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Title: A Gentleman-at-arms - Being passages in the life of Sir Christopher Rudd, Knight
Author: Strang, Herbert
Language: English
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[Illustration: SUDDENLY THERE WAS A ROAR OF MUSKETS, AND THROUGH THE
SMOKE I SAW THE SPANIARDS RUSHING TOWARDS US]



                          A GENTLEMAN-AT-ARMS:

                     BEING PASSAGES IN THE LIFE OF
                     SIR CHRISTOPHER RUDD, KNIGHT,
                      AS RELATED BY HIMSELF IN THE
                     YEAR 1641 AND NOW SET FORTH BY


                             HERBERT STRANG



                         WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY
                              CYRUS CUNEO
                           AND T. H. ROBINSON



                                 LONDON
                              HENRY FROWDE
                           HODDER & STOUGHTON



                       [Illustration: Title page]



                        _First printed in 1914_



                               *CONTENTS*


INTRODUCTORY


THE FIRST PART

CHRISTOPHER RUDD’S ADVENTURE IN HISPANIOLA, AND THE STRANGE STORY OF
CAPTAIN Q


THE SECOND PART

CHRISTOPHER RUDD’S ADVENTURE IN FRANCE, AND HIS BORROWING OF THE WHITE
PLUME OF HENRY OF NAVARRE


THE THIRD PART

CHRISTOPHER RUDD’S ADVENTURE IN THE LOW COUNTRIES, AND HIS QUAINT DEVICE
OF THE SILVER SHOT


THE FOURTH PART

CHRISTOPHER RUDD’S ADVENTURE IN SPAIN, AND THE FASHION IN WHICH HE
PLAYED THE PART OF A PHYSICIAN


THE FIFTH PART

CHRISTOPHER RUDD’S ADVENTURE IN IRELAND, AND THE MANNER OF HIS WINNING A
WIFE


POSTSCRIPT



                        *LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS*


                      COLOUR PLATES BY CYRUS CUNEO

SUDDENLY THERE WAS A ROAR OF MUSKETS, AND THROUGH THE SMOKE I SAW THE
SPANIARDS RUSHING TOWARDS US (see p. 52) . . . _Frontispiece_

I BEHELD THE MAN KNEELING BEFORE AN OPEN CHEST, GLOATING OVER IT,
PLUNGING HIS HANDS INTO IT

THE SIEUR DE LANGRES GAVE ONE CHOKING SIGH, AND FELL AT THE KING’S FEET

RAISING HIS SWORD HIGH ABOVE HIS HEAD, HE BROUGHT IT DOWN WITH A
VEHEMENT STROKE

PINNING HIM DOWN UPON A CHAIR, I BADE HIM STERNLY GIVE HEED TO CERTAIN
CONDITIONS ON WHICH I WOULD SPARE HIS LIFE

DOWN HE WENT UPON THE COBBLES, AND I STOOD OVER HIM WHILE HE LAY AND
GROANED

INSTANTLY RAOUL WAS AT DON YGNACIO’S THROAT

I FOUND MY LADY KNEELING BESIDE ME, HOLDING A CUP



                       DRAWINGS BY T. H. ROBINSON

I LAY HID UNTIL THE MAN HAD COME FORTH AND GONE HIS WAY

HE CAUGHT THE SWIMMER AS HE WAS ON THE POINT OF SINKING

THE SPANIARDS LEAPT INTO THE RAVINE AND CLAMBERED UP THE OTHER SIDE

THE SWIFTNESS OF OUR ONSET TOOK THE SPANIARDS ALL ABACK

WE OPENED THE CHESTS IN HIS PRESENCE

I FELT A SHARP PANG IN THE CALF OF MY LEFT LEG

A FIGURE SPRANG AT ME OUT OF THE DARK ENTRY

I SAW A MAN LYING IN A HUDDLED HEAP

WE CREPT SOFTLY AS FOXES TOWARD THE WALL

"SIR, YOU COME FROM THE ILLUSTRIOUS PRINCE MAURICE OF NASSAU?"

RIGHT MERRY WERE THE CITIZENS AT THE SUCCESS OF OUR ENTERPRISE

VOLMAR READ THE LETTER BY THE AID OF A LANTERN

I BEHELD THREE MEN AS BLACK BLOTS MOVING IN THE DARKNESS

"TO-MORROW THE ORDER WILL BE GIVEN TO THE CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD TO ARREST
YOU"

I TOLD HIM VERY SHORTLY, AND NEVER IN MY LIFE HAVE I SEEN SO PITEOUS A
SPECTACLE AS THAT LITTLE ROUND RUBICUND MAN

I FOUND SIR WALTER IN HIS GARDEN

HE THRUST INTO MY HAND SOME PAPERS

I MADE BOLD TO ACCOST HIM

I BETOOK MYSELF TO AN APOTHECARY’S

"OUT OF MY SIGHT, RAPSCALLION!"

SHOWING HIM MY DAGGER, I BADE HIM HOLD HIS PEACE

HE PLIED THE WHIP RIGHT MERRILY

THEY DID BUT MOCK ME WITH JEERS AND HORRID EXECRATIONS

"I WILL SURELY EXECUTE UPON YOU ANY VIOLENCE OR INDIGNITY THAT MY FATHER
MAY SUFFER"

GATHERING MY SPEED, IN FOUR LEAPS I WAS UPON HIM

HE CLUTCHED ME BY THE ARM AND POINTED TO A REGIMENT OF DUSKY SHAPES

I CROSSED THE GUARD OF RORY MAC SHANE, AND GAVE HIM THE POINT OF MY
SWORD

"HOW NOW, MY BULLY ROOK!"

HEADINGS ON PAGES . . . 17, 81, 129, 217, 311

TAILPIECES ON PAGES . . . 75, 123, 209, 304, 382



                             *INTRODUCTORY*


The Rudds, like many another ancient family, have come down in the
world, as the saying goes. They no longer live on the toil of others,
but work for their own livelihood.  They no longer own manors, or follow
their feudal lords to court in armour; but here and there about the
world, in business, at the Bar, in the Army or administrative offices,
they worthily sustain the honour of their name.

The present head of the family cherishes an heirloom, which has
descended from father to son through three centuries.  It has no
commercial value; it would not fetch a shilling in the auction room:
indeed, the mere hint of selling it would shock a Rudd.  It is a flat
leather case, discoloured, frayed at the edges, almost worn out with
age.  But upon its side may still be seen faint traces of the initials
C.R., and within it lies a bundle of faded papers, with the following
inscription on the cover:


_Certeyn Passages in the Life of Syr Christopher Rudde, knyghte, related
by himselfe in the yeare of our Lorde 1641, and written down by his
grandsonne Stephen._


It is easy to understand why this old manuscript is treasured by the
Rudd family.  The "certain passages" in their ancestor’s life are
interesting in themselves, as narratives of romantic adventure in
various countries of the old world and the new.  They give incidental
pictures of remarkable scenes and personages, and throw not a little
light on the manners and conditions of bygone times.  Above all, they
seem to me to portray an English gentleman of the great age of
Elizabeth—a gentleman who had a proper pride in his country without
scorning others, and was ever ready to draw his sword chivalrously in
the cause of freedom and justice.

The grandson, Stephen Rudd, professes to have written these stories as
they were told him by his grandfather; but I cannot help suspecting that
he dealt with them somewhat as the parliamentary reporters of the
present day are said to deal with the speeches delivered on the floor of
the House—arranging, giving form and coherence. You can detect in the
style echoes of the prose of Elizabeth’s day, but it is on the whole
less coloured, less vigorous, more formal, in the manner of the Caroline
writers; and it has not the unconstraint of a man talking at ease in his
armchair.  The events related are separated by wide intervals of time,
and Stephen has filled up the gaps with brief accounts of the course of
public affairs, as well as of the personal history of his grandfather.
In printing these along with Sir Christopher’s stories, I have thought
it best, for the sake of uniformity, to modernise the spelling: there
would be no object in perplexing the reader with such antique forms, for
instance, as _beesyde_, _woordes_ and _tunge_.

Sir Christopher’s first story plunges at once into an adventure of his
seventeenth year, and it is perhaps advisable to preface it with a few
particulars of his earlier life.  He was born, it appears, on July 15,
1571, the son of a country gentleman who owned a manor on the outskirts
of the New Forest.  This was the year of the discovery of the Norfolk
plot against the life of Queen Elizabeth, and the opening of a period of
great moment in the history of England and Europe.  The boy was six
years old when Drake set sail on his famous voyage to the Pacific; and
during the next few years he must have heard many stirring events talked
about in his father’s hall—Alva’s persecutions in the Netherlands, the
assassination of the Prince of Orange, the buccaneering exploits of the
English sea-dogs.  At the age of twelve he entered William of Wykeham’s
great school at Winchester, and we may imagine how eagerly he discussed
with his school fellows such items of exciting news as filtered through
from the greater world.  It is not surprising that his imagination was
fired, that the lust of adventure gripped him, and that at last the call
proved irresistible, bringing his schooldays to an abrupt end, and
luring him forth to a career of activity and enterprise.


HERBERT STRANG



                            *THE FIRST PART*


                    *CHRISTOPHER RUDD’S ADVENTURE IN
                  HISPANIOLA, AND THE STRANGE STORY OF
                              CAPTAIN Q.*



[Illustration: headpiece to First Part]


                                  *I*


I was a lank youth of sixteen years when I fell into the hands of the
Spaniards of Hispaniola—an accident wherein my grandam saw the hand of
Providence chastising a prodigal son; but of that you shall judge.

In the summer of the year 1587, riding from school home by way of
Southampton, I was told there of a brigantine then fitting out, to
convey forth a company of gentlemen adventurers to the Spanish Main in
quest of treasure.  Sir Francis Drake had lately come home from spoiling
the Spaniards’ ships in the harbour of Cadiz, and the ports of our south
coast were ringing with the tale of his wondrous doings; and I, being
known for a lad of quick blood and gamesome temper, was resolved to go
where Francis Drake had gone aforetime, and gain somewhat of the wealth
then lying open to adventurers bold to pluck the King of Spain’s beard.
Wherefore one fine night I stole from my bed-chamber, hied me to the
quay at Southampton, and bestowed myself secretly aboard the good ship
_Elizabeth_.

Of my discovery in the hold, and the cuffs I got, and the probation I
was put to, and my admission thereafter to the company of gentlemen
adventurers, I will say nothing.  The _Elizabeth_ made in due time the
coast of Hispaniola, and when Hilary Rawdon, the captain, sent a party
of his crew ashore to fill their water-casks, I must needs accompany
them; ’twas the first land we had touched for two weary months, and I
felt a desperate urgency to stretch my legs.  And while we were about
our business, up comes a posse of Spaniards swiftly out of the woods,
and there is a sudden onfall and a sharp tussle, and our party, being
outnumbered three to one, is sore discomfited and utterly put to the
rout, but not until all save myself and another are slain, and I find
myself on my back, with a Spanish bullet in my leg.  And you see me now
borne away among the victors, and when I am healed of my wound, I learn
that I am a slave on the lands of a most noble hidalgo of Spain, one Don
Alfonso de Silva de Marabona, and an admiral to boot.

Now I had left home to spoil the Spaniards and with no other intent;
wherefore to toil and sweat under a hot sun on the fields of a Spanish
admiral, however noble, was no whit to my liking. Moreover, Don Alfonso
proved an exceeding hard taskmaster, and bore heavily upon me his
prisoner, a thing that was perhaps no cause for wonder, seeing that of
all who had suffered when Master Drake sacked San Domingo, he had
suffered the most.  His mansion had been plundered and burnt; his pride
had been wounded by the despite done to his galleons; and when a
Spaniard is hurt both in pride and in pocket, he is not like to prove
himself a very generous foe.  And so I was in a manner the scapegoat for
Master Drake’s offences, and had in good sooth to smart for it.  My
noble master made no ado about commanding me to be flogged if he were
not content with me; and to rub the juice of lemons, laced with salt and
pepper, into the wounds made by the lash, is a marvellous shrewd way
(though nowise commendable) of fostering penitence and remorse.

But in this unhappy plight I was not left without a friend.  One midday,
when I was resting from my toil in the fields, there came to me a spare
and sallow boy, somewhat younger than myself, and spoke courteously to
me in a kind of French, the which I, being by no means without my
rudiments, made shift to understand. I soon perceived that we had a
something in common, namely, a heavy and grievous grudge against Don
Alfonso de Silva de Marabona, the which became a bond of unity betwixt
us. Antonio (so was he named) was nephew to the admiral, and dependent
on him—though his father had been a rich man,—by him, moreover, treated
with great rigour.  Ere long I was well acquainted with Antonio’s
doleful case.  It was eleven years since his father the elder Antonio
had sailed away for Spain, being summoned thither about some question of
law concerning his estates in Castile.  He took with him, in the galleon
_San Felipe_, a store of treasure belonging to his brother the admiral,
together with a yet costlier freight for behoof of his Catholic Majesty
of Spain.  And there was Antonio, a motherless infant of four years,
left in his uncle’s charge, his father purposing to return for him in
the following summer, by the which time he hoped to have set his affairs
in order.

The stormy season of the year was at hand when he departed, and divers
of his friends had warned him against the perils of the long voyage.
But Don Antonio feared the elements less than the French and English
rovers who then infested the seas, and he had indeed chosen this time
advisedly, for that it was little likely to tempt the pirates from their
lairs.  It fell out, however, that he had not left port above three days
when a great tempest arose, suddenly, as the manner is in those regions,
and to the wonted terrors of the tornado was added an earthquake, with
fierce rumblings and vast upheavals of the soil, so that the admiral
made great lament about his brother and the wealth he had in charge.
Don Antonio came no more to Hispaniola; the galleon _San Felipe_ was
heard of never more; and his son had remained under the austere
governance of Don Alfonso, who showed him no kindness, but ever seemed
to look upon him as a burthen.  When Antonio came to the age of twelve,
he inquired of his uncle whether the estates of his late father would
not one day be his; but the admiral made answer that he had long since
purchased the property from his brother, who had purposed sometime to
quit the island and spend the remnant of his days in Spain.

Such was Antonio’s story, as he told it to me. He called his uncle a
fiend; as for me, I called him, in the English manner, Old Marrow-bones;
we both signified one and the same thing—that we held him in loathing
and abhorrence.  This was our bond of union, and soon it became our
custom to meet daily and rehearse our woes in consort.  Antonio was ever
careful to keep these our meetings secret, since he knew that, coming
perchance to the admiral’s ears, they would be deemed a cause of
offence, and be punished, beyond doubt, with many stripes.

But to dub your enemy with opprobrious names brings you no contentment,
and does him no hurt.  In no great while I began to consider of some
means whereby I might contrive to slip the leash of my illustrious
master. Having made Antonio swear by all his saints that he would not
betray me, I took counsel with him; indeed, I essayed to persuade the
boy to put all to the hazard, and make his escape with me.  But Antonio
could not screw his resolution to this pitch.  He was content to throw
himself with right good-will into the perfecting of my plans.  And so it
came to pass that one fine day, about sunset, I took French leave (as
the saying is) and set off on my lonely way to liberty.  I had nothing
upon me save my garments, and a long machete (so their knives are
called) given me by Antonio; but as Samson slew countless Philistines
with the jawbone of an ass, and David laid Goliath low with a pebble
from the brook; so I, though I did not liken myself to those heroes of
old, yet knew myself to be a fellow-countryman with Francis Drake, and
needed no doughtier ensample to inspire me.

Following Antonio’s wise and prudent counsel I set my face towards the
north-west angle of the island, for the reason that, parted from it by
only a narrow strip of sea, there lay the smaller island of Tortuga,
where it was possible that some countrymen of my own might be.  Tortuga
had been at some time a settlement of the Spaniards, but they had now
abandoned it, and if an English ship should chance to have put in to
water there, or to burn the barnacles off its hull, I might light upon
the crew and join myself to them, and so bring my tribulations to an
end.  And after near a week’s trudging—with herbs for my meat and water
from the streams for my drink—I came one day to the further shore of
Hispaniola, and with great gladness beheld the strange hump-backed
island, like a monstrous tortoise floating on the sea, for which cause
it was named Tortuga.

A day or two I spent in roaming to and fro, gazing hungrily seawards for
a ship.  And when none appeared, I bethought me that I should certainly
be none the worse conditioned—nay, I might be a great deal the better—if
I should cross to the smaller island and there make my abode.  Having
once been the habitation of Christian folk, methought it would retain
some remnants of its former plantations, so that I need not want for
food; and of a surety, with a wider expanse of sea before me, I should
be in better case to spy a passing vessel than if I remained on
Hispaniola.  I was minded at first to swim the channel—’twould be no
great feat—but, observing at the water’s edge a pair of ground-sharks
lying in wait for a toothsome meal, I gave up this design very readily,
and considered of some safer way.

There were woods growing almost to the shore.  To a boy with his mind
set on it, and a sharp knife to his hand, the making of a raft is a task
of no great labour or hardship.  ’Twas the work of two days to lop
branches meet for my purpose, strip them, and bind them together with
strands of bejuca, a climbing plant of serviceable sort; and on the
third day I launched my raft, and oared myself across the still water,
being companied by a disappointed shark the better part of the way.  I
went ashore in some fear and trembling lest I should meet Spaniards, or
other hostile men; but I saw no sign of present habitation, and wandered
for near a day without lighting on any traces of mankind. But at length
in my course I spied a heap of wood ashes, and some rinds of fruit, and
a little beyond a broken hen-coop, whereby I knew that men sometimes
resorted to the island, as Antonio had said.  It came into my mind that
my late companions of the _Elizabeth_ had perchance set foot here no
long while before me, and I felt a great longing to look on them again.
I wondered where they might be, whether they had fought the Spaniards on
the Main and gained great treasure, or whether they had given up their
quest and sailed away for home.

Some days I spent in solitude, never straying far from the coast, lest I
should be out of sight if a ship came near.  There was food in
plenty—such is the bounty of Providence in those climes; and of nights I
ensconced myself in a little hut I built of branches in a nook on the
shore.

One evening as I roamed upon the cliff, and with vain longing scanned
the sea, on a sudden I espied, moving among the tree trunks on my right
hand, a patch of red.  In great perturbation of spirit I sprang behind a
tree.  I had not seen clearly what the object was: it might be a man, it
might be a beast.  In the wildernesses about the middle of Hispaniola
there were, I knew, herds of wild dogs and boars, a terror to human
kind; and a fear beset me lest Tortuga also were the haunt of savage
creatures, which might come upon me in the night.  Meseemed I must at
the least resolve my doubts, wherefore I went forward stealthily,
bending among creeping plants, skipping from trunk to trunk, straining
my eyes for another glimpse of that patch of red. For some little while
I sought in vain, and I was in a sweat of apprehension lest I should
stumble into danger; but after stalking for near half-an-hour, as I
supposed, of a sudden I saw some moving thing among the trees within a
hundred paces of me.  Even as I watched, a quaint and marvellous figure
came forth into a little open space—the form of a man, arrayed from
doublet to shoes in garments of bright red. His head was bare; a rapier
hung at his side; and as I looked he plucked the weapon by the hilts,
and made sundry passes in the air, going from me slowly into the
woodland.  Never in my life had I beheld a man so oddly apparelled, and
to find such an one here, on this lone island of Tortuga, set me athrill
with admiration.  I deemed that I should have no security of mind until
I had learnt somewhat of this stranger, and whether there were others
with him; wherefore with stealthy steps I followed him into the
woodland, and there, after near losing him, I saw him enter a little hut
set in the midst of a narrow laund.  From behind a tree I watched the
red man.  He kindled a fire, and I looked for him to cook his supper;
but instead, he laid himself down on a bed of dried grass, so that the
smoke from the fire might be carried by the light wind across him, the
which in a moment I guessed to be his device for warding off the
insects; I had suffered many things from their appetite in the nights I
had slept in the woods of Hispaniola.

Seeing that the red man had composed himself to sleep, I returned
quietly to my hut on the shore, and when I fell asleep dreamed that I
beheld him defending at the rapier’s point young Antonio against the
whip of the noble admiral Don Alfonso de Silva de Marabona.  I rose with
the sun and stole back to the woodland, in hope to see the man quit his
sleeping-place and to gain some light upon his manner of life and his
doings upon this lone island.  But the hut was empty; its inhabitant was
already astir.  Not that day nor for several days after did I set eyes
on him again; but one high noon I had a glimpse of him roaming along the
cliff, and while I was following, a great way off, he suddenly vanished
from my sight as ’twere into the earth.

The numbness of terror seized upon me; I stood fixed to the ground,
never doubting (being then but a boy) that ’twas the foul fiend in his
very person who had descended into the bowels of the earth.  But
bethinking me that I had discerned no horns upon his head, nor the tail
that was his proper appendage, but, instead, a rapier such as mortal men
use, I plucked up heart to draw nigh to the spot where he had
disappeared.  And when I came to it, ’twas not, as I feared, a chasm,
horrid with blue flame and sulphurous fume, but a short, steep path in
the cliff-side.

Gathering my courage, I trod with wary steps until I came to a small
opening in the cliff.  And when I had overcome my tearfulness and
ventured to peep in, I was struck with a great amazement, for I beheld a
vast vaulted chamber. There came some little daylight into it through
fissures in its further wall, and when my eyes had grown accustomed to
the twilight, and comprehended the whole space, I saw there, before and
below me, the hull of a galleon, lying somewhat upon its side, with a
little water about its keel.  And as I looked, I beheld the red man how
he waded to the vessel, whose side he ascended by a ladder of rope, and
then, having gained the deck, he was no more to be seen.

I stood rooted in amazement.  I durst not follow the red man further,
conceiving that in a land where all save Spaniards were intruders, the
odds were that he was of that race, and that to accost him, even to
discover myself to him, might put my life in jeopardy.  Besides, the
man’s aspect, and my remembrance of the fierceness of his sword-play as
I saw it in my dream, counselled wariness: he was not a man to approach
but with caution.  Moreover, I was in presence of a great marvel,
perceiving no means whereby the galleon had come into this vault.  Save
for the narrow entrance, and the jagged rents in the walls, the chamber
was wholly enclosed; nor was there any passage whereby so great a vessel
could have been hauled in from the sea.

Perplexed and bewildered, I waited long, but vainly, for the red man to
show himself again. Then, when from sheer weariness and hunger I was in
a mind to return to the cliff, I beheld him rise from below deck,
descend by the ladder, and, again wading through the water, make towards
me.  Incontinently and in silence I fled, but halted when I gained the
cliff, and lay hid until the man had come forth and gone his way.
Whereupon I stole back and descended to the floor of the vault, to
quench, if I might, my burning curiosity.

[Illustration: I LAY HID UNTIL THE MAN HAD COME FORTH AND GONE HIS WAY]

I walked about the vessel, and when I came to the stern, I started back,
smitten with stark amazement.  Her name was painted in great golden
letters there; I read it: ’twas SAN FELIPE, the name of the galleon
wherein the father of my friend Antonio had sailed from San Domingo
eleven years since, and which had never more been heard of.

I thought of witchcraft, and questioned whether ’twere not the very work
of the devil, for sure no mortal hands had brought the vessel through
solid walls into this rock-bound chamber.  But the galleon itself was in
truth a thing of substance; thee were real shells at the brink of the
water; the water itself (when I dipped my finger and licked it) was
salt; beyond doubt the vault had communication with the sea.  And even
while I stood there I perceived the water to be rising; ’twas deeper now
than when the man had first waded through it to the vessel.  In haste I
made the full circuit of the place, searching for an entrance, but in
vain. Save the fissures letting in the light, there was not a hole
through which a rat might wriggle, nor could I find the passage by which
the water came.

In much perplexity, oppressed by the wonder of it, I left the place by
and by and returned to my hut.  But I could not long withhold myself
from the cavern, the which lured and (in a manner) beckoned me by some
strange spell. Next day I came again to it, and did as I had seen the
red man do—to wit, waded through the water and climbed on board.  My
feet had scarce touched the deck when I beheld the red form standing in
the narrow entrance at the further end of the vault.  Quick as thought I
slipped into hiding on the lofty poop and there kept watch.  The man
came aboard and descended by the companion, and a little after I heard
the tinkling of metal.  I was drawn as by strong cords to learn what he
was doing, and crept silently as a mouse after him to the cabin. As I
drew near I heard again the clink of metal, and when I came to the door
I beheld the man kneeling before an open chest, gloating over it,
plunging his hands into it, bathing them in the pieces of eight that
filled it to the brim.

[Illustration: I BEHELD THE MAN KNEELING BEFORE AN OPEN CHEST, GLOATING
OVER IT, PLUNGING HIS HANDS INTO IT]

Spellbound, I stood and gazed.  This discovery did but deepen the
wonder.  I questioned whether this were Antonio’s father, who had never
sailed to Spain at all, but by some strange means, belike with the help
of demons, had brought the vessel hither.  And then, as I mused, the red
man seemed to become aware by some subtle sense that he was not alone.
Suddenly he turned his head, espied me, sprang to his feet, and,
whipping out his rapier, leapt with a fierce cry towards me.  I turned
to flee, being unarmed save for my machete, the which was no match for a
rapier.  But I was a thought too late.  The red man was upon my heels
ere I could slip overboard, crying out upon me in words which I was too
busy saving my life to heed.

Then began a hot chase round the deck of the galleon, the which might
have continued until the pursuer, being the elder, became exhausted, had
not I espied, in my running, a half-pike lying over against the
bulwarks.  This I snatched up, and put myself in a posture of defence.
"Voleur! voleur!" cried the red man, glaring at me; and now I had
certainty he was no Spaniard.  We fought, and doubtless I had fared ill
but for my youth and the exercise I had had in this very opposition of
pike against sword upon the voyage in the _Elizabeth_.  I was but
sixteen; the Frenchman wore the grave aspect of a man of fifty; and
though he fought as one well practised in the handling of his weapon,
’twas with a stiffness and want of sureness that bespoke disuse.

Yet ’twas a desperate fight.  Once and again I came very near to lose my
life, and escaped the Frenchman’s point solely by my nimbleness. Twice,
indeed, the weapon found my flesh; there was blood upon my sleeve.  And
then came my opportunity.  The Frenchman in lunging at me over-reached
himself, and I brought my pike down with all my strength upon his arm.
His rapier fell to the deck, and before he could recover himself I
sprang upon him, and, by a trick of wrestling I had learnt in bouts at
our country fairs, threw him upon his back.

And there were we two, he stretched on the deck, I pinning him down, and
both of us breathing hard, and gazing each into the other’s eyes. Then I
spoke in French: what I said I know not; but he smiled, a vacant smile
that made me sorry I had hurt him.

"Thou art one of my children," he said. "How didst thou escape?"

By this, and the strangeness of his smile, I knew that his wits were
wandering, and deemed it best to humour him.

"Yes, one of your children," I made answer, understanding the word
_enfants_ as doubtless he intended, as meaning his company, or crew.
"You were mistaken, sir; and I hope I have not broken your arm."

"It is bruised, not broken," said the man, lifting it and smiling upon
me again.  "I do not remember thy name, but thou shalt be my corporal."

"Wherein I am mightily favoured," said I. "Marvellously, too, I have
forgotten your name, mon Capitaine."

"My name!" he said, in manifest puzzlement.  "My name!"  And then,
smiling once more, he said, "I cannot tell.  It is so long, so long
since I heard it.  My children called me Captain, but that was before
the storm.  I forget many things; my children left me; they were reft
from me by the storm; they died—all but you; and I cannot remember your
name!  They called me Captain; and in truth I am Captain, by the choice
and election of the great Condé. Yes, the great Condé made me Captain, a
stripling from Quimperlé."

"Captain Q," said I, on the spur of the moment.

He looked puzzled; then the same smile, like the empty smile of a babe,
beamed upon his face, and he said—

"Captain Q; and thou shalt be Corporal R. Is it not so?"

"And so it is," I said.  "My name is Rudd; I am an Englishman."

"And we will fight the Spaniards together, shall we not?  They must
never get my gold—never!"

"Indeed they shall not!" I replied.  "And now let us go out into the
open, and I will bathe your arm at a brook.  ’Tis pity we did not
remember each other sooner."

"Ah, but it is such a long time!" said Captain Q.

We went out together, and after I had bathed his arm (’twas bruised from
elbow to wrist) the Captain invited me to his hut, and to a share of his
dinner of herbs.

Such was the strange beginning of a friendship that endured for near
forty years.  Though he was by so much my elder, he dealt with me as
though I had been his brother.  We roamed the shore together, together
fished and snared animals in the woods, and would have shared the same
lodging but that I preferred to keep my little hut on the shore, where I
had fresher air and was within close call of any ship that should chance
to pass in the night.  Little by little I pieced together the story of
the rock-girt galleon and of Captain Q.  He could not talk in orderly
sequence for long together, but whatsoever the subject of our discourse,
he would break off to prattle of his childhood in the little village of
Quimperlé, and of his youth and manhood to the time when destiny brought
him to Tortuga. He was a Huguenot, and had fought under Condé at St.
Denis, and under Admiral Coligny at Jarnac.  After the dread day of St.
Bartholomew he fled from France, and became a corsair in his own vessel,
haunting the coasts of the Spanish Main.  One day he fell in with the
galleon _San Felipe_, and took it after a long fight.  His own ship
being small, he put his crew aboard the galleon, and the crew and
company of the galleon upon his ship, and then sailed away for Tortuga,
designing to land there and divide the spoil.  And his little vessel,
with the Spaniards on board, had gone down before his very eyes, having
received sore damage in the action.

Before the _San Felipe_ made Tortuga she was caught in a great storm,
which swept upon her suddenly and sent her masts by the board. During a
lull she was warped into a cove on the Tortuga coast, and there
refitted.  Then, as she was being towed out, all hands busy in the work,
the sea was cast up by a great earthquake; the cliffs on either hand
were upheaved and flung sheer upon the vessel, killing outright every
man upon it and in the boats save only the Captain and two or three
beside.  The Captain was struck on the head by a fragment of rock, and
thrown senseless to the deck.  (And here, as he told the story, he
lifted his long, grizzling locks and showed a great seam upon his
skull.)  When he came to himself all was at first mere blankness to him.
He got upon his feet, lost in amaze to behold the galleon encompassed by
a vault of rock, and tended the few men that had survived the cataclysm,
but they lingered for a little and then all died, leaving him alone.

Little by little the past came back to him, and he was not aware of any
change in himself save that his memory played him tricks.  But I
perceived that the shock and the blow on the head had done his
intellects more harm than he knew.  He had long fits of silence, wherein
he would sit and gaze vacantly out to sea, or would march with drawn
sword into the woodland, seeking an enemy that had come to steal his
gold.  Other whiles he would weave baskets of grass, humming little
songs, or babbling in the manner of children.  He never ceased to regard
me as one of his whilom crew, and in my pity I said nought to undeceive
him.

He knew not how long he had dwelt upon the island.  I asked him whether
he had been alone all the time, and why he had not discovered himself to
the French and English pirates who had doubtless sometimes come ashore.

He smiled cunningly, and said, "Could I trust them?  They were not my
friends.  Say that I told them of the ship, and the great treasure it
contained, think you they would not have desired it for their own, and
taken it from me, and left me poor?  I trusted La Noue" (his thoughts
were straying to his youth and the siege of La Rochelle): "all men
trusted him. He was saved at Jarnac."

And then he fell a-musing.  At another time he told me that he had been
minded once to join a party that had landed, telling them nothing, with
intent to return at some convenient season for his treasure.  But he
feared lest during his absence it should be discovered, and he might
return only to find that the vessel had been stripped bare.  The
treasure was the sole thing he clung to; he could not bring himself to
part from it even for a day; once a day at the least he descended into
the cabin and feasted his eyes on the great store of gold and jewels.
He had become a miser.  And so he carefully shunned such men as had come
ashore; and once he had been near to starving, when a crew encamped
beneath the cliff wherein was the entrance to his cavern, and remained
there for several days, he not daring to issue forth for food, lest he
should be seen.

I marvelled often that the Captain never showed any distrust of me.  He
took me often into the cabin, and sometimes set me to count the money
piece by piece, and to display the jewels on the lids of the chests.
Indeed, he took, methought, a childish pleasure in thus exhibiting his
wealth, and when the precious things were all set in array before him,
he would gaze from them to me with a simple pride and contentation which
I found infinitely moving.



                                  *II*


Thus many days passed.  I looked often out to sea for a friendly ship,
but none touched on the island, and those that sailed by were Spanish
built, and I durst not hail them.

One night a great storm arose.  Rain fell in floods, thunder roared all
around, the sky was by moments ablaze with lightning such as I had never
seen.  Driven from my hut, I wended my way toilsomely through the
blinding torrents to the cavern, and took shelter for the remainder of
the night with Captain Q on board the galleon. Towards morning the fury
of the storm abated, but the wind was still high, and when we left our
refuge and stood on the cliff, so that the sunbeams might dry our
drenched garments, we espied a ship fast on the rocks a little distance
from shore.  The sea was tempestuous: mighty waves smote and battered
upon the vessel, and I perceived very clearly that she was fast going to
pieces.

While we stood watching, and pitying the poor wights gathered upon deck,
a man sprang overboard with a rope, and struck out for the land, the
waves buffeting him sorely, dashing over him, so that many times he
seemed to have sunk to the bottom.  Stirred by the spectacle, the
Captain put off his caution and timorousness, and stepped forth from
behind the rock where hitherto he had stood at gaze.  His red garb
flashed upon the eye of the swimmer, and methought I heard a despairing
cry for help.  On the instant I ran down to the shore, with Captain Q at
my side.  Half witless as he was in general, the Captain had all his
faculties at this moment of great need.  With me he plunged to his waist
into the sea, with no less calmness than a man might wade a brook, and
caught the swimmer as he was on the point of sinking.  And as we hauled
him safe ashore, I lifted my voice in a shout of joy: for the
half-drowned seaman was none other than Richard Ball, boatswain of my
own ship, the _Elizabeth_.

[Illustration: HE CAUGHT THE SWIMMER AS HE WAS ON THE POINT OF SINKING]

"Why, Dick, man," I cried, "’tis you!"

"God bless ’ee!" panted the man, and then, unable to speak more, he
pointed to the wreck, and seemed to urge that something should be done
for his messmates there.

And now Captain Q once more showed the mettle of a man.  Catching up the
rope that was looped about the boatswain’s body, he called to me to help
him to lash it about a rock; and when this was done, the crew and the
adventurers came along it one by one, hand over hand, from the vessel,
until all, to the number of thirty-seven, were safe on shore.  Joyously
I greeted them, calling each man by name.  Hilary Rawdon, the captain,
came the last; and he had but set his feet upon the strand when the
hapless vessel fell apart, and was swept away upon the waves.

Groans and cries of lamentation broke from the shipwrecked mariners;
their grief at the loss of their vessel for a time outweighed all
thankfulness for their escape from death.  But Hilary clapped me on the
back, and wrung my hand, and cried—

"Gramercy, lad, but ’tis good to see thee once again.  Verily I believed
thee dead, and what was I to say to thy good folk at home?"

And then we fell a-talking eagerly, and the other adventurers flocked
about us, desiring to know what had befallen me since the day when I
went ashore on Hispaniola and returned not. And I was so rapt with joy
at the sight of my friends that I laughed, and for sheer gladness
greeted them again by name—"Tom Hawke, old friend!" and "Harry Loveday,
my bawcock!"—and was so possessed by my ecstasy that I forgot Captain Q
until Hilary recalled me to the present with a question—

"And who is our blood-red friend, old lad?"

I swung myself about.  The Frenchman was gone.

"’Tis Captain Q," I said, and was about to tell more, when I caught
myself up, in doubt of what the Captain would say if his secret were
disclosed.  Having trusted me, peradventure he would deem himself
betrayed if I should make any revelation.  ’Twas borne upon me that I
must needs consult with him before telling any whit of his story.

"Methinks your Captain Kew is of a backward disposition, seeing that he
hath departed without our thanks," said Hilary.  "We must e’en go after
him, my lad.  But let us hear all that hath happed to thee since we gave
thee up for dead."

I told how I was taken prisoner, and of my captivity and servitude under
Don Alfonso de Silva de Marabona, and Tom Hawke, in his boyish way,
instantly caught at the name, and wished he might live to pluck Old
Marrow-bones by the beard.  Then I told of my escape and journey to
Tortuga, where I had been, as I guessed, a matter of a month.

"And your Captain Kew, what of him?" asked Hilary.  "Is he of the Kews
of Ditchingham, and how came he here?"

And I saw that the secret must come out.  If I did not myself tell it,
my friends would certainly not rest until they had discovered it for
themselves, and ’twas not unlike that Captain Q would fare very ill at
their hands, and lose all the treasure whereby he set such store.
Better that his story should be told by one who had fellow-feeling for
him than that all should be left to chance.  So I took Hilary Rawdon
aside and acquainted him with my discoveries.

"Why, ’tis he that is the thief," cried Hilary when he had heard all.
"We have as good a right to the treasure as he."

"Some of it belongs by right to Antonio de Marabona, whom his uncle has
defrauded," I replied.

"Tuts, lad, in this part of the world it belongs to them that can take
it.  Did we not sail hither, I ask you, in quest of treasure?  Have we
not lost men and suffered shipwreck in this very adventure against the
Queen’s enemies? Should we not have captured this very galleon had we
come but eleven years ago?  Is not your answer ’Yes,’ and ’Yes,’ and
’Yes’?"

He looked at me with triumph.  Certainly there was no gainsaying his
reasoning, though the third of his questions had a smack of
inconsequence that bid for laughter.  But I made a condition, as seemed
to me just.

"Give me your word," I said, "that Captain Q shall suffer no hurt, and
shall have a fair share of the treasure.  As for Antonio, I fear me he
must suffer for having been born a Spaniard."

"He is no worse off than he was," said Hilary. "The galleon, as he
believes, lies at the bottom of the sea; and I trow if you returned to
him, and brought him here, and restored to him what was once his, Tom
Hawke or Harry Loveday, or one of the mariners, would incontinently
knock him on the head (being a Spaniard), and all be as before.  And as
for Captain Q, ’tis the fortune of war, my lad; we take from him what he
himself took."

"Yet ’tis by his help that you, and Tom Hawke, and Harry Loveday, and
all the mariners, are this moment alive," I said.

"True, old lad," said he, "and we must not forget it.  But come, let us
wend to this wondrous vault of his, and see with our own eyes the marvel
you tell us of."

With us we took only Hawke and Loveday, leaving the mariners to their
devices.  This was at my wish, for I feared lest the men, if they in
their present distress should learn of rich treasure so close at hand,
should forget gratitude and discipline, and leap like hungry wolves upon
their prey.  They were good seamen, and honest souls withal, but lawless
and ill-taught, and possessed with a marvellous scorn of men of other
race.  And now they stood upon the beach and bemoaned their fate, and
cursed the day when they sailed out of Southampton on this ill-starred
and bootless quest.

We four went on to the cavern.  Captain Q seemed to have expected us,
for when we came to the entrance, there was he, sword in hand, ready to
dispute our advance.  Tom Hawke, a wild young spirit, was for rushing
upon him there and then, and beating him down by main force, and indeed
he stepped forward to cross swords with the Frenchman.  But I could not
endure that my friend should be dealt with thus, and calling Tom Hawke
back (who indeed already repented of his discourtesy), I proposed that
we should humour the Frenchman—call him Captain, place ourselves at his
orders, and promise to attempt to make a passage for the vessel, so that
he might once more sail the seas with a merry crew.

"I’faith, a right excellent conceit!" cried Hilary.  "I salute you,
Captain Q," he added, with a profound bow.  "Unfold to him our purpose,
Kitt."

And I went before them and spoke to the Captain, and when he understood
he smiled with pleasure, dropped his point, and, with a commanding
gesture that mightily became him, bade us bring up his new company to
set about the work.

"Oui, certainement, mon Capitaine," said Hilary; and when by and by the
men, in sober mood, came up, and the matter was put to them, "Ay, ay,
sir," cried Richard Ball, the boatswain; "Ay, ay, sir," the men chimed
in, and the Captain led us into the cavern.

Cries of astonishment broke from the men’s lips when they saw that
miracle of Nature, and of admiration as they walked around about the
galleon and marked her noble lines.

"A rare craft indeed!" said Hilary.  "She is worth a fortune to us,
Kitt, even without the treasure she contains.  And that same treasure,
my lad—I yearn to dip my fingers into it."

"Wait; let me bargain with Captain Q," I said, and I followed the
Frenchman up the ladder to the deck, and stood long in talk with him.
When I returned to my friends I told them that the Captain was willing
to share a great portion of his gold among them, if they would bring the
vessel to the sea and rig her for a voyage.

"Vive le Capitaine Q!" cried Hilary, and the whole company broke forth
into lusty cheers.  The Captain’s eyes gleamed with pleasure; he called
them his children, vowing to lead them a-roving and do great despite
upon the Spaniards.  But his face darkened when Hilary offered to mount
on board and inspect the treasure.

"No, no," he cried; "that is for none to see but my corporal."

And I persuaded my friends to accept the denial for the time, and to
accompany me in a circuit of the cavern to find a spot where a passage
might be made to the sea.

The fore-part of the cavern, towards the cliff, was much encumbered with
fragments of rock, large and small.  The sides were of rock; if the
fore-wall was of rock also, ’twas clear that with all the tools we had
at hand—pikes and belaying-pins, and such-like gear—’twould be
impossible to open a passage.  With gunpowder we might have blasted the
rock but for the water which flowed in at every tide, and so shut us
from access to the lower part of the wall. But if this were of earth,
the task was one that could be compassed with time and patience. ’Twas
our first concern to discover the thickness of the wall, and to this end
Richard Ball clambered on to the loftiest of the rocky fragments, and
another man mounted upon his shoulders, so that he might reach to one of
the narrow fissures that let the daylight in.  And then, by passing a
pike through it, he proved by the report of a man without that the wall
was no more than six feet thick.

Next, our task was to remove a number of rocks that lay without like a
natural rampart about the base of the cliff, and were washed by a strong
current.  Ropes, whereof the galleon held a plenty, were fixed about
them, and by dint of much hauling, the rocks were displaced one by one,
and being removed, the sea entered the cavern more freely, though ’twas
clear that the water in it would never be of depth enough to float the
galleon.

As soon as the tide was gone down, we essayed to pierce a hole through
the wall a little above the water level.  To our great joy, we found
that this portion of the wall was of earth, and before the tide rose
again the men had cut a narrow tunnel through to the base of the cliff.
It being night by the time this was done, the men made for themselves
beds of grass and leaves upon the skirts of the woodland, being divided
into watches as on board ship.

With morning light we took up our task again. We perceived that the ebb
tide had carried away a great deal of the loose earth, and so made the
tunnel wider.  The men toiled all day by companies, increasing the
passage both in width and height, the sides and roof being shored up
with timber from the woods against a fall of earth from above.  Captain
Q watched the labour with a childish curiosity, and, in pursuance of my
plan of humouring him, I now and then prompted him with commands to give
the men, and they responded with obsequious and cheerful cries of "Ay,
ay, sir," winking to each other the while.

So the work went on, day after day, until an opening had been made of
width enough for the passage of the galleon.  There was a danger now
lest it might be espied from a passing ship, the which to prevent, the
men brought down great armfuls of brushwood from above, and arranged
them to form a screen.  A sentinel was posted at a point on the rising
ground behind the cliff to give warning of any vessel that should
approach.  While some of the men had been employed at the hole, others,
the more skilful of the crew, were set to work to caulk the seams of the
galleon, to fell trees for new masts and spars, and to repair the sails
which were found on board.  By the time this was accomplished, nought
remained but to dislodge the rocks that still choked the passage-way
from the cavern.  Some of these were so large as to require the labour
of our whole company to remove them.  We had hauled away many and laid
them at the foot of the cliff, when one day, a week or more after the
beginning of the work, the sentinel gave out that he saw two vessels
beating up against the wind towards the island.

"Maybe they are the Spaniards that were in chase of us when we were
wrecked," said Hilary. "’Tis not unlike they have come to see what has
become of us.  Mayhap they saw us run aground, and I doubt not would
have been here before but that the wind has been too strong against them
all this while."

Our whole company being gathered in the cavern, arms were served out to
the men from the galleon’s armoury in case the Spaniards should land.
The news of their coming wrought marvellously upon Captain Q.  He
sharpened his sword, donned a breastplate, and told the men, with great
exaltation of spirit, that the moment was at hand when we should rove
the seas and deal doughtily with our enemies.

The vessels came slowly towards us, and anchored a little westward of
the cavern.  We saw two boats put off from each, filled with men wearing
the leather hats and steel cuirasses of the Spanish soldiery.  Spying at
them with Hilary, I reckoned that they must number sixty or more.  They
landed at a point near where my hut had been, and ’twas soon plain from
their cries that they had come upon parts of the wreckage of the
_Elizabeth_.  Some of them ascended the cliff, and went into the
woodland, doubtless to gather fruits; whereupon I quitted the cavern,
and stealthily made my way up, to see what they were about.  I entered
the woods after them, and witnessed their stark amazement when they
lighted upon signs of the recent felling of trees.  Anon they hasted
back to their main body on the beach; a council was held, and then the
whole company, save only a few men left to guard the boats, set forth
with the manifest purpose to search for the woodcutters.

Thereupon Tom Hawke proposed we should seize the boats and row out to
the galleons and board them.  But this bold device Hilary would by no
means countenance.  Besides that we knew not what force of men there
might still be left on the vessels, we must needs go at the very least
two hundred yards in the open ere we could win to the boats, in full
sight of the men on guard.  The alarm would be given, and the Spaniards
might be upon us before we could put off.  But since the advantage is
ever with the attack, I made bold to put forward another plan, to wit,
that we should quit the cavern, steal into the woods, and lay an ambush
for the men that were prowling there.  This proposal was debated for a
while among our assembly, and being presently approved by all, Captain
Q, who comprehended everything with perfect soundness of mind, set off
with drawn sword in the quality of leader.

We stole out of the cavern secretly by favour of the brushwood screen,
and followed him in great quiet round the shoulder of the cliff, winding
about thence until we gained the wood. There we stood fast, and I went
alone among the trees to discover the direction of the Spaniards’ march.
I crept in and out as a hunter might stalk his quarry, and by and by
perceived them proceeding slowly, in close ranks, silently, and with
their matches already kindled.  I knew that the course they were taking
would bring them in due time to a ravine, narrow, and of no great depth,
that wound through the woodland, a little brook running along its
bottom. Bethinking me that, could we gain the further side of the
ravine, we should be in rare good case to deal with the Spaniards, I
sped back to my friends, acquainted them with what I had seen, and led
them swiftly through the wood.

We had no sooner taken post in the copse I had designed for our ambush,
than we espied the Spaniards coming directly towards us.  And then ’twas
Captain Q who made our dispositions. However disordered his wits might
be in common matters, he lacked nothing in the parts of a skilful
commander.  Keeping ten with him, of whom I was one, he bade the rest to
steal down the ravine, ascend the nearer bank at a convenient spot, and,
when they should hear sounds of a fray with us, come with great speed
and fall upon the enemy in the rear.  Hilary departed very willingly on
this errand, and we ten remained close in hiding with Captain Q.  I
marked how his eyes gleamed, and his lips pressed firmly the one upon
the other, and I was fain to conclude he had a very great courage and
delight in battle.

His design was to wait until the Spaniards came to the brink of the
ravine, and then salute them with a volley.  But just as it was the
vivid red of his garments that first drew my eyes to him, so now the
same brightness made our situation known to the enemy before they came
within gunshot of us.  One of them spied him, and cried out; the company
halted and blew upon their matches; then their captain called to us in a
loud voice to yield ourselves, and when we made no answer, he bade his
men advance. They pressed forward until they were come within a few
paces of the ravine, and set up their muskets on the rests to have good
aim at us. And then, to be beforehand with them, Captain Q gave us the
word to fire, the which we obeyed all ten together, whereby a half-dozen
of the Spaniards fell; and while in all haste we primed our weapons
again, their captain divided his company into two bands, and sent them
to right and left to scale the ravine and come through the wood upon our
flanks.  To a seasoned man of war, as doubtless he was, the fewness of
our numbers was made apparent when we discharged our guns.

There was not a man of us but knew we stood in great peril.  The enemy
was of Spain’s finest soldiery, and though by the grace of God we
English have beaten them many times on field and flood, we have had
proofs enough of their valour.  If our friends should fail to come at
point to our aid, we could not by any means prevail against them.  But
Captain Q bade us set our backs against trees, half of us facing to the
right, half to the left, and we stood there ready to do what Englishmen
might against our Queen’s enemies.

We could not hear their approach; doubtless they hoped to creep close to
us and then overwhelm us in one general assault.  My heart smote upon my
ribs, and my lips grew wondrous dry; ’tis no mean trial to a man to
stand thus awaiting an enemy whom he cannot see, and knowing that in one
swift moment he may be at grips with death.  And suddenly there was a
roar of muskets, and immediately afterwards, through the smoke, I saw
the Spaniards rushing towards us.  My musket was in its rest; blindly
and with fumbling fingers I set my match to the touch-hole and pulled
the cock, and, having fired my shot, drew my sword and stood to defend
myself.  Our volley had checked the onrush, but only for a moment, and I
saw a crowd of Spaniards leaping as it were straight upon me.  Then
Captain Q came to my side, crying out that we would fight shoulder to
shoulder, and his presence and cheerful words filled me with a new
courage.

The enemy were yet a dozen paces from us, and we had our swords
outthrust to meet them, when the air rang with English shouts, and a
great din of firing, and some of the Spaniards fell on their faces, and
rose not again.  The rest came to a halt, threw a glance behind, and
beheld our men, with Hilary at their head, springing like deer from the
edge of the ravine. This sight was enough for their stomachs.  The
Spaniards fled as one man, leapt into the ravine, clambered up the other
side, and made all speed by the way they had come, to regain their
boats. Our men ran after them, and pursued them to the verge of the
woodland, and would have continued to the very margin of the sea, but
Captain Q forbade them, fearing that, if the enemy saw the smallness of
our company, they would rally, and on the open strand would have us at
advantage.  And so we did not show ourselves much beyond the line of
trees, but stood there and watched the Spaniards as they hasted down to
the shore, and, embarking on their boats, returned to the galleons.

[Illustration: THE SPANIARDS LEAPT INTO THE RAVINE AND CLAMBERED UP THE
OTHER SIDE]

The tale of our loss was exceeding small. One poor fellow was killed,
four had received hurts, but slight.  We were all wondrous merry at the
happy issue of our ambush, and Captain Q put on the high look and
swelling port of a conqueror.



                                 *III*


The enemy having departed, we wondered what they would do, scarce
supposing that they would sail away without making another attempt upon
us.  Yet it appeared that this was their purpose, for as soon as the
boats were hoisted aboard, the anchors were weighed, and the ships stood
away towards the west of the island.  This put Captain Q in a fury.  He
commanded the men to make all speed to finish and complete their task at
the cavern, so that he might sail out and pursue the vessels.  But this
was mere foolishness, and I humoured him with talk of other fights in
store.  Hilary Rawdon again dispatched a sentinel up the hill, bidding
him to post himself at a spot whence he could see, with the aid of a
perspective glass, the channel between Tortuga and Hispaniola.  It had
come into his mind that the Spaniards had perchance sailed away merely
to land on the southern shore of the island, with the intent to march
again upon us unawares. But the man told us by and by that one of the
ships had heaved-to in the channel to the south, while the other was
making all sail to the westward.

"’Tis bound for St. John of Goave or San Domingo, without doubt," said
Hilary, "to bring back a force sufficient to annihilate us."

"What grace have we before they can return?" I asked.

"Maybe a week, maybe more.  ’Tis always ’to-morrow’ with the Spaniards.
They put off both the evil day and the good, and many’s the time they
have come to grief for no other reason than their habit of
procrastination.  We will make all speed, Kitt.  ’Twould be a sin to let
this great treasure fall into their hands through any sloth of ours."

The men worked with right good-will, hauling away the rocks from the
entrance of the cavern, until they left the passage clear.  But even at
high tide there was no depth of water sufficient to float the galleon,
and we must needs take thought how to bring her to the sea.  We soon
proved, to our great joy, that she rested on sand, and we had but to dig
beneath her, and to cut a channel, and with the flood tide we could haul
her out.  But we could not begin this work until the next low tide, when
the water in the cavern, having now a free outlet, flowed away.  We
built a dam to prevent its return, and then, by dint of toiling
steadily, some resting while the others worked, we contrived in two days
to grave out a dock wherein the vessel might ride.  The work was done
with great quietness, for the enemy’s galleon was anchored but a few
miles away, and ’twas very necessary that no sound should provoke them
to come and spy what we were about.  The mariners knew how much hung on
their being left undisturbed until the ship could be rigged and towed
out to sea, and they put a great restraint upon themselves.  There was
risk enough in the chance that a Spanish ship might appear off the
coast.  The spectacle of a dismantled hull could not fail to attract her
notice, and if she should be a ship of war there was little hope that
the _San Felipe_ would ever sail the sea again.

To step the masts was no trifling business. The stump of the old
mainmast was broken off low down and jaggedly, and ’twas a full day’s
work for the most skilful of the _Elizabeth’s_ carpenters to fit the
stump for the pine stem they had prepared.  The mast itself was but
roughly finished.  It was not stripped of its bark: the time would not
serve for niceties; Hilary indeed doubted whether, with the utmost
expedition, we should have the vessel in navigable trim before the
galleons returned.  By good luck the stump of the mizzen had not been
snapped off so low as the others; and a jury mast was rigged in a third
of the time the mainmast had taken.

The _San Felipe_ had no boats, all she had carried having been stove in
during the earthquake and washed away.  But a boat of some sort was
needful to tow the vessel out; wherefore, while some men were scraping
the hull, and others rigging the spars, the rest hastened to the woods
and worked with might and main to fashion a canoe of cedar.  Though we
employed every minute of daylight, the men taking turns to rest in the
hot hours, ’twas full ten days before the work was done.  And then one
afternoon, when we were lying on the cliffs basking in ease we had not
known for many a day, the sentinel espied three sail low down on the
horizon to the west.

"Without doubt the Dons are coming back for us," cried Hilary.  Then in
French he asked Captain Q, with a show of deference, to give us his
commands.

"We will sail forth and fight them," cried the dauntless Captain.

"’Tis a brave saying," said Harry Loveday; "but methinks ’twere best to
sail out by night and make what speed we may for home.  We have the
treasure, and though I am as ready as any man to fight when there is
somewhat to be gained by fighting, I hold that in our present case, with
the enemy maybe four to one, ’twould best beseem us to secure what we
have.  ’Twas for treasure we came, not for needless knocks."

"There is much reason in thee, Harry," said Hilary, "and I own if ’twere
sure we should escape these villain Dons and come safe to an English
haven, I might think thy counsel just. But consider: the wind is light;
our vessel is in no trim to make good sailing; and if the wind holds as
at this present we could scarce run out of sight of the Spaniards before
dawn.  ’Tis full moon: we should be discerned from a great way off; and
when they see us they can run us down.  Furthermore, the guns on our
galleon are light metal, and we have no great store of powder and ball,
so that we are in no case to fight a war-ship, furnished, beyond doubt,
with heavy guns.  Remember, we barely outsailed the Spaniards even when
we were in our own well-found (but ill-fated) _Elizabeth_; and if we
could not stand to fight two, as all agreed we could not, how much less
can we stand to fight three?"

While Hilary was thus reasoning, Captain Q, who, having given his voice
for fighting, was confident we should obey without question, had gotten
himself away, so that we were left to converse at our pleasure.  I well
knew that, by dint of my artifices of persuasion, I could bring the
Captain to believe that, whatsoever resolution we might come to, it
sprang from him.

"Well, then," said Tom Hawke in answer to Hilary, "if we must not run,
for fear of being overhauled, what is left for us to do?  If we cannot
fight three Spanish ships on the high sea, assuredly we cannot fight the
crews of them on land, and ’tis certain as to-morrow’s sunrise that we
must be discovered here."

"What if Captain Q be right?" said I.  "Is not the bold course the best?
If we bide here and wait to be attacked, the event will be even as Tom
says: the don Spaniards outnumber us, and with all the will in the world
we can scarce hold out against them.  But might we not attack the vessel
at anchor before the three others join with her?  Aboard of her we might
show a clean pair of heels to the Dons."

"Why didst not speak before, Kitt?" cried Hilary.  "The time is
fleeting, and while we still prate these vessels are sailing ever
nearer. In sooth, yours is the way, and we will obey Captain Q’s
command."

We had cast down the dam that had been raised, and the tide being at the
flood, the sea filled our dock, and we saw with great delight the _San
Felipe_ float upright on her keel.  The most of us got aboard her; the
rest towed her out of the cavern; then they also came aboard, and
Captain Q looked round with pleasure on his company.

Having hoisted the sails (poor patched things as they were), we set a
course eastward along the shore, the wind blowing from the north-east.
Our design was to round the island and come with the wind down upon the
galleon at her anchorage off the south coast.  We hoped in the
night-time we might surprise her and take possession of her, and then
slip her cables and make away before the three vessels we had seen could
beat up against the wind.

The wind being so contrary, we could make no good offing, and were in
some peril of running on sunken rocks, to say nothing of that other
peril of meeting an enemy’s ship or flotilla.  But by sunset we came
safe at the north-eastern corner of the island.  We rounded the eastern
side, sailing large, and turned into the channel betwixt Hispaniola and
Tortuga even as the moon rose upon our right hand.  A black night would
have most favoured our design of capturing the galleon; but our master
said we had first to come at her, and being ignorant of the channel, he
was right glad to have some light upon the course.

The southern shore of Tortuga bends at its middle somewhat to the
north-west, so that for a time the galleon was hidden from our eyes, and
we could keep the mid-channel without risk of being seen.  But when we
had come to that point, our master was fain to steer somewhat nearer to
the cliffs: ’twould mayhap ruin our scheme if we were espied too soon by
the Spaniards, wherefore he said we had best avail ourselves of the
shadows where we could.  Hilary and I stood at the helm beside the
master, and we were troubled when we felt the keel graze a sandbank.  At
the fall of night the wind had freshened, and we were making a fair
speed, so that if the vessel struck there would be but a small chance of
hauling her off, even if she did not spring a leak and take water.  By
good luck and the care of our master we escaped these perils of shoals,
and drew nearer to our goal.

We did not doubt a good watch would be kept on board the galleon, the
which had taken up her present station, as we reckoned, so as to guard
against any attempt of ours to cross to Hispaniola on rafts or canoes.
Doubtless, also, they would have their guns ready loaded and their
matches kindled; and maybe the vessel was riding on a spring cable.
Hilary bade the most of our men to lie down out of sight, so that when
the Spaniards should behold us, as they must soon do, they might not
take alarm from a crowded deck.

"We must be wary, Kitt," said Hilary to me. "’Twould be rank ill-luck if
she should slip her cable and stand away to meet the galleons out of the
west, and maybe fire a gun to give ’em warning."

Being nearer shore, the _San Felipe_ went more slowly than when she was
out in mid-channel. We crept round the jutting points and across the
coves very stealthily, the men holding perfect silence, so that the
Spaniards on the vessel lying at anchor had no warning of our approach
and nearness until, as we fetched about a low spit of land, we came to a
straight reach of the channel, and beheld the enemy half-a-mile distant.
Since secrecy was no longer to be maintained, Hilary bade the master to
steer full into the broad path of the moonlight, so that we might be
distinctly seen.  With his perspective glass the sentinel on the vessel
would discover the _San Felipe_ to be of Spanish build, and we trusted
that he would suppose her to be a friend.  At Hilary’s bidding some of
our men made ready their grappling-irons, and so we drew nearer to the
anchorage.

A light moved on the ship’s deck, and we judged that we must now have
been seen.  As soon, therefore, as we came within hailing distance,
Hilary commanded Richard Ball, who had some Spanish, to go into the bows
and question what the vessel was.

"The galleon _Bonaventura_, of his Catholic Majesty of Spain," came the
answer to his shout. "Heave-to, or we fire!  Who are you?"

"The galleon _San Felipe_, chased by corsairs," cried Ball.  "Can we
anchor hereby?"

"Aye.  Heave-to; we will send a boat.  Are the corsairs dogs of
English?"

"English and French," says Ball, cocking an eye at Captain Q, who was
reclining below the level of our bulwarks, so that his red garments
should not betray us.

"Cry that our helm is injured, and we will lower sail," said Hilary.

This Ball did, and our master bade the men to lower sail; but before
’twas done we had run very near to the _Bonaventura_, and there was
enough way on our vessel to bring her alongside. We had come within a
cable length of the Spaniard when we saw her boat let down, and then,
our helm being put up, we drifted still closer upon the enemy.

"Bid them beware, or we shall be foul of them," said Hilary.

And as Ball cried aloud, we heard much old swearing on the
_Bonaventura’s_ decks, the which were at this time thronged with men.
The captain (as Ball informed us) cursed our damaged helm very heartily,
it being answerable, as he supposed, for this imminent risk of fouling.
But in truth our helm was in right good trim, and the master chuckled in
merry sort as he ran the _San Felipe_ close alongside of the
_Bonaventura_, their bulwarks just touching.

And then, at the word from Hilary, our men cast their grapnels aboard,
and our whole company, with machetes and half-pikes from the _San
Felipe’s_ armoury, leapt upon the _Bonaventura’s_ deck.  Captain Q was
the first to board, and the Spaniards cried out in amazement when they
saw his tall red figure springing towards them, rapier in hand, and with
two score men behind, all silent, for Hilary had commanded them to hold
their peace, lest the other vessels should be near at hand.

The swiftness of our onset took the Spaniards all aback.  Some of them,
being unarmed, shrank away from us; the rest gathered about their
captain at the mainmast, where they stood to ward off our attack, and
for some five minutes held us at bay.  ’Twas a hand-to-hand encounter;
there were no fire-arms used; steel clashed on steel, and many shrewd
knocks were given and taken.  But, saving in point of numbers, the odds
were all against the hapless Spaniards.  The very look of Captain Q, his
strange garb, his war-lit countenance, had some part in daunting them,
and as we pressed vehemently upon them, Hilary and Tom Hawke in the
fore-front, they fell into a panic, and cast down their arms, crying for
quarter.  Hilary bade our men instantly seize them and carry them below,
and within a little they were all safe bestowed and battened under
hatches.

[Illustration: THE SWIFTNESS OF OUR ONSET TOOK THE SPANIARDS ALL ABACK]

And now I espied their boat that had been lowered making all speed to
the westward, and I asked Hilary whether we should not pursue them,
believing that their intent was to acquaint those on the approaching
galleons with what had befallen.

"Let ’em go," cried he, with a laugh.  "If they do fall in with the
vessels and tell them their tale, we shall be departed ere they can
bring them to us."

"And they will not reach them," said Tom Hawke.  "See, the boat has run
upon a reef."

’Twas even as he had said.  The crew strove hard to pull the boat clear,
but without avail, and then they leapt overboard and waded waist-deep
towards the shore.  Not all of them came safe to it.  On a sudden we
heard a blood-curdling scream, and then another.  Beyond question some
of the hapless men had fallen a prey to ground-sharks.



                                  *IV*


The _Bonaventura_ having thus become ours, we made haste to bring to her
such useful stores as the _San Felipe_ contained, and the chests holding
the treasure.  I went with Captain Q into the cabin, and observed with
what pangs he saw his chests in the hands of our men.  He stood on watch
when they were set on a cradle for slinging on deck; and followed every
movement with a jealous eye until the chests were bestowed in the cabin
of the _Bonaventura_.  They were three in number, two large and one
small, and when the two former had been removed, Captain Q appeared
content, and was for leaving the third behind.  I remembered that I had
never seen this one open, and knowing what delight he took in
contemplating and fingering the contents of the others, I could not but
suppose that the smallest chest held things of little worth.  Seeing
that the Captain appeared in a mind to leave it, I asked him whether
that was his intent, and he replied that it held nought but old papers,
accounts, and bills of lading, and such-like things, and told me very
courteously that I might have it for my own.  ’Twas not a gift I greatly
valued, but I would not vex him by refusing it, and so I made one of the
men convey it to the _Bonaventura_.

While the mariners were busied about transferring the things from the
one vessel to the other, Hilary took counsel with his friends as
touching the disposal of the Spanish prisoners now huddled in the hold.
I spoke for carrying them with us, and putting them ashore either on
some island we should pass on our homeward voyage, or on the coast of
Spain when we had crossed the ocean.  But Tom Hawke cried out very
stoutly against this.

"Why should we burden ourselves with them?" he said.  "The ship will
sail the lighter without them; and bethink ye what a monstrous deal of
food they will consume!  Let us batten them down in the hold of the _San
Felipe_ and so leave them."

"As I live, a right good notion!" said Hilary. "Be sure they will be
found when the other vessels come up, and ’twould please me mightily an
I could see the meeting.  ’Twill be a cause of delay also, for they will
assuredly tell what has befallen them, and every minute thus filled will
better our chances of escape."

"But they will increase our enemies’ force, and, moreover, we shall lose
as many minutes in carrying them from this vessel to the _San Felipe_,"
said I.

"Which we shall gain by the lightening of our freight," replied Hilary.
"And we will e’en set about it at once, while the men are still bringing
the goods aboard."

Whereupon the Spaniards were brought up in small parties and conveyed to
the _San Felipe_. And then, all things being ready, the _Bonaventura_
cast off and made sail, beating up against the wind as she retraced the
course we had followed before.

The sun was rising as she came out into the open sea beyond the
south-eastern corner of the island.  ’Twas Hilary’s design to set a
straight course for England.

"There is treasure enough aboard," he said, "and did we essay to gain
more we might lose what we have.  Remember the dog in the fable; let us
not lose the substance by grasping at the shadow."

"I fear me we shall have trouble with Captain Q," I said.  "His mind is
set on taking up his old trade of corsair, and he will not readily quit
these haunts of the sea-rovers."

"Then he will e’en be a Jonah, and we had best cast him at once
overboard," cried Tom Hawke.

"Nay, let us leave him to Kitt," said Hilary. "Mind ye how Kitt wrought
upon us with his tongue when we discovered him in the hold? Kitt shall
be our ambassador."

As we made the north-eastern corner of the island we espied, far away to
the west, two Spanish galleons making what speed they could against the
wind, and, we doubted not, coming in chase of us.  At sight of them
Captain Q was beset by a great excitement, and called upon our master to
heave-to and await the villain Dons.

"Ay, ay, sir," was the ready reply.  But seeing that the moment was now
come when I must employ my best arts to bring him to accord with us
(and, for all that Hilary had said, I had no great faith in my tongue’s
persuasiveness), I led him apart, and by degrees brought him to an
understanding of the resolution to which we had come.  ’Twas for some
time a question whether the Captain’s passion for fight or his avarice
would get the better of it in his unstable mind, but the balance turned
in our favour when I took him down into the cabin, and, pointing to the
treasure-chests, asked him whether he could endure to risk the loss of
things so precious.  He stood in deep thought for a while; then, heaving
a great sigh, he yielded.

All that day the Spaniards continued to hold us in chase, and when with
the veering of the wind they gained somewhat upon us, I marked how the
eyes of Captain Q lit up as it seemed that we must fight in our own
despite.  But they dropped away again, and at nightfall were hull down
upon the sea-line, and when next morning’s sun arose they were nowhere
to be seen.

From that time the Captain fell into a settled melancholy.  ’Twould seem
that the sudden changes that were come about in his life, after eleven
years of solitude, had put a strain upon his already enfeebled intellect
’twas unable to bear.  He sat for long hours on deck, gazing towards the
shores he would never see again, silent, taking no heed of us or of
aught that happened around him.  Nay, he ceased to watch over his
treasure with the same jealousy, and when Hilary and the other
adventurers could no longer curb their impatience, but demanded to see
the wealth which they were to share, he consented, with a wan and feeble
smile.  We opened the chests in his presence, only Hilary, Tom Hawke,
and I being there with him.

[Illustration: WE OPENED THE CHESTS IN HIS PRESENCE]

My report had prepared my friends to see gold and jewels of great price,
but they were none the less amazed beyond measure when the contents of
the chests were displayed before them.  One, the property of Don Alfonso
de Silva de Marabona (his name was writ in full upon the cover), held
enough to make us all rich beyond our dreams. The other, consigned to
his Catholic Majesty King Philip himself, was filled with rare gems, the
value whereof we could not so much as guess. "By my beard, Kitt," cried
Hilary, "’twas a rarely kind fate that sent thee as slave to thy Admiral
Marrow-bones.  We might have roved the seas full ten years without
getting a tithe of this treasure."

"And it vexes me sorely to think that my friend Antonio can profit
nothing by it," said I.

"Reck nothing of him," cried Tom Hawke. "What does that little chest of
thine contain? Let us see, old lad."

"’Tis only papers, as Captain Q told me," said I, looking for
confirmation at the Captain, who, however, sat listless and inattentive
in his chair.

"Well, let us see them," said Hilary.  "Maybe they will give us the true
value of this store of gems."

We opened the chest, and Tom Hawke sniffed and hemmed when he saw that
it held indeed nought but a few documents, somewhat mildewed and yellow.
They were all writ in the Spanish tongue, not one of us could read them;
and though Richard Ball had some skill in speaking the language, he
confessed when I asked him that he could not even read his own native
English, and so was not like to be of service here. We laid the
parchments again in the chest, I promising myself that when we came to
port I would have them overlooked by some one who was well acquainted
with the language of Castile.

The _Bonaventura_ made quick sailing, and we had fair weather until we
came off the Azores, where we suffered a heavy buffeting from a storm.
Somewhat battered, our galleon sailed into Southampton Water one day in
March of 1588.  Captain Q had aged ten years in his aspect during the
two months’ voyage.  He rarely broke his silence, yielded with a patient
smile to my least suggestion, and seemed even to have forgotten the
treasure which had once been so dear to him.  When it came to be
divided, a tenth share was set apart by general consent for the poor
witless gentleman, and being well placed through the offices of an
attorney of our town, the Captain might live in his own house and enjoy
great comfort for the rest of his days.  One-third was apportioned among
the mariners, every man of them becoming possessor of means sufficient
to keep him luxuriously for his rank and condition.  An eighth was
allotted to me, and the remainder parted out among Hilary and his
fellow-adventurers.

As soon as might be I placed the documents from my chest in the hands of
a man well skilled in the Spanish tongue.  And then to my great joy
’twas proved that one of them had a vast importance for my friend
Antonio.  The story told him by the admiral, his uncle, was false. Don
Antonio, so far from having sold his estates in Hispaniola to his
brother, had in fact purchased the admiral’s estates; the document in
question was a conveyance drawn up in due form according to the law of
Spain.  Having learnt this, I was hot set to have the document conveyed
to Antonio, so that the wrong he had suffered might be undone. It may
well be conceived that, in that year when the great Armada was being
fitted out against us, there was no communication between us and Spain,
and if I had waited until the two nations were reconciled, ’tis like
that the admiral would have enjoyed his ill-got wealth for long years
undisturbed.  But I found means, through some excellent friends, to
dispatch the document to Don Antonio’s lawyers in Madrid (their name
being writ upon it) by way of Paris; and many years afterwards, when I
had a humble place at her Majesty’s court, I learnt through the Spanish
ambassador that right had been done.

Eighteen years ago, when I journeyed to Madrid for behoof of Prince
Charles, there seeking a bride, (’twas on my return that King James made
me a knight), I found my old friend Antonio a grandee of Spain, and a
very stout and (I must own) pompous gentleman.  He did not recognise me:
indeed, ’twas not to be expected that he should, seeing that when he had
known me my cheeks were as smooth as the palm of your hand, and the hair
of my head thick and strong; whereas now I am bearded like the pard (as
Will Shakespeare says), and my locks, alas! are sparse and grizzled.
But when I made myself known to him he clipped me by the hand, and
thanked me with exceeding warmth for what I had been able to do for his
good.  Moreover, he told me that his own uncle Don Alfonso had been
aboard the foremost galleon of those two that stood in chase of us when
we sailed away that day from Tortuga.  The noble admiral was cast into a
wondrous amazement when he came upon the _San Felipe_, the which had
been so long lost, and lived ever after in a constant dread lest his
ill-doing should be brought to light.  This wrought so heavily upon his
mind that it became disordered, and when the full tale of his crime was
brought in due time from Spain he sank into a dotage and shortly after
died.  Don Antonio was pleased to give me, in remembrance of our ancient
friendship, a signet ring which had been his father’s, and I have it in
my cabinet, not caring overmuch to wear such gauds.

As for Captain Q, he dwelt for many a year in the house we bought for
him at Bitterne, across the river.  I saw him often; his wits were quite
gone, poor gentleman! and he remembered nothing of the strange
happenings that brought us together.  ’Tis forty years and more since I
made a journey to the little village of Quimperlé in Brittany, in hope
that I might discover somewhat of the family of one who must have been a
notable figure there in his youth.  ’Twas a bootless quest.  Some of the
more ancient inhabitants remembered a young Huguenot named Marcel de
Monteray who had fought in the wars of religion, and had been, ’twas
said, a captain in the army of Condé; but he had never returned to his
native place, and all his kinsfolk were long since dead.  Whether Marcel
de Monteray and Captain Q were the same person I do not know, and never
shall.  When I spoke the name in the Captain’s hearing it brought
nothing to his remembrance.  To all Southampton, as to me, he was ever a
mysterious personage.  As Captain Q he lived, and when his time came to
die (and he was then of a very great age), as Captain Q he was buried.


[Illustration: tailpiece to First Part]



                               *Interim*


My grandfather told me that upon his return, after near a year’s
absence, his parents’ joy was such that they forbore to upbraid and
scold him; indeed, they killed for him the fatted calf, as it were, and
made much of him.  His father was for putting him again to school, but
he protested that he had had enough of schooling, and desired nothing
more than to follow a man’s vocation.  Thereto his father consented,
provided he first kept a term or two at one of the Inns of Court, and
learnt so much of law as would suffice for a justice of the peace when
he should have come to man’s estate.

It was in the summer after his return that the great fleet upon which
the King of Spain had spent so much pains and treasure came at last to
invade our shores; and my grandfather, being then at home, hied him to
Southampton, to learn the course of its progress.  He watched enviously
the English vessels sail out from the haven, even the smacks and
shallops being filled with young lads and gentlemen of the county eager
to bear their part in the fray, or at the least to witness the unequal
combat between the cumbersome great vessels of the Spaniards and the
light, nimble ships that my Lord Howard commanded, with his lieutenants
Drake and Hawkins and Frobisher and the rest.  To serve with those great
seamen was not permitted him, but he accompanied Sir George Carey when
he ran out in a pinnace on the night of July 24, and found himself, as
he wrote, "in the midst of round shot, flying as thick as musket-balls
in a skirmish on land."  But for the strict command of his father,
doubtless he would have followed the Armada up the Channel, and beheld
how it was stung and chevied, and finally discomfited in the Calais
roads.

About twelve months thereafter, claiming the fulfilment of his father’s
promise, he joined himself to the company that his friend and captain
Hilary Rawdon was raising for service under King Henry of Navarre, whose
fortunes were at that time at a turning point.  King Henry III, his
cousin, had fallen to the assassin’s knife, and Henry of Navarre should
then have ascended the throne of France; but he was of the Huguenot
party, and the Catholic League was bent upon crushing the Huguenots and
excluding Henry from the enjoyment of his heritage.  The army of the
League, commanded by the Duke of Mayenne, held Paris; and Henry,
desiring to put an end to the religious struggle that rent France
asunder, and to make himself master of a united kingdom, saw himself
constrained to fight for his crown.  His army was choice and sound, but
small, and in his extremity he sought the help of Queen Elizabeth, who
sent him aid in money and men, and permitted gentlemen to enlist
voluntarily under his flag. Many flocked to him, both as upholding his
rightful cause, and from the love of adventure, and hatred of the
Spaniards, with whom the Leaguers were in alliance.  At that time my
grandfather, his age being but eighteen, was moved rather by the latter
considerations than by the former, though in after years the justice of
a cause held ever the foremost place in his mind.

Henry of Navarre had broken up the siege of Paris and withdrawn with his
army into Normandy, hoping thereby to tempt the Duke of Mayenne to
follow him, and so enforce him to a decisive battle.  Mayenne, on his
side, issuing forth from the city, had sworn to drive the Bearnais into
the sea, or to bring him back in chains.  Such was the posture of
affairs when that adventure befell my grandfather which I set down as he
told it me, as now follows.



                           *THE SECOND PART*


                *CHRISTOPHER RUDD’S ADVENTURE IN FRANCE,
                  AND HIS BORROWING OF THE WHITE PLUME
                          OF HENRY OF NAVARRE*



[Illustration: headpiece to Second Part]


                                  *I*


When I survey the backward of my life, and con over its accidents and
adventures, my thoughts are drawn as by a magnet to one point of
time—the moment when, through mirk and darkness, benighted in a strange
place, I saw the glimmer of a light.

’Twas as foul a night as ever I saw: the sky black as Erebus; the wind
howling like unnumbered poor lost souls; the rain, that smote me full in
the face as I rode, stinging my flesh as each particular drop were a
barb of fire.  I pulled my cloak about me, and bent low over the pommel,
to gain some shelter from the storm; but little comfort had I thereby,
for the rain beat in betwixt my neck and the collar, and, moreover, my
horse’s hoofs cast up a plentiful bespattering of mud from the sodden
road.

My outer man being thus discommoded, I was yet more ill at ease in my
mind, for I had some little while suspected, and was now assured, that I
had lost my way.  I had ridden that road but once before, when I made
one of Hilary Rawdon’s troop that he took from Dieppe on outpost duty to
St Jacques.  By this time, according to my recollection, I should have
come to the Bethune river, by whose bank the road runs nearly straight
to Arques; but having met with some hindrance in my journey, night had
overtaken me or ever I was aware, and with the darkness came the sudden
bursting of the storm.  What with the one and the other I could not
doubt that I had strayed into one of the by-roads about Dampierre, and
was now as helpless as a mariner without compass or glimpse of star.

I was musing how best to escape out of this pother when, on a sudden
lifting of my head, I saw upon my left hand, level with my eyes, the
blurred twinkle of the light.  With a muttered benediction I turned my
horse’s head towards it, resolved, whether it shone from prince’s
mansion or shepherd’s cot, to beg shelter there until the fury of the
storm was abated. But I had not ridden above five yards before I found
myself checked by a quickset hedge, the which made me to dismount and
lead my horse up and down, seeking for some gate or gap whereby I might
approach the light.  Within a little my groping hand taught me that the
hedge was neighbour to a low wall, and searching further, I knew that
the wall was ruinous, the top being ragged and uneven where bricks or
stones had fallen away.  Then, touching a gatepost, and so learning that
the gate was removed, I was on the point of leading my horse through the
gap when my good genius whispered a hint of caution.  Hilary Rawdon had
dispatched me back on an errand of moment to the King; I should prove
but a sorry messenger if, for my comfort’s sake, I ran into any peril;
’twas meet that I should first find out what manner of house this was;
for all I could tell, it might harbour an enemy.  With this thought I
led my horse across the lane (’twas no more), and coming after a few
paces to a clump of trees, I hitched his bridle to a bough, took a
pistol from the holster, and made my way afoot through the mire towards
the beacon light.

The mud lay very thick, and there were besides many obstacles in the
path, whereon I stumbled, being unable to see them for the darkness.
Nevertheless, I picked my way among them as well as I could, holding my
sword close lest it should clash upon a stone, and so came to the house,
the which I perceived now to be of a good largeness.  The ray shone
through a chink in the shutter of a window some few feet above my head.
The door was at my left hand, at the top of a flight of steps. Being
resolved not to seek admittance until I had learnt somewhat of the
inmates, I clambered upon the window-sill, the which being very wide
gave me good foothold, and setting my eyes to the chink, I peered into
the room.

My eyes were at first dazzled, from so long being in the dark; but
within a little I saw two men seated at a table, between me and the
light, the which came from two large candles set close together.  Their
backs were towards me, so that I could not tell with any certainty what
manner of men they were; but from their shape I judged them not to be of
the labouring kind; and indeed the room, so much of it as I could see,
the chink in the shutter being but narrow, appeared to be an apartment
of some splendour.

Now I had been sent by Hilary Rawdon to let King Henry know that the
Duke of Mayenne was moving towards him from the eastward with a great
army, without doubt intending to give him battle, word having been
brought to St Jacques by a peasant that the duke was no more than forty
miles away.  The house whereto I had come could not be above four or
five miles from the King’s camp at Arques, wherefore it might be
supposed that these men were friends of the King.  Yet it crossed my
mind that they might peradventure be Leaguers, and while I was in any
uncertainty I durst not seek shelter with them, nor could I with any
conscience proceed on my way.  It behoved me, therefore, to make some
further discovery, if that were possible, and having no satisfaction in
what I had seen, I descended from my perch, and treading very warily,
crept along the wall at my right hand, purposing to make the circuit of
the house, in the hope to learn something more. By good hap the rain had
now ceased, the sky was clearing, and, the month being August, the
darkness was not so deep as heretofore; indeed, the stars were now
visible, and there was a lightness that seemed to foretell the rising of
the moon.

The house was all in darkness, save where I had seen the light.  When I
came to the corner I saw a smaller building some dozen rods apart, and
there, as I passed it, I heard the sound of horses drawing their
halters, whereby I guessed it to be the stables.  And I perceived now
many signs of disorder in the garden—statues overthrown and broken,
fragments of wood and porcelain, and other things which led me to
believe that the house had lately been put to the sack, and made me go
with the more caution.  Stealing through the garden to the back of the
house, I found a door, which, when I pushed it, yielded an inch or two,
but no more, by reason of some barricade behind.  A little beyond it,
however, I came to a window hanging loose upon its hinges; and after I
had waited a moment to be sure that I was neither seen nor heard, I
squeezed my body through, and entered a small room which, when my eyes
became accustomed to the dimness, I perceived to be empty.  There was a
door at the left hand. Holding my sword under my arm, I drew my dagger,
and crept across the room to the door, which, when I came to it, I found
to be ajar. I pulled it towards me, desisting for a moment when it
creaked, and listening, with a fear that the sound might have been
heard.  But there was nothing to alarm me, and having opened the door
just so wide as that I might pass through, I came out into a long wide
hall, which I could not doubt led to the chief entrance.

Here I paused, as well to recover breath—for my excitement had winded
me—as to listen again.  From my right came the low rumble of voices, and
in an interval of silence I heard on my left hand, towards the main
entrance, as I guessed, the sound of deep breathing as of a man asleep.
Though the storm had ceased, there was still a slight moaning of the
wind as its gusts took the eaves, and trusting to this to shroud my
movements, I crept along the passage in the direction whence I had heard
the voices, which came more clearly to my ear, yet muffled, as I
advanced.  Thus I arrived at a door on my left hand, and perceiving this
to be open, I entered very stealthily, and saw that I was in a large and
lofty chamber divided in two by a curtain.

I heard the voices yet more clearly now, but not distinctly, so that I
could not catch the words. There were one or two shafts of light coming
through the curtain, which when I ventured to draw near to it I found to
be old and torn.  Peeping through a rent that was just below the level
of my head, I saw, not two men, but four, seated at the table, all
masked, and wearing, as I perceived in the case of the two men whose
faces were towards me, their cloaks being thrown back, the cuirasses of
men of war.  I listened very eagerly, to catch something of their
discourse, but they were at a good distance from me, and spoke in low
tones, so that I heard but a word here and there, and could not by any
means piece them together. This irked me not a little, but I durst not
part the curtain, for then I should have been in full view of the men on
the further side of the table, whose backs I had seen when I peeped
through the shutter; and I was troubled, also, by having, as it were, to
strain one ear towards them and the other towards the man at the end of
the hall, who might wake at any moment and, for all I knew, come to this
very room.  So in much impatience and fearfulness I listened, and went
hot and cold when I caught the word "Bearnais," for that was the name by
which the Leaguers called the King, and I had reason to suspect by this
that these men were no friends of his.  And by and by I heard other
names, "Rosny" and "Biron," the King’s friends, and then all again
became confused, until one of the two that had their faces from me leant
back in his chair, lifting his arms above his head as if to stretch
himself, and said very clearly, and yet without raising his voice: "It
were easy to snare the game, but the keepers are wary."

While I was still wondering what these words might mean, and vague
surmise was making me uneasy, I heard very faintly the neighing of a
horse, and a moment afterwards an answering whinny, but this much
louder.  The men had given over talking, and he that had last spoken
still lay back in his chair, with his hands clasped behind his head, and
so he remained while a man might count ten.  Then of a sudden he
straightened himself, flinging his hands apart, and leant across the
table, and said: "The second horse is in the open."  The men over
against him looked at each other, their eyes glittering strangely
through the masks, and I waited to see no more, for I could not doubt
that the second horse was my own, and it was time for me to go.  As
quickly as I might, yet with great quietness, I stepped across the room
towards the door, and had but just got myself out into the hall when I
heard the grating sound of chairs pushed back as when men rise in a
hurry, and saw a light flash through the doorway as the curtain was
parted.  With my heart in my mouth I fled on tiptoe along the hall and
into the room I had first entered, and had not even time to close the
door behind me when the men passed, their spurs ringing as they trod. I
heard them come to the great door, and one of them kick the sleeping
sentry, and then the door was thrown open with a mighty creaking, and I
knew that they were betwixt me and my horse.

In a moment I skipped out by the window, delaying just so long as
sufficed to replace it as it had first hung, and being now outside,
stood to consider of my course.  I saw with thankfulness that the sky
had again become clouded, so that all was now near as dark as before.
Men were calling to one another in the garden, and since they could
hardly as yet have discovered the whereabouts of my horse, I thought I
could do no better than make my way back as straightly as I could to the
clump of trees where I had left him, trusting to luck and the darkness.
I had gone but a few steps when I stumbled against a man, and believed
myself undone; but he said: "Do you see anything?" and composing my
voice I answered: "Nothing," and then left him and sped on, scarce
believing in my good fortune.  So with many a stumble and shrewd knock
upon my shins, making all haste yet moving with such quietness as was
possible, I came to the wall, and without waiting to seek the gateway I
scrambled over, and fell upon my face in the mud.  For this I cared
nothing, only that in my fall my sword clashed against a stone, and a
shout from the enclosure warned me that the alarm was given.  I was on
my feet in a trice, and sprang across the lane, in desperate fear lest
my horse might whinny again and bring the enemy upon me ere I could
loose him and mount.  In my agitation of mind I could not remember
whether the clump of trees was on my right hand or my left, but a break
in the flying scud gave me so much light as to show me what I sought,
and I had just reached it and was plunging through the undergrowth when
I heard the clash of steel as the men scrambled over the wall like as I
had done, and their voices calling one to another as they asked whether
they saw any man.

So dark was it in the copse that I could not see my horse, and I doubt
whether I should have found him in time if he, hearing my approach, had
not whinnied and so led me in the right direction.  I unloosed his
bridle in haste, but had no sooner vaulted into the saddle than a man
ran up behind me, and cried out to the others that he had me.  I set
spurs to my horse, but at the moment of his springing forward I felt a
sharp pang in the calf of my left leg, and the man let forth a vehement
oath when the horse carried me beyond his reach.  Bending low in the
saddle to shun the branches of the trees, the which swept my cheeks and
dealt me many smarting wounds, I put my horse to the gallop, incommoded
by finding that one of my stirrups was gone, and knowing never a whit
whether I was riding towards Arques or from it.  I came out of the copse
into a road, and hearing no sounds of pursuit,—indeed scarce expecting
any, since the men were not mounted—I gave the horse his head, and
breasting an incline we came to a small hamlet, where I did not scruple
to knock at one of the cottages until a window was opened, and a peasant
sleepily demanded what I lacked.  From him I learnt that I was but a
stone’s throw from the Bethune river, which gave me great comfort, and
so I spurred on, and by and by came to the bridge by Archelles, and so
on until I gained the marshy plain below Arques where the King was
encamped, never stopping until I was challenged by the outposts.

[Illustration: I FELT A SHARP PANG IN THE CALF OF MY LEFT LEG]

The day was now breaking, and since my news was important—both that
which I brought from Hilary Rawdon and that which I had discovered for
myself—I demanded to be led instantly to Rosny, with whom I had some
slight acquaintance, having been commended to him in a letter by my Lord
Seymour when I joined Hilary Rawdon’s troop.  Rosny at first seeing me
broke into a fit of laughter, the which was not to be wondered at,
seeing that my garments were drenched through and through, and my face
was muddy both from splashes and from my fall, and withal I walked
somewhat stiffly from the wound in my leg.  But he looked grave enough
when I told him in brief what news I carried, and he would have me
accompany him at once to the King, whom he doubted not to find already
astir, though the morning was yet young.  (I had not then heard the
saying of Pope Sixtus V, who foretold that the Bearnais would come off
conqueror because he did not remain so long abed as the Duke of Mayenne
at table; but I knew of the King’s habit of rising early, the which was
indeed a cause of grumbling among the sluggards of his Court.)

King Henry smiled in his beard when Rosny presented me to him, but heard
me soberly enough when I gave him Hilary Rawdon’s message, to wit, that
the Duke of Mayenne was drawing nigh with twenty-five thousand foot and
eight thousand horse to give him battle.

"What shall we do against so great a host with our poor three thousand?"
said the King to Marshal Biron that stood by.  "Ventre-saint-gris! Is it
not hard to be a king without a kingdom, a husband without a wife, and a
warrior without money?"

Here Rosny said that I had more to tell, and the King, pursing his lips
so that his long nose seemed to touch his chin, bade me say on.  I told
him of my seeing the light, and of all that followed thereafter, saving
only the matter of my wound, and when I had done, he said sharply
between his teeth—

"Well, what then?"

(His words in truth were "_Mais encore?_" but ’tis meet I turn French
into English in telling my story now.)

"I know no more, Sire," I said in answer, "but I suspect the men I saw
were Leaguers, and were plotting secretly to seize your person, or to do
some other mischief, and ’twere well to send a party to take them, or if
that be too late, to go not from the camp without a strong guard."

"What!" cries the King; "shall I cage myself like a song-bird, or tether
myself like a drudging ass?  Ventre-saint-gris! my dear friends have
already counselled me that I seek refuge speedily in your country; but I
tell you that while I continue at the head of even a handful of
Frenchmen, such counsel ’tis impossible for me to follow.  As for plots,
a fig for them all!  Did I not listen but yesterday to a tale of a plot,
as shadowy as yours?  There may be such plots afoot; let there be.  The
assassin of my late cousin will not lack of imitators. But shall we
start at shadows, or flee like a cook-wench at sight of a mouse?  The
men you saw, as like as not, were bandits, discoursing on the spoils
they expect to reap from the ambushing of some rich Churchman.  Plots!
I am aweary of the word."

This reception was so little like what I had looked for that I felt
abashed and, I own, somewhat ruffled also.  The King’s courage was known
of all men, but I hold that to neglect a warning is not courage, but
mere foolhardiness. While I was meditating whether I should urge the
matter, the King suddenly hailed a burly man that was riding slowly a
few short paces from his tent.

"Hola, Lameray," he said, "send a dozen men to the château of St
Aubyn-le-cauf—which is beyond doubt the place of your adventure, Master
Rudd—and seize any man you find therein.  Master Rudd will tell you more
at large," and with that he turned away, jesting with Rosny.

The man whom the King had called Lameray dismounted from his horse,
which I perceived to be much bespattered with mud, and coming towards me
with a sort of roll in his gait, he said, in a full, harsh voice—

"Master Rudd will tell me more at large?"

There was certainly something of insolency in his tone, and being
already ruffled with the King’s manner of receiving my news, I did not
feel very amiably disposed towards this stranger, who looked at me under
his beaver with a glance of mockery.

"Master Rudd, if it please him, will tell me more at large," says the
man again, while I was still considering of how I should deal with him.

"You heard the King’s command, Master Lameray——"

"Pardon—De Lameray," says he, interrupting me.

"De Lameray," I said, making a bow.  "The château of St Aubyn-le-cauf,
your nobility may not be aware, lies something less than two miles along
the road towards Dampierre, and if you hurry you may yet be in time to
do the King’s bidding."

"And perhaps Master Rudd would be pleased to accompany me?" he said,
smiling upon me.

"No," I said shortly, and thinking that perhaps his mockery sprang of my
dirty and dishevelled aspect, I left him there, and strode away, with a
bare acknowledgment of his salutation, to the quarters I had formerly
occupied in the camp.  There, having bathed and got me into clean
raiment, and bound up the wound in my leg, no great matter, and eaten
pretty ravenously, I set off to find Raoul de Torcy, who was of my own
age, and had been my particular friend ever since I came to France.

"What news of the camp?" I said, after I had greeted him, for having
been absent for a fortnight I knew nothing of what had happened of late.

"The question I myself would ask," he said, "for I only returned from
Paris last night."

"From Paris?" I said.

"Yes.  I set off thither the very day after you left us, having friends
there who are also very good friends of the King, and yet know all the
counsels of the Leaguers.  I rode thence the day before yesterday,
bearing news of a plot to kill the King."

"Another?" I exclaimed.

"I know not what you mean by ’another,’ my friend; but there is
assuredly one afoot, and I rode apace with the news, and was chased
well-nigh all the way from Paris by a fellow that had the very cut of a
Leaguer.  But I shook him off yesterday evening, just before the storm
broke, and came safe into camp, and little enough I had for my pains."

"Why, did the King flout you too?" I asked.

"He laughed, and took it very lightly. ’Another?’ says he, just as you
did: ’I hear of plots as regularly as I eat my dinner.’  And then he
went off arm in arm with Rosny and paid no more heed to me."

Whereupon I told him of my own errand, and of what I had seen at the
château, and how the King had received me.

"I love our Henry," said Raoul, with a shrug, when I had made an end;
"but I sometimes question whether he be not too careless to make a good
king for France.  However, we have done our part; if any ill befalls
him, it will not be for want of warning."

I asked him then who was this Monsieur de Lameray that the King had
dispatched to the château, and he said he had never heard the man’s
name; but encountering Jean Prévost as we sauntered forth from his
lodging, we put the question to him, and he told us that the Baron de
Lameray had lately come into the camp and offered his sword to the King,
with three score gentlemen well mounted and equipped. He had been a
Leaguer, but it was no more uncommon then than now for warriors to shift
their allegiance, and Henry, who dearly loved a good sword, had welcomed
right heartily this notable accession to his party, and smiled upon him
so graciously that certain of his well-tried servants were displeased
thereat.  Whereupon Raoul shrugged again, complaining of the fickleness
of kings’ favour.



                                  *II*


On the night of that day, I rode with Raoul and a dozen more to the
lodging of the Marquis de Contades in Dieppe, he having bidden us to
supper and a game of tric-trac.  The company was very merry, but I was
aweary with having been up all the night before, and what with our
host’s good cheer and the heaviness of the air I could scarce keep my
eyes open.  Ever and anon I wandered to the window to cool myself,
wishing with all my heart that the company would break up, whereof I had
little hope, such jovial entertainments being commonly prolonged far
towards morning.  Looking forth one time into the silent and empty
street, I saw a shadow move in a doorway on the further side, and felt a
passing wonder as to who might be lurking there so late, concluding that
’twas some poor townsman on the lookout to earn a few doits by holding a
stirrup or some such petty service.  When I returned into the room the
marquis rallied me on my air of weariness, and on my telling him that I
had been long without sleep, he was pleased to admit my excuses, and
bade me get away to my bed.  I went down the stairs very gladly, to walk
to the inn where I had left my horse and my servant, and had taken a
pace or two before I remembered the shadow in the doorway.  I looked up
then to see whether the man was still there, and in that very moment a
figure sprang at me out of the dark entry, and I saw in the starlight a
long dagger uplifted against the sky.  I had no time to draw my own
weapon, but my lucky remembrance of the man having saved me from being
taken wholly by surprise, I dropped suddenly to the ground, and my
assailant stumbled over me in the vehemence of his onset.  Before he
could recover his footing I was upon him, but could do no more than grip
his right arm, and we fell together.  There we were, rolling over and
over, and in the heat and fury of the struggle I heard the footsteps of
other men on the cobbles, and a voice asking in a hoarse and breathless
whisper which was the Englishman, and another answer: "’Tis no matter;
the fool has botched it; strike anywhere!" and then the man I was
gripping cried out with pain, for one of the newcomers had stooped and
stabbed him, and as he loosened his hold upon me he screamed again, and
I knew that in a moment one of these hacking swords must find me out.

[Illustration: A FIGURE SPRANG AT ME OUT OF THE DARK ENTRY]

But as I grappled the assassin to me to shield myself, there came to my
ears a shouting and the clink and clatter of spurred boots upon the
stones, and three of the four men above me took instantly to their
heels.  The fourth remained, still bending over us, and I heard his
pants, and though I could not see his sword-arm, being partly underneath
the body of my first assailant, I saw his other arm, lifted in the act
to lunge. The fingers of his hand being distended, in that brief moment
I observed that his little finger was amissing.

My companions, called forth by the cries and the sound of the scuffle,
now came running up, and the man, with a growl of rage, straightened
himself and sped away into the night.  I rose, bruised and very scant of
breath, and when I told them in a word what had happened, they were for
pursuing the villains.  But the time, though brief, was sufficient for
them to make good their escape, and it was vain to think of overtaking
them in the darkness of those streets, with many crooks and corners and
narrow alleys; so they came back after going a few paces, and while some
asked me whether I was hurt, others bent down to look at the fallen man,
who was stark dead.  A torch being brought from the marquis’s lodging,
they saw the device upon the man’s coat, and some one cried that it was
one of De Lameray’s men.  At this Raoul looked at me, and I at him, but
we said nothing to our companions, having much food for thought. The
party being thus broken up, those of the guests that belonged to the
camp at Arques got their horses and rode back with me, and when we
arrived at the camp Raoul accompanied me, late as it was, to the
lodgings of Rosny, to whom we recounted, when we had roused him up, both
what had befallen and what our suspicions were. He heard us gravely, and
then bade us get to our beds, saying that the matter must be looked to
in the morning.

I was glad enough to seek my couch, and fell asleep instantly; but all
on a sudden I awaked and sat up with a start, a strange discovery having
come upon me in the midst of my sleep. I was again peeping through the
curtain at the château of St Aubyn-le-cauf; again I saw the man leaning
back in his chair, and then unclasping his hands as he rose; and now my
recollection acquainted me with something which had scarce made any
impression at the moment of my actual beholding: the man’s left hand had
lacked a finger!  I could not doubt that the man in the château and he
of the late adventure in Dieppe were one and the same; and I had now
some inkling of the reason why my life was attempted.  _Dead men tell no
tales_. My tale was already told, and the King had not hearkened; but I
had somewhat new to add to it, and maybe he would not again turn me a
deaf ear.

I had but just broken my fast when a lackey came to command my
attendance on the King. I found His Majesty with Rosny in his tent, and
the Baron de Lameray was there too, and as I entered and made my
obeisance he said something under his breath that set the King
a-laughing.

"Well, my friend," said Henry, "what is this I hear of tavern brawling
in the streets of my good town of Dieppe?"

"I know not what you may have heard, Sire," I said, "nor can I answer
for the doings of others; but an attempt was made upon my life last
night," and then I told him the whole story as I have told it you.

"And who were these would-be assassins?" asked the King when I had done.

"The fellow that was killed, Sire, was said to wear the livery of my
lord here," I replied, glancing towards Lameray; "and as for the others,
I know no more than that I saw the hand of one of them, and it lacked a
finger."

At this Lameray took a step forward, and glaring very darkly upon me
demanded whether I hinted at him.  Whereupon I smiled very pleasantly,
and glancing at his hands, which were cased in gauntlets, as the manner
of the camp was, I said—

"I have not the honour of knowing with what afflictions Providence has
been pleased to visit Monsieur de Lameray."

The King laughed, and even Rosny’s grave face relaxed a little; but
Lameray frowned, and said with some heat: "I have already explained to
His Majesty that at the time of this fracas I had not returned from the
errand which he was pleased to entrust to me, and of that the gentlemen
of my company can bear witness."

"And your château was empty, my good Rudd," said the King.

"I scarce expected otherwise, Sire," I said, "the men having had
warning.  And as to that matter, it is a slight thing, no doubt, but one
of those I saw there had suffered the same misfortune as Monsieur de
Lameray, if I take his words aright: he had but three fingers on his
left hand."

The King cast a searching glance upon Lameray, who did not change
countenance, but said with a sneer—

"It seems that Monsieur Rudd is beset with visions of conspirators
lacking a finger.  Maybe he is little practised in the use of the
sword."

"I wield my sword with the right hand, Monsieur de Lameray," I said; and
then the King, whose countenance had regained its wonted serenity, asked
me why I had said nought of the three-fingered man when I told him of
what I had seen in the château.  This question put me in a confusion,
for it was an ill matter to explain to the King that his manner of
receiving my news had ruffled me, or that the remembrance had not come
to me until the middle of the night, for that might very well seem to be
a dream, or even an invention.  I stammered in this quandary, and, I
doubt not, looked as much embarrassed as I felt; and the King laughed
somewhat impatiently, and turning to Rosny asked why he troubled him
with these brawls and midnight robberies.  Without waiting for an answer
he bade us depart, vouchsafing to me no word save the bare command, but
telling Monsieur de Lameray that he would do well in future to keep his
lackeys more firmly in hand.

I returned to my quarters in high indignation, marvelling also at the
King’s strange simplicity, for I believed now with the utmost assurance
that the man I had seen in the château and he I had seen in the street
were Monsieur de Lameray and no other.  And an hour or two after I found
that I was not alone in this suspicion, for Rosny himself came to me and
asked me to be wary, and to acquaint him immediately of anything I might
see or hear further.  "We must put things to the proof," he said in his
brief way. When I told him that Hilary Rawdon had expected me to return
to St Jacques after accomplishing my errand, Rosny replied that I must
not do so, but remain at Arques.  "And see that you do not stray from
the camp alone, my friend," he said, "if you value your skin as I value
mine."  And so he left me.



                                 *III*


It is ill work kicking one’s heels in camp when no fighting is toward,
and I was glad enough when a servant of Jean Prévost’s came to me in the
afternoon with a request from his master that I would join him and a few
more in a gallop. I donned my doublet—the same which I had worn on the
night of my ride—and chancing to put my hand into its inner pocket, I
felt some small thing which, when I took it out, I found to be a thin
roll of paper.  For a brief space I looked at it in a kind of
puzzlement, turning it over in my fingers, at a loss to know how I had
gotten it.  And then, in a flash, it came back to me.  I told you that
before I lost my way near the château of St Aubyn-le-cauf, I had already
met with some hindrance in my journey, and I declare that the surprising
events that had happened afterwards had clean driven it from my memory;
but now I remembered it perfectly. About two miles out of St Jacques,
just as the dusk was falling, and a drizzle of rain, I came to a
cross-roads, and saw a man lying in a huddled heap by the roadside.  I
got off my horse to look more closely at him, and when I bent over him,
I saw that he was stretched in a pool of blood, and there were great
gashes in his doublet, not such clean cuts as a rapier makes, but jagged
rents, the work of coarser instruments.  I spoke to him, and he opened
his eyes and groaned feebly, and then endeavoured to speak; but he was
plainly very far gone, and I could make nothing of his mutterings.  I
looked around to see if there was any house whereto I might convey the
man, who I supposed had been beset by footpads, but there was no
dwelling at hand, and I was considering whether I should lift him on to
my horse, when he lifted his hand painfully, and gave me a roll of
paper.  I asked him what it was, and what I should do with it, and he
tried to tell me; but though his lips moved no articulate sound came
from them, and even as I looked at him he heaved a great sigh, and his
head fell back, and I knew that he was dead.  What I might have done had
not my errand been urgent I cannot tell; but since I could do nothing
for him I delayed but to compose his huddled limbs, and mounted my horse
again, thrusting the paper into my pocket, where it had since lain
forgotten.  Such things happened often in the lawless and distracted
France of that time, so that it is no wonder it went out of my head when
I had matters of greater moment to think of.

[Illustration: I SAW A MAN LYING IN A HUDDLED HEAP]

Having found the paper, I unrolled it to see what it might be.  It
contained a few words plainly written, and yet I could not read them,
for they were of no tongue that ever I heard of, and I was not long in
concluding that they were writ in what is called a cipher.  I rolled the
paper again and put it back into my pocket, thinking to show it to Rosny
by and by; but meeting Raoul de Torcy as I left my lodging, I spoke of
it to him, telling him how I came by it.  When I described the poor
wretch who had been thus done to death, Raoul said ’twas like the
horseman who had followed him from Paris, and begged me to leave the
paper with him, for he had some skill in reading ciphers, and guessed
that if the man had been a Leaguer, as he supposed, the writing might
prove useful to the King.

I rode out with Jean Prévost’s party, and after a hard gallop we were
walking our horses when we were overtaken by the King himself, with
Rosny and half-a-dozen more.  The King looked over his shoulder as he
rode by, and told me with a laugh that he was going to my château, as he
called it, to look for the three-fingered gentleman, or at least to lay
the ghost.  I did not relish his mockery, nor the quizzing of my
companions, who were importunate in asking what he meant, but I forbore
to tell them, Rosny having charged me to say nothing of the matter.  A
little after we turned our horses and rode slowly back.

I had not been above five minutes in my quarters when Raoul burst into
my apartment in a great heat, and cried to me that he had read the
cipher.

"And what’s more," said he, "it was intended for me myself!  That poor
fellow you found murdered was not a Leaguer after all, but had been
dispatched from Paris hot upon my heels by my friends there."

"And what is the message he brought in such haste?" I asked.

"Why, hark to it," he said, thereupon reading from the paper: "’The
mischief purposed against the King will be wrought by a feigning friend,
who has lately joined himself to the royal forces.  We do not yet know
his name, but will acquaint you with that as soon as it is discovered.’
Who should that be but Lameray?"

"Where is Lameray?" I cried instantly, remembering that the King had
ridden out but sparely attended, so that if it was designed to seize him
no better opportunity could present itself.  When Raoul told me that he
had not seen the baron all that day I sprang up in haste, saying that it
were well we should make inquiry; and calling to my servant to saddle my
best horse, I went out with Raoul to seek Charles de Martigny, who knew
everything.  From him we learnt that Lameray had ridden forth some while
before with his troop to hunt in the forest of Arques across the river.
Martigny remarked some excitement in our demeanour, and asked whether I
had some new grudge against the baron; whereupon I told him what we had
learnt, saying when I ended, "’Tis to be hoped he is hunting fair game."

"We must go and acquaint Rosny," said Martigny at once.

"Rosny has ridden out with the King—to lay the ghost of the
three-fingered man," I said, with a kind of scorn.

"What!" cried he.  "To St Aubyn-le-cauf? That is not far from the forest
of Arques."

"True," said I coolly.

"And the King may be at this moment in the extremity of danger," he
cried.  "What you will do I know not, but as for me, I go straight to
Biron and ask him to gather a troop and ride out instantly to defend the
King."

"And be snubbed for your pains," said I, telling him then of the
warnings I had already given.  "We should be admirable laughing-stocks
for the camp," I added, "did we discover a mare’s nest again."

This had some weight with both of them, for a Frenchman of all men loves
not to appear ridiculous.  We concluded then to say nothing as yet to
Biron, but to ride across the river, we three together, and see for
ourselves the manner of Lameray’s hunting.  Within a few minutes we set
forth, and as we descended the further side of the bridge of Archelles,
we perceived far away a cloud of dust on the road that skirted the
forest, and it moved in the direction of St Aubyn-le-cauf.  It was
plainly caused by a numerous body of horsemen, and the same thought
flashed in the minds of all of us: Monsieur de Lameray’s hunting
expedition was a mere blind, and he was now riding to seize the King.
That very instant I set spurs to my horse and galloped down the road
that ran alongside the river, which would bring me to the château sooner
than Lameray, I hoped, even though he had the start of me, he following
a more winding road, and remoter from the camp.  The King should at
least be warned, and if this third time he slighted the warning, or it
were proved needless—well, I could but swallow my chagrin, and resolve
to mind my own business for the future. My two companions galloped after
me, but I soon began to outstrip them, my steed being a noble beast of
Arab strain, and, indeed, the envy of the camp.  Seeing them left
behind, so that they could not hope to be first with the news, I turned
in my saddle and called to Martigny that he might now go to Biron, and
let him bring out a company if he chose. Martigny, who was in some
dudgeon, as I could see, because he could not overtake me, reined up and
turned back towards the camp; but Raoul held on his course, and he being
my particular friend, I allowed him to come up with me, and we galloped
on together.  I was glad of his company, for he knew of a short cut
across the fields, and we sped on, leaping walls and ditches at some
peril of our horses’ knees, until we breasted a hillock, and saw the
château lying amid its gardens half a mile away.  And at that same
moment, far to the left, we caught the glint of the setting sun upon a
line of steel helmets, making at full speed towards the same goal as
ourselves.  Luckily we were nearer, and putting our horses to a fierce
gallop down the slope, we came betimes to the château, where we expected
to find the King.

But when we entered there was no man there, and we were thinking that we
had had our ride for nought, when, looking from a window, we saw Henry’s
white plume nodding among his company as he approached leisurely from
the direction of Dampierre.  ’Twas plain he had no suspicion of danger,
and I was in a ferment lest Lameray should fall upon him before he could
gain what shelter the château afforded.  I ran out immediately and leapt
upon my horse’s back, and flew like the wind to meet the King. As soon
as I came to him I poured out my news in a breathless flood, and he
laughed right heartily; but at this Rosny clutched at his bridle, and
saying sternly, "Are you mad, Sire?" he made his own horse gallop,
fairly lugging the King’s along with him.

"Can we defend the garden?" Rosny whispered to me as I rode close beside
him.  I reminded him that the walls were ruinous and there was no gate,
and he pressed his lips together and frowned with that fixed look he had
when confronted by a difficulty.  We said no more, and presently coming
to the garden wall at the back, we found Raoul there, having opened a
small wicket-gate for us, and he cried to us to haste, Lameray being not
a quarter-mile up the lane.  We passed through one by one, the gate
being not wide enough for two—eleven of us in all—and then Henry, who,
careless and pleasure-loving as he was, was yet quick in counsel and
swift in action, asked whether the great door was open.  When Raoul said
it was, the King bade us all ride our horses after him up the steps into
the great hall, the which we had but just done, Rosny being the last to
enter, when Lameray and his men came pouring through the gateway from
the lane.  We slammed the door in great haste, and slid the bolts, the
King with great readiness commanding some to bolt the shutters of the
windows also, and to see what could be done to defend every part of the
house. And having given this order he removed his hat and his purple
cloak and set them on the table in the very room where I had seen the
men, and catching sight of me as I slipped a bar into its place at the
window, he swore his customary oath, and said, very pleasantly but with
a touch of malice—

"I shall owe you something for making me sweat, my good Rudd, if this
turns out to be another of your hallucinations."

Before I could frame my lips to any reply, there was a hammering at the
great door and a voice demanding admittance.

"Ask him what brings him here," said the King to Rosny, who went
accordingly to the porter’s wicket beside the door, and opening the
shutter demanded to know who knocked and what his errand was.  Spying
through a loophole of the shutter of my window I saw that the space in
front of the château was thronged with horsemen, in number full sixty,
all armed and accoutred.

"’Tis I, the Baron de Lameray," cried the full harsh voice.

"And your errand, Monsieur de Lameray?" said Rosny.

"That, with your leave, Monsieur de Rosny, is for the ears of my master
the King alone."

"Tell him he may come in—alone," said the King, with a chuckle.

Rosny delivered the message, adding of his own motion that the door
should not be opened until the baron had removed his men beyond the
wall.  At this, Lameray broke forth in indignation, demanding to know
whether the King mistrusted him, and Rosny vouchsafing no answer, he
stood for a space gnawing his lip, and then, casting a sharp and furious
glance over the front of the house, the which was shuttered in all its
lower part, he turned swiftly about and led his men out through the
gateway.  The King laughed, and bade us throw open the shutters, and
when Rosny began to remonstrate with him he smote his thigh and cried,
"Ventre-saint-gris!  Dost think I will be mewed up here as though I were
a craven?"  Accordingly we opened the shutters, and the King began to
march up and down the floor, expecting Monsieur de Lameray to return on
foot.  And within a minute we saw the baron coming alone through the
gateway, and the King commanded that the door should be opened to him;
but before this could be done, Raoul de Torcy ran down-stairs from an
upper room whence he had been watching all that passed outside, and
cried that the men, having tethered their horses in the copse beyond the
lane (the same where I had left my horse on that night) were creeping
round the wall towards the back of the house.  And then Henry’s face
took on a wonderful sternness, and bidding Rosny still leave the door
closed, he sent all of us but two to keep a watch upon the back until he
should summon us.  He called to me as I was going, and said, "I will
borrow one of your pistols, my friend," being unarmed save for his
sword.

We went to take up our posts, I directing myself with Raoul to the
window through which I had made an entrance.  ’Twas plain we could not
defend it, for the shutters as well as the window itself hung loose upon
their hinges.  We therefore determined to quit that room and raise a
barricade against its door that opened into the great hall.  We were
hauling tables and chairs to set against it when we heard Lameray again
speaking through the porter’s wicket, saying that his errand brooked no
delay, and asking that the King would himself come to the door and speak
with him.

"Open the door and let him in," cried the King, with a smile.

Rosny began to draw the bolts, but at the same instant there was a
marvellous heavy thud upon the back door, whose timbers groaned and
creaked, and as Raoul and I ran to it to see whether its fastenings
would hold we heard a shot, and immediately afterwards the slamming of
the shutter of the porter’s wicket, and some one cried that Lameray had
fired at Rosny, who, however, expecting something of the sort, had kept
himself out of harm’s way and was not touched.  ’Twas plain that Lameray
and his ruffians were resolved to put all to the hazard, and I doubt not
that the Duke of Mayenne had promised them a very great reward if they
should either kill the King or take him alive.  And I own I quaked with
fear lest they should accomplish their purpose, for we were but eleven,
and they sixty or more, and the defences of the place were so paltry
that it would be nothing short of a miracle if we kept them out.

By this time the shutters of the front windows had been closed and
fastened again, so that the house was in darkness save for a little
light that came from the upper floor.  While some of our party were
hasting to pile barricadoes against the doors leading into the hall,
their work being greatly incommoded by the presence of the horses, I
bethought me that we might do some damage among the enemy by firing at
them out of an upper window.  Accordingly I ran up the stairs by myself,
and found that there was but one window opening on the back of the
house, where the attack was being made, Lameray knowing very well that
this side was not able to withstand a stout assault.  I stood at the
window for a little to comprehend what was proceeding beneath, and saw a
crowd of men gathered about the door, and others entering the window
into the room I had crossed on my way to the hall.  Then, bending
forward, I fired my pistol into the midst of the throng, which instantly
fell apart, one man dropping to the ground, and Lameray shouting to the
rest to save themselves and enter by the window. They did his bidding,
but very soon I saw some issue forth and seize upon one of the broken
statues that strewed the garden, and this they proceeded to carry
through the window into the room, designing, as I guessed, to employ it
as a battering ram against the inner door.  I had charged my pistol
again, and firing just as the last of the men entered, I was lucky
enough to hit his right arm, which fell useless at his side.

Since I could now do no more above, I hastened back to the hall, and
knew by the shouts and the blows upon the door that the enemy were
making a very vigorous assault upon it.  I knew that the timbers could
not long endure so mighty a battering, and the barricado that we had
raised against it would prove itself a very sorry defence.  But the
King, who was perfectly calm, and wore as serene a countenance as if he
were playing a sett at tennis, stood in the midst of the hall, speaking
brief words of cheer; and ever and anon our little party fired their
pistols through the door, setting the muzzles close to the timber, not
without effect, as we knew by the groans and cries from without. There
came answering shots, the enemy desisting from their battering for this
purpose, and first a horse near me screamed most pitifully, and then the
Sieur de Langres gave one choking sigh, and fell at the King’s feet with
a bullet in his breast.

[Illustration: THE SIEUR DE LANGRES GAVE ONE CHOKING SIGH, AND FELL AT
THE KING’S FEET]

"Courage, my friends!" cried the King. "They have us in a trap, but they
shall not get us until we have slain four for one."

"Navarre!  Navarre!" we shouted in consort, the hall ringing with our
cries, and from beyond the door we heard confused shouts of "Guise!
Mayenne!  Lameray!"

I observed that Rosny stood in front of the King, to protect him, which
the King remarking, he plucked Rosny by the sleeve and said, in a gay
and easy tone, "Nay, nay, mon cher, what says the Psalmist?  ’The Lord
is my shield and buckler.’  Wouldst usurp the prerogative of the
Almighty?"  Rosny stepped aside at the King’s urging, and I told him
that Martigny had ridden back to warn the Marshal de Biron, and if we
could only hold out for yet a little, I made no doubt the marshal would
come with a troop sufficient to put our enemies to the rout. But at that
moment, as if to mock my words, there was a loud crack, and we knew that
the woodwork of the door was giving way.  By good hap a heavy table
stood at the place where the board was splintered, so that it was not
driven in; and four of our party firing together through the door, we
heard cries of pain mingled with the jubilant shouts which had hailed
this breach in our defences.

But it was very plain that we could resist but little longer, and unless
Biron should come within a few minutes, our case would be desperate
indeed.  In a fever of trouble I strove to think of some way whereby we
might save the King, for I believed then, and I know now, that the loss
of so great a man would have been a sore calamity for France and the
world.  And as I beat my wits on this matter, on a sudden I chanced to
remember Henry’s hat and cloak that lay on the table in the great salon,
and a device rushed into my mind.  I durst not tell the King, who would
assuredly have forbid it; but I drew Rosny aside, and whispered it to
him.  A light beamed upon his troubled face, and he bade me go, but
secretly, lest the King should observe me.  Accordingly I sought my
friend Raoul, and desired him to draw the bolts of the great door as
silently as might be, and to be ready to throw it open at a word.  And
then I crept into the salon, and taking the plumed hat and cloak from
the table I donned them, and returned into the hall.  Meanwhile Rosny
had informed the King that Biron had been warned, and had led him up the
stairs to a window in the front of the house, whence they might overlook
a great space of the country and peradventure spy the marshal coming.
The way being thus cleared for me, I mounted my horse, there in the
hall, and giving Raoul the word, he flung the door open, and I dashed
out, my horse leaping the steps at one stride.

The enemy were all at the rear part of the house, so that there was none
to see me as I galloped at a headlong pace towards the lane. But as I
passed the stables they caught sight of me, as I designed they should,
and then there was such a yell of consternation and rage as I had never
heard before.  A shot flew after me, but fell short, and in a trice I
swept through the gateway, wheeled suddenly to the left, and set my
horse to an easy canter, for it was not part of my plan to gallop clean
away.  I heard the shouts of the men as they swarmed after me, and
turning in my saddle, yet keeping my face pretty well concealed, I saw
them scurry into the copse where their horses were tethered, Lameray
first among them.  The dusk of evening and an autumn haze hung over the
ground, so that I had good hope they would be deceived by the plume and
the cloak, and not observe that the form thus clad was not that of Henry
of Navarre, but of his humble servant Christopher Rudd.

I had ridden but a few hundred yards up the lane when they came dashing
out of the copse after me, Lameray again the first.  And now that I had
drawn them into pursuit, as I had purposed, I gave my good horse his
head, and galloped on at a round pace.  Soon I left the lane, leaping
the hedge into a field, not for easiness of going, but to entice the
enemy after me, and thereby give the King the opportunity of riding
forth with his party and reaching camp before me.  The hunt followed my
lead with excellent witlessness; taking a flying look at them I
perceived that nearly every man of them was joining in the chase; and my
blood tingles now, old man as I am, when I remember the joy that leapt
in my veins as I rode, springing over hedges and ditches, the pack in
full cry after me.  Verily I believe that my horse was as merry as I
myself, though he may have wondered where was the fox, not knowing that
I myself was the quarry of that hunt.

My steed, as I have said, was the envy of the camp, and at the pace
whereto I set him he soon outdistanced all the pursuers save only
Lameray, who bestrode a fine roan but little less in value than my own
horse.  One by one the others dropt off, but he still kept within the
same distance of me, and I wondered whether he would have the temerity
to pursue me up to the very skirts of the camp and perchance into the
arms of Biron.  Glancing over my shoulder (yet careful to shield my face
with my arm), I saw that a dyke I had just leapt had been too much for
every one of my pursuers but him, and recollecting his insolency towards
me, and the attempt on my life, and above all, his slur upon my
swordsmanship, I resolved to try conclusions with him, and prove upon
his body the foul traitor he was.  Accordingly I put my horse at a low
wall, barely clearing an unexpected ditch that lay beyond it, and
reining up, wheeled about and awaited my enemy a dozen yards upon the
further side.  He came up at a wild and reckless pace, and, traitor
though he was, I could not but admire the dexterity of his manage as he
leapt the wall at the very place of my crossing.  Seeing me biding for
him, with no care now to shroud my countenance, he drew his sword at the
moment of leaping, and came at me in a fury.  But his horse lost a
little speed in taking the ditch, and since I set spurs to mine as soon
as Lameray’s alighted, we met with a mighty shock, and my steed being
lighter than his was forced back upon his haunches.  In this manner I
escaped the point of his sword outthrust towards me, and causing my
horse to swerve, I heard Lameray’s snarl of rage as he was carried a few
paces beyond.  In a twinkling he was about, and lifting his sword high
above his head, he brought it down with a vehement stroke that, had it
touched me, would assuredly have cleft my head in twain, or my arm from
the shoulder.  But my good steed answered perfectly to the pressure of
my heel upon his flank, and swerving, saved me by a hair’s breadth.  And
then, at the same moment that I heard a great shouting far away, I
lunged swiftly, and by good hap my point entered his throat.  With one
dreadful sob he fell backwards over the crupper, and the traitor was no
more.

[Illustration: RAISING HIS SWORD HIGH ABOVE HIS HEAD, HE BROUGHT IT DOWN
WITH A VEHEMENT STROKE]

It needs not to tell how Biron, with three-score of his choicest
cavaliers, rode out from camp with Martigny, having lost some little
time in saddling, and came full upon a portion of Lameray’s troop just
as they returned to the lane.  The King and his little band having
sallied forth, and being on the further side of them, they were shut up
as in a vice, and full two-score of them were slain.  Nor does it become
me to relate all that King Henry said to me when he sought me out, I
having ridden straight into Arques when I had taken Lameray’s sword as a
trophy.  I might, if I chose, write myself the Baron de St Aubyn in the
peerage of France, since thus royally did the King see fit to reward me;
but having been born an Englishman I have no great love for outlandish
titles, though, maybe, if I enjoyed a marquis’s rank I might not be so
squeamish.  Go to my cabinet yonder; there you will find, set together
in one place, a white plume, a cloak, and a sword. These the King was
pleased to give me.  Peradventure in years to come, when your  grandsons
visit you, you will set these relics in state before them, and tell over
again the story of the lonely château and the Baron de Lameray.


[Illustration: tailpiece to Second Part]



                               *Interim*


A few days after this notable adventure, the Duke of Mayenne encamped
over against Arques, and made sundry assaults upon King Henry’s
entrenchments, being baffled at all points.  Then, hearing that new
forces were drawing near from the east, and that five thousand good
English soldiers were upon the sea, he withdrew himself into Picardy,
the King marching close upon his heels up to the very walls of Paris,
the suburbs whereof he took, and gave over to pillage.  But winter
coming on, he stayed not to open a siege, but withdrew to Tours,
sallying forth thence when he heard that Mayenne was again afoot. Many
strong places in Normandy yielded themselves up to him, and in the
middle of March in the next year he gave battle to Mayenne at Ivry,
where, when Fortune seemed to be turning against him, he called
cheerfully upon his nobles and gentlemen, and they following him charged
into the thick of the fray, his white plume waving in the midst.  And
among the thirty horsemen that came forth with him out of the mellay was
my grandfather, who bore ever after on his neck the scar of a sword cut
dealt him on that glorious day.

After this victory my grandfather accompanied the King in his march upon
Paris, to which city Henry laid siege, straitly shutting it up all that
summer, so that they lacked food, and devoured horses and asses, dogs
and rats, and even little balls of clay and powdered bones.  But the
Duke of Parma coming out of the Low Countries with an army of Spaniards,
the King was enforced to strike his camp and haste to meet this doughty
foe.  Nevertheless there was no battle betwixt them, for Henry was in no
wise strong enough to match the Duke, nor indeed was he equal to him in
the art of war, though none could be bolder or more daring in the field.
Being therefore outdone, he drew back his forces, and the city was
opened to the Spaniards, who threw into it a plenty of victuals and
lifted the people out of their misery.

It were too long to tell of all the skirmishes, the marchings and
countermarchings, the captures and surprises, wherein my grandfather
bore his part for three years from that time.  But in July 1593, the
King professed himself of the Catholic faith, to the joy of the greater
part of the nation, and the confusion of his enemies. City after city
opened its gates to him; by the end of that year France had peace, and
many of the English gentlemen that had fought for the King returned to
their own country, my grandfather being among them.  He told me that the
main cause of his return was Queen Elizabeth’s displeasure with Henry
for that he had changed his religion, but it is known that the Queen
nevertheless withdrew not her support from him, and methinks my
grandfather himself no longer held him in the same degree of respect,
for he abhorred a turncoat, and I know that he grieved because, as all
men knew, the King forsook his faith without sincerity and for the mere
bauble of a crown.  My father was used to remind him how Naaman the
Syrian bowed himself in the house of Rimmon, and is held of many to be
blameless; and how King Henry did in truth by his conversion compose the
French nation to peace and order; whereat my grandfather would cry, "How
now! would you do ill that good may come?" and so put him to silence.

However, having returned to London, my grandfather obtained by the
interest of a noble friend the promise of a place among the Queen’s
Guard.  Yet it was some while ere he entered into this honourable
office, for being sent by my Lord Burghley upon an errand to Flanders,
he was led by chance, or more truly by the hand of Providence, to employ
his sword in defence of the liberties of the commonweal there.  The
Provinces had been struggling for five and twenty years against the
oppression of the Spanish King and his minions, of whom the Duke of Alva
in especial left a name for iron sternness and cruelty.  Like as in the
case of King Henry of Navarre, Queen Elizabeth lent aid to the suffering
folk; many of her chiefest men were captains in their army, and became
governors of their towns, and did many right honest and praiseworthy
deeds in their behoof.  And among the stories that my grandfather told
me, none pleased me better than this that now follows, wherein he
relates a quaint and pleasant conceit that he devised for the undoing of
a traitor.



                            *THE THIRD PART*


                  *CHRISTOPHER RUDD’S ADVENTURE IN THE
                     LOW COUNTRIES, AND HIS QUAINT
                       DEVICE OF THE SILVER SHOT*



[Illustration: headpiece to Third Part]



                                  *I*


I could wish that I had been born somewhat earlier into the world, for
then I had had no cause, in these my latter years, to feel shame for my
country, nor to look into the future with any disquietude.  This our
England stood upon a pinnacle of renown and majesty that year when the
Spaniards’ Armada was shattered by the winds of God and the shot of Sir
Francis Drake. Queen Elizabeth went down to her grave in a blaze of
glory; but in the reign of her successor the lustre of our name was
dimmed.  At this present the sky is black with clouds, and there is
rumbling and muttering of thunder.  Pray God our Ship of State may
weather the imminent storm!

Chiefly I could wish to have been of an elder generation, because then I
might have had a full share in that great struggle for liberty which our
neighbours of the Low Countries long time maintained with stout heart
against the Spaniard.  I did, indeed, ply my sword in their behoof,
among the voluntaries whom our queen suffered to engage in that service;
but I came late to it, when a great part of the journey work was already
done.  Prince William, named the Silent, had fallen to the assassin’s
knife while I was yet at school; and by the hand of that pattern of all
princely virtues the foundations of the Republic had been well and truly
laid.  Yet had he bequeathed a vast heritage of toil to his son, Prince
Maurice, whom I must hold to be the peerless instructor of this age in
the art of war.  By his side I dealt many a dint for freedom, and it
would need a month of talking so much as to tell over the sieges and
stratagems, the ambuscades and sharp encounters, wherein I bore my part
with that worthy prince.  But at the very beginning of my service there
befell me a noteworthy adventure which I look back upon with a certain
joyous contentment; and that I will relate, craving your patience.

In the autumn of 1593 I was sent for one day to wait upon my Lord
Burghley at Cecil House in the Strand.  I found him exceeding sick in
body, with a look of death upon his aged countenance; but his mind was
sound and firm as ever, and he laid his commands upon me with all his
wonted clearness and precision.

I had but lately quit the service of His Majesty of France.  The Queen,
my mistress, bore so ill King Henry’s submission to the Roman Church as
she could not endure the continuance of any of her servants in his
employment.  Thus I chanced to be for the nonce at large, and ready for
the charge the Lord Treasurer committed to me.

Since the villainous treachery of Sir William Stanley and Sir Rowland
Yorke in delivering the town of Deventer to the Spaniards, the
Netherlanders had harboured a natural suspicion and distrust of the good
faith of our English captains. Especially was there a present dread lest
the town of Ostend should be betrayed by its English garrison.  To clear
our fame of this withering blight, the Queen had determined to admonish
Sir Edward Norris, governor of that place, bidding him to keep a wary
watch upon his captains and soldiers, to enforce them rigorously in
their duty, and to hang up without remorse any that should be discovered
in communication with the enemy.  To this end she indited with her own
hand a letter to Sir Edward, the which, together with his own formal
despatch, the Lord Treasurer delivered to me for conveyance to Flanders.

This was a charge that jumped well with my inclination.  I had no love
for the soft air of courts or the mincing manners of a carpet knight,
and having learnt from my Lord Burghley that, my errand being
accomplished, the Queen would not stay me from serving Prince Maurice, I
took passage very willingly in a hoy bound for Flushing, where I landed
some time in the month of October.

It needs not to tell of my journey to Ostend and my meeting with Sir
Edward Norris.  Having delivered to him my letters, I departed as soon
as with good manners I might, and, accompanied only by my servant, took
my way to the camp of Sir Francis Vere, the principal general of our
English levies since my Lord Leicester departed from the Low Countries.
Sir Francis greeted me right boisterously, and put a troop of horse
immediately at my command.

’Tis a matter well established that a man may have all the qualities of
a captain and leader of men, and yet lack those higher parts that are
requisite in a general.  Sir Francis was in person the very image and
model of a man of war.  Of good stature, with a well-knit body and a
princely countenance, his hair close-clipped and his brown beard spread
spade-shaped upon his breast, he made a noble figure in his Milan
corselet inlaid with gold and his ruff of point-lace.  Bold and resolute
in action, he was nevertheless heady, prone to anger, and full of
whimsies, whereby in great affairs he was apt to be looked on with a
certain mistrust, both in the council and in the field.  I had not been
long with him before I perceived that he entertained a most violent
hatred and jealousy of Prince Maurice, and looked upon the Netherlanders
with a sour contempt.

I learnt from him the posture of affairs in the Low Countries at that
time.  The Spaniards had of late taken sundry strong places of note, and
were closely investing sundry others.  Prince Maurice, being but ill
provided, could do little towards the relief of those beleaguered towns,
and while gathering strength thereto held himself mainly to the
defensive.  This loitering and idleness provoked Sir Francis to wrath,
who would chafe and chide, and avouch that ’twould be profitable to the
country if the whole breed of Nassaus were rid out of the way.

It chanced that one day I sallied forth with a handful of men towards a
small city then besieged by the Spaniards, to discover if I might the
strength and disposition of the enemy.  For reasons that will presently
appear I had liever not tell the true name of this place, but will call
it Bargen.

We rode forth one misty afternoon, and picked our way not without
trouble among the runnels and made watercourses wherewith that flat and
marshy land abounds.  Perceiving no sign of the enemy, I was tempted to
approach more closely to their lines than consorted with prudence.  As
we rode by a narrow bridle path betwixt a patch of woodland and a field
in stubble, on a sudden, from among the trees, cloaked in a measure by
the mist, there sprang upon us a troop of corseleted horsemen.  They
had, I doubted not, got wind of my approach, and lain in wait under
covert of the wood to cut me off.

Some of our fine gentlemen that showed their bravery at court were wont
to boast that one Englishman was a match for five Spaniards; but such
vainglorious brag is bemocked by those who, as I myself, have
encountered those doughty warriors in the field.  The Spaniard may be a
paltry adversary on the seas, though even there I have met with some
that were no mean fellows. Howbeit on land I found them valorous and
redoubtable foemen, whom to despise would argue a pitiful ignorance and
marvellous ill reckoning.

I had with me six or seven stout fellows, good swordsmen and well
seasoned to war; but our enemy numbered a full score, who smote upon us
like thunder and bore us down by sheer weight and fury.  In my time I
have been in many a sore strait and hazard, but never stood I in such
jeopardy as when two of my men were cast headlong from their saddles and
the Spaniards held the rest of us like rats in a trap.  We had not time
to wheel about and trust to the speed of our horses; the utmost that we
could do was to back among the trees and play the man. There was a
mighty clashing of steel upon armour as we gave stroke for stroke; but
the enemy beset us vehemently, and had well-nigh encompassed us without
hope of life, when, in the twinkling of an eye, there leapt from the
depths of the wood a half-score of wild and unkempt figures, that flung
themselves with exceeding heat and fury into the thick of the mellay,
making marvellous quick play with their short knives, both upon the
horses and the bodies of the Spaniards, at the joints of their harness.

This timely interposition put new heart into my stout fellows, who plied
their swords with such manful resolution as made the Spaniards, already
confused and baffled by the waspish newcomers, take thought for their
safety and seek to draw out of danger.  In short, within two minutes
such of them as had not fallen betook themselves to flight, spurring
their steeds every man in a contrary direction.  My men in the fervency
of victory made to pursue them; whereupon, being in no mind to be
enticed further within the enemy’s lines, I halloed to them loudly to
refrain.  They reined up and cantered back to me, save one headstrong
and reckless fellow, John Temple by name, who pressed hard on the heels
of the rearmost Spaniard, and was soon lost to sight beyond the confines
of the wood.

Very well content with this happy issue from our troubles, I turned
about to see more clearly what manner of men were those that had wrought
our deliverance.  Their aspect and garb bespoke them as boors of the
country, for they wore rough smocks, round fur bonnets, and breeches of
wondrous largeness and of a blue colour; yet they had not on their feet
the wooden clogs of use and wont, but went barefoot for swiftness. I was
minded to offer them some recompense for their service, and being as yet
too new in the country to have gained anything of their speech, I bade
one of my men, who had been long among Netherlandish folk, acquaint them
with my purpose.  Whereupon a young man who had hitherto held himself
backward and aloof, stepped forth, and addressing me in execrable
French, said—

"Sir, we covet no reward, having done that which we have done in the
service of our country, and for behoof of those that serve her also."

Taking more particular note of this young man, I perceived that neither
in favour nor in speech did he match the others of his company.

"Sir," said I, "we are beholden to you.  I would fain know your name."

With some hesitancy he replied—

"Sir, call me Van der Kloof; ’twill serve as well as another."

I gave him a hard look, to ensure that I might know him again; but
having made it a rule of conduct never to pry or meddle with matters
that do not concern me, I forbore further question. Whereupon the young
man told me of his own accord how that he had lain in the wood for a
good while, keeping watch on the Spaniards, our late adversaries, who
had come from the direction of Bargen, and were going, as he thought,
towards the camp of Verdugo, the Spanish governor.  I got from him
sundry informations concerning matters in Bargen, though not so much as
I should have liked.

The hour was now growing late, and John Temple had not yet returned.  I
had thought that, when he found himself without support from us, he
would ride back without delay, and his continued absence made me fear
for his safety.  Though by his stupidity or obstinacy he deserved no
better than to fall into the hands of the Spaniards, I was loth to lose
any man of my charge; accordingly, we rode warily some short distance
after him.  But when we found him not, we turned about and made towards
our own camp, only desiring Van der Kloof, if he should meet with
Temple, to bid him follow hard after us.

We were within a bowshot of our camp when Temple overtook us.  His horse
was in a great heat and foam, and the man himself was in a sorry case,
having a great gash in his cheek, his morion gone, his doublet slashed
and bedabbled with blood.

"How now, sirrah!" I cried to him as he rode among us.  "Art deaf, that
thou didst not hear my command, or a mere addle-pate, to go alone into
the midst of a host?"  And I rated him very roundly, I do assure you.
The man said not a whit in his proper defence, but pled that being at
the very heels of a Spaniard who had dealt hardly with him in the fight,
he could not endure to leave him without giving him a Roland for his
Oliver.  The chase was longer than his expectation; and the Spaniard,
seeing him persistent, on a sudden wheeled about and met him face to
face.  They two fought it out, and after a long and laboursome bout,
whereof Temple bore many eloquent and grievous tokens, he overcame his
adversary and made his quietus.

And then he displayed before me the spoils of this engagement, to wit, a
fine Toledo blade; a belt of good Cordovan leather, the pouch filled
with Spanish dollars; and a jewelled ring of gold. And when I had told
him that he might keep these for himself, he brought forth from under
his belt a strip of paper, and put it into my hand.

"This I espied, sir," he said, "through a rent in the don’s doublet, and
seeing there was writing thereupon, being no scholar myself, I fished it
out for your worship’s perusal."

Thinking ’twas some love billet that the hapless Spaniard had worn
against his heart, I was in a manner loth to take it.  But I bethought
myself directly after that in time of war it behoves a man to suspect
all and trust none, and in this mind I spread open the paper and bent my
eyes upon it.  And then I was not a little discontented at the
meagreness of what I read.  ’Twas nothing but a table of stores, writ in
the Spanish tongue: so many tubs of powder, so many chests of the same,
so many spare pikes, so many double bullets for the calivers, so many
bullets for the matchlocks, so many round shot for the sakers and
culverins—in truth, I did not read every article, being persuaded that
the fellow from whom the paper was taken was some pitiful storekeeper, a
man of no account.  Yet I stowed it within my doublet, from a mere habit
of prudence, and rode on, telling the man Temple jestingly that my share
of the booty was paltry by comparison with his.



                                  *II*


It was dark when I came to my lodging, and learnt from my servant that
Sir Francis Vere, some while before, had sent to seek me.  I made haste
to attend the general, whom I found alone at his supper.

"Ha, Rudd," he cried to me in his great voice, "I am glad to see thee,
lad."  (He was but ten years my elder, but let that pass.)  "How hast
fared?"

I rehearsed very shortly the particulars of my excursion, and those few
matters I had learnt of the Dutchman; but held my peace as touching the
paper Temple had given me, deeming that to be of no moment.  Sir Francis
made me compliments on my good hap in coming off with a whole skin, and
then, bidding me share his meal, pushed a letter over the table towards
me.

"Read that," said he, "and tell me your mind upon it."

The letter, I found, was from Prince Maurice himself, concerning Bargen,
the place from before which I had even now returned.  The Prince was
troubled in mind about its safety.  It had been some two months besieged
by the Spaniards, and he was as yet unable to stir towards its relief,
being himself menaced by a greater force, the which he believed to be
looking for some movement on his part thitherward, with the intent to
fall upon him as he marched.  The city had hitherto made a good defence,
but there had come to his ears rumours of a weak-kneed party in the
council, and he feared lest, as the labour and hardship of the defence
waxed greater, the tottering loyalty of these burghers should fail
utterly, and they deliver up their city into the enemy’s hands.  In this
strait he besought the aid of Sir Francis, requesting him to use all
endeavours to save the place, chiefly by strengthening the hands of
those burghers among the council that were still trusty and faithful.

"A murrain on him!" cried Sir Francis, as I set the letter down.  "Why
does he sit still, this Prince Do-Nothing?  Did he strike a blow I would
give him a mighty backing, but ’tis not in me to play the nurse, and
cosset faint-hearts.  He must seek another man for that job, one of his
own slow Dutchmen, pardy!"

But it flashed upon me in a moment that the Prince had shown wisdom and
discretion in seeking an Englishman for this part.  I had learnt already
that there was great jealousy between the several cities; each was in a
manner a little republic; and the burghers of one city would be apt to
look with ill-favour upon any man from another who should offer to teach
them their duty.  The like resentment would not be stirred up by an
Englishman, more especially if he were commended to them as one expert
in war and cunning in counsel.  In this I thought Prince Maurice had
done wisely, and so I told Sir Francis.  He looked at me very sharply,
fingering his beard, and then smote upon the table and cried with a
great laugh:

"By the Lord Harry, thou art the man!"

I stared at him, at the first not understanding his intent.  He laughed
again, and said:

"Who so fit for this business as Master Christopher Rudd, expert in war,
as witness his exploits with Henry of Navarre; cunning in counsel, as
witness his lecture and admonition at this very table!  You shall go
into Bargen; you shall take in hand the instruction of the burghers; you
shall strengthen the weak hands and confirm the feeble knees; a Daniel
come to judgment!"

I did not relish his mockery, nor in any wise covet the office he would
thrust upon me.  But his laughter stung me to a great heat (though I
showed it not), and, not counting the cost as an older man had done, I
determined in my mind that I would do this thing, come of it what might.
Whereupon, feigning to take him in merry mood, I smote upon the table
likewise, declared ’twas a right royal jest, and vowed that on the
morrow I would make my way privily through the enemy’s lines into
Bargen, and instal myself tutor among the mynheers.  Sir Francis
applauded me, still in sport, not supposing that I had spoken soberly
and in earnest.

When I came to reflect upon it in my own chamber I questioned whether I
were not clean witless, for the task I had taken upon myself was fitter
for a man well acquainted with these burghers than for a man raw and
untried. Nevertheless, having put the halter about my own neck, I could
blame none but myself if I was hanged withal, and from sheer pride of
soul I was steadfast to my purpose.

Accordingly, the next day, without any more speech of Sir Francis, I
went about quietly to get myself a trusty Dutchman who should guide me
into Bargen.  By good fortune I lighted upon a man that not only knew
English, but had himself gone in and out of the city by a secret way, in
despite of the Spaniards.  In the dusk we set forth from the camp, with
my servant, and rode to a lonely mill some few miles from Bargen, half
ruined and burnt in a foray the year before.  There we left our horses,
which the Dutchman engaged to lead back to the camp, and went down to
the river hard by, where, in a clump of rushes, we found his raft
cunningly concealed.

It being now dark, we got upon the raft, and oared ourselves warily and
in silence down the stream, until we came to a spit or nose of land that
was at this season partly submerged and in winter-time wholly.  Here we
stepped ashore, being within a short bowshot of the Spaniards’ trenches.
At this hour of the night none but the sentinels were stirring, and, as
my guide well knew, the guard hereabout was negligent and unwary.

We crept softly as foxes toward the wall, and as we crawled up the
glacis a voice challenged us, and I heard the click of a firelock.  My
guide made answer in a whisper, and immediately after two rope ladders
were let down from the wall, upon which we nimbly mounted to the
parapet. There we were confronted by a posse of the burgher guard, armed
at all points, and my Dutchman presented me to their captain, saying,
according to my instruction, that I was come on business of great moment
from Prince Maurice.

[Illustration: WE CREPT SOFTLY AS FOXES TOWARD THE WALL]

The Captain would have led me instantly to the presence of the
Burgomaster, but on my assuring him that my errand was not so urgent as
that I should disturb that worthy gentleman’s rest so unseasonably, he
offered to find me a comfortable lodging for the night.  We went
together, my servant following, through the dark and silent streets, the
Captain telling me that I should lodge in the house of the widow of the
late Burgomaster, who had been slain in a skirmish the year before.
When I said that I was loth to intrude upon the lady at so late an hour,
the Captain declared that Meffrouw Verhoeff would deem it in no wise an
intrusion; indeed, he said that I should find a table ready laid, my
hostess having a son among the guard for whom she watched on all those
nights when he was abroad.

Within a little I found myself at the entrance of a house wherein a lamp
shone.  At the Captain’s knock the door was opened, and a voice asked,
"Is it you, Jan?" the speaker not perceiving at the first who we were.
The Captain presenting me as an envoy from Prince Maurice, and an
Englishman, a soft hand caught mine, and drew me into the house, and I
made my salutation to a little old lady, very comely and personable,
with a widow’s cap and snow-white ruff, who greeted me in English and
bade me very heartily welcome.  She would hear no excuses upon the
lateness of the hour; but led me into her parlour, then left me while
she bestowed my servant, and returning, entreated me to do honour to the
viands with which her table was sparely spread.

Mistress Verhoeff entertained me as I ate with many particulars of the
siege.  I was not long of discovering that her small body was the seat
of a very fiery and unquenchable spirit; and in truth, while she spoke
of the brave deeds done in defence of the city, her cheeks glowed and
her eyes sparkled so that she seemed young again. There had been much
suffering, she told me; but her folk had learnt to suffer, and of a
surety could endure even more grievous afflictions than had yet befallen
them.

At these words methought there was trouble in her voice, and I wondered
whether she was aware of the rumours whereof Prince Maurice had made
mention in his letter to Sir Francis Vere.

She spoke of her dead husband, and of her living son, who was this night
on guard at the wall.

"Had his father but lived," she said, "my boy had beyond question held
great place, in the field or the council chamber; but now, alack! he
trails a pike among the common men."

While we were yet conversing, there was a step without, and a young man
entered to us. He stood amazed to behold a stranger with his mother, but
upon her making me known to him, he gave me a courteous salutation and
sat himself at the board.  Now I never lose the remembrance of a face
once seen, and at the first glance I could have avouched that this young
man was the same that did me service two days before.  Yet the form of
his countenance was something changed, and his apparel was wholly
bettered, and when he made not the least sign that he knew me, I was
tempted to doubt my memory had for once cozened me.  We spoke of
indifferent matters, and then, with the intent to put him to the test, I
said bluntly—

"Sir, have you knowledge or acquaintance of one Mynheer Van der Kloof?"

"I know no man living of that name," he answered me.

"I crave your pardon, sir," said I, "but truly I would fain meet that
same mynheer again, that I might renew my thanks for a timely service he
rendered me."

"What was that, sir?" the lady asked; and her son seemed to wait upon my
words with mere curiosity.

I related my adventure of two days before, and my hostess averred that
Mynheer Van der Kloof was no man of Bargen, seeing that neither was
there any family of that name in the city, nor could any force of
burghers have been without the walls, the place having been straitly
invested for two months past.  This in my secret thought I took leave to
doubt, but I could not in courtesy urge my opinion, and we left speaking
of the matter.  Shortly thereafter the lady herself conducted me to my
chamber, where I was soon comfortably established between the sheets, as
white and fragrant as ever I slept in.



                                 *III*


On the morrow, very early, I was waited upon by a sergeant come express
to conduct me to the Burgomaster, whom the Captain of the Guard had
informed of my arrival.  I must acknowledge that in the cold and sober
light of morning I felt myself to be in something of a pickle.  I had
announced myself as an emissary from Prince Maurice, but I had no letter
of commendation in his hand, nor, in truth, had I so much as set eyes on
him.  Furthermore, I was a stranger to all in the city, and being little
more than a boy,—my years were twenty-two, though, like Portia in Will
Shakespeare’s play, I was elder than my looks—being little more than a
boy, I say, I doubted of the reception I should meet with among the
grave and solemn burghers of the city council.  I could but trust to a
bold front and mother wit to carry me through my enterprise, and I took
some comfort from the reflection that Hollanders were said to be
somewhat dull and heavy.  Accordingly, having trimmed myself with
exceeding care, and donned the fresh and sumptuous apparel, meet for an
ambassador, which my servant had brought, I set forth with assured mien
and measured gait, looking neither to the right hand nor to the left
upon the gaping onlookers that had gathered in the streets.

Being ushered with much solemnity by the sergeant into the
council-chamber, I found myself in presence of a round dozen burghers
clad in brave attire, and seated at their table in order of precedency,
as I judged.  I cast a swift look round as I gave them salutation, at
the first taking particular note of none but the Burgomaster at the head
of the table, whose aspect tickled me with secret merriment.  He was a
round pursy little man, clean shaven, with double chins resting on his
chain of office, and moist and vagrant eyes that did not meet my gaze
steadily.  I judged him to be pompous and self-conceited, withal of
little stability of mind, and, as we say in our homely way, fussy.  With
hem and haw he addressed me in French, his voice being thick, and
speaking as there were a pebble in his mouth.

"Sir, you come from the illustrious Prince Maurice of Nassau?" he said.

[Illustration: "SIR, YOU COME FROM THE ILLUSTRIOUS PRINCE MAURICE OF
NASSAU?"]

For answer I bowed.

"You bring a letter under his hand and seal?" he proceeded.

I hold that to speak truth is ever the best course; wherefore, attuning
my voice to a confident serenity, I replied—

"Sir, I bear no letter, but I will in a few words explain to the
worshipful council my presence in your city.  His illustrious Highness,
tendering your welfare, and moved by your stout and manful resistance to
the Spaniard, hath writ to my General, Sir Francis Vere, requiring him
to send to you one of his captains, both as a witness of his Highness’
satisfaction, and with the intent to lend you aid and support.  The
choice fell upon me, Christopher Rudd, unworthy though I be, by reason
of some slight knowledge in warfare gained in the service of His Majesty
of France.  Such small skill as I am master of, therefore, is yours to
dispose of, albeit the measures you have taken up to this present are so
aptly conceived and so doughtily executed that I deem my part to be that
of admirer rather than counsellor."

This pretty speech appeared to give the burghers some satisfaction, but
I perceived that the Burgomaster’s right-hand neighbour, a lank
beetle-browed fellow of swarthy hue and Castilian cast of feature, shot
me a keen and questioning glance out of his narrow eyes.  "This fellow
is worth the watching," I thought; but I let not my eyes dwell upon him
beyond the moment.

After some further debate I was made partaker in their deliberations.
From one and another I gathered information about the course of the
siege and the measures of defence they had concerted, and I was not long
of discovering, by hint and suggestion, the rift that Prince Maurice had
suspected.  The most part of the council were true men, bold and stout
of heart; but there were two or three that let fall doubts and wagged
their heads, with sighs and doleful looks.  And I began to perceive a
certain method in this despondency, more especially on the part of the
lank man aforesaid, for which reason I found myself intently observing
all that he spake.  He was most bitter and vehement in denouncing the
Spaniards, and prated very big about withstanding them to the last
breath; yet these heroical counsels of his were ever accompanied with a
croak and quaver, as that famine was a fouler enemy than the sword, and
that all those that escaped from the one or the other would surely be
hanged by the Spaniards.  By this means, I perceived, he at once
cunningly magnified his own steadfastness and resolution, and instilled
dire apprehension and dismal foreboding into the minds of his weaker
brethren.

While I thus noted the strange policy of this man, I took a certain
amusement from the mien and conduct of the worthy Burgomaster.  Now he
was at the top of resolution, now in the depth of black despair; now
breathing out fire and fury, now lamenting the scant provision of
victuals and munitions, and questioning whether any man’s life was worth
a doit.  The change from one mood to the other was so sudden, as the
deliberations of the council swayed this way and that under the
dexterous handling of the lank man, that I set the Burgomaster down as a
weakling, a reed shaken in the wind, and made some question in my mind
whether the destinies of the town were safe under his governance.

Upon the breaking up of the council, I was conducted by the Burgomaster
and the Captain of the Guard around the defences of the city, being
accompanied also by the lean and black-browed councillor of whom I have
spoken. When I had taken note of all, it was dinner time, and the
Burgomaster bid me make that meal with him in his own house.  This I was
very willing to do, since I found the little man a continual
entertainment.  The lank fellow and the Captain of the Guard were my
table-mates, and we fared as handsomely as you could expect in a
beleaguered city.  In truth, it was not a sumptuous repast; but the
meagreness of the fare was in some sort countervailed by the bewitching
presence of the Burgomaster’s daughter. Remember, I was but young; a
bright eye and a rosy cheek, when matched with a gracious mien and a
sweet and tuneable voice, cast a spell upon me; and the fair beauty of
Mistress Jacqueline had made amends for meaner fare, even for dry bread
and indifferent water.

I perceived that the Burgomaster’s lanky friend bent an amorous eye upon
the damsel, spoke her fair and softly, and sought every way to render
himself pleasing in her sight; and that the Burgomaster watched this
underplay with great contentment.  But I perceived also—and I own it
gave me a joy quite beyond reason—that Mistress Jacqueline received
these attentions with a serene indifference, which I told myself would
have been a positive coldness and scorn but for dread of her father’s
displeasure.

We walked away together, the Captain of the Guard and I, and as we went
I informed myself discreetly on sundry matters whereon I had some
curiosity.  The lean lank rascal—so I called him already—was named
Mynheer Cosmo Volmar, a Spaniard on his mother’s side, president of the
gild of locksmiths in the city, and keeper of the stores.  He was known
to be paying his court to Mistress Jacqueline, and had her father’s good
will.  The lady had, however, been betrothed aforetime to Jan Verhoeff,
son of the late Burgomaster and of the widow lady, my hostess, and the
match had been broken off by her father when it was discovered, on the
death of Mynheer Verhoeff, that he had left but a paltry heritage.  Of
all the burgher families in Bargen, the Verhoeffs had suffered the most
grievous loss during the war; yet the exceeding smallness of the late
Burgomaster’s estate was a cause of wonderment in the city.  The young
lovers bore their parting very hardly; and though Mynheer Volmar’s suit
was approved and furthered by her father Mynheer Warmond, the present
Burgomaster, Mistress Jacqueline had as yet looked upon it but frostily.

These particulars were pleasing to me, for I saw that I had come into a
coil wherein affairs of state and domestic matters were close
interwoven.  I was never so well pleased as when I had a tangle to
unravel; and the enterprise I had taken upon myself in merry sport bade
fair to give me unlooked-for entertainment.



                                  *IV*


On the afternoon of that day, the Spaniards made a very hot assault at a
breach in the wall hard by the north gate of the city.  From the
commencement of the siege this had been the chief mark of their
ordnance, the which had cast upon it as many as a thousand shot a day.
But the burghers had diligently repaired by night the mischief wrought
in daytime, so that the damage was but small; and the assaults which the
besiegers had already made upon the breach had been repelled with no
great difficulty.

Nevertheless, on this day the attack was exceeding fierce.  The
Spaniards swarmed into the breach, and endeavoured mightily at push of
pike to bear down our defences.  Our burghers met them with heroical
courage, and quit themselves well in the close fighting upon the wall. I
was not sorry that the assault had been delivered so soon after my
entrance into the city, for I had thereby occasion to win the good
favour of the burghers by lending them aid, thereby getting me a shrewd
knock or two.  There was no question of generalship or high strategy; it
was sheer journeyman fighting.  In this I observed that the Captain of
the Guard played a right valiant part, and I saw with a good deal of
satisfaction that young Jan Verhoeff pressed ever into the thickest of
the fray, and plied his pike with commendable spirit.  The tide of
battle carried me more than once to his side, and I marked his face alit
with the joy of the true warrior.  We beat back the invaders, though not
without losing many of our ripest pikemen and calivermen, a heavy toll
upon our success.

It had not escaped my observation that the city fathers were scarce so
forward at this critical moment as loyalty and good example required. I
saw neither the Burgomaster nor Mynheer Volmar, but I learnt that
certain of the council had posted themselves very valiantly at such
parts of the defences as were not at that time threatened.  As I
returned with Jan Verhoeff to his mother’s house I overheard two
burghers speaking together of this witness to their rulers’ valiancy,
and Jan shot a look at me that seemed to question whether I nourished
doubts of the worthy fathers.  I said nothing on that head, but spoke of
the tough work we had been through, the which I hoped would discourage
the enemy from attempting another assault for some time. I said too that
since he must be very weary, he would be loth to serve among the night
watch, whereupon he told me that he was free for that night, his turn of
duty coming upon every second day.

I mention this because, in the middle of the night, as I lay cogitating
a scheme I purposed to put next day before the Captain of the Guard, I
heard the young man, whose room was beside mine, descend the stairs and
go forth of the house. This circumstance caused me to wonder somewhat
what his errand might be, for after the fatigue of the day it must be a
thing of moment that could draw him from his bed.  But being deeply
concerned with matters of my own, I gave over thinking of him, and only
remembered his going forth when I saw him pale and hard of eye at our
breakfast in the morning.  The good lady his mother asked if he had not
slept well. "Passably," he answered, and said no more, whereby I knew
that, whatsoever his errand had been, it was to be kept secret from his
mother.

I lost no time in seeking out the Captain of the Guard, to acquaint him
with the fruit of my cogitations in the night.  He had already confessed
to me that he had but small training in the arts of war; wherefore,
being already assured of his fidelity and of his doughtiness in fight, I
had no squeamishness in offering him my counsel, which a more tried
warrior might have taken amiss.

I first pointed out to him certain weak places in the defences of the
city; to wit, the neighbourhood of a mill, where the city wall had not
been strengthened because of some fancied assurance that the mill race
was protection enough; and also the rampart by the church, where a thick
clump of trees without the wall offered good cover to the enemy
resolutely assaulting.  The Captain was very quick to see these
deficiencies when I had mentioned them, and perfectly ready to make them
good.

From this I proceeded to a further matter.

"Sir," I said to him, "your men did right nobly yesterday; yet methinks
we should not be content merely with having beat back the Spaniards.  To
endue them with a true respect for us, and our men with a true respect
for themselves, it needs to repay them in their own coin: I mean, to
sally out and fall upon them unawares, at some convenient spot of their
camp."

He turned upon me a troubled countenance, and said—

"Sir, I doubt not of the soundness of your reasoning, nor of the good
that would spring from a successful sally; but I question if we should
prosper.  My men are stout of heart, and behind their walls fight with
sturdy resolution; but they are not bred to war, being in the main
simple burghers that have taken up arms by mere necessity: and beyond
the walls I fear lest their skill should not match with their courage."

Whereupon I set myself with patience to overcome his diffidence,
confirming my arguments with instances from the wars of King Henry of
Navarre.  Having brought him to my mind, we repaired together to the
council chamber, where the council met every morning, and I laid my
scheme before the assembled fathers, employing a rhetorical manner of
exposition for which I was beholden to my study of Cicero his orations.
The little Burgomaster took fire from my rhetoric, and, to my secret
amusement, began to deliver himself of sundry fine sentiments in tune.
He swore that, were he captain, he would do this and that, force a
footing here and seize a place of vantage there, and smite those
Amalekites (so he termed the Spaniards), even as Joshua, the son of Nun.

This was my opportunity.  While his face was still red with warlike
ardour, and the fumes of his valiance filled the air, I addressed him in
words wherein I sought to infuse deference mingled with admiration.

"Worshipful sir," said I, "happy is the city whose head is of so
valorous and undauntable a spirit.  With joy I hail you as leader of our
foray, whom to follow will make me proud, as I doubt not it will make
also the Captain of the Guard and every man of this devoted garrison."

At this the Burgomaster bridled and looked round upon the councillors
with an assured and dauntless mien.  The eyes of the Captain of the
Guard twinkled, but for me alone; and on the dark countenance of Mynheer
Volmar I observed a sneer.

My plan was devised, in fact, to procure, if we could, a quantity of
food from the Spaniards’ camp, such as, in our present dearth, would be
exceeding acceptable.  I advised that our attack should be made at dusk,
when the enemy were cooking their evening meal, and upon that part of
their camp where the cooking was chiefly done, if we might judge by the
number of the fires in that quarter.  It was also, as I had perceived,
the quarter least amply defended, and most easily assailable from our
side.  By my scheme, a strong muster of the burghers should engage the
attention of the Spaniards on the ramparts near the church, while an
elect body of two hundred and fifty, with a support of equal number,
should sally forth at the mill, fall swiftly upon the camp, lay hands on
all that we could, and retire into the city under cover of the support.

I will not try your patience with relating in gross the history of this
enterprise or of the many others, small and great, wherein I had a part
while I sojourned in Bargen.  I mention it for no other reason than
because it was the first of those that I devised, of which some came to
less happy issues, when the Spaniards grew more wary.  In truth, my
remembrance of the most of these is but dim, and this the first would
hardly be so clear in my mind were it not close inmeshed with the
behaviour of Mynheer Warmond the Burgomaster, who from that time
established for himself a name for valour which his less courageous
doings thereafter could not wholly dim.

For all his brave words at the council, when it came to the point the
little man set forth sundry doubts in respect of his fitness to lead our
sally. Being a man of full habit, and one that went heavily upon his
pins, he feared lest his tardiness of gait should put a check upon us
more nimble footers.  Whereto I answered that, stayed up and furthered
by two sturdy burghers of proved celerity, one on either side, and fired
with his own lusty spirit, he would out of question not lag a yard
length behind the nimblest of us. Whereupon he confessed that he was
never equal to himself in the dark, and my answer was that he had but to
keep his eyes steadfastly fixed on the lights in the Spaniards’ camp
before him. In short, to every objection of this nature I had my answer
ready, nor would I allow that we could have any assurance of success
unless he were our leader.

’Twas falling dusk, and mirky, when, all things being ready, we issued
forth of the gate in utter silence, the Burgomaster toddling with scant
breath at my side.  We made such haste as that we were nigh upon the
Spanish trenches ere we were discovered.  Having swiftly dispatched the
few sentinels that held watch at this quarter, we sped over the trench
and ran, as though ’twas a race for a prize, across the space of open
ground that sundered it from the camp.  Here there were but few of the
enemy afoot, and they busied for the most part with cooking, the main of
the force being gathered in front of the gate by the church, where the
burghers had been mustered with blare of trumpet and tuck of drum to
deceive them.  These busy cooks, as soon as they espied us, took
incontinently to their heels, sending up a great cry and clamour for
help; whereupon some companies of the enemy, which had been standing to
arms at no greater distance than two or three furlongs, came towards us
at full stretch of legs, kindling their matches as they ran.  I posted
fourscore of our party to deal with them, while the rest of us made
diligent perquisition in the enemy’s pantry.  Thus we gained time enough
to seize as much victual as we could carry, which done, at a blast of my
whistle we turned our backs upon the camp and made all convenient speed
towards our own walls.

Being cumbered with divers big and unwieldy burdens, even with making
the utmost expedition we were not able to compass our safety before the
vanward of the enemy burst upon us.  With the fourscore men aforesaid,
some pikemen, some arquebusiers, I held our rearward, having by me the
worshipful Burgomaster, whom indeed I had been at pains to hold within
reach.  At our first coming to the camp, when the cookmen fled, the
little Burgomaster was like to split with his heroical valiance and
untameable fury.  Crying havoc upon the Castilian dogs he brandished his
tuck with no small peril to his own party.  But when it came to
plundering, his warlike ardour was assuaged in admiration of the
flesh-pots. He caught up a long chain of bag-puddings, such as had not
been seen in Bargen for many a day, and cast it in a merry sport about
his neck, as it were insignia of his office.  Then, still holding his
tuck bare with his right hand, he seized with his left a monstrous hog’s
ham, and so laden was ready to decamp with his booty.

The Spaniards hotly pursuing us, I perceived that the Burgomaster’s
valour was now all melted away, and that he was beset by a shaking fear
and trepidation.  The ground over which we ran was exceeding rugged, and
the little round man puffed and gurgled as he tripped upon hindrances,
striving to keep pace with our covering party, but perilously encumbered
by the dangling puddings and the massy ham.  Beholding his plight, one
of the burghers in mere kindness, or peradventure out of a licorous
appetite, sought to aid him by relieving him of this part of his load;
but the Burgomaster clung to it the more closely, protesting vehemently
that he would not be robbed, and beseeching us to succour and sustain
him.

Running thus in the twilight, he struck his foot upon a tussock of
grass, and fell headlong, and lay groaning and shrieking for help,
unable to rise by reason of his hands being engaged, the one with his
sword, the other with the ham; for even in this extremity he clave
manfully to his weapon, and covetously to his provender.  I stayed my
steps to lift him up, and by this delay saw myself overtaken by four or
five of the Spaniards, who came about to overwhelm us. Summoning to me
two of our pikemen that were happily within call, I faced about with
them to beat off this attack upon our rear, knowing well that if we
could not scatter them we must needs fly immediately for our lives,
since we could hear the shouts of a numerous body hasting towards us
from the camp.

At this pass did the Burgomaster achieve high and imperishable renown.
The foremost of the Spaniards, charging full upon us, thrust out his
sword towards the breast of Mynheer Warmond, and had surely then let out
his life but that by good hap I interposed my own blade, and struck the
Spaniard’s weapon from his hand.  But the fury of his onset threw him
clean upon the Burgomaster, who, letting his sword fall, but cleaving
valorously to the ham, flung his arms about the Spaniard’s neck and
brought him heavily to the ground.  Behold then a spectacle whereat the
gods might laugh; upon the ground a marvellous medley of legs, arms,
bag-puddings and ham, out of which issued a most admirable discordance
of Spanish and Low Dutch.

Being joined at this time by others of our party, we were able to hold
the pursuers at bay while I sought to disentangle the Burgomaster from
his adversary.  This was no light achievement, for the little man,
clasping his foe in strength of malice and with the tight embrace of one
drowning, yet never loosing the ham, could scarce be persuaded that he
was not in the article of death.  Being at length put asunder, they were
both got upon their feet, and we hurried them at a good round pace
towards the wall. Here our supporting party was drawn up, the which
directed a volley of bullets over our heads at the pursuers; and these
being further discomfited by the shot from sundry culverins parked
within the ramparts, the pursuit was checked, and we got safe within the
city, having lost but two or three.

Right merry were the citizens at the success of our enterprise.  Some
ran to the church tower and set the bells a-ringing; others fired off
cannon until the Captain of the Guard peremptorily forbade that wastage
of powder.  Our plunder was carried to the market square, and given in
charge of an officer appointed to dispense it for the benefit of all.
From this ordinance the Burgomaster’s ham and bag-puddings were exempt,
they being considered meet and convenient rewards of his prowess;
moreover, he straitly refused to give them up, and marched through the
street in a glow of triumph, bearing proudly his spoils.

[Illustration: RIGHT MERRY WERE THE CITIZENS AT THE SUCCESS OF OUR
ENTERPRISE]

The Spaniard who had fallen victim to Mynheer Warmond’s puddings and ham
was proved to be a captain of some note; and none having seen the manner
of his capture save myself, who held my peace thereupon, the Burgomaster
won great praise for that he had taken with his own hand, on the field
of battle, one of the enemy’s captains.  He showed himself a very
glutton for applause, and I was careful to feed his appetite to the
full, because I saw that, having this large conceit of himself, and a
reputation to maintain, he was the less likely to become subject to the
timorous and faint-hearted members of the council.  A hero in his own
despite, he vexed me often with his thrasonical airs and vainglorious
trumpetings of his own virtue; but I bore with him, believing that in so
doing I should best serve my cause.



                                  *V*


For some while I have said nothing of Mynheer Volmar, not because he
holds any lesser place in this history, but because he had no part in
the enterprise that I have just recounted, the which nevertheless
concerned him dearly, as you shall see.

Mynheer Volmar had spoken of our enterprise as a hair-brained adventure,
the device of a very madman, and a mere courting of disaster.  A
prophet, whether of good or ill, likes not that his predictions should
belie and mock him; and Volmar, when his prophecies fell out so wide of
the mark, looked upon me, the begetter of the design, ever more sourly
than he was wont.  And when the Burgomaster at our next council leant
rather upon my opinion than upon the opinion of his familiar, I
perceived by some sixth sense, as it were, that Volmar entertained a
violent ill-will against me, albeit he was at great pains to cloak his
hatred under a guise of careless indifferency.

For this reason I deemed it fitting to improve my knowledge of that
councillor.  I learnt from my friend, the Captain of the Guard, that
Volmar was well-reputed in the city, having much goods laid up, and yet
being open-handed.  He was charged with keeping the stores of munition
and with the defence of a certain portion of the walls, and was very
diligent in these offices.  It was his custom, every Sunday forenoon
about nine of the clock, that day and hour having been commended to him
by one well skilled in astrology, to fire off a culverin upon the
Spaniards from the parapet of his own ward.  The Captain of the Guard,
upon my asking what purpose might be served by this quaint device,
assured me with great gravity that, a shot being fired at a moment shown
as propitious by the conjunction of the planets, the Spaniards would
never stir that day, and the burghers might pay their devotions in
church without fear of disturbance.  I marvelled at so strange a
mingling of heathenish superstition with Christian piety, but I forbore
to speak my mind upon it, deeming every man entitled to believe as he
listeth.

On the night but one following our sally I was returning at a late hour,
and alone, from making a round of the defences.  When I came near the
house of Mistress Verhoeff, where I still made my lodging, I heard the
scuffling of a hurried footstep, and espied, though dimly, a man
slinking into a narrow alley upon the further side of the street. I saw
this, without considering it; and I might have thought of it no more but
that I heard my hostess’ son stealthily quit the house maybe an hour
after.  Then putting the one thing with the other, I began to wonder,
and cogitate, and question whether there were not something in the wind.
It came into my mind that the man I had seen afore had been disturbed at
my coming, and slunk away to escape me; and I began to suspect that Jan
Verhoeff and he were partners in some secret night work, I knew not
what.

I was in my own room, but not yet abed; and, smelling a matter for
inquiry, I crept down the stairs, carrying my boots, and these I donned
at the door, and then followed the young man up the street.  I had taken
but a few steps when I was aware that two figures were in front of me,
the one dogging the other close like a shadow. They were proceeding
towards the walls, to that place where a breach had been made and was
now repaired in part.  The sky being clear and bright with stars, I held
the two men in sight until they came near the breach aforesaid, where
the foremost vanished away, and the latter stood fast, at some little
distance, as he were keeping watch.  So did I likewise.  There I stayed
some while, until the man, as though weary of waiting, turned about and
walked back by the way he had come, and then, with the intent that I
might see him more closely, I hid myself behind a jutting mass of
masonry which the man must needs pass by.

I was now able to perceive, as he came towards me, that he was lofty of
stature, and, passing me within a yard or two, his gait seemed to me to
be that of the lanky councillor Mynheer Volmar. This was a whet upon my
curiosity, for I weened it strange that this man should be spying upon
his vanquished rival, whom in the fallen state of his fortunes he had no
cause to fear as pretender to the hand of Mistress Jacqueline.

When he had gone beyond earshot, I took my way to the wall, and there I
was immediately challenged by the sentinel.  On my giving the word the
man recognized me, and made me a decent salutation.  I inquired of him
whether he had taken note of any strange movement or stirring among the
Spaniards, or of any roaming person on our side of the wall; and he
declared that neither on the one side nor the other had he seen aught,
nor any person save only the sentinel next to him on the defences.
Whereupon I returned to my lodging, not a little perplexed.

On my descending next morning to break my fast with Mistress Verhoeff as
my custom was, I found the good dame in sore affliction and distress.
It had just been told her that her son was at that time lying a prisoner
in the bailey, having been seized in the middle of the night by a posse
of halberdiers.  It was charged against him, so ’twas reported, that he
was a spy for the enemy; for he had been discovered making his way over
the wall, and being searched, papers were found upon him that gave
colour to this accusation.

This news, following so sudden on what I had seen overnight, set my wits
a-jogging, and I began to smell a rat, as we say.  But my consideration
of the matter was broken in upon by the piteous outcry of my hostess,
who with many tears and lamentable entreaties besought me to save her
son.  She declared that the young man’s honesty was beyond impeachment;
that it was some monstrous error; that he was a true man, like his
father before him; and when I asked what had taken him abroad at so
unseasonable an hour, on a night when his duty did not call him to the
ramparts, she protested that some enemy must have lured and enticed him
forth, of set purpose to undo him.  I gave her my honest opinion that
the young man was innocent, and engaged to do what I could on his
behalf, yet owning that I was at a loss what means I might conveniently
take.

After some deliberation I determined that I must first visit the
prisoner, and inquire for myself into his case.  To this end I repaired
to the Burgomaster, by whose allowance alone would the gates of the
bailey be opened to me.  I was not overmuch astonished when he denied my
request, averring that the young man was a villainous rascal, whose
guilt was manifest, and whom he would assuredly hang as a warning to all
traitors.  By this I perceived that the Burgomaster had judged the
prisoner aforehand, the reason whereof was his established misliking. In
my course through the world I have oft-times observed that a man that
has wronged his neighbour will scarce pardon him; and I held that the
Burgomaster had done the lad a wrong in crossing his love for no cause
save a worldly misfortune that time might cure.  I made bold to inform
Mynheer Warmond that in my country a man is held to be innocent until he
is proved guilty; and then I was not a little incensed when he, shifting
his ground, roundly declared that the less I meddled with this matter
the better for me.  There were already whispers against me, he said, and
the having taken up my abode in the widow’s house would incline some to
suspect that I was privy to the son’s iniquity. Indeed, he counselled me
to seek a new lodging without delay.

At this I could scarce hold my patience; but reflecting that angry words
could avail me nothing, having also a shrewd notion as to the
fountain-head whence this slander and calumny sprang, I swallowed my
wrath, and by dint of coaxing and wheedling got from the Burgomaster the
authority I sought.  So armed, I hasted to the bailey, and being
admitted, found the young man herded with as pretty a set of rogues as
ever I saw.  The warder gave me leave, after the passing of a trifle of
money, to speak with the prisoner in a room apart, and thither we betook
ourselves.

Now I did not love Mynheer Jan Verhoeff. We had had little
communication; in truth, he shunned me, and when we met at table he
seldom opened his lips save only to engulf his food, whereby I had come
to look upon him as a morose and lubberly fellow.  Furthermore, I
misliked his goings and comings secretly by night, and his denial of the
service he had done me; for I was firmly persuaded that Verhoeff and Van
der Kloof were one and the same.  Wherefore, when we were closeted in
that little room of the bailey, and he opposed a sullen and stubborn
silence to my proffer of help, I was ready to wash my hands of his
affair and let him hang.  But remembering the widow lady his mother, and
bethinking me that his ungracious bearing perchance were nothing but the
austerity of an honest man wronged, I curbed my impatience and set
myself to reason with him.

I showed him how his secret sallies by night, whatsoever their purpose
might be, must needs breed suspicion in the minds of those burdened with
the defence of the city, and that if his intent were honest, to reveal
it could at the least work him no harm.  And, hinting that I myself
harboured certain suspicions, the which he might aid me to resolve, I at
length prevailed upon him to make full confession and disclosure.  And
this is what he told me.

Being near the Burgomaster’s house one evening (for what purpose I
forbore to inquire), he had seen Mynheer Volmar issue forth, and,
instead of making straight for his own house, stand a while looking
heedfully around, and then proceed towards the ramparts, in the furtive
manner of one that avoids observation. Bearing him ill-will as his
supplanter in the graces of Mistress Jacqueline, and suspecting he knew
not what, Verhoeff dogged him circumspectly to the wall, and there
beheld him sit upon a culverin and gaze intently towards the trenches of
the enemy.  A sentinel was pacing up and down, and to him Volmar
addressed a few words in a whisper, whereupon he stood fast, and Volmar
hastened to the embrasure of the parapet. Immediately thereafter,
Verhoeff caught the sound of a low whistle, followed eftsoon by a faint
answer, as it were an echo, from below.  Then Volmar drew some white
thing from his pocket, wound a cord about it, and, as it appeared to
Verhoeff, let it down into the moat.  In a little there came again a
dull and hollow sound, and Volmar withdrew himself and returned into the
city, murmuring a word to the sentinel as he passed.

On the morrow Verhoeff took pains to inform himself of the name of the
sentinel at that place, and was not astonished to find that he was of
Mynheer Volmar’s household.  In that time of trouble every man,
whatsoever his rank and condition, had his part in the city’s defence.

From that day Verhoeff kept diligent watch upon the councillor, and
discovered that he hied him stealthily to the ramparts every Wednesday,
and in like manner let down what was doubtless a paper, the which was
received by a man in the moat beneath, and conveyed by him, swimming, to
the further side.

Here was treason, of a surety.  Verhoeff debated with himself whether he
should broach it to the Captain of the Guard or the Burgomaster; but he
bethought him that he had not as yet sufficient proof, and that,
moreover, the charge might be set down to the spleen and malice of a
beaten rival.  Wherefore he determined to hold his peace until he had
gotten some clear and manifest proof of the treason he suspected.

One Wednesday night, therefore, he slid into the moat, and swam to the
other side, intending to lie in wait for the receiver as he returned
with the letter, and wrest it from him.  But making wary approach to the
spot over against the gun whereon Volmar was wont to sit, he was
nonplussed to find three or four Spanish footmen, awaiting their
comrade.  Verhoeff kept himself close until the swimmer joined them, and
then, recking nothing of his peril, followed the party as they stole
silently back to their lines.  While they jested with the sentinel that
challenged them, he crept into the camp, and watched in secret what
should befall.  The footmen proceeded together a few paces; then all but
one turned aside, they bidding him good-night, and he continuing on his
way towards a large tent, the which, after a brief parley with some one
within, he entered.  Verhoeff swiftly stole to the back side of the
tent, designing to cut a hole in the wall and spy upon what was done;
but a light shone from beneath a flap in the canvas, which raising, he
beheld a man in shirt and hose sodden with water, standing before
another in a long night-robe, who was reading by the light of a candle a
paper which had beyond doubt been brought by the swimmer from the city.
Having finished his perusal, this man said—

"Good.  Our friend within is diligent.  To-morrow you will convey this
to the Lord General Verdugo.  Take your accustomed party, and have a
care, for this paper must not miscarry; I know what a lusty fire-eater
you are."

The swimmer laughed and made a salutation, and so departed.

Verhoeff itched to lay hands on that paper, yet durst not follow the man
through the camp. But a device came into his mind whereby he might
perchance obtain it.  He crept and wriggled out of the camp, which was
not guarded so needfully as it behoved to be, and when he was beyond the
outward trenches he betook himself with all expedition, not to the city,
but towards a hamlet where his father had held an estate in the days of
his prosperity.  There he gathered half a score of trusty men that would
serve him faithfully for his father’s sake, and with them took post in a
wood which the Spaniard must pass next day when he carried the paper to
his general. And ’twas by the happy accident of his lying in wait there
that he was able to render me service that day.  In despite of the
captain’s warning, the messenger was tempted by the smallness of my
party to attack us, whereby Verhoeff’s plan to seize upon the letter was
discomfited, for my plight made him show himself sooner than he had
intended.

Being foiled, then, and baulked of his purpose by the Spaniards’ flight,
he was fain to wend his way back to the city, and entered it at dead of
night by a secret way known to him.  At my appearance on the morrow
thereafter he was somewhat discommoded, being desirous that his doings
should not be published among the burghers, and yet too high-stomached
to entreat my silence.  Hence he sought to brazen it out with me, and
had since held himself aloof.

From that time he kept a most vigilant watch upon Volmar’s doings, by
night and day; and it seemed that his patience would be rewarded, for on
this last night, having swum the moat, he had found the Spaniard, that
was go-between, unattended, and after a fierce struggle had overcome and
slain him.  Searching among his garments he discovered a leathern pouch,
the which, on his slitting it, yielded up a paper. This he bestowed in
his pocket, and crossed the moat, but upon climbing the parapet fell
clean into the hands of a party of the burgher guard, drawn thither
either by the sound of his struggle with the Spaniard, or, as seemed
more like, placed there advisedly by Volmar.

While he stood among his captors, protesting and almost persuading them
that he was a true man and no traitor, Volmar himself appeared and
feigned great astonishment to see him.  One of the guard related the
cause and manner of the arrest, whereupon the councillor declared
roundly that there had been some error, and proposed that the matter
should be put to the proof by searching Verhoeff.  This being done, the
letter was brought to light, the which Volmar then tore open and read by
the aid of a dark lantern.  He put on a grave and sorrowful look, and
gave the letter into the hand of the officer of the guard, and he
likewise read it, and immediately cried out that Verhoeff was proved a
villainous traitor. Upon this Verhoeff in a fury declared that he had
wrested the letter from a Spaniard who had brought it from the city, and
from Volmar himself, a saying that provoked a burst of scornful laughter
from the officer of the guard and a look of pity from the councillor.
The officer commanded that he should be instantly conveyed to the bailey
and placed under a strong guard, and Volmar bestowed the letter in his
doublet, avouching that he would lay it before the Burgomaster and
council on the morrow.

[Illustration: VOLMAR READ THE LETTER BY THE AID OF A LANTERN]

This was the story in brief as Verhoeff told it to me, and I made no
doubt he spoke the truth. But I saw that in youthful heat and imprudence
he had committed a grievous error in launching an accusation against the
councillor, more especially because he was wholly ignorant of what the
letter contained; he had not read it, nor had it been read aloud.
Moreover, the secrecy and stealth of his own deeds, the quitting of the
city without leave asked, gave strength to the suspicion and mistrust of
the officer of the guard. Yet I confessed that in my heart of hearts I
did not doubt Volmar was a villain and had entrapped Verhoeff for his
own ends; but how to bring his villainy home to him, when he held all
the cards, as we say, it outdid my wit to determine.

Nevertheless I engaged myself to do all that in me lay on behalf of the
young man, and bidding him be of good cheer I betook myself to the
council chamber, where the matter would without doubt be deliberated
upon.



                                  *VI*


The burghers were in full session when I entered the chamber, and I
perceived that thunder was in the air.  At my entrance they cast very
lowering looks upon me; there was some whispering among them, and the
Burgomaster shot me a crooked glance, and seemed to return a mute answer
to something that Volmar, his neighbour of the right hand, had just
said. Feigning blindness to these signs and tokens of trouble, I moved
with easy gait to my place at the table, cast my hat upon it, and
inquired of the Burgomaster what was the news of the day.

"Sir, sir," said the little man, his pendent chin shaking like the
wattle of a turkey-cock, "this levity ill beseems you.  You are aware
that we have a traitor in our midst, a viper warmed in our bosom; you
have even now come from speech with him.  I pray the villain has
confessed his sins."

"Why no, Mynheer," I said smoothly, "the villain is impenitent, and
professes that he has done nought save in love and loyalty to the city.
Surely the good repute of his family might dispose you, sirs, to
hesitate before you condemn him unheard."

"His family, his family!" stuttered the Burgomaster, whom I perceived to
be in his most exalted and arrogant mood.  "Hold, sir; peruse this
epistle, and say then whether he be not deserving of the extreme
penalty."

The letter came to me by the hands of the six or seven councillors that
sat between me and the Burgomaster, of whom some scowled, some glared,
some looked compassionately upon me. I took the paper and cast an eye
upon it, and immediately I understood that Jan Verhoeff was in even
worse case than I had supposed. ’Twas a very brief epistle, with no
superscription nor any signature at the end, written not by any man
within the city, but by an enemy without.  It warned the nameless
receiver that the customary messenger having been slain, by Dutch
peasants as ’twas thought, and his dispatch stolen, the last message had
not come to the general’s hand; but the writer opined that the city
could not endure many days longer, and urged the receiver to employ all
his arts upon he knew whom, and furthermore to certify that person that
when by his good offices the city should be delivered up, his goods
should be spared to him, with a share of the general booty.

"Sir," said the Burgomaster, when I had read the letter, "you behold a
manifest proof of the traitor’s villainy.  He sends word of our hapless
state to the enemy; he employs cunning machinations upon some
ill-affected person in our city; he is sowing treason in our good
field."

I made bold to say that there was no proof of the letter having been
intended for Mynheer Verhoeff, whereupon he bade me look upon the cover,
and when I did so I perceived, very faintly inscribed there, the letters
J.V.

As I was considering this, suspecting that those letters had been
inscribed upon the paper since it was wrested from Verhoeff, Mynheer
Volmar spoke.  He said that, clear though the testimony seemed to be, he
would plead for mercy for the young man.  His fortune being so much
diminished from that whereto he had been born, he had without doubt been
put to a fierce temptation.  "And since," he proceeded, "I myself suffer
at his hands, inasmuch as he sought to cast suspicion on me, whose whole
concern is the welfare of the city, I may most fitly raise my voice in
beseeching my brethren to remember the services rendered in time past by
the young man’s father, and, mindful of them, to deal mercifully with
the son; not to bring him to trial and put him to open shame, but to
hold him safe in ward while the city is still compassed about, and then
to banish him without scandal to the common weal."

Perceiving the drift of this, and divining that Volmar had his own good
reasons for cloaking the matter, I said with some bluntness that ’twas
time to show mercy when guilt was proved. Volmar took me up insolently,
declaring that I had no right nor title to speak on such a matter, and
that being a stranger, come among them uncommended, and a house-mate
with this abandoned traitor, I had best walk warily and manage my
tongue, lest I found my own neck in jeopardy.

At this discourse, and the murmurs of approval that broke from certain
of the councillors, I was pricked to indignation, and might have said
more than wisdom warranted had not the Burgomaster, plainly ill at ease,
interposed himself as peace-maker.  I had reason to bless his
intervention, because I was thereby hindered from saying in my haste
that which I should assuredly have repented at my leisure.  For it
happened that the Burgomaster calling for the next business, Volmar
brought forth the list of stores that it was in his duty to lay before
the council every week.  This he read out, the councillors harkening
with gloomy countenances to the tale of diminished victuals and
munitions of war.  When he had made an end, the document strayed about
the table, and presently came to the hand of the burgher next me, who
held it in such manner that I was able to see it clearly.  And then
within my soul I cried blessings on the Burgomaster, in that he had
checked my tongue, for so soon as my eyes fell upon this paper, I knew
in a moment that the handwriting was the same as that upon the paper
which John Temple had taken from the Spaniard, and which I had, even
now, folded in my pocket.

I veiled my eyelids, lest my eyes should betray the joy of my discovery,
for this did not rob me wholly of my caution, and I knew that I must
first satisfy myself beyond doubt that the writings were the same.  This
could only be achieved by setting the two papers one against the other
for comparison, and I saw not any means of doing this secretly.  But
within a little, chance gave me the opportunity I sought.  The
councillor that had the paper set it down upon the table, and joined
with the others in talking of the trial to which Jan Verhoeff was to be
brought on the morrow.  While they were thus engaged I laid my hand upon
the paper, and possessed myself of it; then, affecting a perfect
indifference to the matter of their discourse, I rose from my place and
went to the window, and there, turning my back upon the company, I drew
from my pocket the paper John Temple had given me, and set it side by
side with the other for just so long as sufficed me to compare them, and
prove the writings to be in the selfsame hand.  Which done, I took a
turn about the chamber, and coming in due time to my place I laid the
second paper where it had been before, and soon after departed.

I saw myself now deeply engaged in a matter after my own heart.  "’Tis
Time’s glory," saith Will Shakespeare, "to unmask falsehood and bring
truth to light"; and here was I a fellow-worker with Time.  I considered
within myself what course I should take.  I might at once make
disclosure of my discovery; but Volmar was so slippery a fellow that I
might easily trip unless I had some further evidence of his villainy to
lay before the council.  Without doubt he would have ready some
plausible explanation, the which might recoil upon me, being a stranger
and one not held in high esteem.  I resolved therefore to bide my time
and say nought until I had my evidence all compact—unless indeed Jan
Verhoeff were in extremity of peril.

The young man was brought to trial at the time appointed.  I was not
present in court, deeming it best to hold aloof until I could employ my
apparatus to good effect.  The only testimony that I myself might have
given, touching the charge made against Verhoeff, was that I had seen
him steal to the walls by night with Volmar at his heels, and this could
not have turned to his favour.  The evidence against him was so slight
and thin-spun, that in time of peace, and before a just tribunal, it
would not have been held sufficient to hang a dog; but his present
judges being the magistrates of the city, with the Burgomaster as
president, and all men’s minds being sore troubled about the city’s
welfare, the verdict was given against him, and he was sentenced to be
hanged on the tenth day thereafter.

The news was brought to me in my room by the young man’s mother, who was
utterly broken with grief and shame.  She had never a doubt of his
innocency, and besought me with many tears and supplications to save
him.  I had much ado to refrain from giving her positive assurance that
her son should not die; but I deemed it better for my purpose that she
should suffer ten days of suspense and anguish than that we should come
under any suspicion by reason of her serenity and ease of mind.  I put
her off, therefore, with unsubstantial words of comfort. But my policy
was undone that same evening, for about the hour of supper there came to
the house a female figure close enshrouded in hood and cloak; and asking
speech with me, she was admitted to the chamber wherein I sat with the
widow lady, and casting off her hood revealed the wan, sorrowful face of
Mistress Jacqueline, the Burgomaster’s daughter.

"Oh, sir," she cried, flinging herself upon her knees and clasping her
hands piteously, "oh, sir, save my lover!  My father condemned him, but
he is, I know, the cat’s-paw of wicked men.  Sir, I beseech you, save my
lover!"

I raised her up, and my resolution utterly melted away.  I did for the
sweetheart what I had refused to do for the mother, assuring her that
Jan Verhoeff should not die, I myself would prevent it; but it was
necessary, for the due punishment of those that conspired against him,
that none should so much as guess at anything being adventured on his
behalf.  At this the women were mightily cheered, but the widow bore me
a grudge in that I had before withheld this solace from her; and I
cannot say but that I deserved it.

I had no certain plan for establishing the treason of Mynheer Volmar;
but I was resolved to keep a close watch upon him, deeming it likely
that in mere self-confidence he would take a false step.  While with
exceeding care I held myself in the background, I contrived to learn all
that was requisite about his doings.  On Sunday I made one of the throng
of spectators that witnessed his discharge of a single shot upon the
Spanish lines, the which, as the Captain of the Guard had told me, was
the charm whereby the city was protected for that day.  I observed that
the shot was brought from the store by Volmar’s own servant; Volmar
himself loaded the culverin, trained it, and set the match to the
touch-hole.  The burghers, with their wives and children, looked on as
at a mystery, and when the shot fell upon some loose earth near the
trenches, casting up a cloud of dust, they nodded and smiled, and some
clapped their hands; and then they all went forthwith to church, Volmar
leading the way.

I was on the point of following them, thinking no little scorn of such
mummery as I had just witnessed, when, on casting my eye over the
parapet, I observed a Spaniard move slowly towards the spot where the
ball had fallen.  He stood for a brief space as if contemplating the
effect wrought thereby, and then returned within the camp.

Now there was something in the Spaniard’s mien that bred a certain doubt
in my mind.  He had moved slowly, in the manner of a loiterer; and if
this was the true measure of his interest, why, I questioned within
myself, had he issued from the trenches at all, to observe the spot
where a ball had fallen harmlessly, as one had fallen many a Sunday
before?  His demeanour was not that of a man truly curious.  I sought in
my mind for some likely explanation of his strange action, and the more
I thought upon it, the more puzzled and suspicious I became.  But there
was nothing to be done on the instant, so I spoke to the sentinel on the
parapet, bidding him acquaint me if he saw any further movement among
the Spaniards, and then I found the Captain of the Guard, whom I asked
to issue the same command to the men that should keep watch in turn for
the rest of the day.

At eventide, nothing having been reported to me, I resolved to go forth
myself so soon as it became dark and examine the place where the shot
had struck.  It was an enterprise, I knew, that stood me in some danger,
for I might be captured by the Spaniards, or by the burgher guard on my
return, and this would bring me under suspicion, and was like to land me
in the selfsame nobble as that wherein Jan Verhoeff already lay.  I
thought for a while of securing myself by acquainting the Captain of the
Guard aforehand with my purpose, but seeing that I could have given him
no reason for it save by making a clean breast of my suspicions, the
which I was loth to do, I held my peace, resolving to take my risk.

Jan Verhoeff had disclosed to me, when I spoke with him in the bailey,
the means whereby he had left the city.  In the repairs that had been
made hastily in the wall battered by the enemy, timber had been
employed, and at one place there were two massy logs with a narrow space
between, through which he had squeezed himself, and so come within a few
spans of the moat.  Thither I made my way by a roundabout course as soon
as it was dark, and, choosing a moment when no sentinel was within
hearing, I slipped into the moat, having left my boots at the foot of
the wall, and swam across as quietly as an otter might have done.

On coming to the other side I bent my body low, and crept towards the
Spanish lines, holding my dagger in my right hand.  I had observed that
the shot fell within a short space of the end of a garden wall which had
been almost razed to the ground by the burghers’ shots in the first hot
days of the leaguer.  To the right of this stood the stump of a tree.
These were my landmarks, for the shot had come to earth somewhere
between the tree and the end of the wall. In the darkness I could not
hope to see the pit that the shot had made, but must find it by the
touch of my feet.

I crept along by the wall, noiseless in my stockings, and coming to the
end of it, bent myself yet lower and groped towards the tree. This I
attained without having made any discovery, whereupon I turned about and
went back, taking a course somewhat nearer to the moat, and so came
again to the wall, having discovered nothing.  Yet once more I sought
the tree, now choosing a course nearer to the trenches, in which
direction I heard the dull murmur of voices, yet not so near as to cause
me any present disquietude; and so I groped along the ground until I
came to a little hollow, where I halted, thinking it a likely place.
There I dug away the earth with my hands, making no more noise than a
mouse, and anon my fingers struck upon something hard and cold and
round, the which, after a little more digging with hands and dagger, I
unearthed, and found to be a round shot, as I had hoped.  With this in
my hands I stole along towards the shelter of the wall.

Hardly had I come there when I heard voices, somewhat louder than those
I had heard before, and immediately after footsteps, coming towards me.
I dare go no farther, but crouched behind the brickwork, which was no
more than three spans high, holding my breath, and peering over the
jagged edge of the wall.  And I beheld three men as black blots moving
in the darkness towards the very spot I had lately left.  One of the
three held a dark lantern, by whose light, turned from the city, the
others began to search the ground.  I heard them utter words of
satisfaction when they came to the hole, and then I could not forbear
chuckling, for the men, probing with their pikes, and finding nothing,
let forth cries of astonishment, together with an oath or two.  They
consulted one with another, and one proposed that they should search
around; but this the man that held the lantern scouted, declaring that
he had no manner of doubt the place where they then stood was the end of
their quest.  Nevertheless his comrades prowled and probed, now to the
right, anon to the left, and once came so near me that I gripped my
dagger tight, ready to buy my safety with good steel.  But they
withdrew, and stood for some while talking together of this strange
thing, and presently gat them back to their trenches, in marvellous
puzzlement.

[Illustration: I BEHELD THREE MEN AS BLACK BLOTS MOVING IN THE DARKNESS]

Thereupon I crept back to the moat, carrying the shot, and having swum
across and recovered my boots, the which I could not pull over my wet
stockings, I clambered up between the balks of timber, looked about to
certify myself the coast was clear, and hastened by the same circuit to
the widow’s house.

There my servant was in wait for me, according to my bidding.  I took
him to my room, and setting the round shot before him, commanded him to
examine it.  He was a handy fellow, and had the rudiments of more trades
than one.  It was not long before he discovered, in the surface of the
iron, a knob or boss, exceeding small, the which being touched, a narrow
channel was revealed, wherein lay a short tube of the thickness of a
finger.

"’Tis good locksmith’s work, sir," he said with admiration, putting the
tube into my hand.  I looked therein, and discovered a small roll of
paper, the which, upon my spreading it out, I saw was covered with
writing in the Spanish tongue, and in the very hand of Volmar, but with
no name either at head or at foot.  I read the writing with a vast
curiosity and eagerness, and what I read was this—

"_The victuals will last but one week longer. One of my foes will be
hanged; the Englishman I go about to remove.  Attack the wall over
against the market.  I vouch that in ten days the city will yield._"

Here was proof of as pretty a piece of villainy as the mind of man could
conceive.  Verhoeff was to be hanged; I myself to be removed; the wall
over against the market was that which the Burgomaster had in charge,
and the attack was to be directed thereupon with the intent to harass
him and bring him to a frame of mind meet for surrender.  A pretty plot
indeed, and one that I rejoiced to have the means of circumventing.

I dismissed my servant and sat myself down to consider my ways.  ’Twas
necessary to my purpose that Volmar should be utterly confounded.  I
could brook no chance of his wriggling out of the full exposure of his
guilt. Wherefore it seemed to me inexpedient that I should at once carry
the traitorous letter to the council, for he had many friends therein,
whom he might easily persuade that the writing was but a cunning
imitation of his own, done by myself out of the despite and enmity I
bore him; nor indeed could I explain how I had come by the paper, but by
owning that I had gone from the city without authority, a thing he would
find means to twist to my disadvantage.  The end of my cogitation was
that I resolved still to bide my time, not doubting that within the week
something would happen to point my road clearly.

When I went abroad next day I perceived that black care had seized upon
the people.  The scarcity of victuals was known of all, and as the
meaner folk felt the pinch of hunger more dearly they broke forth into
murmurs and complaints.  Dark looks were cast upon me as I took my way
to the council chamber, and still darker met me there.  Mindful of
Volmar’s intent to have me removed, I looked for some instant charge to
be brought against me, as though I were a Jonah in the city; but nought
was said openly, and I concluded that I must be on my guard against some
secret machination—a knife in my back, or a stray bullet did I but show
myself upon the ramparts.  I was heedful, therefore, that day and the
days succeeding, to go only in the middle of the street, and to keep
within the house after nightfall, not deeming it any mark of valour to
jeopardize the happiness of three good folk and the safety of the city
by running into any needless danger.

As day followed day, I became aware that the people’s discontent and
queasiness was being fomented by the agents of Volmar, though that
two-faced villain was most fervent, at the meetings of the council, in
admonishing the burghers to endure to the end.  Day after day the
Spaniards plied their artillery upon the walls, chiefly upon that
portion where the Burgomaster was in charge of the defences.  The
masonry was sore battered, many of the burghers were slain or maimed,
and the Burgomaster himself, who endeavoured still to sustain the
reputation he had achieved in that night sally, was struck upon the
elbow by a fragment of stone, whereby the little man was afflicted more
heavily in mind than in body.  In his one ear, so to speak, Volmar
whispered counsels of despair under a mask of encouragement; in the
other I spoke words of comfort and good cheer, assuring him that, could
he but resist a little longer, Prince Maurice would come to his succour,
as he had promised.  My influence, I knew, was sapped by Volmar’s
guileful insinuations, and I could not doubt that finally I should be
worsted unless I could prove Volmar to be the traitor he was.

As the straits of the citizens waxed more grievous, secret messengers
were sent forth, to implore aid of Sir Francis Vere and of Prince
Maurice; but these men never delivered their messages, as was afterwards
discovered, and doubtless Volmar had found means to acquaint the
Spaniards with their errand, albeit by means that never came to light.
Though I kept as good a watch upon him as I could, and my servant did
likewise, we could not find him out in aught that would give us a handle
against him, and with the passing of time I grew discomfortable in mind,
fearing lest Jan Verhoeff’s ten days’ respite should slip away before I
had my proofs ready.  And I was the more uneasy because I perceived that
the ill-will of the burghers towards me increased and spread day by day.
Their good favour, which I had at the first procured by my diligence in
assisting the defence, had now given place to mistrust and malignity,
fostered by Volmar’s minions; and I knew that this canker was eating
ever more deeply into the souls of the populace.



                                 *VII*


On the night of Saturday, a device came into my mind whereby I might
bring the truth to light in a manner that could not be gainsaid.  It was
high time, for a great assembly of the citizens had been holden that
day, whereat sundry burghers of good standing openly advised that terms
should be made with the enemy.  There wanted but three days of the
period set by Volmar for the surrender of the city, and on the Monday
morning Jan Verhoeff was to die.  At this assembly, when I essayed to
speak to the people, there arose a great uproar in one quarter of the
square, where I perceived certain of Volmar’s creatures to be gathered.
Amid the clamour I heard cries of "Spy!" "Traitor!" and sundry other
scandalous appellatives; and a stone being cast at me, the Burgomaster
commanded me to withdraw out of the throng, lest a general riot should
ensue.  Therefore, I say, it was high time I did somewhat, and a device
came in happy hour into my mind.

To perform it I must needs make an accomplice, albeit unwitting, of the
Captain of the Guard. He was a man of a most steadfast courage, diligent
in his duty, a staunch friend to me, and one that would never yield to
the enemy save at the uttermost extremity: a pattern of that loyalty and
stubborn valour whereby his nation has won liberty and immortal fame; a
man withal simple of soul, as witness his belief in the astrological
foolery whereof I have made mention. I resolved to turn this very
simplicity to account.

I repaired to his house, where he was supping after the fatigues of the
day, and after reminding him that the next day was Sunday, I declared
that I had discovered a flaw in Mynheer Volmar’s talisman.  I affected
to have a certain skill in reading the stars, and my study of the
heavens had shown me that the customary Sunday truce could only be
assured by firing a shot of silver, instead of an iron ball as was wont.

"I thank you, sir," said he, accepting my statement with the faith of a
child.  "We must acquaint Mynheer Volmar withal; for there is but little
time to make the silver shot before the Sabbath breaks."

"By your good favour, sir," said I, "this matter must be held a secret
’twixt us two.  By the opposition of Jupiter with Mars, and the
quartility of Saturn with Venus, I apprehend that the imparting of this
matter to any wight whatsoever save only yourself will let loose upon us
and the city a myriad evil influences, and all the good we may have of
it will be utterly undone."

This I enforced with a long discourse in which I mingled the jargon of
the astrologers with a noble array of tags from my Latin grammar,
knowing that the captain had no skill in that tongue.

"We will keep it close," he said, having heard me gravely.  "Let us go
forthwith and cast a silver ball in the armoury.  I will employ thereto
some of my own plate; nothing of all my goods would I withhold from the
service of the city."

We went at once about this task, and the ball having been cast, the
Captain of the Guard took it home with him, promising to bring it forth
at the due moment on the morrow.

"We must be ready to encounter some opposition from Mynheer Volmar," I
said on leaving him.  "He is like to take ill aught that may seem to
bring in question his reading of the stars."

"Beshrew that," answered the captain.  "All that pertains to the defence
of the city is in my charge, and things must be done as I command."

"Without doubt, sir," said I.  "Yet you must look for wrath, yea, even
stout resistance on the part of Mynheer Volmar, and I know not what ill
consequence may ensue if he has his way."

And so I wrought the simple captain to a strong resolution to defy
Volmar, and bear down any opposition he might make.

On the morrow I set forth betimes for the ramparts.  Among the concourse
of people going afoot to witness the firing of the Sunday shot I espied
the Burgomaster and his daughter, and accosted them with a civil
salutation.  The Burgomaster looked exceeding ill at ease, shunned my
eye, and presently turned me a cold shoulder, conversing with a
neighbour.  Thereupon Mistress Jacqueline lightly touched my sleeve, and
I fell back a pace with her.  I observed that her face was very wan and
haggard, and was moved to pity her.

"Sir," she said in a whisper, "shall Jan die to-morrow?"

"Courage!" I said, in her tone.  "All will yet be well."

"I have a thing to say," she proceeded. "Last night I heard my father
talking with—you know whom.  To-morrow the order will be given to the
Captain of the Guard to arrest you."

[Illustration: "TO-MORROW THE ORDER WILL BE GIVEN TO THE CAPTAIN OF THE
GUARD TO ARREST YOU"]

"So ho!" I said under my breath.  "I thank you, mistress.  Time will
show."

We said no more, but went on among the others.

When we came to the ramparts, Volmar’s man was even then bringing a shot
from the storehouse, and Volmar himself stood waiting by the culverin.
But the Captain of the Guard, so soon as he saw me, stepped forth with
the silver shot in his hand, and entered upon a discourse with Volmar,
acquainting him with his purpose and the reason thereof, but not naming
me as the author.  While they conversed a dark and wrathful look lowered
upon Volmar’s swarthy countenance, and he protested stoutly against any
meddling with the course indicated by the stars; but when the Captain of
the Guard showed himself resolute, Volmar shrugged his shoulders with an
air of disdain and stood aside, as one that disavows all part and lot in
an act of folly. Seeing his man standing there still holding the iron
shot, he bade him set it down, and smiled upon the gaping throng that
gazed as upon some high and mystic rite.

Now it was necessary to my purpose that nothing should start a suspicion
in Volmar’s mind or render him in any way uneasy; for which reason I had
up to this present held myself backward among the press.  But it was
also necessary that I should possess myself of Volmar’s shot; wherefore,
while all eyes were intent upon the Captain of the Guard ramming the
silver shot into the culverin, I whispered my servant to go privily and
scratch a double cross upon the iron ball where it lay, the which he
accomplished without being observed.

The Captain of the Guard, doing all things with a portentous gravity of
demeanour, had now charged the culverin, and, to the great wonderment of
the populace, he beckoned me forward and placed the burning match in my
hands and bade me fire the gun.  I had no skill in artillery work, but I
accepted the task with becoming modesty, and trained the piece as near
as I could upon a flag that waved on the Spanish trenches.  Then putting
the match to the touch-hole, I stood back, the shot flew forth, and the
sight of all was obscured by the thick smoke. But a moment after a great
shout broke from the assembled multitude, and looking to see what
occasioned it, I beheld with amazement that the flag no longer flaunted
it upon the trench.  My shot, fired at a venture, had, I suppose,
stricken the flagstaff in two.

The Captain of the Guard made me many compliments on my skill, and the
folk that stood around looked on me somewhat more kindly, taking the
fall of the flag as an omen of good. Volmar darted upon me a look of
venom, and then glanced in the manner of one fearful and uneasy towards
his own shot; but seeing it lie where the man had placed it, he had no
more qualms or misgiving.  Then the good folk departed cheerfully to
church, and Volmar, bidding his man carry the iron shot back to the
storehouse, joined himself to the throng and walked by the side of
Mistress Jacqueline, who cast down her eyes and said no word in answer
to his soft speeches.

I went beside the Captain of the Guard, and entered the church among the
rearmost; but during the singing of the psalm I slipped away quietly to
the storehouse, found the shot by means of the mark that my servant had
made upon it, and conveyed it to my lodging.  Upon opening it, I
discovered a small roll of paper, with this writing—


"_The Burgomaster is come to a reasonable frame of mind.  To-morrow the
Englishman will be arrested; on the next day in the Council I shall
declare that our scarcity of victuals and munition forbids a longer
resistance; and a trusty friend will make formal proposition that we
yield the city._"


Having now the game in my hands, I ate my meagre dinner with a good
relish, and immediately thereafter set forth to visit Mynheer Cosmo
Volmar.  He had just risen from his meal, very comfortably replete, for
notwithstanding the general shortness of provisions he had contrived to
procure himself a sufficiency of good food and wine.  Secure in his
approaching triumph, he smiled in his beard when I was ushered in, and
bade me seat myself with a courtesy that he had never shown me
heretofore.

"Mynheer," I said gravely, "the city is in parlous case.  The Prince is
tardy in coming to our succour, and I fear we can scarce hold out
another week."

"Why, sir," said he, "are you become chicken-hearted?—you that came
hither expressly to encourage and sustain us!  Little you know the
spirit of our burghers if you suppose that, even in this darksome hour,
they will yield up the city."

"Truly the spirit of the most of them is undaunted," I said; "and I
could well believe that, but for the malign presence and pestilent
contriving of traitors, they would endure even yet."

"Ah!  Traitors!" said he.  "Well, we hang a traitor to-morrow, and his
fate will teach a wholesome lesson to any that be like-minded."

"It may be that others will hang with him," said I, fixing my eyes upon
him.  "Will you lend me your ear while I relate a story?  It chanced
that some few weeks ago, being set upon in the country yonder by a troop
of Spaniards, I and my little company were only saved by the timely help
of certain peasants, whereby we put the enemy to rout.  But a man of my
party, pursuing them, overtook and slew one of them, and possessed
himself of a paper that he carried in his doublet."

Here I made a pause.

"Proceed, sir," said he, smiling.  "I protest the beginning is very
well."

"That paper," I continued, with measured gravity, "I hold now in my
pocket, together with two others, the which have come into my possession
in strange wise since I entered your city; and most strange, they are
writ in the selfsame hand as the first.  Moreover, they are one and all
of the same tenor, to wit, dwelling on the dire straits whereinto this
city has fallen, and furnishing hints concerning a party within the
walls—a party of one or mayhap two or three—that is plotting to render
up the city into the hands of the enemy."  While I spoke I fastened my
eyes intently upon him, and I saw the fashion of his countenance suffer
a change, and in his eyes a look of hate and terror commingled.  I went
on:—"Sir, they are simple souls that believe the stars order our lives
and destinies, and it were easy to persuade such that a shot, whether it
be of silver or of iron, fired under planetary influence, should cast as
it were a spell even upon a ruthless foe.  Yet methinks their simplicity
would suffer a rude shock did they know that a round shot may carry a
message, not from the heavens, mystically, but——"

And here my speech had a sudden end, for Volmar, his face livid with
rage and fear, leapt from his seat, whipped out his sword, and flew upon
me with the ferocity of a wild beast.  But that a stool stood between
us, a stumbling block to him in his fury, I had peradventure been
pierced to the heart or ever I could draw my own weapon.  That obstacle
gave me a bare respite. My sword was out and met his clashing, and for
the space of five minutes we thrust and lunged, parried and riposted, in
the middle of the floor, over the table, by the mantel, in the corners,
as the stress of combat carried us.  I had always the advantage of him
in that I was calm and master of myself, whereas he was drunken with
rage, maddened by hate, and desperately fearful of the gallows he had
set up for Jan Verhoeff. In mere swordsmanship he was not far from being
my equal; had he been in truth my equal, his skill might have prevailed
even over his fury. Suffice it to say that after a hot bout of some five
minutes I struck his sword from his hand, and pinning him down upon a
chair, with my blade at his throat, I bade him sternly give heed to
certain conditions on which I would spare his vile and wretched life.

[Illustration: PINNING HIM DOWN UPON A CHAIR, I BADE HIM STERNLY GIVE
HEED TO CERTAIN CONDITIONS ON WHICH I WOULD SPARE HIS LIFE]

These were, first, that he should write, at my dictation, a full
confession of his guilt and treasons, such as should at the same time
clear Jan Verhoeff from the accusation made against him. Second, that he
should quit the city that night by seven of the clock, and until then
keep within doors.  The clemency of these conditions wondrously
astonished him; and perceiving that he was utterly at my mercy, he
accepted them without demur.  Within an hour I had his confession,
sealed, in my pocket, together with the other papers in his hand.

You may wonder that I showed mercy to so heinous a villain: hear my
reasons.  I might have slain him; but then I should have had no
confession, such as I needed to right Jan Verhoeff.  I might have
extorted the confession from him, and then delivered him to the council
for formal trial and meet punishment; but then many things would have
come to light that it were best to keep hidden, especially the
questionable part played by the Burgomaster, the which for the sake of
the city, and more also for the sake of Mistress Jacqueline, I would
fain leave enshrouded.  Furthermore, I had now the hold upon goodman
Burgomaster that I needed to assure the happiness of two young souls.

Leaving Volmar a shrunken heap in his chair, and being fully assured
that Bargen would be no more troubled with him, I made my way to Mynheer
Warmond’s house.  As I came to the door, there issued forth the Captain
of the Guard, whose countenance put on a most sorrowful look when he
beheld me.  He halted upon the threshold, heaved a sigh, then took me by
the sleeve and said—

"Sir, I hold a warrant for your arrest under the hand and seal of the
Burgomaster, and to be executed at seven of the clock to-morrow
morning."

"Let not that trouble you," said I, and had he been my own countryman,
in my gaiety of heart I should have poked him in the ribs; such a
pleasantry is inexpedient with a Dutch burgher. "Come for me here within
a half hour, and I avouch your warrant will be annulled."

He left me, wondering.

I entered to the Burgomaster, who fell a-trembling when he saw me, and
demanded with a stammering tongue what my business was with him upon the
Sabbath.  I told him very shortly, and never in my life have I seen so
piteous a spectacle as that little round rubicund man at the hearing of
my story.  His conscience pricked him sore, in that he had harkened to
ill counsels and dallied with the thought of surrendering. His lips
quivered, his limbs shook as with palsy, and with the back of his hand
he brushed away the tears that coursed down his fat cheeks.  He besought
me very earnestly to advise him what he must do, mingling together in
lamentable outcry his good name and his daughter that loved him.

[Illustration: I TOLD HIM VERY SHORTLY, AND NEVER IN MY LIFE HAVE I SEEN
SO PITEOUS A SPECTACLE AS THAT LITTLE ROUND RUBICUND MAN AT THE HEARING
OF MY STORY]

"Mynheer," said I, "there are two things you may do.  The first is, to
keep silence.  This unhappy business is known wholly to none but you,
Cosmo Volmar, and myself—and in part to my servant and Jan Verhoeff, who
have their reasons for holding their peace.  The second is, to undo the
wrong you have done your daughter and her promised husband.  Thus you
will both preserve the reputation for courage you won at the point of
the ham bone"—(I could not withhold this quip)—"and win a new renown for
fatherly indulgence and magnanimity of soul."

Upon this the Burgomaster looked somewhat more cheerfully; but again his
face fell, and he turned away his eyes, as with a faltering voice he
told me that he had ordered my arrest.

"And here is the Captain of the Guard," said I, as I heard his clanking
step without, "come for the cancelment of your warrant."

The Burgomaster was overcome with humiliation when aware that I knew
already of the warrant.  He tore the paper passionately across, and wept
hot tears when he placed the captain’s hand in mine and bade him cherish
me as an honest man.  There was ever something of the play actor about
goodman Burgomaster.

And now I have told my story.  You may like to know that the city did
not yield to the Spaniards, but held out for a good month beyond, and
was then relieved by Prince Maurice, who advanced through a fierce
rainstorm at the head of a large and well-furnished army.  I was
presented to him on his entrance by Sir Francis Vere, who with a grave
countenance related how he had chosen me, as one expert in war and
cunning in counsel, to assist the burghers in their extremity.  When the
Prince had thanked me in the name of the United States of the
Netherlands, and invited me to continue in his service, Sir Francis drew
me aside and said in my ear—

"Thou’rt a cunning rascal, and be hanged to thee."

But I leave you to say whether ’twas cunning that served me best.

The praises and blessings heaped upon me by the two ladies, the mother
and the sweetheart of Jan Verhoeff, were dearer to me even than the
commendation of Prince Maurice.  Methinks it is better to make two or
three happy than to take a fenced city.  In the spring of the next year
Jan wrote me word that he had been made councillor and town clerk of
Bargen, and was now the husband of pretty Mistress Jacqueline.

I had almost forgot to say that such pricks of conscience as beset me
for permitting Volmar to escape a traitor’s doom were stilled but a few
days after he in secret quitted the city.  His dead body was then
discovered in the moat. Whether he was drowned in swimming, or removed
(as he would have said) by the Spaniards for that he had failed them, I
know not; only I believe in my heart that justice was done.


[Illustration: tailpiece to Third Part]



                               *Interim*


Many a time and oft did my grandfather sing the praises of Prince
Maurice of Nassau, whom he loved as a man, revered as a prince, and
admired as a warrior.  He told me that this stout and worthy Prince had
studied the art of war from a boy up, and made many innovations in the
practice thereof, for the which this age is to him much beholden;
namely, he armed his horsemen with the carbine instead of the lance, and
taught his soldiers the true use of the spade in siege work.  Before his
time men of war were wont to scorn that humble tool, and to look upon
such as handled it as boors and rascals.  My grandfather was with him in
the three months’ siege of Groningen, and beheld with admiration the
work of his sappers and miners, how they drove mines in the shape of the
letter Y beneath the walls of the city, and springing them one night,
the north ravelin was blown up into the air with forty of the garrison,
of whom one was cast alive and sound at his very feet in the besiegers’
camp.

He told me too how in the summer of the year 1595, he came very near to
losing his life.  Prince Maurice had raised the siege of Grol, drawing
back before the troops of Christopher Mondragon, a little old man of
ninety-two, who had practised war from his youth, yet without receiving
a wound.  The Prince laid an ambush for this marvellous warrior, and set
his cousin Philip to accomplish it; but the old man heard of what was
toward, and took measures to counter it, so that when, about daybreak,
Count Philip sent forward a handful of men to pounce upon the enemy’s
pickets, they saw themselves faced by a great number of Spanish horsemen
drawn up in order. Whereof when tidings were conveyed to Count Philip,
he donned his casque, and drew his sword, and putting spurs to his
horse, galloped into the lane that divided him from the Spaniards, being
followed at the first only by four of his nobles, and then by others of
his horsemen, among whom my grandfather was one.

And when they were shut in that narrow pass, up started the Spaniards on
the watery pasture lands on either hand, and fired their guns at them
very hotly.  Count Philip was shot through the body from a harquebus,
which, by reason of its closeness, set his clothes a-fire, and the
flames could not be quenched save by rolling him, all wounded as he was,
among the sand and heather. When he sought to mount his horse and ride
away, his strength failed him, and he fell to the ground and was taken
prisoner and carried away dying.  My grandfather, following in the
charge, was thrown from his horse in the disorder and confusion, and
only saved himself by crawling through the hedge, and swimming the river
that ran by the margin of the field.

A matter of three months thereafter, my grandfather was with Sir Francis
Vere when that valiant captain was sent by Prince Maurice to take the
castle of Weerd.  Upon Sir Francis demanding that the warden of the
castle should yield it up, that doughty commander refused him with
scorn, albeit he had no more than a score and six men at his back.  But
when Sir Francis opened upon the place with his artillery, these folk
fell into a panic and laid open their gates.  Their captain claimed the
honours of war, but Sir Francis made answer that he should have no
honours but halters for the stiff-necked simple men that had dared to
defend their hovel against ordnance.  Whereupon he made the six and
twenty draw lots with black and white straws, and they that drew the
white were immediately hanged, save only the thirteenth, to whom his
life was given after that he had consented to do hangman’s work upon his
fellows. The noose was cast first about the neck of their captain, but
the rope parting asunder, certain of Sir Francis’ men held him under the
water of the ditch until he was drowned.  My grandfather fell out with
Sir Francis upon this matter, deeming his truculency to be unworthy of a
gentleman; and when the troops went into winter quarters, he took ship
and returned to England, bearing a richly gilt sword, the gift of Prince
Maurice.

He then took up his place in the Queen’s Guard, but had accomplished
scarce four months in the royal service when that adventure befell which
follows next in order.  It was known that King Philip was making ready a
fleet of sixty sail to invade Ireland, and Sir Walter Raleigh was
instant that the Queen’s ministers should destroy that fleet in Spanish
waters, saying that "expedition in a little is better than much too
late."  At that time the Spaniards were rejoicing in that Hawkins and
Drake had come to grief in their enterprise against Panama, and were
dead of a broken heart.  Sir Walter’s counsel was deemed good, and the
Queen, enraged with the King of Spain for that he was abetting the Irish
rebel Tyrone, fitted out ninety-six sail to convey 14,000 Englishmen to
the harbour of Cadiz, setting over them Lord Admiral Howard and the Earl
of Essex, and granting to Raleigh the command of twenty-two ships.
Contrary winds delayed their setting forth, the which, as Sir Walter
affirmed, caused him deeper grief than he ever felt for anything of this
world.  And Providence so fashioned it that my grandfather performed a
hardy feat in Cadiz harbour a good month before Sir Walter set sail, as
you shall now read.



                           *THE FOURTH PART*


                *CHRISTOPHER RUDD’S ADVENTURE IN SPAIN,
                   AND THE FASHION IN WHICH HE PLAYED
                        THE PART OF A PHYSICIAN*



[Illustration: headpiece to Fourth Part]


                                  *I*


It has never been my lot to hold great place, whether in the employment
of Queen Bess, or of her successor, King James; and when I think how
sorely fortune hath buffeted some noble persons that served those
monarchs, I count myself lucky in my obscurity.

Of all the noble men with whom I ever had to do, Sir Walter Raleigh was
in my computation beyond compare the noblest.  It frets me still, after
forty years, that I was not of his company on that famous voyage to
Cadiz when, as he writes in his History, "we stayed not to pick any
lock, but brake open the doors, and, having rifled all, threw the key
into the fire"; by the which figure he signifies the capture and
destruction of that great town, with vast spoils both of merchandise and
money.  I was stayed but by accident, or, more truly, by the hand of
God, who had other work for me, as you shall hear.

It chanced that one day, about Easter of the year 1596, I had been to
visit Sir Walter in his house at Mile End, where he then lived to take
the country air, and because, being out of favour with the Queen, his
lodging in her great house by the Thames was not much to his liking.  In
name he was still Captain of the Guard and Warden of the Stannaries, but
the former office was performed by one Master John Best, and the latter
was, I think, in abeyance.  He had but lately returned from his voyage
to Guiana, and was even then occupied with the writing of the book
wherein he relates his doings there, together with certain wonders that
I must hold to be fables.  It is clean against nature that men should
have eyes in their shoulders and mouths in their breasts.

I had visited him, I say, and sat talking very late, finding him wrapt
up in his project against Cadiz, where a Spanish fleet was fitting out
with the intent to invade Ireland.  It was understood, when I left him,
that I should be one of his company in the _Warspright_, provided I
could obtain leave from the Queen to quit my place in the royal Guard
for a season.  I rode back to Westminster, and, having stabled my horse,
was proceeding on foot to my lodging, in a little mean street by the
river, when it seemed to me on a sudden that I heard footsteps, as of
one dogging me.  It was very late, as I said; all honest folks (myself
excepted) were abed; and having a modest love of myself, I halted and
whipped out my sword, peering into the darkness, and stretching my ears
for the sound that had brought me to a check.  But all was silent as the
grave, and I laughed a little when it came into my mind that
peradventure ’twas no more than the echo of my own footsteps.  Whereupon
I put up my sword and went on, my thoughts being busy with the matters
of Sir Walter’s glowing discourse.

While I was thus rapt away, building, I doubt not, fantastical castles
in Spain, on a sudden I was set upon by a hulking fellow that threw
himself upon me out of a dark alley-way.  The first warning I had of him
was a sharp crack as the bludgeon he aimed at me struck a shop-sign that
hung low over the street; but for this, without question I had suffered
a broken skull.  Even so I lacked time to draw sword or dagger, for the
man flung aside his club and sprang upon me, grappling me to himself
with a grip of iron. For a moment I yielded, out of policy, to his
embrace, being careful, nathless, to maintain my footing; then, being
very well practised in wrestling, and having good command of my breath,
I dipt my arms about his middle and, with an ease that amazed me, gave
him the backfall. Down he went upon the cobbles, and I stood over him
while he lay and groaned.

[Illustration: DOWN HE WENT UPON THE COBBLES, AND I STOOD OVER HIM WHILE
HE LAY AND GROANED]

At this hour of the night it were vain to look for any help from the
watch, and I was in the mind to leave the fellow where he lay.  Yet
having a certain curiosity to see what manner of man he was, I felt in
my fob for the steel and flint I was wont to carry, and when I found
them not, only then remembered that I had left them on Sir Walter’s
table; he had borrowed them of me to light his pipe of tobacco, the
which was a wondrous strange thing in those days.  (That is Sir Walter’s
pipe, yonder in my cabinet; he gave it me for a keepsake a little while
ere he died.)  Having no light at command I resolved to bring the man to
my own door, but a few steps distant; wherefore I stooped and hoisted
him to his feet, and then took him by the collar with one hand, and with
the other held my naked sword to his posteriors, and so marched him
before me up the street.  When we came to my door, and my servant opened
to my knock, I thrust the man in front of me so that he stood within the
light of the lamp.

He was a sorry knave, now that I beheld him clearly: a very ragged
Robin, as foul in person as ever I saw.  But I understood now the reason
why I had so easily thrown him, for his countenance, so much of it as I
could discern through a thick and tangled beard, was wan and sunken; his
eyes shone with that glitter which bespeaks famine or fever; and his
body, goodly in its proportions, was bent and shrunken together.  In
good sooth I had no cause to be vain of my prowess, and when the fellow
turned his burning eyes upon me, regarding me sullenly, yet with no
touch of fear, I was seized with compassion, and bade my servant go
fetch meat and drink. He went about my bidding sluggishly, halting ever
and anon to cast a backward glance, as though doubting the policy of
playing good Samaritan to so uncouth and villainous an oaf. While he was
absent I told the man that since he would surely be hanged for his
attempt upon me, ’twere well he should eat and so fortify himself
against his destiny.  What I said in jest he took in earnest; but
whether it be true or not, as I have heard tell, that with the hangman’s
noose dangling before him a criminal has no relish for food, certainly
this man fell with very keen tooth upon my viands, and cleaned the
platter with marvellous celerity.

Having dispatched my servant to bed, I sat me on the table and
questioned the man, why he had waylaid me.  He was loth to speak, but by
little and little I drew from him his history, which he related not as
one seeking to move pity, but by way of recompense, so it seemed to me,
for the hospitality he had received.  With his first words I own my
heart warmed to him, for his speech smacked of my own country in the
west, though intermixed with many quaint outlandish terms.  His story I
will relate in brief.

His name was William Stubbs, and he was born at Winterbourne Abbas, not
a great way from my own birthplace.  He had gone young to sea, and made
several voyages with Master Cavendish, having indeed served as boatswain
in the _Desire_ with that worthy seaman and commander.  He had roved the
Spanish Main, and I proved his veracity in that particular by putting to
him sundry questions begotten of my own knowledge.  ’Twas plain that he
had the common fault of seamen, spending his gains more quickly then he
earned them, roistering it on shore while his money lasted, and when all
was spent going to sea again in quest of more.  But I perceived as he
proceeded in his discourse that he was better than most in natural wit,
and had made more profit of his adventures, in knowledge if not in pelf.
He had a passable facility in both the French and the Spanish tongues,
and his head was stuffed with a great quantity of curious information,
which made me wonder that he had sunk so low as to become a common
footpad.

The reason of that I learnt in order.  Being on board the _Revenge_ in
that unlucky voyage of Sir Richard Grenville, he fell with many of his
comrades into the hands of the Spaniards, who dealt with him very
scurvily, as their custom is, and finally condemned him to the galleys.
For three long years he was chained to an oar, and suffered all the
miseries of unhappy prisoners in the like case.  But it befell one day
that the galley wherein he rowed fell foul of a Dutch vessel, which
opened upon it with valorous broadsides, and after making havoc as well
among the slaves as the crew, finally rammed it with great vehemency and
stove a hole in its side.  In the hottest of the fight, a round shot
broke the chain that held Stubbs to his oar, and, seizing the moment
when the Dutchman rammed and all was confusion, he leapt overboard and
swam to that vessel, whose side he clambered up by the main chains.  He
came very near perishing at the hands of the crew, who at first supposed
him to be a rascal; but when they learnt his true condition, they hauled
him aboard with comfortable words, and brought him after many days to
their own country.  Thence he contrived to reach London, only to fall on
evil hap, for his sufferings in captivity had sapped his strength, and,
when he sought employment in his own trade he found no master mariner
willing to accept him.  Thus, reduced by sickness and famine, in his
desperate strait he bethought him of conquering fortune on the highway,
but was now ready to believe, seeing the unhappy issue of his first
essay in that line of life, that he was at odds with Fate, and must
needs, as he said, "kick the beam and ha’ done with it."

When I heard this piteous story, and saw upon the man’s neck and wrists
the scars that were full proof, to all that knew the Spaniards, of his
having rowed in their galleys, my anger against him was wholly quenched.
I told him heartily that he should not hang for me, and then, perceiving
that my good food had wrought upon his sickly frame, I bade him get
himself into a closet wherein my servant kept my boots and sleep there
for the night, promising to see him again in the morning, and perchance
do somewhat to set him on his feet.  The man was clean staggered by this
kindness, as I could plainly see; but he did not thank me; and when he
had crept into the closet and flung himself down heedless upon the
floor, I turned the key in the lock for security’s sake and went to my
bed.

My servant was in a pretty fret and fume when he found the man there
asleep in the morning, and eyed me with a disfavour that made me feel
guilty towards him: a good servant hath in him something of the tyrant.
When I bade him give my guest water for washing (whereof he was in great
need), and meat and beer, his silence was a clear rebuke.  But when he
came again after doing my bidding he had somewhat to tell me.

"The rogue asked me your name, sir," quoth he, "and when I told him, he
asked further whether you were akin to one Master Christopher Rudd of
Shirley."

"And what said you?" I asked, knowing my servant.

"I said, sir, that he were best wash himself."

"A proper answer," said I, laughing.  "When he has eaten, bring him to
me."

And when the man came before me, cleaned of his foulness and with his
beard trimmed, I saw that he was a goodly fellow, and felt the more
sorry for him.

"You asked of one Master Christopher Rudd of Shirley," I said; "what
have you to do with him?"

"Are you his kin, sir?" he asked doubtfully.

"We are of one family," I said, "and now you will answer my question."

And then he told me a story that filled me with as much trouble as
amazement.  Chained to him, on his galley, had been a young Frenchman,
whom, even before their common misery had made them friends, he had
surmised to be a man of rank.  When they had learnt to trust each other,
the Frenchman and he often talked together of the chances of escape, and
each promised the other that, should fortune favour him, he would use
his endeavours for behoof of him that was left.  Stubbs said that, for
his part, he feared he could do little, being an Englishman; whereupon
the Frenchman told him that he had sundry good friends among the
English, notably Christopher Rudd, of whom indeed he had been a close
comrade in the service of King Henry of Navarre.

At this I pricked up my ears, and inquired eagerly for the Frenchman’s
name.  Thereupon Stubbs rolled up his sleeves, and showed me, branded
upon his arm, the letters "R. de T.," confessing that he had forgot the
name, which indeed did not come easily to his tongue.  I needed no more,
but knew instantly that the luckless galley-slave could be none other
than Raoul de Torcy, who had been my boon fellow when I was in France,
and my companion that time when I had the good hap to win King Henry’s
favour.  I bade Stubbs describe with circumstance the look and character
of the Frenchman, and though he was unapt at such a task, his uncouth
phrases gave me the assurance I sought, and I could have no manner of
doubt that the man now swinking and sweating in one of the worst
tortures ever devised by the wit of man was indeed my dear friend.

I taxed Stubbs narrowly, to discover by what mishap Raoul, a gentleman
of France, had fallen to so pitiful an extremity, but on this point it
appeared that Raoul himself was at a loss.  He had been kidnapped one
day in Calais, cast on board a vessel, and carried to Cadiz: who were
his captors, and what moved them to it, were matters hidden from him.

Cadiz being the place of Raoul’s exile, I instantly bethought me of my
talk overnight with Sir Walter Raleigh, and saw in his projected
enterprise a means of wresting my friend from his bondage.  Accordingly
I sent my servant for my horse, purposing to ride again to Mile End and
acquaint Sir Walter with what I had heard.  I gave money to Stubbs
wherewith to buy new raiment, bidding him return to my house and await
me, and above all to avoid any debate with my servant, the which might
easily end in broken heads.

I found Sir Walter in his garden, smoking a pipe of tobacco, and setting
potatoes, the new root that he had brought from the Indies, in the earth
in the manner they call dibbling.  He heard me attentively, and let out
a round oath or two, and said that assuredly I might make the
enlargement of my friend my personal charge in the adventure.

[Illustration: I FOUND SIR WALTER IN HIS GARDEN]

"But you must know, Rudd," he said, "that the project is as yet a
secret, and indeed there is no surety that the Queen will give consent
thereto.  Her Grace frowns on me most malevolently, and there are many
hindrances to surmount ere I come by her august approval.  Were it not
better to ransom your friend?  I doubt not he hath kinsmen that are
ignorant of his plight, and would bestir themselves did they but know
it."

I answered him that Raoul had spoken to me of an uncle, but as to
ransom, Raoul himself must have thought thereon.  Without doubt he would
have acquainted the Spaniards with his rank, and their cupidity would
not have refused to bargain for his enlargement, unless, peradventure,
they had weightier reasons for holding him a prisoner.  To this Sir
Walter assented, and confessed that he saw nothing for it but to wait
until the Queen’s pleasure in the matter of the intended voyage was
known, and with that I had to be content.

I returned to my lodging, sore downcast and perplexed.  Stubbs was
already there, new clothed in decent garments, and very personable. I
fell a-talking to him, and in the midst a thought came suddenly to me.
I knew the strange waywardness of the Queen, how she would one moment
consent, the next deny her words with hearty swearing; it might be
months, or even years, before Sir Walter had his way.  It troubled me
sorely to think that Raoul should endure his wretched lot while her
Highness played see-saw, and I bethought me that I might at least voyage
to France and see the kinsmen who were, I doubted not, mourning Raoul’s
disappearance, and might perchance devise with them some plan for his
deliverance.  And since the testimony of an eye-witness is ever more
effectual than report at second-hand, I resolved to take my mariner with
me, so as they might have from his own lips the tale he told me.  I
forbore to ask consent of the Queen to my absence, being resolved to
hazard my place rather than my design.

We set off next day, riding to Dover, where we embarked upon a
packet-boat, and so came, after much tossing and discomfort, to Calais.
This being the port where Raoul had been kidnapped three years before,
as Stubbs told me, I made discreet inquiry among the harbour people
whether they knew aught of that villainy, being careful to name no
names.  But none had any knowledge of the matter, whereupon we rode on
at once to Dieppe, both because that was the nearest port to Raoul’s
château, and because our common friend Jean Prévost dwelt there, whom I
purposed to take into my confidence.

’Twas drawing towards evening when we came to the town and reined up at
the door of the _Belle Etoile_, a hostelry that I knew very well. The
host, honest Jacques Aicard, remembered me, though it was near seven
years since he last saw me, and welcomed me very heartily.  The
goodman’s face was rueful when he ushered me to a room.

"’Tis pity, monsieur," he said, "that I have no better chamber to offer,
but my best room is bespoke.  But if monsieur will be content with this
for a night or two, be sure that he shall have the best when my other
visitor departs."

I assured him that the room would do very well, since I did not purpose
to make a long stay.

"Ah, monsieur," he said, "that is sad news. I would that I had more
guests like monsieur," a piece of arrant flattery whereat I smiled.
’Tis true that honest Jacques loved an Englishman.

Having seen Stubbs also provided, I hastened forth, and by good luck
found Jean Prévost at home.  He likewise welcomed me with great
heartiness, and, after our salutations, as he set wine before me, he
opened upon the very matter which had brought me to him.

"Would that Raoul were with us!" he said. "How we three laughed!  But I
fear me we shall never see him more."

"He disappeared; that I know," said I. "Tell me how it befell."

"Why, three years ago he rode to Calais, with the intent to sail to the
Low Countries, and use his sword against the Spaniards.  We have never
heard of him since.  Whether he was wrecked, or fell in Flanders, we
know not.  He vanished utterly away."

"And what of his estate?" I asked.

"His uncle holds it, the Count de Sarney. You have heard Raoul speak of
him.  He was a Leaguer, and there was a coldness between them. Indeed,
though their châteaux lie but five miles apart, they had no dealings one
with the other for many years.  But the breach was healed when Henry
became king, and after that Raoul had disappeared none was so busy as
the Count in seeking for him.  He sent emissaries at his own charges to
Flanders to inquire diligently in all likely quarters, and ’twas a full
year before he entered upon his heritage.  He lives at Torcy, much by
himself, and we see little of him."

"Raoul lugs an oar in a galley at Cadiz," I said with a very quiet
voice.

Jean leapt from his seat as though a wasp had stung him.

"A galley-slave!  Impossible!  Incredible!" he cried.

"Both credible and possible," I said, and then I told him all, as I have
told you.

"Mon Dieu!" cried Jean, when I had made an end.  "We must not wait while
your Queen dallies.  A ransom!  I know a score of his friends who will
give bonds for goodly sums——"

"Ay, truly," I said, interrupting him, "and the first of them should be
his uncle and heir."

Jean stopped in his restless pacing of the floor, and looked at me very
strangely.

"Why yes," he said, "his uncle, to be sure. But the Count is
close-fisted; ’twas indeed a surprise to all the country-side when,
after that he had entered into possession of Torcy—an estate of greater
worth than his own—he showed himself a very niggard."

"Think you that he would refuse his mite in so good a cause?" I said.

Again Jean looked strangely at me, and for a while was silent.  Then he
said slowly—

"My friend, I ween we had best say nought to the Count de Sarney."

"Nevertheless, I go to him to-morrow," I replied.  "Miser he may be, and
’tis clean against his interest, to be sure, to bring back the lawful
owner of Torcy, and thereby dispossess himself.  Yet if his duty be put
to him, as I shall put it, I doubt not he will comply."

"I will go with you," said Jean.

"Nay, I am minded to go alone, or rather with none but my mariner.
’Twill be better so. Be assured I will acquaint you with the issue. And
I beg you, Jean," I said earnestly, "that you speak no word of what I
have told you, at least for this present time."

"I will be mute as a fish," said he, "but I shall think the more."



                                  *II*


On the morrow, early in the morning, we saddled our horses, Stubbs and
I, a thing we always performed ourselves, Stubbs somewhat fumblingly, I
own, until practice gave him deftness and ease.  ’Twas thirty miles to
Torcy, that lay southerly from Dieppe, but we made such good speed that
the sun was not yet in the zenith when we arrived at the château.  The
Count was within doors, said the lackey that opened the great gate of
the park to us, and we rode up the avenue of chestnuts, just bourgeoning
into leaf, and came after some three furlongs to the house.

The man that admitted me, an ancient retainer of Raoul’s whom I knew
very well, changed hue when he saw me, and asked me with trembling voice
whether I had brought news of his master.  I did not give him a direct
answer, but bade him lead me at once to the Count, feeling not a little
pleasure that the new lord still kept the old man in his service.  He
conducted me through the passages that I had last trod with Raoul
himself, and brought me into the little chamber wherein I had passed
many a merry evening with my friend.  Stubbs meanwhile remained in the
outer porch, ready to follow me at my summons.

I waited some while before the Count entered. He was a man of mean
stature, very lean and dry, and with a grave cast of countenance wherein
I discerned no likeness to the jolly favour of his nephew.

"I have not the honour," he began courteously as I bowed to him, and
dealt me a shrewd look.

"Assuredly not, monsieur," I replied.  "My name is Christopher Rudd, and
I was once comrade to your nephew, whose fate has given such deep
trouble to his friends."

"Ah yes, my poor nephew!  Methinks I recall your name, monsieur, if you
are the same that fought with Raoul in the late contention, now so
happily concluded.  Be seated, monsieur; I am charmed to meet one that
was his friend. You will honour me by taking a cup of wine?"

He rang for a servant, and bade him bring wine and cakes, and also to
request the company of Monsieur Armand.  Before the man returned there
entered into the room a solemn-visaged youth, clad in black with white
ruffles at his wrists.

"My son, monsieur," said the Count.  "He is but lately returned from
Paris, where he has studied medicine and philosophy, not that I purpose
that he should be either a physician or a philosopher, but because I
deem it well that he, being my heir, but ill-fitted by reason of a
delicate constitution for the pursuit of arms, should have some tincture
of humane letters and of the beneficent art of healing.  Situated as we
are, somewhat remote from towns, it is fitting that one who will in due
time be lord of many poor folks should be able to minister to them in
their afflictions."

"A right worthy and commendable desire," I said, looking at the youth,
whose solemnity of countenance somewhat tickled me.

The Count proceeded to expound the usefulness of philosophy, not
interrupting his discourse when the servant returned with wine and
delicacies which, being sharp-set after my ride, I devoured with relish.
My host was so courteously bent on entertaining me that for a good while
I found no opportunity of broaching the purpose of my visit, and more
than once I thought of Stubbs waiting without, and certainly as hungry
as myself.  But perceiving at length in the Count’s physiognomy a look
that said clearly, despite his courtesy, that he thought it time my
visit came to an end, I profited by a slight lull in his discourse to
say—

"And my friend Raoul, monsieur—has nothing been heard of him?"

"Nothing, monsieur," he said with a sigh. "I fear we cannot hope to see
him again, and the pain of his loss is embittered by our ignorance of
his fate, whether he lies at the bottom of the sea, or perchance in some
nameless grave."

"I rejoice, then," said I, "that I can assuage that bitterness, even
though the knowledge has a bitterness of its own.  Your nephew,
monsieur, is at this moment, unless death has released him, suffering
the tortures of a galley-slave in Spain."

A cry from the solemn youth caused me to look at him, and I own I was
glad to see a spark of life in his dead face.

"What a monstrous thing!" he cried.  "Was he taken prisoner in Flanders,
monsieur?"

"Nay," I said, "he never fought in Flanders. He travelled no further
than Calais.  He was there kidnapped at the harbour, and thence conveyed
to Cadiz.  ’Twas the work of private enemies, beyond doubt."

"Will you tell us how you came by this amazing news, monsieur?" said the
Count, in his thin cold voice.

Whereupon I related the whole story with circumstance, from the time
when I was beset that night as I returned to my lodging.  The Count
listened to me with a courteous interest, but a look of compassion stole
upon his face.

"It is incredible, monsieur," he said, when I ended my tale.  "My poor
nephew had no private enemies: none can know better than you how well
beloved he was of all.  Even in the height of our broils here he had no
personal foes, and though he and I were for a time at variance, yet when
the realm settled itself in peace and order we forgot our public
differences, and Raoul and Armand became deeply attached the one to the
other; is it not so, Armand?"

"It is indeed," said the youth eagerly. "Raoul and I were as brothers,
and his loss has been my greatest sorrow."

I could not doubt he spoke truth: his eyes shone as he spoke.  Nor could
I wonder that his father was incredulous, for Raoul was indeed a man
whom it were strange to hate.

"I have a man without who rowed in the self-same galley with Raoul," I
said.  "With your leave I will send for him, monsieur, and you may
verify my story from his own lips."

The Count assented with the same smile of weary tolerance.  Within a
little Stubbs came to us, looking ill at ease, and twisting his bonnet
between his hands as he stood waiting our pleasure.  At my bidding he
related the story as I have told it, and rolled back his sleeve to show
the letters "R. de T." there branded.  His French was uncouth and
villainously inexact, yet not so base but that his meaning was clear.
The Count questioned him searchingly, almost as an advocate seeks to
shake the testimony of a witness; but the man held to his tale in its
main parts, answering only "J’ne savons pas"—such was his barbarous
form—when the matter in question was beyond his ken.

Having dismissed the man, I asked the Count whether he were not now
perfectly convinced of his nephew’s fate.  He looked upon me with that
same smile of pity, and gave me an answer that, I confess, enraged me.

"I felicitate you, monsieur," said he, "on your goodness of heart, but
until this moment I was not aware that credulity could be laid to the
charge of a man of your nation.  I had rather looked upon Englishmen as
sceptical, and not easily imposed upon.  This man is certainly a liar:
you yourself were witness of his confusion.  He has played upon your
benevolence, and, for myself, I regard it as monstrous that you should
have been prevailed upon to make so long a journey for so bootless a
reason. Nevertheless it has given me great pleasure to meet and converse
with you; and now that you are here, I would beg you to do me the honour
to remain my guest for a week at least."

"I thank you, monsieur," I said as civilly as I could, though in truth I
was inly raging.  "But so far from regarding the seaman as a liar, I do
thoroughly believe his story."

"And I too," quoth Armand.

"But, my good friend," said the Count, "see the unlikelihood of it.
Suppose that Raoul were indeed in the galleys, it were a simple matter
for a man of his rank and condition to purchase his release, and be sure
that by this time, and long before this, application would have been
made to me for his ransom, the which I need not say would have been
instantly dispatched.  Is not that reasonable?"

I could not but own that it was, remembering that I had myself used the
self-same argument with Sir Walter Raleigh.

"Furthermore," the Count proceeded, "say that I offered a large sum for
his ransom, the Spaniards, if they have any reason for holding Raoul a
prisoner, would certainly find some one to personate him, and release
some knave that fully merits the punishment he suffers.  And so you and
I should look merely ridiculous."

There was so much reason in what the Count said that I was baffled.  His
unbelief, I thought, might be in some measure sprung from a reluctancy
to relinquish the estate he now enjoyed, the which was not to be
wondered at: and yet I deemed it unnatural that a kinsman should be more
incredulous than a man bound to Raoul by no ties of blood.  At a loss
how to combat his arguments, I presently took my leave, excusing myself
from accepting the invitation he pressed upon me.

I found that Stubbs had been fed by the ancient servitor, and set off
with him towards Dieppe.  Our horses proved themselves but indifferent
steeds in respect of endurance, and we were slow upon the road, so that
it was already dark when we reached our hostelry.  Being wearied with
the journey, as well as exceeding vexed in mind, I was in no mood for
aught but a good supper and then bed, and I deferred to acquaint Jean
Prévost with my barren errand until the morrow.  Stubbs gave me a hard
look when I bade him good-night, as though he would fain question me on
the present posture of the affair; but I told him nothing, being
resolved first to hear what Jean had to say.

I was mighty astonished next afternoon by Jean’s manner of receiving my
intelligence. Whereas he had been as sure as I myself that Raoul and the
galley-slave were one and the same, he now wore a dubious look, and
stroked his chin, and declared there was much reason in what the Count
had said.

"Raoul is not the only name beginning with R," he said, "nor Torcy with
T.  Moreover this mariner of yours, you tell me, sought to enter into
your good graces by cracking your skull, and is not thereby certified to
be an honest man. The manifest friendliness of the Count’s son, and the
Count’s own diligence in seeking his nephew, give no prop to the
suspicion I own I entertained, that they were privy to the crime, for
the sake of gaining Raoul’s inheritance.  I am fain to believe that
there is dupery, or at least error."

I answered him somewhat hotly that I was no dupe, nor did I believe that
Stubbs had erred, and asked whether we could not set on foot a proper
inquiry.  To this he replied that, France and Spain being at war, such a
course must be beset with manifold difficulties.

"Yet," he said, "there is one way.  Address yourself to some merchant in
Antwerp that hath trading concerns in Cadiz.  Such an one, if heedful
and discreet, could put your mariner’s story to the test, and I doubt
not, knowing their love of lucre, there be many good men in Antwerp that
would take this task upon them, for a fit recompense."

This counsel seeming good to me, I left him after a little, and instead
of returning directly to my lodging, I wended to the harbour, and
inquired what vessel sailed thence to Antwerp, and when.  ’Twas told me
that a trading vessel would leave the port on the morrow, whereupon I
counted myself lucky, for none other would depart for a fortnight.  I
took passage in the vessel for myself and Stubbs, paying good English
money, and bespeaking a sufficient quantity of food, more relishable
than that which mariners are in general wont to eat.

By the time I came again to the _Belle Etoile_ the sun was setting.  I
entered in, very well content with what I had done, and ran full against
Stubbs, who was lurking within the doorway.  He took me by the sleeve
and drew me hastily to my room, where, having shut the door, he thrust
into my hands some papers, and I perceived that the seals thereof had
been broken.

[Illustration: HE THRUST INTO MY HAND SOME PAPERS]

"What is this?" I said in amazement, beholding signs of great trouble in
the man’s countenance.

"Read, sir, read, and quickly, for the love of God!" he said, and
incontinently flung out of the room.

I took up one of the papers to examine it, and saw that it bore the
superscription, "To Don Ygnacio de Acosta, at Cadiz."  The others were
addressed to grandees in Seville and elsewhere in the south of Spain.  I
was still holding them unopened, perplexed about my man’s strange
excitement, when he came back with the same haste into the room and
asked me in a fever whether I had read them.

"Why, no," I said, "I may not read letters that are not addressed to me.
What is all this to-do?"

He groaned, and cursed his fate because he was himself unable to read.
And then, pouring out his words in a very torrent, he told me that, a
little after my departure, there had come to the inn the young man whom
he had seen in the château Torcy, namely, Armand de Sarney, the Count’s
son.  Old Jacques conducted the youth to his bedchamber: ’twas plain
that he was the expected guest for whom the best room had been bespoke.
Stubbs perceived that he bore with him a wallet such as are commonly
used by gentlemen for holding letters.  Having seen his baggage bestowed
in the chamber, the youth descended, but without the wallet, and issued
forth into the street.  Stubbs watched him until he was out of sight,
then stole a tip-toe to the room, slit open the wallet, and withdrew its
contents, the papers that he had laid in my hands.

"But why?" I asked, staggered by this act of criminal presumption, and
thinking the man must be demented.

"Because thiccy count be a rare villain, sir," cried Stubbs hoarsely.
"I bean’t a fule; I kept my eyes upon him when you sat there a-crackin’
with him, and if he don’t know more’n he ought about thiccy young
Frenchman, your friend, I’ll go to the gallows happy.  Read the names,
sir, read ’un so that I can hear; quick, for he may be back along."

In a great wonderment I complied.

"Don Antonio de Herrera, Don Miguel de Leon y Buegas; Don Ygnacio de
Acosta——"

"There!  There!" he cried.  "I knew it, be jowned!  ’Tis the captain of
the galleys, the Don Spaniard that has laid many a stripe on my bare
back.  Read the letter."

Again he left me in a great hurry, and I guessed now that he was gone to
keep a watch against the return of Armand de Sarney.

I was in a quandary.  Imprimis, ’twas a dastardly deed to break open the
wallet and the seals, and not consonant with plain honesty. Yet I could
but acknowledge that a letter writ by the Count de Sarney to the captain
of the galleys was a grave cause of suspicion, more especially seeing
that the Count had not told me he was acquainted with the Spaniard, as
assuredly an innocent man would have done. And so, reflecting that the
seal was broken beyond mending, and that my friend’s welfare—nay,
perchance, his very life—was at stake, I felt it behoved me to satisfy
myself on the matter, and do as my Lord Burghley and Sir Francis
Walsingham had done when they discovered those devilish plots against
the Queen’s highness.

Accordingly I spread open the letter addressed to Don Ygnacio de Acosta,
and as I read it all compunction died within me, and I fumed with rage.
After the customary salutations, this is what I read—


"The bearer of this letter is my only son, Armand de Sarney, whom I
commit to your benevolence.  Having gained some repute in Paris by his
diligence in the study of philosophy and the sciences, above all in
medicine, he is desirous of perfecting himself in this last, the which I
hold to be both a science and an art, by inquiring into the Moorish
system, for which purpose I deem it well, though I am loth to part with
him, that he should voyage to Seville, the fame of whose schools has
gone out into all the corners of the world.  He bears with him letters
from good friends in Paris to your most renowned doctors, and to your
loving care do I especially commend him.

"I profit by his journey to send you a bill of exchange, drawn on our
good friends at Antwerp, and beg that you will pardon my backwardness in
that I have withheld it beyond the wonted time.

"The sickness whereof you wrote is now, I trust, wholly passed away, and
with all felicitations I subscribe myself your loving cousin,

"HENRI DE SARNEY.

"_Postscriptum_.—I unseal this letter to add that since it was written I
have been visited by an Englishman, who has learnt by the mouth of an
escaped slave somewhat concerning a prisoner, who, he affirms, is
chained to an oar in one of your galleys.  The English are a stubborn
and stiff-necked race, and this man has their vices in full measure,
being the same that brought to nought the carefully-laid plans of the
lamented Monsieur de Lameray.  In heat and waywardness he may seek to
pick locks and break fetters.  Have a care therefore."


This letter, I say, put me in a fume.  Some parts of it I comprehended
not, and the whole was composed with great cunning; but I saw clearly
enough that the Count de Sarney was well aware of his nephew’s grievous
plight, and, furthermore, I suspected that he had had a hand in bringing
it about.  For a brief space I was so mastered by my wrath as that I was
in a manner bereft of my wits; but running my eyes again over the lines,
I came on a sudden to a resolution, and none too soon, for Stubbs
returned swiftly into the room and told me that the young man in black
was at that moment making towards the inn.  Thrusting the papers into my
doublet, I hastened to the door, and there awaited his coming.

As he was in the act of going past, the passage being dark, I stepped
forth and besought him to honour me with his company for a few minutes.
His solemn face bore witness to his surprise at seeing me in his own
inn, but I caught no trace either of alarm or embarrassment.  He came
into my room, and, having closed the door upon him, I said—

"It has come to my knowledge, monsieur, that you are about to voyage
into Spain."

"It is true, monsieur, and I rejoice that I shall be able to inquire
myself for my poor cousin, though my father scouts your story."

I read honesty in the lad’s countenance, and grieved that it behoved me
to play upon him.

"I have to tell you, monsieur," I said very gravely, "that you stand in
imminent peril. Your country is at war with Spain.  ’Tis believed that
monsieur the Count is in treasonable correspondence with the Spanish
court.  ’Tis known that you are conveying a subsidy to an officer of
their navy, and there are charges of even graver import, which in sum
bring your father within danger of the extreme penalty."

The hue of the lad’s face altered to an ashen colour, and he caught his
breath.

"It is false, abominably false, monsieur," he gasped.

"Pray God it be so, monsieur!" said I, pitying him.  "The unhappy fact
is that papers of suspicious tenor have been discovered among your
baggage, and ’tis only by good luck that I am able to warn you in time.
Examine your papers.  You will find that search has been made during
your absence, and documents incriminating in character have been
abstracted."

Trembling with fear the lad hastened to his own room, and came back in
as great a panic as ever I saw.

"It is an error, monsieur," he cried; "my father is no traitor: he can
explain.  Mon Dieu! what can I do?"

"I will tell you, monsieur," I said.  "Be assured that I acquit you of
all guilty knowledge.  The affair is known only to myself and one other
whose silence I can command, and do you but follow my counsel you will
be safe. Having fought in the army of Navarre, and being beholden to
King Henry, I cannot suffer you to quit France; you will not voyage to
Spain.  But neither can I proceed over harshly against one so youthful.
You were best hasten directly to Paris, and resume your studies there.
You will pass me your word not to communicate with your father until I
give you leave.  He will be in no anxiety concerning you, believing you
gone to Seville.  But I warn you that if you, directly or indirectly,
communicate with him, or with any one whatsoever in Spain, I will not
answer for the sea of troubles whereinto both you and he will be
plunged.  I trust that things are not wholly what they seem, and be sure
that none will more greatly rejoice than I if it be proved that the
escutcheon of your house is without stain."

"I thank you, monsieur," said the lad brokenly.  "I will do your behest
in all points, sure, as I am, that time will bear me out."

"Stay," I said, as he made to quit the room; "are you known at the port,
monsieur?"

"Nay, I have never travelled by sea," he replied, wondering.

"You are skilled in medicine," I proceeded, "and without doubt can name
some authentic treatise wherein one ignorant of the art can gain some
inkling of its mysteries."

"Assuredly, monsieur," said he, "there is none to be compared with the
great work of Ambrose Parey, the renowned chirurgeon of King Henry III.
I have it in the original Latin, and shall esteem myself honoured if you
will accept it at my hand."

"Right willingly, monsieur," I said, "and though my Latin grows rusty
with disuse, yet I doubt not I can make a shift to understand at least
one phrase in two."

He departed to his room, returning ere long with a weighty tome with
which, I could see, he was loth to part.  Having bid each other adieu,
he went from me, and since the hour was too late to permit of his riding
forth that same night, he dismissed the man that had accompanied him
from Torcy, and sought his bed.  He rose betimes in the morning, and
from my window I saw him ride eastward, leaving his baggage to be
dispatched after him by the carrier.

When I had seen him well upon his way I skipped into my clothes, having
as yet stood unclad at the window, and made haste to find old Toutain
the tailor, whom I knew very well, and who had his shop on one of the
quays abutting on what they call the avant port.  He broke out into
ecstasies of delight on seeing me, but I cut him short, and told him in
one brief minute what I required of him, which was that within five
hours he should rig me in the full apparel of a student of medicine.  He
protested with great volubility and play of hands that it could not be
done, whereupon I told him brutally of our English saying, that "a
tailor is but the ninth part of a man," and so stung him into a better
mind.  In a trice I had chosen the stuff, and Toutain took my
measurements, the while he put me through a stiff interrogatory as to my
new profession, where I purposed to study, and what not.  I leave you to
guess what a rack I put my invention upon to satisfy him.  Within a bare
quarter of an hour afterwards I was back at the _Belle Etoile_, breaking
my fast upon a savoury omelet and other comestibles that suit with the
French palate better than with ours.

Toutain himself brought me my new raiment half-an-hour before the term,
by the which time I had made Stubbs shave off my infant beard and the
mustachio that graced my lip.  The stout little tailor preened himself
like a cock robin when he beheld how becomingly his handiwork sat upon
me, and departed gaily clinking the sound English nobles wherewith I
paid him.

I had kept close all day, so as the metamorphosis the razor had wrought
upon my lineaments should not excite an idle curiosity. At the proper
time I sallied forth with Stubbs, he carrying my baggage and the great
tome of Ambrose Parey, and made towards the harbour, composing my
countenance to that grave solemnity which the disciples of Æsculapius
commonly affect.  I was taken aback for a moment when I saw Jean Prévost
standing in wait at the quay, having come to bid me God-speed.  I
checked his cry of amazement, and bade him, as he loved me, say nought
to a soul of my affairs, whereof I told him no more than that I was
sailing to Antwerp, as he had himself advised.  Then I went on board,
announcing myself as Monsieur Armand de Sarney, and was taken with
obsequious respect to the place allotted to me.  Stubbs went forward
among the crew, and I had no fear of any mischance through him, for a
seaman amongst seamen, whatever their nation, is a bird of their own
feather.

I observed after a little that the skipper was in a fret, continually
pacing the deck and casting troubled glances at the tide.  Presently I
made bold to accost him, and asked why he tarried. His answer was an
unwitting stab to the proper pride of an Englishman, but yet a
comfortable testimony to the perfectness of my disguise.

[Illustration: I MADE BOLD TO ACCOST HIM]

"We wait for a pestilent Englishman, monsieur," he said raspingly, "a
sluggard eater of beef, that will come up when the tide fails and expect
us to sail against wind and weather to please his almightiness.  And he
must needs fill the boat with meat enough for a regiment: our provision
is not good enough for him."

"I would delay for no Englishman alive," I said, "and as for his
creature comforts, divide them among your mariners: I will see to it
that you suffer nought."

Very soon thereafter he did indeed cast off. I responded with a grave
salutation to Jean’s wafture of his bonnet, and sat me down on a coil of
rope to digest as well as I might Ambrose Parey his Latin.

We made good passage to Antwerp, where I did not delay to visit the
goldsmith upon whom the Count de Sarney’s bill of exchange was drawn.
He held me in no suspicion, and was vastly serviceable in negotiating
with the skipper of a vessel bound for Cadiz, as well as in conducting
the other necessary parts of my business. I was some little troubled in
my mind what course to pursue with my mariner.  I proposed to him that,
seeing the risks of my adventure, he should take ship for London,
carrying a letter from me to Sir Walter Raleigh, who I made no doubt
would find him employment.  But he begged me so earnestly to permit him
to accompany me that I yielded, though not without misgiving.  I showed
him that for a runagate slave to venture himself in Cadiz would be a
mere running into the lion’s jaws, to which he answered that, whereas on
the galley his head and face were shaved, he was now as shaggy as a
bear, and so would not easily be known of any man, slave or free.
Furthermore I showed him how in Spain he could not hope to pass either
for a Spaniard or a Frenchman, whereupon, with a readiness that raised
him in my estimation, he said that he would pass very well for a
Muscovite, and invented a fable of his having escaped fifteen years
before from the clutches of Ivan the Terrible, and conveyed himself
aboard a vessel of Sweden.  To this he gave countenance by venting a
torrent of outlandish phrases, assuring me ’twas a mingle-mangle of sea
terms employed by the Muscovites and the Swedes; whereat I laughed very
heartily, and declared that he at least would have been at no loss among
the builders of Babel.  The matter being thus settled to our mutual
contentment, we tarried a few days in Antwerp until the time of our
vessel’s sailing, and then embarked together on an adventure whereof
neither of us foresaw the end.



                                 *III*


’Twas a fair bright day when we put into the harbour of Cadiz, and I set
foot in that comely town.  We took up our lodging in an inn (called
_venta_ in the Castilian tongue) built all of stone, as indeed are all
the buildings, whether large or small.  I spent a day in learning my way
about the town, or, as Stubbs worded it, taking my bearings, and could
not but admire its goodly cathedral and abbey, and its exceeding fine
college of the Jesuits.  The streets were for the most part so narrow,
none being commonly broader than Watling Street in London, as but two
men or three at the most together could in any reasonable sort march
through them, and I was somewhat astonied to see that the town was
altogether without glass, save only the churches.  Yet the windows were
fair and comely, having grates of iron to them, and large folding leaves
of wainscot or the like.

Having attained a reasonable knowledge of the place, I made my way on
the second day to the large flat-topped house (as are they all) which I
had learnt to be the mansion of Don Ygnacio de Acosta.  Before I left
Antwerp I had taken pains to seal up the Count de Sarney’s epistle (God
pardon my duplicity!), and this I presented to a servant of exceeding
magnificence at the door; the Spaniards call such majordomo: by whom I
was after a tedious waiting conducted to the presence of the Captain of
the Galleys.  The Spaniards, as all the world knows, have the name for
the nicest punctilio and courtliness, but I own that the Captain
received me none too graciously.  Indeed, his first words, after a
briefer greeting than was seemly, were a complaint of the Count’s delay
in dispatching the draft, the which had occasioned Don Ygnacio to take a
loan from a Jew of his town at a usurious rate of interest.  I made
humble excuses on my father’s behalf: you are to remember that I
personated Armand de Sarney: and it needed no wondrous shrewdness to
discern, by the manner of the Spaniard’s putting up the papers in his
cabinet, that he was of a right avaricious nature.  When he read the
postscriptum wherein the Count de Sarney warned him against a meddlesome
Englishman, he seemed to me to resemble a cock ruffling his feathers.
He poured scorn upon the Count’s fears and alarms, asking me whether
Cadiz was Calais or even Cartagena that it lay open to any English
adventurer.  I might have reminded him how Sir Francis Drake burnt the
King’s galleys in this very harbour, but I forbore; nor would he have
taken any profit of it, for the unquenchable pride and self-sufficiency
of the Spaniards after so many buffets and calamities is one of the
wonders of the age.

With great condescension Don Ygnacio offered me a lodging in his house
until such time as I should pursue my way to Seville, and I guessed that
his manner was nicely proportioned to the remote degree of his
relationship to my supposed father.  Moreover it bespoke no great relish
for the company of a mere student.  None the less I thanked him in terms
whose warmth would have befitted one that had done me unimaginable
honour, but declined his proffered hospitality, saying that even on my
travels I diligently pursued my studies, so that I was in no wise suited
to the thronging life of the world wherein so high a magnifico moved.
His countenance confirmed the justness of my surmise.  Then, summoning
my gravest look, I said—

"I devote the greater part of my time, señor, to the investigation of
the ills that affect the _Ramus stomachichus_, wherewith I have
perceived, even in the so little time I have sojourned in your town,
that many of its inhabitants are afflicted.  My father bade me inquire
very particularly after your health, the which by your last advice was
not all that could be wished. I fear that the _Ramus stomachichus_ is
the seat of your disorder, and I trust that the treatment of your
physician is meeting with the desired success."

I threw this out as a bait, and to my exceeding joy I saw that it was
swallowed as greedily as a gudgeon snaps up a worm.  Don Ygnacio was a
mountainous man, as Stubbs had told me on the voyage, with the girth but
not the hardness of an oak, his face like dough with two raisins for
eyes, his whole frame betokening a consuming love of the flesh-pots and
strong liquors.  During my speech, delivered with a measured gravity,
his face put on a look of great dolefulness, and broke out into a sweat.

"I cannot sleep," said he, in most dolorous accents.

"A certain sign," said I, nodding my head gravely.

"I dream of horrors," said he.

"Devils, and serpents, dark dens and caves, sepulchres, and dead
corpses," said I, quoting the words of Ambrose Parey, which I had
diligently conned on board ship, "all arising from the putrefaction and
inflammation of the _Ramus stomachichus_, together with the afflux of
noisome humours to the brain.  The diaphragm hath a close community with
that organ, by the nerves of the sixth conjugation which are carried in
the stomach."

"I reel in the street," said he, with lamentable groans, "and when I lay
my head on the pillow, I hear noises like the sound of many waters."

I shook my head solemnly, having at the moment no more of Ambrose
Parey’s sentences at my command.  Taking him delicately by the wrist, I
put my finger on his pulse, which in truth fluttered unsteadily.

"Show me your tongue," I said, and could barely avoid laughing at the
grimace he made when he displayed that monstrous organ.

Then, presuming on his manifest discomposure, I dealt him a lusty buffet
above the fifth rib, so that he catched at his breath, and at his outcry
I inquired solicitously whether he felt any pain.

"The pains of Gehenna," he said, groaning.

I was mute, bending on him a mournful look, whereat his excitation of
mind did but increase.

"I pray you, cousin, be open with me," he said.  "I will steel my heart
to bear it."

"Your case is not utterly hopeless," I replied with deliberation, having
first hemmed and hawed in the style approved of the faculty, "but it
demands careful treatment.  Methinks from the symptoms that it has
hitherto been treated somewhat negligently.  I will return to my lodging
and ponder upon it, consulting Fernelius, his _Pathologia_" (a work I
had seen named in the pages of Ambrose Parey).  "To-morrow, by your good
leave, I will see you again.  The true course is not to be lightly
determined, but I trust that my art has resources wherewith to counter
the worst symptoms of your distemper and perchance to work a cure."

"Do so, good cousin," he said.  "Come early, I pray you, and by St.
Iago, I shall know how to recompense you becomingly."

I took my leave, and when the door was between us, gave a loose to my
merriment, hastily composing my features when the majordomo approached
to conduct me to the street.

I returned to my inn, and buried my nose for some while in the folio;
then betook myself to an apothecary’s, where I purchased a quantity of
barley creams, poppy seeds, and seeds of lettuce, purslain, and sorrel,
commanding him to make a decoction of them and have it ready against I
came on the morrow.  This was a prescription of Ambrose Parey.  I bade
him also compound an admixture of the infusion of sundry simples,
exceeding nauseous, yet like to do no great hurt, to wit, valerian,
quassia, a trifling quantity of colocynthis (which grows very
plentifully in Spain), and _pix atra_, by the which you shall understand
common tar.  This also, a bolus of my own devising, I commanded the man
to have in readiness, and then found that I had a good relish for my
dinner.

[Illustration: I BETOOK MYSELF TO AN APOTHECARY’S]

Stubbs had already shown me where the king’s galleys lay; ’twas off the
east side of the town, betwixt the island and the mainland.  They were
four in number: these were the principal galleys, there being sixteen of
an inferior sort that rode nigh to the bulwark of _St. Philip_, at the
north-east extremity of the town.  A strong fortification of stone-work
ran from this bulwark towards the water-side, having its southern end
beside the king’s storehouse of provision and munition for his ships of
war.  Here, moreover, was the barrack in which certain of the
galley-slaves were cabined at night, for when the galleys lay idle the
greater number of the oarsmen was employed on shore in sundry laborious
exercises—repairing the fortifications and the like.  A little way
southward of this barrack was a rampire of earth built close against the
sea-wall, and furnished with three great pieces of ordnance. This kind
of bulwark is called in military parlance a _terrapleno_.  There was in
the inner harbour also a fleet of near forty merchant vessels, making
ready for the American voyage, and a goodly number of galleons and
galliasses for the intended invasion of Ireland.

I marvelled greatly at the bravado of my companion as we passed through
the marketplace, thronged with folk of all conditions—orange-sellers,
horse-dealers, chapmen and hucksters innumerable—and came near to the
barrack wherein he had spent many hours in anguish both of body and
mind.  He showed me the two portions of the building, and the window of
the very room where he had lain.  He showed me also a mighty fine galley
lying in a manner of dock near to the king’s storehouse, and on my
asking a wayfarer what the vessel did there, he told me ’twas the galley
of Don Ygnacio de Acosta being new furbished and fitted for sea. A great
way off I saw some of the slaves, with shaven polls, and naked save for
a strip of cloth about their loins, moving hither and thither about
their labour, under guard of soldiers armed with halberds and
arquebuses.  A hot fire of wrath raged within me when I thought that my
bosom friend perchance toiled among them, but I gave great heed so as
that I should not approach them too nearly, lest he might spy me and by
some gesture ruin the plan I had conceived for his salvation.

As we were returning to our inn from this inquisition, by way of the
market-place, I observed that many curious glances were cast upon us,
and being in some dubience how to account for this, I was at first ready
to fear that some suspicion was entertained of me and my purposes, or
else that some person had recognized my companion despite his shaggy
locks and beard.  But on a sudden the true explication smote upon my
slumbering wits, and I took myself to task for my heedlessness.  Stubbs
was attired in the common garb of sailor men, and I perceived that it
must indeed seem passing strange to the Spaniards, of all people the
stiffest on decorum and punctilio, to see a grave student of medicine in
familiar converse with a man so meanly habited.  No sooner did this
illumination flash upon my mind than I bid Stubbs leave me, giving him
at the same time money wherewith to buy him a Spanish gaberdine, which
would in some sort cloak his quality.  I went on to my inn alone,
pondering upon how prone men are, when devising machinations of great
poise and moment, to omit some small trifling matter, which lacking, all
their cunning is like to turn to futility.

Sallying forth of the inn about three of the clock, I went to my
apothecary’s, and took from him the vials containing the preparations he
had compounded for me, together with a small Turkey sponge and a new
medicine glass nicely graduated.  These I gave into the hands of Stubbs,
now clad in a capacious gaberdine that suited with his quality as my
henchman, and bade him follow me at a reasonable interval. At the door
of Don Ygnacio’s house I received them from him again, and being
admitted as before by the don’s gentleman-usher, I found my grandee
awaiting me in a quivering expectancy. His heavy countenance lightened
at sight of me, and he told me with plentiful groaning that he had not
shut an eye all the night through, but tossed wakeful and tormented upon
his bed. I felt of his pulse and scanned his furred and sickly tongue,
and then, mustering all my new-gotten lore, I discoursed very learnedly
for the space of five minutes upon the distempers of the _Ramus
stomachichus_, ending my allocution somewhat as follows—

"Having now full assurance, señor, as well by the observation of my
senses as also by your own description, that this is in good sooth the
distemper whereof you suffer, I must tell you in all sobriety that ’tis
high time ’twere taken in hand ere it grow beyond remedy.  My counsel is
that you instantly command the attendance of a skilful surgeon."

"Ods my soul!" he cried (for so I render his words in our homely
English), "I have employed surgeons without number, and they bleed me,
both of blood and money.  Do you undertake me, good cousin; but do not
let my blood, I pray you, for I am not a whit better for all the gallons
they have drawn from my exhausted veins."

I affected to shrink from the conduct of so serious a case, on the score
of my youth and pupillary condition, and of the high nobility of his
captainship; but the more backward I showed myself, so much the more
instancy did he employ; in brief, he would take no denial. Whereupon I
insisted that he must follow my directions without reck or hesitation,
the which he avowed himself ready to do in all points. Accordingly I
stripped the wrappings from my vials, and poured from the larger of them
into the medicine glass, with the nicest measurement, a good dram of the
villainous admixture, and called for water to allay it, and this I added
with deliberate care, he keeping a wary watch on all my movements.  I
then bade him drink it at a draught, the which he did, afterwards
spluttering and wrying his countenance to such a picture of abhorrence
as came nigh to overset my studied gravity.

"Ay de mi! ay de mi!" he groaned; "’tis a very vile draught, cousin, a
very villainous concoction.  Must I discomfit my inwards with the whole
bottle?"

"Thrice a day, señor, you must take your dose," I said.

"Permit me at least to qualify the savour of it: it is so exceeding
nasty and rough upon the tongue," he said pleadingly.

"One sole glass of sherris," said I, with a great show of reluctancy;
"no more, or the merits of this most potent medicine will be utterly
quelled."

He drank the wine with great relish, eyeing the decanter very wistfully
as I set it out of his reach.  Then calling for a basin, I poured into
it a little of the contents of my second vial, and dipping the sponge
into the liquid, I delicately anointed his sweating brows, telling him
’twas a sure begetter of sleep tranquil as a child’s.

"Your hand is rather that of a swordsman than of a physician, cousin,"
he said, thereby giving me a wrench in my soul, lest he began to suspect
me.  But he proceeded: "Yet it is delicate in its touch as a woman’s;
you give me great comfort, cousin."

I continued to bathe his temples until I had wrought him to a fair
placidity; then admonishing him to be punctual in taking his doses of
the former admixture, I left him, promising to visit him again on the
morrow.

My next concern was to certify myself that Raoul was still among the
galley-slaves, and whether he was of those that remained aboard or of
those that were employed ashore.  To this end I dispatched Stubbs to the
sea-wall in the afternoon, a little before the time when, as he had told
me, the day’s work was wont to end, there to keep a watch.  He returned
soon after sunset, and told me that he had seen his whilom comrade among
those that were marched into the barracks.  I inquired eagerly how he
looked, and my heart was very bitter when he replied that my friend was
worn to a shadow, with lamentable sunken cheeks and haggard eyes.
Nevertheless I rejoiced that he was yet alive, and comforted with this
assurance I bent my mind to the working out of the plan I had devised
for his deliverance.

On the morrow I went somewhat earlier to see my patient, whom I found
wondrously gracious, for that he had slept a good four hours without
waking.  Indeed, he believed himself to be already cured, and I had much
ado to persuade him to take his dose.  I showed him that his distemper
being of long standing, it was sheer madness to suppose that it could be
wholly banished in so short a space of time, and proceeded to expound
the necessity of continuing not only in the course he had begun, but
also in a subsidiary treatment which I would forthwith explain.

Don Ygnacio, as I have said, was of enormous bulk, and the ills from
which he suffered, when they were not merely figments of a disordered
imagination, proceeded from too instant a devotion to meat and drink and
an over-softness of living.  In a word, his greatest need was temperance
in these things, together with a more frequent use of his muscles.
Accordingly I made him strip to his shirt and stand in his stocking feet
in the middle of the room, and then put him through such simple
exercises as the Dutch captains use with the common soldiers—extensions
of the arms, bending of the trunk, and so forth.  It was matter for
merriment to see the great hulks, at my urging, make desperate endeavour
to touch his toes, and come not within half a yard of accomplishing it.
I kept him at these motions, paying no heed to his protestations, for a
good half-hour, by the which time I had wrought him to a fine heat and
perspiration, so that when finally I permitted him to sink back upon the
cushions of his divan he was more wholesomely tired, I warrant, then he
had been ever in his life before.  While he sat and fanned himself, and
quaffed slowly the cup of sherris I allowed for his refreshment, I made
him a neat discourse for which I was beholden not to Master Ambrose
Parey, but to my own wit.  ’Twas sound sense as well as a furtherance of
my device.

"You must know, señor," I said, "that this distemper of yours never
assails men of spare frames and active bodies.  The husbandman, the
mariner, the poor scavenger of the street never suffer in this wise, nor
is their _Ramus stomachichus_ ever in peril of dissolution.  In truth,
their bodily exercise does but strengthen the nerves in all their
conjugations, so that their inward parts perform their offices to
perfection, and furthermore furnish to them in some sort an armour
against the assaults of disease.  For a speaking ensample you have the
slaves of your galleys, those reprobates whom you have in your august
charge.  Did ever you know one of them to suffer from any derangement of
the _Ramus stomachichus_?"

Since I conjectured Don Ygnacio’s knowledge of the anatomy of man to be
less than my own, and that was infinitely little, I got the answer that
I expected, with the addition that if any galley-slave should have the
impudency to suffer from a gentleman’s complaint, he would certainly be
cured by the bastinado.

"Now therefore," I continued, here drawing largely upon my invention,
for a purpose, as you are to see—"now therefore, it is one of the
miracles of our nature that a man beset by this dreadful distemper,
being set in juxtaposition with a man of exceeding spareness, but
otherwise sound in his members and organs, the infirmity of the one is
in a manner fortified by the wholeness of the other, or as Spegelius
hath it in his renowned tractate, the debility of the one is engraffed
and mingled with the virtue of the other.  The trial of this remedy is
attended with sundry notable perils and incommodities, wherefore it is
not to be lightly undertaken, and I leave it for this present until we
have made a proper experimentum of the more vulgar means."

The captain heard this with great attention, and made me many
compliments on the profundity of my learning, though he might have read
Spegelius his tractate from cover to cover without finding the passage
that I gave forth with so great unction.  Leaving the precious seed to
germinate, I betook myself away in high contentment, though not without
a qualm and tremor at the lengths whereto my audacity was carrying me.

Having sought my faithful attendant, I dispatched him to make sundry
purchases at the armourers of the town, a knife at one, a dagger at
another, small weapons in goodly number, but not more than one weapon at
any one shop, lest suspicion or curiosity should be excited. These
weapons, when he brought them to the inn, I bade him enfold them in
strips of cloth I held in readiness, and wrap them in two several
parcels.  While this was adoing, I took my way to the sea-wall, noting
very particularly the positions of the four galleys, the extent of water
betwixt them and the shore, the manner in which the shore curved to a
point, and all other information that was necessary to the execution of
my plan.  As I walked hither and thither, I was observed by a captain of
soldiers that chanced, as it seemed, to be taking the air by the
sea-wall, and who accosted me, asking me with a kind of truculency what
I did there.

"Noble excellency," I replied, "I am but a poor student of medicine of
the French nation, making a brief sojourn in this your town."

"A Frenchman, and I warrant me a spy!" he cried, and hailing a soldier
from the guard-house near by, he assured me that I should soon company
with rats and beetles in the castle dungeon.

"Beseech you, señor," I said, "my illustrious cousin Don Ygnacio de
Acosta, captain of the royal galleys, will have somewhat to say to that.
Come with me straightway to his house, and we shall learn if such
immodesty of language pleasures him."

My bold and assured mien daunted this strutting fellow, and he began
incontinently to make excuse how that he wot not of my condition, and
craved my pardon for the unmannerliness whereinto he had been betrayed.
I took him very coldly, and set forth to return to my inn. This is a
slight matter, unworthy of mention but for that which ensued.

That same evening, a little before the hour when the slaves were wont to
be immured in their barrack, I came to the door of Don Ygnacio’s house
and inquired of the majordomo how the worshipful captain did.

"Desperately sick, señor," he replied.  "He has but now commanded me to
summon hither Don Diaz de Rotta, physician to the constable of the
castle."

"Is the messenger gone forth?" I demanded, in no little perturbation,
for the presence of a true physician was like not only to undo all my
stratagems, but also to stand me in a pretty hobble.  Hearing that the
lackey was even then donning his outdoor livery (for among the Spaniards
punctilio rules over high and low alike), I bade him stay the man until
I should have seen his excellency.

When I entered to him I was amazed beyond measure to see his pitiful
condition.  He lay back on his divan, uttering most dismal groans, his
countenance of a deathly pallor, and his eyes astare as with the very
fear of death.  He thrust out a feeble arm when he saw me, and cried in
a faint voice—

"Out of my sight, rapscallion!  You have killed me with your vile
nostrums."

[Illustration: "OUT OF MY SIGHT, RAPSCALLION!"]

My terror and amazement were little less than his own, for I knew my
drugs to be harmless, albeit nauseous, and I could not come at any
reasonable explanation of his distemperature.

I inquired of the majordomo, who had followed me into the room, the time
when this alteration had manifested itself, and his answer removed all
my apprehensions that Don Ygnacio was in imminent peril of dissolution.
He had eaten a very hearty dinner soon after I left him, and fallen
asleep, but was awakened by a violent commotion in his inward parts, and
had been, to put it in plain English, as sick as a dog.  It was told me
afterwards by my good friend and physician Sir Miles Ruddall that my
drugs themselves would not have wrought so mightily upon him but for the
unwonted exercise whereto he had been enforced, and his monstrous
gluttony thereafter.  Having a shrewd suspicion that this was all that
ailed him, I made him drink a cup of sherris mingled with cognac, and
spoke soothingly to him, resolving with a stubborn hardness of heart to
turn his incapacity to my own purposes. I upbraided him, mildly, yet
with earnestness, for that his imprudence had well-nigh undone all my
cure, and avouched that it was high time to attempt the experimentum I
had formerly suggested.

"I am very sure," said I, "that there will be found among your
galley-slaves a man of the right degree of leanness to accommodate your
excellency, and I will instantly command your coach to attend you, so
that we may go down to their place and make trial of this sovereign
remedy without delay."

The strong liquors had already revived him, and his face was recovering
its proper ruddiness. Likewise his spirit took on its natural hue, the
proof whereof was his exceeding fierce outcry.

"Ods my valiancy!" he cried, "shall I join skins with a rascal, I,
hidalgo of Spain?  Never will I permit such scum to approach my person."

"Truly, señor," said I, "it is impossible to conceive a gentleman of
your exalted rank coming within a span’s-length of a mean rascal, but I
opine that there are among the slaves some of reputable condition,
perchance some English prisoners, or Flemings, only they are in general
of a brawny lustiness that suiteth not with the experimentum."

"Why, so there is, now you put me in mind of it," he said with a
brightened eye.  "There is a Frenchman, a notorious reprobate, but that
is nothing against his rank, which is but little less than my own.  And
for leanness a rake could hardly match him; his leanness is not far
short of transparency."

"That is right good hap," said I, raging inwardly that he should speak
thus of my friend, for I made no doubt it was he.  After fortifying him
with more wine, I linked my arm with his, and took him slowly to his
coach, and when we had mounted into it, gave the word to the driver to
convey us to the barrack.  We halted for a brief space at the inn, and I
brought out my henchman, carrying the two parcels which, as I told Don
Ygnacio, held things needful for our trial.  I bade Stubbs perch himself
beside the driver, and we went on.

We had to pass on our way the small dock wherein the captain’s galley
lay, and here I let fall a word of admiration of the fine lines of the
vessel, asking very innocently whether it were one of the royal galleys
of his charge.

"It is my own vessel," he said with much complacency, and then nothing
would content him but I must instantly go with him and see the vessel
more closely.  It was plain he held it in high esteem, and since I had a
reason of my own for desiring a nearer acquaintance with it, I yielded
to his wish in the manner of one humouring a sick person.  He was by
this time, in truth, so nearly returned to his wonted state that I began
to fear lest he should declare the experiment of transfusion
unnecessary.  I accompanied him aboard the vessel, where he showed me
the place for the crew, and those for the rowers and the soldiers, and
his own place, very richly caparisoned; also the piles of arms and some
barrels of gunpowder.  Having admired the galley and all its
appurtenances with great fluency of utterance, I entreated him to
proceed to the barrack, advising him that the day was already far spent,
and it were best to accomplish our purpose before the chill of night
descended on us.  And so we came to the barrack.



                                  *IV*


Notwithstanding, or maybe by reason of, the marvellous good hap that had
attended all my devices up to this present time, I was aware of a
flutter of disquietude about my heart as I followed Don Ygnacio into the
building.  What I purposed doing must needs be done very quickly, and
one untoward accident might very well prick the bladder of my imposture
and wreathe a noose about my neck.  I had laid my plans as warily as I
might, and now all stood upon my composure, the degree of
brazen-facedness I could muster, and the degree to which the Spaniard
could be gulled.

We came first, having entered the passage, to the guard-room, where some
dozen soldiers were assembled, casting the dice and taking their ease.
The door of a room adjacent to it stood open, and there my eyes lit upon
the captain that had accosted me by the sea-wall, who, when he beheld
me, rose up from his seat with trepidation, believing without doubt that
I had brought his general to punish him.  I paid not the least heed to
him, and he made haste at Don Ygnacio’s bidding to go to the hall
beyond, where the galley-slaves were confined, and bring forth the
Frenchman.

When he was gone I asked Don Ygnacio whether there were not some private
room where we might do our business, since it was not seemly that we
should be at the gaze of so many goggling eyes while the experimentum
was a-doing.  He led me to a small ante-chamber some few steps along the
passage towards the hall, Stubbs remaining with his parcels at the door
of the guard-room, perfectly at ease, though he stood within
arm’s-length of the men that had formerly oppressed him.  Presently I
heard a clanking of chains, and the captain returned, bringing with him
a lean and lanky scarecrow of a man, naked save for his loin-cloth, his
poll and face being shaven clean.  It smote me to the heart to see in
his hollow eyes and sunken cheeks the altered lineaments of my dear
friend, erstwhile comely and jocund as any you would see.  He lifted his
eyes as he came in, and regarded Don Ygnacio with a look of gall, not
turning his gaze upon me.

"A sorry knave," said the Spaniard to me. "Think you, cousin, there is
enough virtue in him for our business?"

"We can but try, excellency," I said, and at the words Raoul shivered
and looked at me with such amazement that I feared lest an unlucky word
should betray me.  I dealt upon him a sudden and meaning frown, the
which escaped the observation of the others, they having eyes for the
slave alone.  To my exceeding joy he had the wit to take me, and cast
down his eyes in the manner of one that hath no more hold upon the
world.  Then I turned to Don Ygnacio and said:

"He hath a wild look, señor.  It were meet that we have two soldiers
here with us, so that we may make our trial in comfort and security."

"Certes," he replied, "we have already Captain Badillo; we will have a
man from the guard-room."

"By your pardon, señor," I said, "the señor captain did me the honour to
affront me a while ago, and his presence at this time will so trouble
the conjugations of the nerves, the which needs must be in perfect
tranquillity, as to imperil the good success of our undertaking."

"It was a lamentable error, excellency," stammered the captain.  "I wot
not that the worthy physician was akin to your excellency."

"Go, sirrah," said Don Ygnacio sternly.  "Who affronts my kin affronts
me.  Send hither two men from the guard-room."

I was never better pleased in my life than when the captain departed,
for the two common ignorant soldiers would be much less like to suspect
me.  Thereupon I called to Stubbs to bring in the parcels, and when he
came, a little behind the soldiers, I shut the door, bade him undo one
of his bundles, and said gravely that all would soon be ready for the
experimentum.

Stubbs loosed the ropes and laid them, in the manner of a careful
servant, beside the bundle. From this when it was unrolled he took first
three strips of a dark cloth, about an ell long, which he laid over his
arm.  Then he brought forth a small roll of white canvas and gave it to
me.  I motioned him to withdraw to a little distance, as also the
soldiers; then I made Raoul stand a few paces from Don Ygnacio, facing
him.  Posting myself betwixt the two, I drew from my pocket a small box
of powder of chalk, and unrolled the canvas, yet so that the Spaniard
might not see its inner side, and with solemn circumstance I dusted it
with the powder.  This done, I stretched it out between my arms, and
making two strides towards Raoul I bade him look intently thereupon
while I counted ten.  I heard Don Ygnacio breathing hard behind me as I
gravely told the numbers one by one, and when Raoul informed me with his
eyes that he had read the words I had carefully imprinted on the canvas
(they were: "Grip the Spaniard by the neck whenas I give the sign") I
rolled up the canvas and stepped slowly backward, beckoning with the one
hand Don Ygnacio, with the other Stubbs and the soldiers, to draw near.

You are now to observe that Raoul and Don Ygnacio were within a
hand-breadth of each other, that one of the soldiers was close to me,
and the second beside Stubbs.  All was silent. On a sudden I let forth,
very sharply but without raising my voice, the one word "Now!"
Instantly Raoul was at Don Ygnacio’s throat; I closed with my soldier
and held him in a strangling embrace; and Stubbs, with the neatness of a
skilled hand, dealt his man a blow that stretched him senseless on the
floor.  Quick as thought he handed to us two of the cloths that he had
upon his arm, and we clapped them into the mouths of our prisoners, he
doing the like with the third.  So sudden were our motions that there
had been not the least opportunity of resisting us, and though Don
Ygnacio offered to cry out before the gag was comfortably settled
between his teeth, Raoul bade him in a fierce whisper be silent or his
life was forfeit.  It was short work to truss them with the ropes,
thanks to Stubbs his deftness, and I knew with infinite gladness of
heart that the first part of my device was accomplished.

[Illustration: INSTANTLY RAOUL WAS AT DON YGNACIO’S THROAT]

There was still much to do, and our peril was but beginning.  In two
words I acquainted Raoul with my plan.  I asked him how many soldiers
were on guard among the galley-slaves; he told me four, and every one
had a key to the padlocks wherewith they were fettered to the wall.  My
design was to set free the slaves, seize upon the Captain-General’s
galley, the which he had so obligingly shown me, and put to sea.  It was
necessary to our success that the soldiers in the guard-room should be
silenced, and also the Captain Badillo, if he was yet at hand; but since
we could not hope, being but three, to overcome a dozen men, we must
perforce first set free the slaves, by whose assistance the feat might
be easily compassed. Moreover, there was great need for haste, Stubbs
having told me that it was drawing near the time when the cookmen were
wont to bring in the slaves’ supper from the outhouses.

I opened the door stealthily, and peered along the passage to the
guard-room.  There was none in sight, but neither was there so much
noise proceeding from the room as I should have liked. Nevertheless,
since our case was desperate and would not abide long rumination, we
durst not stay for the nice weighing of chances, but had to act at once.
I had had the soldiers brought into the room for a purpose, namely, that
we might dress ourselves in their garments and so gain some covert for
our device.  I bade Stubbs strip the two soldiers of their gaberdines,
and these we donned, he and I, and then proceeded with all quietness
along the passage to the slaves’ hall, Raoul being carried betwixt us,
so that the clanking of his chains might not draw the soldiers forth of
the guard-room.

Coming to the door of the hall we set Raoul down, and thrust him before
us into the room, entering close behind him.  I saw in a quick glance
the miserable slaves lying in a long row by the wall, and four soldiers
conversing in a group about the middle of the room.  The dusk of evening
forbade them to perceive at once that the two supposed soldiers that had
entered were not their comrades, and when at our approach they were
certified thereof they had not the time to collect their wits, for
Stubbs, by a little the foremost, smote one of them a dint that sent him
headlong against the wall, and then immediately grappled with another.
Meanwhile Raoul and I had not been idle, each dealing with his man, and
in a few moments we had all four at our feet, begging for mercy.

This had not passed without some noise, but having been careful to shut
the stout oaken door behind me I had a reasonable hope that the sound
would not have penetrated to the guard-room. The clamour that might have
been feared from the slaves did not arise, so great was their
consternation.  I asked Raoul to acquaint them with our design, whiles
that with Stubbs’ aid I stripped the soldiers of their outer garments
and their arms, and trussed and gagged them as we had done afore with
the others.

Raoul told the men that all who could muster their courage had a good
chance of escape, but they must in all points obey me, a countryman of
the great Dragon (so Sir Francis Drake was commonly known among them),
who had come to their succour, and had already made a prisoner of Don
Ygnacio.  He promised them hard work, and maybe their fill of fighting,
and adjured every man that had no stomach for it to remain in his
fetters rather than irk the rest.  Then we went swiftly from one to
another, unlocking their chains with the keys we had taken from the
soldiers.  Never a man of them elected to remain, and though Raoul was
for leaving certain of them that he knew to be poor-spirited, I deemed
it best to release them all, lest those that were left should raise an
uproar and so bring us into danger.

We arrayed four of the stoutest of them in the garments we had taken
from the soldiers, covering their shaven heads with the morions that
hung on pegs to the wall.  Then with these four and four others, Raoul
remaining in the hall, we ran swiftly down the passage to the
guard-room, burst open the door, and by the vehemency of our onset
overthrew the soldiers there in marvellous brief time.  Stubbs and
myself we set to a-trussing the fellows, but the slaves contemned such
delicate work, and gave quietus to their whilom oppressors with such
weapons as came first to hand.

While we were in the midst of this hurly-burly, on a sudden lifting of
my eyes I saw Captain Badillo standing in the door betwixt the
guard-room and his own apartment, and gazing at us in the manner of one
bereft of his wits.  I left trussing my fellow and sprang towards the
captain, whom I caught by the scruff of his neck, and, showing him my
dagger, bade him hold his peace on peril of his life.  At that same
conjuncture some one cried that the cookmen were crossing the outer
court, bearing hugeous baskets of biscuit and great two-handed caldrons
of meagre broth, as they were wont to do at this time.  Extremity, I
must believe, sharpens a man’s wits, for in the twinkling of an eye I
thrust the captain into the passage and towards the outer door, straitly
charging him to bid the men carry their burdens to the Captain-General’s
galley, since he had taken a sudden purpose to go a cruise.  I had
Spanish enough, to be sure, to give the command myself, but I knew it
would come with authority from Captain Badillo, whereas from me, a
stranger, it might be slighted.  My naked dagger was sufficient
enforcement of my bidding, and in a trice I saw with satisfaction the
cookmen change their course and stagger with their loads to the
quayside.  By this means I obtained for the slaves a modest dole of
food, whereof I doubted not they stood in need.

[Illustration: SHOWING HIM MY DAGGER, I BADE HIM HOLD HIS PEACE]

Hasting back to the slaves’ hall, I found that Raoul had ranged them all
in readiness for departure.  I had bidden Stubbs see to it that the
slaves in the guard-room should don as much as they could of the
soldiers’ garments and cover their bald pates with their morions, and
bring also the weapons from his bundles, and then, myself going at the
head, holding Captain Badillo by the sleeve, we marched out and made our
way as swiftly as we might without sign of hurry to where the galley
awaited us.  There was a sentry at the gate of the munition-house some
two-score paces distant, but the dusk in some sort enshrouded us, and
certain it is we came to the galley without molestation or so much as a
cry.

But there a peril that I had not foreseen lay in wait for us.  The
cookmen, having bestowed their burdens aboard, stood carelessly on the
quay to witness our embarkation.  A dozen of the slaves had shipped
themselves before these men were aware of aught amiss; but then one
spied the villainous countenance of a notorious desperado beneath a
soldier’s morion, and communicating his discovery to his fellows, they
with one consent took to their heels and fled towards their quarters
with hue and cry.  Sundry of them were felled by the slaves whom they
encountered, but the rest got themselves clear away, and it was plain
that ere long the alarm would be sounded in every part of the town.  I
cast Captain Badillo into the galley, and urged the rest of the men to
quicken their speed, and they came helter-skelter, falling one over
another in their haste.

Now it seemed that all were aboard, but I had not observed Stubbs among
them, and began to fear lest he had been intercepted.  But I then
perceived him, and three of the galley-slaves, staggering towards me
with a heavy burden which as they drew near I discerned to be none other
than the mountainous bulk of Don Ygnacio de Acosta.  I cried to them to
hasten their steps, the which they did, and arriving at the quayside
they let their load fall with no more tenderness than if it had been a
bale of merchandise, and the Captain-General fell with a monstrous
thwack upon the galley’s deck.

At Raoul’s bidding the men had already gotten out the sweeps.  But at
this the eleventh hour I observed a pile of sails lying over against the
sea-wall, and I commanded Stubbs and those with him to bring them to the
galley.  The men who were aboard, in their haste to depart, had slipped
the moorings, and could hardly be restrained from pushing off without
us.  I heard Raoul upbraid them with great vehemency, and ask them how
they supposed they could escape with oars alone, whereupon they left
their striving and gave us time to tumble the sails in among them.  Then
the rest of us leapt aboard, I last of all, and the slaves, thrusting
their oars with desperate violence against the quay-wall, drove the
rocking vessel out into the basin.

It was high time, for already there was stir and hubbub not a great way
from the quay, and at the very moment when we sheered off a shot was
fired, I doubt not by the sentry at the munition-house.  Through the
gathering dusk I saw a concourse of folk swarm upon the sea-wall and the
quay, there being not a few soldiers among them.  But all things had
been done so suddenly as that none but the sentry had had time to kindle
his match, and the galley was come forth out of the dock ere they
arrived at the quay. Shouting and cursing they ran hither and thither,
in a perfect medley and confusion, there being as yet none to direct
them what they should do.  I could not forbear making them a most
courteous salutation with my hat, though I fear the darkness and their
fury forbade them to mark the exceeding grace of it.

Turning to observe how things were ordered, I perceived that Raoul,
whose knowledge of the harbour was the fruit of long and bitter travail,
had established himself at the helm.  I descended to the lower deck,
where Stubbs had put himself over the oarsmen, who were set in their due
ranks, and tugged at the sweeps with a vigour wherewith they had never
laboured before, I warrant you.  In sooth, Stubbs was constrained to bid
them moderate their ardour, inasmuch as there lay a reef of rocks on the
starboard side, and it would go hard with us if we by any ill-hap ran
upon them.  But the resolute and assured look upon their faces,
villainous and forbidding as the most part were, confirmed me in my
belief that, barring any untoward accident, we should in no long time be
beyond reach of pursuers.

The harbour of Cadiz, you are to understand, hath a northward trend to
the mouth of the river Guadaloto, whence the coast of the mainland runs
north-westerly until we come to the mouth of the Guadalquivir.  Four
galleys, as I have said, were at anchor nigh the munition-house, and at
the bulwark of Saint Philip at the north-east extremity of the island
lay other sixteen.  The first four we had already passed, but we must
run the gauntlet of the sixteen, the which when we should have done we
had nought to fear save perchance from the ordnance established on the
coast of the bay of Caleta.  I knew right well that notwithstanding the
clamour that filled the town, where alarm bells were dinning amain, some
time must needs be consumed before the occasion of the pother was
thoroughly known, and the galleys could be put in fair trim to pursue
us. So indeed the event answered to my expectation, for we came pretty
near to the mouth of the harbour without anything whatsoever happening
to mar our security.

It was now dark, yet not so black but that we could see our course, and
besides there were the lights of the town to serve our helmsman as guide
posts.  That the town was mightily astir was demonstrated by a shot that
was belched out upon us by one of the great pieces mounted on the
bulwark of Saint Philip.  But it did us no harm, unless some slight
defacement of our figurehead that I observed next day was the work of
this shot.  Taking warning, Raoul steered the vessel hard over against
the mainland, though I deplored the loss of time we suffered thereby.
Indeed, but for this circuit which we made, and which, being a prudent
measure, I could not gainsay, verily I believe we should have run out
into the open sea without any let or hindrance whatsoever.  But it
happed that as we again bore westward, I perceived the black shape of a
galley move from its anchorage in our wake, and presently after other of
the same sort.  This gave me no manner of apprehension, for we were
fully manned, and our men, rowing for their very lives, were not like to
be outdone by the hapless slaves in our pursuers, even though they were
urged by the whip.

We were in another case when, as we came abreast of the point at the
northern extremity of the bay of Caleta, a galley shot forth by the
skirts of the rocks and made great speed to sea, not directly towards
us, but taking a slantwise course with intent to head us off, as seamen
say. It was a hard matter in the darkness to make a nice reckoning, yet
I thought we should outstrip even this the most threatening of our
pursuers. Being ware of a steady fair breeze off the land, I deemed it
mere foolishness to neglect it; accordingly I bade Stubbs choose some
few men among the oarsmen that were mariners, and send them on deck to
bend the sails.  This proceeding caused us to lose way somewhat, the
sails having been cast aboard without any care, and so needing time to
order them rightly.  And when I saw that the captain of the galley in
chase of us had foregone me, and being now come into the wind had
already gotten his sails ahoist, I was not a little dismayed.
Bethinking me of Don Ygnacio and Captain Badillo, hitherto mere idle
passengers and burdensome, I resolved to put them to the oars, not
without a secret relish in the thought that they would now taste of the
toil they had heretofore inflicted upon the slaves. With my own hands
therefore I cast Don Ygnacio loose, and bundled both him and the lesser
captain to the lower part of the vessel, giving them into the charge of
my good Stubbs, with a strait injunction that he should urge them to a
decent industry.  I did not see with my own eyes how they accommodated
themselves to their task, because I returned to the deck to look to the
sails and also to keep a watch on the enemy. But Stubbs told me
afterwards that he plied the whip right merrily on the backs of those
two proud Spaniards, and so wrought them to a just activity, to the
great delectation of the galley-slaves, who themselves rowed with the
more cheerfulness, beholding their tormentors dealt with after the
manner they delighted in.

[Illustration: HE PLIED THE WHIP RIGHT MERRILY]

When our sails took the wind, the speed of the galley sensibly
increased, but it was not long before I was troubled to see that our
pursuer was gaining on us.  She had far outstripped her consorts, the
which indeed were no longer visible, and might be left out of the
reckoning.  The darkness was waxing deeper, and I could scarce have seen
our resolute pursuer had we not come opposite to the extreme westward
point of the island, where, before the friary of Saint Sebastian, a
great fire had been kindled, without doubt of set purpose to enfurther
the chase.  It was the customary place where beacon fires were made, to
give warning of danger on the side of the sea. The ruddy glare, shining
forth over the water, showed me that the galley was no more than two
furlongs astern.  We made all the speed we might, but I could not but
perceive that the pursuer crept ever nearer, and I began to be exceeding
apprehensive.  Her oarsmen, having rowed not above a quarter of the
distance we had come, must needs be fresh by comparison with my own men,
who had been straining at the oar without remission for close upon an
hour.  Furthermore, she would certainly have soldiers aboard her, maybe
to the number of fifty or more, and we had no sufficiency of arms
wherewith to oppose them.

We had come beyond the cast of the beacon fire, into a vast impenetrable
blackness.  Pacing the deck in sore travail of spirit, and setting my
wits on the rack if haply I might devise some stratagem that should
profit us, on a sudden I spied by the fore hatch a large vessel of iron
shaped like a round bucket, and pierced with holes, which I knew was
designed to hold fire, whether for cooking or for illumination.  I stood
for a while chewing upon a device which the sight of this vessel had set
a-working in my mind, and then hied me to Raoul to make him partner of
the merry conceit I had fashioned. He heard it joyfully, and I went
without delay to put it in practice.

I gathered together some shreds of canvas and rope ends and stuffed them
lightly into the vessel, mixing them plentifully with grease that was
employed about the rowlocks, and liquid tar out of pots left in the
galley by the men that had been caulking her.  Then I thrust two short
pikes through the topmost holes of the vessel opposite one to the other,
as it were at the cardinal points of the circumference, and stopped the
others as well as I could.  This done I strewed upon the top a handful
of gunpowder, and set in the midst a length of slow match that might be
two or three minutes in burning.  Having kindled the match at its utmost
end, I let down the vessel over the stern into the water, and with great
satisfaction watched it float in our wake until nought was visible in
the darkness save the red glow of the match.  Then I ran below and bade
Stubbs put the rowers to a very frenzy of labour, so that we might draw
as far as we could from the pursuer while that their strength endured.

Returning to the deck I beheld my beacon burst into a bright flare; and
the pursuer coming upon it, I saw the galley with great clearness, and
sparkling reflections from the morions and harness of the soldiers that
were aboard.  I knew that so long as the light endured our own galley
must be wholly hid from their eyes, and besides, they would be perplexed
to know the meaning of the light, and might even suppose it to betoken a
floating mine whereof they must be ware. Without doubt it would delay
them somewhat, and give me the few minutes I needed for the full
accomplishment of my design.

As soon as I saw the galley come within the circle of light I gave the
word to Raoul, who put up the helm, so that our vessel swung round in a
wide circuit until she was a cable length of her former course.  I had
already commanded the slaves to cease from rowing, lest the sound of
their oars should acquaint the enemy with our movement.  As we came
round I saw the galley draw out from the radiance, and heard the voices
of the men upon her.  She sped directly forward, following the course
her captain supposed us to have taken.

When she was almost abreast of us, and scarce three fathom length away,
I bade the rowers pull with all their might, and Raoul steered straight
for the galley.  The rattle of the oars must have apprised the enemy
that we were nearer than they supposed, but they were not thoroughly
aware of us until we were upon them.  Then, as they spied our vessel
looming big out of the darkness, there was a great outcry among them,
and it appeared that divers commands were given, for one moment she
seemed to be swinging round to oppose the imminent shock, the next she
held on her course as if endeavouring to evade us.  By her greater speed
she might without difficulty have drawn clear, but in bearing up she
lost way, and so enabled us to diminish the gap between her and our
galley.

Under the sturdy strokes of our oarsmen the galley in a manner leapt
towards her.  We were greeted with a pretty hot salvo from her
musketeers, but there were no more than two or three of us upon the
deck, and we were flat on our faces, all save Raoul, so that what with
the sway and toss of the vessels and the flurried aim they took, we
suffered no hurt.  While the smoke still hung in the air there was a
mighty crash: the bow of our galley had cut the other a little abaft of
the mainmast.  Being fashioned for this very device of ramming, our beak
had, I doubted not, stove a hole in her side, whereas I could not
suppose that we had been endamaged, though the vessel quivered from stem
to stern.

Immediately after we struck I commanded the oarsmen to back water, by
which means, and the cunning handling of the helm, we withdrew a space.
From the enemy’s galley came loud shouts of fear and consternation, and
I heard some say that she was sinking.  It troubled me that, to save our
own skins, we had perforce imperilled the lives of three-score hapless
slaves that had done us no wrong, but were indeed in a like case with
our own men; but the breeze brought with it the rattle of the oars of
the galleys that had first set off to pursue us, and I could very well
leave the men of the foundering vessel to be rescued by their fellows.
Our need was to draw clear away as swiftly as we might. Accordingly I
commanded our men again to ply their oars, and this they did the more
willingly, despite their fatigue, because they exulted in the crippling
of their adversaries.

We were now come into the open sea.  Our men pulled with measured
strokes for a full half-hour before I deemed it prudent to suffer any
intermission.  Then I bade them lie upon their oars while I hearkened
for sounds of our pursuers.  There was not so much as a whisper. I could
not but believe that the commanders of the galleys had given over the
attempt to come up with us.  Yet, as I took counsel with Raoul, I durst
not rest thoroughly assured that all danger was past, nor all need for
labour and watchfulness vanished.  The galleons in the harbour would
surely make sail as soon as they could be put in trim, and scour the sea
for leagues around.  Furthermore, we might fall in with some vessel
homeward bound, or perchance outward bound from Lisbon to the Americas.
It behoved us then to be very wary, and, as our proverb says, not to
holla until we were out of the wood.

Our men, having fasted since the morning and toiled very hard, were in
dire need of food, and I hazarded to rest for so long as they might take
their fill of the broth and biscuit which the cookmen had brought
aboard, bidding them spare enough for another meal.  We should not be
utterly safe until we made a French port, Bordeaux being the most
likely, and we were distant thence, at the very least reckoning, upwards
of three hundred leagues.  Within a single day we must needs be in dire
straits for food, but I had conceived a plan for supplying ourselves so
soon as we were free from the immediate fear of pursuit.

When we had all eaten and drunk very heartily, though in good sooth the
fare was of the poorest, we sped on again, the men taking turns to row,
and so continued all that night.  We directed our course at a venture,
but at break of day we saw with thankfulness that we were not a great
way from the shore.  There was no safety for us but in boldness;
accordingly Raoul steered directly for the land, that was very barren
hereabout, and we put into a small bay, and ran the vessel abeach,
purposing to lie up there and take our rest.  I parted the whole company
into watches, and we slept by turns, the men of each watch being
straitly charged not to stray from the low beach to higher ground.
While we stayed in that place I saw several galleys and one great
galleon cruising in the offing, which I guessed to be hunting for us;
but we were very well hid, and I thought it would scarce come into the
heads of the Spaniards that we had adventured ourselves ashore.

During one of the watches I talked long with Raoul concerning the
occasion of my venturing upon this course for his behoof.  He was in
perfect ignorance of the complicity of the Count de Sarney in his
kidnapping, and was loath to believe that his uncle could have descended
to such a depth of villainy.  I was at no pains to bring him to my own
persuasion, being content to leave the unravelling of the plot until we
should come safely to his home.  He drew from me the full tale of my
adventures, breaking into a great gust of laughter when I related the
manner of my dealing with Don Ygnacio.  I assured him that he owed all
to my honest mariner William Stubbs, on whom he bestowed thanks without
stint, promising me in secret that, if we got safe to Torcy, he would
reward him with much more than barren words.

We lay in that spot for near six hours, and then, having consumed all
our food, saw ourselves faced by the prospect of famine.  Certain of the
galley-slaves, who were for the most part desperate and abandoned
ruffians that richly deserved their fate, began to murmur, and not
without reason, for it is no profit to a man to leap out of the
frying-pan into the fire.  In this strait I bethought me of the use
whereto I had imagined putting our noble prisoners, Don Ygnacio and
Captain Badillo.  We launched our galley when the tide was full, and
mounting into her, coasted along for a league or two until we descried a
village of fishers nestling in a hollow between the cliffs.  We then ran
ashore, and made Don Ygnacio write on his tables a formal requisition
for meat and wine, signing it with his full name and titles.  And I went
up the land with Stubbs and Captain Badillo, together with a dozen of
the galley-slaves bearing baskets and buckets; and giving the captain to
know that I would certainly use my dagger upon him if he by word, deed,
or even with wink of eye betrayed us, we marched boldly to the village,
where he presented his mandate to the people, and received from them
enough to supply our instant needs. When I saw how grudgingly they
furnished us, I pitied the poor folk, and wished with all my heart that
I could pay them, suspecting that the minions of the Spanish king were
not over scrupulous in honouring this sort of debt; but my purse was
well-nigh empty, and I could only trust that Providence would in due
season repay them a hundredfold.

The story we gave out was that the Captain-General of the King’s galleys
was making a voyage to inspect the coast, and we found this served us to
a miracle among the ignorant fisher folk, both at this place and at the
many other villages on the coast of Portugal where we made like
perquisitions on the days succeeding.  We pursued our way every night,
and rested every day, choosing only small paltry places whereat to
obtain food, and such as we might adventure into without raising a wind
of suspicion. Nowhere did we come within an ace of danger save at one
village, whose parish priest, a canon of Salamanca, would not be stayed
from paying a visit of ceremony to the illustrious and worshipful
Captain-General.  It was a marvellous whimsical thing to behold their
meeting, the priest offering gracious incense of flattery to the royal
officer, who received his compliments and felicitations, I being at his
elbow, in a mood betwixt dudgeon and impotent rage.  I caught a look of
puzzlement on the worthy canon’s face as he made his adieu, and I fear
me he carried to his humble parsonage a blighted estimate of the
courtliness of princes’ servants.  As for me, I thanked my stars that
the peril of discovery had as it were but lightly brushed us.

Our plan of hugging the coast, yet not so close as to risk our bottom on
rocks or shoals, kept us far away from the track of sea-going vessels,
and the weather being exceedingly fair, we accomplished fifteen or
twenty leagues a day without danger from the elements or man.  The
voyage was tedious beyond telling, but I did not grudge it, for joy at
beholding the amelioration it wrought in the health of my dear friend.
I laughed often to think how the transfusion I had proposed in trickery
to Don Ygnacio was in process of accomplishment by the agency of nature.
He became leaner in proportion as Raoul indued flesh, and my scrupulous
care that he should not have the means to overeat, but should perform a
fitting share of labour at the oar, did not only reduce his bulk, but
also brought his body to a healthful condition whereto he had been
strange for many a year.  He showed me no gratitude, and paid me no
fees, though I declare without boasting that I did more for him than any
physician or chirurgeon that ever mixed a powder or wielded a scalpel.

I used my endeavour to wrest from him a full confession of his
villainies, but he would never admit further than what we knew: that he
had received moneys from his cousin the Count de Sarney.  As for the
kidnapping, he avouched most solemnly that he was as ignorant as
innocent in respect of it; but inasmuch as Raoul had acquainted him of
his name and condition, and besought him with many promises to set him
free, I concluded that he had found his best interest in playing the
horse-leech upon his cousin.

We came in due time to Bordeaux, where our story, when it leaked out,
became a nine-days’ wonder.  I am very sure it would have mightily
pleased the Sieur Michel de Montaigne, had he been yet alive; of whose
Essays I purchased a very pretty copy before I departed. We sold the
galley at a price much above its value, to a rich noble of Perigord, who
declared his intention of keeping it for his private pleasure, and for a
perpetual memorial of the gullibility of Spaniards.  Every galley-slave
received his freedom and his proper share of the purchase money, though
I confess I was uneasy in my mind when I thought of such rapscallions
being loosed among honest people.  We delivered Don Ygnacio and Captain
Badillo to the mayor, who threw them into prison until he should advise
himself concerning their future.  Then one fair day I took ship with
Raoul and worthy Stubbs in a vessel bound for Calais, being somewhat in
pocket by my adventure.



                                  *V*


In the interim between our departure from Cadiz and our arrival at
Calais, Raoul’s hairs grew again both on his face and on his head,
albeit I observed with sorrow a many flecks of grey among them.  Besides
those and sundry scars and callosities, there was no other enduring mark
upon him of his long torture in the galleys when he came ashore with me.
We stayed in Calais only so long as that he might provide himself with
decent apparel, and then we rode on hired horses, Stubbs following, to
Dieppe. There we betook ourselves to Jean Prévost, to learn what had
happened during the two months of my absence.  He welcomed Raoul with
boisterous demonstrations of delight, and having heard our story, cried
out in a fury that he would drive his sword through the carcass of the
Count de Sarney, and so rid the world of a villain.  But I prevailed
upon him to leave us to our own courses with the Count, whereupon he
told us that the Count had but lately sold his own little domain, the
which we took to be an evident sign of his perfect security.

Next day we rode all four to Torcy, and never did I see pleasure so
admirably pictured on a man’s countenance as it was when the old
faithful servitor opened to us and beheld his true master. He lifted up
his old cracked voice and called to his fellows, and they came pell-mell
from the kitchen and offices, and leapt and laughed in the right Gallic
manner, which we sober Englishmen are apt to find ridiculous.  Their
clamour drew the Count from his cabinet, and he stood at the head of the
stairs as still as a stone, his countenance taking the colour of wax
when he beheld Raoul at my side, and Stubbs capering (sore against his
will) in the arms of a buxom buttery maid.  The miserable wretch
wreathed his lips to a smile, and said, mumbling in dreadful sort—

"Welcome, my dear nephew; I had given you up for dead."

"You have kept my house warm for me, monsieur," said Raoul, with a fine
self-mastery; but Jean Prévost sprang up the stairs, and taking the
Count by the collar, bundled him down and out at the door without
ceremony.  Raoul dispatched a man after him with his hat and cloak, and
he went away and sought shelter, as we afterward learnt, in the house of
one of his old retainers.

We made diligent search in the cabinet for evidence of his villainy,
finding nought save a book of accounts wherein were set down the sums he
had paid to Don Ygnacio de Acosta, the addition of which mounted to a
monstrous figure.  Raoul bade his servants gather up all the Count’s
chattels ready to be conveyed to him, and having put all things in order
for his own occupancy he returned with us to Dieppe, where we spent a
merry night at Jean Prévost’s house.

We did not delay to seek the king’s commissary, before whom we laid the
whole matter.  He took down our depositions, and examined the
account-book, and delivered his opinion at great length, the which was,
in brief, that we had nothing to convict the Count of the felony of
kidnapping, though we might reasonably presume it; but that Raoul might
bring a suit against him in the king’s court for restitution of the
moneys he had disbursed.  This he did, and I had word, many months
after, that the slow-footed law upheld his claim, and that the Count,
being unable to acquit himself of so heavy a debt, was reduced to
beggary and thrown into prison, there to remain at the king’s pleasure.
With great magnanimity Raoul relented towards him for the sake of his
son Armand, whom he sought out in Paris, and, being perfectly assured of
his innocency, endowed him with a pension sufficient to keep his father
in a decent penury.

As for me, long ere this was accomplished I had returned with Stubbs
(rejoicing in Raoul’s liberal largess, and bound to my service for ever)
to my own land.  I was not wholly at ease in my mind, for I had absented
myself from my duty in the Queen’s Guard without her august leave, and
had no expectation but that she would visit my fault upon me somewhat
grievously. I betook me to the Palace on the day after my return, and
learnt from my comrades that the Queen had been highly incensed against
me, and had sworn to show me bitter marks of her anger.

I took up my post in the corridor at the proper hour, and had been there
but a brief while, when her Highness herself issued from her cabinet
unattended.  She halted at sight of me, and, frowning heavily, cried in
shrill and shrewish accents (and it went to my heart that she was now
most apparently an old woman)—

"How now, sirrah?  Dost dare show thy ugly face to me?"

"As for my ugliness, madam," said I, "that is as God pleases."

"It does not please me that thou hast hog’s bristles on thy countenance"
(my beard and mustachio, in truth, were as yet somewhat like a field of
stubble).  "Where hast thou been, monkey?"

I told her Grace that I had come from working some mischief among the
galleys of her brother of Spain, whereupon she let forth a round oath,
exceeding disparaging to the said brother, and bid me go with her into
her chamber and inform her more particularly on that matter.  I related
the incidents in their due order, and when I came to that part where I
had made the Captain-General swallow my vile admixture, she burst forth
in a fit of laughter so immoderate that I feared lest, tight-laced as
she was, she should do herself a hurt.

"Well, well, I pardon thee, my sweet Chris," she said, when I had made
an end; "but I must e’en have my moiety of the spoils."

And ’tis sober truth that her Grace made me tell over into her royal
palm a half of the French crowns that I had brought back with me.  I
confess ’twas not an exact reckoning, for knowing her Grace’s
propensity, I had been careful to make a subtraction from the full sum
before I named it, a fault which I trust will be held to be venial, and
not laid against me by honest men.

Her Grace’s anger being thus mollified, I made bold to proffer a
petition whereon I set much store, to wit, that she would suffer me to
join myself to Sir Walter Raleigh for his voyage, the ships being at
that time, as I had already learnt, on the point of sailing from
Plymouth.

"Ods my bodikins!" cried the Queen; "hast thou lost thy silly heart to
some Spanish slut, that thou art burning to return among the
garlic-eaters?"

"I assure your Highness’ Grace," said I, "that in all my wanderings I
have never beheld a damsel whose eyes could lure me from devotion to my
Queen."

At this her Grace showed as much pleasure as she were a girl of sixteen,
and I looked for her to consent to my petition; but in this I was
deceived.

"Well, well," she said, "thou’rt a proper bold rascal, but I can’t have
all my lovers running about the wicked world, in danger of falling into
divers snares and temptations.  No; ods my life, thou shan’t go," she
cried in a passion, "and if I see any mumping and glooming, to the Tower
with thee!"

I smiled as amiably as I could, and vowed that I had no pleasure save
her Highness’ will; but I own that I nourish to this day a remnant
grudge against my old mistress, for that she hindered me from serving
with Sir Walter in that world-renowned enterprise.


[Illustration: tailpiece to Fourth Part]



                               *Interim*


That feat of Sir Walter Raleigh was a wondrous achievement that any man
might envy without blame.  The English fleet came to anchor off Cadiz on
June 20, 1596.  Sir Walter’s voice had great weight with the generals,
and it was by his counsel and ordering that the enterprise was ruled.
His device was to attack the galleons lying there in the haven and after
assail the town, and so was it performed.  Himself led the van ward in
the _Warspright_, and ran through a fierce cannonade from the fort of
Puntal and the galleys, esteeming them but as wasps in respect of the
powerfulness of the others, and making no answer save by blare of
trumpet to each discharge.  And he dropped anchor close over against the
_St. Philip_ and the _St. Andrew_, the greatest of all the galleons, and
the same which had overpowered in the Azores the little _Revenge_
wherein Sir Richard Grenville died gloriously, winning deathless fame.
Three hours the _Warspright_ fought those great ships, and was near
sinking; nevertheless Raleigh would not yield precedence to my Lord
Essex or the Lord Admiral, but thrust himself athwart the channel, so as
he was sure none should out-start him again for that day.

And so he set on to grapple the _St. Philip_, and the Spaniards fell
into a panic, and that galleon with three others tried to run aground,
tumbling into the sea soldiers in heaps, so thick as if coals had been
poured out of a sack.  Straightway two were taken or ever their captains
were able to turn them; but the _St. Philip_ was blown up by her
captain, and a multitude of men were drowned or scorched with the
flames.  And Raleigh received in the leg from a spent shot a grievous
wound, interlaced and deformed with splinters.

Thereupon my Lord Essex hasted to land, and put to rout eight hundred
horse that stood against him, and by eight of the clock the English were
masters of the market-place, the forts, and the whole town save only the
castle, which held out till break of day.  And the citizens were
constrained to pay a hundred and twenty thousand crowns for their
ransom, and moreover all the rich merchandise of the town fell to the
English as spoils of war.  And Sir Walter’s valiant deeds purchased
again the favour of the Queen, and she willed he should come to the
Palace, and received him graciously, holding much private talk and
riding abroad with him.

My grandfather, who was of a goodly presence, had taken the eye of the
Queen, and she lifted him out of the Guard and made him one of her fifty
gentlemen pensioners, albeit he was full young for such a place.  These
gentlemen were appointed to attend the Queen on all ceremonious
occasions, bearing a gilt axe upon a staff, and to serve about the
Palace, the which offices were little to his liking.  And his father
dying about this time, he went down into Hampshire to take up his
inheritance, and was much busied about his estates, and exercising as
justice of the peace that little law he had learned in the Inner Temple.
But he was again lodging in London when my Lord Essex, having botched up
his work in Ireland, and taking reproof like a spoilt child, gave rein
to his ill-temper, and hatched treason against his long-suffering
Mistress.  My grandfather often spoke to me sorrowfully of that
headstrong young lord, and related sundry of his foolhardy doings—how he
locked into an inner chamber the Chancellor, the Chief Justice, and
other grave men who had resorted to his house to inquire the cause of
the assemblage of armed men there; how he rode boisterously through the
streets, brandishing his sword, and calling upon the populace to follow
him; and how finally he lost his head on the block.

A short while thereafter, my grandfather sailed to Ireland, where befell
him the last great adventure, and, as he was wont to say, the most
fortunate, of his life.  The O’Neill, called Earl of Tyrone, had been
long time a thorn in the side of Queen Elizabeth, taking gold from the
King of Spain to sustain his treasons, and in the year 1597 making open
war upon the English governor.  He did great despite upon the people of
the Plantation, and lurking in the forests, long defied the English
soldiery.  My Lord Mountjoy, whom the Queen had sent to Ireland as her
deputy in the room of Essex, being resolved to make an end of the
rebellion, ravaged and wasted the country, driving off the cattle,
starving the people, and fortifying all the passes through the woods.
And you shall read now how my grandfather once more, and for the last
time, drew his sword, and the strange fashion whereby he was led to put
it up again, for ever.



                            *THE FIFTH PART*


               *CHRISTOPHER RUDD’S ADVENTURE IN IRELAND,
                 AND THE MANNER OF HIS WINNING A WIFE*



[Illustration: headpiece to Fifth Part]



                                  *I*


I hold it ill that a man should be under no constraint to labour for his
bread.  To have a competency is indeed a comfortable thing; but being so
possessed, a man lacks a spur to high emprise, and his faculties are
like to wither and decay.

It was my fortune to receive from my father a property sufficient to
supply the needs of the body; and the gear I added thereto in divers
enterprises and adventures gave me the wherewithal to maintain a decent
port before the world, and even at the Court of the Queen’s Majesty,
where a man had need be of some substance. But my ambition did not soar
a high pitch: I was content to play a modest part on the world’s stage;
and when I fell out of humour, as sometimes I did, with the fevered life
at Court, I withdrew myself to my little estate in the country, and
there lived rustically among the boors and the pigs.

Nevertheless, from having seen many men and cities in my time, I was not
long of finding this rustical employment stale upon me.  After some few
months I would begin to yearn again for the stir and bustle of London,
where I might at the least whet my wits that had grown dull and rusty
among my simple country fellows.  One such time, in the late autumn of
the year 1601, my years then numbering thirty, I rode out of Hampshire
to London, and took up my lodging in King Street, in Westminster,
rejoicing to meet my old friends again, to hear the clash of wits, and
feed my mind on the marvellous inventions of Will Shakespeare and Ben
Jonson and other ornaments and luminaries of that glorious age.

I found that two great matters were in men’s mouths, whereof the one was
the exceeding melancholy whereinto the Queen had sunk since the
beheading of my Lord Essex; the other, the rising of the O’Neill
(otherwise the Earl of Tyrone) in Ireland, and the descent of some
thousands of Spaniards upon the harbour of Kinsale to enfurther that
base ungrateful traitor.  King Philip having failed in his endeavour to
get a grip upon the throat of England, was seeking to annoy her
extremities, like as a blister upon the heel or a corn upon the toe.  I
acknowledge that this news of his impudency made me itch and sweat to
flesh my sword again on those enemies of my country; but I dallied
somewhat, supposing that my Lord Mountjoy, who was now Lord Deputy in my
Lord Essex his room, would speedily make his account with the Irish
rebels and their Spanish consorts.  Furthermore, Ireland had always
shown me a forbidding aspect: I had heard much of its wildness, its
thick woods and filthy bogs, its savage and uncouth people, from men
that had served the Queen there and got thereby small thanks and less
renown; and I had read of these matters also in the book of Master
Spenser, whereof a written copy (for it was not put in print until many
years after) had come into my hands.  For these reasons, therefore, I
was no ways in the mind to adventure myself across the Irish Sea.

But that winter, a day or two before Christmas, Sir Oliver St. John
arrived in London out of that distressful country, bearing letters from
the Lord Deputy and his council wherein they set down the exceeding hard
straits in which they rested for want of provisions and men.  They
related how they had annoyed all parts of the town of Kinsale with the
battery of their ordnance, so as the breach was almost assaultable,
insomuch that they were not without hope of the enemy yielding, or of
their being able to enter the town by force.  But a thousand more
Spaniards had lately sailed into Castlehaven with great store of
munition and artillery; and moreover the Spanish commander had besought
the O’Neill to haste to relieve him, who had accordingly come and
encamped not far from the town with eight thousand men or more.  The
Lord Deputy therefore earnestly entreated the Lords of the Council in
England to despatch to him without delay four thousand good footmen at
the least, with victuals, munition, and money.

These urgent messages occasioned a notable stir among the Lords of the
Council, and being laid before the Queen by master secretary Cecil,
kindled her to an extremity of rage.  Her Majesty had already been at
great charges to sustain the Lord Deputy in his dealings with the rebels
and their Spanish aids, and being ever loth to untie her purse-strings,
she bemoaned exceedingly the ruinous expense which this demand of the
Lord Mountjoy would cast upon her.  Yet had she a proud spirit that ill
brooked the thought of Spain planting a foot in any part whatsoever of
her dominions, and she was torn betwixt her parsimony and her care for
the common weal.

It chanced that, having gone to Greenwich, where the Queen then was, to
bear my part in the revels that were performed at Christmas-time, I came
in the eye of Her Majesty one day as she passed through the hall.  She
stayed her walk (alas! how tottering!), and as I rose up from bending my
knee, my heart smote me to see how thin and frail her body was, albeit
her eye still flashed and glittered with the fire of her unquenchable
spirit.

"So, sirrah," quoth she, "you are come again out of your pigsty to
refresh your snout with more delectable odours."

Her Majesty was ever hard of tongue, and she bore me a grudge for that I
had demitted the humble office I had one time held at her Court.

"Madam," I said, "I have come like Eurydice, out of Tartarus into the
bounteous light of the sun."

"Ods fish! dost think to win me by thy flattery?" she said; nevertheless
methought she was not ill-pleased.  But she went on, in a pitiful shrill
voice: "What does a proper man here in idlesse, conning soft speeches
and inditing silly verses to silly wenches, when my kingdom of Ireland
lieth in peril for lack of swords! Go to, rascal; an thou wouldst
pleasure me, show thyself a man, and vex me not with lip service and the
antics of an ape."

Then, wellnigh breaking in two with her churchyard cough, she passed on,
leaving me a sorry spectacle of confusion.

Methought that now I could do no other thing than take up the challenge
which my wrathful Mistress had flung at me.  In two breaths she had
called me swine and ape, and I grudged that in this her feeble old age
she should hold me in low esteem.  ’Twas too plain that she was not long
for this world, and the desire to please her, together with my old
longing for a bout with the Spaniards, prevailed upon me to join myself
to those voluntaries that were proffering their service in Ireland.
Accordingly I wrote a brief epistle to her Majesty, acquainting her of
my design, and received for answer two lines in a quivering hand.

"Chris, thou’rt a good lad.  God bless thee with perseverance.  Thy
loving sovereign, E.R."



                                  *II*


In such manner it came to pass that, one day about the middle of
January, I found myself sailing into Kinsale harbour, my ship having
aboard her many gentlemen that were voluntaries like myself, and some
portion of the new levies for which the Lord Deputy had made petition. I
stretched my ears for the sound of guns and the blast of war trumpets,
but there was a great stillness and peace that smote me with dread of
ill news.  However, on coming to land, I discovered as much with
disappointment as with joy that the Spaniards had yielded themselves by
articles of capitulation a few days before, that the O’Neill had been
beaten back from the English camp with sore discomfiture, and his men
scattered to the four winds.  Though I rejoiced in the good success of
the Lord Deputy’s arms, I was vexed that I had come too late to deal a
blow against the Spaniard, more especially as I foresaw a weary campaign
against the native rebels.

It fell out according to my expectation.  The Lord Deputy, furnished
with new supplies of men and munition, marched through the land,
burning, wasting, harrowing without ruth, and hanging such chief rebels
as fell into his hands. As it ever is in war, they that suffered most
were the poor peasantry of the country: and seeing daily their
lamentable estate, finding everywhere men dead of famine, insomuch that
in one day’s journey we saw upwards of a thousand men lying unburied, my
heart sickened of this work, and I thought to return home.  Could I but
have looked into the future, I should have seen divers sorry experiences
through which it was my destiny to pass; but that which is to come is
mercifully hid from us.  I foresaw neither what I was to suffer, nor
that great blessing which Providence bestowed on me, whereby I have ever
regarded my going to Ireland as the most fortunate and happy event of
all that ever befell me.

That island is covered in every part with thick forest and vast swamps
and bogs, from which arise exhalations exceeding noisome as well to the
native people as to our English.  From camping oft on the borders of
such oozy fens I took an Irish ague, suffering sharp pains in all my
limbs, with shivering and vomiting, my teeth chattering, my head
oppressed with ringing noises intolerable. So sore was I beset by this
most malignant distemper as that all my strength departed from me; I
could neither sit my horse nor march afoot, and was afflicted with so
desperate a languor and exhaustion that I believed myself nigh unto
death. Being in so dreadful a case, I must needs be left behind in a
small fort, that had lately been constructed to command a ford on the
border of O’Neill’s country; and I am sure that when my companions shook
my hand and bade me farewell, none expected ever to see me in life
again.  But by the mercy of God and the devotion of my servant (there
was no physician in that place) I recovered of my fever; and within ten
days or so I felt myself ready to make a push towards the army that had
gone before.

We had learnt by scourers that our people were then distant some thirty
miles across the hills, intending to advance further towards the north.
By this it was plain that I must needs hasten if I would come up with
them, and there was the more reason for this in that the hills were
known to be the haunt and covert of rebels. But I had good hope that,
being furnished with a noble horse, and accompanied with my stout and
mettlesome servant, and three tall natives of the country, of proven
loyalty, I might compass the journey of thirty miles in security.  I
acknowledge that, having been occupied of late in hunting a broken
rabble, I held the enemy in lighter esteem than I ought; and when I look
back upon the matter, I feel some scorn of my recklessness, and deem
that in what befell me I had no more than my desert.

We set forth at daybreak one morning, one of the Irishmen leading us,
and took our way into the hills.  I knew somewhat of the trials and
hardships of travel in Ireland, but they were as nought by comparison
with that which I encountered that day.  The country was covered with
close and almost impassable woods, intersected with watercourses of
depth sufficient to render hazardous their crossing; and we pierced the
woods but to find ourselves in swamp or morass. I was by this time aware
of the treacherous nature of these quaggy places; but in spite of all
our heedfulness, and notwithstanding that three of us were natives well
skilled in their country’s discommodities, we had ofttimes much ado to
hold our course.  Ever and anon we saw ourselves forced to go round
about; and although our guide ordered our going with as diligent
carefulness as he might, many times we had need to quit our saddles and
lend aid to our horses, to draw them from the deceitful mire of the
swamps, in such sort that we made but poor going, and by the middle part
of the day had accomplished a mere trifle of our journey.

As we were picking our steps thus gingerly over an expanse of spongy
ground, overhung by a low beetling cliff, there befell an accident upon
which I cannot look back without a mortifying pang, seeing that I was,
for all my thirty years, a veteran in war.  In all our journey up to
that moment we had seen neither man nor any living thing save only the
small animals of the woods, and some few wild cattle that smelt us afar
off, and vanished from our sight more quickly than eye could follow.  On
a sudden, before we were aware, there descended upon us from the midst
of the bushes on the rock aforesaid a thick shower of spears and stones.
A fragment of rock smote upon my headpiece with such violence as
wellnigh to stun me; and my horse, made frantic by the sudden onset and
the fierce cries of the men in ambush, swerved from the narrow track
whereon we were riding, and carried me into the swamp.  Dizzy with the
shock, I lost my manage of the beast, which, plunging to regain his
footing, cast me headlong from my saddle.

When I came to myself, I saw my horse in the hands of two kernes, as
they are named in that country—rude and ragged fellows, barefoot,
half-naked, and armed with light darts and a long and deadly knife which
they call a skene.  These two were hauling upon my horse’s bridle, to
bring the scrambling beast upon the dry ground. One of my Irishmen lay
like a senseless log, with a dart in his body; another and my servant
were overthrown, and the kernes were standing over them; the third
Irishman, as I saw, had wheeled his horse, and was spurring along the
track, I supposed to bring help.  I made no doubt but that the rascals,
when they had finished their work upon my followers, would deal likewise
with me, whom they had left hitherto, seeing me dazed and bewildered by
my fall.

But I perceived, after a brief space, that these ragged and unkempt
creatures took no step towards me, but stood at gaze, their fierce eyes
glittering with I knew not what excitation of mind.  I was still in my
wonderment, bracing myself to withstand the assault which I supposed
they intended against me, when I came to a sudden knowledge of my true
situation.  I lay upon a thin crust of earth overlying the yielding bog,
and already I felt it sinking under my weight.  I had not been so short
a time in the country but I knew in what extremity of peril I lay, and
this knowledge serving as a goad to my numbness, I strove to lift myself
from the clammy embrace of the bog that was beginning to suck me down.

And now my mind was smitten with the fear of death, and I take no shame
from the terror that beset me.  A man may face his foes, and not quail,
with a weapon in his hand; but to lie helpless in the clutch of an enemy
against which neither weapon nor courage is of any avail is a condition
to turn the stoutest heart to water. I cried aloud to those kernes that
stood upon the bank, choosing rather to die swiftly by their knives than
to choke and smother in that slow torment.  They did but mock me with
jeers and horrid execrations, uttered in their barbarous tongue,[#] and
their delight became doubly manifest when with every motion of my
ineffectual limbs I did but assist the bog.  The more desperately I
strove to free myself, the more closely did the pitiless morass cling
about me and clog me, like to that loathly creature of which mariners
tell, that winds innumerable tentacles about its living prey and digests
it to a jelly. Presently I could no more move my limbs, and when I
sought to purchase succour from those that stood by, offering great
rewards whereby every one of those paupers might have become a petty
Croesus among his kind, they sat them down like spectators at a play, to
feast their eyes upon my agony, even as in ancient days the Romans saw
without compassion the holy martyrs yield up their lives beneath the
claws of Nubian lions. And when I saw that neither promises nor
entreaties would prevail with them, by reason mayhap that they knew not
what I said, I wrapped myself in despair and silence, endeavouring, as a
Christian ought, to contemplate the inevitable end with quiet mind.


[#] It must be remembered that Englishmen of Christopher Rudd’s time
were ignorant of the Irish civilization and literature which their
ancestors had destroyed, and were even more apt than their descendants
to decry what they did not understand.—H.S.


[Illustration: THEY DID BUT MOCK ME WITH JEERS AND HORRID EXECRATIONS]

I had sunk wellnigh to my shoulder-blades, and as it were a mist was
hovering before my eyes, when the sound of a horse galloping awoke my
slumbering senses, and I looked up, thinking to see my Irishman
returning.  The kernes had risen to their feet, and turned their backs
upon me, and their vociferous clamour fell to a great silence.  And
gazing beyond them, I saw, not my Irishman, but a young maiden, upon a
hobby of the country, riding with loose rein at the very brink of the
cliff above.  Distraught and speechless, I gazed in amaze and
wonderment, as this radiant creature brought her hobby to a stand on the
height over against me.  She cast one glance at me, and I heard a voice
like a silver bell rung sharply, and at her words the kernes were set in
motion as they were puppets moved by invisible strings, and with one
consent, yet sullenly, they hasted to obey her behests.  Having loosed
the bridles of my servant’s horse and of the maiden’s hobby, they knit
them together, and one of the men cast this rope of leather upon the bog
towards me.  Mustering my remnant strength I caught it, and passed it
over my head and beneath my armpits, whereupon some few of the kernes
laid hold of it at the end, and with mighty hauling heaved me from my
slimy bed.  So strong was the embrace wherein I had been clasped that I
came to the bank in my stocking feet, having left my boots in that
ravenous maw.

In this sorry plight my aspect was as filthy and foul as Odysseus when
he showed himself to the maiden Nausicaa.  My Nausicaa smiled upon
viewing me, and when I could find no words wherewith to utter the
gratitude of my swelling spirit, her lips parted, and that silvery voice
uttered words in my own tongue, which fell the more sweetly upon my ear
by reason of their quaintness of accent.

"I am troubled, sir," said she, "at this your incommodity, but no herald
announced your coming, whereby we might furnish guides.  Haply your
messenger went astray?"

I perceived that she mocked me, but being too far spent to answer her in
kind, I was content to relate briefly what had befallen me.  She smiled
again, and said lightly—

"My kernes did what seemed good to them, at no man’s bidding.  I pray
you accept our hospitality, so that we can repair in some measure the
coldness of your welcome in this our country."

Then she turned upon the kernes that stood glooming by, and spake a few
words to them in their own tongue; and after she had assured me that
they would do me no harm, and bid me accompany them, she sped back
towards the quarter whence she had come, riding without bridle, a marvel
to behold.



                                 *III*


I would fain have had further speech with the damsel, to know more fully
what was intended towards me; ’twas plain that she was of much
consideration with these ragged ruffians, with whom her lightest word
was law; and in truth I wondered not at their tame submission, for
though her age was, as I guessed, not above twenty years, she had a most
commanding and imperial mien, and a manner of speech that enforced
obedience.

Having set me upon my horse, and likewise upon his my Irishman that was
wounded, my servant and the other Irishman being compelled to remain
afoot, the kernes led us along the path over the hillside, one of them
bearing my pistol, another my sword, which he had taken from my belt.
Thus as we marched, my mind was busy with these late accidents, and with
my fair saviour, whose hair methought was of the hue of red gold, and
her eyes of an incomparable blue.  From such meditation I shook myself,
to take note, as beseemed one in my case, of the nature of the country
we were traversing.  I perceived that the track, very rugged and narrow,
wound steeply up the hillside, giving but few glimpses of any prospect.
But on a sudden, coming to the summit, I beheld a very fair and
delightful landscape, that put me in mind of the country in Devon.
Betwixt the hill whereon I stood, and another like to it, above a mile
distant, there lay a pleasant valley of emerald green, and in the midst
thereof a lake or mere, and a silvery stream feeding it from the high
ground above.  But that which held the eye more especially in this
delectable prospect was a castle in the midst of the lake—a fortress of
stone built in the Norman style, of no great magnitude, but having a
keep, a courtyard, and divers appurtenances.  ’Twas a goodly spectacle,
this hoary shape engoldened by the sunlight, girt about with blue water,
and all encompassed by the living green.

At the end of the lake nearest to us, I perceived the semblance of a
jetty framed of wood, whereto a vessel like unto our Thames wherries was
moored; and both on the vessel and the jetty I saw sundry folk, and
likewise a few assembled in the courtyard.  In the castle wall was a
water-gate, which now lay open, bounded above by the teeth of a
portcullis.

We stayed not our march, but descended the hillside towards the lake.
And as I drew nearer, I perceived that the castle was in ill repair, the
stonework weatherworn and crumbling, and the iron of the portcullis
exceeding rusty, so that I misdoubted whether it were possible to be
raised.  Methought the place was of very ancient date, perchance of the
time when, for our woe, Strongbow set his foot upon this
country—destined to be a continual nursery of trouble to her English
governors.

When we were come to the waterside, a man met me from the jetty, and
speaking in the English of a five-years’ bairn, invited me to enter the
wherry.  This I did, with my own men and some of those that were with
us, and we were ferried over the lake, and into the castle by the
water-gate, through a covered way that led from the lake into the
courtyard.

Alighting from the wherry and ascending some few ragged stone steps, I
found myself in the courtyard amid a strange medley of beasts and men.
There were cattle, swine, and poultry enclosed in tumbledown pens, and
set against the walls were rude cabins of wood overlaid with turfs,
which I supposed to be the dwellings of serving men and retainers.  Of
mankind there were in the courtyard about a score, men, women and
children, the men being for the greater part well stricken in years.
All these folk gazed upon me as you see peasants gaze at quaint
outlandish monsters in a country fair.  My men were taken, by command
already given, into one of the cabins aforesaid; but I myself was
ushered through a postern into the keep, and up a winding stair to a
chamber barely furnished with a stool and a truckle bed, whereon was
laid in a heap a suit of woollen garments.  These I donned with much
contentment in exchange for my own sodden and miry raiment, a man
standing at the door with his back to me all the time, a courtesy I
little expected in such savages.  When I was dry clad he conducted me
down the stairs into a lofty and spacious hall, where food of the
English sort was spread upon a table.  With this I was mightily
refreshed and strengthened, for hard fortune had not bereft me of
appetite, though I acknowledge my satisfaction was tempered by the
recollection that I who had fought in campaigns with the greatest
captains of the age had fallen an inglorious victim to a handful of wild
Irish kernes.

Some while after the remains of my repast had been removed, and I was
drumming my heels alone and in idleness, the door opened, and the maiden
entered, and with her an old and withered dame of forbidding aspect and
mien.  A smile flickered upon the maiden’s countenance as she beheld me,
clad in coarse and ill-fitting garments, making my bow as courtly as to
a queen.

"Our fare is poorer than I could wish," she said, "but ’tis our
necessity at fault, not our good will."

"I thank you, mistress," said I, "and would fain beg that the same fare
may be provided for my men, one of whom, I fear, was somewhat incommoded
in the late misadventure."

"Their wants are supplied, sir," quoth she coldly; "and as for you, I
desire that you will rest in such comfort as our poor means and the
straitness of our dwelling may afford."

"In troth, mistress," said I, "I have known worse quarters and leaner
fare; but desiring that you be at no more pains or charges in my behoof,
I purpose with your leave to get me hence with all commendable speed as
soon as my garments are dried, not forgetting that I owe my life to
you."

At this she smiled again.

"Of what value your life may be to you or to your countrymen I know
not," she said, "but at this present time it is of some worth to me."

"I am honoured, madam," said I in some puzzlement.

And then, seeing my wonder writ on my face, she laughed outright.

"I fear me, good sir, we are scarcely of one mind," she said.  "Loth as
I am to enforce you with any restraint, yet needs must I tell you that
for a time you shall rest content to remain my guest."

"Shall, madam?" said I, with a lift of the eyes.

"Shall, sir," she repeated.  "You shall be a hostage, a pledge for the
fair treatment of my father."

"What have I to do with your father?" I asked, in my bewilderment.

"This: that your general has sworn to hang my father so soon as he lays
hands on him, wherefore I have despatched a letter to your general to
let him know that I have you in ward, and will surely execute upon you
any violence or indignity that my father may suffer."

[Illustration: "I WILL SURELY EXECUTE UPON YOU ANY VIOLENCE OR INDIGNITY
THAT MY FATHER MAY SUFFER"]

This she said with a firm voice, smiting the table with her little hand;
and I knew in my heart that what she said, that the fair termagant would
surely do.

"And may I presume to ask, madam," said I, "the name of the gentleman
upon whose safety my own salvation hangs?"

"His name, sir, is Kedagh O’Hagan: and yours?"

"A name of much less mark: Christopher Rudd, at your service."

"A knight?"

"Nay, madam, a plain gentleman."

She smiled a little at this, and continued—

"Well, Master Christopher Rudd, give me the word of a plain gentleman
that you will use no endeavour to flee away, and I give you the freedom
of this castle, such as it is."

"I thank you, madam, for your good will," said I, "but I have a larger
notion of freedom. With your leave I will put no fetters on my
discretion."

"Nor I on your limbs, and yet you shall be confined," said she; and
after the exchange of sundry civil nothings between us, she departed
with the ancient dame, who had stood by the while with arms folded upon
her hips, and lips pressed together grimly.

The door was closed upon them, and by the voices that came to me through
the timber I knew that two men had been set to guard me.

I had much to speculate upon in my solitude. This Kedagh O’Hagan, the
damsel’s father, was a notorious rebel, and a doughty lieutenant of the
O’Neill.  I knew that my general, Sir Arthur Chichester, had vowed to
hang him, as she had said; but seeing that the fellow was slippery as an
eel and had escaped us not a few times, I saw myself doomed in all
likelihood to a long imprisonment unless peradventure I could make my
escape.  Moreover, if by any foul chance he should lose his life, the
gallows was my certain destination, an ignominious end which I could not
contemplate with any comfort or serenity.

From meditating on this I came to think of my fair hostess.  I had seen
full many a glorious beauty at the Queen’s Court, and in France when I
served King Henry, but none that so bewitched and teased me as this
Irish maiden, with her red-gold hair, and her eyes of unsoundable blue,
and her coral lips that curled the one above the other when she smiled.
And the dulcet fluting of her voice, breathing out pure English with a
faint smack of something outlandish and yet most pleasing, remained
singing in my ears.  Moreover her bold and mettlesome spirit, yet not a
whit unmaidenly, liked me well, and I considered within myself that I
could be well content to enjoy her society during the few days which I
needed for the perfect recovery of my strength. Her converse, methought,
would sweeten my confinement until I should make my escape, whereto I
was resolved.

I remained in that chamber while daylight endured, now ruminating, now
reading in the one or two books that my fair jailer had set there for
me—some poems of Master Spenser, Tottel’s _Miscellany_, and sundry other
volumes which I marvelled to find in that barbarous land; and it
chancing that my supper was brought to me by that man that had some
smattering of English, I fell on talk with him, to learn somewhat, if I
might, of his fair mistress.  Her name was Sheila, he told me—quaint and
pretty to my ears; she was her father’s sole child, and the apple of his
eye.  She had dwelt some time in England, her father having been carried
there a hostage, but loved Ireland, said the man.  He told me also that
she was vehemently besought in marriage by a young chieftain of that
neighbourhood, one Rory Mac Shane, betwixt whose family and her own
there was an ancient feud.  ’Twas Mac Shane’s purpose to end the feud by
this alliance, but he was looked upon with loathing both by the maiden
and by her father, not only because of the inveterate enmity between the
two houses, but also because they misliked the man himself, a robustious
unlettered fellow, a foul liver, and one that constantly besotted
himself with usquebagh, a vile drink of the country.  Mac Shane had
sworn, so it was told me, to wed the maiden, will she, nill she, for
which reason had her father conveyed her to this castle in the lake, as
being more easily defended than his greater seat a few miles distant.  I
had ofttimes heard of the raids made one upon another by these petty
Irish chiefs, and my informant did not question but that some time, when
occasion served, Mac Shane would seek to attain his end by violence.  In
this case I could not but marvel that O’Hagan had left his daughter, and
withdrawn the main part of his people to assist O’Neill; but reflected
that he must know his own business best, and so dismissed the matter.



                                  *IV*


At fall of night I was led upstairs again to the small chamber wherein I
had made my change of clothes.  The door was locked and barred upon me,
and by divers faint noises that I heard I knew that sentinels were set
without to guard me.  Being wondrous fatigued I slept very soundly, and
was awakened only when a sunbeam falling athwart my bed struck upon my
eyes. I rose up, and all being silent, made a more thorough survey of my
room than I had done afore.  ’Twas by measurement of my paces not above
ten feet square, and had a single window, not closed with glass, looking
upon the lake forty or fifty feet beneath.  The wall was thick, and the
window was splayed inwards, being upwards of an ell in breadth on the
inner side, but no more than three spans on the outer; and here ’twas
divided in twain from top to bottom by a bar of iron, set in the
stonework.

This bar I perceived to be deeply rusted, like the iron of the
portcullis above the water-gate, and methought I could with a vehement
wrench or two force it from its sockets, and so leave a clear space and
a way of escape.  But when I leant upon the sill and contemplated the
water beneath, of whose depth I was ignorant, I was somewhat mistrustful
of my success if I should attempt so great a dive.  My further
meditation of this matter was hindered by the noise of unlocking and
unbarring, and I was seated upon my bed when a man entered, to bid me
descend to break my fast in the chamber below.

The second day of my imprisonment was like unto the first, save that my
fair chatelaine did not deign to visit me, but sent me greetings by her
servitor.  At this, without any reason, I was somewhat vexed, having
counted on seeing her comeliness and hearing the music of her speech. I
took no pleasure in reading of Colin Clout or Astrophel, laying down my
book, and striding about the room in dudgeon.  But as I went I pondered
that matter of escaping by the window, which, though narrow, would let
me through, my body having been marvellously thinned by my late
sickness.  My splash into the water, if ’twere heard by one of my
guards, would bring a boat in chase of me ere I could win to the bank,
swam I never so strongly.  And if by good luck I were neither heard nor
seen, yet I misdoubted of my safety, for I was in poor health, unarmed,
ignorant of the country, and in no case to adventure myself in a
guideless journey over those rugged hills, the haunt and lair of maybe
thousands of the wild Irish, ay, and with a hue and cry ringing behind
me.  What with these my doubts and fears, and the neglect (as I called
it) of the mistress of the castle, the day lingered out very
discomfortably, and I went to my bed at odds with myself and all men.

On the next day, after breakfast, my servant Stubbs was admitted to me.
He told me that he and my Irishmen were treated very handsomely, the
lady of the castle herself visiting them twice a day and inquiring of
their welfare.

"She’s a beauty, sir," said the man heartily.

"And my neck is in a noose," said I, feeling a twinge of jealousy in
that Stubbs had been favoured above me, and I told him of my being a
hostage for the life of the maid’s father.

"Why, then, the general will have a care that he comes to no harm," said
Stubbs, "seeing that an English gentleman is of more value than many
mere Irish."

"In his own conceit," said that sweet and tunable voice, and the lady
came into the room, attended as before by her ancient dame of the sour
visage.  "Good morrow, Master Rudd."

"Good morrow, Mistress Sheila," said I, shooting a look at her as I made
my bow.

A flush mantled her cheek at this hearing of her name.

"I brook no plots nor complots between you two," said she.  "I bade your
servant attend you as a grace, Master Rudd."

"For which you have my hearty thanks, madam," said I.  "The conversation
of your servitor is a child’s babble, and the reading of your books
breeds only discontent."

"You have but to give your word, and you are free to range this castle,
sir," said she.

"’Twould be but to beat my wings against the bars of my cage," said I.

"A bird, quotha!" said she, laughing.  "His feathers are ruffled, and he
stints his song."

"He has no mate, madam," said I; and after more bandying of words, she
departed again.

So passed some few days, the while I nursed my strength for the attempt
whereon I was resolved.  The lady paid me fitful visits, and I looked
for them ever more wistfully.  Once, when I had not seen her for thirty
hours or more, I dared to read aloud at her entrance, from the book of
Master Spenser’s sonnets upon my knees, the concluding verses—

    "Dark is my day, whiles her fair light I miss,
    And dead my life that wants such lively bliss;"

whereupon she took the book from my hand, averring that such woebegone
stuff would but addle my wits.  She spoke as one chiding a froward
child, and I acknowledged to myself that she had dealt tenderly with my
presumption. One day when she came to me I perceived that all was not
well with her.  Her bright hue was faded, her eye was sad, and whereas
she was wont to be merry with quips, answering me right saucily, her
spirit was now leaden.  She heard me in silence, and heaved many a sigh.
I guessed that she had received ill news, and by little and little I got
from her what it was that so much troubled her.  She told me that the
O’Neill had been signally worsted, and was withdrawing himself deeper
into his mountain fastnesses.  She feared for her father’s safety, and
then, with a flash of her old spirit, she struck my table and declared
right vehemently—

"If my father is taken, and suffers what is threatened against him, I
vow, Master Rudd, that you shall dangle from the castle wall, a feast
for kites and crows."

And then she broke into a passion of weeping and fled out of the room.

This news came as a rude shock to the contentment into which I had let
myself be lulled; and fearing lest in the heat of battle Kedagh O’Hagan
should come to harm even against the commandment of my general, I saw
that it behoved me, if I would put my neck beyond jeopardy, to slip the
noose at once.  I had no manner of doubt that the girl would do even as
she had said, out of duty, though I believed that she held me in no
disfavour in my proper person.

I determined therefore to put my plan in practice in the early part of
that night, so that, if I should come safe to shore, I might have the
hours of darkness to cover my flight.  But my design was frustrated by
much coming and going betwixt the shore and the castle.  It was plain
that some enterprise was afoot, and from my little window looking forth,
I watched the daylight sink into night without any diminution of the
busy movements below.

But when the small hours crept on, and all around was wrapt in an
immense stillness, and a snoring in two several tones proclaimed that my
guardians were asleep, I clambered up into the embrasure, and, employing
one of the legs of my truckle bed as a lever, with as little noise as
might be, I forced the rusty iron bar from its sockets; which done, I
loosed part of my outer garments, and having made them into a bundle
with my boots, I tore my coverlid into strips and knit them into a cord,
and tied my bundle to one end of it.  The other end I knotted about the
bar, which I laid transversely across the window, and then let down the
bundle into the depths towards the lake.

Upon hauling it up I discovered that it was dry, whereby I learnt that
my rope was not of length sufficient to touch the water, though having
used all my convenient bedding I knew that it could not fall far short.
I deemed neither the rope nor the bar stout enough to bear my own
weight, and saw that I must needs dive into the lake, and take my
chance.  Accordingly I turned myself sideways, and so contrived to
squeeze my shoulders through the narrow opening, not without fear lest I
should lose my balance, and topple down in a heap without the
opportunity of poising for the clean dive that would best ensure my
safety and cause the least noise.

Having let down my bundle again, I was now able to see (for the summer
sky had some luminancy) that it came within a little of the water. As I
crouched there upon the sill I was in no little tremor and dread, for if
there should be a watchman upon the keep, as was most like, he would
scarce but hear the splash I should make. I stretched my ears for sounds
within and without, below and above, and when all was yet silent I
gathered myself together, and without poising, for which there was no
room, I lifted myself on a sudden, and extending my arms above me made
the best shift I could for the dive.

’Twas as though I hurled myself upon stone, so mighty was the shock of
my entering the water.  Methought in my confusion of wits ’twas an age
before I came to the surface, gasping for my breath.  In a daze I trod
water until my senses were some little restored; then, hearkening with
all my ears, but hearing nought, I swam close beneath the wall, until I
found my bundle dangling, and thereupon tugging upon the cord I snapped
it, and set the bundle upon my head. There I held it with one hand,
while with the other I struck out towards the shore; at which arriving I
scrambled up the bank, and sped away as fleetly as I might to the
shelter of a copse hard by.  Here, all winded as I was with swift
running after my dive and swim, I made short work of stripping off my
wet clothes, and donning the dry raiment and the boots which I had
brought in my bundle; which done, I wrung out my sodden things, tied
them about my back with the cord, and making a cast as well as I could
for the English fort I had lately left, I turned my back upon the lake
and the castle, and issued forth from among the trees to plod over those
unknown barren hills.



                                  *V*


The sky, as I told you, rendered a pale light, it being high summer; and
I was rather dismayed than pleasured when I saw the moon’s pale sphere
stretching a bow beyond the further hills.  The more light, the less
chance of shunning an enemy. Truly, I could have been thankful for a
lanthorn upon my path, for I had need to go slowly and heedfully, lest I
should find myself embogged, of which my one experience was more than
enough. I laboured over the ground, making small headway, for where
’twas not marshy ’twas rugged and bestrewn with loose stones, and where
’twas none of these, I was annoyed with pestering thorns or entangled
underwood.  And the short summer darkness was already dissolving with
the dawn.

I looked back over the way I had come, and saw the lake not above two
miles off, below me, and the castle rose-tinted in the sun’s ray. Even
now, I thought, the nimble kernes, whose fleetness of foot exceeds that
of a horse, might run me down, if my escape had become known. I
considered whether to seek a hiding-place, in some bosky covert or some
brier-clad hole in the hills; but bethought myself that I must then lie
quiet all day without food, and maybe lose myself when I came forth in
the night.  It seemed to me best to keep right on, watching my steps,
and shrouding myself with such brushwood and overhanging cliffs as I
might encounter on my way.

Presently after I had thus resolved, I came unawares out of the
trackless ground upon a beaten path, which methought led in the
direction of my course.  To follow this path stood me in some danger of
meeting my foes; yet I should make speedier progress upon it, and have
my eyes for scanning the country instead of for taking heed of bogs or
pitfalls.  Therefore I cast away all scruples of timidity and struck
with assured gait into the path.

’Twas not long before I repented of my temerity. On a sudden I heard a
patter of feet before me, and ere I could slip aside for hiding there
came into my sight, round a bend in the path, a man of lofty stature,
running as for a prize.  At one and the same instant we halted upon our
feet, the runner and I, being divided by no more than thirty paces.  I
had but just perceived by his garb that the man was an Irishman when he
leapt from the path down a shelving grassy bank at his right hand, and
bounded like a hunted stag towards a clump of woodland no great distance
away.

Bethinking me in a flash that every Irishman hereabout was an enemy, and
that this man, were he to escape, might fetch a horde of his wild
fellows upon my track, I sprang after him, in my soul doubting whether
with my utmost endeavour I could overtake him.  For some little time the
man outsped me, but coming to the skirts of the woodland he suddenly
stumbled, sought desperately to recover his footing, and then sank upon
the ground.  Gathering my speed, in four leaps I was upon him, and
closed with him, expecting that he would strive with me for the mastery;
but he lay limp and lumpish in my hands, his eyes beseeching mercy.  So
stout of frame he was, I was no little amazed at my easy victory, until
I saw by his laboured breathing, the quivering of his nostrils, and the
pallor of his cheeks, that he was utterly spent.  This put me in a
quandary.  I had a mind to leave him and go my way; but in a moment I
saw that I might perchance make some profit of him. Taking a portion of
the cord about my bundle, I bound his hands behind him, and when the
heaving of his naked breast was somewhat stilled, I bade him arise and
lead me to the English camp, fearing the while lest he should be of the
wild barbarians that knew no tongue but their own.  But at my words he
looked me in the face, and told me that the English were many miles
away, marching northward.

[Illustration: GATHERING MY SPEED, IN FOUR LEAPS I WAS UPON HIM]

I asked him how he knew, whereupon he said that he had himself been
among them.  Questioning him further, by degrees I learnt that he was
one of the band that had followed Kedagh O’Hagan into the field.  Two
days before a battle had been fought betwixt the rebels and the army of
my general, and this man had been taken, but having escaped by night, he
had fled for refuge to the cabin of his sister, whose husband was a
henchman to Rory Mac Shane.  The husband being absent, the man had
learnt in talk with his sister that Mac Shane had gathered his men, with
the intent to fall upon the lake-castle of O’Hagan while he was footing
it with the rebels, and to carry away the maiden whom he had sworn to
wed.  At this news the man, in loyal service to his chief, brake from
his sister, and ran all night over the hills to warn his mistress of the
peril threatening her.  Being not yet recovered of the fatigue of
marching and the stress of battle; having, moreover, followed an
indirect and winding course to avoid the raiders of Rory Mac Shane, who
were already on foot; the man had overtaxed his strength in running, and
so fallen helpless into my hands.

In my course through the world I had gained some skill in reading men,
and was not easily deceived when those I had to do with were artless and
simple, not versed in the tricks of courtiers, nor trained to mask their
thoughts like the ambassadors of kings.  The man’s bearing was honest;
his story fitted both with his present sorry case and with what I had
heard before; briefly, I did not doubt him.  And when I inquired of him
where these raiders might be, and he told me that they were not above
three miles from the place where we then stood, and full in my path, I
could not but look upon this encounter as a fortunate accident for me.

And now I had perforce to choose what I must do.  I could not proceed in
safety until Mac Shane and his raiders were no longer between me and my
goal, and I considered whether I should hide myself a while, and let the
man continue his journey, and so warn his mistress of what was to come;
or, making assurance doubly sure, I might hold him in hiding with me
until the danger of interception was past, then leave him well tied up,
and go my way: in which case the lady must remain unwarned.  And as I
thought thereon, and my mind’s eye dwelt upon that piece of loveliness,
forlorn in her ruinous castle, with few to help her, and remembered what
I had been told of this Rory Mac Shane, a violent and besotted savage,
on a sudden I felt the blood rush to my temples, and without more ado,
scarce knowing what secret motive impelled me, I caught up my prisoner,
unloosed his bonds, bade him pluck up heart, and, supporting his
half-fainting form with my arm, set forth with hasty step towards the
quarter whence I had come.

For all that I was cumbered with the poor wretch, I made better speed
back than forth, because he knew the way, and avoided rough and quaggy
places.  The morning was yet young, wanting something of four o’ the
clock when we came to the lake-side, and I felt a passion of wrath
spring within me at what had formerly served me well—namely, the
culpable neglect of watch and ward upon the castle.  There was no
lookout man posted upon the keep; not a soul stirring on battlements or
in courtyard: a heinous lack of precaution which could not but set on
edge the nerves of any man with the least experience of war.
God-a-mercy, thought I, is this the Irish manner of guarding fair
ladies? No eye had spied us as we descended the hillside; and when, at
the water’s brink, we set up a loud halloo, we might have been wolves
howling in a wilderness for all the stir we made.

Ofttimes as we came the Irishman had glanced back timorously along the
path, and now he clutched me by the arm and stretching forth his hand,
pointed to a regiment of dusky shapes moving against the sky behind us;
which seeing, and being in no manner of doubt what they were, I made a
trumpet of my hands and let forth a shout like to split my lungs.  And
then, above the broken parapet of the tower, a woman’s form appeared,
and stood there a brief space at gaze, then vanished from my sight.
Still bellowing my loudest, I saw men moving in the courtyard, and
presently from the water-gate the wherry shot forth under the strokes of
two oarsmen.  The Irishman by my side called to them in their own
tongue, and they made great haste, and we waded into the lake to meet
them, and leapt into the vessel, which swung about and conveyed us with
all speed over the water and through the gate.  I perceived the
countenances of these oarsmen how they were blank with stark amazement,
their eyes resting upon me as upon one risen from the dead; and the
women in the courtyard crossed themselves and fell back from me as I
passed among them, and ’twas told me afterward they held me for a
wizard.

[Illustration: HE CLUTCHED ME BY THE ARM AND POINTED TO A REGIMENT OF
DUSKY SHAPES]

And there at the postern leading into the keep stood my lady, very
straight and still, a high colour in her cheeks and a fire in her eyes.
I bent myself, saluting her, and said—

"I fear me, madam, I seem thankless in quitting the castle without
paying my respects to its fair mistress, but you were, I trust, lapped
in quiet slumber when your caged night-bird took wing.  Yet am I soon
come back to roost, for it chanced that in my flight I crossed a
servitor of yours, and he——"

"And he snared the simple fowl, and brought him to be plucked," she
said, with a curling lip.

"Simple fool, in good sooth, I may be, madam," said I, "yet ’twas not he
carried me back, but rather that which he carried."

She looked in puzzlement from me to the Irishman, and from him again to
me, and I would very willingly have engaged further in tossing the ball
but for the grave news I bore. Breaking off suddenly, I told her with
seriousness than within the fourth part of an hour Rory Mac Shane with
his posse of rascals would be at her gates.

"It behoves your folk to show," I said, "that they can fight better than
they watch; and with your leave, while your man here tells his tale in
gross, I will make bold to set things in order for defence."

I did not wait for an answer, but turned abruptly from her (noting how
her wrath was kindled against me), and sought my servant and the
Irishmen my comrades in captivity.  Them I informed of what was toward,
and gave commands for the Irishmen to convey to their fellow countrymen.
My assured mien and peremptory speech carried it with them, and with
Mistress Sheila too, who was so much taken aback by my masterfulness, as
well as engrossed with the tale poured out in the Irish tongue by her
man, as that she was in a manner fixed and immovable like a monument.

But this posture endured but a little.  Being informed of all that had
happened, she came flying to me in the midst of the courtyard, and a
wondrous light shone upon her face, and she thrust out her hands towards
me, and cried—

"Oh, sir, I crave your pardon, and I thank you."

I took her hand and kissed it in the manner of a courtier, yet mayhap
with something less formality.

"But haste, sir!" she cried again.  "The wherry is yours.  Get you, you
and your men, to the other side, and escape while yet there is time."

"Madam," I said, "I and my men have no other wish than to serve you."

"I beseech you, endanger not your life in a quarrel that is not your
own," she said.

"I trow I make it my own," said I, with a forthright quick look.  An
instant our glances clung; then she veiled her enkindling eyes, and
turning aside hastily, clasped hands with the sour-faced dame who had
now come forth, a fearsome dragon, from the postern door.



                                  *VI*


My heart sang as I went about the business of my assumed captaincy.  She
left all to me, and ever and anon as I was in the midst of my activities
I saw her eyes fasten upon me and smile encouragement and sweet trust.
I was in my element now that war’s alarm was sounding. Never in my life
before had I addressed myself to fight so gaily as now.  I had fought
for treasure, for dear friends, for a noble king, for honour and truth
and liberty; but never, as it chanced, had it fallen to my lot to battle
for a lady.  And when I thought of Rory Mac Shane—faugh! what a mouthful
of ugliness his name!—I laughed within myself, and _Io triumphe_ rang a
joyous peal in my head.

But I must come back to my tale.

Leaving my good fellow Stubbs, who had catched fire from me, to muster
all the serviceable varlets in the courtyard, I made haste to mount to
the top of the keep, to judge how long a time for preparation I had
before the enemy should come.  They were, as I guessed, a good mile
away.  I descended, and as swiftly as might be I ranged through all the
castle, now wholly open to me, and observed in my hasty survey those
points where it was most vulnerable. Meantime I had commanded that all
weapons of every sort should be carried into the courtyard, and coming
there again, I parted them among the garrison, a pitiful poor rabble as
was ever mustered to defend a fortress.  There were not so many as I had
seen when first I came to the place, and I began to suspect that some
faint-hearted rascals had hidden themselves away in tenderness for their
skins.  But when I turned to the lady to ask of this matter—she stood
queenly on the step of the postern—she told me that the night before she
had dispatched sundry stout fellows with munition and victuals to her
father, who had sent word that he was in dire straits, cooped up in a
wild place by the English forces.  By this I knew the meaning of that
coming and going which had delayed my flight, yet for which I was now
beyond measure thankful, seeing that otherwise I should have got clean
away (so I flattered myself), and my lady had been lost.

Yet this diminishment of my forces was a grievous matter, as I saw very
well when, going again to the battlemented roof, I descried the enemy
pouring down the hillside, a rout of nigh two hundred men, but not
marching in the ordered ranks of disciplined soldiers.  They were all
afoot, a rabble of half-naked kernes, equipped some with darts, some
with bows and arrows, a mere few with matchlocks.  I saw with great
thankfulness that they had no artillery, so that we need fear no
battering and breaching of the walls.  And then, wondering how they
purposed to come across the lake, I perceived that many of them bore
massy bundles, the nature whereof I could not determine.  And as I stood
peering over the parapet, I was aware that Mistress Sheila was at my
side, and turned to her, asking without preface what those bundles might
be. She told me that they were boats, made of the hides of beasts
strained over a framework of osiers.

"An armada, sooth!" I cried, feigning a cheerfulness I did not own.
"King Rory apes King Philip, and comes a-wooing with a fleet."

She flashed me a look, and her lips quivered.

"You are not afraid, mistress?" said I.

"Was your Queen afraid with her captains about her?" she said; and in a
murmur, soft as a mavis’ evening note, she added: "I trust my captain
too."

And she laid in my hand my own sword, which had been taken from me when
I was lugged from the slough.

"List to me, mistress," I said, stilling my leaping pulse, for our peril
was near.  "Do you bring all the women and children to this place, and
when I have descended, bolt the door upon me.  You and they will be safe
here, while we beat off the enemy below."

She nodded her head, and fled away, coming back a while after with the
beldam and the rest of the women, young and old, all huddling like silly
sheep, moaning and crying, spite of the rebukes of their high-hearted
mistress.  I bade her good-bye and sped down the stairs, hearing the
grating of the bolt behind me, and came to the courtyard, where the men
were assembled expecting me.

I had already resolved upon my plan of defence.  Our chiefest danger, as
I saw, was that the enemy, when they had crossed the lake, would by some
means mount the ruinous wall of the courtyard, that rose but three men’s
height above the water, and so swarm upon us. This wall was upwards of
two hundred ells in circuit, not of a perfect roundure, but irregular,
according to the shape of the rock whereon the castle was built.  With
my few men it would go hard with us to hold so long a line, and I
foresaw that if the enemy pushed us with any vigour, we must needs give
way before them. But I had determined upon resisting them at the wall so
long time as we might, and when we could no longer withstand them, we
should withdraw ourselves into the keep, where even with a handful I
deemed it possible to fend them off and endure if need be a long siege.

When I had posted my men at divers points along the wall, suddenly I
bethought me of the water-gate, which gave entrance directly into the
courtyard.  I remembered that the portcullis was raised, and had the
look of being immovable; but ’twas madness to leave the gate utterly
without defence, and so I called Stubbs to my side, and bade him find
tools wherewith we might endeavour to remedy this discommodity. While he
was gone about this quest, I looked around, and beheld with no little
indignation the Lady Sheila standing at the postern of the keep,
watching me.

"Get you up to the roof, mistress," I said peremptorily, hasting to her.
"This is no place for you."

"How now!" she cried.  "Am I a maid-servant to be commanded hither and
thither? Mistress of this castle I stay, sir, and go where I will."

"Must I e’en carry you?" I said, very foolishly, not knowing thoroughly
the quality of the maid.

"Sirrah, you were best not try," she said, and when I, still in my folly
(and yet ’twas for her good), stretched out my hands to do as I had
said, she fetched me a buffet that sent me reeling.

"Virago!" I cried, my ear stinging with the blow.

"Upstart!" she made answer, and then with a swift change she said
meekly: "I pray you, good Master Rudd, let me stay."

Before I could answer, Stubbs came to me with the tools, and since time
was precious I went at once with him to the gate, and by dint of hewing
and hacking we contrived to drop the portcullis, and so shut up the
entrance that might otherwise have been our undoing.  Which was no
sooner done than a loud cry summoned me to the wall, and mounting
thereon I saw the rabblement gathered on the further shore, and in the
forefront a man of vast stature with a head like a bull-calf, and fat
red cheeks bulging out from a shaggy mane the colour of hay.  He wore no
cap, but his form was clad in a loose tunic of saffron hue, leather
trews to his ankles, and great shoes of undressed hide.  Flourishing a
two-handed sword, he bellowed something in the execrable tongue of these
savages, and my Irishman at my side said that he called upon the Lady
Sheila to yield up the castle and make her humble submission.

"Methinks his name should be Roarer Mac Shane," said I, and I went to
inform the damsel of his demand.  "What is your answer, mistress, to
this windy swain?  He is young and over-grown, which may excuse the
tempestuous manner of his wooing."

"Tell him I deny him and defy him," she cried ringingly.  "I am daughter
of Kedagh O’Hagan!"

When this was repeated by my Irishman, Mac Shane vented another blast of
foul breath, and at his command a company of his ruffians hied them to
the woods towards the north side of the lake, and fell to cutting
timber, which they proceeded to fashion into rafts, binding the logs
together with ropes they had brought with them: manifestly Mac Shane had
not expected the lady to spring into his arms.  While this was doing,
others of the ragged crew built light ladders, setting at the top iron
hooks wherewith to catch the wall.  These preparations were little to my
liking, and I saw that there was rough work before us.

And now becoming aware of my emptiness, for I had neither eaten nor
drunk since my supper overnight, I considered there was time to make a
meal, without overhaste, for ’twould certainly be an hour or two ere the
rafts and ladders were finished.  My fair lady served me with her own
hands, and paid me little heed when I said she must be sparing of
victuals, but heaped upon my platter plenty of broiled flesh garnished
with shamrock, a herb of the country, with fair white bread, butter
(somewhat rancid), and a great horn of mead.

"Great warriors must needs be great eaters," she said, sitting
composedly over against the window near to the ancient gossip her
companion, whom she had fetched from above, and who had never yet said a
word in my hearing.

"But not great eaters great warriors," said I, in her vein.

"No, or swine would be the most warlike of beasts," she said.  Then,
resting her chin upon her hand: "Tell me, Master Captain Rudd, the
manner of your escape.  My women say you are a necromancer."

"Why, mistress, then by my black art conjured myself into the shape of a
simple fowl, and spread my wings, and hey!"

"Tush!  Tell me true," she said.  "Such fables are for children."

"Well then," said I, "since I may not be a bird, what say you to a
fish?"

"I cannot abide ’em, save broiled, and with sauce," she said.

"Then may the broiling I shall suffer this day, and the sauce of good
hard knocks, bring me to the top of your good favour," said I. "But,
indeed, I swim like a fish, and dive like a duck——"

"Or a goose?" she caught me up.

"But with no quackery," said I, "I heaved myself up to my window-sill—

"Then you should have been trussed," she said.

"Nay, madam, the trust is yours," said I; "and from the sill I leapt
into your lake, and so got myself, somewhat damp and muddied, to the
further shore."

"And without a wound?" she said, catching at her breath.

"Save in my heart," I said in a low voice.

"What! hath any Englishman a heart?" she said; and then as I glanced at
the frowning dame beside her, she cried right merrily—

"Oh, she knows no English!" and then with some confusion and haste she
asked me of the Queen and the Court, and led me insensibly to relate to
her some particulars of my past life, whereby the time sped away so
fast, and I had so far forgotten the posture of our affairs, that I
suffered a shock when Stubbs came running to me and said that the
Irishmen were setting across.  I called myself an ass, snatched my
sword, and made to the door.

"God bless thee with perseverance!" said the maid softly, using the
Queen’s words in that brief epistle, which I had shown to her in our
discourse; and with those sweet tones making melody in my heart I went
forth to try a bout with Rory Mac Shane.



                                 *VII*


When I came to the wall I beheld a half-score of the hide-boats being
propelled over the lake, and four or five of the new-made platforms,
each one pressed down by the burthen of men upon it.  The number of our
assailants was, I suppose, above a hundred, and against them we had less
than a score.  These by my appointment had taken post along the wall,
having, besides their weapons, fragments of rock gathered from the
ruinous battlements, stink-pots of homely device, and such other
missiles as the people had been able to prepare.  Of firearms we had but
two old rusty pieces, my own pistol and the guns of my men having been
sent away the night before with the succours dispatched to Kedagh
O’Hagan. But I observed joyfully that our assaulters were in little
better case in that regard, for when their quaint, unsteady vessels had
come within shot of us, they discharged upon us only two or three
bullets, which did us no harm, so ill-directed were they.  My man Stubbs
and another fellow gave them a shot apiece in reply, or rather they
would have done, had not Stubbs’ musket burst in his hand, one of the
fragments striking his brow and stunning him for some time.  He bore the
mark of it to his dying day.

As for the other men, I had charged them to do nothing until the
adversary should come directly beneath the wall.  In their haste and
eagerness they did not all obey my behest, but the most part did, so
that the vessels, when they drew in under, were assailed by a tempest of
missiles which did much execution, and sent one of the frail barks of
hide topsy-turvy to the bottom.  Our garrison suffered no hurt at this
first onset, save that one foolish old man, forgetful of my warning to
cover himself with the wall, peered over to see what had been done, and
fell with a dart in his throat.

But we being so few, certain of the enemy’s vessels escaped hurt
altogether; and were no sooner beneath the wall than their crews hoisted
the ladders, and fixing the hooks in crevices and gaps of the stonework,
began incontinently to swarm aloft.  Even the ladders were more in
number than all the men of the garrison, and had Rory Mac Shane
possessed a jot of generalship, it would have gone hardly with us.  But
he had taken no care that all his men should begin to mount at the same
instant.  Every man did what seemed good in his own eyes, so that we
were able to run from one ladder to another, and with push of pike, or
knife-thrust, or indeed with bare fists, to hurl the climbers down into
the water or upon their platforms, ere they could make good their
footing on the wall. This was, moreover, the easier for us, inasmuch as
only one man could ascend each ladder at one time.

Yet we were hard put to it, I assure you.  I had posted Stubbs at one
end of our spread line, holding myself at the other, both of us ready to
hasten to any spot that might seem more desperately menaced.  So nimble
were the attackers that we had much ado to convey ourselves with speed
enough from point to point, and I am sure that neither he nor I had ever
in our lives before so vigorously bestirred ourselves. Not once nor
twice did we come in the bare nick of time where the danger threatened,
and it being midday, and hot, we were soon reeking with our sweat.

From the beginning I had marked Rory Mac Shane himself, and kept as
close a watch upon him as in the press and hurry I could.  Being, as I
have said, a man of monstrous bulk, he was not so nimble in his motions
as the leaner fry, nor did not essay to mount upon a ladder among the
first.  But as I turned from dealing with one hardy climber, I espied
Mac Shane, a good way off, swing himself from the top of his ladder and
throw one leg across the wall, plying a doughty sword against an ancient
servitor that sought to stay him with his pike.  At the very instant of
my espying him, he cleft the pike shaft clean through with his blade,
and dealt the old man so grievous a wound that he dropt to the ground,
coughing out his life-blood.  I had leapt towards him, and immediately
afterwards came upon him a-tilt; and having the advantage of him, as
being balanced insecurely on the wall, I doubt not I should have sped
him but that the dying man lay heaped between us.  Whereby my sweeping
stroke failed somewhat of its full momentum, and Mac Shane turned my
sword aside as it was in the very act of falling upon his head.  But
giving back before my onslaught, he was dislodged from his perch, and
toppled with a lusty shout backward into the water.

I had not time to look what had become of him, even had it been prudent
to show my head above the parapet, being drawn to another part of the
wall on a like errand.  But after a minute or two, when I noted a
faltering in the attack, I supposed that he had at the least got some
damage, and hoped that it was grievous enough to render him unable for
further fighting.  There came no more men up the ladders; which seeing,
we clambered upon the wall, and beheld the whole rout setting their
craft towards the shore, some few, who had lost their standing, swimming
by their side.  We sped them on their way with a shower of whatsoever
missiles we could first lay hands upon, and discovered that in the hurry
of their flight they had left two of their ladders still hooked upon the
wall.  These we took as trophies.  I was nowise ill-pleased to see Rory
Mac Shane in his boat bearing marks of his discomfiture, his yellow hair
falling lank like seaweed over his cheeks, and his obese frame seeming
somewhat shrunken by reason that his sodden clothing hung more closely
upon him.

When I turned from observing him, the Lady Sheila met me, bearing a
brimming cup of mead.

"’Tis nectar, from a hand fair as Hebe’s," said I, quaffing deeply.

The lustre left her face, and she looked stonily upon me, whereat in
some surprise I said—

"Why, mistress, have I said aught amiss?"

"Nay, sir, what you say is naught to me, but—but I like not to be
equalled with some English wench."

"Good now!" said I, and could not forbear smiling.  "Know you, mistress,
that Hebe was no English wench, but a fair maiden of most illustrious
lineage, daughter of gods, herself a goddess, eternally young, and her
office was to bear the wine-cup of the high Olympians, and I bethink me
she was given as wife to Hercules himself."

"Oh, mock me not with your Hebes and your Hercules!" she cried in a pet.
"I wish I had not brought you drink."

"Nay, madam, for that I thank you heartily; and I shall hope to give you
a better opinion of those of whom the poets sing, after this business is
concluded."

"A long after, I fear me," she said, with a look of trouble.

"Why no; I trow we have taught them a lesson," I said.

"You English are puffed up with your own conceit," she cried scornfully.
"Think you an Irishman, and Rory Mac Shane, will be daunted by one
failure?  He is reputed the best fighter of all men hereabout.  But
indeed, Master Rudd"—and ’twas marvellous how sudden her mood would
change—"indeed, we talk idly, when my poor servants lie wounded.  Help
me, good sir, to tend them."

"Two are past help, madam," I said gravely; "the rest have suffered
little hurt."

She flew from me to the old man slain by Rory Mac Shane, and I saw the
fair maid drop upon her knees, and breathe a prayer with moist eyes for
the poor soul departed.

There was peace and a great quietude all that afternoon, though I took
it to be that ominous calm which oft precedes a storm.  Ever and anon
there came to my ears from the distant woodland the ringing of axes, and
I guessed that more ladders were to be made, and my heart sank; for with
twice the number the adversaries would be too many for us to deal with
piecemeal. But the day wore to evening, and the sun went down, and yet
there was nothing done.  I had set watchmen upon the battlements, to
inform me if they saw aught; but when the country was blanketed in
darkness, and the silence was unbroken save by the croaking of frogs
about the margin of the lake, I supposed that our foes were taking their
rest, to fortify themselves against the labours of another day.

It wanted an hour or two of midnight when my man Stubbs came to me from
his outpost on the walls, and told me that the fleet of rafts and
hide-boats had put forth from the shore, and was approaching in a
ghostly silence.  Now I have never held it a part of valiancy in a true
warrior to oppose himself to invincible odds. My men being so few and
weak, ’twas against reason that they should withstand a more numerous
foe, who, taught by precedent mishap, would without question avoid their
former errors, and, covered by the darkness, set up their ladders more
thickly than we could counter.  I shrank from throwing lives away
vainly, and saw that we must abandon our outer rampart, and shut
ourselves within the keep, whereto there was but one entrance, from the
courtyard, and behind whose massy door I thought we should be safe.
Accordingly I gathered all my company and withdrew them into the keep,
barring the door with my own hand, and I sent the men into the
watch-house above the door, bidding them hurl their missiles upon the
heads of the enemy when they should make to assault us.

My prescience was approved ere many minutes were past.  Looking from a
window in the keep, I saw the wall thick with dark shapes mounting from
innumerable ladders, and leaping down into the courtyard with scarce a
sound.  Some of them turned about, and began to haul on ropes, and there
came over the wall two or three of their rafts, whereat I wondered, not
divining what purpose these could serve.  But in a little I saw their
cunning device, for the Irishmen hoisted the rafts upon their shoulders,
and employing them in the manner of what the Romans called a testudo,
advanced, thus defended, towards the door of the keep.  The missiles
launched on them from above bounded off from those broad shields, as I
knew by hearing rather than sight, for being now come within the shadow
of the keep they were no longer visible.

Expecting a vehement onset upon the door, I ran down and posted myself
with Stubbs and two or three more at the foot of the stairway. Mistress
O’Hagan, in defiance of my express charge, had not taken refuge upon the
roof with her household women, but stayed in a little room hard by the
first winding of the stair.  As it fell out, this flat obstinacy turned
to our advantage.

We waited there at the foot of the stair, holding our weapons in
readiness; but when, after some time, no assault was made upon the door,
I began to be uneasy, and wished I might contrive to see what was
a-doing.  We were in utter darkness, and such poor candles as were
commonly used would not suffice to cast an effectual light a yard length
beyond the wall; but a thought coming into my head, I bade Stubbs take
command of the men, and running upstairs to the lady, asked her if she
had any means of making torches or flares.  Instantly she led me by a
back stair to a lower room where was a quantity of tow, and while I
shredded this and fashioned it to my purpose, she fetched me a pot of
swine’s lard and two long and slender chains.  Then returning to the
upper room, we kindled these flares, and let them down over the
window-sill into the courtyard, amid a great outcry from the enemy.  By
their light we saw the courtyard swarming with men, and our people were
able to take surer aim with their missiles; but we had little good of
them, as you shall see.

I observed that the penthouse of rafts was still about the door, and was
much perplexed as to what was a-doing there.  On a sudden the rafts fell
with a clatter upon the ground, and the men whom they had sheltered ran
swiftly towards the wall, whither their comrades had retreated so as
they might be the farthest possible from our missiles.  The meaning of
their behaviour flashed upon my mind, and in my haste letting fall the
chain I held, I caught Mistress Sheila about the waist, and carried her
swiftly into her inner room.  I had but just set her down, she still
grasping her chain, when from below there burst a shattering din, and
the keep seemed to rock upon its base.  Springing down the stairs, I
rushed into the bitter smother of gunpowder smoke, and saw by the light
of my dropped flare, that shone through a rent in the door, the men I
had left thrown down in a heap upon the floor.  One of them was dead,
but the rest, though bruised and shaken, recovered from their benumbment
in time to stand with me upon the lowest stairs, before the enemy,
leaping across the courtyard, came with fierce shouts to enter by the
breach they had made.

Happily it was so narrow as that only two men could come through
abreast, and the stair wound in such sort that we had free play for our
right arms, while the enemy were impeded by the round of the wall.  So
close cramped were we that there was no place for the subtleties of
fence, in which we might have had some superiority over our less skilled
adversaries. Stubbs and I, standing the lowest, plied our swords, made
for nicer work, with mere vehemency, beating aside the weapons of our
assailants, and using our points whenever we could. Behind us were two
Irishmen armed with pikes, which they thrust between us, with no small
risk to ourselves; and yet higher, a man hurled stones over our heads
upon the thickening crowd.

The stairway rang with the clash of steel, the shouts of the enemy, and
the groans of such as fell to our weapons.  So little light had we from
the expiring flare, and so confused was the mellay, that for some little
while I was unable to discern the form of him I especially sought; but
at length I perceived Rory Mac Shane striding over the prone bodies at
the foot of the stairs, and mounting among three or four of his men.  I
was thinking to hazard a swift descent upon him, but anon a musket shot
from the door struck the pikeman behind me, and he lurched against me,
so that I could barely keep my feet.  Another of my good Irishmen
stooped to lift the pike that had fallen from his comrade’s hand, and in
defending him I crossed the guard of Rory Mac Shane, and gave him the
point of my sword in the throat at the opening of his tunic.  He skipped
back in time to escape mortal hurt, and at that instant a man one step
below him lunged fiercely, and thrust the point of his long spear
through the calf of my right leg.  Mac Shane was roaring with pain, and
upon his stepping back to staunch his wound, his followers drew away,
giving us some respite, whereby I was able to make a shift to bind my
handkerchief about my hurt.  As I bent down I staggered and would have
fallen but for the sustaining arm of Stubbs.  My faintness filled me
with dread; I would have given a world for a cup of water; and I
sickened with dismay as I thought of what the end might be if my
draining blood left me no strength to endure the fight.

[Illustration: I CROSSED THE GUARD OF RORY MAC SHANE, AND GAVE HIM THE
POINT OF MY SWORD]

The intermission was brief.  Mac Shane gathered a little group about
him, and setting up before them a portion of one of their rafts, they
charged with the utmost impetuosity up the stairs.  We were driven
before them, hacking vainly at their shield.  I cried to the man above
me to stand by the door at the first landing; then bidding Stubbs run
for his life, I made one more desperate onslaught upon the raft, and
limping up with what speed I might, I slammed the door in the face of
the enemy, and fell in much pain and giddiness upon the floor.

There coming out of my swoon I found my lady kneeling beside me, holding
a cup from which she had poured wine between my lips. By the light of a
candle which Stubbs had kindled I saw her face, ashy pale, but bending
upon me so sweetly compassionate a look as shed upon my spirit abundant
solace for my pain.  I asked if all was well, and heard with no little
amazement that an hour had gone since I shut-to the door, which the
enemy had refrained as yet from anyways assaulting.  I conjectured that
they were biding their time till morning illumined the scene, being in
no dubiety of the ultimate act, since they had us caged like rats in a
trap.  Indeed, they might wait for famine to vanquish us, unless
perchance they had some dread of the return of Kedagh O’Hagan.  That we
could resist them long had no hope at all, for the upper doors might be
forced more easily than the great door below, and we should be pressed
back to the roof, where, overpowered by their greater numbers, we must
succumb.  It seemed that my eyes were the index to my thoughts, for
looking earnestly upon me, the lady said—

[Illustration: I FOUND MY LADY KNEELING BESIDE ME, HOLDING A CUP]

"Good sir, you shall suffer no more for me. ’Tis not meet that a
stranger lose his life in so poor a cause."

"Nay, madam," said I, "the cause is good, and the stranger not so
strange neither.  Besides, what will you do?"

"I will purchase your safety by yielding of the castle," said she.

"And Rory Mac Shane?" I hinted.

She winced a little, and a shudder ran through her.

"There is always the lake," she said in a whisper.

"O that I had a troop of Hilary Rawdon’s men, or Toby Caulfeild’s, or
any other my companions?" I groaned out, as the meaning of her words
smote upon my perception.  And then, to ease the time, she questioned me
of those friends I had mentioned; and as we talked of matchless doings
by land and sea, beguiling thus our anxious spirits, the dawn crept upon
us, and the sweet descant of a lark’s song floated in at the open
window.

"’Hark, hark, the lark at heaven’s gate sings,’" I said, using Will
Shakespeare’s words. "Methinks that warble is of good augury for us."

And as I rose stiffly to my feet, I heard faintly through the door the
clash and rumble of armed men stirring below.

"Get you upon the roof, mistress," I said hastily, taking my sword, and
though I spoke masterfully, in a manner that had angered her before, she
made no opposition, but flitted away, turning at the bend of the stair
to give me a last look, mute but eloquent.

I dispatched all the men but three to the roof, bidding them hold the
trap open for the final retreat.  Hardly were they gone when there
resounded a shattering blow upon the door.  With my three men I stood
upon the stairway, commending myself to God, and presently the door fell
in before the redoubled assaults of a ram which the enemy had contrived
to make, and there burst upon us Rory Mac Shane and a cluster of his
minions.  They were beset by so fierce a hail of stones from above that
they gave back, but returned directly, bearing the shield of wood which
we had aforetime proved invulnerable.  Little by little the vehemency of
their onset drove us back from one step to another.  One of my Irishmen
gasped out his life as a musket shot channelled his lungs. I heard my
good Stubbs groan, and knew by and by that a dart had transfixed his
arm.  In that extremity I looked for Sergeant Death to lay his
peremptory arrest upon me; but on a sudden, from above, I heard my
lady’s voice cry with a ringing gladness that help was at hand.  Whether
the adversary understood her words I know not, but their import was not
to be mistaken.  Their fierce shouts sank to a sudden stillness; their
ascent was stayed; and from below there rose the cries of men stricken
with astonishment and fear.  And as our near opponents halted in the
pause of irresolution, I took a leap, and lighting full upon their
wooden shield, dashed it and the men beneath pell-mell to the landing.
And Rory Mac Shane, casting up his arms when he found himself staggering
backward, bared his great breast to the unchecked thrust of my sword,
which passing clean through him bored a passage for his soul.



                                 *VIII*


"How now, my bully rook!" sang a well-remembered bluff voice in my ear
some while after, for my ill-bound wound had bled afresh, and I had lain
as one dead.  "What! hast cheated man’s last enemy yet once again?"

[Illustration: "HOW NOW, MY BULLY ROOK!"]

And lifting my eyes I beheld the round ruby countenance of my comrade
Toby Caulfeild, that commanded a troop of horse in the army of the Lord
Deputy.

"All’s well?" I asked him feebly.

"All’s well that ends well," said he, "though I misdoubt the end’s not
yet."

"My Lady Sheila?" I said.

"Ah yes, I have heard the name," said he drily.  "For a good hour you
have done nothing but prattle of Sheilas and Hebes, and Hercules and
roarers, mingling Christian and heathen in such sort that my very ears
blushed to hear you."

"What is done?" said I.

"Sundry things that cannot be undone," said he, "namely, many ruffians
sent to their account, many more so slashed and carved that all the
surgeons in Christendom could not make of them aught but patchwork.  We
came in time to finish your work, my Chris, but only just in time."

"I heard the lark singing," said I, wandering somewhat in my wits.

"And shall again," said he; "but indeed I know a song worthy two of
that, and that was carolled by the rosy lips of a most enchanting
damsel.  Hark!  I hear it even now."

And I too heard the low, sweet music of my lady’s voice, trolling a
ditty in a chamber not far away.  And there broke into it the loud,
rough utterance of a man, speaking words in the Irish tongue, and the
song ceased.

"What rude unmannerly lubber——" I was beginning, but Toby checked me.

"Tush! a father stands on no ceremony with his child," he said.

"Her father!" said I.

"Ay, her father, Kedagh O’Hagan, the arrantest rebel and the jolliest
old swasher that ever ’scaped hanging.  Hark while I tell you.  We were
in full cry after the O’Neill when a tatterdemalion kerne came hot-foot
after us, bearing a letter very fairly writ but somewhat indictable in
the article of spelling, addressed to our general; the which perusing,
he read a very painful threat to hang you up if O’Hagan should suffer so
much as the clipping of a hair.  He twitched his brows—you know his
way—and said that having fallen into the hands of some apparent
termagant or vixenish shrew you must e’en abide his leisure, swearing
roundly that Christopher Rudd’s head was nought in comparison with the
rascal O’Neill.

"Well, it chanced some days after that we snared this Kedagh O’Hagan in
our toils, and our general, who loves you heartily, gave him into my
hands and bade him bring me to his lair, charging me to hang him in his
own courtyard if you had been diminished by the paring of a nail.  Last
night, as we rode over yond hills, we saw a great way off two red fires
descend as from the sky, and kindle their image in a space of water
beneath.  The sight put O’Hagan into a fret and fume, he declaring the
lights portended some menace to his castle.  We made all the speed we
could, but what with the rough pathless hills and the villainous reechy
fens, we had to go so far about that ’twas morning ere we came to the
place.  And as we issued forth of the wood yonder we saw the roof filled
with women, of whom one at sight of us waved a handkercher as if to say
’Haste! haste!’  Coming to the water’s edge, and finding no craft to
ferry us across, we swam our horses, and some of us mounted the wall by
ladders we saw hooked there for our conveniency, and so fell upon the
pack of howling Irishmen in the courtyard and about the door.  And when
we had done our work, and the old man rushed panting up the stairs,
raging for his daughter, he found her here with your head in her lap,
dropping salt tears of happiness."

I pressed his hand and thanked him for the service he had done me.

"Well, lad, well, ’tis nought," said he.  "Come now, your tale.  I must
hear about this pickle you fell into, and all the process of your
adventures."

I told him how I had been embogged, and brought hither to the castle,
and how I had borne my part in defending it against the desperadoes; but
I said no whit of my escape by diving, nor of my return.  When I came to
the end of my brief relation, Toby regarded me very whimsically.

"So, so, my Chris," he said, "you deem your old friend Toby to be
unworthy of your confidence. Why, man, I knew all that, and a great deal
more; for I took the pains, when the damsel had related all to her
father in a torrent of Irishry—the which methinks hath its melodies—I
took the pains, I say, to persuade her to rehearse the same in English,
which she did with a pretty smack of her tongue that pleased me
mightily. She showed me the window whence you made your monstrous dive,
waxed eloquent upon your chivalry in coming back to defend her, called
you her noble captain, and, in short, so worked upon my inflammable
heart that it pricked and stung with jealousy, and I wished I had been
in your room."

Hereupon our converse was broken off by the entrance of the maiden
herself, leading by the hand a tall old man of a majestical and warlike
presence.  She brought him to my bedside, and spoke softly for his ear
alone; and he thanked me with a noble grace and courtesy, and offered me
the hospitality of his castle until my wound should be thoroughly
healed.

When they had departed, Toby Caulfeild heaved a windy sigh.

"Good lack, I envy thee, Chris!" he said. "Never a maiden looked on me
with such adorable eyes."

"I did not mark her eyes," said I.

"No, you had eyes for the old man alone," said he.  "I warrant she will
look on me otherwise when I go hence, for the general charged me, if all
was well with you, to convey the prisoner straightly back to camp.  What
am I to tell him of you, Chris?"

"It needs not that you tell him anything," I answered.  "I shall come
with you."

"Tush, man, ’twill be a month ere you can sit a horse in any comfort,"
said he.  "I know that, though I am no leech.  And something whispers me
that your fighting days are over. Never again shall we outface the
murderous cannon together, never again mount side by side into the
deadly breach.  Alack, old lad, and wellaway!"

"You talk a deal of nonsensical nothing, Toby," said I.  "My organs are
sound enough; shall I cease to bear arms for a paltry poke i’ the leg?"

"Ah, lad, I doubt your organs be not so sound as you suppose;" and
saying this he sighed again, and smiled whimsically when I asked him if
I had unawares been wounded in another part.  "Time will show," said he.
"Now I must get me to horse, though I dread the lady’s anger when I tell
her I must take her father hence."

But after some time he came back in great cheerfulness of spirit.

"She received me sweetly," he said, "avowed ’twas hard for a daughter to
part from her father, but I must do my duty; said she had confidence in
the courtesy of English gentlemen and knew we should treat her father
well; assured me that you should have all good care and tendance, and
thanked Heaven that Master Rudd had so true a friend.  Then she smiled
bewitchingly upon me, gave me her hand, and looked as though the
greatest pleasure in life I could do her was to turn my back and hie me
away.  What will the Queen say, Chris?"

He laughed heartily at my bewilderment upon this question, then sighed
again, shook my hand mournfully, and so departed.

It needs not to tell of those few weeks I spent in sickness on my couch,
yet weeks of bliss and unimaginable contentment.  My lady spent the
greater part of every day with me, bringing me confections made by her
own fair hands, smoothing my pillow, tending me with kind ministrations,
reading to me prettily out of her books, and hanging upon my lips when I
related, as she bade me, somewhat of my adventures.  One day, when
reading out of Master Spenser’s book, she faltered at those lines—

    "Where they do feed on Nectar heavenly-wise,
    With Hercules and Hebe and the rest,"

and with a pretty blush she listened as I told her those enchanting
fables of the antique world.

"And I was jealous of Hebe!" she said.

"’That canker-worm, that monster, Jealousy!’" I quoted from the same
poem.  "But why jealous of Hebe, mistress?" I asked.

"Because I was a witless, silly child," she said.  "Jealous of a
goddess, indeed!  But I knew not then she was a goddess."

"You thought she was a maiden like yourself?" I said.

"Not like myself," she said, "but fairer."

"Was there ever fairer?" said I, under my breath.

"Tell me, are there many pretty ladies at your Queen’s Court?" she said.

I feigned to consider deeply, and rehearsed the names of some known to
me, praising this one and that, and marking how her breath came and
went.

"But no one durst say a good word of any in the hearing of the Queen,"
said I.  "She must ever be the fairest, the wittiest, the best
proportioned, the most nobly endowed both in body and mind.  Do you
know, mistress, the Queen hath banished and even cast into prison many a
man that has dared to wed one of her ladies?"

"Is she so unkind?" she said.

"And when Toby Caulfeild was leaving me he said, ’What will the Queen
say, Chris?’ and my doltish pate did not understand him."

"Why, that is simple," she said.  "He meant that the Queen would be sore
grieved at hearing of your hurt.  With her own hand she wrote, ’Thy
loving sovereign.’"

"She will love me no more when she knows that I love thee," said I,
laying my hand upon hers.

She let it rest so for a little, and her cheeks went from red to pale,
and from pale to red again.  Then her hand stole from mine, and clasped
the other upon her lap.

"Ay, none but thee," I said, seeking her eyes beneath the covert of
their lids.  I breathed her name.  I reached out my hand and gently
unclasped her twining fingers, and with a lift of the eyes she gave me
my answer.

"Let the Queen say what she will!" I cried in my joy.  "There is a
little place in our south country, Sheila, within sound of the sea, in a
fair forest, near soft-running brooks.  I would not exchange it for a
king’s palace.  Good-bye the Camp, good-bye the pomp and glitter of the
Court.  There will we nest ourselves, my sweet, away from the noise and
racket of the world."


Toby Caulfeild was approved a true prophet. My fighting days were done.
We took up our abode, Sheila and I, on my little manor, out of the
current of war and intrigue, untouched by the discords that rent England
asunder when the great Queen had gone to her rest.  I never saw the
Queen again after that Christmas when she goaded me to fight; what she
would have said on hearing that I had wed an Irish maiden without her
royal consent could only be guessed. When I returned with my bride from
Ireland, the Queen was deep sunk in a lethargy, and the joys and sorrows
of mortality were beyond her ken.


[Illustration: tailpiece to Fifth Part]



                              *Postscript*


My grandfather took his bride home in the summer of the year 1603, and
there they lived in great happiness and contentment, rarely stirring
abroad save to make brief and sudden visits to London and to their many
friends. My father, their sole child, was born in October of the year
1604, and when he came to the age of eleven, he was sent to the school
at Winchester, whence in due order he proceeded to the New College at
Oxford.

All these years did my grandfather hold himself aloof from the Court,
being much troubled in his mind about the foolish and heady courses of
King James.  My lady grandmother told me, I remember, how that on the
day when he had news of the beheading of his old captain Sir Walter
Raleigh, he shut himself up in his chamber, and for very sorrow would
neither see nor speak with any of his household.  And methinks I hear
still his full round voice rehearsing to me the famous verses which Sir
Walter wrote, the night before his death, in the Bible of the Dean of
Westminster.  "He lived and died a gentleman, boy," said he to me; "and
if you would know the true signification of that word ’gentleman,’ read
Castillo’s _Book of the Courtier_, in Mr. Hoby’s translation, though in
truth you will find all and more in the 15th Psalm."

In the summer of the year 1623 there came to him a gentleman post-haste
from London, bearing a letter from a very great person bidding him
journey without delay to Westminster. Being beholden to the writer, he
must needs comply, though apprehensive of trouble in his quiet life.
And after two days a messenger brought from him a letter wherein he
wrote that he had been commanded to cross over to France, and ride with
all imaginable speed into Spain, on an errand of great moment.  My
grandmother was sorely disquieted at this news, more especially because
he told her no more, nor indeed did she learn the cause of his going
until he returned in time to keep my father’s birthday.

It was on this wise.  There had been talk for many years of a marriage
between the Infanta Maria, daughter of King Philip IV of Spain, and our
Prince Charles (now King, though a prisoner), a match very little to the
liking of our English people.  But King James hoped by this alliance to
aid the cause of his son-in-law the Elector Palatine, and he carried the
business so far as that nothing was wanting except the Pope’s
dispensation, whereby alone could a Catholic princess wed with a
heretic.

Now the Prince of Wales, at that time three and twenty years of age, was
a thoughtless unsteady youth, deserving well the fond name of Baby
Charles bestowed upon him by his doting father.  In consort with his
boon friend the Marquis (afterwards Duke) of Buckingham, he conceived
the lunatic fancy of going himself to Madrid, with the intent to hasten
the match, and woo the Princess in person.  Wherefore in February of
that year the two headstrong young men, disguised with false beards, and
calling themselves Tom and John Smith, set forth from Newhall, crossed
the sea from Dover, and rode through France into Spain, where they were
received, having thrown off their disguise, with due honour.  But, being
light-minded, they ran foul of the stiff ceremoniousness of the Spanish
Court and gave deep offence, the Prince by his levity, the Marquis by
his insolency.  It was deemed fit that the Infanta should be approached
only with the forms of State; yet the Prince, seeing her walk alone in a
garden, leapt over the wall and made love to her, whereat she screamed
and fled from this too ardent wooing. The Spaniards, moreover, held it
unseemly that the Marquis, a subject, sat in his dressing-gown at the
Prince’s table, turned his back upon him in public places, and bent
himself forward to stare unmannerly at the Infanta.  And the Marquis was
continually at odds with Olivarez, the Spanish minister, used him
haughtily, and browbeat him without measure whether in word or deed.  To
be brief, they played the fool.

In the summer, when a month had gone by without any word arriving from
the Prince, who had been wont before to write often to his father, King
James, then afflicted with the gout, and sick also in mind, conceived
that his dear Baby Charles stood in peril of captivity, and went about
wringing his hands, and crying with tears that his only sweet son would
never see his old dear dad again.  Whereupon the great person aforesaid
resolved to send some staid and discreet person privily to Madrid to
have an eye upon the Prince, and to bring him away, even by kidnapping,
if he were in truth menaced by any danger.  And bethinking him of my
grandfather, and how he had acquit himself well in many divers
adventures, and moreover had had dealings with the Spaniards, he sent
for him and dispatched him forth on that errand.

As it fell out, my grandfather had his pains for nought.  The Prince,
with that deceitfulness which has brought his present woes upon him,
having made promises which he knew he could never perform, departed from
Madrid, leaving, as the custom with royal persons is, a proxy to wed the
Infanta, ten days after the Pope’s dispensation should come to hand,
although he was in truth already minded to break off the match.  Upon
his return, the great person acquainted King James with what he had
done, and the King sent for my grandfather, and blessed him with many
tears, and dubbed him knight.

Thereafter Sir Christopher dwelt only in the country, beholding with
troubled eyes the headlong gait of Baby Charles after that he became
King.

In the year 1624 my father, having proceeded Master of Arts at Oxford,
became parson of a parish in Wiltshire, and wedded the daughter of a
neighbour gentleman, and in the next year I was born.  When I was
sixteen, and a scholar of Winchester, my grandfather related to me the
passages of his life which I have set forth in these writings.  Five
years afterward, when the Rebellion was at its height, and my father
held obstinately for the King, he was haled before the Committee of
Sequestration, and charged in that he had incited his parishioners to
attend the King’s rendezvous at Austin’s Cross and also helped the royal
garrison at Longford Castle. By this Committee being ejected from his
living, he returned to his father’s house, and there abode.  And in the
next year, on November 15, the very day when King Charles crept into
Carisbrooke Castle, my grandfather died, to the sorrow of us who had the
chiefest cause to love him, and of the friends and neighbours among whom
he had lived in all honour and righteousness.



                     RICHARD CLAY & SONS, LIMITED,
                BRUNSWICK STREET, STAMFORD STREET, S.E.,
                          AND BUNGAY, SUFFOLK.





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