, as brave a
gentleman as ever drew sword, and who, as I hear, saved Prince
Rupert's ship from being burnt by the Dutchmen."

"He knows me," John Wilkes said bluntly, "and he knows no offence is
meant. The Captain and his dame, and Mistress Nellie are all out, Sir
Cyril, but I will look after you till they return. Bring him up,
lads. I am an old sailor myself, and fought the Dutch under Blake and
Monk more than once."

He led the way upstairs into the best of the spare rooms. Here Cyril
was laid on a bed. He thanked the sailors heartily for the care they
had taken of him, and the captain handed a letter to John, saying,--

"The young Lord Oliphant asked me to give this to Captain Dowsett,
but as he is not at home I pray you to give it him when he returns."

As soon as they had gone, John returned to the bed.

"This is terrible, Master Cyril. What have they been doing to you? I
can see but little of your face for those bandages, but your eyes
look mere slits, your flesh is all red and swollen, your eyebrows
have gone, your arms and legs are all swathed up in bandages--Have
you been blown up with gunpowder?--for surely no wound could have so
disfigured you."

"I have not been blown up, John, but I was burnt by the flames of a
Dutch fire-ship that came alongside. It is a matter that a fortnight
will set right, though I doubt not that I am an unpleasant-looking
object at present, and it will be some time before my hair grows

"And you are not hurt otherwise, Master?" John asked anxiously.

"Yes; I am hurt gravely enough, though not so as to imperil my life.
I have a wound on the side of my head, and the same blow, as the
doctor says, cleft through my shoulder-bone."

"I had best go and get a surgeon at once," John said; "though it will
be no easy matter, for all the world is agog in the streets."

"Leave it for the present, John. There is no need whatever for haste.
In that trunk of mine is a bottle of oils for the burns, though most
of the sore places are already beginning to heal over, and the doctor
said that I need not apply it any more, unless I found that they
smarted too much for bearing. As for the other wounds, they are
strapped up and bandaged, and he said that unless they inflamed
badly, they would be best let alone for a time. So sit down quietly,
and let me hear the news."

"The news is bad enough, though the Plague has not yet entered the

"The Prince told me that there was a report, before he came on board
at Lowestoft, that it had done so."

"No, it is not yet come; but people are as frightened as if it was
raging here. For the last fortnight they have been leaving in crowds
from the West End, and many of the citizens are also beginning to
move. They frighten themselves like a parcel of children. The comet
seemed to many a sign of great disaster."

Cyril laughed.

"If it could be seen only in London there might be something in it,
but as it can be seen all over Europe, it is hard to say why it
should augur evil to London especially. It was shining in the sky
three nights ago when we were chasing the Dutch, and they had quite
as good reason for thinking it was a sign of misfortune to them as
have the Londoners."

"That is true enough," John Wilkes agreed; "though, in truth, I like
not to see the' thing in the sky myself. Then people have troubled
their heads greatly because, in Master Lilly's Almanack, and other
books of prediction, a great pestilence is foretold."

"It needed no great wisdom for that," Cyril said, "seeing that the
Plague has been for some time busy in foreign parts, and that it was
here, though not so very bad, in the winter, when these books would
have been written."

"Then," John Wilkes went on, "there is a man going through the
streets, night and day. He speaks to no one, but cries out
continually, 'Oh! the great and dreadful God!' This troubles many
men's hearts greatly."

"It is a pity, John, that the poor fellow is not taken and shut up in
some place where madmen are kept. Doubtless, it is some poor coward
whose brain has been turned by fright. People who are frightened by
such a thing as that must be poor-witted creatures indeed."

"That may be, Master Cyril, but methinks it is as they say, one fool
makes many. People get together and bemoan themselves till their
hearts fail them altogether. And yet, methinks they are not
altogether without reason, for if the pestilence is so heavy without
the walls, where the streets are wider and the people less crowded
than here, it may well be that we shall have a terrible time of it in
the City when it once passes the walls."

"That may well be, John, but cowardly fear will not make things any
better. We knew, when we sailed out against the Dutch the other day,
that very many would not see the setting sun, yet I believe there was
not one man throughout the Fleet who behaved like a coward."

"No doubt, Master Cyril; but there is a difference. One can fight
against men, but one cannot fight against the pestilence, and I do
not believe that if the citizens knew that a great Dutch army was
marching on London, and that they would have to withstand a dreadful
siege, they would be moved with fear as they are now."

"That may be so," Cyril agreed. "Now, John, I think that I could
sleep for a bit."

"Do so, Master, and I will go into the kitchen and see what I can do
to make you a basin of broth when you awake; for the girl has gone
out too. She wanted to see what was going on in the streets; and as I
had sooner stay quietly at home I offered to take her place, as the
shop was shut and I had nothing to do. Maybe by the time you wake
again Captain Dave and the others will be back from their cruise."

It was dark when Cyril woke at the sound of the bell. He heard voices
and movements without, and then the door was quietly opened.

"I am awake," he said. "You see I have taken you at your word, and
come back to be patched up."

"You are heartily welcome," Mrs. Dowsett said. "Nellie, bring the
light. Cyril is awake. We were sorry indeed when John told us that
you had come in our absence. It was but a cold welcome for you to
find that we were all out."

"There was nothing I needed, madam. Had there been, John would have
done it for me."

Nellie now appeared at the door with the light, and gave an
exclamation of horror as she approached the bedside.

"It is not so bad as it looks, Nellie," Cyril said. "Not that I know
how it looks, for I have not seen myself in a glass since I left
here; but I can guess that I am an unpleasant object to look at."

Mrs. Dowsett made a sign to Nellie to be silent.

"John told us that you were badly burned and were all wrapped up in
bandages, but we did not expect to find you so changed. However, that
will soon pass off, I hope."

"I expect I shall be all right in another week, save for this wound
in my shoulder. As for that on my head, it is but of slight
consequence. My skull was thick enough to save my brain."

"Well, Master Cyril," Captain Dave said heartily, as he entered the
room with a basin of broth in his hand, and then stopped abruptly.

"Well, Captain Dave, here I am, battered out of all shape, you see,
but not seriously damaged in my timbers. There, you see, though I
have only been a fortnight at sea, I am getting quite nautical."

"That is right, lad--that is right," Captain Dave said, a little
unsteadily. "My dame and Nellie will soon put you into ship-shape
trim again. So you got burnt, I hear, by one of those rascally Dutch
fire-ships? and John tells me that the captain of the sailors who
carried you here said that you had gained mighty credit for

"I did my best, as everyone did, Captain Dave. There was not a man on
board the Fleet who did not do his duty, or we should never have
beaten the Dutchmen so soundly."

"You had better not talk any more," Mrs. Dowsett said. "You are in my
charge now, and my first order is that you must keep very quiet, or
else you will be having fever come on. You had best take a little of
this broth now. Nellie will sit with you while I go out to prepare
you a cooling drink."

"I will take a few spoonfuls of the soup since John has taken the
trouble to prepare it for me," Cyril said; "though, indeed, my lips
are so parched and swollen that the cooling drink will be much more
to my taste."

"I think it were best first, dame," the Captain said, "that John and
I should get him comfortably into bed, instead of lying there wrapped
up in the blanket in which they brought him ashore. The broth will be
none the worse for cooling a bit."

"That will be best," his wife agreed. "I will fetch some more
pillows, so that we can prop him up. He can swallow more comfortably
so, and will sleep all the better when he lies down again."

As soon as Cyril was comfortably settled John Wilkes was sent to call
in a doctor, who, after examining him, said that the burns were doing
well, and that he would send in some cooling lotion to be applied to
them frequently. As to the wounds, he said they had been so skilfully
bandaged that it were best to leave them alone, unless great pain set

Another four days, and Cyril's face had so far recovered its usual
condition that the swelling was almost abated, and the bandages could
be removed. The peak of the helmet had sheltered it a good deal, and
it had suffered less than his hands and arms. Captain Dave and John
had sat up with him by turns at night, while the Dame and her
daughter had taken care of him during the day. He had slept a great
deal, and had not been allowed to talk at all. This prohibition was
now removed, as the doctor said that the burns were now all healing
fast, and that he no longer had any fear of fever setting in.

"By the way, Captain," John Wilkes said, that day, at dinner, "I have
just bethought me of this letter, that was given me by the sailor who
brought Cyril here. It is for you, from young Lord Oliphant. It has
clean gone out of my mind till now. I put it in the pocket of my
doublet, and have forgotten it ever since."

"No harm can have come of the delay, John," Captain Dave said. "It
was thoughtful of the lad. He must have been sure that Cyril would
not be in a condition to tell us aught of the battle, and he may have
sent us some details of it, for the Gazette tells us little enough,
beyond the ships taken and the names of gentlemen and officers
killed. Here, Nellie, do you read it. It seems a long epistle, and my
eyes are not as good as they were."

Nellie took the letter and read aloud:--

"'DEAR AND WORTHY SIR,--I did not think when I was so pleasantly
entertained at your house that it would befall me to become your
correspondent, but so it has happened, for, Sir Cyril being sorely
hurt, and in no state to tell you how the matter befell him--if
indeed his modesty would allow him, which I greatly doubt--it is
right that you should know how the business came about, and what
great credit Sir Cyril has gained for himself. In the heat of the
fight, when we were briskly engaged in exchanging broadsides with a
Dutchman of our own size, one of their fire-ships, coming unnoticed
through the smoke, slipped alongside of us, and, the flames breaking
out, would speedily have destroyed us, as indeed they went near
doing. The grapnels were briskly thrown over, but she had already
touched our sides, and the flames were blowing across us when Sir
Cyril, perceiving that she had still some way on her, sprang down on
to her deck and put over the helm. She was then a pillar of flame,
and the decks, which were plentifully besmeared with pitch, were all
in a blaze, save just round the tiller where her captain had stood to
steer her. It was verily a furnace, and it seemed impossible that one
could stand there for only half a minute and live. Everyone on board
was filled with astonishment, and the Prince called out loudly that
he had never seen a braver deed. As the fire-ship drew away from us,
we saw Sir Cyril fasten the helm down with a rope, and then, lowering
a bucket over, throw water on to it; then he threw off his helmet and
armour--his clothes being, by this time, all in a flame--and sprang
into the sea, the fire-ship being now well nigh her own length from
us. She had sheered off none too soon, for some of our sails were on
fire, and it was with great difficulty that we succeeded in cutting
them from the yards and so saving the ship.

"'All, from the Prince down, say that no finer action was ever
performed, and acknowledge that we all owe our lives, and His Majesty
owes his ship, to it. Then, soon after we had hauled Sir Cyril on
board, the Dutchmen boarded us, and there was a stiff fight, all
hands doing their best to beat them back, in which we succeeded.

"'Sir Cyril, though scarce able to stand, joined in the fray,
unnoticed by us all, who in the confusion had not thought of him, and
being, indeed, scarce able to hold his sword, received a heavy wound,
of which, however, the doctor has all hopes that he will make a good

"'It would have done you good to hear how the whole crew cheered Sir
Cyril as we dragged him on board. The Prince is mightily taken with
him, and is sending him to London in his own yacht, where I feel sure
that your good dame and fair daughter will do all that they can to
restore him to health. As soon as I get leave--though I do not know
when that will be, for we cannot say as yet how matters will turn
out, or what ships will keep the sea--I shall do myself the honour of
waiting upon you. I pray you give my respectful compliments to Mrs.
Dowsett and Mistress Nellie, who are, I hope, enjoying good health.

     "'Your servant to command,

         "'SYDNEY OLIPHANT.'"

The tears were standing in Nellie's eyes, and her voice trembled as
she read. When she finished she burst out crying.

"There!" John Wilkes exclaimed, bringing his fist down upon the
table. "I knew, by what that skipper said, the lad had been doing
something quite out of the way, but when I spoke to him about it
before you came in he only said that he had tried his best to do his
duty, just as every other man in the Fleet had done. Who would have
thought, Captain Dave, that that quiet young chap, who used to sit
down below making out your accounts, was going to turn out a hero?"

"Who, indeed?" the Captain said, wiping his eyes with the back of his
hands. "Why, he wasn't more than fifteen then, and, as you say, such
a quiet fellow. He used to sit there and write, and never speak
unless I spoke to him. 'Tis scarce two years ago, and look what he
has done! Who would have thought it? I can't finish my breakfast," he
went on, getting up from his seat, "till I have gone in and shaken
him by the hand."

"You had better not, David," Mrs. Dowsett said gently. "We had best
say but little to him about it now. We can let him know we have heard
how he came by his burns from Lord Oliphant, but do not let us make
much of it. Had he wished it he would have told us himself."

Captain Dave sat down again.

"Perhaps you are right, my dear. At any rate, till he is getting
strong we will not tell him what we think of him. Anyhow, it can't do
any harm to tell him we know it, and may do him good, for it is clear
he does not like telling it himself, and may be dreading our
questioning about the affair."

Mrs. Dowsett and Nellie went into Cyril's room as soon as they had
finished breakfast. Captain Dave followed them a few minutes later.

"We have been hearing how you got burnt," he began. "Your friend,
Lord Oliphant, sent a letter about it by the skipper of his yacht.
That stupid fellow, John, has been carrying it about ever since, and
only remembered it just now, when we were at breakfast. It was a
plucky thing to do, lad."

"It turned out a very lucky one," Cyril said hastily, "for it was the
means of saving my life."

"Saving your life, lad! What do you mean?"

Cyril then told how Robert Ashford and Black Dick had been brought on
board as impressed men, how the former had been killed, and the
confession that Black Dick had made to him before dying.

"He said he had made up his mind to kill me during the fight, but
that, after I had risked my life to save the _Henrietta_, he was
ashamed to kill me, and that, rather than do so, he had resolved to
take his chance of my denouncing him when he returned to land."

 "There was some good in the knave, then," Captain Dave said. "Yes,
it was a fortunate as well as a brave action, as it turned out."

"Fortunate in one respect, but not in another," Cyril put in, anxious
to prevent the conversation reverting to the question of his bravery.
"I put down this wound in my shoulder to it, for if I had been myself
I don't think I should have got hurt. I guarded the blow, but I was
so shaky that he broke my guard down as if I had been a child, though
I think that it did turn the blow a little, and saved it from falling
fair on my skull. Besides, I should have had my helmet and armour on
if it had not been for my having to take a swim. So, you see, Captain
Dave, things were pretty equally balanced, and there is no occasion
to say anything more about them."

"We have one piece of bad news to tell you, Cyril," Mrs. Dowsett
remarked, in order to give the conversation the turn which she saw he
wished for. "We heard this morning that the Plague has come at last
into the City. Dr. Burnet was attacked yesterday."

"That is bad news indeed, Dame, though it was not to be expected that
it would spare the City. If you will take my advice, you will go away
at once, before matters get worse, for if the Plague gets a hold here
the country people will have nothing to do with Londoners, fearing
that they will bring the infection among them."

"We shall not go until you are fit to go with us, Cyril," Nellie said

"Then you will worry me into a fever," Cyril replied. "I am getting
on well now, and as you said, when you were talking of it before, you
should leave John in charge of the house and shop, he will be able to
do everything that is necessary for me. If you stay here, and the
Plague increases, I shall keep on worrying myself at the thought that
you are risking your lives needlessly for me, and if it should come
into the house, and any of you die, I shall charge myself all my life
with having been the cause of your death. I pray you, for my sake as
well as your own, to lose no time in going to the sister Captain Dave
spoke of, down near Gloucester."

"Do not agitate yourself," Mrs. Dowsett said gently, pressing him
quietly back on to the pillows from which he had risen in his
excitement. "We will talk it over, and see what is for the best. It
is but a solitary case yet, and may spread no further. In a few days
we shall see how matters go. Things have not come to a bad pass yet."

Cyril, however, was not to be consoled. Hitherto he had given
comparatively small thought to the Plague, but now that it was in the
City, and he felt that his presence alone prevented the family from
leaving, he worried incessantly over it.

"Your patient is not so well," the doctor said to Mrs. Dowsett, next
morning. "Yesterday he was quite free from fever--his hands were
cool; now they are dry and hard. If this goes on, I fear that we
shall have great trouble."

"He is worrying himself because we do not go out of town. We had,
indeed, made up our minds to do so, but we could not leave him here."

"Your nursing would be valuable certainly, but if he goes on as he is
he will soon be in a high fever; his wounds will grow angry and
fester. While yesterday he seemed in a fair way to recovery, I should
be sorry to give any favourable opinion as to what may happen if this
goes on. Is there no one who could take care of him if you went?"

"John Wilkes will remain behind, and could certainly be trusted to do
everything that you directed; but that is not like women, doctor."

"No, I am well aware of that; but if things go on well he will really
not need nursing, while, if fever sets in badly, the best nursing may
not save him. Moreover, wounds and all other ailments of this sort do
badly at present; the Plague in the air seems to affect all other
maladies. If you will take my advice, Dame, you will carry out your
intention, and leave at once. I hear there are several new cases of
the Plague today in the City, and those who can go should lose no
time in doing so; but, even if not for your own sakes, I should say
go for that of your patient."

"Will you speak to my husband, doctor? I am ready to do whatever is
best for your patient, whom we love dearly, and regard almost as a

"If he were a son I should give the same advice. Yes, I will see
Captain Dowsett."

Half an hour later, Cyril was told what the doctor's advice had been,
and, seeing that he was bent on it, and that if they stayed they
would do him more harm than good, they resolved to start the next day
for Gloucestershire.



Reluctant as they were to leave Cyril, Mrs. Dowsett and her daughter
speedily saw that the doctor's advice was good. Cyril did not say
much, but an expression of restful satisfaction came over his face,
and it was not long before he fell into a quiet sleep that contrasted
strongly with the restless and fretful state in which he had passed
the night.

"You see I was right, madam," the doctor said that evening. "The
fever has not quite left him, but he is a different man to what he
was this morning; another quiet night's rest, and he will regain the
ground he has lost. I think you can go in perfect comfort so far as
he is concerned. Another week and he will be up, if nothing occurs to
throw him back again; but of course it will be weeks before he can
use his arm."

John Wilkes had been sent off as soon as it was settled that they
would go, and had bought, at Epping, a waggon and a pair of strong
horses. It had a tilt, and the ladies were to sleep in it on the
journey, as it was certain that, until they were far away from
London, they would be unable to obtain lodgings. A man was engaged to
drive them down, and a sail and two or three poles were packed in the
waggon to make a tent for him and Captain Dowsett. A store of
provisions was cooked, and a cask of beer, another of water, and a
case of wine were also placed in. Mattresses were laid down for the
ladies to sit on during the day and to sleep on at night; so they
would be practically independent during the journey. Early next
morning they started.

"It seems heartless to leave you, Cyril," Nellie said, as they came
in to say good-bye.

"Not heartless at all," Cyril replied. "I know that you are going
because I wish it."

"It is more than wishing, you tiresome boy. We are going because you
have made up your mind that you will be ill if we don't. You are too
weak to quarrel with now, but when we meet again, tremble, for I warn
you I shall scold you terribly then."

"You shall scold me as much as you please, Nellie; I shall take it
all quite patiently."

Nellie and her mother went away in tears, and Captain Dave himself
was a good deal upset. They had thought the going away from home on
such a long journey would be a great trial, but this was now quite
lost sight of in their regret at what they considered deserting
Cyril, and many were the injunctions that were given to John Wilkes
before the waggon drove off. They were somewhat consoled by seeing
that Cyril was undoubtedly better and brighter. He had slept all
night without waking, his hands were cool, and the flush had entirely
left his cheek.

"If they were starting on a voyage to the Indies they could not be in
a greater taking," John Wilkes said, on returning to Cyril's bedside.
"Why, I have seen the Captain go off on a six months' voyage and less
said about it."

"I am heartily glad they are gone, John. If the Plague grows there
will be a terrible time here. Is the shop shut?"

"Ay; the man went away two days ago, and we sent off the two
'prentices yesterday. There is naught doing. Yesterday half the
vessels in the Pool cleared out on the news of the Plague having got
into the City, and I reckon that, before long, there won't be a ship
in the port. We shall have a quiet time of it, you and I; we shall be
like men in charge of an old hulk."

Another week, and Cyril was up. All his bandages, except those on the
shoulder and head, had been thrown aside, and the doctor said that,
erelong, the former would be dispensed with. John had wanted to sit
up with him, but as Cyril would not hear of this he had moved his bed
into the same room, so that he could be up in a moment if anything
was wanted. He went out every day to bring in the news.

"There is little enough to tell, Master Cyril," he said one day. "So
far, the Plague grows but slowly in the City, though, indeed, it is
no fault of the people that it does not spread rapidly. Most of them
seem scared out of their wits; they gather together and talk, with
white faces, and one man tells of a dream that his wife has had, and
another of a voice that he says he has heard; and some have seen
ghosts. Yesterday I came upon a woman with a crowd round her; she was
staring up at a white cloud, and swore that she could plainly see an
angel with a white sword, and some of the others cried that they saw
it too. I should like to have been a gunner's mate with a stout
rattan, and to have laid it over their shoulders, to give them
something else to think about for a few hours. It is downright
pitiful to see such cowards. At the corner of one street there was a
quack, vending pills and perfumes that he warranted to keep away the
Plague, and the people ran up and bought his nostrums by the score; I
hear there are a dozen such in the City, making a fortune out of the
people's fears. I went into the tavern I always use, and had a glass
of Hollands and a talk with the landlord. He says that he does as
good a trade as ever, though in a different way. There are no sailors
there now, but neighbours come in and drink down a glass of strong
waters, which many think is the best thing against the Plague, and
then hurry off again. I saw the Gazette there, and it was half full
of advertisements of people who said they were doctors from foreign
parts, and all well accustomed to cure the Plague. They say the
magistrates are going to issue notices about shutting up houses, as
they do at St. Giles's, and to have watchmen at the doors to see none
come in or go out, and that they are going to appoint examiners in
every parish to go from house to house to search for infected

"I suppose these are proper steps to take," Cyril said, "but it will
be a difficult thing to keep people shut up in houses where one is
infected. No doubt it would be a good thing at the commencement of
the illness, but when it has once spread itself, and the very air
become infected, it seems to me that it will do but little good,
while it will assuredly cause great distress and trouble. I long to
be able to get up myself, and to see about things."

"The streets have quite an empty aspect, so many have gone away; and
what with that, and most of the shops being closed, and the dismal
aspect of the people, there is little pleasure in being out, Master

"I dare say, John. Still, it will be a change, and, as soon as I am
strong enough, I shall sally out with you."

Another fortnight, and Cyril was able to do so. The Plague had still
spread, but so slowly that people began to hope that the City would
be spared any great calamity, for they were well on in July, and in
another six weeks the heat of summer would be passed. Some of those
who had gone into the country returned, more shops had been opened,
and the panic had somewhat subsided.

"What do you mean to do, Master Cyril?" John Wilkes asked that
evening. "Of course you cannot join the Fleet again, for it will be,
as the doctor says, another two months before your shoulder-bone will
have knit strongly enough for you to use your arm, and at sea it is a
matter of more consequence than on land for a man to have the use of
both arms. The ship may give a sudden lurch, and one may have to make
a clutch at whatever is nearest to prevent one from rolling into the
lee scuppers; and such a wrench as that would take from a weak arm
all the good a three months' nursing had done it, and might spoil the
job of getting the bone to grow straight again altogether. I don't
say you are fit to travel yet, but you should be able before long to
start on a journey, and might travel down into Gloucestershire,
where, be sure, you will be gladly welcomed by the Captain, his dame,
and Mistress Nellie. Or, should you not care for that, you might go
aboard a ship. There are hundreds of them lying idle in the river,
and many families have taken up their homes there, so as to be free
from all risks of meeting infected persons in the streets."

"I think I shall stay here, John, and keep you company. If the Plague
dies away, well and good. If it gets bad, we can shut ourselves up.
You say that the Captain has laid in a great store of provisions, so
that you could live without laying out a penny for a year, and it is
as sure as anything can be, that when the cold weather comes on it
will die out. Besides, John, neither you nor I are afraid of the
Plague, and it is certain that it is fear that makes most people take
it. If it becomes bad, there will be terrible need for help, and
maybe we shall be able to do some good. If we are not afraid of
facing death in battle, why should we fear it by the Plague. It is as
noble a death to die helping one's fellow-countrymen in their sore
distress as in fighting for one's country."

"That is true enough, Master Cyril, if folks did but see it so. I do
not see what we could do, but if there be aught, you can depend on
me. I was in a ship in the Levant when we had a fever, which, it
seems to me, was akin to this Plague, though not like it in all its
symptoms. Half the crew died, and, as you say, I verily believe that
it was partly from the lowness of spirits into which they fell from
fear. I used to help nurse the sick, and throw overboard the dead,
and it never touched me. I don't say that I was braver than others,
but it seemed to me as it was just as easy to take things comfortable
as it was to fret over them."

Towards the end of the month the Plague spread rapidly, and all work
ceased in the parishes most affected. But, just as it had raged for
weeks in the Western parishes outside the City, so it seemed
restricted by certain invisible lines, after it had made its entry
within the walls, and while it raged in some parts others were
entirely unaffected, and here shops were open, and the streets still
retained something of their usual appearance. There had been great
want among the poorer classes, owing to the cessation of work,
especially along the riverside. The Lord Mayor, some of the Aldermen,
and most other rich citizens had hastened to leave the City. While
many of the clergy were deserting their flocks, and many doctors
their patients, others remained firmly at their posts, and worked
incessantly, and did all that was possible in order to check the
spread of the Plague and to relieve the distress of the poor.

Numbers of the women were engaged as nurses. Examiners were appointed
in each parish, and these, with their assistants, paid house-to-house
visitations, in order to discover any who were infected; and as soon
as the case was discovered the house was closed, and none suffered to
go in or out, a watchman being placed before the door day and night.
Two men therefore were needed to each infected house, and this
afforded employment for numbers of poor. Others were engaged in
digging graves, or in going round at night, with carts, collecting
the dead.

So great was the dread of the people at the thought of being shut up
in their houses, without communication with the world, that every
means was used for concealing the fact that one of the inmates was
smitten down. This was the more easy because the early stages of the
disease were without pain, and people were generally ignorant that
they had been attacked until within a few hours, and sometimes within
a few minutes, of their death; consequently, when the Plague had once
spread, all the precautions taken to prevent its increase were
useless, while they caused great misery and suffering, and doubtless
very much greater loss of life. For, owing to so many being shut up
in the houses with those affected, and there being no escape from the
infection, whole families, with the servants and apprentices, sickened
and died together.

Cyril frequently went up to view the infected districts. He was not
moved by curiosity, but by a desire to see if there were no way of
being of use. There was not a street but many of the houses were
marked with the red cross. In front of these the watchmen sat on
stools or chairs lent by the inmates, or borrowed from some house
whence the inhabitants had all fled. The air rang with pitiful cries.
Sometimes women, distraught with terror or grief, screamed wildly
through open windows. Sometimes people talked from the upper stories
to their neighbours on either hand, or opposite, prisoners like
themselves, each telling their lamentable tale of misery, of how many
had died and how many remained.

It was by no means uncommon to see on the pavement men and women who,
in the excess of despair or pain, had thrown themselves headlong
down. While such sounds and sights filled Cyril with horror, they
aroused still more his feelings of pity and desire to be of some use.
Very frequently he went on errands for people who called down from
above to him. Money was lowered in a tin dish, or other vessel, in
which it lay covered with vinegar as a disinfectant. Taking it out,
he would go and buy the required articles, generally food or
medicine, and, returning, place them in a basket that was again

The watchmen mostly executed these commissions, but many of them were
surly fellows, and, as they were often abused and cursed by those
whom they held prisoners, would do but little for them. They had,
moreover, an excuse for refusing to leave the door, because, as often
happened, it might be opened in their absence and the inmates escape.
It was true that the watchmen had the keys, but the screws were often
drawn from the locks inside; and so frequently was this done that at
last chains with padlocks were fastened to all the doors as soon as
the watch was set over them. But even this did not avail. Many of the
houses had communications at the backs into other streets, and so
eluded the vigilance of the watch; while, in other cases,
communications were broken through the walls into other houses, empty
either by desertion or death, and the escape could thus be made under
the very eye of the watchman.

Very frequently Cyril went into a church when he saw the door open.
Here very small congregations would be gathered, for there was a fear
on the part of all of meeting with strangers, for these might,
unknown to themselves, be already stricken with the pest, and all
public meetings of any kind were, for this reason, strictly
forbidden. One day, he was passing a church that had hitherto been
always closed, its incumbent being one of those who had fled at the
outbreak of the Plague. Upon entering he saw a larger congregation
than usual, some twenty or thirty people being present.

The minister had just mounted the pulpit, and was beginning his
address as Cyril entered. The latter was struck with his appearance.
He was a man of some thirty years of age, with a strangely earnest
face. His voice was deep, but soft and flexible, and in the stillness
of the almost empty church its lowest tones seemed to come with
impressive power, and Cyril thought that he had never heard such
preaching before. The very text seemed strange at such a time:
_"Rejoice ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."_ From most of
the discourses he had heard Cyril had gone out depressed rather than
inspirited. They had been pitched in one tone. The terrible scourge
that raged round them was held up as a punishment sent by the wrath
of God upon a sinful people, and the congregation were warned to
prepare themselves for the fate, that might at any moment be theirs,
by repentance and humiliation. The preacher to whom Cyril was now
listening spoke in an altogether different strain.

"You are all soldiers of Christ," he said, "and now is an opportunity
given to you to show that you are worthy soldiers. When the troops of
a worldly monarch go into battle they do so with head erect, with
proud and resolute bearing, with flashing eye, and with high courage,
determined to bear aloft his banner and to crown it with victory,
even though it cost them their lives. Such is the mien that soldiers
of Christ should bear in the mortal strife now raging round us. Let
them show the same fearlessness of death, the same high courage, the
same unlimited confidence in their Leader. What matter if they die in
His service? He has told them what their work should be. He has
bidden them visit the sick and comfort the sorrowing. What if there
be danger in the work? Did He shrink from the Cross which was to end
His work of love, and is it for His followers to do so? 'Though you
go down into the pit,' He has said, 'I am there also'; and with His
companionship one must be craven indeed to tremble. This is a noble
opportunity for holding high the banner of Christ. There is work to
be done for all, and as the work is done, men should see by the calm
courage, the cheerfulness, and the patience of those that do it, that
they know that they are doing His work, and that they are content to
leave the issue, whatever it be, in His hands."

Such was the tone in which, for half an hour, he spoke. When he had
finished he offered up a prayer, gave the blessing, and then came
down from the pulpit and spoke to several of the congregation. He was
evidently personally known to most of them. One by one, after a few
words, they left the church. Cyril remained to the last.

"I am willing to work, sir," he said, as the preacher came up, "but,
so far, no work has come in my way."

"Have you father or mother, or any dependent on you?"

"No one, sir."

"Then come along with me; I lodge close by. I have eaten nothing
to-day, and must keep up my strength, and I have a long round of
calls to make."

"This is the first time I have seen the church open," Cyril said, as
they went out.

"It is not my church, sir, nor do I belong to the Church of England;
I am an Independent. But as many of the pastors have fled and left
their sheep untended, so have we--for there are others besides myself
who have done so--taken possession of their empty pulpits, none
gainsaying us, and are doing what good we can. You have been in the
war, I see," he went on, glancing at Cyril's arm, which was carried
in a sling.

"Yes; I was at the battle of Lowestoft, and having been wounded
there, came to London to stay in a friend's house till I was cured.
He and his family have left, but I am living with a trusty foreman
who is in charge of the house. I have a great desire to be useful. I
myself have little fear of the Plague."

"That is the best of all preservatives from its ravages, although not
a sure one; for many doctors who have laboured fearlessly have yet
died. Have you thought of any way of being useful?"

"No, sir; that is what is troubling me. As you see, I have but the
use of one arm, and I have not got back my full strength by a long

"Everyone can be useful if he chooses," the minister said. "There is
need everywhere among this stricken, frightened, helpless people, of
men of calm courage and cool heads. Nine out of ten are so scared out
of their senses, when once the Plague enters the houses, as to be
well-nigh useless, and yet the law hinders those who would help if
they could. I am compelled to labour, not among those who are sick,
but among those who are well. When one enters a house with the red
cross on the door, he may leave it no more until he is either borne
out to the dead-cart, or the Plague has wholly disappeared within it,
and a month has elapsed. The sole exception are the doctors; they are
no more exempt from spreading the infection than other men, but as
they must do their work so far as they can they have free passage;
and yet, so few is their number and so heavy already their losses,
that not one in a hundred of those that are smitten can have their
aid. Here is one coming now, one of the best--Dr. Hodges. If you are
indeed willing so to risk your life, I will speak to him. But I know
not your name?"

"My name is Cyril Shenstone."

The clergyman looked at him suddenly, and would have spoken, but the
doctor was now close to them.

"Ah! Mr. Wallace," he said, "I am glad to see you, and to know that,
so far, you have not taken the disease, although constantly going
into the worst neighbourhoods."

"Like yourself, Dr. Hodges, I have no fear of it."

"I do not say I have no fear," the doctor replied. "I do my duty so
far as I can, but I do not doubt that, sooner or later, I shall catch
the malady, as many of us have done already. I take such precautions
as I can, but the distemper seems to baffle all precautions. My only
grief is that our skill avails so little. So far we have found
nothing that seems to be of any real use. Perhaps if we could attack
it in the earlier stages we might be more successful. The strange
nature of the disease, and the way in which it does its work
well-nigh to the end, before the patient is himself aware of it, puts
it out of our power to combat it. In many cases I am not sent for
until the patient is at the point of death, and by the time I reach
his door I am met with the news that he is dead. But I must be

"One moment, Dr. Hodges. This young gentleman has been expressing to
me his desire to be of use. I know nothing of him save that he was
one of my congregation this morning, but, as he fears not the Plague,
and is moved by a desire to help his fellows in distress, I take it
that he is a good youth. He was wounded in the battle of Lowestoft,
and, being as ready to encounter the Plague as he was the Dutch,
would now fight in the cause of humanity. Would you take him as an
assistant? I doubt if he knows anything of medicine, but I think he
is one that would see your orders carried out. He has no relations or
friends, and therefore considers himself free to venture his life."

The doctor looked earnestly at Cyril and then raised his hat.

"Young sir," he said, "since you are willing so to venture your life,
I will gladly accept your help. There are few enough clear heads in
this city, God knows. As for the nurses, they are Jezebels. They have
the choice of starving or nursing, and they nurse; but they neglect
their patients, they rob them, and there is little doubt that in many
cases they murder them, so that at the end of their first nursing
they may have enough money to live on without going to another house.
But I am pressed for time. Here is my card. Call on me this evening
at six, and we will talk further on the matter."

Shaking hands with the minister he hurried away.

"Come as far as my lodgings," Mr. Wallace said to Cyril, "and stay
with me while I eat my meal. 'Tis a diversion to one's mind to turn
for a moment from the one topic that all men are speaking of.

"Your name is Shenstone. I come from Norfolk. There was a family of
that name formerly had estates near my native place. One Sir Aubrey
Shenstone was at its head--a brave gentleman. I well remember seeing
him when I was a boy, but he took the side of the King against the
Parliament, and, as we heard, passed over with Charles to France when
his cause was lost. I have not heard of him since."

"Sir Aubrey was my father," Cyril said quietly; "he died a year ago.
I am his only son."

"And therefore Sir Cyril," the minister said, "though you did not so
name yourself."

"It was needless," Cyril said. "I have no estates to support my
title, and though it is true that, when at sea with Prince Rupert, I
was called Sir Cyril, it was because the Prince had known my father,
and knew that I, at his death, inherited the title, though I
inherited nothing else."

They now reached the door of Mr. Wallace's lodging, and went up to
his room on the first floor.

"Neglect no precaution," the minister said. "No one should throw away
his life. I myself, although not a smoker, nor accustomed to take
snuff, use it now, and would, as the doctors advise, chew a piece of
tobacco, but 'tis too nasty, and when I tried it, I was so ill that I
thought even the risk of the Plague preferable. But I carry camphor
in my pockets, and when I return from preaching among people of whom
some may well have the infection, I bathe my face and hands with
vinegar, and, pouring some on to a hot iron, fill the room with its
vapour. My life is useful, I hope, and I would fain keep it, as long
as it is the Lord's will, to work in His service. As a rule, I take
wine and bread before I go out in the morning, though to-day I was
pressed for time, and neglected it. I should advise you always to do
so. I am convinced that a full man has less chance of catching the
infection than a fasting one, and that it is the weakness many men
suffer from their fears, and from their loss of appetite from grief,
that causes them to take it so easily. When the fever was so bad in
St. Giles's, I heard that in many instances, where whole families
were carried away, the nurses shut up with them were untouched with
the infection, and I believe that this was because they had become
hardened to the work, and ate and drank heartily, and troubled not
themselves at all at the grief of those around them. They say that
many of these harpies have grown, wealthy, loading themselves with
everything valuable they could lay hands on in the houses of those
they attended."

After the meal, in which he insisted upon Cyril joining him, was
concluded, Mr. Wallace uttered a short prayer that Cyril might safely
pass through the work he had undertaken.

"I trust," he said, "that you will come here frequently? I generally
have a few friends here of an evening. We try to be cheerful, and to
strengthen each other, and I am sure we all have comfort at these

"Thank you, I will come sometimes, sir; but as a rule I must return
home, for my friend, John Wilkes, would sorely miss my company, and
is so good and faithful a fellow that I would not seem to desert him
on any account."

"Do as you think right, lad, but remember there will always be a
welcome for you here when you choose to come."

John Wilkes was dismayed when he heard of Cyril's intention.

"Well, Master Cyril," he said, after smoking his pipe in silence for
some time, "it is not for me to hinder you in what you have made up
your mind to do. I don't say that if I wasn't on duty here that I
mightn't go and do what I could for these poor creatures. But I don't
know. It is one thing to face a deadly fever like this Plague if it
comes on board your own ship, for there is no getting out of it; and
as you have got to face it, why, says I, do it as a man; but as for
going out of your way to put yourself in the middle of it, that is
going a bit beyond me."

"Well, John, you didn't think it foolish when I went as a Volunteer
to fight the Dutch. It was just the same thing, you know."

"I suppose it was," John said reluctantly, after a pause. "But then,
you see, you were fighting for your country."

"Well, but in the present case I shall be fighting for my countrymen
and countrywomen, John. It is awful to think of the misery that
people are suffering, and it seems to me that, having nothing else to
do here, it is specially my duty to put my hand to the work of
helping as far as I can. The risk may, at present, be greater than it
would be if I stayed at home, but if the Plague spreads--and it looks
as if all the City would presently be affected--all will have to run
the risk of contagion. There are thousands of women now who
voluntarily enter the houses as nurses for a small rate of pay. Even
robbers, they say, will enter and ransack the houses of the dead in
search of plunder. It will be a shame indeed then if one should
shrink from doing so when possibly one might do good."

"I will say nothing more against it, Master Cyril. Still, I do not
see exactly what you are going to do; with one arm you could scarce
hold down a raving man."

"I am not going to be a nurse, certainly, John," Cyril said, with a
laugh. "I expect that the doctor wants certain cases watched. Either
he may doubt the nurses, or he may want to see how some particular
drug works. Nothing, so far, seems of use, but that may be partly
because the doctors are all so busy that they cannot watch the
patients and see, from hour to hour, how medicines act."

"When I was in the Levant, and the pest was bad there," John Wilkes
said, "I heard that the Turks, when seized with the distemper,
sometimes wrapped themselves up in a great number of clothes, so that
they sweated heavily, and that this seemed, in some cases, to draw
off the fever, and so the patient recovered."

"That seems a sensible sort of treatment, John, and worth trying with
this Plague."

On calling on Dr. Hodges that afternoon, Cyril found that he had
rightly guessed the nature of the work that the doctor wished him to

"I can never rely upon the nurses," he said. "I give instructions
with medicines, but in most cases I am sure that the instructions are
never carried out. The relations and friends are too frightened to
think or act calmly, too full of grief for the sick, and anxiety for
those who have not yet taken the illness, to watch the changes in the
patient. As to the nurses, they are often drunk the whole time they
are in the house. Sometimes they fear to go near the sick man or
woman; sometimes, undoubtedly, they hasten death. In most cases it
matters little, for we are generally called in too late to be of any
service. The poor people view us almost as enemies; they hide their
malady from us in every way. Half our time, too, is wasted uselessly,
for many are there who frighten themselves into the belief that they
are ill, and send for us in all haste. So far, we feel that we are
working altogether in the dark; none of us can see that any sort of
drug avails even in the slightest degree when the malady has once got
a hold. One in twenty cases may live, but why we know not. Still the
fact that some do live shows that the illness is not necessarily
mortal, and that, could the right remedy befound, we might yet
overcome it. The first thing, however, is to try to prevent its
spread. Here we have ten or more people shut up in a house with one
sick person. It is a terrible necessity, for it is a sentence of
death to many, if not to all. We give the nurses instructions to
fumigate the room by evaporating vinegar upon hot irons, by burning
spices and drugs, by sprinkling perfumes. So far, I cannot see that
these measures have been of any service, but I cannot say how
thoroughly they have been carried out, and I sorely need an assistant
to see that the system is fairly tried. It is not necessary that he
should be a doctor, but he must have influence and power over those
in the house. He must be calm and firm, and he must be regarded by
the people as a doctor. If you will undertake this, you must put on a
wig, for you know that that is looked upon as a necessary part of a
doctor's outfit by people in general. I shall introduce you as my
assistant, and say that you are to be obeyed as implicitly as if I
myself were present. There is another reason why you must pass as a
doctor, for you would otherwise be a prisoner and unable to pass in
and out. You had best wear a black suit. I will lend you one of my
canes and a snuff-box, and should advise you to take snuff, even if
it is not your habit, for I believe that it is good against
infection, and one of the experiments I wish to try is as to what its
result may be if burnt freely in the house. Are you ready to
undertake this work?"

"Quite ready, sir."

"Then come round here at eight in the morning. I shall have heard by
that hour from the examiners of this parish of any fresh case they
have found. They begin their rounds at five o'clock."

The next day Cyril presented himself at the doctor's, dressed in
black, with white ruffles to his shirt, and a flowing wig he had
purchased the night before.

"Here are the cane and snuff-box," Dr. Hodges said. "Now you will
pass muster very well as my assistant. Let us be off at once; for I
have a long list of cases."

Cyril remained outside while Dr. Hodges went into three or four
houses. Presently he came down to the door, and said to him,--

"This is a case where things are favourable for a first trial. It is
a boy who is taken ill, and the parents, though in deep grief, seem
to have some sense left."

He turned to the watchman, who had already been placed at the door.
The man, who evidently knew him, had saluted respectfully when he
entered the house.

"This gentleman is my assistant," he said, "and you will allow him to
pass in and out just as you would myself. He is going to take this
case entirely in hand, and you will regard him as being in charge

He then re-entered the house with Cyril, and led him to the room
where the parents of the boy, and two elder sisters, were assembled.

"This is my assistant," he said, "and he has consented to take entire
charge of the case, though I myself shall look in and consult with
him every morning. In the first place, your son must be taken to the
top storey of the house. You say that you are ready to nurse him
yourselves, and do not wish that a paid nurse should be had in. I
commend your determination, for the nurses are, for the most part,
worse than useless, and carry the infection all over the house. But
only one of you must go into the room, and whoever goes in must stay
there. It is madness for all to be going in and out and exposing
themselves to the infection when no good can be done. When this is
the case, one or other is sure to take the malady, and then it
spreads to all. Which of you will undertake the duty?"

All four at once offered themselves, and there was an earnest contest
between them for the dangerous post. Dr. Hodges listened for a minute
or two, and then decided upon the elder of the two sisters--a quiet,
resolute-looking girl with a healthy face.

"This young lady shall be nurse," he said. "I feel that I can have
confidence in her. She looks healthy and strong, and would, methinks,
best resist the malady, should she take it. I am leaving my assistant
here for a time to see to the fumigation of the house. You will
please see that his orders are carried out in every respect. I have
every hope that if this is done the Plague will not spread further;
but much must depend upon yourselves. Do not give way to grief, but
encourage each other, and go about with calm minds. I see," he said,
pointing to a Bible on the table, "that you know where to go for
comfort and strength. The first thing is to carry the boy up to the
room that we chose for him."

"I will do that," the father said.

"He had better be left in the blankets in which he is lying. Cover
him completely over with them, for, above all, it is necessary that
you should not inhale his breath. You had better take the head and
your daughter the feet. But first see that the room upstairs is

In a few minutes the lad was transferred to the upper room, the
doctor warning the others not to enter that from which he had been
carried until it had been fumigated and sprinkled with vinegar.

"Now," he said to the girl who was to remain with the patient, "keep
the window wide open; as there is no fireplace, keep a brazier of
charcoal burning near the window. Keep the door shut, and open it
only when you have need for something. Give him a portion of this
medicine every half hour. Do not lean over him--remember that his
breath is a fatal poison. Put a pinch of these powdered spices into
the fire every few minutes. Pour this perfume over your handkerchief,
and put it over your mouth and nose whenever you approach the bed. He
is in a stupor now, poor lad, and I fear that his chance of recovery
is very slight; but you must remember that your own life is of value
to your parents, and that it behoves you to do all in your power to
preserve it, and that if you take the contagion it may spread through
the house. We shall hang a sheet, soaked in vinegar, outside the

"We could not have a better case for a trial," he said, as he went
downstairs and joined Cyril, whom he had bidden wait below. "The
people are all calm and sensible, and if we succeed not here, there
is small chance of our succeeding elsewhere."

The doctor then gave detailed orders as to fumigating the house, and
left. Cyril saw at once that a brazier of charcoal was lighted and
carried upstairs, and he called to the girl to come out and fetch it
in. As soon as she had done so the sheet was hung over the door. Then
he took another brazier, placed it in the room from which the boy had
been carried, laid several lumps of sulphur upon it, and then left
the room. All the doors of the other rooms were then thrown open, and
a quantity of tobacco, spices, and herbs, were burnt on a red-hot
iron at the foot of the stairs, until the house was filled with a
dense smoke. Half an hour later all the windows were opened.



The process of fumigation had well-nigh suffocated the wife and
daughter of the trader, but, as soon as the smoke cleared away, Cyril
set them all to work to carry up articles of furniture to another
bedroom on the top floor.

"When your daughter is released from nursing, madam," he said, "she
must at once come into this room, and remain there secluded for a few
days. Therefore, it will be well to make it as comfortable as
possible for her. Her food must be taken up and put outside the door,
so that she can take it in there without any of you going near her."

The occupation was a useful one, as it distracted the thoughts of
those engaged in it from the sick room.

Cyril did not enter there. He had told the girl to call him should
there be any necessity, but said,--

"Do not call me unless absolutely needful, if, for instance, he
becomes violent, in which case we must fasten the sheets across him
so as to restrain him. But it is of no use your remaining shut up
there if I go in and out of the room to carry the infection to the

"You have hurt your arm, doctor?" the mother said, when the
arrangements were all made, and they had returned to the room below.

"Yes," he said; "I met with an accident, and must, for a short time,
keep my arm in a sling."

"You look young, sir, to be running these fearful perils."

"I am young," Cyril said, "and have not yet completed all my studies;
but Dr. Hodges judged that I was sufficiently advanced to be able to
be of service to him, not so much in prescribing as by seeing that
his orders were carried out."

Every half hour he went upstairs, and inquired, through the door, as
to the state of the boy.

Late in the afternoon he heard the girl crying bitterly within. He
knocked, and she cried out,--

"He is dead, sir; he has just expired."

"Then you must think of yourself and the others," he said. "The small
packet I placed on the chair contains sulphur. Close the window, then
place the packet on the fire, and leave the room at once and go into
the next room, which is all ready for you. There, I pray you,
undress, and sponge yourself with vinegar, then make your clothes
into a bundle and put them outside the door. There will be a bowl of
hot broth in readiness for you there; drink that, and then go to bed
at once, and keep the blankets over you and try to sleep."

He went part of the way downstairs, and, in a minute or two, heard a
door open and shut, then another door shut. Knowing that the order
had been carried out, he went downstairs.

"Madam," he said, "God has taken your boy. The doctor had but little
hope for him. For the sake of yourself and those around you, I pray
you all to bear up against the sorrow."

The mother burst into tears, and, leaving her with her husband and
daughter, Cyril went into the kitchen, where the maid and an
apprentice were sitting with pale faces, and bade the servant at once
warm up the broth, that had already been prepared. As soon as it was
ready, he carried a basin upstairs. The bundle of clothes had already
been placed outside the girl's room. He took this down and put it on
the kitchen fire.

"Now," he said, "take four basins up to the parlour, and do you and
the boy each make a hearty meal. I think there is little fear of the
Plague spreading, and your best chance of avoiding it is by keeping
up your spirits and not fretting about it."

As soon as the broth had been taken into the parlour, he went in and
persuaded them to eat and to take a glass of wine with it, while he
himself sat down with them.

"You are all weak," he said, "for, doubtless, you have eaten nothing
to-day, and you need strength as well as courage. I trust that your
daughter will presently go off into a sound sleep. The last thing
before you go to bed, take up with you a basin of good posset with a
glass of wine in it; knock gently at her door; if she is awake, tell
her to come out and take it in as soon as you have gone, but if she
does not reply, do not rouse her. I can be of no further use
to-night, but will return in the morning, when I hope to find all is

The father accompanied him to the door.

"You will of course bring the poor boy down to-night. It were best
that you made some excuse to sleep in another room. Let your daughter
sleep with her mother. When you go in to fetch him, be careful that
you do not enter at once, for the fumes of the sulphur will scarcely
have abated. As you go in, place a wet handkerchief to your mouth,
and make to the window and throw it open, closing the door behind
you. Sit at the window till the air is tolerable, then wrap the
blankets round him and carry him downstairs when you hear the bell.
After he has gone tell the servant to have a brazier lighted, and to
keep up the kitchen fire. As soon as he is gone, burn on the brazier
at the foot of the stairs, tobacco and spices, as we did before; then
take off your clothes and burn them on the kitchen fire, and then go
up to bed. You can leave the doors and windows of the rooms that are
not in use open, so that the smoke may escape."

"God bless you, sir!" the man said. "You have been a comfort indeed
to us, and I have good hopes that the Plague will spread no further
among us."

Cyril went first to the doctor's, and reported what had taken place.

"I will go round in the morning and see how they are," he concluded,
"and bring you round word before you start on your rounds."

"You have done very well indeed," the doctor said. "If people
everywhere would be as calm, and obey orders as well as those you
have been with, I should have good hopes that we might check the
spread of the Plague; but you will find that they are quite the

This, indeed, proved to be the case. In many instances, the people
were so distracted with grief and fear that they ran about the house
like mad persons, crying and screaming, running in and out of the
sick chamber, or sitting there crying helplessly, and refusing to
leave the body until it was carried out to the dead-cart. But with
such cases Cyril had nothing to do, as the doctor would only send him
to the houses where he saw that his instructions would be carried

To his great satisfaction, Cyril found that the precautions taken in
the first case proved successful. Regularly, every morning, he
inquired at the door, and received the answer, "All are well."

In August the Plague greatly increased in violence, the deaths rising
to ten thousand a week. A dull despair had now seized the population.
It seemed that all were to be swept away. Many went out of their
minds. The quacks no longer drove a flourishing trade in their
pretended nostrums; these were now utterly discredited, for nothing
seemed of the slightest avail. Some went to the opposite extreme, and
affected to defy fate. The taverns were filled again, and boisterous
shouts and songs seemed to mock the dismal cries from the houses with
the red cross on the door. Robberies were rife. Regardless of the
danger of the pest, robbers broke into the houses where all the
inmates had perished by the Plague, and rifled them of their
valuables. The nurses plundered the dying. All natural affection
seemed at an end.

Those stricken were often deserted by all their relatives, and left
alone to perish.

Bands of reckless young fellows went through the streets singing,
and, dressing up in masks, performed the dance of death. The dead
were too many to be carried away in carts at night to the great pits
prepared for them, but the dismal tones of the bell, and the cries of
"Bring out your dead!" sounded in the streets all day. It was no
longer possible to watch the whole of the infected houses. Sometimes
Plague-stricken men would escape from their beds and run through the
streets until they dropped dead. One such man, in the height of his
delirium, sprang into the river, and, after swimming about for some
time, returned to the shore, marvellously cured of his malady by the

Cyril went occasionally in the evening to the lodgings of Mr.
Wallace. At first he met several people gathered there, but the
number became fewer every time he went. He had told the minister that
he thought that it would be better for him to stay away, exposed as
he was to infection, but Mr. Wallace would take no excuses on this

"We are all in the hands of God," he said. "The streets are full of
infected people, and I myself frequently go to pray with my friends
in the earliest stages of the malady. There is no longer any use in
precautions. We can but all go on doing our duty until we are called
away, and even among the few who gather here of an evening there may
be one or more who are already smitten, though unconscious yet that
their summons has come."

Among others Cyril was introduced to a Mr. and Mrs. Harvey, who were,
the minister told him, from the country, but were staying in town on
account of a painful family business.

"I have tried to persuade them to return home and to stay there until
the Plague ceases, but they conceive it their duty to remain. They
are, like myself, Independents, and are not easily to be turned from
a resolution they have taken."

Cyril could easily understand that Mr. Harvey was exactly what he,
from the description he had heard of them, had pictured to himself
that a Roundhead soldier would be. He had a stern face, eyes deeply
sunk in his head, high cheekbones, a firm mouth, and a square jaw. He
wore his hair cut close. His figure was bony, and he must, as a young
man, have been very powerful. He spoke in a slow, deliberate way,
that struck Cyril as being the result of long effort, for a certain
restless action of the fingers and the quick movement of the eye,
told of a naturally impulsive and fiery disposition. He constantly
used scriptural texts in the course of his speech. His wife was
gentle and quiet, but it was evident that there was a very strong
sympathy between them, and Cyril found, after meeting them once or
twice, that he liked them far better than he thought he should do on
their first introduction. This was, no doubt, partly due to the fact
that Mr. Harvey frequently entered into conversation with him, and
appeared to interest himself in him. He was, too, a type that was
altogether new to the lad. From his father, and his father's
companions, he had heard nothing good of the Puritans, but the
evident earnestness of this man's nature was, to some extent, in
accordance with his own disposition, and he felt that, widely as he
might differ from him on all points of politics, he could not but
respect him. The evenings were pleasant. As if by common consent, the
conversation never turned on the Plague, but they talked of other
passing events, of the trials of their friends, and of the laws that
were being put in force against Nonconformists.

"What think you of these persecutions, young sir?" Mr. Harvey
abruptly asked Cyril, one evening, breaking off in the midst of a
general conversation.

Cyril was a little confused at the unexpected question.

"I think all persecutions for conscience' sake are wrong," he said,
after a moment's pause, "and generally recoil upon the persecutors.
Spain lost Holland owing to her persecution of the people. France
lost great numbers of her best citizens by her laws against the
Protestants. I agree with you thoroughly, that the persecution of the
Nonconformists at present is a grievous error, and a cruel injustice;
but, at the same time, if you will excuse my saying so, it is the
natural consequence of the persecution by the Nonconformists, when
they were in power, of the ministers of the Church of England. My
tutor in France was an English clergyman, who had been driven from
his living, like thousands of other ministers, because he would not
give up his opinions. Therefore, you see, I very early was imbued
with a hatred of persecution in any form. I trust that I have not
spoken too boldly; but you asked for my opinion, and I was forced to
give it."

"At any rate, young sir, you have spoken manfully, and I like you
none the worse for it. Nor can I altogether gainsay your words. But
you must remember that we had before been oppressed, and that we have
been engaged in a desperate struggle for liberty of conscience."

"Which, having won for ourselves, we proceeded to deny to others,"
Mr. Wallace said, with a smile. "Cyril has us fairly, Mr. Harvey. We
are reaping what our fathers sowed. They thought that the power they
had gained was to be theirs to hold always, and they used it
tyrannously, being thereby false to all their principles. It is ever
the persecuted, when he attains power, who becomes the persecutor,
and, hard as is the pressure of the laws now, we should never forget
that we have, in our time, been persecutors, and that in defiance of
the rights of conscience we had fought to achieve. Man's nature is, I
fear, unchangeable. The slave longs, above all things, for freedom,
but when he rises successfully against his master he, in turn,
becomes a tyrant, and not infrequently a cruel and bloodthirsty one.
Still, we must hope. It may be in the good days that are to come, we
may reach a point when each will be free to worship in his own
fashion, without any fear or hindrance, recognising the fact that
each has a right to follow his own path to Heaven, without its being
a subject of offence to those who walk in other ways."

One or two of the other visitors were on the point of speaking, when
Mr. Wallace put a stop to further argument by fetching a Bible from
his closet, and preparing for the short service of prayer with which
the evening always closed.

One evening, Mr. Harvey and his wife were absent from the usual

"I feel anxious about them," Mr. Wallace said; "they have never,
since they arrived in town, missed coming here at seven o'clock. The
bells are usually striking the hour as they come. I fear that one or
other of them may have been seized by the Plague."

"With your permission, sir, I will run round and see," Cyril said. "I
know their lodging, for I have accompanied them to the door several
times. It is but five minutes' walk from here. If one or other is ill
I will run round to Dr. Hodges, and I am sure, at my request, he will
go round at once to see them."

Cyril walked fast towards the lodging occupied by the Harveys. It was
at the house of a mercer, but he and his family had, three weeks
before, gone away, having gladly permitted his lodgers to remain, as
their presence acted as a guard to the house. They had brought up an
old servant with them, and were therefore able to dispense with other
attendants. Cyril hurried along, trying, as usual, to pay as little
heed as he could to the doleful cries that arose from many of the
houses. Although it was still broad daylight there was scarce a soul
in the streets, and those he met were, like himself, walking fast,
keeping as far as possible from any one they met, so as to avoid

As he neared the house he heard a woman scream. A moment later a
casement was thrown open, and Mrs. Harvey's head appeared. She gave
another piercing cry for help, and was then suddenly dragged back,
and the casement was violently closed. Cyril had so frequently heard
similar cries that he would have paid no attention to it had it come
from a stranger, but he felt that Mrs. Harvey was not one to give way
to wild despair, even had her husband been suddenly attacked with the
Plague. Her sudden disappearance, and the closing of the casement,
too, were unaccountable, unless, indeed, her husband were in a state
of violent delirium. He ran to the door and flung himself against it.

"Help me to force it down," he cried to a man who was passing.

"You are mad," the man replied. "Do you not see that they have got
the Plague? You may hear hundreds of such cries every day."

Cyril drew his sword, which he always carried when he went out of an
evening--for, owing to the deaths among the City watch, deeds of
lawlessness and violence were constantly perpetrated--and struck,
with all his strength, with the hilt upon the fastening of the
casement next the door. Several of the small panes of glass fell in,
and the whole window shook. Again and again he struck upon the same
spot, when the fastening gave way, and the window flew open. He
sprang in at once, ran through the shop into the passage, and then
upstairs. The door was open, and he nearly fell over the body of a
man. As he ran into the room he heard the words,--

"For the last time: Will you sign the deed? You think I will not do
this, but I am desperate."

As the words left his mouth, Cyril sprang forward between the man and
Mr. Harvey, who was standing with his arms folded, looking
steadfastly at his opponent, who was menacing him with a drawn sword.
The man, with a terrible oath, turned to defend himself, repeating
the oath when he saw who was his assailant.

"I let you off last time lightly, you scoundrel!" Cyril exclaimed.
"This time it is your life or mine."

The man made a furious lunge at him. Cyril parried it, and would at
the next moment have run him through had not Mr. Harvey suddenly
thrown himself between them, hurling Cyril's antagonist to the

"Put up your sword," he said to Cyril. "This man is my son; scoundrel
and villain, yet still my son, even though he has raised his hand
against me. Leave him to God."

Cyril had stepped a pace back in his surprise. At first he thought
that Mr. Harvey's trouble had turned his brain; then it flashed
across him that this ruffian's name was indeed John Harvey. The man
was about to rise from the floor when Cyril again sprang forward.

"Drop that sword," he exclaimed, "or I will run you through. Now,
sir," he said to Mr. Harvey, "will you draw out that pistol, whose
butt projects from his pocket, or your son may do one of us mischief

That such had been the man's intention was evident from the glance of
baffled rage he threw at Cyril.

"Now, sir, go," his father said sternly. "Remember that, henceforth,
you are no son of mine. Did I do my duty I should hand you over to
the watch--not for your threats to me, but for the sword-thrust you
have given to Joseph Edmonds, who has many times carried you on his
shoulder when a child. You may compass my death, but be assured that
not one farthing will you gain thereby. 'Vengeance is mine, saith the
Lord.' I leave it to Him to pay it. Now go."

John Harvey rose to his feet, and walked to the door. Then he turned
and shook his fist at Cyril.

"Curse you!" he said. "I will be even with you yet."

Cyril now had time to look round. His eye fell upon the figure of
Mrs. Harvey, who had fallen insensible. He made a step towards her,
but her husband said, "She has but fainted. This is more pressing,"
and he turned to the old servant. Cyril aided him in lifting the old
man up and laying him on the couch.

"He breathes," said he.

"He is wounded to death," Mr. Harvey said sadly; "and my son hath
done it."

Cyril opened the servant's coat.

"Here is the wound, high up on the left side. It may not touch a
vital part. It bleeds freely, and I have heard that that is a good

"It is so," Mr. Harvey said excitedly. "Perhaps he may yet recover. I
would give all that I am worth that it might be so, and that, bad as
he may be, the sin of this murder should not rest on my son's soul."

"I will run for the doctor, sir, but before I go let me help you to
lift your wife. She will doubtless come round shortly, and will aid
you to stanch the wound till the doctor comes."

Mrs. Harvey was indeed already showing signs of returning animation.
She was placed on a couch, and water sprinkled on her face. As soon
as he saw her eyes open Cyril caught up his hat and ran to Dr.
Hodges. The doctor had just finished his supper, and was on the point
of going out again to see some of his patients. On hearing from Cyril
that a servant of some friends of his had been wounded by a robber,
he put some lint and bandages in his pocket, and started with him.

"These robberies are becoming more and more frequent," he said; "and
so bold and reckless are the criminals that they seem to care not a
jot whether they add murder to their other crimes. Where do you say
the wound is?"

Cyril pointed below his own shoulder.

"It is just about there, doctor."

"Then it may be above the upper edge of the lung. If so, we may save
the man. Half an inch higher or lower will make all the difference
between life and death. As you say that it was bleeding freely, it is
probable that the sword has missed the lung, for had it pierced it,
the bleeding would have been chiefly internal, and the hope of saving
him would have been slight indeed."

When they reached the house Cyril found that Mrs. Harvey had quite
recovered. They had cut open the man's clothes and her husband was
pressing a handkerchief, closely folded, upon the wound.

"It is serious, but, I think, not vital," Dr. Hodges said, after
examining it. "I feel sure that the sword has missed the lung."

After cutting off the rest of the man's upper garments, he poured,
from a phial he had brought with him, a few drops of a powerful
styptic into the wound, placed a thick pad of lint over it, and
bandaged it securely. Then, giving directions that a small quantity
of spirits and water should be given to the patient from time to
time, and, above all things, that he should be kept perfectly quiet,
he hurried away.

"Is there anything more I can do, sir?" Cyril asked Mr. Harvey.

"Nothing more. You will understand, sir, what our feelings are, and
that our hearts are too full of grief and emotion for us to speak. We
shall watch together to-night, and lay our case before the Lord."

"Then I will come early in the morning and see if there is aught I
can do, sir. I am going back now to Mr. Wallace, who was uneasy at
your absence. I suppose you would wish me to say only that I found
that there was a robber in the place who, having wounded your
servant, was on the point of attacking you when I entered, and that
he fled almost immediately."

"That will do. Say to him that for to-night we shall be busy nursing,
and that my wife is greatly shaken; therefore I would not that he
should come round, but I pray him to call here in the morning."

"I will do so, sir."

Cyril went downstairs, closed the shutters of the window into which
he had broken, and put up the bars, and then went out at the door,
taking special pains to close it firmly behind him.

He was glad to be out of the house. He had seen many sad scenes
during the last few weeks, but it seemed to him that this was the
saddest of all. Better, a thousand times, to see a son stricken by
the Plague than this. He walked slowly back to the minister's. He met
Mr. Wallace at the door of his house.

"I was coming round," the latter said. "Of course one or other of
them are stricken?"

"No, sir; it was another cause that prevented their coming. Just as I
reached the house I heard a scream, and Mrs. Harvey appeared at the
casement calling for help. I forced open a window and ran up. I found
that a robber had entered the house. He had seriously wounded the old
servant, and was on the point of attacking Mr. Harvey when I entered.
Taken by surprise, the man fled almost immediately. Mrs. Harvey had
fainted. At first, we thought the servant was killed, but, finding
that he lived, I ran off and fetched Dr. Hodges, who has dressed the
wound, and thinks that the man has a good chance of recovery. As Mrs.
Harvey had now come round, and was capable of assisting her husband,
they did not accept my offer to stay and do anything I could. I said
I was coming to you, and Mr. Harvey asked me to say that, although
they were too much shaken to see you this evening, they should be
glad if you would go round to them the first thing in the morning."

"Then the robber got away unharmed?" Mr. Wallace asked.

"He was unharmed, sir. I would rather that you did not question me on
the subject. Mr. Harvey will doubtless enter fully into the matter
with you in the morning. We did not exchange many words, for he was
greatly disturbed in spirit at the wounding of his old servant, and
the scene he had gone through; and, seeing that he and his wife would
rather be alone with their patient, I left almost directly after Dr.
Hodges went away. However, I may say that I believe that there are
private matters in the affair, which he will probably himself
communicate to you."

"Then I will ask no more questions, Cyril. I am well content to know
that it is not as I feared, and that the Plague had not attacked

"I said that I would call round in the morning, sir; but I have been
thinking of it as I came along, and consider that, as you will be
there, it is as well that I should not do so. I will come round here
at ten o'clock, and should you not have returned, will wait until you
do. I do not know that I can be of any use whatever, and do not wish
to intrude there. Will you kindly say this to them, but add that
should they really wish me to go, I will of course do so?"

Mr. Wallace looked a little puzzled.

"I will do as you ask me, but it seems to me that they will naturally
wish to see you, seeing that, had it not been for your arrival, they
might have been robbed and perhaps murdered."

"You will understand better when you have seen Mr. Harvey, sir. Now I
will be making for home; it is about my usual hour, and John Wilkes
will be beginning to wonder and worry about me."

To John, Cyril told the same story as to Mr. Wallace.

"But, how was it that you let the villain escape, Master Cyril? Why
did you not run him through the body?"

"I had other things to think of, John. There was Mrs. Harvey lying
insensible, and the servant desperately wounded, and I thought more
of these than of the robber, and was glad enough, when he ran out, to
be able to turn my attention to them."

"Ay, ay, that was natural enough, lad; but 'tis a pity the villain
got off scot-free. Truly it is not safe for two old people to be in
an empty house by themselves in these times, specially as, maybe, the
houses on either side are also untenanted, and robbers can get into
them and make their way along the roof, and so enter any house they
like by the windows there. It was a mercy you chanced to come along.
Men are so accustomed now to hear screams and calls for aid, that
none trouble themselves as to such sounds. And you still feel quite

"Never better, John, except for occasional twitches in my shoulder."

"It does not knit so fast as it should do," John said. "In the first
place, you are always on the move; then no one can go about into
infected houses without his spirits being disturbed, and of all
things a calm and easy disposition is essential for the proper
healing of wounds. Lastly, it is certain that when there is poison in
the air wounds do not heal so quickly as at other times."

"It is going on well enough, John; indeed, I could not desire it to
do better. As soon as it is fairly healed I ought to join Prince
Rupert again; but in truth I do not wish to go, for I would fain see
this terrible Plague come to an end before I leave; for never since
the days of the Black Death, hundreds of years ago, was there so
strange and terrible a malady in this country."

Mr. Wallace had returned to his house when Cyril called the next

"Thinking over what you said last night, Cyril, I arrived at a pretty
correct conclusion as to what had happened, though I thought not that
it could be as bad as it was. I knew the object with which Mr. Harvey
and his wife had come up to London, at a time when most men were
fleeing from it. Their son has, ever since he came up three years
ago, been a source of grievous trouble to them, as he was, indeed,
for a long time previously. Some natures seem naturally to turn to
evil, and this boy's was one of them. It may be that the life at home
was too rigid and severe, and that he revolted against it. Certain it
is that he took to evil courses and consorted with bad companions.
Severity was unavailing. He would break out of the house at night and
be away for days. He was drunken and dissolute.

"At last, just after a considerable sum of money had come into the
house from the tenants' rents, he stole it, and went up to London.
His name was not mentioned at home, though his father learnt from
correspondents here that he had become a hanger-on of the Court,
where, his father being a man of condition, he found friends without
difficulty. He was a gambler and a brawler, and bore a bad reputation
even among the riff-raff of the Court. His father learnt that he had
disappeared from sight at the time the Court went to Oxford early in
June, and his correspondent found that he was reported to have joined
a band of abandoned ruffians, whose least crimes were those of

"When the Plague spread rapidly, Mr. Harvey and his wife determined
to come up to London, to make one more effort to draw him from his
evil courses. The only thing that they have been able to learn for
certain was, that he was one of the performers in that wicked mockery
the dance of death, but their efforts to trace him have otherwise

"They had intended, if they had found him, and he would have made
promises of amendment, to have given him money that would have
enabled him to go over to America and begin a new life there,
promising him a regular allowance to maintain him in comfort. As they
have many friends over there, some of whom went abroad to settle
before the Civil War broke out here, they would be able to have news
how he was going on; and if they found he was living a decent life,
and truly repented his past course, they would in five years have had
him back again, and reinstated him as their heir.

"I knew their intentions in the matter, and have done my best to gain
them news of him. I did not believe in the reformation of one who had
shown himself to be of such evil spirit; but God is all-powerful, and
might have led him out from the slough into which he had fallen.

"Yesterday evening, half an hour before you went there, his father
and mother were astonished at his suddenly entering. He saluted them
at first with ironical politeness, and said that having heard from
one from the same part of the country that he had seen them in
London, he had had the streets thereabouts watched, and having found
where they lodged, had come to pay his respects.

"There was a reckless bravado in his manner that alarmed his mother,
and it was not long before the purpose of his visit came out. He
demanded that his father should at once sign a deed which he had
brought drawn out in readiness, assigning to him at once half his

"'You have,' he said, 'far more than you can require. Living as you
do, you must save three-quarters of your income, and it would be at
once an act of charity, and save you the trouble of dealing with
money that is of no use to you.'

"His father indignantly refused to take any such step, and then told
him the plans he had himself formed for him. At this he laughed

"'You have the choice,' he said, 'of giving me half, or of my taking
everything.' And then he swore with terrible oaths that unless his
father signed the paper, that day should be his last. 'You are in my
power,' he said, 'and I am desperate. Do you think that if three dead
bodies are found in a house now any will trouble to inquire how they
came to their end? They will be tossed into the plague-cart, and none
will make inquiry about them.'

"Hearing voices raised in anger, the old servant ran in. At once the
villain drew and ran at him, passing his sword through his body.
Then, as if transported at the sight of the blood he had shed, he
turned upon his father. It was at this moment that his mother ran to
the window and called for help. He dragged her back, and as she fell
fainting with horror and fear he again turned upon his father; his
passion grew hotter and hotter as the latter, upbraiding him with the
deed he had done, refused to sign; and there is no doubt that he
would have taken his life had you not luckily ran in at this moment.

"It has truly been a terrible night for them. They have passed it in
prayer, and when I went this morning were both calm and composed,
though it was easy to see by their faces how they had suffered, and
how much the blow has told upon them. They have determined to save
their son from any further temptation to enrich himself by their
deaths. I fetched a lawyer for them; and when I left Mr. Harvey was
giving him instructions for drawing up his will, by which every
farthing is left away from him. They request me to go to them this
evening with two or three of our friends to witness it, as it is
necessary in a time like this that a will should be witnessed by as
many as possible, as some may be carried off by the Plague; and
should all the witnesses be dead, the will might be disputed as a
forgery. So the lawyer will bring his clerks with him, and I shall
take four or five of our friends.

"They will return to the country as soon as their servant can be
moved. Dr. Hodges came when I was there, and gives hopes that the
cure will be a speedy one. We are going to place some men in the
house. I have among my poorer friends two men who will be glad to
establish themselves there with their wives, seeing that they will
pay no rent, and will receive wages as long as Mr. Harvey remains
there. There will thus be no fear of any repetition of the attempt.
Mr. Harvey, on my advice, will also draw up and sign a paper giving a
full account of the occurrence of last evening, and will leave this
in the hands of the lawyer.

"This will be a protection to him should his son follow him into the
country, as he will then be able to assure him that if he proceeds to
violence suspicion will at once fall upon him, and he will be
arrested for his murder. But, indeed, the poor gentleman holds but
little to his life; and it was only on my representing to him that
this document might be the means of averting the commission of the
most terrible of all sins from the head of his son, that he agreed to
sign it. I gave him your message, and he prays me to say that, deeply
grateful as he and his wife are to you, not so much for the saving of
their lives, as for preventing their son's soul being stained by the
crime, they would indeed rather that you did not call for a time, for
they are so sorely shaken that they do not feel equal to seeing you.
You will not, I hope, take this amiss."

"By no means," Cyril replied; "it is but a natural feeling; and, in
truth, I myself am relieved that such is their decision, for it would
be well-nigh as painful to me as to them to see them again, and to
talk over the subject."

"By the way, Cyril, Mr. Harvey said that when you saw his son you
cried out his name, and that by the manner in which he turned upon
you it was clear that he had some cause for hating you. Is this so,
or was it merely his fancy?"

"It was no fancy, sir. It is not long since I thwarted his attempt to
carry off the daughter of a city merchant, to whom he had represented
himself as a nobleman. He was in the act of doing so, with the aid of
some friends, when, accompanied by John Wilkes, I came up. There was
a fray, in the course of which I ran him through the shoulder. The
young lady returned home with us, and has since heartily repented of
her folly. I had not seen the man since that time till I met him
yesterday; but certainly the house was watched for some time, as I
believe, by his associates who would probably have done me an ill
turn had I gone out after nightfall."

"That explains it, Cyril. I will tell Mr. Harvey, whose mind has been
much puzzled by your recognition of his son."



Two days later, Cyril started at his usual hour to go to Dr. Hodges';
but he had proceeded but a few yards when a man, who was leaning
against the wall, suddenly lurched forward and caught him round the
neck. Thinking that the fellow had been drinking, Cyril angrily tried
to shake him off. As he did so the man's hat, which had been pressed
down over his eyes, fell off, and, to his astonishment, Cyril
recognised John Harvey.

"You villain! What are you doing here?" he exclaimed, as he freed
himself from the embrace, sending his assailant staggering back
against the wall.

The man's face lit up with a look of savage exultation..

"I told you you should hear from me again," he said, "and I have kept
my word. I knew the hour you went out, and I have been waiting for
you. You are a doomed man. I have the Plague, and I have breathed in
your face. Before twenty-four hours have passed you will be, as I am,
a dying man. That is a good piece of vengeance. You may be a better
swordsman than I am, but you can't fight with the Plague."

Cyril drew back in horror. As he did so, a change came over John
Harvey's face, he muttered a few words incoherently, swayed backwards
and forwards, and then slid to the ground in a heap. A rush of blood
poured from his mouth, and he fell over dead.

Cyril had seen more than one similar death in the streets, but the
horrible malignity of this man, and his sudden death, gave him a
terrible shock. He felt for the moment completely unmanned, and,
conscious that he was too unhinged for work, he turned and went back
to the house.

"You look pale, lad," John Wilkes said, as Cyril went upstairs. "What
brings you back so soon?"

"I have had rather a shock, John." And he told him of what had

"That was enough to startle you, lad. I should say the best thing you
could do would be to take a good strong tumbler of grog, and then lay

"That I will do, and will take a dose of the medicine Dr. Hodges
makes everyone take when the infection first shows itself in a house.
As you know, I have never had any fear of the Plague hitherto. I
don't say that I am afraid of it now, but I have run a far greater
risk of catching it than I have ever done before, for until now I
have never been in actual contact with anyone with the disease."

After a sleep Cyril rose, and feeling himself again, went to call
upon Mr. Wallace.

"I shall not come again for a few days," he said, after telling him
what had happened, but without mentioning the name of John Harvey,
"but I will send you a note every other day by John Wilkes. If he
does not come, you will know that I have taken the malady, and in
that case, Mr. Wallace, I know that I shall have your prayers for my
recovery. I am sure that I shall be well cared for by John Wilkes."

"Of my prayers you maybe sure, Cyril; and, indeed, I have every faith
that, should you catch the malady, you will recover from it. You have
neither well-nigh frightened yourself to death, nor have you dosed
yourself with drugs until nature was exhausted before the struggle
began. You will, I am sure, be calm and composed, and above all you
have faith in God, and the knowledge that you have done your part to
carry out His orders, and to visit the sick and aid those in sorrow."

The next day Cyril was conscious of no change except that he felt a
disinclination to exert himself. The next morning he had a feeling of

"I think that I am in for it, John," he said. "But at any rate it can
do no harm to try that remedy you spoke of that is used in the East.
First of all, let us fumigate the room. As far as I have seen, the
smoke of tobacco is the best preservative against the Plague. Now do
you, John, keep a bit of tobacco in your mouth."

"That I mostly do, lad."

"Well, keep a bigger bit than usual, John, and smoke steadily. Still,
that will not be enough. Keep the fire burning, and an iron plate
heated to redness over it. Bring that into my room from time to time,
and burn tobacco on it. Keep the room full of smoke."

"I will do that," John said, "but you must not have too much of it. I
am an old hand, and have many times sat in a fo'castle so full of
smoke that one could scarce see one's hands, but you are not
accustomed to it, and it may like enough make you sick."

"There will be no harm in that, John, so that one does not push it
too far. Now, how are you going to set about this sweating process?"

"While you undress and get into bed I will get a blanket ready. It is
to be dipped in boiling water, and then wrung out until it is as dry
as we can get it. Then you are wrapped in that, and then rolled in
five or six dry blankets to keep in the heat. You will keep in that
until you feel almost weak with sweating; then I take you out and
sponge you with warmish water, and then wrap you in another dry

"You had better sponge me with vinegar, John."

Cyril undressed. When he had done so he carefully examined himself,
and his eye soon fell on a black spot on the inside of his leg, just
above the knee. It was the well-known sign of the Plague.

"I have got it, John," he said, when the latter entered with a pile
of blankets.

"Well, then, we have got to fight it, Master Cyril, and we will beat
it if it is to be beaten. Now, lad, for the hot blanket."

"Lay it down on the bed, and I will wrap myself in it, and the same
with the others. Now I warn you, you are not to come nearer to me
than you can help, and above all you are not to lean over me. If you
do, I will turn you out of the room and lock the door, and fight it
out by myself. Now puff away at that pipe, and the moment you wrap me
up get the room full of smoke."

John nodded.

"Don't you bother about me," he growled. "I reckon the Plague ain't
going to touch such a tough old bit of seasoned mahogany as I am.
Still, I will do as you tell me."

In a few minutes Cyril was in a profuse perspiration, in which even
his head, which was above the blankets, shared.

"That is grand," John said complacently.

The cloud of tobacco, with which the room was soon filled, was not
long in having the effect that John had predicted, and Cyril was soon
violently sick, which had the effect of further increasing the

"You must open the window and let the smoke out a bit, John," he
gasped. "I can't stand any more of it."

This was done, and for another hour Cyril lay between the blankets.

"I shall faint if I lie here any longer," he said at last. "Now,
John, do you go out of the room, and don't come back again until I
call you. I see you have put the vinegar handy. It is certain that if
this is doing me any good the blankets will be infected. You say you
have got a big fire in the kitchen. Well, I shall take them myself,
and hang them up in front of it, and you are not to go into the room
till they are perfectly dry again. You had better light another fire
at once in the parlour, and you can do any cooking there. I will keep
the kitchen for my blankets."

John nodded and left the room, and Cyril at once proceeded to unroll
the blankets. As he came to the last he was conscious of a strong
fetid odour, similar to that he had more than once perceived in
houses infected by the Plague.

"I believe it is drawing it out of me," he said to himself. "I will
give it another trial presently."

He first sponged himself with vinegar, and felt much refreshed. He
then wrapped himself up and lay down for a few minutes, for he felt
strangely weak. Then he got up and carried the blankets into the
kitchen, where a huge fire had been made up by John. He threw the one
that had been next to him into a tub, and poured boiling water on it,
and the others he hung on chairs round it. Then he went back to his
room, and lay down and slept for half an hour. He returned to the
kitchen and rearranged the blankets. When John saw him go back to his
room he followed him.

"I have got some strong broth ready," he said. "Do you think that you
could take a cupful?"

"Ay, and a good-sized one, John. I feel sure that the sweating has
done me good, and I will have another turn at it soon. You must go at
once and report that I have got it, or when the examiners come round,
and find that the Plague is in the house, you will be fined, or
perhaps imprisoned. Before you go there, please leave word at Dr.
Hodges' that I am ill, and you might also call at Mr. Wallace's and
leave the same message. Tell them, in both cases, that I have
everything that I want, and trust that I shall make a good recovery."

"Ay, ay, sir; I will be off as soon as I have brought you in your
broth, and will be back here in half an hour."

Cyril drank the broth, and then dozed again until John returned. When
he heard his step he called out to him to bring the hot iron, and he
filled the room with tobacco smoke before allowing him to enter.

"Now, John, the blankets are dry, and can be handled again, and I am
ready for another cooking."

Four times that day did Cyril undergo the sweating process. By the
evening he was as weak as a child, but his skin was soft and cool,
and he was free from all feeling of pain or uneasiness. Dr. Hodges
called half an hour after he had taken it for the last time, having
only received his message when he returned late from a terrible day's
work. Cyril had just turned in for the night.

"Well, lad, how are you feeling? I am so sorry that I did not get
your message before."

"I am feeling very well, doctor."

"Your hand is moist and cool," Dr. Hodges said in surprise. "You must
have been mistaken. I see no signs whatever of the Plague."

"There was no mistake, doctor; there were the black marks on my
thighs, but I think I have pretty well sweated it out of me."

He then described the process he had followed, and said that John
Wilkes had told him that it was practised in the Levant.

"Sweating is greatly used here, and I have tried it very repeatedly
among my patients, and in some cases, where I had notice of the
disease early, have saved them. Some bleed before sweating, but I
have not heard of one who did so who recovered. In many cases the
patient, from terror or from weakness of body, cannot get up the heat
required, and even if they arrive at it, have not the strength to
support it. In your case you lost no time; you had vital heat in
plenty, and you had strength to keep up the heat in full force until
you washed, as it were, the malady out of you. Henceforth I shall
order that treatment with confidence when patients come to me whom I
suspect to have the Plague, although it may not have as yet fully
declared itself. What have you done with the blankets?"

"I would not suffer John to touch them, but carried them myself into
the kitchen. The blankets next to me I throw into a tub and pour
boiling water over them; the others I hang up before a huge fire, so
as to be dry for the next operation. I take care that John does not
enter the kitchen."

"How often have you done this?"

"Four times, and lay each time for an hour in the blankets. I feel
very weak, and must have lost very many pounds in weight, but my head
is clear, and I suffer no pain whatever. The marks on my legs have
not spread, and seem to me less dark in colour than they were."

"Your case is the most hopeful that I have seen," Dr. Hodges said.
"The system has had every advantage, and to this it owes its success.
In the first place, you began it as soon as you felt unwell. Most
people would have gone on for another twelve hours before they paid
much attention to the first symptoms, and might not have noticed the
Plague marks even when they went to bed. In the second place, you are
cool and collected, and voluntarily delivered yourself to the
treatment. And in the third place, which is the most important
perhaps of all, you were in good health generally. You had not
weakened yourself by swallowing every nostrum advertised, or wearing
yourself out by vain terrors. Ninety-nine cases out of a hundred
would be probably beyond the reach of help before they were conscious
of illness, and be too weak to stand so severe a strain on the system
as that you have undergone. Another thing is that the remedy could
hardly be attempted in a house full of frightened people. There would
be sure to be carelessness in the matter of the blankets, which,
unless treated as you have done, would be a certain means of
spreading the infection over the house. At any rate, I would continue
the sweating as long as you can possibly stand it. Take nourishment
in the shape of broth frequently, but in small quantity. I would do
it again at midnight; 'tis well not to let the virus have time to
gather strength again. I see you have faith in tobacco."

"Yes, doctor. I never let John Wilkes into the room after I have
taken a bath until it is full of tobacco smoke. I have twice made
myself ill with it to-day."

"Don't carry it too far, lad; for although I also believe in the
virtue of the weed, 'tis a powerful poison, and you do not want to
weaken yourself. Well, I see I can do nothing for you. You and your
man seem to me to have treated the attack far more successfully than
I should have done; for, indeed, this month very few of those
attacked have recovered, whatever the treatment has been. I shall
come round early tomorrow morning to see how you are going on. At
present nothing can be better. Since the first outbreak, I have not
seen a single case in which the patient was in so fair a way towards
recovery in so short a time after the discovery of the infection."

John Wilkes at this moment came in with a basin of broth.

"This is my good friend, John Wilkes, doctor."

"You ought to be called Dr. John Wilkes," the doctor, who was one of
the most famous of his time, said, with a smile, as he shook hands
with him. "Your treatment seems to be doing wonders."

"It seems to me he is doing well, doctor, but I am afraid he is
carrying it too far; he is so weak he can hardly stand."

"Never mind that," the doctor said; "it will be easy enough to build
him up when we have once got the Plague out of him. I have told him
to have another turn in the blankets at twelve o'clock to-night; it
will not do to let the malady get a fresh hold of him. But don't push
it too far, lad. If you begin to feel faint, stop it, even if you
have not been a quarter of an hour in the blankets. Do not cover
yourself up too warmly when you have done; let nature have a rest. I
shall be round between eight and nine, and no doubt you will have had
another bath before I come. Do not sleep in the room, Wilkes; he is
sure to go off soundly to sleep, and there is no use your running any
needless risk. Let his window stand open; indeed, it should always be
open, except when he gets out of his blankets, or is fumigating the
room. Let him have a chair by the open window, so as to get as much
fresh air as possible; but be sure that he is warmly wrapped up with
blankets, so as to avoid getting a chill. You might place a hand-bell
by the side of his bed to-night, so that he can summons you should he
have occasion."

When the doctor came next morning he nodded approvingly as soon as he
felt Cyril's hand.

"Nothing could be better," he said; "your pulse is even quieter than
last night. Now let me look at those spots."

"They are fainter," Cyril said.

"A great deal," Dr. Hodges said, in a tone of the greatest pleasure.
"Thank God, my lad, it is dying out. Not above three or four times
since the Plague began have I been able to say so. I shall go about
my work with a lighter heart today, and shall order your treatment in
every case where I see the least chance of its being carried out, but
I cannot hope that it will often prove as successful as it has with
you. You have had everything in your favour--youth, a good
constitution, a tranquil mind, an absence of fear, and a faith in

"And a good attendant, doctor--don't forget that."

"No, that goes for a great deal, lad--for a great deal. Not one nurse
out of a hundred would carry out my instructions carefully; not one
patient in a thousand would be able to see that they were carried
out. Of course you will keep on with the treatment, but do not push
it to extremes; you have pulled yourself down prodigiously, and must
not go too far. Do you perceive any change in the odour when you take
off the blankets?"

"Yes, doctor, a great change; I could scarcely distinguish it this
morning, and indeed allowed John Wilkes to carry them out, as I don't
think I myself could have walked as far as the kitchen, though it is
but ten or twelve paces away. I told him to smoke furiously all the
time, and to come out of the kitchen as soon as he had hung them up."

Cyril took three more baths in the course of the day, but was only
able to sustain them for twenty minutes each, as by the end of that
time he nearly fainted. The doctor came in late in the evening.

"The spots are gone, doctor," Cyril said.

"Then I think you may consider yourself cured, lad. Do not take the
treatment again to-night; you can take it once in the morning; and
then if I find the spots have not reappeared by the time I come, I
shall pronounce the cure as complete, and shall begin to build you up

The doctor was able to give this opinion in the morning.

"I shall not come again, lad, unless you send for me, for every
moment of my time is very precious, and I shall leave you in the
hands of Dr. Wilkes. All you want now is nourishment; but take it
carefully at first, and not too much at a time; stick to broths for
the next two or three days, and when you do begin with solids do so
very sparingly."

"There was a gentleman here yesterday asking about you," John Wilkes
said, as Cyril, propped up in bed, sipped his broth. "It was Mr.
Harvey. He rang at the bell, and I went down to the lower window and
talked to him through that, for of course the watchman would not let
me go out and speak to him. I had heard you speak of him as one of
the gentlemen you met at the minister's, and he seemed muchly
interested in you. He said that you had done him a great service, and
of course I knew it was by frightening that robber away. I never saw
a man more pleased than he was when I told him that the doctor
thought you were as good as cured, and he thanked God very piously
for the same. After he had done that, he asked me first whether you
had said anything to me about him. I said that you had told me you
had met him and his wife at the minister's, and that you said you had
disturbed a robber you found at his house. He said, quite sharp,
'Nothing more?' 'No, not as I can think of. He is always doing good
to somebody,' says I, 'and never a word would he say about it, if it
did not get found out somehow. Why, he saved Prince Rupert's ship
from being blown up by a fire-vessel, and never should we have known
of it if young Lord Oliphant had not written to the Captain telling
him all about it, and saying that it was the gallantest feat done in
the battle. Then there were other things, but they were of the nature
of private affairs.' 'You can tell me about them, my good man,' he
said; 'I am no vain babbler; and as you may well believe, from what
he did for me, and for other reasons, I would fain know as much as I
can of him.' So then I told him about how you found out about the
robbery and saved master from being ruined, and how you prevented
Miss Nellie from going off with a rascal who pretended he was an

"Then you did very wrong, John," Cyril said angrily. "I say naught
about your speaking about the robbery, for that was told in open
Court, but you ought not, on any account, to have said a word about
Mistress Nellie's affairs."

"Well, your honour, I doubt not Mistress Nellie herself would have
told the gentleman had she been in my place. I am sure he can be
trusted not to let it go further. I took care to tell him what good
it had done Mistress Nellie, and that good had come out of evil."

"Well, you ought not to have said anything about it, John. It may be
that Mistress Nellie out of her goodness of heart might herself have
told, but that is no reason why anyone else should do so. I charge
you in future never to open your lips about that to anyone, no matter
who. I say not that any harm will come of it in this case, for Mr.
Harvey is indeed a sober and God-fearing man, and assuredly asked
only because he felt an interest in me, and from no idle curiosity.
Still, I would rather that he had not known of a matter touching the
honour of Mistress Nellie."

"Mum's the word in future, Master Cyril. I will keep the hatches fast
down on my tongue. Now I will push your bed up near the window as the
doctor ordered, and then I hope you will get a good long sleep."

The Plague and the process by which it had been expelled had left
Cyril so weak that it was some days before he could walk across the
room. Every morning he inquired anxiously of John how he felt, and
the answer was always satisfactory. John had never been better in his
life; therefore, by the time Cyril was able to walk to his easy-chair
by the window, he began to hope that John had escaped the infection,
which generally declared itself within a day or two, and often within
a few hours, of the first outbreak in a house.

A week later the doctor, who paid him a flying visit every two or
three days, gave him the welcome news that he had ordered the red
cross to be removed from the door, and the watchmen to cease their
attendance, as the house might now be considered altogether free from

The Plague continued its ravages with but slight abatement, moving
gradually eastward, and Aldgate and the district lying east of the
walls were now suffering terribly. It was nearly the end of September
before Cyril was strong enough to go out for his first walk. Since
the beginning of August some fifty thousand people had been carried
off, so that the streets were now almost entirely deserted, and in
many places the grass was shooting up thickly in the road. In some
streets every house bore the sign of a red cross, and the tolling of
the bells of the dead-carts and piteous cries and lamentations were
the only sounds that broke the strange silence.

The scene was so disheartening that Cyril did not leave the house
again for another fortnight. His first visit was to Mr. Wallace. The
sight of a watchman at the door gave him quite a shock, and he was
grieved indeed when he heard from the man that the brave minister had
died a fortnight before. Then he went to Mr. Harvey's. There was no
mark on the door, but his repeated knockings met with no response,
and a woman, looking out from a window opposite, called to him that
the house had been empty for well-nigh a month, and the people that
were in it had gone off in a cart, she supposed into the country.

"There was a gentleman and lady," she said, "who seemed well enough,
and their servant, who was carried down and placed in the cart. It
could not have been the Plague, though the man looked as if he had
been sorely ill."

The next day he called on Dr. Hodges, who had not been near him for
the last month. There was no watchman at the door, and his man opened

"Can I see the doctor?"

"Ay, you can see him," he said; "he is cured now, and will soon be
about again."

"Has he had the Plague, then?"

"That he has, but it is a week now since the watchman left."

Cyril went upstairs. The doctor was sitting, looking pale and thin,
by the window.

"I am grieved indeed to hear that you have been ill, doctor," Cyril
said; "had I known it I should have come a fortnight since, for I was
strong enough to walk this distance then. I did indeed go out, but
the streets had so sad an aspect that I shrank from stirring out

"Yes, I have had it," the doctor said. "Directly I felt it come on I
followed your system exactly, but it had gone further with me than it
had with you, and it was a week before I fairly drove the enemy out.
I ordered sweating in every case, but, as you know, they seldom sent
for me until too late, and it is rare that the system got a fair
chance. However, in my case it was a complete success. Two of my
servants died; they were taken when I was at my worst. Both were dead
before I was told of it. The man you saw was the one who waited on
me, and as I adopted all the same precautions you had taken with your
man, he did not catch it, and it was only when he went downstairs one
day and found the other two servants lying dead in the kitchen that
he knew they had been ill."

"Mr. Wallace has gone, you will be sorry to hear, sir."

"I am sorry," the doctor said; "but no one was more fitted to die. He
was a brave man and a true Christian, but he ran too many risks, and
your news does not surprise me."

"The only other friends I have, Mr. Harvey and his wife, went out of
town a month ago, taking with them their servant."

"Yes; I saw them the day before I was taken ill," the doctor said,
"and told them that the man was so far out of danger that he might
safely be moved. They seemed very interested in you, and were very
pleased when I told them that I had now given up attending you, and
that you were able to walk across the room, and would, erelong, be
yourself again. I hope we are getting to the end of it now, lad. As
the Plague travels East it abates in the West, and the returns for
the last week show a distinct fall in the rate of mortality. There is
no further East for it to go now, and I hope that in another few
weeks it will have worn itself out. We are half through October, and
may look for cold weather before long."

"I should think that I am strong enough to be useful again now, sir."

"I don't think you are strong enough, and I am sure I shall not give
you leave to do so," the doctor said. "I can hardly say how far a
first attack is a protection against a second, for the recoveries
have been so few that we have scarce means of knowing, but there
certainly have been cases where persons have recovered from a first
attack and died from a second. Your treatment is too severe to be
gone through twice, and it is, therefore, more essential that you
should run no risk of infection than it was before. I can see that
you are still very far from strong, and your duty now is, in the
first place, to regain your health. I should say get on board a hoy
and go to Yarmouth. A week in the bracing air there would do you more
good than six months here. But it is useless to give you that advice,
because, in the first place, no shipping comes up the river, and,
even if you could get down to Yarmouth by road, no one would receive
you. Still, that is what I should do myself as soon as I could get
away, were it not that, in my case, I have my duties here."

"But, doctor, what you said to me surely applies to yourself also?"
Cyril said, with a smile.

"I know that," the doctor said good-humouredly, "and expected it, but
it is not for a doctor to choose. He is not free, like other men; he
has adopted a vocation in which it is his first duty to go among the
sick, whatever their ailment may be, to do all that he can for them,
and if, as in the present case, he can do practically nothing else,
to set them an example of calmness and fearlessness. Still, for a
time, at any rate, I shall be able to go no more into houses where
the Plague is raging. 'Tis more than a month since you were cured,
yet you are still a mere shadow of what you were. I had a much harder
fight with the enemy, and cannot walk across the room yet without
William's help. Therefore, it will be a fortnight or three weeks yet
before I can see patients, and much longer before I shall have
strength to visit them in their houses. By that time I trust that the
Plague will have very greatly abated. Thus, you see, I shall not be
called upon to stand face to face with it for some time. Those who
call upon me here are seldom Plague-stricken. They come for other
ailments, or because they feel unwell, and are nervous lest it should
be the beginning of an attack; but of late I have had very few come
here. My patients are mostly of the middle class, and these have
either fled or fallen victims to the Plague, or have shut themselves
up in their houses like fortresses, and nothing would tempt them to
issue abroad. Therefore, I expect that I shall have naught to do but
to gain strength again. Come here when you will, lad, and the oftener
the better. Conversation is the best medicine for both of us, and as
soon as I can I will visit you. I doubt not that John Wilkes has many
a story of the sea that will take our thoughts away from this sad
city. Bring him with you sometimes; he is an honest fellow, and the
talk of sailors so smacks of the sea that it seems almost to act as a

Cyril stayed for an hour, and promised to return on the following
evening. He said, however, that he was sure John Wilkes would not
accompany him.

"He never leaves the house unless I am in it. He considers himself on
duty; and although, as I tell him, there is little fear of anyone
breaking in, seeing how many houses with much more valuable and more
portable goods are empty and deserted, he holds to his purpose,
saying that, even with the house altogether empty, it would be just
as much his duty to remain in charge."

"Well, come yourself, Cyril. If we cannot get this old watch-dog out
I must wait until I can go to him."

"I shall be very glad to come, doctor, for time hangs heavily on my
hands. John Wilkes spends hours every day in washing and scrubbing
decks, as he calls it, and there are but few books in the house."

"As to that, I can furnish you, and will do so gladly. Go across to
the shelves there, and choose for yourself."

"Thank you very much indeed, sir. But will you kindly choose for me?
I have read but few English books, for of course in France my reading
was entirely French."

"Then take Shakespeare. I hold his writings to be the finest in our
tongue. I know them nearly by heart, for there is scarce an evening
when I do not take him down for an hour, and reading him I forget the
worries and cares of my day's work, which would otherwise often keep
me from sleep. 'Tis a bulky volume, but do not let that discourage
you; it is full of wit and wisdom, and of such romance that you will
often find it hard to lay it down. Stay--I have two editions, and can
well spare one of them, so take the one on that upper shelf, and keep
it when you have read it. There is but little difference between
them, but I generally use the other, and have come to look upon it as
a friend."

"Nay, sir, I will take it as a loan."

"You will do nothing of the sort. I owe you a fee, and a bumping

Henceforth Cyril did not find his time hang heavy on his hands. It
seemed to him, as he sat at the window and read, that a new world
opened to him. His life had been an eminently practical one. He had
studied hard in France, and when he laid his books aside his time had
been spent in the open air. It was only since he had been with
Captain Dave that he had ever read for amusement, and the Captain's
library consisted only of a few books of travels and voyages. He had
never so much as dreamt of a book like this, and for the next few
days he devoured its pages.

"You are not looking so well, Cyril," Dr. Hodges said to him abruptly
one day.

"I am doing nothing but reading Shakespeare, doctor."

"Then you are doing wrong, lad. You will never build yourself up
unless you take exercise."

"The streets are so melancholy, doctor, and whenever I go out I
return sick at heart and in low spirits."

"That I can understand, lad. But we must think of something," and he
sat for a minute or two in silence. Then he said suddenly, "Do you
understand the management of a boat?"

"Yes, doctor; it was my greatest pleasure at Dunkirk to be out with
the fishermen."

"That will do, then. Go down at once to the riverside. There are
hundreds of boats lying idle there, for there are no passengers and
no trade, and half of their owners are dead. You are sure to see some
men there; having nothing else to do, some will be hanging about. Say
you want to hire a boat for a couple of months or to buy one. You
will probably get one for a few shillings. Get one with a sail as
well as oars. Go out the first thing after breakfast, and go up or
down the river as the tide or wind may suit. Take some bread and meat
with you, and don't return till supper-time. Then you can spend your
evenings with Shakespeare. Maybe I myself will come down and take a
sail with you sometimes. That will bring the colour back into your
cheeks, and make a new man of you. Would that I had thought of it

Cyril was delighted with the idea, and, going down to Blackfriars,
bought a wherry with a sail for a pound. Its owner was dead, but he
learned where the widow lived, and effected the bargain without
difficulty, for she was almost starving.

"I have bought it," he said, "because it may be that I may get it
damaged or sunk; but I only need it for six weeks or two months, and
at the end of that time I will give it you back again. As soon as the
Plague is over there will be work for boats, and you will be able to
let it, or to sell it at a fair price."

John Wilkes was greatly pleased when Cyril came back and told him
what he had done.

"That is the very thing for you," he said. "I have been a thick-head
not to think of it. I have been worrying for the last week at seeing
you sit there and do nothing but read, and yet there seemed nothing
else for you to do, for ten minutes out in the streets is enough to
give one the heartache. Maybe I will go out for a sail with you
myself sometimes, for there is no fear of the house being broken into
by daylight."

"Not in the slightest, John. I hope that you will come out with me
always. I should soon find it dull by myself, and besides, I don't
think that I am strong enough yet to manage a pair of sculls for
long, and one must reckon occasionally on having to row against the
tide. Even if the worst happened, and anyone did break in and carry
off a few things, I am sure Captain Dave would not grumble at the
loss when he knew that I had wanted you to come out and help me to
manage the boat, which I was ordered to use for my health's sake."

"That he wouldn't," John said heartily; "not if they stripped the
house and shop of everything there was in them."



Having finally disposed of John Wilkes's scruples as to leaving the
house during the daytime, Cyril thenceforth went out with him every
day. If the tide was in flood they rowed far up the river, and came
down on the ebb. If it was running out they went down as far as it
would take them. Whenever the wind was favourable they hoisted the
sail; at other times, they rowed. The fresh air, and the exercise,
soon did their work. Cyril at first could only take one scull, and
that only for a short time, but at the end of a fortnight was able to
manage both for a time, or to row with one for hours. The feeling of
lassitude which had oppressed him passed away speedily, the colour
came back to his cheeks, his muscles strengthened, and he began to
put on flesh.

They were now in November, and needed warm garments when on the
water, and John insisted on completely muffling him up whenever they
hoisted the sail; but the colder weather braced him up, and he was
often inclined to shout with pleasure as the wind drove the boat
along before it.

It was cheering to know that others were benefiting by the change. In
the week ending October 3rd the deaths officially given were 4,328,
though at least another thousand must be added to this, for great
numbers of deaths from the Plague were put down to other causes, and
very many, especially those of infants, were never counted at all. It
was said that as many people were infected as ever, but that the
virulence of the disease was abated, and that, whereas in August
scarce one of those attacked recovered, in October but one out of
every three died of the malady.

In the second week of October, the number of deaths by the Plague was
but 2,665, and only 1,250 in the third week, though great numbers
were still attacked. People, however, grew careless, and ran
unnecessary risks, and, in consequence, in the first week of November
the number of deaths rose by 400. After this it decreased rapidly,
and the people who had fled began to come back again--the more so
because it had now spread to other large cities, and it seemed that
there was less danger in London, where it had spent its force, than
in places where it had but lately broken out. The shops began to open
again, and the streets to reassume their former appearance.

Cyril had written several times to Captain Dowsett, telling him how
matters were going on, and in November, hearing that they were
thinking of returning, he wrote begging them not to do so.

"Many of those who have returned have fallen sick, and died," he
said. "It seems to me but a useless risk of life, after taking so
much pains to avoid infection, to hurry back before the danger has
altogether passed. In your case, Captain Dave, there is the less
reason for it, since there is no likelihood of the shipping trade
being renewed for the present. All the ports of Europe are closed to
our ships, and it is like to be a long time before they lose fear of
us. Even the coasting trade is lost for the present. Therefore, my
advice is very strongly against your returning for some weeks. All is
going on well here. I am getting quite strong again, and, by the
orders of the doctor, go out with John daily for a long row, and have
gained much benefit from it. John sends his respects. He says that
everything is ship-shape above and below, and the craft holding well
on her way. He also prays you not to think of returning at present,
and says that it would be as bad seamanship, as for a captain who has
made a good offing in a gale, and has plenty of sea-room, to run down
close to a rocky shore under the lee, before the storm has altogether
blown itself out."

Captain Dave took the advice, and only returned with his wife and
Nellie a week before Christmas.

"I am glad indeed to be back," he said, after the first greetings
were over. "'Twas well enough for the women, who used to help in the
dairy, and to feed the fowls, and gather the eggs, and make the
butter, but for me there was nothing to do, and it seemed as if the
days would never come to an end."

"It was not so bad as that, father," Nellie said. "First of all, you
had your pipe to smoke. Then, once a week you used to go over with
the market-cart to Gloucester and to look at the shipping there, and
talk with the masters and sailors. Then, on a Sunday, of course,
there was church. So there were only five days each week to get
through; and you know you took a good deal of interest in the horses
and cows and pigs."

"I tried to take an interest in them, Nellie; but it was very hard

"Well, father, that is just what you were saying you wanted, and I am
sure you spent hours every day walking about with the children, or
telling them stories."

"Well, perhaps, when I think of it, it was not so very bad after
all," Captain Dave admitted. "At any rate, I am heartily glad I am
back here again. We will open the shop to-morrow morning, John."

"That we will, master. We sha'n't do much trade at present. Still, a
few coasters have come in, and I hope that every day things will get
better. Besides, all the vessels that have been lying in the Pool
since June will want painting up and getting into trim again before
they sail out of the river, so things may not be so slack after all.
You will find everything in order in the store. I have had little to
do but to polish up brass work and keep the metal from rusting. When
do the apprentices come back again?"

"I shall write for them as soon as I find that there is something for
them to do. You are not thinking of running away as soon as we come
back I hope, Cyril? You said, when you last wrote, that you were fit
for sea again."

"I am not thinking of going for some little time, if you will keep
me, Captain Dave. There is no news of the Fleet fitting out at
present, and they will not want us on board till they are just ready
to start. They say that Albemarle is to command this time instead of
the Duke, at which I am right glad, for he has fought the Dutch at
sea many times, and although not bred up to the trade, he has shown
that he can fight as steadily on sea as on land. All say the Duke
showed courage and kept a firm countenance at Lowestoft, but there
was certainly great slackness in the pursuit, though this, 'tis said,
was not so much his fault as that of those who were over-careful of
his safety. Still, as he is the heir to the throne, it is but right
that he should be kept out of the fighting."

"It is like to be stern work next time, Cyril, if what I hear be
true. Owing partly to all men's minds being occupied by the Plague,
and partly to the great sums wasted by the King in his pleasures,
nothing whatever has been done for the Fleet. Of course, the squadron
at sea has taken great numbers of prizes; but the rest of the Fleet
is laid up, and no new ships are being built, while they say that the
Dutch are busy in all their ship-yards, and will send out a much
stronger fleet this spring than that which fought us at Lowestoft. I
suppose you have not heard of any of your grand friends?"

"No. I should have written to Sydney Oliphant, but I knew not whether
he was at sea or at home, and, moreover, I read that most folks in
the country are afraid of letters from London, thinking that they
might carry contagion. Many noblemen have now returned to the West
End, and when I hear that the Earl has also come back with his family
it will, of course, be my duty to wait upon him, and on Prince Rupert
also. But I hope the Prince will not be back yet, for he will be
wanting me to go to Court again, and for this, in truth, I have no
inclination, and, moreover, it cannot be done without much expense
for clothes, and I have no intention to go into expenses on follies
or gew-gaws, or to trench upon the store of money that I had from
you, Captain Dave."

They had just finished breakfast on the day before Christmas, when
one of the apprentices came up from the shop and said that one Master
Goldsworthy, a lawyer in the Temple, desired to speak to Sir Cyril
Shenstone. Cyril was about to go down when Captain Dave said,--

"Show the gentleman up, Susan. We will leave you here to him, Cyril."

"By no means," Cyril said. "I do not know him, and he can assuredly
have no private business with me that you may not hear."

Mrs. Dowsett and her daughter, however, left the room. The lawyer, a
grave-looking gentleman of some fifty years of age, glanced at Cyril
and the Captain as he entered the room, and then advanced towards the

"My name is unknown to you, Sir Cyril," he said, "but it has been
said that a bearer of good news needs no introduction, and I come in
that capacity. I bring you, sir, a Christmas-box," and he took from a
bag he carried a bundle of some size, and a letter. "Before you open
it, sir, I will explain the character of its contents, which would
take you some time to decipher and understand, while I can explain
them in a very few words. I may tell you that I am the legal adviser
of Mr. Ebenezer Harvey, of Upmead Court, Norfolk. You are, I presume,
familiar with the name?"

Cyril started. Upmead Court was the name of his father's place, but
with the name of its present owner he was not familiar. Doubtless, he
might sometimes have heard it from his father, but the latter, when
he spoke of the present possessor of the Court, generally did so as
"that Roundhead dog," or "that canting Puritan."

"The Court I know, sir," he said gravely, "as having once been my
father's, but I do not recall the name of its present owner, though
it may be that in my childhood my father mentioned it in my hearing."

"Nevertheless, sir, you know the gentleman himself, having met him,
as he tells me, frequently at the house of Mr. Wallace, who was
minister of the chapel at which he worshipped, and who came up to
London to minister to those sorely afflicted and needing comfort. Not
only did you meet with Mr. Harvey and his wife, but you rendered to
them very material service."

"I was certainly unaware," Cyril said, "that Mr. Harvey was the
possessor of what had been my father's estate, but, had I known it,
it would have made no difference in my feeling towards him. I found
him a kind and godly gentleman whom, more than others there, was good
enough to converse frequently with me, and to whom I was pleased to
be of service."

"The service was of a most important nature," the lawyer said, "being
nothing less than the saving of his life, and probably that of his
wife. He sent for me the next morning, and then drew out his will. By
that will he left to you the estates which he had purchased from your

Cyril gave a start of surprise, and would have spoken, but Master
Goldsworthy held up his hand, and said,--

"Please let me continue my story to the end. This act was not the
consequence of the service that you had rendered him. He had
previously consulted me on the subject, and stated his intentions to
me. He had met you at Mr. Wallace's, and at once recognised your
name, and learnt from Mr. Wallace that you were the son of Sir Aubrey
Shenstone. He studied your character, had an interview with Dr.
Hodges, and learnt how fearlessly you were devoting yourself to the
work of aiding those stricken with the Plague. With his own son he
had reason for being profoundly dissatisfied. The young man had
thrown off his authority, had become a notorious reprobate, and had,
he believed, sunk down to become a companion of thieves and
highwaymen. He had come up to London solely to make a last effort to
save him from his evil courses and to give him a chance of
reformation by sending him out to New England.

"Mr. Harvey is possessed of considerable property in addition to the
estates purchased of your father, for, previous to that purchase he
had been the owner of large tanneries at Norwich, which he has ever
since maintained, not so much for the sake of the income he derived
from them as because they afforded a livelihood to a large number of
workmen. He had, therefore, ample means to leave to his son, should
the latter accept his offer and reform his life, without the estates
of Upmead. When he saw you, he told me his conscience was moved. He
had, of course, a legal right to the estates, but he had purchased
them for a sum not exceeding a fifth of their value, and he
considered that in the twenty years he had held them he had drawn
from them sums amply sufficient to repay him for the price he had
given for them, and had received a large interest on the money in
addition. He questioned, therefore, strongly whether he had any right
longer to retain them.

"When he consulted me on the subject, he alluded to the fact that, by
the laws of the Bible, persons who bought lands were bound to return
the land to its former possessors, at the end of seven times seven
years. He had already, then, made up his mind to leave that portion
of his property to you, when you rendered him that great service, and
at the same time it became, alas! but too evident to him that his son
was hopelessly bad, and that any money whatever left to him would
assuredly be spent in evil courses, and would do evil rather than
good. Therefore, when I came in the morning to him he said,--

"'My will must be made immediately. Not one penny is to go to my son.
I may be carried off to-morrow by the Plague, or my son may renew his
attempt with success. So I must will it away from him at once. For
the moment, therefore, make a short will bequeathing the estate of
Upmead to Sir Cyril Shenstone, all my other possessions to my wife
for her lifetime, and at her death also to Sir Cyril Shenstone.

"'I may alter this later on,' he said, 'but for the present I desire
chiefly to place them beyond my son's reach. Please draw up the
document at once, for no one can say what half an hour may bring
forth to either of us. Get the document in form by this evening, when
some friends will be here to witness it. Pray bring your two clerks

"A few days later he called upon me again.

"'I have been making further inquiries about Sir Cyril Shenstone,' he
said, 'and have learnt much concerning him from a man who is in the
employment of the trader with whom he lives. What I have learnt more
than confirms me in my impression of him. He came over from France,
three years ago, a boy of scarce fourteen. He was clever at figures,
and supported his reprobate father for the last two years of his life
by keeping the books of small traders in the City. So much was he
esteemed that, at his father's death, Captain Dowsett offered him a
home in his house. He rewarded the kindness by making the discovery
that the trader was being foully robbed, and brought about the arrest
of the thieves, which incidentally led to the breaking-up of one of
the worst gangs of robbers in London. Later on he found that his
employer's daughter was in communication with a hanger-on of the
Court, who told her that he was a nobleman. The young fellow set a
watch upon her, came upon her at the moment she was about to elope
with this villain, ran him through the shoulder, and took her back to
her home, and so far respected her secret that her parents would
never have known of it had she not, some time afterwards, confessed
it to them. That villain, Mr. Goldsworthy,' he said, 'was my son!
Just after that Sir Cyril obtained the good will of the Earl of
Wisbech, whose three daughters he saved from being burnt to death at
a fire in the Savoy. Thus, you see, this youth is in every way worthy
of good fortune, and can be trusted to administer the estate of his
fathers worthily and well. I wish you to draw out, at once, a deed
conveying to him these estates, and rehearsing that, having obtained
them at a small price, and having enjoyed them for a time long enough
to return to me the money I paid for them with ample interest
thereon, I now return them to him, confident that they will be in
good hands, and that their revenues will be worthily spent.'

"In this parcel is the deed in question, duly signed and witnessed,
together with the parchments, deeds, and titles of which he became
possessed at his purchase of the estate. I may say, Sir Cyril, that I
have never carried out a legal transfer with greater pleasure to
myself, considering, as I do, that the transaction is alike just and
honourable on his part and most creditable to yourself. He begged me
to hand the deeds to you myself. They were completed two months
since, but he himself suggested that I should bring them to you on
Christmas Eve, when it is the custom for many to give to their
friends tokens of their regard and good will. I congratulate you
heartily, sir, and rejoice that, for once, merit has met with a due

"I do not know, sir," Cyril replied, "how I can express my feelings
of deep pleasure and gratitude at the wonderful tidings you have
brought me. I had set it before me as the great object of my life,
that, some day, should I live to be an old man, I might be enabled to
repurchase the estate of my father's. I knew how improbable it was
that I should ever be able to do so, and I can scarce credit that
what seemed presumptuous even as a hope should have thus been so
strangely and unexpectedly realised. I certainly do not feel that it
is in any way due to what you are good enough to call my merits, for
in all these matters that you have spoken of there has been nothing
out of the way, or, so far as I can see, in any way praiseworthy, in
what I have done. It would seem, indeed, that in all these matters,
and in the saving of my life from the Plague, things have arranged
themselves so as to fall out for my benefit."

"That is what Mr. Harvey feels very strongly, Sir Cyril. He has told
me, over and over again, that it seemed to him that the finger of God
was specially manifest in thus bringing you together, and in placing
you in a position to save his life. And now I will take my leave. I
may say that in all legal matters connected with the estate I have
acted for Mr. Harvey, and should be naturally glad if you will
continue to entrust such matters to me. I have some special
facilities in the matter, as Mr. Popham, a lawyer of Norwich, is
married to my daughter, and we therefore act together in all business
connected with the estate, he performing what may be called the local
business, while I am advised by him as to matters requiring attention
here in London."

"I shall be glad indeed if you and Mr. Popham will continue to act in
the same capacity for me," Cyril said warmly. "I am, as you see, very
young, and know nothing of the management of an estate, and shall be
grateful if you will, in all matters, act for me until I am of an age
to assume the duties of the owner of Upmead."

"I thank you, Sir Cyril, and we shall, I trust, afford you
satisfaction. The deed, you will observe, is dated the 29th of
September, the day on which it was signed, though there have been
other matters to settle. The tenants have already been notified that
from that date they are to regard you as their landlord. Now that you
authorise us to act for you, my son-in-law will at once proceed to
collect the rents for this quarter. I may say that, roughly, they
amount to seventeen hundred pounds a year, and as it may be a
convenience to you to draw at once, if it so please you I will place,
on Monday next, the sum of four hundred pounds to your credit with
Messrs. Murchison and Graham, who are my bankers, or with any other
firm you may prefer."

"With the bankers you name, by all means," Cyril said; "and I thank
you heartily for so doing, for as I shall shortly rejoin the Fleet, a
portion, at least, of the money will be very useful to me."

Mr. Goldsworthy took his hat.

"There is one thing further I have forgotten. Mr. Harvey requested me
to say that he wished for no thanks in this matter. He regards it as
an act of rightful restitution, and, although you will doubtless
write to him, he would be pleased if you will abstain altogether from
treating it as a gift."

"I will try to obey his wishes," Cyril said, "but it does not seem to
me that it will be possible for me to abstain from any expression of
gratitude for his noble act."

Cyril accompanied the lawyer to the door, and then returned upstairs.

"Now I can speak," Captain Dowsett said. "I have had hard work to
keep a stopper on my tongue all this time, for I have been well-nigh
bursting to congratulate you. I wish you joy, my lad," and he wrung
Cyril's hand heartily, "and a pleasant voyage through life. I am as
glad, ay, and a deal more glad than if such a fortune had come in my
way, for it would have been of little use to me, seeing I have all
that the heart of man could desire."

He ran to the door and shouted loudly for his wife and daughter.

"I have news for you both," he said, as they came in. "What do you
think? Cyril, like the King, has come to his own again, and he is now
Sir Cyril Shenstone, the owner of the estate of Upmead."

Both broke into exclamations of surprise and pleasure.

"How has the wonder come about?" Nellie asked, after the first
congratulations were over. "What good fairy has brought this round?"

"The good fairy was the Mr. Harvey whose name Cyril once mentioned
casually, and whose life, as it now appears, he saved, though he has
said nothing to us about it. That gentleman was, most strangely, the
man who bought the estate from his father. He, it seems, is a wealthy
man, and his conscience has for some time been pricked with the
thought that he had benefited too largely from the necessities of Sir
Aubrey, and that, having received back from the rents all the money
he paid, and goodly interest thereon, he ought to restore the estate
to its former owner. Possibly he might never have acted on this
thought, but he considered the circumstance that he had so strangely
met Cyril here at the time of the Plague, and still more strangely
that Cyril had saved his life, was a matter of more than chance, and
was a direct and manifest interposition of Providence; and he has
therefore made restitution, and that parcel on the table contains a
deed of gift to Cyril of all his father's estates."

"He has done quite rightly," Mrs. Dowsett said warmly, "though,
indeed, it is not everyone who would see matters in that light. If
men always acted in that spirit it would be a better world."

"Ay, ay, wife. There are not many men who, having got the best of a
bargain, voluntarily resign the profits they have made. It is
pleasant to come across one who so acts, more especially when one's
best friend is the gainer. Ah! Nellie, what a pity some good fairy
did not tell you of what was coming! What a chance you have lost,
girl! See what might have happened if you had set your cap at Cyril!"

"Indeed, it is terrible to think of," Nellie laughed. "It was hard on
me that he was not five or six years older. Then I might have done
it, even if my good fairy had not whispered in my ear about this
fortune. Never mind. I shall console myself by looking forward to
dance at his wedding--that is, if he will send me an invitation."

"Like as not you will be getting past your dancing days by the time
that comes off, Nellie. I hope that, years before then, I shall have
danced at your wedding--that is to say," he said, imitating her, "if
you will send me an invitation."

"What are you going to do next, Cyril?" Captain Dave asked, when the
laugh had subsided.

"I don't know, I am sure," Cyril replied. "I have not really woke up
to it all yet. It will be some time before I realise that I am not a
penniless young baronet, and that I can spend a pound without looking
at it a dozen times. I shall have to get accustomed to the thought
before I can make any plans. I suppose that one of the first things
to do will be to go down to Oxford to see Prince Rupert--who, I
suppose, is with the Court, though this I can doubtless learn at the
offices of the Admiralty--and to tell him that I am ready to rejoin
his ship as soon as he puts to sea again. Then I shall find out where
Sydney Oliphant is, and how his family have fared in the Plague. I
would fain find out what has become of the Partons, to whom, and
especially to Lady Parton, I owe much. I suppose, too, I shall have
to go down to Norfolk, but that I shall put off as long as I can, for
it will be strange and very unpleasant at first to go down as master
to a place I have never seen. I shall have to get you to come down
with me, Captain Dave, to keep me in countenance."

"Not I, my lad. You will want a better introducer. I expect that the
lawyer who was here will give you a letter to his son-in-law, who
will, of course, place himself at your service, establishing you in
your house and taking you round to your tenants."

"Oh, yes," Nellie said, clapping her hands. "And there will be fine
doings, and bonfires, and arches, and all sorts of festivities. I do
begin to feel how much I have missed the want of that good fairy."

"It will be all very disagreeable," Cyril said seriously; whereat the
others laughed.

Cyril then went downstairs with Captain Dave, and told John Wilkes of
the good fortune that had befallen him, at which he was as much
delighted as the others had been.

Ten days later Cyril rode to Oxford, and found that Prince Rupert was
at present there. The Prince received him with much warmth.

"I have wondered many times what had become of you, Sir Cyril," he
said. "From the hour when I saw you leave us in the _Fan Fan_ I have
lost sight of you altogether. I have not been in London since, for
the Plague had set in badly before the ships were laid up, and as I
had naught particular to do there I kept away from it. Albemarle has
stayed through it, and he and Mr. Pepys were able to do all there was
to do, but I have thought of you often and wondered how you fared,
and hoped to see you here, seeing that there was, as it seemed to me,
nothing to keep you in London after your wounds had healed. I have
spoken often to the King of the brave deed by which you saved us all,
and he declared that, had it not been that you were already a
baronet, he would knight you as soon as you appeared, as many of the
captains and others have already received that honour; and he agreed
with me that none deserved it better than yourself. Now, what has
become of you all this time?"

Cyril related how he had stayed in London, had had the Plague, and
had recovered from it.

"I must see about getting you a commission at once in the Navy," the
Prince said, "though I fear you will have to wait until we fit out
again. There will be no difficulty then, for of course there were
many officers killed in the action."

Cyril expressed his thanks, adding,--

"There is no further occasion for me to take a commission, Prince,
for, strangely enough, the owner of my father's property has just
made it over to me. He is a good man, and, considering that he has
already reaped large benefits by his purchase, and has been repaid
his money with good interest, his conscience will no longer suffer
him to retain it."

"Then he is a Prince of Roundheads," the Prince said, "and I most
heartily congratulate you; and I believe that the King will be as
pleased as I am. He said but the other day, when I was speaking to
him of you, that it grieved him sorely that he was powerless to do
anything for so many that had suffered in his cause, and that, after
the bravery you had shown, he was determined to do something, and
would insist with his ministers that some office should be found for
you,--though it is not an easy matter, when each of them has special
friends of his own among whom to divide any good things that fall
vacant. He holds a Court this evening, and I will take you with me."

The King was most gracious when the Prince again presented Cyril to
him and told him of the good fortune that had befallen him.

"By my faith, Sir Cyril, you were born under a lucky star. First of
all you saved my Lord of Wisbech's daughters; then, as Prince Rupert
tells me, you saved him and all on board his ship from being burned;
and now a miracle has well-nigh happened in your favour. I see, too,
that you have the use of your arm, which the Prince doubted would
ever altogether recover."

"More still, Your Majesty," the Prince said. "He had the Plague in
August and recovered from it."

"I shall have to keep you about me, Sir Cyril," the King said, "as a
sort of amulet to guard me against ill luck."

"I am going to take him to sea first," Prince Rupert broke in, seeing
that Cyril was about to disclaim the idea of coming to Court. "I may
want him to save my ship again, and I suppose he will be going down
to visit his estate till I want him. You have never seen it, have
you, Sir Cyril?"

"No, sir; at least not to have any remembrance of it. I naturally
long to see Upmead, of which I have heard much from my father. I
should have gone down at once, but I thought it my duty to come
hither and report myself to you as being ready to sail again as soon
as you put to sea."

"Duty first and pleasure afterwards," the King said. "I am afraid
that is a little beyond me--eh, Rupert?"

"Very much so, I should say, Cousin Charles," the Prince replied,
with a smile. "However, I have no doubt Sir Cyril will not grudge us
a few days before he leaves. There are several of the gentlemen who
were his comrades on the _Henrietta_ here, and they will be glad to
renew their acquaintance with him, knowing, as they all do, that they
owe their lives to him."

As Cyril was walking down the High Street, he saw a student coming
along whose face seemed familiar to him. He looked hard at him.

"Surely you must be Harry Parton?" he said.

"That is my name, sir; though I cannot recall where I have met you.
Yet there seems something familiar in your face, and still more in
your voice."

"I am Cyril Shenstone."

"Why, what has become of you, Cyril?" Harry said, shaking him warmly
by the hand. "I searched for you a year ago when I was in London, but
could obtain no tidings whatever of you, save that you had lost your
father. We are alike there, for my father died a few months after
yours did."

"I am sorry indeed, Harry. I had not heard of it before. I was not,
indeed, in the way of doing so, as I was working in the City and knew
nothing of what was passing elsewhere."

"This is my college, Cyril. Come up to my room; there we can talk
comfortably, and we have much to tell each other. How is it that you
have never been near us?" he went on, when they were seated in front
of a blazing fire in his room. "I know that there was some quarrel
between our fathers, but when we heard of Sir Aubrey's death, both my
father and mother thought that you would come to see us or would have
written--for indeed it was not until after my father's death that we
paid a visit to London. It was then my mother asked me to search for
you; and after great difficulty I found the quarter in which you had
lived, and then from the parish register learned where your father
had died. Going there, I learned that you had left the lodging
directly after his death, but more than that the people could not
tell me."

"I should have come to see your mother and Sir John, Harry. I know
how deeply I am indebted to them, and as long as I live shall never
cease to be grateful for Lady Parton's kindness to me. But I had
received so much kindness that I shrank from seeming to wish to
presume upon it further. I had, of course, to work for my living, and
I wanted, before I recalled myself to them, to be able to say that I
had not come as a beggar for further favours, but that I was making
my way independently. Sooner or later I should have come, for your
father once promised me that if I followed out what you remember was
my plan, of entering foreign service, he would give me letters of
introduction that would be useful to me. Had I that favour still to
ask I could do it without shame. But more than that I would not have
asked, even had I wanted bread, which, thank God! was never the

"I can understand your feeling, Cyril, but my mother assuredly would
always have been pleased to see you. You know you were a favourite of

"Had you been near town, Harry, I should certainly have come to see
her and you as soon as I had fairly established myself, but I heard
from my father that you had all gone away into the country soon after
the unfortunate quarrel he had with Sir John, and therefore delayed
taking any step for the time, and indeed did not know in what part of
the country your father's estates lay. I know that he recovered them
as soon as he returned."

"They had never been forfeited," Harry said. "My father retired from
the struggle after Naseby, and as he had influential friends among
the Puritans, there was no forfeiture of his estates, and we were
therefore able, as you know, to live in comfort at Dunkirk, his
steward sending over such monies as were required. And now about
yourself. Your brains must have served you rarely somehow, for you
are dressed in the latest fashion, and indeed I took you for a Court
gallant when you accosted me."

"I have been truly fortunate, Harry, and indeed everything has turned
out as if specially designed for my good, and, in a most strange and
unlooked-for manner, I have just come into my father's estates

"I am glad indeed to hear it, Cyril. Tell me how it has all come

Cyril told the story of his life since he had come to London.

"You have, indeed, had strange adventures, Cyril, and, though you say
little about it, you must have done something special to have gained
Prince Rupert's patronage and introduction to Court; but I shall worm
all that out of you some day, or get it from other lips. What a
contrast your life has been to mine! Here have you been earning your
living bravely, fighting in the great battle against the Dutch, going
through that terrible Plague, and winning your way back to fortune,
while I have been living the life of a school-boy. Our estates lie in
Shropshire, and as soon as we went down there my father placed me at
a school at Shrewsbury. There I remained till his death, and then, as
was his special wish, entered here. I have still a year of my course
to complete. I only came up into residence last week. When the summer
comes I hope that you will come down to Ardleigh and stay with us; it
will give my mother great pleasure to see you again, for I never see
her but she speaks of you, and wonders what has become of you, and if
you are still alive."

"Assuredly I will come, and that with the greatest pleasure," Cyril
said, "providing only that I am not then at sea, which is, I fear,
likely, as I rejoin the ship as soon as Prince Rupert takes the sea
against the Dutch. However, directly we return I will write to you."

"If you do so, let it be to Ardleigh, near Shrewsbury, Shropshire.
Should I be here when your letter arrives, my mother will forward it
to me."



Cyril stayed a week at Oxford. He greatly enjoyed the visit; and not
only was he most warmly received by his former comrades on board the
_Henrietta_, but Prince Rupert spoke so strongly in his favour to
other gentlemen to whom he introduced him that he no longer felt a
stranger at Court. Much of his spare time he spent with Harry Parton,
and in his rooms saw something of college life, which seemed to him a
very pleasant and merry one. He had ascertained, as soon as he
arrived, that the Earl of Wisbech and his family were down at his
estate, near the place from which he took his title, and had at once
written to Sydney, from whom he received an answer on the last day of
his stay at Oxford. It contained a warm invitation for him to come
down to Wisbech.

"You say you will be going to Norwich to take possession of your
estate. If you ride direct from Oxford, our place will be but little
out of your way, therefore we shall take no excuse for your not
coming to see us, and shall look for you within a week or so from the
date of this. We were all delighted to get your missive, for although
what you say about infection carried by letters is true enough, and,
indeed there was no post out of London for months, we had begun to
fear that the worst must have befallen you when no letter arrived
from you in December. Still, we thought that you might not know where
we were, and so hoped that you might be waiting until you could find
that out. My father bids me say that he will take no refusal. Since
my return he more than ever regards you as being the good genius of
the family, and it is certainly passing strange that, after saving my
sisters' lives from fire you should, though in so different a way,
have saved me from a similar death. So set off as soon as you get
this--that is, if you can tear yourself away from the gaieties of

Cyril had, indeed, been specially waiting for Sydney's answer, having
told him that he should remain at Oxford until he received it, and on
the following morning he packed his valise and rode for Wisbech,
where he arrived three days' later. His welcome at the Earl's was a
most cordial one. He spent a week there, at the end of which time
Sydney, at his earnest request, started for Norwich with him. The
Earl had insisted on Cyril's accepting a splendid horse, and behind
him, on his other animal, rode a young fellow, the son of a small
tenant on the Earl's estate, whom he had engaged as a servant. He had
written, three days before, to Mr. Popham, telling him that he would
shortly arrive, and begging him to order the two old servants of his
father, whom he had, at his request, engaged to take care of the
house to get two or three chambers in readiness for him, which could
doubtless be easily done, as he had learnt from the deed that the
furniture and all contents of the house had been included in the
gift. After putting up at the inn, he went to the lawyer's. Mr.
Popham, he found, had had a room prepared in readiness for him at his
house, but Cyril, while thanking him for so doing, said that, as Lord
Oliphant was with him, he would stay at the inn for the night.

The next morning they rode over with Mr. Popham to Upmead, which was
six miles distant from the town.

"That is the house," the lawyer said, as a fine old mansion came in
sight. "There are larger residences in the county, but few more
handsome. Indeed, it is almost too large for the estate, but, as
perhaps you know, that was at one time a good deal larger than it is
at present, for it was diminished by one of your ancestors in the
days of Elizabeth."

At the gate where they turned into the Park an arch of evergreens had
been erected.

"You don't mean to say you let them know that I was coming home?"
Cyril said, in a tone of such alarm that Lord Oliphant laughed and
Mr. Popham said apologetically,--

"I certainly wrote to the tenants, sir, when I received your letter,
and sent off a message saying that you would be here this morning.
Most of them or their fathers were here in the old time, for Mr.
Harvey made no changes, and I am sure they would have been very
disappointed if they had not had notice that Sir Aubrey's son was
coming home."

"Of course it was quite right for you to do so, Mr. Popham, but you
see I am quite unaccustomed to such things, and would personally have
been much more pleased to have come home quietly. Still, as you say,
it is only right that the tenants should have been informed, and at
any rate it will be a satisfaction to get it all over at once."

There were indeed quite a large number of men and women assembled in
front of the house--all the tenants, with their wives and families,
having gathered to greet their young landlord--and loud bursts of
cheering arose as he rode up, Sydney and Mr. Popham reining back
their horses a little to allow him to precede them. Cyril took off
his hat, and bowed repeatedly in reply to the acclamations that
greeted him. The tenants crowded round, many of the older men
pressing forward to shake him by the hand.

"Welcome back to your own again, Sir Cyril!"

"I fought under your father, sir, and a good landlord he was to us

Such were the exclamations that rose round him until he reached the
door of the mansion, and, dismounting, took his place at the top of
the steps. Then he took off his hat again, and when there was silence
he said,--

"I thank you heartily, one and all, good friends, for the welcome
that you have given me. Glad indeed I am to come down to my father's
home, and to be so greeted by those who knew him, and especially by
those who followed him in the field in the evil days which have, we
may hope, passed away for ever. You all know, perhaps, that I owe my
return here as master to the noble generosity of Mr. Harvey, your
late landlord, who restored me the estates, not being bound in any
way to do so, but solely because he considered that he had already
been repaid the money he gave for them. This may be true, but,
nevertheless, there is not one man in a hundred thousand who would so
despoil himself of the benefits of a bargain lawfully made, and I beg
you therefore to give three cheers, as hearty as those with which you
greeted me, for Mr. Harvey."

Three cheers, as long and loud as those that had before risen,
responded to the appeal.

"Such a man," Cyril went on, when they subsided, "must have been a
just and good landlord to you all, and I shall do my best to give you
no cause for regret at the change that has come about."

He paused for a moment to speak to Mr. Popham, who stood beside him,
and then went on,--

"I did not know whether I could ask you to drink to my health, but I
learn from Mr. Popham that the cellars have been left well filled;
therefore, my first orders on coming to the house of my fathers will
be that a cask of wine shall be speedily broached, and that you shall
be enabled to drink my health. While that is being done, Mr. Popham
will introduce you to me one by one."

Another loud cheer arose, and then the tenants came forward with
their wives and families.

Cyril shook hands with them all, and said a few words to each. The
elder men had all ridden by his father in battle, and most of the
younger ones said, as he shook hands with them,--

"My father fell, under Sir Aubrey, at Naseby," or "at Worcester," or
in other battles.

By the time all had been introduced, a great cask of wine had been
broached, and after the tenants had drunk to his health, and he had,
in turn, pledged them, Cyril entered the house with Sydney and Mr.
Popham, and proceeded to examine it under the guidance of the old man
who had been his father's butler, and whose wife had also been a
servant in Sir Aubrey's time.

"Everything is just as it was then, Sir Cyril. A few fresh articles
of furniture have been added, but Mr. Harvey would have no general
change made. The family pictures hang just where they did, and your
father himself would scarce notice the changes."

"It is indeed a fine old mansion, Cyril," Lord Oliphant said, when
they had made a tour of the house; "and now that I see it and its
furniture I am even more inclined than before to admire the man who
could voluntarily resign them. I shall have to modify my ideas of the
Puritans. They have shown themselves ready to leave the country and
cross the ocean to America, and begin life anew for conscience'
sake--that is to say, to escape persecution--and they fought very
doughtily, and we must own, very successfully, for the same reason,
but this is the first time I have ever heard of one of them
relinquishing a fine estate for conscience' sake."

"Mr. Harvey is indeed a most worthy gentleman," Mr. Popham said, "and
has the esteem and respect of all, even of those who are of wholly
different politics. Still, it may be that although he would in any
case, I believe, have left this property to Sir Cyril, he might not
have handed it over to him in his lifetime, had not he received so
great a service at his hands."

"Why, what is this, Cyril?" Sydney said, turning upon him. "You have
told us nothing whatever of any services rendered. I never saw such a
fellow as you are for helping other people."

"There was nothing worth speaking of," Cyril said, much vexed.

Mr. Popham smiled.

"Most people would think it was a very great service, Lord Oliphant.
However, I may not tell you what it was, although I have heard all
the details from my father-in-law, Mr. Goldsworthy. They were told in
confidence, and in order to enlighten me as to the relations between
Mr. Harvey and Sir Cyril, and as they relate to painful family
matters I am bound to preserve an absolute silence."

"I will be content to wait, Cyril, till I get you to myself. It is a
peculiarity of Sir Cyril Shenstone, Mr. Popham, that he goes through
life doing all sorts of services for all sorts of people. You may not
know that he saved the lives of my three sisters in a fire at our
mansion in the Savoy; he also performed the trifling service of
saving Prince Rupert's ship and the lives of all on board, among whom
was myself, from a Dutch fire-ship, in the battle of Lowestoft. These
are insignificant affairs, that he would not think it worth while to
allude to, even if you knew him for twenty years."

"You do not know Lord Oliphant, Mr. Popham," Cyril laughed, "or you
would be aware that his custom is to make mountains out of molehills.
But let us sit down to dinner. I suppose it is your forethought, Mr.
Popham, that I have to thank for having warned them to make this
provision? I had thought that we should be lucky if the resources of
the establishment sufficed to furnish us with a meal of bread and

"I sent on a few things with my messenger yesterday evening, Sir
Cyril, but for the hare and those wild ducks methinks you have to
thank your tenants, who doubtless guessed that an addition to the
larder would be welcome. I have no doubt that, good landlord as Mr.
Harvey was, they are really delighted to have you among them again.
As you know, these eastern counties were the stronghold of
Puritanism, and that feeling is still held by the majority. It is
only among the tenants of many gentlemen who, like your father, were
devoted Royalists, that there is any very strong feeling the other
way. As you heard from their lips, most of your older tenants fought
under Sir Aubrey, while the fathers of the younger ones fell under
his banner. Consequently, it was galling to them that one of
altogether opposite politics should be their landlord, and although
in every other respect they had reason to like him, he was, as it
were, a symbol of their defeat, and I suppose they viewed him a good
deal as the Saxons of old times regarded their Norman lords."

"I can quite understand that, Mr. Popham."

"Another feeling has worked in your favour, Sir Cyril," the lawyer
went on. "It may perhaps be a relic of feudalism, but there can be no
doubt that there exists, in the minds of English country folks, a
feeling of respect and of something like affection for their
landlords when men of old family, and that feeling is never
transferred to new men who may take their place. Mr. Harvey was, in
their eyes, a new man--a wealthy one, no doubt, but owing his wealth
to his own exertions--and he would never have excited among them the
same feeling as they gave to the family who had, for several hundred
years, been owners of the soil."

Cyril remained for a fortnight at Upmead, calling on all the tenants,
and interesting himself in them and their families. The day after his
arrival he rode into Norwich, and paid a visit to Mr. Harvey. He had,
in compliance to his wishes, written but a short letter of
acknowledgment of the restitution of the estate, but he now expressed
the deep feeling of gratitude that he entertained.

"I have only done what is right," Mr. Harvey said quietly, "and would
rather not be thanked for it; but your feelings are natural, and I
have therefore not checked your words. It was assuredly God's doing
in so strangely bringing us together, and making you an instrument in
saving our lives, and so awakening an uneasy conscience into
activity. I have had but small pleasure from Upmead. I have a house
here which is more than sufficient for all my wants, and I have, I
hope, the respect of my townsfellows, and the affection of my
workmen. At Upmead I was always uncomfortable. Such of the county
gentlemen who retained their estates looked askance at me. The
tenants, I knew, though they doffed their hats as I passed them,
regarded me as a usurper. I had no taste for the sports and pleasures
of country life, being born and bred a townsman. The ill-doing of my
son cast a gloom over my life of late. I have lived chiefly here with
the society of friends of my own religious and political feeling.
Therefore, I have made no sacrifice in resigning my tenancy of
Upmead, and I pray you say no further word of your gratitude. I have
heard, from one who was there yesterday, how generously you spoke of
me to your tenants, and I thank you for so doing, for it is pleasant
for me to stand well in the thoughts of those whose welfare I have
had at heart."

"I trust that Mrs. Harvey is in good health?" Cyril said.

"She is far from well, Cyril. The events of that night in London have
told heavily upon her, as is not wonderful, for she has suffered much
sorrow for years, and this last blow has broken her sorely. She
mourns, as David mourned over the death of Absalom, over the
wickedness of her son, but she is quite as one with me in the
measures that I have taken concerning him, save that, at her earnest
prayer, I have made a provision for him which will keep him from
absolute want, and will leave him no excuse to urge that he was
driven by poverty into crime. Mr. Goldsworthy has not yet discovered
means of communicating with him, but when he does so he will notify
him that he has my instructions to pay to him fifteen pounds on the
first of every month, and that the offer of assistance to pay his
passage to America is still open to him, and that on arriving there
he will receive for three years the same allowance as here. Then if a
favourable report of his conduct is forthcoming from the magistrates
and deacons of the town where he takes up his residence, a
correspondent of Mr. Goldsworthy's will be authorised to expend four
thousand pounds on the purchase of an estate for him, and to hand to
him another thousand for the due working and maintenance of the same.
For these purposes I have already made provisions in my will, with
proviso that if, at the end of five years after my death, no news of
him shall be obtained, the money set aside for these purposes shall
revert to the main provisions of the will. It may be that he died of
the Plague. It may be that he has fallen, or will fall, a victim to
his own evil courses and evil passions. But I am convinced that,
should he be alive, Mr. Goldsworthy will be able to obtain tidings of
him long before the five years have expired. And now," he said,
abruptly changing the subject, "what are you thinking of doing, Sir

"In the first place, sir, I am going to sea again with the Fleet very
shortly. I entered as a Volunteer for the war, and could not well,
even if I wished it, draw back."

"They are a stiff-necked people," Mr. Harvey said. "That the
Sovereigns of Europe should have viewed with displeasure the
overthrow of the monarchy here was natural enough; but in Holland, if
anywhere, we might have looked for sympathy, seeing that as they had
battled for freedom of conscience, so had we done here; and yet they
were our worst enemies, and again and again had Blake to sail forth
to chastise them. They say that Monk is to command this time?"

"I believe so, sir."

"Monk is the bruised reed that pierced our hand, but he is a good
fighter. And after the war is over, Sir Cyril, you will not, I trust,
waste your life in the Court of the profligate King?"

"Certainly not," Cyril said earnestly. "As soon as the war is over I
shall return to Upmead and take up my residence there. I have lived
too hard a life to care for the gaieties of Court, still less of a
Court like that of King Charles. I shall travel for a while in Europe
if there is a genuine peace. I have lost the opportunity of
completing my education, and am too old now to go to either of the
Universities. Not too old perhaps; but I have seen too much of the
hard side of life to care to pass three years among those who, no
older than myself, are still as boys in their feelings. The next best
thing, therefore, as it seems to me, would be to travel, and perhaps
to spend a year or two in one of the great Universities abroad."

"The matter is worth thinking over," Mr. Harvey said. "You are
assuredly young yet to settle down alone at Upmead, and will reap
much advantage from speaking French which is everywhere current, and
may greatly aid you in making your travels useful to you. I have no
fear of your falling into Popish error, Sir Cyril; but if my wishes
have any weight with you I would pray you to choose the schools of
Leyden or Haarlem, should you enter a foreign University, for they
turn out learned men and good divines."

"Certainly your wishes have weight with me, Mr. Harvey, and should
events so turn out that I can enter one of the foreign Universities,
it shall be one of those you name--that is, should we, after this war
is ended, come into peaceful relations with the Dutch."

Before leaving the Earl's, Cyril had promised faithfully that he
would return thither with Sydney, and accordingly, at the end of the
fortnight, he rode back with him there, and, three weeks later,
journeyed up to London with the Earl and his family.

It was the middle of March when they reached London. The Court had
come up a day or two before, and the Fleet was, as Cyril learnt,
being fitted out in great haste. The French had now, after hesitating
all through the winter, declared war against us, and it was certain
that we should have their fleet as well as that of the Dutch to cope
with. Calling upon Prince Rupert on the day he arrived, Cyril learnt
that the Fleet would assuredly put to sea in a month's time.

"Would you rather join at once, or wait until I go on board?" the
Prince asked.

"I would rather join at once, sir. I have no business to do in
London, and it would be of no use for me to take an apartment when I
am to leave so soon; therefore, if I can be of any use, I would
gladly join at once."

"You would be of no use on board," the Prince said, "but assuredly
you could be of use in carrying messages, and letting me know
frequently, from your own report, how matters are going on. I heard
yesterday that the _Fan Fan_ is now fitted out. You shall take the
command of her. I will give you a letter to the boatswain, who is at
present in charge, saying that I have placed her wholly under your
orders. You will, of course, live on board. You will be chiefly at
Chatham and Sheerness. If you call early to-morrow I will have a
letter prepared for you, addressed to all captains holding commands
in the White Squadron, bidding them to acquaint you, whensoever you
go on board, with all particulars of how matters have been pushed
forward, and to give you a list of all things lacking. Then, twice a
week you will sail up to town, and report to me, or, should there be
any special news at other times, send it to me by a mounted
messenger. Mr. Pepys, the secretary, is a diligent and hard-working
man, but he cannot see to everything, and Albemarle so pushes him
that I think the White Squadron does not get a fair share of
attention; but if I can go to him with your reports in hand, I may
succeed in getting what is necessary done."

Bidding farewell to the Earl and his family, and thanking him for his
kindness, Cyril stopped that night at Captain Dave's, and told him of
all that had happened since they met. The next morning he went early
to Prince Rupert's, received the two letters, and rode down to
Chatham. Then, sending the horses back by his servant, who was to
take them to the Earl's stable, where they would be cared for until
his return, Cyril went on board the _Fan Fan_. For the next month he
was occupied early and late with his duties. The cabin was small, but
very comfortable. The crew was a strong one, for the yacht rowed
twelve oars, with which she could make good progress even without her
sails. He was waited on by his servant, who returned as soon as he
had left the horses in the Earl's stables; his cooking was done for
him in the yacht's galley. On occasions, as the tide suited, he
either sailed up to London in the afternoon, gave his report to the
Prince late in the evening, and was back at Sheerness by daybreak, or
he sailed up at night, saw the Prince as soon as he rose, and
returned at once.

The Prince highly commended his diligence, and told him that his
reports were of great use to him, as, with them in his hand, he could
not be put off at the Admiralty with vague assurances. Every day one
or more ships went out to join the Fleet that was gathering in the
Downs, and on April 20th Cyril sailed in the _Fan Fan_, in company
with the last vessel of the White Squadron, and there again took up
his quarters on board the _Henrietta_, the _Fan Fan_ being anchored
hard by in charge of the boatswain.

On the 23rd, the Prince, with the Duke of Albemarle, and a great
company of noblemen and gentlemen, arrived at Deal, and came on board
the Fleet, which, on May 1st, weighed anchor.

Lord Oliphant was among the volunteers who came down with the Prince,
and, as many of the other gentlemen had also been on board during the
first voyage, Cyril felt that he was among friends, and had none of
the feeling of strangeness and isolation he had before experienced.

The party was indeed a merry one. For upwards of a year the fear of
the Plague had weighed on all England. At the time it increased so
terribly in London, that all thought it would, like the Black Death,
spread over England, and that, once again, half the population of the
country might be swept away. Great as the mortality had been, it had
been confined almost entirely to London and some of the great towns,
and now that it had died away even in these, there was great relief
in men's minds, and all felt that they had personally escaped from a
terrible and imminent danger. That they were about to face peril even
greater than that from which they had escaped did not weigh on the
spirits of the gentlemen on board Prince Rupert's ship. To be killed
fighting for their country was an honourable death that none feared,
while there had been, in the minds of even the bravest, a horror of
death by the Plague, with all its ghastly accompaniments. Sailing out
to sea to the Downs, then, they felt that the past year's events lay
behind them as an evil dream, and laughed and jested and sang with
light-hearted mirth.

As yet, the Dutch had not put out from port, and for three weeks the
Fleet cruised off their coast. Then, finding that the enemy could not
be tempted to come out, they sailed back to the Downs. The day after
they arrived there, a messenger came down from London with orders to
Prince Rupert to sail at once with the White Squadron to engage the
French Fleet, which was reported to be on the point of putting to
sea. The Prince had very little belief that the French really
intended to fight. Hitherto, although they had been liberal in their
promises to the Dutch, they had done nothing whatever to aid them,
and the general opinion was that France rejoiced at seeing her rivals
damage each other, but had no idea of risking her ships or men in the

"I believe, gentlemen," Prince Rupert said to his officers, "that
this is but a ruse on the part of Louis to aid his Dutch allies by
getting part of our fleet out of the way. Still, I have nothing to do
but to obey orders, though I fear it is but a fool's errand on which
we are sent."

The wind was from the north-east, and was blowing a fresh gale. The
Prince prepared to put to sea. While the men were heaving at the
anchors a message came to Cyril that Prince Rupert wished to speak to
him in his cabin.

"Sir Cyril, I am going to restore you to your command. The wind is so
strong and the sea will be so heavy that I would not risk my yacht
and the lives of the men by sending her down the Channel. I do not
think there is any chance of our meeting the French, and believe that
it is here that the battle will be fought, for with this wind the
Dutch can be here in a few hours, and I doubt not that as soon as
they learn that one of our squadrons has sailed away they will be
out. The _Fan Fan_ will sail with us, but will run into Dover as we
pass. Here is a letter that I have written ordering you to do so, and
authorising you to put out and join the Admiral's Fleet, should the
Dutch attack before my return. If you like to have young Lord
Oliphant with you he can go, but he must go as a Volunteer under you.
You are the captain of the _Fan Fan_, and have been so for the last
two months; therefore, although your friend is older than you are, he
must, if he choose to go, be content to serve under you. Stay, I will
put it to him myself."

He touched the bell, and ordered Sydney to be sent for.

"Lord Oliphant," he said, "I know that you and Sir Cyril are great
friends. I do not consider that the _Fan Fan_, of which he has for
some time been commander, is fit to keep the sea in a gale like this,
and I have therefore ordered him to take her into Dover. If the Dutch
come out to fight the Admiral, as I think they will, he will join the
Fleet, and although the _Fan Fan_ can take but small share in the
fighting, she may be useful in carrying messages from the Duke while
the battle is going on. It seems to me that, as the _Fan Fan_ is
more likely to see fighting than my ships, you, as a Volunteer, might
prefer to transfer yourself to her until she again joins us. Sir
Cyril is younger than you are, but if you go, you must necessarily be
under his command seeing that he is captain of the yacht. It is for
you to choose whether you will remain here or go with him."

"I should like to go with him, sir. He has had a good deal of
experience of the sea, while I have never set foot on board ship till
last year. And after what he did at Lowestoft I should say that any
gentleman would be glad to serve under him."

"That is the right feeling," Prince Rupert said warmly. "Then get
your things transferred to the yacht. If you join Albemarle's Fleet,
Sir Cyril, you will of course report yourself to him, and say that I
directed you to place yourself under his orders."

Five minutes later Cyril and his friend were on board the _Fan Fan._
Scarcely had they reached her, when a gun was fired from Prince
Rupert's ship as a signal, and the ships of the White Squadron shook
out their sails, and, with the wind free, raced down towards the
South Foreland.

"We are to put into Dover," Cyril said to the boatswain, a
weatherbeaten old sailor.

"The Lord be praised for that, sir! She is a tight little craft, but
there will be a heavy sea on as soon we are beyond shelter of the
sands, and with these two guns on board of her she will make bad
weather. Besides, in a wind like this, it ain't pleasant being in a
little craft in the middle of a lot of big ones, for if we were not
swamped by the sea, we might very well be run down. We had better
keep her close to the Point, yer honour, and then run along, under
shelter of the cliffs, into Dover. The water will be pretty smooth in
there, though we had best carry as little sail as we can, for the
gusts will come down from above fit to take the mast out of her."

"I am awfully glad you came with me, Sydney," Cyril said, as he took
his place with his friend near the helmsman, "but I wish the Prince
had put you in command. Of course, it is only a nominal thing, for
the boatswain is really the captain in everything that concerns
making sail and giving orders to the crew. Still, it would have been
much nicer the other way."

"I don't see that it would, Cyril," Sydney laughed, "for you know as
much more about handling a boat like this than I do, as the boatswain
does than yourself. You have been on board her night and day for more
than a month, and even if you knew nothing about her at all, Prince
Rupert would have been right to choose you as a recognition of your
great services last time. Don't think anything about it. We are
friends, and it does not matter a fig which is the nominal commander.
I was delighted to come, not only to be with you, but because it will
be a very great deal pleasanter being our own masters on board this
pretty little yacht than being officers on board the _Henrietta_
where we would have been only in the way except when we went into

As soon as they rounded the Point most of the sail was taken off the
_Fan Fan,_ but even under the small canvas she carried she lay over
until her lee rail was almost under water when the heavy squalls
swooped down on her from the cliffs. The rest of the squadron was
keeping some distance out, presenting a fine sight as the ships lay
over, sending the spray flying high into the air from their bluff
bows, and plunging deeply into the waves.

"Yes, it is very distinctly better being where we are," Lord Oliphant
said, as he gazed at them. "I was beginning to feel qualmish before
we got under shelter of the Point, and by this time, if I had been on
board the _Henrietta,_ I should have been prostrate, and should have
had I know not how long misery before me."

A quarter of an hour later they were snugly moored in Dover Harbour.
For twenty-four hours the gale continued; the wind then fell
somewhat, but continued to blow strongly from the same quarter. Two
days later it veered round to the south-west, and shortly afterwards
the English Fleet could be seen coming out past the Point. As soon as
they did so they headed eastward.

"They are going out to meet the Dutch," Sydney said, as they watched
the ships from the cliffs, "The news must have arrived that their
fleet has put out to sea."

"Then we may as well be off after them, Sydney; they will sail faster
than we shall in this wind, for it is blowing too strongly for us to
carry much sail."

They hurried on board. A quarter of an hour later the _Fan Fan_ put
out from the harbour. The change of wind had caused an ugly cross sea
and the yacht made bad weather of it, the waves constantly washing
over her decks, but before they were off Calais she had overtaken
some of the slower sailers of the Fleet. The sea was less violent as
they held on, for they were now, to some extent, sheltered by the

In a short time Cyril ran down into the cabin where Sydney was lying

"The Admiral has given the signal to anchor, and the leading ships
are already bringing up. We will choose a berth as near the shore as
we can; with our light draught we can lie well inside of the others,
and shall be in comparatively smooth water."

Before dusk the Fleet was at anchor, with the exception of two or
three of the fastest frigates, which were sent on to endeavour to
obtain some news of the enemy.



As soon as the _Fan Fan_ had been brought to an anchor the boat was
lowered, and Cyril was rowed on board the Admiral's ship.

Albemarle was on the poop, and Cyril made his report to him.

"Very well, sir," the Duke said, "I dare say I shall be able to make
you of some use. Keep your craft close to us when we sail. I seem to
know your face."

"I am Sir Cyril Shenstone, my Lord Duke. I had the honour of meeting
you first at the fire in the Savoy, and Prince Rupert afterwards was
good enough to present me to you."

"Yes, yes, I remember. And it was you who saved the _Henrietta_ from
the fire-ship at Lowestoft. You have begun well indeed, young sir,
and are like to have further opportunities of showing your bravery."

Cyril bowed, and then, going down the side to his boat, returned to
the _Fan Fan._ She was lying in almost smooth water, and Sydney had
come up on deck again.

"You heard no news of the Dutch, I suppose, Cyril?"

"No; I asked a young officer as I left the ship, and he said that, so
far as he knew, nothing had been heard of them, but news had come in,
before the Admiral sailed from the Downs, that everything was ready
for sea, and that orders were expected every hour for them to put

"It is rather to be hoped that they won't put out for another two
days," Sydney said. "That will give the Prince time to rejoin with
his squadron. The wind is favourable now for his return, and I should
think, as soon as they hear in London that the Dutch are on the point
of putting out, and Albemarle has sailed, they will send him orders
to join us at once. We have only about sixty sail, while they say
that the Dutch have over ninety, which is too heavy odds against us
to be pleasant."

"I should think the Duke will not fight till the Prince comes up."

"I don't think he will wait for him if he finds the Dutch near. All
say that he is over-confident, and apt to despise the Dutch too much.
Anyhow, he is as brave as a lion, and, though he might not attack
unless the Dutch begin it, I feel sure he will not run away from

The next morning early, the _Bristol_ frigate was seen returning
from the east. She had to beat her way back in the teeth of the wind,
but, when still some miles away, a puff of white smoke was seen to
dart out from her side, and presently the boom of a heavy gun was
heard. Again and again she fired, and the signal was understood to be
a notification that she had seen the Dutch. The signal for the
captains of the men-of-war to come on board was at once run up to the
mast-head of the flagship, followed by another for the Fleet to be
prepared to weigh anchor. Captain Bacon, of the _Bristol_, went on
board as soon as his ship came up. In a short time the boats were
seen to put off, and as the captains reached their respective ships
the signal to weigh anchor was hoisted.

This was hailed with a burst of cheering throughout the Fleet, and
all felt that it signified that they would soon meet the Dutch. The
_Fan Fan_ was under sail long before the men-of-war had got up their
heavy anchors, and, sailing out, tacked backwards and forwards until
the Fleet were under sail, when Cyril told the boatswain to place her
within a few cables' length of the flagship on her weather quarter.
After two hours' sail the Dutch Fleet were made out, anchored off
Dunkirk. The Blue Squadron, under Sir William Berkley, led the way,
the Red Squadron, under the Duke, following.

"I will put a man in the chains with the lead," the boatswain said to
Cyril. "There are very bad sands off Dunkirk, and though we might get
over them in safety, the big ships would take ground, and if they did
so we should be in a bad plight indeed."

"In that case, we had best slack out the sheet a little, and take up
our post on the weather bow of the Admiral, so that we can signal to
him if we find water failing."

The topsail was hoisted, and the _Fan Fan,_ which was a very fast
craft in comparatively smooth water, ran past the Admiral's flagship.

"Shall I order him back, your Grace?" the Captain asked angrily.

Albemarle looked at the _Fan Fan_ attentively.

"They have got a man sounding," he said. "It is a wise precaution.
The young fellow in command knows what he is doing. We ought to have
been taking the same care. See! he is taking down his topsail again.
Set an officer to watch the yacht, and if they signal, go about at

The soundings continued for a short time at six fathoms, when
suddenly the man at the lead called out sharply,--

"Three fathoms!"

Cyril ran to the flagstaff, and as the next cry came--"Two
fathoms!"--hauled down the flag and stood waving his cap, while the
boatswain, who had gone to the tiller, at once pushed it over to
starboard, and brought the yacht up into the wind. Cyril heard orders
shouted on board the flagship, and saw her stern sweeping round. A
moment later her sails were aback, but the men, who already clustered
round the guns, were not quick enough in hauling the yards across,
and, to his dismay, he saw the main topmast bend, and then go over
the side with a crash. All was confusion on board, and for a time it
seemed as if the other topmast would also go.

"Run her alongside within hailing distance," Cyril said to the
boatswain. "They will want to question us."

As they came alongside the flagship the Duke himself leant over the

"What water had you when you came about, sir?"

"We went suddenly from six fathoms to three, your Grace," Cyril
shouted, "and a moment after we found but two."

"Very well, sir," the Duke called back. "In that case you have
certainly saved our ship. I thought perhaps that you had been
over-hasty, and had thus cost us our topmast, but I see it was not
so, and thank you. Our pilot assured us there was plenty of water on
the course we were taking."

The ships of the Red Squadron had all changed their course on seeing
the flagship come about so suddenly, and considerable delay and
confusion was caused before they again formed in order, and, in
obedience to the Duke's signal, followed in support of the Blue
Squadron. This had already dashed into the midst of the Dutch Fleet,
who were themselves in some confusion; for, so sudden had been the
attack, that they had been forced to cut their cables, having no time
to get up their anchors.

The British ships poured in their broadsides as they approached,
while the Dutch opened a tremendous cannonade. Besides their great
inferiority in numbers, the British were under a serious
disadvantage. They had the weather gauge, and the wind was so strong
that it heeled them over, so that they were unable to open their
lower ports, and were therefore deprived of the use of their heaviest

Four of the ships of the Red Squadron remained by the flagship, to
protect her if attacked, and to keep off fire-ships, while her crew
laboured to get up another topmast. More than three hours were
occupied in this operation, but so busily did the rest of the Fleet
keep the Dutch at work that they were unable to detach sufficient
ships to attack her.

As soon as the topmast was in place and the sails hoisted, the
flagship and her consorts hastened to join their hard-pressed

The fight was indeed a desperate one. Sir William Berkley and his
ship, the _Swiftsure,_ a second-rate, was taken, as was the
_Essex,_ a third-rate.

The _Henry,_ commanded by Sir John Harman, was surrounded by foes.
Her sails and rigging were shot to pieces, so she was completely
disabled, and the Dutch Admiral, Cornelius Evertz, summoned Sir John
Harman to surrender.

"It has not come to that yet," Sir John shouted back, and continued
to pour such heavy broadsides into the Dutch that several of their
ships were greatly damaged, and Evertz himself killed.

The Dutch captains drew off their vessels, and launched three
fire-ships at the _Henry._ The first one, coming up on her starboard
quarter, grappled with her. The dense volumes of smoke rising from
her prevented the sailors from discovering where the grapnels were
fixed, and the flames were spreading to her when her boatswain
gallantly leapt on board the fire-ship, and, by the light of its
flames, discovered the grapnels and threw them overboard, and
succeeded in regaining his ship.

A moment later, the second fire-ship came up on the port side, and so
great a body of flames swept across the _Henry_ that her chaplain
and fifty men sprang overboard. Sir John, however, drew his sword,
and threatened to cut down the first man who refused to obey orders,
and the rest of the crew, setting manfully to work, succeeded in
extinguishing the flames, and in getting free of the fire-ship. The
halliards of the main yard were, however, burnt through, and the spar
fell, striking Sir John Harman to the deck and breaking his leg.

The third fire-ship was received with the fire of four cannon loaded
with chain shot. These brought her mast down, and she drifted by,
clear of the _Henry,_ which was brought safely into Harwich.

The fight continued the whole day, and did not terminate until ten
o'clock in the evening. The night was spent in repairing damages, and
in the morning the English recommenced the battle. It was again
obstinately contested. Admiral Van Tromp threw himself into the midst
of the British line, and suffered so heavily that he was only saved
by the arrival of Admiral de Ruyter. He, in his turn, was in a most
perilous position, and his ship disabled, when fresh reinforcements
arrived. And so the battle raged, until, in the afternoon, as if by
mutual consent, the Fleets drew off from each other, and the battle
ceased. The fighting had been extraordinarily obstinate and
determined on both sides, many ships had been sunk, several burnt,
and some captured. The sea was dotted with wreckage, masts, and
spars, fragments of boats and _débris_ of all kinds. Both fleets
presented a pitiable appearance; the hulls, but forty-eight hours ago
so trim and smooth, were splintered and jagged, port-holes were
knocked into one, bulwarks carried away, and stern galleries gone.
The sails were riddled with shot-holes, many of the ships had lost
one or more masts, while the light spars had been, in most cases,
carried away, and many of the yards had come down owing to the
destruction of the running gear.

In so tremendous a conflict the little _Fan Fan_ could bear but a
small part. Cyril and Lord Oliphant agreed, at the commencement of
the first day's fight, that it would be useless for them to attempt
to fire their two little guns, but that their efforts should be
entirely directed against the enemy's fire-ships. During each day's
battle, then, they hovered round the flagship, getting out of the way
whenever she was engaged, as she often was, on both broadsides, and
although once or twice struck by stray shots, the _Fan Fan_ received
no serious damage. In this encounter of giants, the little yacht was
entirely overlooked, and none of the great ships wasted a shot upon
her. Two or three times each day, when the Admiral's ship had beaten
off her foes, a fire-ship directed its course against her. Then came
the _Fan Fan's_ turn for action. Under the pressure of her twelve
oars she sped towards the fire-ship, and on reaching her a grapnel
was thrown over the end of the bowsprit, and by the efforts of the
rowers her course was changed, so that she swept harmlessly past the

Twice when the vessels were coming down before the wind at a rate of
speed that rendered it evident that the efforts of the men at the
oars would be insufficient to turn her course, the _Fan Fan_ was
steered alongside, grapnels were thrown, and, headed by Lord Oliphant
and Cyril, the crew sprang on board, cut down or drove overboard the
few men who were in charge of her. Then, taking the helm and trimming
the sails, they directed her against one of the Dutch men-of-war,
threw the grapnels on board, lighted the train, leapt back into the
_Fan Fan_, rowed away, and took up their place near the Admiral, the
little craft being greeted with hearty cheers by the whole ship's

The afternoon was spent in repairing damages as far as practicable,
but even the Duke saw it was impossible to continue the fight. The
Dutch had received a reinforcement while the fighting was going on
that morning, and although the English had inflicted terrible damage
upon the Dutch Fleet, their own loss in ships was greater than that
which they had caused their adversaries. A considerable portion of
their vessels were not in a condition to renew the battle, and the
carpenters had hard work to save them from sinking outright.
Albemarle himself embarked on the _Fan Fan_, and sailed from ship to
ship, ascertaining the condition of each, and the losses its crew had
suffered. As soon as night fell, the vessels most disabled were
ordered to sail for England as they best could. The crew of three
which were totally dismasted and could hardly be kept afloat, were
taken out and divided between the twenty-eight vessels which alone
remained in a condition to renew the fight.

These three battered hulks were, early the next morning, set on fire,
and the rest of the Fleet, in good order and prepared to give battle,
followed their companions that had sailed on the previous evening.
The Dutch followed, but at a distance, thinking to repair their
damages still farther before they again engaged. In the afternoon the
sails of a squadron were seen ahead, and a loud cheer ran from ship
to ship, for all knew that this was Prince Rupert coming up with the
White Squadron. A serious loss, however, occurred a few minutes
afterwards. The _Royal Prince_, the largest and most powerful vessel
in the Fleet, which was somewhat in rear of the line, struck on the
sands. The tide being with them and the wind light, the rest of the
Fleet tried in vain to return to her assistance, and as the Dutch
Fleet were fast coming up, and some of the fire-ships making for the
_Royal Prince_, they were forced to give up the attempt to succour
her, and Sir George Ayscue, her captain, was obliged to haul down his
flag and surrender.

As soon as the White Squadron joined the remnant of the Fleet the
whole advanced against the Dutch, drums beating and trumpets
sounding, and twice made their way through the enemy's line. But it
was now growing dark, and the third day's battle came to an end. The
next morning it was seen that the Dutch, although considerably
stronger than the English, were almost out of sight. The latter at
once hoisted sail and pursued, and, at eight o'clock, came up with

The Dutch finding the combat inevitable, the terrible fight was
renewed, and raged, without intermission, until seven in the evening.
Five times the British passed through the line of the Dutch. On both
sides many ships fell out of the fighting line wholly disabled.
Several were sunk, and some on both sides forced to surrender, being
so battered as to be unable to withdraw from the struggle. Prince
Rupert's ship was wholly disabled, and that of Albemarle almost as
severely damaged, and the battle, like those of the preceding days,
ended without any decided advantage on either side. Both nations
claimed the victory, but equally without reason. The Dutch historians
compute our loss at sixteen men-of-war, of which ten were sunk and
six taken, while we admitted only a loss of nine ships, and claimed
that the Dutch lost fifteen men-of-war. Both parties acknowledged
that it was the most terrible battle fought in this, or any other
modern war.

De Witte, who at that time was at the head of the Dutch Republic, and
who was a bitter enemy of the English, owned, some time afterwards,
to Sir William Temple, "that the English got more glory to their
nation through the invincible courage of their seamen during those
engagements than by the two victories of this war, and that he was
sure that his own fleet could not have been brought on to fight the
fifth day, after the disadvantages of the fourth, and he believed
that no other nation was capable of it but the English."

Cyril took no part in the last day's engagement, for Prince Rupert,
when the _Fan Fan_ came near him on his arrival on the previous
evening, returned his salute from the poop, and shouted to him that
on no account was he to adventure into the fight with the _Fan Fan_.

On the morning after the battle ended, Lord Oliphant and Cyril rowed
on board Prince Rupert's ship, where every unwounded man was hard at
work getting up a jury-mast or patching up the holes in the hull.

"Well, Sir Cyril, I see that you have been getting my yacht knocked
about," he said, as they came up to him.

"There is not much damage done, sir. She has but two shot-holes in
her hull."

"And my new mainsail spoiled. Do you know, sir, that I got a severe
rating from the Duke yesterday evening, on your account?"

Cyril looked surprised.

"I trust, sir, that I have not in any way disobeyed orders?"

"No, it was not that. He asked after the _Fan Fan_, and said that he
had seen nothing of her during the day's fighting, and I said I had
strictly ordered you not to come into the battle. He replied, 'Then
you did wrong, Prince, for that little yacht of yours did yeomen's
service during the first two days' fighting. I told Sir Cyril to keep
her near me, thinking that she would be useful in carrying orders,
and during those two days she kept close to us, save when we were
surrounded by the enemy. Five times in those three days did she avert
fire-ships from us. We were so damaged that we could sail but slowly,
and, thinking us altogether unmanageable, the Dutch launched their
fire-ships. The _Fan Fan_ rowed to meet them. Three of them were
diverted from their course by a rope being thrown over the bowsprit,
and the crew rowing so as to turn her head. On the second day there
was more wind, and the fire-ships could have held on their course in
spite of the efforts of the men on board the _Fan Fan_. Twice during
the day the little boat was boldly laid alongside them, while the
crew boarded and captured them, and then, directing them towards the
Dutch ships, grappled and set them on fire. One of the Dutchmen was
burned, the other managed to throw off the grapnels. It was all done
under our eyes, and five times in the two days did my crew cheer your
little yacht as she came alongside. So you see, Prince, by ordering
her out of the fight you deprived us of the assistance of as boldly
handled a little craft as ever sailed.'

"'I am quite proud of my little yacht, gentlemen, and I thank you for
having given her so good a christening under fire. But I must stay no
longer talking. Here is the despatch I have written of my share of
the engagement. You, Sir Cyril, will deliver this. You will now row
to the Duke's ship, and he will give you his despatches, which you,
Lord Oliphant, will deliver. I need not say that you are to make all
haste to the Thames. We have no ship to spare except the _Fan Fan_,
for we must keep the few that are still able to manoeuvre, in case
the Dutch should come out again before we have got the crippled ones
in a state to make sail. '"

Taking leave of the Prince, they were at once rowed to the Duke's
flagship. They had a short interview with the Admiral, who praised
them highly for the service they had rendered.

"You will have to tell the story of the fighting," he said, "for the
Prince and myself have written but few lines; we have too many
matters on our minds to do scribe's work. They will have heard, ere
now, of the first two days' fighting, for some of the ships that were
sent back will have arrived at Harwich before this. By to-morrow
morning I hope to have the Fleet so far refitted as to be able to
follow you."

Five minutes later, the _Fan Fan_, with every stitch of sail set,
was on her way to the Thames. As a brisk wind was blowing, they
arrived in London twenty-four hours later, and at once proceeded to
the Admiralty, the despatches being addressed to the Duke of York.
They were immediately ushered in to him. Without a word he seized the
despatches, tore them open, and ran his eye down them.

"God be praised!" he exclaimed, when he finished them. "We had feared
even worse intelligence, and have been in a terrible state of anxiety
since yesterday, when we heard from Harwich that one of the ships had
come in with the news that more than half the Fleet was crippled or
destroyed, and that twenty-eight only remained capable of continuing
the battle. The only hope was that the White Squadron might arrive in
time, and it seems that it has done so. The account of our losses is
indeed a terrible one, but at least we have suffered no defeat, and
as the Dutch have retreated, they must have suffered well-nigh as
much as we have done. Come along with me at once, gentlemen; I must
go to the King to inform him of this great news, which is vastly
beyond what we could have hoped for. The Duke, in his despatch, tells
me that the bearers of it, Lord Oliphant and Sir Cyril Shenstone,
have done very great service, having, in Prince Rupert's little
yacht, saved his flagship no less than five times from the attacks of
the Dutch fire-ships."

The Duke had ordered his carriage to be in readiness as soon as he
learnt that the bearers of despatches from the Fleet had arrived. It
was already at the door, and, taking his seat in it, with Lord
Oliphant and Cyril opposite to him, he was driven to the Palace,
learning by the way such details as they could give him of the last
two days' fighting. He led them at once to the King's dressing-room.
Charles was already attired, for he had passed a sleepless night, and
had risen early.

"What news, James?" he asked eagerly.

"Good news, brother. After two more days' fighting--and terrible
fighting, on both sides--the Dutch Fleet has returned to its ports."

"A victory!" the King exclaimed, in delight.

"A dearly-bought one with the lives of so many brave men, but a
victory nevertheless. Here are the despatches from Albemarle and
Rupert. They have been brought by these gentlemen, with whom you are
already acquainted, in Rupert's yacht. Albemarle speaks very highly
of their conduct."

The King took the despatches, and read them eagerly.

"It has indeed been a dearly-bought victory," he said, "but it is
marvellous indeed how our captains and men bore themselves. Never
have they shown greater courage and endurance. Well may Monk say
that, after four days of incessant fighting and four nights spent in
the labour of repairing damages, the strength of all has well-nigh
come to an end, and that he himself can write but a few lines to tell
me of what has happened, leaving all details for further occasion. I
thank you both, gentlemen, for the speed with which you have brought
me this welcome news, and for the services of which the Duke of
Albemarle speaks so warmly. This is the second time, Sir Cyril, that
my admirals have had occasion to speak of great and honourable
service rendered by you. Lord Oliphant, the Earl, your father, will
have reason to be proud when he hears you so highly praised. Now,
gentlemen, tell me more fully than is done in these despatches as to
the incidents of the fighting. I have heard something of what took
place in the first two days from an officer who posted up from
Harwich yesterday."

Lord Oliphant related the events of the first two days, and then went

"Of the last two I can say less, Your Majesty, for we took no part
in, having Prince Rupert's orders, given as he came up, that we
should not adventure into the fight. Therefore, we were but
spectators, though we kept on the edge of the fight and, if
opportunity had offered, and we had seen one of our ships too hard
pressed, and threatened by fire-ships, we should have ventured so far
to transgress orders as to bear in and do what we could on her
behalf; but indeed, the smoke was so great that we could see but

"It was a strange sight, when, on the Prince's arrival, his ships and
those of the Duke's, battered as they were, bore down on the Dutch
line; the drums beating, the trumpets sounding, and the crews
cheering loudly. We saw them disappear into the Dutch line; then the
smoke shut all out from view, and for hours there was but a thick
cloud of smoke and a continuous roar of the guns. Sometimes a vessel
would come out from the curtain of smoke torn and disabled. Sometimes
it was a Dutchman, sometimes one of our own ships. If the latter, we
rowed up to them and did our best with planks and nails to stop the
yawning holes close to the water-line, while the crew knotted ropes
and got up the spars and yards, and then sailed back into the fight.

"The first day's fighting was comparatively slight, for the Dutch
seemed to be afraid to close with the Duke's ships, and hung behind
at a distance. It was not till the White Squadron came up, and the
Duke turned, with Prince Rupert, and fell upon his pursuers like a
wounded boar upon the dogs, that the battle commenced in earnest; but
the last day it went on for nigh twelve hours without intermission;
and when at last the roar of the guns ceased, and the smoke slowly
cleared off, it was truly a pitiful sight, so torn and disabled were
the ships.

"As the two fleets separated, drifting apart as it would almost seem,
so few were the sails now set, we rowed up among them, and for hours
were occupied in picking up men clinging to broken spars and
wreckage, for but few of the ships had so much as a single boat left.
We were fortunate enough to save well-nigh a hundred, of whom more
than seventy were our own men, the remainder Dutch. From these last
we learnt that the ships of Van Tromp and Ruyter had both been so
disabled that they had been forced to fall out of battle, and had
been towed away to port. They said that their Admirals Cornelius
Evertz and Van der Hulst had both been killed, while on our side we
learnt that Admiral Sir Christopher Mings had fallen."

"Did the Dutch Fleet appear to be as much injured as our own?"

"No, Your Majesty. Judging by the sail set when the battle was over,
theirs must have been in better condition than ours, which is not
surprising, seeing how superior they were in force, and for the most
part bigger ships, and carrying more guns."

"Then you will have your hands full, James, or they will be ready to
take to sea again before we are. Next time I hope that we shall meet
them with more equal numbers."

"I will do the best I can, brother," the Duke replied. "Though we
have so many ships sorely disabled there have been but few lost, and
we can supply their places with the vessels that have been building
with all haste. If the Dutch will give us but two months' time I
warrant that we shall be able to meet them in good force."

As soon as the audience was over, Cyril and his friend returned to
the _Fan Fan_, and after giving the crew a few hours for sleep,
sailed down to Sheerness, where, shortly afterwards, Prince Rupert
arrived with a portion of the Fleet, the rest having been ordered to
Harwich, Portsmouth, and other ports, so that they could be more
speedily refitted.

Although the work went on almost without intermission day and night,
the repairs were not completed before the news arrived that the Dutch
Fleet had again put to sea. Two days later they arrived off our
coast, where, finding no fleet ready to meet them, they sailed away
to France, where they hoped to be joined by their French allies.

Two days later, however, our ships began to assemble at the mouth of
the Thames, and on June 24th the whole Fleet was ready to take to
sea. It consisted of eighty men-of-war, large and small, and nineteen
fire-ships. Prince Rupert was in command of the Red Squadron, and the
Duke of Albemarle sailed with him, on board the same ship. Sir Thomas
Allen was Admiral of the White, and Sir Jeremiah Smith of the Blue
Squadron. Cyril remained on board the _Fan Fan_, Lord Oliphant
returning to his duties on board the flagship. Marvels had been
effected by the zeal and energy of the crews and dockyard men. But
three weeks back, the English ships had, for the most part, been
crippled seemingly almost beyond repair, but now, with their holes
patched, with new spars, and in the glory of fresh paint and new
canvas, they made as brave a show as when they had sailed out from
the Downs a month previously.

They were anchored off the Nore when, late in the evening, the news
came out from Sheerness that a mounted messenger had just ridden in
from Dover, and that the Dutch Fleet had, in the afternoon, passed
the town, and had rounded the South Foreland, steering north.

Orders were at once issued that the Fleet should sail at daybreak,
and at three o'clock the next morning they were on their way down the
river. At ten o'clock the Dutch Fleet was seen off the North
Foreland. According to their own accounts they numbered eighty-eight
men-of-war, with twenty-five fire-ships, and were also divided into
three squadrons, under De Ruyter, John Evertz, and Van Tromp.

The engagement began at noon by an attack by the White Squadron upon
that commanded by Evertz. An hour later, Prince Rupert and the Duke,
with the Red Squadron, fell upon De Ruyter, while that of Van Tromp,
which was at some distance from the others, was engaged by Sir
Jeremiah Smith with the Blue Squadron. Sir Thomas Allen completely
defeated his opponents, killing Evertz, his vice- and rear-admirals,
capturing the vice-admiral of Zeeland, who was with him, and burning
a ship of fifty guns.

The Red Squadron was evenly matched by that of De Ruyter, and each
vessel laid itself alongside an adversary. Although De Ruyter himself
and his vice-admiral, Van Ness, fought obstinately, their ships in
general, commanded, for the most part, by men chosen for their family
influence rather than for either seamanship or courage, behaved but
badly, and all but seven gradually withdrew from the fight, and went
off under all sail; and De Ruyter, finding himself thus deserted, was
forced also to draw off. During this time, Van Tromp, whose squadron
was the strongest of the three Dutch divisions, was so furiously
engaged by the Blue Squadron, which was the weakest of the English
divisions, that he was unable to come to the assistance of his
consorts; when, however, he saw the defeat of the rest of the Dutch
Fleet, he, too, was obliged to draw off, lest he should have the
whole of the English down upon him, and was able the more easily to
do so as darkness was closing in when the battle ended.

The Dutch continued their retreat during the night, followed at a
distance by the Red Squadron, which was, next morning, on the point
of overtaking them, when the Dutch sought refuge by steering into the
shallows, which their light draught enabled them to cross, while the
deeper English ships were unable to follow. Great was the wrath and
disappointment of the English when they saw themselves thus baulked
of reaping the full benefit of the victory. Prince Rupert shouted to
Cyril, who, in the _Fan Fan_, had taken but small share in the
engagement, as the fire-ships had not played any conspicuous part in

"Sir Cyril, we can go no farther, but do you pursue De Ruyter and
show him in what contempt we hold him."

Cyril lifted his hat to show that he heard and understood the order.
Then he ordered his men to get out their oars, for the wind was very
light, and, amidst loud cheering, mingled with laughter, from the
crews of the vessels that were near enough to hear Prince Rupert's
order, the _Fan Fan_ rowed out from the English line in pursuit of
the Dutch.



The sailors laughed and joked as they rowed away from the Fleet, but
the old boatswain shook his head.

"We shall have to be careful, Sir Cyril," he said. "It is like a
small cur barking at the heels of a bull--it is good fun enough for a
bit, but when the bull turns, perchance the dog will find himself
thrown high in the air."

Cyril nodded. He himself considered Prince Rupert's order to be
beyond all reason, and given only in the heat of his anger at De
Ruyter having thus escaped him, and felt that it was very likely to
cost the lives of all on board the _Fan Fan_. However, there was
nothing to do but to carry it out. It seemed to him that the
boatswain's simile was a very apt one, and that, although the
spectacle of the _Fan Fan_ worrying the great Dutch battle-ship
might be an amusing one to the English spectators, it was likely to
be a very serious adventure for her.

De Ruyter's ship, which was in the rear of all the other Dutch
vessels, was but a mile distant when the _Fan Fan_ started, and as
the wind was so light that it scarce filled her sails, the yacht
approached her rapidly.

"We are within half a mile now, your honour," the boatswain said. "I
should say we had better go no nearer if we don't want to be blown
out of the water."

"Yes; I think we may as well stop rowing now, and get the guns to
work. There are only those two cannon in her stern ports which can
touch us here. She will scarcely come up in the wind to give us a
broadside. She is moving so slowly through the water that it would
take her a long time to come round, and De Ruyter would feel ashamed
to bring his great flag-ship round to crush such a tiny foe."

The boatswain went forward to the guns, round which the men, after
laying in their oars, clustered in great glee.

"Now," he said, "you have got to make those two guns in the stern
your mark. Try and send your shots through the port-holes. It will be
a waste to fire them at the hull, for the balls would not penetrate
the thick timber that she is built of. Remember, the straighter you
aim the more chance there is that the Dutch won't hit us. Men don't
stop to aim very straight when they are expecting a shot among them
every second. We will fire alternately, and one gun is not to fire
until the other is loaded again. I will lay the first gun myself."

It was a good shot, and the crew cheered as they saw the splinters
fly at the edge of the port-hole. Shot after shot was fired with
varying success.

The Dutch made no reply, and seemed to ignore the presence of their
tiny foe. The crew were, for the most part, busy aloft repairing
damages, and after half an hour's firing, without eliciting a reply,
the boatswain went aft to Cyril, and suggested that they should now
aim at the spars.

"A lucky shot might do a good deal of damage, sir," he said. "The
weather is fine enough at present, but there is no saying when a
change may come, and if we could weaken one of the main spars it
might be the means of her being blown ashore, should the wind spring
up in the right direction."

Cyril assented, and fire was now directed at the masts. A few ropes
were cut away, but no serious damage was effected until a shot struck
one of the halliard blocks of the spanker, and the sail at once ran

"It has taken a big bit out of the mast, too," the boatswain called
exultingly to Cyril. "I think that will rouse the Dutchmen up."

A minute later it was evident that the shot had at least had that
effect. Two puffs of smoke spirted out from the stern of the Dutch
flagship, and, simultaneously with the roar of the guns, came the hum
of two heavy shot flying overhead. Delighted at having excited the
Dutchmen's wrath at last, the crew of the _Fan Fan_ took off their
hats and gave a loud cheer, and then, more earnestly than before,
settled down to work; their guns aimed now, as at first, at the
port-holes. Four or five shots were discharged from each of the
little guns before the Dutch were ready again. Then came the
thundering reports. The _Fan Fan's_ topmast was carried away by one
of the shot, but the other went wide. Two or three men were told to
cut away the wreckage, and the rest continued their fire. One of the
next shots of the enemy was better directed. It struck the deck close
to the foot of the mast, committed great havoc in Cyril's cabin, and
passed out through the stern below the water-line. Cyril leapt down
the companion as he heard the crash, shouting to the boatswain to
follow him. The water was coming through the hole in a great jet.
Cyril seized a pillow and--stuffed it into the shot-hole, being
drenched from head to foot in the operation. One of the sailors had
followed the boatswain, and Cyril called him to his assistance.

"Get out the oars at once," he said to the boatswain. "Another shot
like this and she will go down. Get a piece cut off a spar and make a
plug. There is no holding this pillow in its place, and the water
comes in fast still."

The sailor took Cyril's post while he ran up on deck and assisted in
cutting the plug; this was roughly shaped to the size of the hole,
and then driven in. It stopped the rush of the water, but a good deal
still leaked through.

By the time this was done the _Fan Fan_ had considerably increased
her distance from De Ruyter. Four or five more shots were fired from
the Dutch ship. The last of these struck the mast ten feet above the
deck, bringing it down with a crash. Fortunately, none of the crew
were hurt, and, dropping the oars, they hauled the mast alongside,
cut the sail from its fastening to the hoops and gaff, and then
severed the shrouds and allowed the mast to drift away, while they
again settled themselves to the oars. Although every man rowed his
hardest, the _Fan Fan_ was half full of water before she reached the
Fleet, which was two miles astern of them when they first began to

"Well done, _Fan Fan_!" Prince Rupert shouted, as the little craft
came alongside. "Have you suffered any damage besides your spars? I
see you are low in the water."

"We were shot through our stern, sir; we put in a plug, but the water
comes in still. Will you send a carpenter on board? For I don't think
she will float many minutes longer unless we get the hole better

The Prince gave some orders to an officer standing by him. The latter
called two or three sailors and bade them bring some short lengths of
thick hawser, while a strong party were set to reeve tackle to the
mainyard. As soon as the hawsers, each thirty feet in length, were
brought, they were dropped on to the deck of the _Fan Fan_, and the
officer told the crew to pass them under her, one near each end, and
to knot the hawsers. By the time this was done, two strong tackles
were lowered and fixed to the hawsers, and the crew ordered to come
up on to the ship. The tackles were then manned and hauled on by
strong parties, and the _Fan Fan_ was gradually raised. The
boatswain went below again and knocked out the plug, and, as the
little yacht was hoisted up, the water ran out of it. As soon as the
hole was above the water-level, the tackle at the bow was gradually
slackened off until she lay with her fore-part in the water, which
came some distance up her deck. The carpenter then slung himself over
the stern, and nailed, first a piece of tarred canvas, and then a
square of plank, over the hole. Then the stern tackle was eased off,
and the _Fan Fan_ floated on a level keel. Her crew went down to her
again, and, in half an hour, pumped her free of water.

By this time, the results of the victory were known. On the English
side, the _Resolution_ was the only ship lost, she having been burnt
by a Dutch fire-ship; three English captains, and about three hundred
men were killed. On the other hand, the Dutch lost twenty ships, four
admirals, a great many of their captains, and some four thousand men.
It was, indeed, the greatest and most complete victory gained
throughout the war. Many of the British ships had suffered a good
deal, that which carried the Duke's flag most of all, for it had been
so battered in the fight with De Ruyter that the Duke and Prince
Rupert had been obliged to leave her, and to hoist their flags upon
another man-of-war.

The next morning the Fleet sailed to Schonevelt, which was the usual
_rendezvous_ of the Dutch Fleet, and there remained some time,
altogether undisturbed by the enemy. The _Fan Fan_ was here
thoroughly repaired.

On July 29th they sailed for Ulic, where they arrived on August 7th,
the wind being contrary.

Learning that there was a large fleet of merchantmen lying between
the islands of Ulic and Schelling, guarded by but two men-of-war, and
that there were rich magazines of goods on these islands, it was
determined to attack them. Four small frigates, of a slight draught
of water, and five fire-ships, were selected for the attack, together
with the boats of the Fleet, manned by nine hundred men.

On the evening of the 8th, Cyril was ordered to go, in the _Fan
Fan_, to reconnoitre the position of the Dutch. He did not sail
until after nightfall, and, on reaching the passage between the
islands, he lowered his sails, got out his oars, and drifted with the
tide silently down through the Dutch merchant fleet, where no watch
seemed to be kept, and in the morning carried the news to Sir Robert
Holmes, the commander of the expedition, who had anchored a league
from the entrance.

Cyril had sounded the passage as he went through, and it was found
that two of the frigates could not enter it. These were left at the
anchorage, and, on arriving at the mouth of the harbour, the
_Tiger_, Sir Robert Holmes's flagship, was also obliged to anchor,
and he came on board the _Fan Fan_, on which he hoisted his flag.
The captains of the other ships came on board, and it was arranged
that the _Pembroke_, which had but a small draught of water, should
enter at once with the five fire-ships.

The attack was completely successful. Two of the fire-ships grappled
with the men-of-war and burnt them, while three great merchantmen
were destroyed by the others. Then the boats dashed into the fleet,
and, with the exception of four or five merchantmen and four
privateers, who took refuge in a creek, defended by a battery, the
whole of the hundred and seventy merchantmen, the smallest of which
was not less than 200 tons burden, and all heavily laden, were

The next day, Sir Robert Holmes landed eleven companies of troops on
the Island of Schonevelt and burnt Bandaris, its principal town, with
its magazines and store-houses, causing a loss to the Dutch,
according to their own admission, of six million guilders. This, and
the loss of the great Fleet, inflicted a very heavy blow upon the
commerce of Holland. The _Fan Fan_ had been hit again by a shot from
one of the batteries, and, on her rejoining the Fleet, Prince Rupert
determined to send her to England so that she could be thoroughly
repaired and fitted out again. Cyril's orders were to take her to
Chatham, and to hand her over to the dockyard authorities.

"I do not think the Dutch will come out and fight us again this
autumn, Sir Cyril, so you can take your ease in London as it pleases
you. We are now halfway through August, and it will probably be at
least a month after your arrival before the _Fan Fan_ is fit for sea
again. It may be a good deal longer than that, for they are busy upon
the repairs of the ships sent home after the battle, and will hardly
take any hands off these to put on to the _Fan Fan_. In October we
shall all be coming home again, so that, until next spring, it is
hardly likely that there will be aught doing."

Cyril accordingly returned to London. The wind was contrary, and it
was not until the last day of August that he dropped anchor in the
Medway. After spending a night at Chatham, he posted up to London the
next morning, and, finding convenient chambers in the Savoy, he
installed himself there, and then proceeded to the house of the Earl
of Wisbech, to whom he was the bearer of a letter from his son.
Finding that the Earl and his family were down at his place near
Sevenoaks, he went into the City, and spent the evening at Captain
Dave's, having ordered his servant to pack a small valise, and bring
it with the two horses in the morning. He had gone to bed but an hour
when he was awoke by John Wilkes knocking at his door.

"There is a great fire burning not far off, Sir Cyril. A man who ran
past told me it was in Pudding Lane, at the top of Fish Street. The
Captain is getting up, and is going out to see it; for, with such dry
weather as we have been having, there is no saying how far it may

Cyril sprang out of his bed and dressed. Captain Dave, accustomed to
slip on his clothes in a hurry, was waiting for him, and, with John
Wilkes, they sallied out. There was a broad glare of light in the
sky, and the bells of many of the churches were ringing out the
fire-alarm. As they passed, many people put their heads out from
windows and asked where the fire was. In five minutes they approached
the scene. A dozen houses were blazing fiercely, while, from those
near, the inhabitants were busily removing their valuables. The Fire
Companies, with their buckets, were already at work, and lines of men
were formed down to the river and were passing along buckets from
hand to hand. Well-nigh half the water was spilt, however, before it
arrived at the fire, and, in the face of such a body of flame, it
seemed to make no impression whatever.

"They might as well attempt to pump out a leaky ship with a child's
squirt," the Captain said. "The fire will burn itself out, and we
must pray heaven that the wind drops altogether; 'tis not strong, but
it will suffice to carry the flames across these narrow streets. 'Tis
lucky that it is from the east, so there is little fear that it will
travel in our direction."

They learnt that the fire had begun in the house of Faryner, the
King's baker, though none knew how it had got alight. It was not long
before the flames leapt across the lane, five or six houses catching
fire almost at the same moment. A cry of dismay broke from the crowd,
and the fright of the neighbours increased. Half-clad women hurried
from their houses, carrying their babes, and dragging their younger
children out. Men staggered along with trunks of clothing and
valuables. Many wrung their hands helplessly, while the City Watch
guarded the streets leading to Pudding Lane, so as to prevent thieves
and vagabonds from taking advantage of the confusion to plunder.

With great rapidity the flames spread from house to house. A portion
of Fish Street was already invaded, and the Church of St. Magnus in
danger. The fears of the people increased in proportion to the
advance of the conflagration. The whole neighbourhood was now
alarmed, and, in all the streets round, people were beginning to
remove their goods. The river seemed to be regarded by all as the
safest place of refuge. The boats from the various landing-places had
already come up, and these were doing a thriving trade by taking the
frightened people, with what goods they carried, to lighters and
ships moored in the river.

The lines of men passing buckets had long since broken up, it being
too evident that their efforts were not of the slightest avail. The
wind had, in the last two hours, rapidly increased in strength, and
was carrying the burning embers far and wide.

Cyril and his companions had, after satisfying their first curiosity,
set to work to assist the fugitives, by aiding them to carry down
their goods to the waterside. Cyril was now between eighteen and
nineteen, and had grown into a powerful, young fellow, having, since
he recovered from the Plague, grown fast and widened out greatly. He
was able to shoulder heavy trunks, and to carry them down without

By six o'clock, however, all were exhausted by their labours, and
Captain Dave's proposal, that they should go back and get breakfast
and have a wash, was at once agreed to.

At this time the greater part of Fish Street was in flames, the
Church of St. Magnus had fallen, and the flames had spread to many of
the streets and alleys running west. The houses on the Bridge were

"Well, father, what is the news?" Nellie exclaimed, as they entered.
"What have you been doing? You are all blackened, like the men who
carry out the coals from the ships. I never saw such figures."

"We have been helping people to carry their goods down to the water,
Nellie. The news is bad. The fire is a terrible one."

"That we can see, father. Mother and I were at the window for hours
after you left, and the whole sky seemed ablaze. Do you think that
there is any danger of its coming here?"

"The wind is taking the flames the other way, Nellie, but in spite of
that I think that there is danger. The heat is so great that the
houses catch on this side, and we saw, as we came back, that it had
travelled eastwards. Truly, I believe that if the wind keeps on as it
is at present, the whole City will be destroyed. However, we will
have a wash first and then some breakfast, of which we are sorely in
need. Then we can talk over what had best be done."

Little was said during breakfast. The apprentices had already been
out, and so excited were they at the scenes they had witnessed that
they had difficulty in preserving their usual quiet and submissive
demeanour. Captain Dave was wearied with his unwonted exertions. Mrs.
Dowsett and Nellie both looked pale and anxious, and Cyril and John
Wilkes were oppressed by the terrible scene of destruction and the
widespread misery they had witnessed.

When breakfast was over, Captain Dave ordered the apprentices on no
account to leave the premises. They were to put up the shutters at
once, and then to await orders.

"What do you think we had better do, Cyril?" he said, when the boys
had left the room.

"I should say that you had certainly better go on board a ship,
Captain Dave. There is time to move now quietly, and to get many
things taken on board, but if there were a swift change of wind the
flames would come down so suddenly that you would have no time to
save anything. Do you know of a captain who would receive you?"

"Certainly; I know of half a dozen."

"Then the first thing is to secure a boat before they are all taken

"I will go down to the stairs at once."

"Then I should say, John, you had better go off with Captain Dave,
and, as soon as he has arranged with one of the captains, come back
to shore. Let the waterman lie off in the stream, for if the flames
come this way there will be a rush for boats, and people will not
stop to ask to whom they belong. It will be better still to take one
of the apprentices with you, leave him at the stairs till you return,
and then tie up to a ship till we hail him."

"That will be the best plan," Captain Dave said. "Now, wife, you and
Nellie and the maid had best set to work at once packing up all your
best clothes and such other things as you may think most valuable. We
shall have time, I hope, to make many trips."

"While you are away, I will go along the street and see whether the
fire is making any way in this direction," Cyril said. "Of course if
it's coming slowly you will have time to take away a great many
things. And we may even hope that it may not come here at all."

Taking one of the apprentices, Captain Dave and John at once started
for the waterside, while Cyril made his way westward.

Already, people were bringing down their goods from most of the
houses. Some acted as if they believed that if they took the goods
out of the houses they would be safe, and great piles of articles of
all kinds almost blocked the road. Weeping women and frightened
children sat on these piles as if to guard them. Some stood at their
doors wringing their hands helplessly; others were already starting
eastward laden with bundles and boxes, occasionally looking round as
if to bid farewell to their homes. Many of the men seemed even more
confused and frightened than the women, running hither and thither
without purpose, shouting, gesticulating, and seeming almost
distraught with fear and grief.

Cyril had not gone far when he saw that the houses on both sides of
the street, at the further end, were already in flames. He was
obliged to advance with great caution, for many people were
recklessly throwing goods of all kinds from the windows, regardless
of whom they might fall upon, and without thought of how they were to
be carried away. He went on until close to the fire, and stood for a
time watching. The noise was bewildering. Mingled with the roar of
the flames, the crackling of woodwork, and the heavy crashes that
told of the fall of roofs or walls, was the clang of the alarm-bells,
shouts, cries, and screams. The fire spread steadily, but with none
of the rapidity with which he had seen it fly along from house to
house on the other side of the conflagration. The houses, however,
were largely composed of wood. The balconies generally caught first,
and the fire crept along under the roofs, and sometimes a shower of
tiles, and a burst of flames, showed that it had advanced there,
while the lower portion of the house was still intact.

"Is it coming, Cyril?" Mrs. Dowsett asked, when he returned.

"It is coming steadily," he said, "and can be stopped by nothing
short of a miracle. Can I help you in any way?"

"No," she said; "we have packed as many things as can possibly be
carried. It is well that your things are all at your lodging, Cyril,
and beyond the risk of this danger."

"It would have mattered little about them," he said. "I could have
replaced them easily enough. That is but a question of money. And
now, in the first place, I will get the trunks and bundles you have
packed downstairs. That will save time."

Assisted by the apprentice and Nellie, Cyril got all the things

"How long have we, do you think?" Nellie asked.

"I should say that in three hours the fire will be here," he said.
"It may be checked a little at the cross lanes; but I fear that three
hours is all we can hope for."

Just as they had finished taking down the trunks, Captain Dave and
John Wilkes arrived.

"I have arranged the affair," the former said. "My old friend, Dick
Watson, will take us in his ship; she lies but a hundred yards from
the stairs. Now, get on your mantle and hood, Nellie, and bring your
mother and maid down."

The three women were soon at the foot of the stairs, and Mrs.
Dowsett's face showed signs of tears; but, though pale, she was quiet
and calm, and the servant, a stout wench, had gained confidence from
her mistress's example. As soon as they were ready, the three men
each shouldered a trunk. The servant and the apprentice carried one
between them. Mrs. Dowsett and her daughter took as many bundles as
they could carry. It was but five minutes' walk down to the stairs.
The boat was lying twenty yards out in the stream, fastened up to a
lighter, with the apprentice and waterman on board. It came at once
alongside, and in five minutes they reached the _Good Venture_. As
soon as the women had ascended the accommodation ladder, some sailors
ran down and helped to carry up the trunks.

"Empty them all out in the cabin," Captain Dave said to his wife; "we
will take them back with us."

As soon as he had seen the ladies into the cabin, Captain Watson
called his son Frank, who was his chief mate, and half a dozen of his
men. These carried the boxes, as fast as they were emptied, down into
the boat.

"We will all go ashore together," he said to Captain Dave. "I was a
fool not to think of it before. We will soon make light work of it."

As soon as they reached the house, some of the sailors were sent off
with the remaining trunks and bundles, while the others carried
upstairs those they had brought, and quickly emptied into them the
remaining contents of the drawers and linen press. So quickly and
steadily did the work go on, that no less than six trips were made to
the _Good Venture_ in the next three hours, and at the end of that
time almost everything portable had been carried away, including
several pieces of valuable furniture, and a large number of objects
brought home by Captain Dave from his various voyages. The last
journey, indeed, was devoted to saving some of the most valuable
contents of the store. Captain Dave, delighted at having saved so
much, would not have thought of taking more, but Captain Watson would
not hear of this.

"There is time for one more trip, old friend," he said, "and there
are many things in your store that are worth more than their weight
in silver. I will take my other two hands this time, and, with the
eight men and our five selves, we shall be able to bring a good

The trunks were therefore this time packed with ship's instruments,
and brass fittings of all kinds, to the full weight that could be
carried. All hands then set to work, and, in a very short time, a
great proportion of the portable goods were carried from the
store-house into an arched cellar beneath it. By the time that they
were ready to start there were but six houses between them and the

"I wish we had another three hours before us," Captain Watson said.
"It goes to one's heart to leave all this new rope and sail cloth,
good blocks, and other things, to be burnt."

"There have been better things than that burnt to-day, Watson. Few
men have saved as much as I have, thanks to your assistance and that
of these stout sailors of yours. Why, the contents of these twelve
boxes are worth as much as the whole of the goods remaining."

The sailors' loads were so heavy that they had to help each other to
get them upon their shoulders, and the other five were scarcely less
weighted; and, short as was the distance, all had to rest several
times on the way to the stairs, setting their burdens upon
window-sills, or upon boxes scattered in the streets. One of the
ship's boats had, after the first trip, taken the place of the light
wherry, but even this was weighted down to the gunwale when the men
and the goods were all on board. After the first two trips, the
contents of the boxes had been emptied on deck, and by the time the
last arrived the three women had packed away in the empty cabins all
the clothing, linen, and other articles, that had been taken below.
Captain Watson ordered a stiff glass of grog to be given to each of
the sailors, and then went down with the others into the main cabin,
where the steward had already laid the table for a meal, and poured
out five tumblers of wine.

"I have not had so tough a job since I was before the mast," he said.
"What say you, Captain Dave?"

"It has been a hard morning's work, indeed, Watson, and, in truth, I
feel fairly spent. But though weary in body I am cheerful in heart.
It seemed to me at breakfast-time that we should save little beyond
what we stood in, and now I have rescued well-nigh everything
valuable that I have. I should have grieved greatly had I lost all
those mementos that it took me nigh thirty years to gather, and those
pieces of furniture that belonged to my father I would not have lost
for any money. Truly, it has been a noble salvage."

Mrs. Dowsett and Nellie now joined them. They had quite recovered
their spirits, and were delighted at the unexpected rescue of so many
things precious to them, and Captain Watson was overwhelmed by their
thanks for what he had done.

After the meal was over they sat quietly talking for a time, and then
Cyril proposed that they should row up the river and see what
progress the fire was making above the Bridge. Mrs. Dowsett, however,
was too much fatigued by her sleepless night and the troubles and
emotions of the morning to care about going. Captain Dave said that
he was too stiff to do anything but sit quiet and smoke a pipe, and
that he would superintend the getting of their things on deck a
little ship-shape. Nellie embraced the offer eagerly, and young
Watson, who was a well-built and handsome fellow, with a pleasant
face and manner, said that he would go, and would take a couple of
hands to row. The tide had just turned to run up when they set out.
Cyril asked the first mate to steer, and he sat on one side of him
and Nellie on the other.

"You will have to mind your oars, lads," Frank Watson said. "The
river is crowded with boats."

They crossed over to the Southwark side, as it would have been
dangerous to pass under the arches above which the houses were
burning. The flames, however, had not spread right across the bridge,
for the houses were built only over the piers, and the openings at
the arches had checked the flames, and at these points numbers of men
were drawing water in buckets and throwing it over the fronts of the
houses, or passing them, by ropes, to other men on the roofs, which
were kept deluged with water. Hundreds of willing hands were engaged
in the work, for the sight of the tremendous fire on the opposite
bank filled people with terror lest the flames should cross the
bridge and spread to the south side of the river. The warehouses and
wharves on the bank were black with spectators, who looked with
astonishment and awe at the terrible scene of destruction.

It was not until they passed under the bridge that the full extent of
the conflagration was visible. The fire had made its way some
distance along Thames Street, and had spread far up into the City.
Gracechurch Street and Lombard Street were in flames, and indeed the
fire seemed to have extended a long distance further; but the smoke
was so dense, that it was difficult to make out the precise point
that it had reached. The river was a wonderful sight. It was crowded
with boats and lighters, all piled up with goods, while along the
quays from Dowgate to the Temple, crowds of people were engaged in
placing what goods they had saved on board lighters and other craft.
Many of those in the boats seemed altogether helpless and undecided
as to what had best be done, and drifted along with the tide, but the
best part were making either for the marshes at Lambeth or the fields
at Millbank, there to land their goods, the owners of the boats
refusing to keep them long on board, as they desired to return by the
next tide to fetch away other cargoes, being able to obtain any price
they chose to demand for their services.

Among the boats were floating goods and wreckage of all kinds,
charred timber that had fallen from the houses on the bridge, and
from the warehouses by the quays, bales of goods, articles of
furniture, bedding, and other matters. At times, a sudden change of
wind drove a dense smoke across the water, flakes of burning embers
and papers causing great confusion among the boats, and threatening
to set the piles of goods on fire.

At Frank Watson's suggestion, they landed at the Temple, after having
been some two hours on the river. Going up into Fleet Street, they
found a stream of carts and other vehicles proceeding westward, all
piled with furniture and goods, mostly of a valuable kind. The
pavements were well-nigh blocked with people, all journeying in the
same direction, laden with their belongings. With difficulty they
made their way East as far as St. Paul's. The farther end of
Cheapside was already in flames, and they learnt that the fire had
extended as far as Moorfields. It was said that efforts had been made
to pull down houses and so check its progress, but that there was no
order or method, and that no benefit was gained by the work.

After looking on at the scene for some time, they returned to Fleet
Street. Frank Watson went down with Nellie to the boat, while Cyril
went to his lodgings in the Savoy. Here he found his servant
anxiously awaiting him.

"I did not bring the horses this morning, sir," he said. "I heard
that there was a great fire, and went on foot as far as I could get,
but, finding that I could not pass, I thought it best to come back
here and await your return."

"Quite right, Reuben; you could not have got the horses to me unless
you had ridden round the walls and come in at Aldgate, and they would
have been useless had you brought them. The house at which I stayed
last night is already burnt to the ground. You had better stay here
for the present, I think. There is no fear of the fire extending
beyond the City. Should you find that it does so, pack my clothes in
the valises, take the horses down to Sevenoaks, and remain at the
Earl's until you hear from me."

Having arranged this, Cyril went down to the Savoy stairs, where he
found the boat waiting for him, and then they rowed back to London
Bridge, where, the force of the tide being now abated, they were able
to row through and get to the _Good Venture_.

They had but little sleep that night. Gradually the fire worked its
way eastward until it was abreast of them. The roaring and crackling
of the flames was prodigious. Here and there the glare was
diversified by columns of a deeper red glow, showing where
warehouses, filled with pitch, tar, and oil, were in flames. The
heavy crashes of falling buildings were almost incessant.
Occasionally they saw a church tower or steeple, that had stood for a
time black against the glowing sky, become suddenly wreathed in
flames, and, after burning for a time, fall with a crash that could
be plainly heard above the general roar.

"Surely such a fire was never seen before!" Captain Dave said.

"Not since Rome was burnt, I should think," Cyril replied.

"How long was that ago, Cyril? I don't remember hearing about it."

"'Tis fifteen hundred years or so since then, Captain Dave; but the
greater part of the city was destroyed, and Rome was then many times
bigger than London. It burnt for three days."

"Well, this is bad enough," Captain Watson said. "Even here the heat
is well-nigh too great to face. Frank, you had better call the crew
up and get all the sails off the yards. Were a burning flake to fall
on them we might find it difficult to extinguish them. When they have
done that, let the men get all the buckets filled with water and
ranged on the deck; and it will be as well to get a couple of hands
in the boat and let them chuck water against this side. We shall have
all the paint blistered off before morning."

So the night passed. Occasionally they went below for a short time,
but they found it impossible to sleep, and were soon up again, and
felt it a relief when the morning began to break.



Daylight brought little alleviation to the horrors of the scene. The
flames were less vivid, but a dense pall of smoke overhung the sky.
As soon as they had breakfasted, Captain Watson, his son, Captain
Dowsett, Nellie, and Cyril took their places in the boat, and were
rowed up the river. An exclamation burst from them all as they saw
how fast the flames had travelled since the previous evening.

"St. Paul's is on fire!" Cyril exclaimed. "See! there are flames
bursting through its roof. I think, Captain Watson, if you will put
me ashore at the Temple, I will make my way to Whitehall, and report
myself there. I may be of use."

"I will do that," Captain Watson said. "Then I will row back to the
ship again. We must leave a couple of hands on board, in case some of
these burning flakes should set anything alight. We will land with
the rest, and do what we can to help these poor women and children."

"I will stay on board and take command, if you like, Watson," Captain
Dave said. "You ought to have some one there, and I have not
recovered from yesterday's work, and should be of little use ashore."

"Very well, Dowsett. That will certainly be best; but I think it will
be prudent, before we leave, to run out a kedge with forty or fifty
fathoms of cable towards the middle of the stream, and then veer out
the cable on her anchor so as to let her ride thirty fathoms or so
farther out. We left six men sluicing her side and deck, but it
certainly would be prudent to get her out a bit farther. Even here,
the heat is as much as we can stand."

As soon as Cyril had landed, he hurried up into Fleet Street. He had
just reached Temple Bar when he saw a party of horsemen making their
way through the carts. A hearty cheer greeted them from the crowd,
who hoped that the presence of the King--for it was Charles who rode
in front--was a sign that vigorous steps were about to be taken to
check the progress of the flames. Beside the King rode the Duke of
Albemarle, and following were a number of other gentlemen and
officers. Cyril made his way through the crowd to the side of the
Duke's horse.

"Can I be of any possible use, my Lord Duke?" he asked, doffing his

"Ah, Sir Cyril, it is you, is it? I have not seen you since you
bearded De Ruyter in the _Fan Fan_. Yes, you can be of use. We have
five hundred sailors and dockyard men behind; they have just arrived
from Chatham, and a thousand more have landed below the Bridge to
fight the flames on that side. Keep by me now, and, when we decide
where to set to work, I will put you under the orders of Captain
Warncliffe, who has charge of them."

When they reached the bottom of Fleet Street, the fire was halfway
down Ludgate Hill, and it was decided to begin operations along the
bottom of the Fleet Valley. The dockyard men and sailors were brought
up, and following them were some carts laden with kegs of powder.

"Warncliffe," Lord Albemarle said, as the officer came up at the head
of them, "Sir Cyril Shenstone is anxious to help. You know him by
repute, and you can trust him in any dangerous business. You had
better tell off twenty men under him. You have only to tell him what
you want done, and you can rely upon its being done thoroughly."

The sailors were soon at work along the line of the Fleet Ditch. All
carried axes, and with these they chopped down the principal beams of
the small houses clustered by the Ditch, and so weakened them that a
small charge of powder easily brought them down. In many places they
met with fierce opposition from the owners, who, still clinging to
the faint hope that something might occur to stop the progress of the
fire before it reached their abodes, raised vain protestations
against the destruction of their houses. All day the men worked
unceasingly, but in vain. Driven by the fierce wind, the flames swept
down the opposite slope, leapt over the space strewn with rubbish and
beams, and began to climb Fleet Street and Holborn Hill and the dense
mass of houses between them.

The fight was renewed higher up. Beer and bread and cheese were
obtained from the taverns, and served out to the workmen, and these
kept at their task all night. Towards morning the wind had fallen
somewhat. The open spaces of the Temple favoured the defenders; the
houses to east of it were blown up, and, late in the afternoon, the
progress of the flames at this spot was checked. As soon as it was
felt that there was no longer any fear of its further advance here,
the exhausted men, who had, for twenty-four hours, laboured, half
suffocated by the blinding smoke and by the dust made by their own
work, threw themselves down on the grass of the Temple Gardens and
slept. At midnight they were roused by their officers, and proceeded
to assist their comrades, who had been battling with the flames on
the other side of Fleet Street. They found that these too had been
successful; the flames had swept up to Fetter Lane, but the houses on
the west side had been demolished, and although, at one or two
points, the fallen beams caught fire, they were speedily
extinguished. Halfway up Fetter Lane the houses stood on both sides
uninjured, for a large open space round St. Andrew's, Holborn, had
aided the defenders in their efforts to check the flames. North of
Holborn the fire had spread but little, and that only among the
poorer houses in Fleet Valley.

Ascending the hill, they found that, while the flames had overleapt
the City wall from Ludgate to Newgate in its progress west, the wall
had proved an effective barrier from the sharp corner behind
Christchurch up to Aldersgate and thence up to Cripplegate, which was
the farthest limit reached by the fire to the north. To the east, the
City had fared better. By the river, indeed, the destruction was
complete as far as the Tower. Mark Lane, however, stood, and north of
this the line of destruction swept westward to Leaden Hall, a massive
structure at the entrance to the street that took its name from it,
and proved a bulwark against the flames. From this point, the line of
devastated ground swept round by the eastern end of Throgmorton
Street to the northern end of Basinghall Street.

Cyril remained with the sailors for two days longer, during which
time they were kept at work beating out the embers of the fire. In
this they were aided by a heavy fall of rain, which put an end to all
fear of the flames springing up again.

"There can be no need for you to remain longer with us, Sir Cyril,"
Captain Warncliffe said, at the end of the second day. "I shall have
pleasure in reporting to the Duke of Albemarle the good services that
you have rendered. Doubtless we shall remain on duty here for some
time, for we may have, for aught I know, to aid in the clearing away
of some of the ruins; but, at any rate, there can be no occasion for
you to stay longer with us."

Cyril afterwards learnt that the sailors and dockyard men were, on
the following day, sent back to Chatham. The fire had rendered so
great a number of men homeless and without means of subsistence, that
there was an abundant force on hand for the clearing away of ruins.
Great numbers were employed by the authorities, while many of the
merchants and traders engaged parties to clear away the ruins of
their dwellings, in order to get at the cellars below, in which they
had, as soon as the danger from fire was perceived, stowed away the
main bulk of their goods. As soon as he was released from duty, Cyril
made his way to the Tower, and, hiring a boat, was rowed to the _Good

The shipping presented a singular appearance, their sides being
blistered, and in many places completely stripped of their paint,
while in some cases the spars were scorched, and the sails burnt
away. There was lively satisfaction at his appearance, as he stepped
on to the deck of the _Good Venture_, for, until he did so, he had
been unrecognised, so begrimed with smoke and dust was he.

"We have been wondering about you," Captain Dave said, as he shook
him by the hand, "but I can scarce say we had become uneasy. We
learnt that a large body of seamen and others were at work blowing up
houses, and as you had gone to offer your services we doubted not
that you were employed with them. Truly you must have been having a
rough time of it, for not only are you dirtier than any scavenger,
but you look utterly worn out and fatigued."

"It was up-hill work the first twenty-four hours, for we worked
unceasingly, and worked hard, too, I can assure you, and that
well-nigh smothered with smoke and dust. Since then, our work has
been more easy, but no less dirty. In the three days I have not had
twelve hours' sleep altogether."

"I will get a tub of hot water placed in your cabin," Captain Watson
said, "and should advise you, when you get out from it, to turn into
your bunk at once. No one shall go near you in the morning until you
wake of your own accord."

Cyril was, however, down to breakfast.

"Now tell us all about the fire," Nellie said, when they had finished
the meal.

"I have nothing to tell you, for I know nothing," Cyril replied. "Our
work was simply pulling down and blowing up houses. I had scarce time
so much as to look at the fire. However, as I have since been working
all round its course, I can tell you exactly how far it spread."

When he brought his story to a conclusion, he said,--

"And now, Captain Dave, what are you thinking of doing?"

"In the first place, I am going ashore to look at the old house. As
soon as I can get men, I shall clear the ground, and begin to rebuild
it. I have enough laid by to start me again. I should be like a fish
out of water with nothing to see to. I have the most valuable part of
my stock still on hand here on deck, and if the cellar has proved
staunch my loss in goods will be small indeed, for the anchors and
chains in the yard will have suffered no damage. But even if the
cellar has caved in, and its contents are destroyed, and if, when I
have rebuilt my house, I find I have not enough left to replenish my
stock, I am sure that I can get credit from the rope- and sail-makers,
and iron-masters with whom I deal."

"Do not trouble yourself about that, Captain Dave," Cyril said. "You
came to my help last time, and it will be my turn this time. I am
sure that I shall have no difficulty in getting any monies that may
be required from Mr. Goldsworthy, and there is nothing that will give
me more pleasure than to see you established again in the place that
was the first where I ever felt I had a home."

"I hope that it will not be needed, lad," Captain Dave said, shaking
his hand warmly, "but if it should, I will not hesitate to accept
your offer in the spirit in which it is made, and thus add one more
to the obligations that I am under to you."

Cyril went ashore with Captain Dave and John Wilkes. The wall of the
yard was, of course, uninjured, but the gate was burnt down. The
store-house, which was of wood, had entirely disappeared, and the
back wall of the house had fallen over it and the yard. The entrance
to the cellar, therefore, could not be seen, and, as yet, the heat
from the fallen bricks was too great to attempt to clear them away to
get at it.

That night, however, it rained heavily, and in the morning Captain
Watson took a party of sailors ashore, and these succeeded in
clearing away the rubbish sufficiently to get to the entrance of the
cellar. The door was covered by an iron plate, and although the wood
behind this was charred it had not caught fire, and on getting it
open it was found that the contents of the cellar were uninjured.

In order to prevent marauders from getting at it before preparations
could be made for rebuilding, the rubbish was again thrown in so as
to completely conceal the entrance. On returning on board there was a
consultation on the future, held in the cabin. Captain Dave at once
said that he and John Wilkes must remain in town to make arrangements
for the rebuilding and to watch the performance of the work. Cyril
warmly pressed Mrs. Dowsett and Nellie to come down with him to
Norfolk until the house was ready to receive them, but both were in
favour of remaining in London, and it was settled that, next day,
they should go down to Stepney, hire a house and store-room there,
and remove thither their goods on board the ship, and the contents of
the cellar.

There was some little difficulty in getting a house, as so many were
seeking for lodgings, but at last they came upon a widow who was
willing to let a house, upon the proviso that she was allowed to
retain one room for her own occupation. This being settled, Cyril
that evening returned to his lodging, and the next day rode down to
Norfolk. There he remained until the middle of May, when he received
a letter from Captain Dave, saying that his house was finished, and
that they should move into it in a fortnight, and that they all
earnestly hoped he would be present. As he had already been thinking
of going up to London for a time, he decided to accept the

By this time he had made the acquaintance of all the surrounding
gentry, and felt perfectly at home at Upmead. He rode frequently into
Norwich, and, whenever he did so, paid a visit to Mr. Harvey, whose
wife had died in January, never having completely recovered from the
shock that she had received in London. Mr. Harvey himself had aged
much; he still took a great interest in the welfare of the tenants of
Upmead, and in Cyril's proposals for the improvement of their homes,
and was pleased to see how earnestly he had taken up the duties of
his new life. He spoke occasionally of his son, of whose death he
felt convinced.

"I have never been able to obtain any news of him," he often said,
"and assuredly I should have heard of him had he been alive.

"It would ease my mind to know the truth," he said, one day. "It
troubles me to think that, if alive, he is assuredly pursuing evil
courses, and that he will probably end his days on a gallows. That he
will repent, and turn to better courses, I have now no hope whatever.
Unless he be living by roguery, he would, long ere this, have
written, professing repentance, even if he did not feel it, and
begging for assistance. It troubles me much that I can find out
nothing for certain of him."

"Would it be a relief to you to know surely that he was dead?" Cyril

"I would rather know that he was dead than feel, as I do, that if
alive, he is going on sinning. One can mourn for the dead as David
mourned for Absalom, and trust that their sins may be forgiven them;
but, uncertain as I am of his death, I cannot so mourn, since it may
be that he still lives."

"Then, sir, I am in a position to set your mind at rest. I have known
for a long time that he died of the Plague, but I have kept it from
you, thinking that it was best you should still think that he might
be living. He fell dead beside me on the very day that I sickened of
the Plague, and, indeed, it was from him that I took it."

Mr. Harvey remained silent for a minute or two.

"'Tis better so," he said solemnly. "The sins of youth may be
forgiven, but, had he lived, his whole course might have been wicked.
How know you that it was he who gave you the Plague?"

"I met him in the street. He was tottering in his walk, and, as he
came up, he stumbled, and grasped me to save himself. I held him for
a moment, and then he slipped from my arms and fell on the pavement,
and died."

Mr. Harvey looked keenly at Cyril, and was about to ask a question,
but checked himself.

"He is dead," he said. "God rest his soul, and forgive him his sins!
Henceforth I shall strive to forget that he ever lived to manhood,
and seek to remember him as he was when a child."

Then he held out his hand to Cyril, to signify that he would fain be

On arriving in London, Cyril took up his abode at his former
lodgings, and the next day at twelve o'clock, the hour appointed in a
letter he found awaiting him on his arrival, he arrived in Tower
Street, having ridden through the City. An army of workmen, who had
come up from all parts of the country, were engaged in rebuilding the
town. In the main thoroughfares many of the houses were already
finished, and the shops re-opened. In other parts less progress had
been made, as the traders were naturally most anxious to resume their
business, and most able to pay for speed.

Captain Dave's was one of the first houses completed in Tower Street,
but there were many others far advanced in progress. The front
differed materially from that of the old house, in which each story
had projected beyond the one below it. Inside, however, there was but
little change in its appearance, except that the rooms were somewhat
more lofty, and that there were no heavy beams across the ceilings.
Captain Dave and his family had moved in that morning.

"It does not look quite like the old place," Mrs. Dowsett said, after
the first greetings.

"Not quite," Cyril agreed. "The new furniture, of course, gives it a
different appearance as yet; but one will soon get accustomed to
that, and you will quickly make it home-like again. I see you have
the bits of furniture you saved in their old corners."

"Yes; and it will make a great difference when they get all my
curiosities up in their places again," Captain Dave put in. "We
pulled them down anyhow, and some of them will want glueing up a bit.
And so your fighting is over, Cyril?"

"Yes, it looks like it. The Dutch have evidently had enough of it.
They asked for peace, and as both parties consented to the King of
Sweden being mediator, and our representatives and those of Holland
are now settling affairs at Breda, peace may be considered as finally
settled. We have only two small squadrons now afloat; the rest are
all snugly laid up. I trust that there is no chance of another war
between the two nations for years to come."

"I hope not, Cyril. But De Witte is a crafty knave, and is ever in
close alliance with Louis. Were it not for French influence the
Prince of Orange would soon oust him from the head of affairs."

"I should think he would not have any power for mischief in the
future," Cyril said. "It was he who brought on the last war, and,
although it has cost us much, it has cost the Dutch very much more,
and the loss of her commerce has well-nigh brought Holland to ruin.
Besides, the last victory we won must have lowered their national
pride greatly."

"You have not heard the reports that are about, then?"

"No, I have heard no news whatever. It takes a long time for it to
travel down to Norwich, and I have seen no one since I came up to
town last night."

"Well, there is a report that a Dutch Fleet of eighty sail has put to
sea. It may be that 'tis but bravado to show that, though they have
begged for peace, 'tis not because they are in no condition to fight.
I know not how this may be, but it is certain that for the last three
days the Naval people have been very busy, and that powder is being
sent down to Chatham. As for the Fleet, small as it is, it is
doubtful whether it would fight, for the men are in a veritable state
of mutiny, having received no pay for many months. Moreover, several
ships were but yesterday bought by Government, for what purpose it is
not known, but it is conjectured they are meant for fire-ships."

"I cannot but think that it is, as you say, a mere piece of bravado
on the part of the Dutch, Captain Dave. They could never be so
treacherous as to attack us when peace is well-nigh concluded, but,
hurt as their pride must be by the defeat we gave them, it is not
unnatural they should wish to show that they can still put a brave
fleet on the seas, and are not driven to make peace because they
could not, if need be, continue the war."

"And now I have a piece of news for you. We are going to have a
wedding here before long."

"I am right glad to hear it," Cyril said heartily. "And who is the
happy man, Nellie?" he asked, turning towards where she had been
standing the moment before. But Nellie had fled the moment her father
had opened his lips.

"It is Frank Watson," her father said. "A right good lad; and her
mother and I are well pleased with her choice."

"I thought that he was very attentive the few days we were on board
his father's ship," Cyril said. "I am not surprised to hear the

"They have been two voyages since then, and while the _Good Venture_
was in the Pool, Master Frank spent most of his time down at Stepney,
and it was settled a fortnight since. My old friend Watson is as
pleased as I am. And the best part of the business is that Frank is
going to give up the sea and become my partner. His father owns the
_Good Venture_, and, being a careful man, has laid by a round sum,
and he settled to give him fifteen hundred pounds, which he will put
into the business."

"That is a capital plan, Captain Dave. It will be an excellent thing
for you to have so young and active a partner."

"Watson has bought the house down at Stepney that we have been living
in, and Frank and Nellie are going to settle there, and Watson will
make it his headquarters when his ship is in port, and will, I have
no doubt, take up his moorings there, when he gives up the sea. The
wedding is to be in a fortnight's time, for Watson has set his heart
on seeing them spliced before he sails again, and I see no reason for
delay. You must come to the wedding, of course, Cyril. Indeed, I
don't think Nellie would consent to be married if you were not there.
The girl has often spoken of you lately. You see, now that she really
knows what love is, and has a quiet, happy life to look forward to,
she feels more than ever the service you did her, and the escape she
had. She told the whole story to Frank before she said yes, when he
asked her to be his wife, and, of course, he liked her no less for
it, though I think it would go hard with that fellow if he ever met

"The fellow died of the Plague, Captain Dave. His last action was to
try and revenge himself on me by giving me the infection, for,
meeting me in the streets, he threw his arms round me and exclaimed,
'I have given you the Plague!' They were the last words he ever
spoke, for he gave a hideous laugh, and then dropped down dead.
However, he spoke truly, for that night I sickened of it."

"Then your kindness to Nellie well-nigh cost you your life," Mrs.
Dowsett said, laying her hand on his shoulder, while the tears stood
in her eyes. "And you never told us this before!"

"There was nothing to tell," Cyril replied. "If I had not caught it
from him, I should have, doubtless, taken it from someone else, for I
was constantly in the way of it, and could hardly have hoped to
escape an attack. Now, Captain Dave, let us go downstairs, and see
the store."

"John Wilkes and the two boys are at work there," the Captain said,
as he went downstairs, "and we open our doors tomorrow. I have
hurried on the house as fast as possible, and as no others in my
business have yet opened, I look to do a thriving trade at once.
Watson will send all his friends here, and as there is scarce a
captain who goes in or out of port but knows Frank, I consider that
our new partner will greatly extend the business."

Captain Watson and Frank came in at supper-time, and, after spending
a pleasant evening, Cyril returned to his lodgings in the Strand. The
next day he was walking near Whitehall when a carriage dashed out at
full speed, and, as it came along, he caught sight of the Duke of
Albemarle, who looked in a state of strange confusion. His wig was
awry, his coat was off, and his face was flushed and excited. As his
eye fell on Cyril, he shouted out to the postillions to stop. As they
pulled up, he shouted,--

"Jump in, Sir Cyril! Jump in, for your life."

Astonished at this address, Cyril ran to the door, opened it, and
jumped in, and the Duke shouted to the postillions to go on.

"What do you think, sir?--what do you think?" roared the Duke. "Those
treacherous scoundrels, the Dutch, have appeared with a great Fleet
of seventy men-of-war, besides fire-ships, off Sheerness, this
morning at daybreak, and have taken the place, and Chatham lies open
to them. We have been bamboozled and tricked. While the villains were
pretending they were all for peace, they have been secretly fitting
out, and there they are at Sheerness. A mounted messenger brought in
the news, but ten minutes ago."

"Have they taken Sheerness, sir?"

"Yes; there were but six guns mounted on the fort, and no
preparations made. The ships that were there did nothing. The rascals
are in mutiny--and small wonder, when they can get no pay; the money
voted for them being wasted by the Court. It is enough to drive one
wild with vexation, and, had I my will, there are a dozen men, whose
names are the foremost in the country, whom I would hang up with my
own hands. The wind is from the east, and if they go straight up the
Medway they may be there this afternoon, and have the whole of our
ships at their mercy. It is enough to make Blake turn in his grave
that such an indignity should be offered us, though it be but the
outcome of treachery on the part of the Dutch, and of gross
negligence on ours. But if they give us a day or two to prepare, we
will, at least, give them something to do before they can carry out
their design, and, if one could but rely on the sailors, we might
even beat them off; but it is doubtful whether the knaves will fight.
The forts are unfinished, though the money was voted for them three
years since. And all this is not the worst of it, for, after they
have taken Chatham, there is naught to prevent their coming up to
London. We have had plague and we have had fire, and to be bombarded
by the Dutchmen would be the crowning blow, and it would be like to
bring about another revolution in England."

They posted down to Chatham as fast as the horses could gallop. The
instant the news had arrived, the Duke had sent off a man, on
horseback, to order horses to be in readiness to change at each
posting station. Not a minute, therefore, was lost. In a little over
two hours from the time of leaving Whitehall, they drove into the

"Where is Sir Edward Spragge?" the Duke shouted, as he leapt from the

"He has gone down to the new forts, your Grace," an officer replied.

"Have a gig prepared at once, without the loss of a moment," the Duke
said. "What is being done?" he asked another officer, as the first
ran off.

"Sir Edward has taken four frigates down to the narrow part of the
river, sir, and preparations have been made for placing a great chain
there. Several of the ships are being towed out into the river, and
are to be sunk in the passage."

"Any news of the Dutch having left Sheerness?"

"No, sir; a shallop rowed up at noon, but was chased back again by
one of our pinnaces."

"That is better than I had hoped. Come, come, we shall make a fight
for it yet," and he strode away towards the landing.

"Shall I accompany you, sir?" Cyril asked.

"Yes. There is nothing for you to do until we see exactly how things
stand. I shall use you as my staff officer--that is, if you are
willing, Sir Cyril. I have carried you off without asking whether you
consented or no; but, knowing your spirit and quickness, I felt sure
you would be of use."

"I am at your service altogether," Cyril said, "and am glad indeed
that your Grace encountered me, for I should have been truly sorry to
have been idle at such a time."

An eight-oared gig was already at the stairs, and they were rowed
rapidly down the river. They stopped at Upnor Castle, and found that
Major Scott, who was in command there, was hard at work mounting
cannon and putting the place in a posture of defence.

"You will have more men from London by to-morrow night, at the
latest," the Duke said, "and powder and shot in abundance was sent
off yesterday. We passed a train on our way down, and I told them to
push on with all speed. As the Dutch have not moved yet, they cannot
be here until the afternoon of to-morrow, and, like enough, will not
attack until next day, for they must come slowly, or they will lose
some of their ships on the sands. We will try to get up a battery
opposite, so as to aid you with a cross fire. I am going down to see
Sir Edward Spragge now."

Taking their places in the boat again, they rowed round the horseshoe
curve down to Gillingham, and then along to the spot where the
frigates were moored. At the sharp bend lower down here the Duke
found the Admiral, and they held a long consultation together. It was
agreed that the chain should be placed somewhat higher up, where a
lightly-armed battery on either side would afford some assistance,
that behind the chain the three ships, the _Matthias_, the _Unity_,
and the _Charles V._, all prizes taken from the Dutch, should be
moored, and that the _Jonathan_ and _Fort of Honinggen_--also a
Dutch prize--should be also posted there.

Having arranged this, the Duke was rowed back to Chatham, there to
see about getting some of the great ships removed from their moorings
off Gillingham, up the river. To his fury, he found that, of all the
eighteen hundred men employed in the yard, not more than half a dozen
had remained at their work, the rest being, like all the townsmen,
occupied in removing their goods in great haste. Even the frigates
that were armed had but a third, at most, of their crews on board, so
many having deserted owing to the backwardness of their pay.

That night, Sir W. Coventry, Sir W. Penn, Lord Brounker, and other
officers and officials of the Admiralty, came down from London. Some
of these, especially Lord Brounker, had a hot time of it with the
Duke, who rated them roundly for the state of things which prevailed,
telling the latter that he was the main cause of all the misfortunes
that might occur, owing to his having dismantled and disarmed all the
great ships. In spite of the efforts of all these officers, but
little could be done, owing to the want of hands, and to the refusal
of the dockyard men, and most of the sailors, to do anything. A small
battery of sandbags was, however, erected opposite Upnor, and a few
guns placed in position there.

Several ships were sunk in the channel above Upnor, and a few of
those lying off Gillingham were towed up. Little help was sent down
from London, for the efforts of the authorities were directed wholly
to the defence of the Thames. The train-bands were all under arms,
fire-ships were being fitted out and sent down to Gravesend, and
batteries erected there and at Tilbury, while several ships were sunk
in the channel.

The Dutch remained at Sheerness from the 7th to the 12th, and had it
not been for the misconduct of the men, Chatham could have been put
into a good state for defence. As it was, but little could be
effected; and when, on the 12th, the Dutch Fleet were seen coming up
the river, the chances of successful resistance were small.

The fight commenced by a Dutch frigate, commanded by Captain Brakell,
advancing against the chain. Carried up by a strong tide and east
wind the ship struck it with such force that it at once gave way. The
English frigates, but weakly manned, could offer but slight
resistance, and the _Jonathan_ was boarded and captured by Brakell.
Following his frigate were a host of fire-ships, which at once
grappled with the defenders. The _Matthias, Unity, Charles V._, and
_Fort of Honinggen_ were speedily in flames. The light batteries on
the shore were silenced by the guns of the Fleet, which then
anchored. The next day, six of their men-of-war, with five
fire-ships, advanced, exchanged broadsides, as they went along, with
the _Royal Oak_ and presently engaged Upnor. They were received with
so hot a fire from the Castle, and from the battery opposite, where
Sir Edward Spragge had stationed himself, that, after a time, they
gave up the design of ascending to the dockyard, which at that time
occupied a position higher up the river than at present.

The tide was beginning to slacken, and they doubtless feared that a
number of fire-barges might be launched at them did they venture
higher up. On the way back, they launched a fire-ship at the _Royal
Oak_, which was commanded by Captain Douglas. The flames speedily
communicated to the ship, and the crew took to the boats and rowed
ashore. Captain Douglas refused to leave his vessel, and perished in
the flames. The report given by the six men-of-war decided the Dutch
not to attempt anything further against Chatham. On the 14th, they
set fire to the hulks, the _Loyal London_ and the _Great James_,
and carried off the hulk of the _Royal Charles_, after the English
had twice tried to destroy her by fire. As this was the ship in which
the Duke of Albemarle, then General Monk, had brought the King over
to England from Holland, her capture was considered a special triumph
for the Dutch and a special dishonour to us.

The Duke of Albemarle had left Chatham before the Dutch came up. As
the want of crews prevented his being of any use there, and he saw
that Sir Edward Spragge would do all that was possible in defence of
the place, he posted back to London, where his presence was urgently
required, a complete panic reigning. Crowds assembled at Whitehall,
and insulted the King and his ministers as the cause of the present
misfortunes, while at Deptford and Wapping, the sailors and their
wives paraded the streets, shouting that the ill-treatment of our
sailors had brought these things about, and so hostile were their
manifestations that the officials of the Admiralty scarce dared show
themselves in the streets.

Cyril had remained at Chatham, the Duke having recommended him to Sir
Edward Spragge, and he, with some other gentlemen and a few sailors,
had manned the battery opposite Upnor.

The great proportion of the Dutch ships were still at the Nore, as it
would have been dangerous to have hazarded so great a fleet in the
narrow water of the Medway. As it was, two of their men-of-war, on
the way back from Chatham, ran ashore, and had to be burnt. They had
also six fire-ships burnt, and lost over a hundred and fifty men.

Leaving Admiral Van Ness with part of the Fleet in the mouth of the
Thames, De Ruyter sailed first for Harwich, where he attempted to
land with sixteen hundred men in boats, supported by the guns of the
Fleet. The boats, however, failed to effect a landing, being beaten
off, with considerable loss, by the county Militia; and Ruyter then
sailed for Portsmouth, where he also failed. He then went west to
Torbay, where he was likewise repulsed, and then returned to the
mouth of the Thames.

On July 23rd, Van Ness, with twenty-five men-of-war, sailed up the
Hope, where Sir Edward Spragge had now hoisted his flag on board a
squadron of eighteen ships, of whom five were frigates and the rest
fire-ships. A sharp engagement ensued, but the wind was very light,
and the English, by towing their fire-ships, managed to lay them
alongside the Dutch fire-ships, and destroyed twelve of these with a
loss of only six English ships. But, the wind then rising, Sir Edward
retired from the Hope to Gravesend, where he was protected by the
guns at Tilbury.

The next day, being joined by Sir Joseph Jordan, with a few small
ships, he took the offensive, and destroyed the last fire-ship that
the Dutch had left, and compelled the men-of-war to retire. Sir
Edward followed them with his little squadron, and Van Ness, as he
retired down the river, was met by five frigates and fourteen
fire-ships from Harwich. These boldly attacked him. Two of the Dutch
men-of-war narrowly escaped being burnt, another was forced ashore
and greatly damaged, and the whole of the Dutch Fleet was compelled
to bear away.

While these events had been happening in the Thames, the negotiations
at Breda had continued, and, just as the Dutch retreated, the news
came that Peace had been signed. The Dutch, on their side, were
satisfied with the success with which they had closed the war, while
England was, at the moment, unable to continue it, and the King,
seeing the intense unpopularity that had been excited against him by
the affair at Chatham, was glad to ratify the Peace, especially as we
thereby retained possession of several islands we had taken in the
West Indies from the Dutch, and it was manifest that Spain was
preparing to join the coalition of France and Holland against us.

A Peace concluded under such circumstances was naturally but a short
one. When the war was renewed, three years later, the French were in
alliance with us, and, after several more desperate battles, in which
no great advantages were gained on either side, the Dutch were so
exhausted and impoverished by the loss of trade, that a final Peace
was arranged on terms far more advantageous to us than those secured
by the Treaty of 1667. The De Wittes, the authors of the previous
wars, had both been killed in a popular tumult. The Prince of Orange
was at the head of the State, and the fact that France and Spain were
both hostile to Holland had reawakened the feeling of England in
favour of the Protestant Republic, and the friendship between the two
nations has never since been broken.

Cyril took no part in the last war against the Dutch. He, like the
majority of the nation, was opposed to it, and, although willing to
give his life in defence of his country when attacked, felt it by no
means his duty to do so when we were aiding the designs of France in
crushing a brave enemy. Such was in fact the result of the war; for
although peace was made on even terms, the wars of Holland with
England and the ruin caused to her trade thereby, inflicted a blow
upon the Republic from which she never recovered. From being the
great rival of England, both on the sea and in her foreign commerce,
her prosperity and power dwindled until she ceased altogether to be a
factor in European affairs.

After the Peace of Breda was signed, Cyril went down to Upmead,
where, for the next four years, he devoted himself to the management
of his estate. His friendship with Mr. Harvey grew closer and warmer,
until the latter came to consider him in really the light of a son;
and when he died, in 1681, it was found that his will was unaltered,
and that, with the exception of legacies to many of his old employés
at his factory, the whole of his property was left to Cyril. The
latter received a good offer for the tanyard, and, upon an estate
next to his own coming shortly afterwards into the market, he
purchased it, and thus the Upmead estates became as extensive as they
had been before the time of his ancestor, who had so seriously
diminished them during the reign of Elizabeth.

His friendship with the family of the Earl of Wisbech had remained
unaltered, and he had every year paid them a visit, either at Wisbech
or at Sevenoaks. A year after Mr. Harvey's death, he married Dorothy,
who had previously refused several flattering offers.

Captain Dave and his wife lived to a good old age. The business had
largely increased, owing to the energy of their son-in-law, who had,
with his wife and children, taken up his abode in the next house to
theirs, which had been bought to meet the extension of their
business. John Wilkes, at the death of Captain Dave, declined Cyril's
pressing offer to make his home with him.

"It would never do, Sir Cyril," he said. "I should be miserable out
of the sight of ships, and without a place where I could meet
seafaring men, and smoke my pipe, and listen to their yarns."

He therefore remained with Frank Watson, nominally in charge of the
stores, but doing, in fact, as little as he chose until, long past
the allotted age of man, he passed quietly away.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "When London Burned : a Story of Restoration Times and the Great Fire" ***

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