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Title: In Search of Mademoiselle
Author: George Gibbs, - To be updated
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "In Search of Mademoiselle" ***

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Internet Archive/American Libraries.)



[Illustration: “THEN I LEFT HER.”]



                             IN SEARCH OF
                             MADEMOISELLE


                            [Illustration]


                                  By
                             GEORGE GIBBS


                            HENRY T COATES
                                 & CO.

                             PHILADELPHIA
                                 1901



                          Copyright, 1901, by
                     HENRY T. COATES AND COMPANY.

                        _ALL RIGHTS RESERVED._



                            TO THE MEMORY
                                 OF
                              MY FATHER
                      THE LATE MEDICAL INSPECTOR

                       Benjamin Franklin Gibbs,

                          UNITED STATES NAVY.



NOTE.


There were no more vivid episodes in the colonization of the New World
than those resulting from the attempts of the French people to gain a
permanent foothold on our shores. This fact has long been recognized
by sober historians as well as by the writers of fiction, for all the
fascination of romance holds over the whole field of inquiry.

The most thrilling chapter in all this history, strangely neglected or
overlooked by the romantic writers, is that of the struggle between the
Spanish and French colonists for dominion over our own land of Florida.
To me, whose profession it is to see pictures in the words of other
men and to produce them, this historic page has appealed very strongly
as the proper setting for a human drama--an inviting canvas upon which
the imagination may paint a moving picture of the emotions, desires and
passions--the loves and hates--of men and women like ourselves--against
the somber and sometimes lurid background of historic fact.

I have tried, so far as I have used history, to be scrupulously exact.
I have carefully read the original or authorized editions of the
writings of Hakluyt, Réné de Laudonnière, and a number of others; but
there is little to be found in them which will not also be found much
more vividly depicted in the writings of Mr. Francis Parkman. Some of
the names will be recognized. Jean Ribault, Laudonnière, Menendez, the
Indians Satouriona, Olotoraca and Emola, and others, were all real men.
As for those others who are of the imagination--as for Mademoiselle
and those who searched for her, it is to be hoped that they will not
be found at odds with the events and scenes in which they are placed.
These things, or others like them, must have been, for the writer of
historic fiction may rely on the fact that human nature remains much
the same, no matter how great the lapse of years.

    G. G.

Bryn Mawr, March, 1901.



CONTENTS.


 CHAPTER.                                      PAGE
      I. OF MY MEETING WITH MASTER HOOPER         1
     II. OF THE TAKING OF THE CRISTOBAL          10
    III. MADEMOISELLE                            29
     IV. OF MY BOUT WITH DE BAÇAN                39
      V. DIEPPE                                  51
     VI. IN WHICH I LEARN SOMETHING              65
    VII. IN WHICH I FIND NEW EMPLOYMENT          81
   VIII. WE REACH THE NEW LAND                   95
     IX. WE PUT TO SEA                          110
      X. THE HERICANO                           124
     XI. WHAT BEFELL US UPON THE SAND-SPIT      135
    XII. TRUCE                                  150
   XIII. THE LINE UPON THE SAND                 164
    XIV. THE MARTYRDOM                          174
     XV. THE LODGE OF SELOY                     189
    XVI. OF OUR ESCAPE                          204
   XVII. IN WHICH WE JOURNEY TO PARIS           219
  XVIII. THE POET KING                          235
    XIX. I MEET THE AVENGER                     252
     XX. WE SET FORTH AGAIN                     267
    XXI. WE FORM AN ALLIANCE                    281
   XXII. OLOTORACA                              298
  XXIII. THE MOON-PRINCESS                      314
   XXIV. WE ADVANCE                             329
    XXV. THE DEATH OF THE WOLF                  344
   XXVI. AND LAST                               361



ILLUSTRATIONS.

By GEORGE GIBBS.


 “THEN I LEFT HER.” (Page 115)          _Frontispiece._

                                                  PAGE
 “A MOI! A MOI!”                                    24

 “A LINE IN THE SAND!”                             170

 “QUICK AS HE WAS, MY HAND WAS EVER QUICKER.”      357



IN SEARCH OF MADEMOISELLE.



CHAPTER I.

OF MY MEETING WITH MASTER HOOPER.


It has ever been my notion that apology is designed to conceal a
purpose rather than to express it; that excuse is not contrition but
only self-esteem. Therefore it seems ill-fitting to begin my narration
thus, especially as there are many Spaniards who will say that I lie
in all that I have written. But this will matter little to me, for I
have had good confirmation in the writings of their own priests and
chroniclers. Before many years are gone, I will rest peaceful in the
churchyard at Tavistock and the ranting of any person, of whatever
creed will avail little to disturb my bones. I shall die believing in
God Almighty; that is enough for me.

These blind fanatics think themselves privileged to commit any crime in
His name. They speak of God as though they owned Him; as though none
other were in a position even to think of Him with any understanding.
But indeed there is little to choose between the madmen of any races.
Twenty years have barely passed since Thomas Cobham sewed eight and
forty Spaniards in their own mainsail and cast them overboard. Not long
agone certain English soldiers in Mexico filled a Jesuit priest with
gunpowder, blowing him to pieces.

I do not attempt to justify my part in the happenings of which I am to
write, and the terrible retribution brought upon the Spaniards. I can
only say that my own intimate life and love were so twined into these
events that I followed where my wild heart led, as one distraught. It
is enough that I loved--and now love--Diane better than woman was ever
loved, and that I hated Diego with a hate which has outlived death
itself.

Being but a blunt mariner and God-fearing man, with a knowledge of
the elements rather than any great learning of the quiet arts, the
description of these happenings lacks the readiness of the skilled
writer, from whose quill new quips and phrases easily pass. Yet, what
I, Sydney Killigrew, am to write has virtue in its reality; and its
strangeness may even exceed those tales written by the sprightly wits
of London, whom I am told it is the fashion of Her Majesty to gather
about her.

For although a true report of the people of Florida has been made by
Admiral Jean Ribault, the story of the great deception practised upon
him by that Spaniard, Menendez de Avilés is now for the first time to
be truly written by one who was with the Frenchmen at that time. And
in view of the English settlements which may shortly be made by Her
Majesty to the northward, it seems proper and valuable that this should
be written.

The more do I deem this my duty when I consider the cruel wars which
men have fought for the modes by which the good God may be worshiped.
Reformist, New Thinker, or whatever I may be, these events have only
convinced me of the truth of the saying of my father, “Live thy _life_
right, my young mariner, and thy mode of faith will be forgiven.” That
great, good father--naval commander of his king, Councilor of the
Realm, noble in life as in lineage--upon whose talents and genius every
half-hearted earl in the kingdom had laid a claim! For whatever he
may have lacked in wisdom for the betterment of his own estate in the
world, he had ever the wit to advise others to their great good fortune
and happiness.

As I stood against a pile on the great dock at Plymouth and looked
across the fine harbor through the network of rigging, I thought of the
days of the Great Henry when good ships well manned and victualed, and
commanded by men of valor and ingenuity, were ready at all hours to
uphold the dignity of their king upon the water.

Now all was changed. The mighty fleets that lay off in Plymouth Sound
in Henry’s day, had rotted in anchorage and not a halliard had been
rove on a ship of the line for fifteen years. Discipline on royal ships
was a matter of no account, for no man knew what change the week to
come might work in his command. Even now the coasts of England lay open
to the attack of any foreign ships that might choose to run in and fire
the broadsides of their great new pieces of ordnance. Here in Plymouth
harbor lay but four revenue ships of one hundred tons, and three
converted merchant brigs which had been lightly armed. At London there
were perhaps as many more, and these were all,--all that great fair
England had in her harbors to ward off danger from the Spaniards, ever
ready and watchful across the channel! There was naught for a seaman to
do; and if a Bible or prayer-book chanced to be found on board any ship
in Papist waters, she would be confiscate forthwith and her company of
seamen would be carried to the prisons of the Inquisition.

A voyage in the narrow seas, from which I had returned but a few days
before, more than anything else had given me the desire to see service
with some foreign nation where a stout arm had more value than a heart
set on “paternosters” or psalm books.

In truth, though this trouble was partly of my own making, I had had
enough of the merchant service. To go back to Tavistock was not to my
liking; for though I had a taste for peace among men I had no stomach
for a life of idleness. I had been bred by my father to the sights and
smells of the sea, the voice of which was more grateful to my ears
than the sounds of the wood-birds which had ever seemed to me mere
shrill and noisy pipings. And though in no manner a brawler, a life of
enterprise suited me mightily.

As I labored in this quandary, a hand was laid upon my shoulder and
a rough voice at my side said heartily, “Why,--is not this Sydney
Killigrew of Tavistock?” And turning I saw Master David Hooper, my
father’s friend, who went as Master Commander in the last cruise of the
_Great Harry_.

“None other, Captain Hooper!” said I, grasping with great joy his hairy
fist. He held me off at arm’s length and looked at me carefully, noting
my great stature with evident enjoyment.

“The very image of thy father--though, by my faith, thou’rt built upon
a more sumptuous scale. But, lad, what’s wrong? You’ve the air of a
farmer’s boy two days from land.”

And with that, after other exchanges of compliments, I told him how the
world had gone with me; how our estates had fallen from bad to worse
and how little chance there seemed of pursuing the calling upon the
ocean I loved and wished for. He heard me through, tapping the while
thoughtfully with his fingers upon the pier head.

“Come,” said he at length, “let us go to some place where we can
discuss thy affairs at leisure.”

And he led the way from the dock up the street to the Pelican Inn,
where seafaring men such as ourselves were wont to go for a pot or so
of Master Martin Cockrem’s own brewing. Once seated there in the quiet
window seat overlooking the Sound, he questioned me closely as to my
disposition in religious and political affairs. Then finding that I
was not averse to taking up a true life of adventure upon the sea, he
unburdened himself of his own plans for the future.

“You know, lad, of the state of the Royal Navy. Nothing I can say
will make you feel that the merchant service is secure from injury at
foreign hands. _Great Harry_, the wonder of all Europe, lies rotting
her ribs yonder, and there are no capable ships afloat. France would
love well to see us all singing our _ave Marias_ and _salves_ in our
deck watches, yet she has no love for the greed of Philip. So I say,
lad, there is no present danger.”

“And yet,” said I, “our commerce has been reduced to less than fifty
thousand tons.”

“Softly, boy. Our carrying may not be so great as in the days of Harry,
but neither France nor Spain carry more. For our own brave fleet of
gentlemen cruisers has made sad havoc of their barques on the ocean,
and not a Papist ship dare show her nose within a dozen leagues of the
Scilly Isles.”

“But these free ships have no warranty from the Queen.”

“Marry, lad, you’ve the wit of a babe scarce out of swaddling clouts.
Can ye not see how the wind sits? The Queen knows well how much she
needs these independent ships of war. For reasons of state she may not
openly encourage our enterprises; but, laddie, I tell you she has a
secret love for them. As for warranty, what more would ye have than
that?”

And so saying, he put upon the bench between us a large parchment
bearing the Great Seal of State. I scanned the document in an uncertain
mood. For it set forth with many flourishes the rights “of one Master
David Hooper to trade upon the oceans and to use his best endeavors to
restrain by forcible or other means any enemies of Her Majesty from
doing hurt or offering hindrance to any English persons or vessels on
the high seas.”

“Why, then, Captain Hooper,” said I, “you are still in the Royal
Service.”

“We are all in the service of the Queen, lad. This license guarantees
nothing and is in fact, to ordinary eyes, but a license to trade; and
yet is it not of greater worth than a royal commission as captain in a
navy which does not exist? A license to trade! Ouns! and such a trade!
Why, lad, what is your ship’s cargo of wool stuffs to an after-castle
full of silver flagons and Spanish ducats--with a taste now and then
of good Papist wine to clear the gunpowder from your throat? Let them
prate. Their undoing will be the greater. I tell you, we gentlemen
adventurers stand yet between Spain and the mastery of the seas. It may
come to pass that one day they will try to cross the channel,--they
will never land, lad. All this and more the young Queen knows well. For
though she has a grievous way of looking displeasure at one minute, she
has as happy a one of winking merrily the next.

“So it is, ye see, that Drinkwater, together with Cobham, Tremayne,
Throgmorton, and others among us have survived both the prison and the
noose and put to sea again with no greater loss than the proportion
of the captured articles Her Majesty sees fit to take for the
replenishment of the Treasury. This then is how the matter stands; so
long as we masters may sail successfully, making no complications with
France or the other countries to the north and east, Queen Bess wishes
us a light voyage out and a heavy one home, and indeed delights in our
tales of fortune, to which she is wont to listen with sparkling eyes.
The bolder the deeds the better they are to her liking.”

I listened to this secret of state with eyes agog. Master Hooper paused
in his talk long enough to drain his pot, which he set down abruptly
upon the table.

“Come, Sydney,” said he with a smile, and stretching both hands toward
me, “what say ye to a voyage with David Hooper for a shipmate, in
a bottom staunch from batts-end to keelson, the wind and seas for
servants, and never a doubt but that to-morrow will be better than
yesterday! Or perhaps the gruntings of the swine at Tavistock hold
newer charms? What say ye?”

Were it in my mind to debate upon an immediate answer, the mention of
the pigs at Tavistock had done more to remove that uncertainty than
aught else the gallant captain might have said. So I told him that his
proposition was much to my liking, and, could I be of service, the
swine at Tavistock might be larded for a lout with better land-legs and
stomach than I.

Thus it was that I came to be the third in command of the _Great
Griffin_ on her fourth voyage out of Plymouth.



CHAPTER II.

OF THE TAKING OF THE CRISTOBAL.


Like many other English ships engaged in private enterprises at this
time, the _Great Griffin_ was of no great bulk, having a tonnage of but
a little more than three hundred. Nor had she the great after-castles
and fore-castles of the Spanish galleons; but her bulwarks were stoutly
built, and high enough to give such protection against the arrows
and small pieces of the enemy as might be necessary to those who
handled the tier of eighteen and twenty-pounders on the main deck. The
after-castle, or poop as it had come to be called, was raised but one
deck, and here again were mounted several patereros of modern fashion
for use at short distances. The guns being all mounted upon the upper
deck, made open ports below of no necessity; and so, even in rough
weather, all of her ordnance could be brought to bear. The company
was made up of merchant sailors and coasters,--taken altogether a
hardy lot, yet gentle and quite unlike the reports of them which had
reached our ears from the mouths of the Spaniards. The _Griffin_ had
three tall masts, and upon them were set sails patterned after the
wonderful new invention of Master Fletcher of Rye. For the spars, in
lieu of being made fast athwart the ship, so set to the masts as to lay
forward and aft, it being thus possible by the hauling upon certain
tackles to shift the sails from the one side to the other with great
speed and small exertion. This invention permitted the ship to perform
the strange feat of sailing almost directly into the wind, and allowed
great advantages in getting to windward of larger ships. Though I had
seen ships of this fashion in the Channel, never before had I sailed in
one of them; so the easy manner of working and the simpleness of the
rigging and tackling gave me a great pleasure.

Standing on the after deck and looking forward one could note the
strong lines of the barque. For, unburdened by the tophamper of the
galleons, the bulwarks, barring the break at the fore-castle, took a
graceful curve and met above the bed of the bowsprit, which made into
the head where it was solidly bolted to the deck below. At the forward
part of the fore-castle was mounted a great head of a dragon, with
yawning mouth and wide eyes that looked over the waters ahead as though
in search of its rightful quarry.

As I looked aloft and saw the new sails yellow and purple in the
morning sun, big-bellied under the stress of a fine breeze from the
east, the stays to windward taut as iron bars, the fellow at the helm
leaning well to the slant of the deck, methought I had never seen so
splendid a sight, and thankful was to I be alive and able to enjoy the
beauty of it. The freshening breeze piled up the waters, and the green
of the curl topped by its filmy cloud lifted itself to be caught in a
trice and carried down the wind against the broad bows of the ship, or
indeed at times, over the bulwarks, singing as it flew a mellow song
more pleasing to my ears than any other earthly melody.

Master Hooper, by reason of his previous service, maintained to a
high degree the discipline of the old navy; and the company of the
_Great Griffin_ was thus unlike those of many of the free sailers of
the time, which for the most part were composed of men who had used
the sea in various ways but had no knowledge of the customs aboard
regular ships of war. To gain that knowledge the men of the _Griffin_
were each day exercised at the guns and were practised in the use of
the sword and pike, while the bowmen and arquebusiers had targets set
upon the fore-castle which they shot at from the poop with great speed
and nice judgment. The pikemen and swordsmen had a proficiency I never
saw equaled in France or in Spain; and Master Hooper--they called him
“Davy Devil”--had an exercise which he called the fire practise, which
more than aught else showed his ingenuity in providing against panic
or mishap. Two years before, a large part of the company had rebelled
against the second in command, who had caused one of their number to
be strung up at the mast by the thumbs. Captain Hooper being ashore at
the time, matters might have gone badly with the officer, had not a
messenger been immediately despatched to the inn where he was stopping.
Then came Master Hooper in great haste and caused the alarum of fire
to be sounded. So nice had been his discipline that each man went to
his appointed place, waiting there until Master Hooper appeared upon
the poop and gave them a round speech upon the quality of obedience
as practised in the navy of Henry the Great; to the end that, there
being no fire to quench, they quenched themselves and went about their
several duties.

On the morning of the second day from Plymouth we sighted a sail
to the south, and discovered her to be a crumster of New Castle,
bearing French Protestants from Havre to Bordeaux. The Captain, Master
Tremayne, related a sad tale of the manner in which several persons who
should have gone with him were taken by the officers of the Inquisition
at Havre, as they were about to make their escape to his vessel.

The martial spirit of Master Hooper had done much to shake the serenity
of the merchant life out of me, and the sight of several gentlewomen
below decks aboard the crumster, with the pink rings of the manacles
and the red scars of the fire still upon them, so inflamed me that I
vowed no feeling of charity should stand between me and the duties of
justice. Captain Tremayne also told us that during the night he had run
afoul of a Spanish vessel of large size, who had hailed him and was in
the act of sending boats aboard when a fog fell and he had pulled away
under its friendly cover. After some further parley Captain Hooper set
sail on the _Griffin_ and steered boldly to the south, hoping thus to
sight this Spanish sail during the afternoon; and true enough, in the
first watch a large ship was made out under topsails and spritsail,
standing for the coast of France. Upon sighting us the stranger hove
about and took a course which the _Great Griffin_ must cross in an hour
or so.

Master Hooper, not knowing the strength of the ship and wishing to draw
her further from the coast where Spanish cruisers in great numbers lay
in wait for Huguenot vessels, put up his helm and stood off. The wind
however blowing smartly, he soon found the _Griffin_ to be drawing away
from the stranger, who was laboring heavily in the great seas. In order
therefore to slacken our pace without attracting notice, Master Hooper
caused one of the spare mainsails to be lowered over the stern. So soon
as this sail touched the water the speed of the _Griffin_ caused it to
fill and act as a drag which notably diminished our rate.

The Spaniard, for such the vessel now appeared, began drawing up, until
in the course of an hour or so we could mark his tiers of guns as they
frowned out over the water to windward. So light was our top hamper and
so steady was the drag astern that we appeared to toss but little in
the seas. But the Spaniard yawed and rolled in so frightful a manner
that the sails at times seemed hardly to be restrained by their sheets,
and flapped so noisily that they boomed like long cannon. She went over
at so great an angle that her decks and castles crowded with the men at
the guns were plainly to be seen.

Yet she presented a fair sight as she came down upon us. Despite the
squall, the sun stole between the rifts of the clouds and here and
there turned the tumbling purple mass into molten gold. The sails,
catching the glint, were bright against the darkening horizon, and
made so fair a vision that she seemed the abode of some water-princess
rather than the battery of a horde of barbarians seeking life and
unworthy profit.

When she came to what may have seemed a reasonable distance, a cloud of
smoke puffed from a point forward and a column of spray shot up from
the water at several hundred yards on our quarter. The Spanish colors
were then run up quickly, and this movement was followed by Master
Hooper, who sent to the mainmast head the pennant of the Queen.

Little by little the course of the _Griffin_ had been laid to the
windward, so the Spaniard now sailed at a distance of about half a
mile; and as other shots now began falling somewhat nearer to us, the
captain ordered the tackle which secured the drag-sail to be cast off,
and they hauled it aboard. The _Griffin_, eased of her load, sprang
forward like a scurrying cloud, the fellow at the helm moving her
closer and closer into the eye of the wind till the starboard leeches
were all a-tremble; then he held her as she was, enabling the Spaniard
to come within gunshot.

The balls now fell too close for ease of mind, and the splinters from
two of them, which struck us fair amidships, made an end to three
gunners who were at their stations. In a great ferment I saw them
carried below to the steerage, crying aloud in pitiful fashion. Captain
Hooper hereupon let his ship go off a little to get her headway; the
gunners cast loose the long eighteen-pounders, and the after guns were
soon doing some execution in the enemy’s rigging, and our shots still
told after the Spaniard’s shots began falling astern, or were so badly
aimed that they flew wild and did us no hurt. Seeing that the range
of the Spanish ordnance was shorter than our own and marking our great
advantage in this matter, Captain Hooper put the ship upon the other
tack and hove her to with the wind to the larboard, thus enabling the
entire starboard broadside to be got into action. The roll of the
_Griffin_ greatly disturbed the gunners, but after some minutes, by
firing high upon the roll to leeward, many shots flew straight for the
Spaniard, so that soon we saw first his bowsprit and sail, and then his
foremast go by the board.

There was a great commotion behind me, and I turned to see a fellow
jumping up and down and slapping his thigh in great glee. “How now,
sir,” I said, somewhat sternly, “are you mad?”

He turned to me with a grin.

“’Twill be poor smellin’ in the Bay o’ Bisky, say I. Did ye see me snip
off his nose? Did ye? ’Twas my shot, sir. He’ll want a bigger ’kerchief
than a spritsail now, I’ll be bound.”

The wreck so encumbered the deck of the Spaniard that it was some
minutes before any order could be brought about and the galleon again
put to the wind. Master Hooper clewed up his lower sails, eased off
his sheets, and taking up a position on the enemy’s weather-quarter
poured in at easy range a fire which swept the crowded decks and
created a panic among the Spanish gunners. The cries of the wounded
and dying we could hear faintly, but by the movements of the officers
on the after-castle, who ran here and there brandishing their swords,
we were able to surmise a sad lack of discipline among the company.
On the _Griffin_ the divisions waited for the word of command from
the officers, firing thereupon with great regularity and precision.
Though now, as we came again into range, the Spanish shots told here
and there, and great white splinters flew in all directions, such men
as were unhurt remained at their stations, the injured among them being
replaced by others from those detailed to navigate the ship.

So unwieldy was our adversary that she could not come up into the wind
because of the great encumbrance of her head gear, and so was forced
to wear around; and as she did so, Davy Devil who had been awaiting
this opportunity to rake, fired the entire larboard broadside. The
_Griffin_, no longer lying in the trough of the sea, sailed more
steadily than before, and the effect of this broadside was terrific.
Not less than four shots went through the ports of the Spaniard’s
after-castle and one, more lucky than the others, passed just over the
rail and struck the mainmast below the yard, and over it went on the
next roll to leeward, the tackling dragging with it the mizzen-topmast
which flew asunder at the cap with a crackling heard loudly above the
booming of the ordnance.

“She’ll need a new bonnet, Master Killigrew, to be in the fashion
again,” said Davy Devil behind me.

We could not at this time have been at a greater distance than two
cable-lengths and Master Hooper, believing the enemy about to strike
his colors, brought his sails home and directed the helmsman to haul
up alongside. No sign being heard or seen, two anchors were got out
and men lay aloft on the yards ready to cast them upon the Spaniard’s
decks. Three,--four minutes, Master Hooper waited, withholding his
shot. Then, the Spanish demi-culverins again opening fire upon us
to our great disadvantage, the word was given to discharge another
broadside, the gunners then to crouch behind the bulwarks and
cubbridges and prepare to board.

No ship could have withstood the shock of this fire! For discharged at
such close range the shots tore through the bulwarks and planking with
a horrid sound, the splinters, as we found, killing and maiming many
who had gone below for protection.

At this moment a single tall figure appeared upon the after-castle
making a signal of submission. Upon which Master Hooper sheered off and
hove the _Griffin_ into the wind that he might mind his damages and
care for his wounded.

The weather having moderated, a boat was called away to go aboard the
prize, and Master Hooper giving me charge, I put off for the Spaniard.
On account of the heavy sea still running the boarding of the vessel
was no easy task. In spite of the dismantled rigging which lay over
her sides, she wallowed far down in the trough like a shift-ballast,
the seas dashing against her and lashing the foam over her waist in
feathery clouds. At length, with some difficulty, the coxswain hooked a
ring-bolt in her side to leeward and I hauled myself over the bulwarks.

On deck a gruesome sight awaited us. The wreckage of the foremast
and the yards lay where they had fallen and obscured the view of the
fore-castle where a party of the company were hacking away at the wreck
with their axes and swords. The ship was flush-decked in the waist,
after the fashion of vessels in the carrying trade, and the men who
worked the guns had thus been exposed to the worst of our fire which
had raked them _en echelon_--as the French have it--from foremast to
poop. Many of the cannon, small culverins and swivels of Italian make,
were dismounted and lay askew, frowning inboard. Piled here and there
were bodies, many lacking in human semblance and presenting a ghastly
spectacle after the cleanly decks of the _Great Griffin_.

Moving carefully over the slippery decks, I came at last to the poop,
below which stood one who, by reason of his immense stature, towered
head and shoulders above those around him. I am not like to forget this
early impression made upon my mind by Diego de Baçan; for, surrounded
as he was by a scene of blood, there seemed some demoniac sympathy
between his figure and the carnage about him. There was that in the
contour of his face which reminded me of the doughty Ojeda, possessing
a hideous beauty like only to that of the evil one. The sun behind him
glinted on the visor of his morion from the shadow of which his eyes
gleamed darkly. His black beard, which came at two points, framed in a
jaw set squarely enough on his great neck, and his wide shoulders even
over-topped mine both for breadth and height. He leaned easily with one
hand upon the rail, looking, in his polished breast piece, so splendid
that I could not but mark the difference between his garb and mine,
which was but that of the merchant seaman, ungarnished by any trappings
of war.

Scorning the salute I proffered him, he spoke coldly, in English,
without further ado.

“You would speak with me, señor?”

“My mission,” I replied, “is with the commander of this ship. If you
are he, you will go with me yonder.”

“The commander of the _San Cristobal_ is dead. I am Don Diego de
Baçan. But I will go aboard no heretic pirato.”

“We are no pirato, señor,” said I calmly, “but a free sailer of Her
Majesty, Elizabeth of England, whom you have attacked without warrant.”

“And if I will not go?” Here he drew himself up to his great height,
folded his arms and frowned at me defiantly, while a dozen or so of his
pikemen stood at his back and scowled fiercely. But, in my position,
black looks caused no tremors.

“If you will not come,” I answered steadily, “my orders are to bring
you,--this I will do; failing to return before the next stroke of the
bell, my captain will sink you as he would a rotten pinnace.”

He looked about him at the scene of havoc, and smiled bitterly. Then,
with a word to his pikemen, who still surrounded us, his manner changed.

“Señor,” he said more quietly, “you see how it is with us. The
_Cristobal_ takes water at every surge. She is a wreck. What am I to
do? To continue the battle were only to sacrifice the remainder of
my company. I must surrender.” He cast down his eyes. “Yes, there
is no help for it. I will go with you. But if, señor,” and here he
raised his head and eyed me like a hawk from cap to boot, “if you deem
your victory one of personal prowess and have the humor for further
argument, I shall meet your pleasure.” His words came calmly, yet he
leaned forward and seemed about to raise his hands toward me. I folded
my arms and looked him in the eyes. They had lost their quiet and
flashed at me furiously. His great fingers twitched nervously as though
to catch me at the throat. He was glorious. And then I made a vow that,
so far as it lay in my power when time and place fitted, his taunt
should have an issue.

“Why, that will be as it may be,” I replied evenly, “at present you are
to follow me aboard my ship.” Seeing my attitude, he grew calmer and
shrugging his shoulders, turned away.

“As you will;” and then after a pause, half courteously, “You will
permit me to give some final orders?”

“Orders in future must come from my captain.”

“But, señor,” he cried, “these are but some matters relating to the
repair of the ship.”

Seeing no harm in this, I allowed him to turn and speak in a low tone
to one of his pikemen, whereupon the fellow went below.

The _Griffin_ had meanwhile hauled up within speaking distance and,
mounting the after-castle, I hailed Captain Hooper, acquainting him
with the condition of affairs aboard the _Cristobal_. The weather being
still too rough to heave the _Griffin_ alongside, I obtained further
instructions to bring the Spanish officer aboard that the disposition
of the prisoners and other matters might be more readily discussed and
considered.

So ill-governed was the crew that as we got down into the boat the
pikemen and gunners leaned far over the bulwarks, cursing us for
dogs of heretics, and one of them spat in the face of a sailor named
Salvation Smith, who would have killed him with a boatpike had not
the coxswain, Job Goddard, stayed his hand. The wind now blew less
vigorously and, though the sea still ran high, there seemed less danger
than on the outward passage. But, as we rounded out from under the
lee of the Spaniard, my fine fellows setting their broad backs to the
stroke, there came from one of the gallery ports a cry of distress, the
voice of a woman,

“A moi! a moi! For God’s sake, help!”

[Illustration: “_A MOI! A MOI!_”]

The oars hung for a moment in the air as though the sound of those
English words had stricken the boatmen motionless. Then as I half rose
from the thwart, with one accord the starboard oars gave a mighty
stroke and the bow of the boat swung over under the many-galleried
stern of the _Cristobal_. A glance at the port showed a face and the
flutter of a kerchief, while from within came the clashing of metal and
the curses of men. As we swung in, a piece of wreckage and tackling
hung near us and when our stern rose on the crest of the wave, I
could reach it, and hauled myself clear of the boat and up to the
projection of the lowermost gallery. As I raised myself I saw two boats
drop from the side of the _Griffin_ and knew I should not long be
without aid. On reaching the port the sound of the conflict became more
distinct and I heard the hard breathing of the disputants; so without
more ado, I raised myself over the sill with an effort and clambered in.

Before the door leading to the passage of the half-deck a tall, slim
figure in sombre garb moved from side to side, making so excellent
a play with his sword, that the pikemen who were thrusting at him
furiously from the narrow corridor had small advantage. A woman lay
upon the floor and another crouched in the corner. On seeing me come
forward one of the pikemen fell back, but the other aimed so vicious
a blow at the swordsman that, had he not been thrown aside, it must
surely have ended him. The force of the thrust threw the villain
forward into the cabin, where, being off his guard by reason of his
pike handle fouling the doorjamb, he came within reach of my hand,
which struck him full in the mouth, laying him sprawling over a sea
chest. Salvation Smith, singing a psalm, and Job Goddard, swearing
loudly, here tumbled in at the port and following into the passage laid
about them lustily with their weapons, to the end that in a few seconds
the place was cleared and the outer door made fast. To our great
amazement no further attempt was made upon the door, nor indeed was
there any commotion above us or on the deck; but upon returning to the
port the reason of this was clear, for the four boats of the _Griffin_
were sweeping around the stern, the fellows lying to their oars with
vigor and the pikemen standing upright, their jaws set and the glitter
of battle in their eyes. Over the _Cristobal_ they came swarming,
driving the men forward where they huddled upon the fore-castle like a
slave cargo. They had no spirit, for not a shot or an arrow was fired,
and Master Hooper found himself in undisputed possession of the prize.

Having now no further alarm for the outcome of the affair, I directed
the door to be unfastened and turned my attention to those within the
cabin.

I have never made boast of courtly ways, thinking them mere glitterings
and fripperies of the idle, designed to hide a lack of sturdier
qualities. Few women had I known, and in my boisterous life no need had
come for handsome phrases, yet would I have given whatever interest I
possessed or might come to possess in this or other prizes, for the
readiness of wit to clothe my rough speech in more courtly apparel.
There was a quality of nobility and grace in the figure of the maid in
the cabin that cast my rugged notions to the winds and made me seem
the swash-buckler that I was. In stature she was tall and carried
herself with the pride and dignity that are ever the birthright of
true nobility. No exact description can I put down of the appearance
and demeanor of Mademoiselle Diane de la Notte; for not poetry but
only dull prose can run from my unmannerly quill. I only know that
a radiance was shed upon me, and all the senses save that one which
controlled my heart were blinded and inert. So acute indeed was this
feeling of my moral littleness that I did naught but stand shifting
from one foot to the other, toying in silly fashion with the hilt
of my sword. Had it not been for the maid herself I know not what
uncomely thing I might have done. But Madame, who had lain swooning on
the floor, now recovering consciousness and thus removing her anxiety
Mademoiselle raised her head and spoke to me.

“Monsieur, we do not know what is your calling or command--whether
adventurer or Queen’s officer--but you are a valiant man,” saying other
things I so little deserved that I cast down my eyes and replied in
some embarrassment that my men, not I, deserved her kindness--God knows
what we had done was little enough and easy of accomplishment.

But she would not have it so, adding further, “The La Nottes are not
ungrateful and their blessings will fall forever on you, sir. It may
happen that your service may one day have its reward. But now,”--and
a deep sigh burst from her, “alas! we can do nothing, not even for
ourselves--nothing!” It seemed as though her voice were about to break,
but bending quickly forward she applied herself anew to Madame lying
at her knee, the picture of feminine strength even in despair. I was
so affected by her anguish that I could find no words to say to her,
and while I still wondered who could seek to do them injury, I moved to
the Sieur de la Notte, who sat upon a chest staunching the blood which
flowed freely from a pike wound in his wrist. He was much exhausted by
his encounter, so I aided him to bind his arm, after which I withdrew
and went upon the deck to make my report to Master Hooper.



CHAPTER III.

MADEMOISELLE.


After awhile the Sieur de la Notte came on deck to Master Hooper and
disclosed the story of his persecution and the circumstances which
led to his capture and imprisonment. His tale was, in short, the
tale of a hundred others. He had become a follower of Calvin and had
even preached and written the new religion. His estates were soon
confiscated and he was forced to flee into the night with his wife and
daughter, carrying only the jewels and valuables to which he could lay
his hands.

“And what, Monsieur,” asked Master Hooper, when he had done, “of your
adventure in the cabin?”

“That is soon told. When the action began, the commander of the
_Cristobal_, Don Alvarez, sent us below, cautioning us not to appear
upon the deck. Don Diego de Baçan himself locked us in the after cabin.
The battle over there came a sudden movement at the outer door and
two pikemen rushed into the corridor and set upon me vigorously. So
sudden was the onslaught I had scarce time to set myself on guard. But
I managed to draw and use my sword to such good end as to confine the
fellows in the narrow passageway, where I had them at a disadvantage.
Yet, what might have come of us had not yonder giant interposed----”

“But the cause of this attack?” asked Captain Hooper.

“You must know, Monsieur,” replied the Frenchman, “that under the
deck of that cabin is a chest containing many thousand crowns. It was
upon the Huguenot ship from which we were taken and was intended by
Admiral Coligny for certain troops under arms in the north.” Captain
Hooper’s eyes sparkled. He would have liked to take that chest upon the
_Griffin_. But he had his orders and dared not without the consent of
the Queen take even salvage of treasure or property belonging to the
Protestant party.

“Captain Hooper,” said I, “the orders for the murder of this gentleman
came from the officer, Don Diego de Baçan.” And I related my own
imprudence in allowing the Spaniard to communicate with his bowmen.

“H’m! ’Twas a foolish thing,” said Master Hooper, stroking his chin,
“but, lad, you’ve atoned for your fault in handsome fashion. And now
out with spare yards and masts and try for some steerage way on this
storied hayrick.”

There being many bad injuries, the _Cristobal_ took water rapidly and
Master Hooper sent all of her crew to removing it. The men mounted
stages set at places beyond the reach of the water and made such
repairs as would enable her to reach port, provided the weather grew
no worse. The injuries below water were stopped from inboard, the
wreck was partially cleared, jury masts and temporary spars were
rigged in place of those shot away, and, with a wind on the quarter,
the _Griffin_ and her prize moved to the eastward toward the coast of
France. The _Griffin_ having even more than her complement of men,
it was thought best by Captain Hooper to send aboard the _Cristobal_
a large prize crew, of which he made me commander. Many of the more
important prisoners were put aboard the _Griffin_ or taken below on the
_Cristobal_, where they were confined in the fore-castle. To my great
satisfaction the family of the Vicomte de la Notte were passengers to
the city of Dieppe, where they had friends. A matter much less to my
liking was the company of Don Diego de Baçan, whose presence even in
confinement seemed to me a menace to the safety of the ship and her
precious cargo. But it was so ordered by Captain Hooper, for at Dieppe
the Spaniard might be exchanged for English seamen imprisoned there as
hostages at the demands of Spain. The _Cristobal_ as a prize was to be
made over formally to certain agents of Captain Hooper. These agents,
who were French, it is said were in the employ of the Queen, but I
doubted this after my dealings with them. Having sold the _Cristobal_
and placed the recaptured treasure in the hands of Admiral Coligny, I
was to rejoin the _Griffin_ at Portsmouth.

On the afternoon of the second day the _Griffin_ put her helm up and
set a straight course for the coast of Ireland, to refit at Kinsale,
where Master Hooper kept his goods and stores. All effort having been
made to insure a safe voyage I stood at the weather rigging upon the
quarter-deck, thinking of many things. I marveled at the wonderful
power which had drawn me from myself and made my rough hulk seem to
me but the abode of a carnal spirit. Having no quarrel with the world
except in matters relating to the betterment of my condition, I had
grown in my rugged health and brute strength further and further from
the more delicate sensibilities which go to make the better part of
human life. It was my own fault. I knew that. I could have gone into
the horse-company of my uncle with a chance for preferment and a life
of polite groveling at the skirts of royalty. Though I had read much of
such books as were to be found in my way and picked up a smattering of
the languages, a dozen years of service in all weathers and companies
had cudgeled from me many feelings of the gentler kind which I believe
are nature’s gifts to all right-thinking gentlefolk.

But I had chosen my life for myself and there was an end of it. I
compared myself, beside Mademoiselle, to a clumsy rock crumster
against the gilded pinnace of the Queen where every line is beauty and
strength. I watched her as she walked the deck with Madame. Although
the _Cristobal_ lay over to leeward and blundered heavily through the
seas, raising her head and stern in abrupt fashion, Mademoiselle walked
the slanting deck straightly, conversing quietly the while and cheering
Madame, who leaned upon her. Her carriage, though lissome, gained from
the set of the head a certain dignity and grace that marked her as a
queen among women--perhaps a little haughty but in it the more queenly.
But I would not be so interpreted as to show her in any sense cold of
temper, for as I stood there watching her, my heart in my eyes, from
time to time she turned and flashed a warm glance upon me, which sealed
each time more surely my destiny as her willing servitor.

In a little while the prisoners were brought up from below for their
airing and Mademoiselle went with Madame below to the cabin. The
Spaniards, taken altogether, were a well enough looking company, and
I do not doubt that under proper authority and better conditions of
ordnance and seamanship, could have given a good account of themselves.
As it was, they seemed well cowed and came up from their quarters
sheepishly, blinking their eyes like so many cats at the brightness of
the sun. There came also among the last Don Diego de Baçan. Lifting his
great bulk over the combing of the hatchway he scanned the horizon as
though mechanically and, seeing nothing, turned toward me. I had not
given much of my thought to this fellow, for with the many necessary
orders and duties in getting the _Cristobal_ to rights and under
way my mind had been so occupied as to harbor no place for plans or
business of my own. Yet the memory of the haughty taunt of the Spaniard
rankled in me, and I promised myself an ungodly pleasure in a further
discussion of the subject. As the ranking officer among the prisoners,
I had allotted him the half of my cabin, but my business upon the deck
having been so urgent, I had not as yet had any talk with him.

The mist of years passes over our eyes and brains, dimming the memories
of youthful impulses and madnesses. Yet even now, as I recall the face
of De Baçan, handsome, sneering, powerful,--his look of contempt at all
things,--my pulses beat the more quickly and my hand again goes to the
place where my sword was wont to hang. It is said that in the matter
of love and the taking in marriage, each person may find upon the earth
a mate; likewise it seems to me most natural that for each man upon the
earth at least one other may be born who shall be his natural adversary
and enemy. It was once told me by Martin Cockrem that two churls
entered the inn-yard at the Pelican and without exchange of words, or
laying eyes on each other ever before, fell instantly to fighting.
Setting aside the danger which lay in his presence and the grievance
I bore him for his attack upon the Sieur de la Notte, a like feeling
of antipathy there was between the Spaniard and me. And as he came
forward, my fingers closed so that the nails drove into the flesh and
I took a step toward him. Yet he was a prisoner of war, promised to be
safely delivered. So, half ashamed of my own impatience, I bit my lip
for the better control of my speech and leaned back upon the taffrail
smiling.

“You have not given me the honor of your company in my prison,” said
he, with a sneer.

“Nay, señor,” I returned, “the _Cristobal_ is a sieve, and but for
certain precautions might now be floating keelson upward. My company
you shall have when other things are righted, for there is a small
matter for discussion.”

“And what, Señor Pirato?” he asked with a lift of the chin. “What
matter is common between you and me?”

“Permit me to be the judge of that, señor. And upon the _Cristobal_ the
subject may be settled.”

“Oho! You crow loud as a fledgling cock with your weighty subjects!”

“My weighty subjects are less weighty than my fists,” I replied, for
I liked him not, striving hard meanwhile to preserve my peace. “You
saw fit to put an insult upon me and did me the honor of an offer of a
further argument of the question. I accept that offer.”

He placed his hands upon his hips and looked at me from head to foot as
at a person he had never seen before. And then his white teeth gleamed
through his black mustache as he smiled.

“You are a bold stripling. Why, Sir Swashbuckler, the prowess of Don de
Baçan is a byword in the navy of King Philip, and no man in all Spain
has bested him in any bout of strength. Yet, look you, I like your bulk
and manner and it may be that I shall see fit to honor you with a test
of endurance.”

“’Tis no honor that I seek, señor,” said I, giving him smile for
smile, “but the satisfaction of a small personal grievance which may
be righted quickly. And though your bulk is fit enough for my metal,
your manner pleases me not;” for it galled me that he should continue
to speak of me as a pirato upon my own command; and my blood boiled at
the thought of what he had attempted to work upon the Sieur de la Notte
and Mademoiselle.

“My thews may please you even less, Sir Adventurer. Mark you
this,”--and leaning over, he took from one of the guns a chocking
quoin of hickory-wood banded with copper. Seizing it in his hands he
placed it between his knees for a better purchase and, bending forward
quickly, with a mighty wrench, he split it in two parts as one would
split an apple; whereat I was greatly surprised, and knew for certain
that I had no ordinary giant to deal with. But I held and still hold,
that like most of such feats, it was but a trick and come of long
practise. I might have shown him, had I wished, the breaking of a
pike-staff with a hand-width grasp; for in this there is no great skill
but only honest elbow sinew. Yet I had no humor to put him on his guard
against me.

Some of my surprise may have noted itself in my face, for he laughed
boastfully as he threw the quoin upon the deck. “So will I split
you,--if your humor is unchanged.”

I laughed back in his face.

“If your quoins are as rotten as your ship, I fear you not. To-morrow
we make the coast. To-night, if it meets your convenience we will meet
upon the fore-castle.”

“As you will,” he said with a shrug of his shoulders, “yet I have
warned you. And if blood be spilled by accident----”

“It will not be mine! Until then, señor,” and bowing, I made my way
below to inquire if Mademoiselle wished for anything.



CHAPTER IV.

OF MY BOUT WITH DE BAÇAN.


I met her coming out of the passageway which led to the after-cabin.
Holding out her hand to me, she said frankly, “I came to seek you,
Master Killigrew.” Her manner was one of friendliness and trust, and so
filled my heart with gratitude that at first I did not note the anxiety
which showed in her eyes. We moved to an embrasure by one of the
casements. There she seated herself upon a gun-carriage and motioned me
to a place at her side.

“God knows, Master Killigrew, that we are deep in your debt,” she
began. “You are the only one my father has trusted since we fled from
Villeneuve. But there is much that you should know.”

“Mademoiselle,” I replied, “my devotion to your interests or cause----”

There may have been more of ardor in my tones than I meant to show, for
I fancied a pink, rosy color came to her neck and cheeks.

“We have good reason to believe in your honesty of purpose, Master
Killigrew,” she said hastily, “and my present talk is further proof of
confidence. The matter concerns Don Diego de Baçan and ourselves. This
Spaniard has no good will for my father.”

“But, Mademoiselle, has he--?”

“You and your captain thought that the reason for the attack lay in
his hope to conceal the money in the cabin. That was not all. When
we were first taken aboard the _Cristobal_ he gave me the honor of
his admiration. The following day he sought me on many pretexts.
I,--believing that the comfort and peace of Madame, my mother, depended
upon diplomacy,--allowed him to sit and talk with me. At last, his
speech becoming little to my liking, I refused him further admittance
and told the Sieur de la Notte of my annoyance.”

I rose from the seat.

“No, listen! Listen to me,” she continued. “Then--’twas only three
days before the encounter with the _Great Griffin_--my father sought
Don Alvarez and told him the facts as I relate them, demanding the
courtesies due to honorable prisoners of war. This request was
disregarded and Don Diego came at all hours to our cabin, into which,
the door lock having been removed, he entered at whatever hour he
pleased.”

She may have marked my manner, which as the narrative proceeded, grew
from joy at her confidence to surprise, anger and then rage at the
Spaniard, which as I sat there seemed like to overmaster me. I could
say no word, but for better control kept my eyes fixed upon the deck.
There was much, I knew, beneath that story which she had sweetly robbed
of its harshness to guard me from rash impulse. And so I sat there,
transfixed.

“I have told this because I think it best to guard against him when we
reach the coast. De Baçan has sworn that he will possess me. I know
there is naught he will not attempt to keep his word. There is no evil
he would not work upon us or upon you to gain his ends. For myself I
fear nothing, but he hates my father with a deadly hatred and Madame
must be saved from further suffering if the means lie in our power. Oh!
what would I not give for the bones and sinews of a man like you who
has but to order and the thing is done!”

She stopped abruptly and cast down her eyes as though the manner of her
speech had been too strong and unwomanly. And I, who sat there, turned
from cold with hatred of the Spaniard, to warm with love of her. For in
spite of the distance between us, the speech came impulsively from the
heart and made me more than ever desire to justify her confidence.

“I cannot say, Mademoiselle,” I replied gravely, “that there will not
be danger, for there is treachery in Dieppe. But many strong hearts
stand between you and this De Baçan.”

Her hand lay upon the breeching of the gun beside us; small and
very white it was, ornamented with a ring of ancient setting and
workmanship. Without meditation and eased of my boorishness by some
subtle influence that drew me to her, I took it in my fingers and
raised it to my lips. Then, astonished at my audacity--for I had never
done so strange a thing, I drew back, hot and awkward. But at once she
set me at my ease and would not have it so.

“Nay, sir,” she said warmly, “if you are to serve us truly I would not
have a better seal for the contract.”

Upon which, still in great ferment of mind, I straightway made the
compact doubly sure.

She then left me, seeking the cabin, while I went upon the deck, intent
upon settling the business in hand.

The wind now blew freshly from the north and the spray came over the
waist, cutting sharply against my face as I went forward. Job Goddard
lay upon his back upon the tarpaulin of the forward hatchway, while
Salvation Smith read aloud portions of a book of tales relating to
the lives of the Christian martyrs. At times, in impressive pauses in
the reading by the pious one, Goddard would raise himself upon one
elbow and curse lustily--his usual mode of expressing admiration for
the martyrs and their sponsor; for in Salvation lay the makings of a
most bigoted and godly reformer. Job Goddard swore by all things under
heaven and upon all occasions--when that mode of speech seemed least
fitting or appropriate; and the book of the martyrs was but a part of
Salvation’s instruction in simple and pious thought. Yet they were
both goodly fighters--in a place of great difficulty being worth at
the least four Englishmen, six Spaniards or eight Frenchmen. The very
sound of the clashing of steel pike-heads or the report of an arquebuse
set them upon the very edge of their mettle, and so the prospect of a
fair engagement caused them so great a joy that even devotion to their
principles came to be forgotten. I therefore knew that the business I
had in hand would meet with ready response.

“To-night,” said I, without further ado, “there is to be a bout.” Smith
closed the “Martyrs” with celerity and Goddard began to swear.

“Glory be, Job! Who, Master Killigrew?”

“Odds ’oonds, Jem! What is it, sir?”

“There is to be a test between the Spaniard, De Baçan and myself.”

In a moment they were all excitement, slapping each other upon the back
and making a great commotion. When they were quiet again I gave them
their instructions. There were to be no arms. For could I not crush
him into submission with my own will and sinews, then--well--I had met
my match or better. But I did not think of that. We would fight at
twelve o’clock upon the fore-castle, for there we would be undisturbed.
Two Spanish prisoners of De Baçan’s choice were to stand by him, and
Goddard and Salvation Smith were to stand by me to see justice done.
The details being agreed upon I despatched a message by Goddard to the
Spaniard acquainting him with the plans; to which there being no reply,
I deemed them satisfactory.

The night came up dark and windy. But toward six bells the fresh breeze
piled the clouds away to the west and the moon came out, lighting up
the deck and glimmering upon the bright work of the lanterns. Prompt
upon the stroke of eight bells I caused word to be sent to De Baçan.
When he appeared, his cloak was thrown about his shoulders but I
could see he wore no doublet, having only his shirt, hose, and a pair
of short boots. It pleased me to know he had thought proper to make
some preparation for the work, for I now felt that the matter was not
altogether indifferent to him, and that, in the quieter moments of his
cabin, he had given me credit for some hardihood.

Now as I measured him by my own stature it seemed indeed as though he
had the advantage in height, though I much doubt if he had really
my breadth of shoulder or my length of arm, which were second to no
man I had met. But the symmetry and grace of his figure were perfect.
The light shone through the thin shirt and I marked the great muscles
behind the shoulders as they played when he moved his arms. The collar
was open and I could note the swell of the breast muscles as they lay
in layers like rows of cordage from breastbone to arm-pit. The thighs
were smaller than mine, but there was more of grace and more of sinew
both there and at the calf, the ball of which played just at the boot
top. His eye was bold and clear and he looked at me steadily from the
moment he came upon the deck, seeking, in a way I had seen practised,
to create a feeling of uneasiness and uncertainty. This look of his
eyes I took to be but a part of the method of intimidation he had
worked upon others, and it only served to make me more wary of the
tricks I knew he would play should sheer strength not suffice.

He at once made several tries upon my arm which I held forward to ward
a sudden rush below the guard. Knowing that my youth and clean living
might give me advantage in a long struggle, I was content for the
moment to stand upon guard and suffered him to play around me, my eyes
fixed upon his, every look of which I followed and read. For so heavy
a man, he stepped with wonderful alacrity and sprang from this side to
that with such speed that he puzzled me. Finding, however, by reason of
my length of reach that he could get no hold, he began trying different
methods. The extension guard has been thought of some advantage and the
German, Brandt, has practised it with success, yet I counted not upon
the wonderful quickness of the man. By feinting for finding a catch
upon my shoulder, he sprang in, catching me handily with a gripe of his
left arm upon my neck and back. So fiercely he came that my right arm
was pinioned; yet my left elbow met him in the middle of the breast
below the bone, and I stood firm upon my legs, which were more stocky
of build than his, and met the assault strongly.

As he closed in, the arm upon my back and neck took a firmer hold and
the hand came over my right shoulder from the back, seeking a purchase
at the neck. The strain he put upon my body was terrible, so terrible
that for the moment all the breath seemed like to be squeezed from
out my lungs. Backward we strained a foot or so, when, as he eased
his gripe to get a better purchase upon the back, my right arm came a
trifle freer and I found a use for my hand which now got a hold upon
his shoulder muscles. My nails bit deep into the flesh and I plucked
between my palm and fingers a great muscle out of tension, and felt
for the moment I could hold my own. He still had an advantage of me
in the gripe; and though the pressure upon my body was not so great
as at the beginning, my breath came with difficulty. He seemed in
little better condition, for he breathed hard, and I knew the chance
blow of the elbow in the breast had robbed him of some of his staying
power. Try as he might, his arms about me, his head bent forward upon
my chest, he could not at first bend my neck. Backward and forward we
moved, each of us bringing forth all the strength we could, neither of
us able to gain. Then, the strain put upon me being more than mortal
flesh could stand, little by little I went back until I came down upon
one knee.

The agony of that moment! He put forth all his power and tried to break
my back with a terrific wrench which must have ended me had not my new
position given a side purchase upon him. Seeing that so long as my
right hand shoulder gripe remained he could not get the full play of
strength in his left arm, he bore down with his entire weight. In this
I humored him till he got me high enough when, though still suffering
grievously, I shifted my gripe and took him with both arms, one up one
down, just below his ribs. Swinging half to the right and using all
the power left me, I half arose and buttocked him fairly, sending him
in a great half circle and loosing his gripe upon my chest. Yet the
strain he had put upon me had weakened me so sorely that, ere I could
come upon him to follow up my sudden advantage, he had broken loose and
gained his feet for a further trial.

“Body o’ me, lad, ’twas handily done,” came from Goddard in an awed
whisper; I marked a reverential “Heart o’ grace,” from Smith at my
back, “now look out for him, sir!”

Indeed the face of the Spaniard was dreadful to see. He stood for the
moment, his legs apart, staggering from the shock of the fall. His
breath came hard and his eyes gleamed wickedly. At me he came and with
a desperateness I might not mistake. As we sprang into each other’s
grasp, there followed a test of endurance such as I had never before
been put to--nor will again. In turn he tried the cross buttock, the
back hank and back heel, but I managed to meet him at all points,
though in sore straits for lack of wind. I had ten years advantage in
the matter of age, and the life he had led had doubtless sapped his
vigor. For as we struggled back and forth I noticed that his gripe had
lost a part of its power and his offensive play was weaker. It seemed
as though he lay upon his oars awaiting the chance for a trick. By and
by he used it.

His left hand became disengaged and the great wiry fingers fastened a
fierce clutch upon my throat, which I could not free. He had me from
the left side and I could not well return his dastardly compliment.
But as I felt my power a-going, by loosing the clasp of my left arm,
I seized him from behind, my right hand going around his neck and my
fingers getting a fair good hold in his beard just below the turn of
the chin. Here I had the advantage. For he had taken me low down on
the neck where the stronger muscles are and feared to loose his gripe;
while my clasp tightened till I felt my thumb and fingers meet on
the nether side of the windpipe. So great a rage I had at his taking
me foully that I knew not what I did and as we fell I brought all my
strength into play. Though he fell on top of me and my breath was gone,
I knew that not death itself could have loosed the clutch I put upon
him. I saw as through a mist the mouth open and shut hideously, the
eyes, wide with terror, come from their sockets and the skin turn black
almost as the beard that half hid it. The hand upon my neck lost its
sinew, the muscles of the arm relaxed and the Spaniard dropped over
to one side nerveless and powerless though still struggling against
me. The fury did not die out of me at once and it seemed as though my
fingers only gripped him the harder. Then, I know not what,--perhaps
some weak and womanish pity at his strait,--caused me to loose my hold
upon the throat, which I might have torn out from his body as one would
unstrand a hempen cable.

God knows why I did this thing! Perhaps it was destiny that I should
have spared him. In the light of after events, it seems as though some
stronger hand than mine had set for us the life that followed. Had I
killed him this account would never have been written, nor would I have
gained the further friendship of Mademoiselle.

But I would set all sail ere my anchor is well clear. By all the rules
of the game the Spaniard had given me the right to his life. Would to
God I had taken it, even as he lay there prone and helpless. As it was
I stumbled to my feet and with Goddard and Smith, stood waiting for
De Baçan to rise. At first I had not noted the disappearance of his
seconds, for the terrible earnestness of the bout had blinded me to all
but the matter in hand.

In answer to my question Job Goddard said,

“Odds me! It was about the buttock, sir, which he said was done
different in Spain. Mebbe I was over-rapid in demonstratin’ my meanin’
an’ view of the question. But I did him no hurt, sir,--curse me if I
did!”

The other man sat terrified in the shadow of the foremast, but upon my
suggestion he went to De Baçan, aiding him to arise and go to the cabin
below.



CHAPTER V.

DIEPPE.


The following day we passed up to the city of Dieppe, and came to
anchor in the river of Arques without further mishap. I had seen
nothing of the Spaniard since the night before. I could not wonder that
he had not chosen to show himself upon the deck; if it were true that
he had bested all contestants at feats of strength, then surely his
defeat must have rankled in him. He had probably no more desire to see
me than I had to see him; but there was business to be done in the city
which concerned him and his exchange for the English hostages.

My arms and back were so sore with the straining he had given me that
it cost many an ache to bend over into the hatchway. I felt in worse
plight than he, for further than showing a cloth about his neck and a
certain huskiness in the voice he gave no sign of rough handling. He
made no move to arise from his stool as I entered the cabin. He turned
his eyes in my direction, looking sullen and angry as any great bull.
But it was not the imperious look he bore after the sea battle; it was
rather the eye-challenge of one man for another of equal station. I
marked with pleasure how his eye traveled over me, and could barely
suppress a smile. I had no mind to bring about further trouble, but in
spite of good intention he took the visit ill; the malice he bore me
and the hatred I bore him so filled his spirit and mine that there was
no place in either for admiration of the prowess of the other.

“So, sir,” said he, “you must seek to humiliate me further.”

“I make offense to no man, save that of his own choosing,” I replied.
“I come upon the matter of your exchange and liberation. In a short
time I go ashore to settle the terms of your release; so we shall
be quits. To-night you may go as you will without hindrance from my
people.”

“I shall not leave you sadly, Sir Englishman,” growled he. “But mark
you this,--I am no weakling enemy. You have bested me fairly, but for
it all I like you not. I hate you for your handsome face, your sneaking
air and your saintly mien. There has been an account opened that cannot
be closed until one of us is dead. I will not die yet. One day you
shall fawn at my feet for mercy until the fetters gnaw deep into your
hide or the fire eats out your heretic heart!”

They were ill-omened threats. His manner was in no way to be mistaken
and I was in no humor to be crossed by such as he. But seeing no good
to come of further conversation I turned upon my heel and walked to the
companion-way.

“I warn you now,” he went on as I paused at the foot of the hatch,
“nothing in France can save the Sieur de la Notte--nothing--not even in
Dieppe. I will seek you fair and I will seek you foul; I will take you
fair if fairness offers; but, fair or foul, I will meet you when the
advantage will not be upon your side--and so, good-by,--Sir Pirato!” I
heard him laughing hoarsely as I walked up the gangway. Surely he was
not a pleasant person.

By six o’clock in the evening my arrangements with Captain Hooper’s
agent were made. In the settlement the Spanish prisoners were to
be exchanged for certain Englishmen and Frenchmen, in all thirty
in number. A purchaser found, the _San Cristobal_ was to be sold
forthwith, her equivalent in gold being transferred to me for Captain
Hooper at Portsmouth. It gave me great disappointment that there was
no authorized agent of Admiral Coligny in the town, to whom I could
turn over in bulk the money in the closet in the cabin. The condition
of affairs being so uncertain and men so little to be trusted,
there seemed no other way but to carry this money to Coligny myself.
Accordingly I also made arrangements through the agent to have this
great treasure converted into jewels that I might convey it the
more easily. My own seamen, save Goddard and Salvation Smith whom I
retained, were to be set upon a ship sailing for Portsmouth in a few
days. The Sieur de la Notte and his family were safely removed to rooms
in the house of a Huguenot, who could be trusted to keep counsel;
for in Dieppe, though the followers of Calvin had assembled in great
numbers, there was even now danger for noble fugitives. In the present
condition of matters of state, the Admiral, whose watchful eye seemed
to reach all France, might do nothing except by subterfuge for his
people; and there were many at court who bore La Notte so fierce a
hatred that the aid of Coligny was now impossible. The house in which
the unfortunate nobleman was quartered lay in the Rue Etienne under
the shadow of the new church of Saint Remi. The city, topped by the
frowning hill and battlements of the great Château, lay thickly to the
left; and down several turnings to the right through the marts of the
city was the quay where the tall ships of the house of Parmentier had
for two generations brought in, each twelvemonth, the richest products
of the East.

Thither, on the following evening, after my visit to the shipping
agent, I directed my steps. Although I had a great treasure about me
in jewels and money, I was at a loss for a safer place and felt that
I might rest secure there until the morrow, when a Protestant vessel
would be sailing for the Seine. I was going to leave Mademoiselle and
my heart was heavy. Diego de Baçan was loose in Dieppe, and though at
a disadvantage, I did not doubt he would waste no time in learning the
whereabouts of every sympathizer in the town. Aye, and every bravo
of his creed who could be hired to do his dirty work. As a matter of
precaution there came with me Job Goddard and Salvation Smith who swung
gleefully up from the counting-house and landing place, buffeting aside
the staid townsmen and the seamen who were setting the supplies upon
the vessels of the fleet of Jean Ribault which were to sail in a few
days to establish the colony in America.

Goddard and Smith I sent into a tavern near by the abode of the Sieur
de la Notte with instructions to engage no one in conversation and to
await my coming. With the strongest admonitions to secrecy, I had told
them of the jewels about me, of my plans and of my suspicions; for I
wished, if anything happened to me, that the Sieur de la Notte should
be informed. I knew these seamen devoted to my interests; and the
desire to aid me, I fancied, had found no cause for abatement since
the struggle of the evening before with the Spaniard.

Of the things which happened in the cabaret and of which I am about to
tell, I afterward learned from Goddard himself, whose resolution was a
thing of paper or of iron as he was in or out of his cups. He differed
from Salvation Smith, for there was no hour, drunk or sober, in which
that stalwart Christian would not vigorously assail the strongholds
of the devil. There seemed to be no tenet of the New Religion which
he had not at his tongue’s obedience; and when he and Goddard were
drunk together, the exhortations of Salvation would reach a degree of
frenzy which for the time silenced even the profanity of his companion.
Quiet of common, his talk would then become louder and more forward
until there was at last no opportunity for talk from others. And as
his speech grew louder, that of Goddard, the blasphemer, would become
more subdued, until, for a time perhaps, but few words--none of them
of saintly origin--came from his lips. The torrent of the discourse
of Smith, halted for a moment, gained by delay a stronger flow and
burst forth the more sturdily, until burnt up at last in the flame
of its own enthusiasm. Yet Job Goddard would not be denied for long,
and so ingenious were his powers that his mutterings would at last
resolve themselves into combinations of words so new and surprising
that Salvation Smith even was soon agape with something very near to
admiration.

Much of this must have happened after I left them. In the hostel was
a crowd of seamen and broken down gentlemen. The swords of these
cavaliers were their only fortune, and they were about to sail on the
voyage with the Huguenot Ribault to Florida. Many of them, as will
be seen, I came to know and so learned from them also of the things
set forth hereafter. They were for the most part of a religious
inclination, though not a few had no more religion in their hearts than
Goddard. They were all reckless, and in one last drinking bout were
taking leave of home and France. The alicant had passed but half a
dozen times and Goddard had sat patiently through a discourse from his
companion upon the lives of the martyrs until his flesh and blood could
stand it no longer. He lifted his pot and in a tone of lusty confidence
which might easily have been heard from one end of the room to the
other said, grinning broadly,

“Bad eatin’ and drinkin’ to the Spanish, Jem Smith! Uneasy sleepin’ and
wakin’ for King Philip! A cross-buttock and a broken head for Dyago!
And a good fight at the last for our pains! Drain it, lad,--you’ll
never have a better.”

“Amen!” said Salvation, piously. “And thanks for the victory of the
_Griffin_, Job Goddard. There was never surer mark of His handiwork
than yonder cruise when the righteous were uplifted and confusion came
to the enemies of His Gospels.”

“Amen again,” said Goddard, “and be damned to them!” He rose to his
feet and looking around him clattered his pot loudly against the table.

“Look ye, lads, an ye like not barleycorn, a pot of sack against the
chill of the night! An’ if ye cannot drink in English, I’ll warrant
your French throats no less slippery from frog eatin’.”

“Morbleu, non,” said one, “I am as dry as the main yard of the
_Trinity_.”

“To the _Great Griffin_, then,” said Goddard loudly, “an’ the good
crowns the _San Cristobal_ sells for, with some for Bess and some for
we! Look you! See how they glitter--less bright for the black head on
’em, but welcome enough in the taproom--where with a whole heart we can
drink confusion to the Spanish king and every other sneaking cat of
a----”

“Sh--” said Smith in a low voice. He had just reason enough to know
that they were disobeying orders. “For the love o’ God stow your
gaff, lad, there are like as not some of the thumb-screwing whelps
even here.” But the crowd of seamen were amused at the Englishman and
would not be denied. They set their flagons down with a clatter to
hear Job Goddard, with the help of one of their number, in a bluff,
hearty way tell of the taking of the _San Cristobal_. The story was
strangely interlarded with oaths and devout expressions, half French,
half English, but all bearing the mark of approval among the Huguenot
company, who did me the honor to rattle their pots again right merrily
at the account of my wrestling bout with the Spaniard.

Salvation Smith, enjoying in his own way the importance of his friend
and ally, who for once had drowned out his own eloquence, cast aside
all caution and sought to enhance the effect of Job’s remarks by
frequent and timely expressions of approval. He walked about, smiling
broadly, causing the pots to be filled as often as they fell half empty.

So intent was the crowd upon the performance of the seaman Goddard
and so wrapped up in their drinking bouts that they failed to notice
three men who sat at a corner table sipping at their liquor. All three
listened intently to Goddard’s tale and once or twice looks of surprise
passed between them. As it went on they lifted their pots to hide their
lips and leaned well forward, whispering together, then listening to
catch the words of the seaman, as his tongue, unloosed, swung merrily
in the wind of anecdote.

After a while when he paused for a moment there was a commotion in
another part of the room. A slender spark of the company of Ribault,
with a well-worn doublet, but wearing a silver ear-ring, a nicely
trimmed beard and other marks of gentle taste, was hoisted upon his
legs and sang unsteadily a verse which in English goes somewhat like
this:--

    “Here’s to every merry lass--
     Here’s to her who’s shy, sirs,--
     Here’s an overflowing glass
     To any roguish eye, sirs;
     Be she sweet or be she scold,
     Be her temper warm or cold,
     Be she tall or be she small,
     Naught can we but love her.
     A-dieu--a-dieu--
     A-dieu, belle Marie-e!

     Be she stout or be she lean--
     Be she pauper, be she queen--
     Be she fine or be she jade--
     Be she wife or be she maid--
     Here’s a toast to woman;
     Here’s a health to woman!
     A-dieu--A-dieu--
     Adieu, belle Marie-e!”

The last two lines he sang in a melancholy drawl, holding his pot up
and looking at it with one eye shut. This caused much applause and loud
clapping. To this he tried to respond with more spirit, with a song and
chorus which they afterwards sang frequently upon the ships. It was
very fine and had a martial ring.

           “I drink my wine
            While others pine,
            And toast a lady fair--

    Chorus: And toast a lady fair!

            And to the eyes
            Of her I prize,
            In Catharine’s vintage rare--

    Chorus: In Catharine’s vintage rare!

            I draw my steel
            For woe or weal
            With foemen of my mettle--

    Chorus: With foemen of my mettle!

            And teach the wight
            Who fears to fight
            To keep his blade in fettle

    Chorus: To keep his blade in fettle!”

When the refrain had died away and the Frenchman had dropped back upon
his bench, Goddard, in a fine spirit of amity, jumped again to his
feet, trying to sing. He had no more notion of tune than an anchor
stock, but roared in an ear-splitting way:

    “Then fill a rousing cup wi’ me,
       For there be naught to pay!
     And drink to wee-man as she be
       From France to far Cathay!”

He had reached a state of mind in which he cared little enough for
king, priest, or the devil, and Salvation was in little better part,
striving to preach a sermon in French, of which language he had no
notion whatever. In the middle of his salty verse, Goddard was set upon
by several of the younger men and lifted bodily upon the table. There
he stood for a moment swaying awkwardly from one foot to the other,
blinking at the light which swung to the rafters a foot from his nose.

Then he shouted,

“Mounseers, my voice is like the run of the topsail haulyard pollys. I
can’t sing--an’--blood an’ ouns!--I won’t sing.”

“Par la mort! try it again, try it, mon ami!”

“Non, mounseers,--but by the sakrey blue, I can keep a-givin’ ye
healths so long as ye can stand--or sit--for the matter o’ that.”

“Bigre! It seems true that this sailor-man has a paunch like the great
water duct of St. Michel. But give us your toast. What is it, then?”

“Yes, speak out, mon brave, some of us will understand you--diable
n’importe! What is it?”

“Ye can comprenay or not, but--odds bobs!--Nay, Jem, I’ll say what I
like. There may be traitors among us; but, ventre blue! I’m a free
sailor of Queen Bess and fear no scut of a Spaniard as ever twisted a
thumb-screw. The marrow-bones o’ the best ha’ kissed the dust this many
a time. An’ will again for English an’ French, from this to Floridy an’
back agin.”

Some of the more timid in the crowd looked around half-fearfully and a
warning “Sh!” came from the throats of some.

But Goddard was not to be daunted. He took a swig from his pot and
raised his voice,

“Ye’ve started me now an’ hear me out, ye shall, ye maidens ye!
To hell with Philip! I’ll tell ye why. Because there is money to
be got in Spanish ships. One day soon Jem an’ me will sprinkle,
not--hic--coppers, but _gold_, lads! Why, the _San Cristobal_ had more
gold than ye’ll find this side o’ Hesper-hades, with all ye’r talk o’
Floridy. The devil a better berth do we want than the _Griffin_. Master
Davy Devil--hic--can smell the gold ten leagues at sea. An’ so, here’s
that every--French--hic--captain may have the luck of Davy Devil!”

Here a whisp of a youth got up, drunk and quarrelsome.

“Monsieur, the sailor,” he said, “you speak--much of gold. You
have--hic--captured many ships. Why therefore do we drink s-sack?”

Goddard put his hands to his hips and glared down at the boy. First his
brows met and he did not know what to say. Then, as the humor struck
him, he burst into a laugh.

“We drink sack because ’tis good for the entrails of hairy men. An’
till you grow a beard, me son, ’tis plain enough suet should do for
you. But, ’twas a fair question. We drink--hic--sack because we have
no gold. But wait! Wait all of ye another day or so an’ I promise the
rarest in France to run down ye’re throats. Why, lads,--hic--Captain
Sydney Killigrew hath upon his person in jewels the finest--hic--belt
o’ treasure in all France, that----”

He stopped and looked drunkenly from one to another. He was dumb with
horror at having told the secret of Coligny’s treasure. His hands fell
to his sides and the pot dropped to the table and floor, breaking
another as it fell. Then something flew through the air crashing into
the light and Goddard fell to the floor. There was a skurry for the
door and the strange men who had sat in the corner slipped out into
the night and went running down the street as fast as their legs could
carry them.



CHAPTER VI.

IN WHICH I LEARN SOMETHING.


Confusion reigned at the house in the Rue Etienne. The Sieur de la
Notte, sick at heart and searching peace for Madame, had set his mind
upon going with Admiral Ribault to Florida, in hope of escaping the
persecution of those who hated him at the French court. For my part,
since I had yet to perform my duty to the men who employed me and must
find Admiral Coligny at Paris, it mattered little whether Mademoiselle
were in France or Florida. I would probably not see her again in any
event. Yet I could not forbear asking to speak with her before the
ships sailed away.

When I reached the house she was with Madame and could have but a word
with me. She was, I thought, a little haughty; but none the less, she
graciously promised me an hour in the morning. So I stopped below for
two hours or more with the Sieur de la Notte, telling him of my plans
and arranging that I might have, through Ribault, two companions under
arms, to go with me and my sailors to Paris. I also helped him in the
disposition of some of his own affairs, so that it was near midnight
when I left the house. I went straightway to the hostel where I had
left my seamen.

An account of the conduct of Smith and Goddard at the hostel did not
reach my ears until many days afterwards when leagues at sea, with
their consciences purged and their minds cleared by the strife of winds
and seas, they came to me and told me what had happened.

As it was, when I reached the door, the place was reeking with the
fumes of spilled liquor and prone upon the floor lay Salvation Smith.
Half across a bench with a cut over his pate was Goddard, snoring
and swearing by turns. The keeper of the place, a small, fat, greasy
person, moved from the one to the other, using all his arts to persuade
them to leave the place, with a frequent threat of calling the watch,
vowing that the town council would be upon him and that the good repute
of his house was gone forever. Whenever he came near the one or the
other, there would be an outburst of maudlin oaths from Goddard, who
still held by the handle a drinking pot, and made a play to strike with
it at the Frenchman as he approached.

I was in no mood to look upon the offense of my henchmen lightly.
I knew not what indiscretion they might have committed, and bearing
about me the jewels I had received that day, I had no humor to stay
longer in so public a place where an unlucky accident might rid me of
both my money and friends, to say nothing of employment. Yet I could
not leave them in this plight, for if found they must surely have
been known by De Baçan and his friends and ill treated, if not done
away with. I first kicked Smith, who seemed the least drunk, and then
Goddard; bringing them both at last to a sullen sitting posture, to
the great joy of mine host, who saw at last a chance of being rid of
his troublesome guests. When they saw it was I, they sobered for the
moment, and by shaking them and dashing water in their faces I got them
in some sort out of the door--to have it speedily shut to and barred
behind us.

They were drunk as flying-fish and went reeling from one side of
the street to the other, Goddard at last coming against a wall
headforemost, so that he fell in a heap and would move no more. Smith
had revived in the air and was fairly well set upon his legs. But he
stood by my side as I tried to lift his friend, looking first at the
ground and then at the stars, saying foolishly many times over, “God
help us! What have I done!” to the end that I thought he had lost his
wits altogether. I questioned him and bade him help me, but he stood
there looking like the fool that he was and offering no hand in aid.
Tiring at last of his gibberish, I fetched him a cuff upon the head
which brought him up into the wind. And between us we got Job Goddard
again upon his feet.

The street now took a sharp turn down past the Church of Saint Jacques
and into a portion of the town I had not entered before. The way was
very dark, the gloom being lightened but little by the fluttering
glimmer of a rush-light here and there behind some half-closed shutter.
The streets were deserted, no sign of guards or soldiers being heard or
seen. We made no little commotion as we shuffled down toward the port,
for Smith was staggering from this side to that and Goddard lay upon my
shoulder a dead weight, his feet scraping along upon the cobblestones
as we went! His arm was around my back and neck and this may have
prevented my hearing the sound of footsteps behind us.

For, of a sudden, there flew past my head a stone the size of my two
fists, which went against a wall hard by and broke into a hundred
pieces. I turned just in time to note the bulk of a man pitching
upon me in the starlight. He had me well off my guard and caught me
sidewise, so that I tripped upon Goddard and we three went to the
ground in one snarling, struggling mass, kicking and rolling about
upon the pavement, he first uppermost and then I.

There were others too, for I saw Smith strike out and then go down with
his man, struggling fiercely. I had no wish to draw a weapon, for I
still thought them but common thieves and felt I might protect myself.
But my opinion of my ability was to be my undoing, as it has often
been. At last I shook myself free of this fellow upon the ground and
got upon one knee, when I saw two others with bludgeons dancing about
and aiming at my head. Twice, thrice, did I catch stinging blows upon
my arms and wrists which were like to have broken them, when another
more strongly dealt than the others, caught me full upon the bare head
and I knew no more.

       *       *       *       *       *

It seemed hours, days and then weeks that I lay in a hideous dream in
which I knew not whether I lived or was dead. I fancied I heard the
voice of Mademoiselle speaking to me and then there would come the
menacing laugh of Diego de Baçan. I dimly saw flickering lights and
felt the presence of people about me, but there was such a ringing in
my ears that I could hear nothing. By and by my brain was less clouded
and I had a mind to open my eyes. With the coming of consciousness
there was a great pain in my head, which from numbness turned to
burning and caused much anguish. But I could now hear the sound of
voices and I knew it was no dream, so I gave no sign. Faintly I made
out a row of brown ceiling rafters, which seemed to float here and
there in a moving haze. I saw uncertainly the wooden floor upon which
I lay stretched stark as one dead, and then discerned a table at which
sat several persons. A light burned upon it, casting, as it flickered,
great shadows which moved unsteadily from wall to rafter and back
again. As I began to see clearly I made out one of the men to be a
priest. His cowl was pushed back from his face and he listened to the
man opposite him, who was talking.

This man was bent forward over a parchment on the table and he read
portions of it to his companions. He had a high forehead and an
imperious air which carried weight with the others. But his face was
hard and cruel, and his mouth and nose at the corners wore deep and
ugly lines which looked to have been seared in with an iron. When
he smiled it was as though he twisted his features unwillingly, so
unnatural did it seem. I marked all these things as one sometimes will
in moments of great tension. I had good reason afterwards to learn that
my judgment was true. He was Pedro Menendez de Avilés, the hardest man
in all the Spanish marine, now but just appointed Adelantado of the
Floridas. The face of the third man was turned away from me. He was
a big man and his shadow fell over me so that I could make him out
the more clearly. There was no mistaking the easy set of the head and
shoulders as he lolled upon his chair, or the grace of his limbs and
body. He had not spoken; but I knew it was De Baçan.

This for the first time brought me to my wits. I knew not how long I
had lain or where I was. It was enough that I was in the hands of this
Spaniard and that my girdle of jewels and gold was stolen. It tried me
sorely to think at all, and with Mademoiselle gone I hardly cared what
might happen. But I knew that my chance of escape, had I any, lay in
making them believe me still unconscious and done almost to death. So
I lay quite still with my eyes half closed, fearing almost to breathe,
and straining my ears to catch every word of their talk, which, carried
on in French, now came to my ears quite clearly.

“These Huguenots, you say, father, will go to the River of May?” asked
De Avilés.

“It is so reported in the town. They will sail in seven small ships
and will muster three hundred men, with some women and many artisans
bearing everything necessary to form this colony.”

“And the colony of Laudonnière, what of that?”

“Word has been received that there is mutiny against the Commander
Laudonnière,--who is accused of many misdemeanors by those who have
returned. I am bidden tell you, by those who are close in our councils
at Paris, that you need fear nothing from them.”

“But they have a fort and are well provided with munitions of war,--we
may not be able to strike them separately. If they combine forces
they may even be too much for us; for heretics though they be these
Huguenots are still very excellent fighters.”

“Your Excellency knows best the qualities of good men-at-arms. The
Adelantado of Florida must not be defeated. Though you and your people
be Spaniards, they are still Catholics and firm in the Christian faith.
It is a sainted war which you are waging and when you strike, the hand
of God will be with you. Therefore, I say, have no fear. For those who
have sent me to you know what they know when they pray the Holy Virgin
for your success.”

I could hardly believe what I heard. Were there bigots so base
that they would destroy their own people and their own nation? And
Mademoiselle had gone with the Huguenots! I grew weak again and
trembled from head to foot as one with an ague.

De Baçan began speaking now and I nerved myself to listen.

“Your Excellency needs no information of mine upon the designs of these
French people in the territory of Spain. They will lose no time in
setting with fine skill upon the ignorant minds of the savage peoples
of those parts who otherwise may yet be saved. Yet your Excellency
should take no chances of defeat.”

Menendez was stroking his mustache. His eyes glittered strangely.

“What would you advise, father?” he said.

“There is no way to stop or even delay this Ribault,” said the Jesuit.
“There remains but to petition the King to increase your force. ’Tis an
expedition,” he laughed, “which is as good for the soul as the purse
and the body, and there will be many to profit by it. But a few hundred
more men and three or four more ships will make you as secure in your
possessions as the most Catholic King himself in his throne and his
people.”

“There is much that is wise in what you say,” said the Adelantado,
“but the King has no money for this enterprise. The money which I have
secured has come from my own people of the Asturias, and I know not
whither to go for more.”

De Baçan here arose from his seat and walked cautiously to the door
and window. I lay as one dead, holding my breath in fear lest I should
be discovered. He came and bent over me for a moment. It seemed an
eternity, and I felt the look of his eyes as they pierced me through
and through. He seemed satisfied with the scrutiny, for he went back
to the table; putting both hands upon it, he leaned far over toward the
Adelantado.

“What would your Excellency do for one who could find this money?” he
said.

Menendez looked up, smiling his strange smile.

“You are eager, my friend,” he replied calmly. “It might be worth much
or little,--perhaps a share of my profits--perhaps--nothing. But what
do you know?”

“It is for this I wished to see your Excellency.” He paused. “I have
managed an affair of no small profit,” he laughed, “and I am no
glutton.”

Unfastening his doublet he unwrapped from around his body the treasure
of Coligny, and tossed it upon the table. “There is enough for a
thousand men and more,” he said.

The Adelantado undid the leather bands gravely, while the eyes of the
priest started almost out of their sockets as the glittering stones
tumbled out upon the table. The Adelantado uttered an exclamation
and the three of them sat there silent for a moment, with their eyes
shining like the wonderful stones they looked upon.

The priest was the first to speak. “A thousand men, surely!” he said.

Then the Adelantado ran the jewels through his fingers. He gloated over
them fiercely, for in the glittering faces of those little baubles he
saw before him the scenes of blood and persecution which were to come.
He saw himself master of all the great domain that had been allotted to
him and he dreamed of conquests and treasures such as no man had won
since the beginning of the world.

He raised his head at last. “You have done well, De Baçan,” he said.
“You have done well, my son. You shall be my Captain of Camp. We will
reach an agreement upon your duties and profits without difficulty.
These jewels shall go with me to the Biscayan ports and we will have a
fleet and company of men great enough to take the islands of Elizabeth
if need be. We will have galleons of a thousand tons, the tallest that
float and----”

“But your Excellency cannot fail,” interposed the priest, who had been
eying him narrowly, “to give some tribute to the Church--some tribute
for your safety?”

“Yes, father. But for the present, as you can see, we will need all of
this treasure to prepare for our journey, which indeed is as much for
God as for the King.”

The Jesuit pulled the cowl up over his head and turned upon De Baçan
fiercely.

“You have told me, Diego de Baçan, that you have done this hulking
English heretic to death for the profit of your soul and the glory of
the Church. In this you have lied,--I know now that he was set upon
because of a private quarrel. It is plain you have taken him and his
money unfairly. You become a servant of the Evil One, a thief and
murderer, and should suffer the penalty of the Church.”

Both Diego and Menendez arose, uncovered their heads, and crossed
themselves. Then the Adelantado leaned over and picked up three large
stones. These he extended to the priest. The cleric lowered his head to
conceal his cupidity; but took the jewels quickly, putting them inside
his gown, mumbling the while some Latin words to himself. “_Absolvo
te_, my son,” he said.

Then De Baçan put the rest of the jewels back in the girdle and
fastened it about him.

“This Englishman was a most comfortable prize,” he laughed. “It was a
little quarrel of my own, father. I confess it, yonder Englishman has
caused me great trouble since the taking of the _Cristobal_. There
is a lady and--well,--he was forever balking me and I hated him. But
faugh! to-morrow he will be dead and there is an end of the matter.”
The three of them came over to me and De Avilés fetched me a kick in
the ribs. Had it been Diego, I must have groaned outright, for De Baçan
did nothing lightly. But I lay quiet, and aided by the darkness escaped
notice. They took the light and went out through the iron door,
locking it behind them, and I heard their laughter and jesting as they
went down the hallway and so out through a gate which must have been at
the end of the passage.

The sound of their footsteps had not died away before I was upon my
hands and knees groping my way toward the window, through which stole a
dusky light. It was not until then that I discovered how weak I was. My
shirt and doublet were dank with blood, for my head had been sadly cut;
and my neck was so stiff I could scarce turn my head from the one side
to the other. I got up with difficulty, but my head swam and I fell
heavily to the floor again. The room seemed to be pitching from this
side to that and the square of light where the window was swayed to
and fro, sickening me at last so that I lay still until I might gather
resolution and not again overdo my strength. My mind was chaos. What
had become of Goddard and Smith, and how long had I been in this place?
I knew not--nor for a time seemed much to care. With the weakness there
came a feeling of indifference and I was content to lie there, with no
thought for anything. But presently the faintness passed and I began
trying to unravel the skein of my thoughts.

Mademoiselle had sailed with the expedition of Admiral Ribault,--and
yet the Jesuit had said they would sail on the morrow. They had then
been delayed,--or else--yes, it must be--the night of the robbery had
not yet passed away. And with that I grew more collected. Perhaps there
was yet time to see the Sieur de la Notte and the Admiral Ribault, and
warn them of this plot of the Catholics, the secret of which had come
into my possession. The Catholics of Spain would destroy the Huguenot
colony and certain Catholics of France had connived at the villainy.
That was a great secret of State and surely one to make the blood of
any honest Frenchman, whether Catholic or Calvinist, boil with shame
and anger.

Then, when I thought that it was through my loss of the treasure of
Coligny that this thing had come to be possible, I was in great turmoil
of spirit and clinched my jaws fiercely as I searched in mind for some
plan to redeem myself. I tried to rise and at last got upon my feet
with a great effort, and to the table, where I limply hung. And Captain
Hooper! What would he say when I went to him? I had no heart to think
of it--I knew him well. He would ask me why was I there to tell him
of it? Yes, truly, I was out of employment. Fortune had smiled too
favorably upon me to smile for long.

I sat swaying there, trying to gather strength to break out of this
vile place, when I heard the sound of whispering close at hand; but
whether it came from inside or out I could not tell. If it were De
Baçan, I resolved to dash upon him with a chair and so, if I could stay
upon my feet, perhaps gain the outer door. I listened for a moment and
then heard plainly that it came from outside the window. I crouched
down below the jamb listening intently. Then to my great joy there came
a low whistle in exact counterfeit of a call upon the _Great Griffin_.

My friends had not forgotten me then!

My joy was so great I could scarce refrain from shouting. But I found
I could not even if I would. I managed so to answer that they heard my
whistle, for there came an exclamation and a bulky shape appeared at
the bars of the window.

“Master Sydney, sir, are ye safe?” came in a half whisper, and there
was a world of comfort in the voice. It was Smith! And I reassured him
in a moment; then managing to get the table over under the window,
mounted upon it and found my head and shoulders just abreast of the
sill. There were heavy bars of iron before the window, but rough and
rusty to the touch. So Smith brought a piece of timber, which he used
as a pry, and with help managed to snap and then bend a bar so that
I could let them haul me up and out through the narrow opening. But
my strength had been sorely tried and so it was some moments before I
could stand upright and look about me.

It was but a short time before the dawn. The Sieur de la Notte upheld
me on one side and on the other was a tall man whom I knew not. He
had a beard reaching to his waist and gave several brisk orders; I
afterwards learned it was Admiral Jean Ribault. Several men went about
the building, knocking and seeking to discover if there were any one
within; but the Admiral called them back, bidding them be quiet.
Withal, being very weak, by great effort I managed to tell them of the
Catholic plot and that the Spaniards would doubtless soon return and it
might be possible to recover the treasure.

This was as important for Ribault as it was for me, for it meant much
to the Lutheran cause. But he would not have it so, saying Menendez was
well upon his way and letting me know, in a sad way which I liked not
in one of so fine a bearing, that it would be unwise to foment trouble.
He believed in his strength and ability to hold the land of Florida
against all nations; he wished only to depart without molestation or
hindrance. Of a truth, I was so sick and weak that I knew not what they
did. My effort of mind had been too great, for now that I was safe and
had told my story, it grew weaker and I could not think. They half led,
half carried me, to the Rue Etienne and there put me to bed.



CHAPTER VII.

IN WHICH I FIND NEW EMPLOYMENT.


I awoke the next morning to find Mademoiselle standing by my bedside
with a potion which she bade me take. In a short while there came a
chirurgeon who looked at my head, bathing and bandaging it, to the end
that in an hour or so I felt so much better that I could sit upright
and listen to Mademoiselle as she told me of their plans. Surely no
medicine were so good for mind or body as the sight of her as she moved
here and there about the room; and when she brought me my draught and
leaned over to give it me, I found myself holding the cup to my lips
without swallowing, taking my cure not through my lips but through my
eyes.

Then says she,

“Nay, Master Sydney, you must drink it down. It is not bitter.”

No, it was not bitter. I wished that I might be always ill. But she was
not impatient. She looked upon me with the eyes of friendliness and
interest. What there was of coldness had disappeared from her manner;
for the fancies of such as she are engulfed always in the instincts of
womanhood. She put her hand upon my wrist, with fine hardihood counting
the beatings of my pulse, her eyes cast upon a minute-glass. Then she
smiled as she found that the fever was less, though for my part, from
the thumping of my heart, I could not see that I was in any better case
than I should be.

I had murmured but a word of thanks--telling her that I was better.
Thus far I was content to say nothing so long as she would only stay
where I might look at her. She, herself, was balm to my wounds. But
when she was about to leave the room to tell her father that I had
awakened, I called to her.

“Mademoiselle, just a word. It is hard to say the words of gratitude
I would. I am but a yeoman of Queen Bess, a sea-rover if you like.
I am without friends save yourselves, and without either money or
employment. In a few days or perhaps hours you too will be gone. I
shall never see you again.” I paused. “Otherwise I should not speak.”

She looked at me curiously and then moved as though to go, but I made
a gesture which held her. I knew not what had come over me. The words
rushed upon my tongue and I could not restrain them. I was rough and
brutal in my frankness. But then what mattered it? She was going to
one end of the world, and I to another; and I wished only that she
should know--that she should believe.

“Listen, Mademoiselle. I know that I am fit only to serve and obey you.
You are noble and I--whatever claim I have--am but a loutish fellow.
Why I have the audacity to speak to you I do not know, save that by
kindness you have given me that right. Listen you must. I love you,
Mademoiselle, I love you! That is all.”

She had stood facing the door, her hands before her and her eyes cast
down, quietly listening. But as I went on her hands dropped to her
sides, her head lifted and her eyes, first mildly curious and then
indignant, flashed at me angrily.

“Stop, monsieur!” she said, and so haughtily that the blood went back
upon my heart. She was no small woman, but to me, unworthy of her, she
seemed in her pride and majesty to add to her stature half again. She
turned red and white by turns, while her lips seemed to be seeking
the words with which to deter me. Yet I could not have stopped any
more than I could have gone to find Coligny’s treasure. When she spoke
again, it was with a coolness and precision, that chilled me to the
heart.

“Master Killigrew, however much we may have been in your debt, you need
make no doubt, you are amply repaid. For shame, monsieur! To take
advantage of our pity and our friendliness! It were not difficult to
see you are better. Adieu, monsieur!” And with this she opens the door
and walks through it, looking no more at me and bearing an expression
which I knew not, one in which pride and pity seemed struggling for
the mastery. When the door had closed, I heard the sound of her feet
running up the stairs and then a door swung to with violence overhead.

I was a great hulking brute, deserving but scant consideration. I
know not what it was that impelled me to speak as I had done,--a
hand-pressure on the _Cristobal_, her sympathy in my affairs or
something in the look she gave me when she stood over me with the
physic. But unused to soft words, I could no more have restrained
myself than I could the seas which plashed the bows of the _Griffin_.

As it was, when she left the room all the light went out from life. I
only knew I could not stay longer in that house. If I had forfeited
the right to her friendship, then I must go and at once. I could not
bear it that she thought of me as she did. If she told the Sieur de la
Notte, as she doubtless would, and I should lose his good opinion too,
then surely I should be undone. I was unlucky, and what was worse, a
fool into the bargain. Getting up slowly, leaning against the wall, I
managed to put upon me my clothing and doublet. I did not know where I
was to go. I could not go to England. Nor to Captain Hooper’s agent,--I
was ruined, and could picture the face of that oily Frenchman as I
told him the jewels were gone. It would be serious for me. It meant
prison, at the worst; at the best, Captain Hooper’s disdain. Of the
two, however, I think I feared the former least. I would go I cared not
whither, back to the house where I had been confined perhaps, to see
if Diego de Baçan might not return;--to Spain perhaps in pursuit of
Menendez. I knew not. At last I stumbled to the door of the room and so
out into the passage, and had but laid my hand upon the bolts of the
outer door when there were footsteps in the hallway and I turned my
head to see Mademoiselle coming toward me. Her eyes were cast down, but
as she came near she lifted her head and extended her hand as one man
might do to another, saying,

“Forgive me, my friend,--I did not mean it.”

I held out my hand stupidly, looking at her and replying,

“Ah, Mademoiselle, I have no further mission in this house.”

She clasped my hand strongly, leading me back again into the room where
I had lain. And there was not strength to resist.

In a little while there came the Sieur de la Notte to inquire for my
health. He sat down beside me and entered straightway upon the business
he had in mind.

“I have been thinking much of you, good Sydney,” he began, “and have
come to ask your plans.”

“You are very kind, monsieur,” I replied as I grasped his hand, “but
I have no plans. If I cannot replace or set finger upon the treasure
which was entrusted to me, I have no further hope of employment from my
sovereign; for she likes not men who do not succeed. I shall wait here
a few days, when I will get upon the track of De Avilés, striving to do
by secrecy what I might not accomplish by strength.”

La Notte shook his head.

“It will not do, _mon ami_,--it will not do. I know it,--for the
Admiral has just told me the state of these affairs. The Catholics at
the Court will countenance this expedition and will hold Menendez as
safe in France as though he were in his own Asturias. You may as well
whistle for the jewels, Sydney, for you will see them no more.”

I sighed deeply, for I felt that what he said was true.

“You yourself have heard enough to convince you that all matters at the
French court are not as they seem. You will not succeed in any private
undertaking against Spain,--sure of that you may be. And, monsieur,
you had better be bled by leeches than by pike-heads for awhile. Listen
to the Admiral’s offer. We sail on the morrow for the land of promise,
good Sydney, three hundred strong, to build up a great Christian
nation across the ocean. Ribault has bid me offer you a commission as
lieutenant aboard his flagship, for he is short-handed in officers and
needs those who have a knowledge of ships; also he can employ any of
your men who have a taste for this venture in New France.”

I saw that he was trying to conceal what he had done for me, under plea
of his own advantage. I could say nothing, but extended my hand and he
pressed it warmly. Mademoiselle had been sitting by listening until
then. Now as I looked at her for half a sign she got up and busied
herself preparing some medicine for Madame.

“Will you go, _mon ami_? If you like it not perhaps you may return upon
the vessels when they come again to France.”

I was silent, looking still at Mademoiselle. This time she turned and
said quietly,

“It is a fine venture for a man of ingenuity and daring.”

What could I do? Everything else vanished before the thought that I was
still in her favor and that too in spite of what I had said to her. I
would voyage of a verity to the ends of the earth with no further wish
than to be near her.

I said that I would go, and saw no more of Mademoiselle on that
morning. When I got a glimpse of her in the afternoon she but nodded
her head, speaking not at all and taking so little notice of me,
indeed, that I might have been but a serving man.

I wrote a long letter to Captain Hooper, giving a correct report of all
that had happened upon the _Cristobal_ and in Dieppe. I told him of the
condition of affairs in France and how it was impossible to recover
what had been lost. I told him I doubted not that these Spanish vessels
would soon set out for Florida, and that my chances for winning back
his esteem and any treasure or prize money was better in Florida than
in France. I wrote of Fort Caroline, where the French would be found,
and saying that should he desire such a venture in the _Griffin_, there
would be honor and prizes in plenty where the Spaniards put in. This
I entrusted through the Sieur de la Notte to the captain of a vessel
sailing for Portsmouth, who might be relied upon to deliver it safely
to the care of Martin Cockrem at the Pelican.

That much done, I felt relieved in mind, and when Admiral Ribault came
late that night, could discuss with him many details of the expedition.
I had then a chance to learn what manner of man I was to serve.

He was tall and of a commanding presence. His face was swarthy and
marked by the crossing white wrinkles of a man of the sea. His rather
thin lips were hid under a long moustache and his beard reached quite
down to his waist. His nose was big and not ill formed, but it was in
his eyes that one noted the character of the man. These were gray-blue
and kindly. As he talked on, they flashed keenly and one saw his power.
It was not a strong face,--nor a weak one, but it showed him as he was,
an able and gallant seaman and gentleman, loving above all else his
life, his Country and his God.

The next morning I awoke much refreshed, and with the help of two
lieutenants of Ribault, managed in some sort to make my way down to the
docks and go to the _Trinity_, Ribault’s flagship, upon which I had
been given my commission. I was still very weak and could expect to do
no duty for awhile, but the breath of the sea as it swept up into the
dip of land, sent fresh blood pulsing through my veins and gave me a
new interest in the people about me with whose lives mine was to be
mingled for many months. The most of that day I spent upon the vessel’s
deck watching the final loading of stores and learning the lead of
the tackling. I could see the six other vessels lying near us in the
Arques, and I marked that but four of them were of any considerable
size; the others were small vessels of less than half the tonnage of
the _Griffin_, being sprung high up in the stern, lacking her grace
in run of line and length and rake of mast. All of the ships were
well out of the water like the _Cristobal_ and had a great slant of
after-castle, the topmost deck of which sloped uncomfortably forward.
But they were staunch vessels for the country and time, and with their
armaments, which seemed very complete, might be expected to make a good
argument against ships of the same metal.

But I liked little the temper of the company, which to me seemed scarce
suited to the kind of work before us. The cavaliers came aboard in
twos and threes, many of them of somber mien and habit, but mostly
poor gentlemen who had but this resource left to them. Some were gaily
attired and I marked a curled moustache here, an ear jewel there, or a
ruff in the latest twist of fashion.

Nor were the seamen the honest yeomen of England. They worked willingly
enough, but they danced and jested among themselves, laughing and
singing foolish songs like lads of ten years or thereabouts.

“Body o’ me, sir,” said Goddard gruffly, “they’re ladies, every scut
of ’em! Blast me,--ye can’t make a fightin’ crew out of men as won’t
swear!”

I smiled and mentioned Salvation Smith.

“Oh well, he’s different, sir,” he answered. “’Tis his principles,
Master Sydney. That’s all’s the matter with him. When he fights he’s
a-cursin’ all the time in his heart, I know,--he couldn’t fight, else.”

With regard to the company of adventurers it made me feel no better
to learn that there was another to share my opinion. It was no
child’s play, this voyage, on which we were going. It was work for
staunch-bodied men with big limbs and stiff hands, and not the slender,
pink-fingered gentlemen I had seen thus far. When I thought that the
safety of Mademoiselle lay with the disposition of these people I was
more troubled than ever.

She came aboard late in the afternoon, and with Madame and the Sieur de
la Notte went at once to the cabin. Soon Admiral Ribault came alongside
in his pinnace and signaled the fleet to get under way. Amid the firing
of cannon upon the shore we passed out of the river on the ebb of the
tide and with a fair wind set the broad bows of the _Trinity_ squarely
into the red path of light that shimmered towards the sun, the color of
blood. I shuddered a little; then laughed aloud at my womanish thought.
Surely, my illness had made me weak indeed.

In a few days Mademoiselle came upon the deck with Madame. I had grown
so strong that I was taking my day watches now. My pulses tingled anew
and my lungs drank their fill of the salt air. The old love of the life
was in me again. But I could not make out the manner of Mademoiselle de
la Notte. Twice in the first week did I go up to her and address her,
but I was so ill at ease and her manner so distant that I turned away
and sought another part of the vessel. Then when she saw that she had
hurt me and that perhaps the difference of our positions--she thinking
me not to be of gentle birth--had gone more deeply than she had wished,
she called me to her and bade me place a stool for her and one for
Madame and wrap them in their cloaks, talking cheerfully the while.
This I did silently, going then forward to my place of duty. I had no
wish to force my presence upon her and so kept at a distance, speaking
only when it was not to be avoided. And yet my heart was sore that she
should treat me so.

Then there would come two or three of those bejeweled gentlemen; who,
recovered from their sickness, stood by her side talking to her gaily
after the manner of the sparks at a levee, flaunting their fine scented
handkerchiefs. This she seemed to enjoy, and made my cup of bitterness
full to overflowing.

But by and by there came a change. One day, the third week from Dieppe,
while I was talking between my watches with the sister of Lieutenant
Bachasse, Mademoiselle motioned that she would speak with me. She
dismissed those fine hangers-on and asked me what she had done that I
had treated her in so ill a fashion. I said nothing; for it did not
become me to cavil. She knew well why I had not waited upon her, and
why I would not speak. I seemed to see it in the way she spoke; and I
learned from that time what discernment a woman has upon all matters
which concern the heart of a man. Things after that were better between
us. By and bye, no day passed that we did not talk together; sometimes
in presence of Madame or Monsieur the Vicomte, and sometimes alone.

Oh, the wonder of those days and nights upon the ocean! When the
afternoon sun shimmered fair upon the amber seas to the southward, and
the sails about us were picked out in silver against the purple of the
horizon, turning as the sun dropped down, to ruddy gold and bronze
and then fading away into the gray softness of dusk! And then, when
the gulls and dolphins ceased to play and the moon came out, we would
sometimes lean upon the bulwarks, just she and I, looking down along
the sides to the bow-wave where the fire of the southern waters turned
the gray of the foam to soft glowing flames which warmly kissed the
ship and then danced away like sprites into the darkness beyond.

“It is an ocean of velvet,--a fair ocean,” she would say softly.

“It is Heaven, Mademoiselle,” I would answer.

We talked much of the things which had been and of those to come, and
I told her the stories of faraway lands that I had seen. She wondered
greatly at some of the things I knew; and yet for all that I felt at
times as though I were but a child beside her in every other thing save
the mere buffets of life. She was haughty no more; for it seemed in
that gray immensity of murmuring sea and starlit sky that all was equal
between us, and that we two were alone, close to our Maker.



CHAPTER VIII.

WE REACH THE NEW LAND.


After many days there came, one afternoon, loud and cheery from the
fore-mast head, the cry of “Land! Land!” Only one who has been three
months upon an ocean, unfathomable and limitless, can know the magic
of the word. The signals passed it to the other vessels of the fleet,
trumpets blared and cheer upon cheer and song upon song echoed and
re-echoed across the water. Crew and passengers upon the _Trinity_ came
tumbling up from below, jostling and crowding one another in their
madness to be among the first to get a glimpse of their home that was
to be. Even those sick with the scurvy and fever turned out of their
hammocks and, climbing to the deck, fell upon their knees to thank
God that the voyage was near ended. All thought of savage Carib or
more savage Spaniard was banished, for there to their gaze, shimmering
purple under the western sun, was their haven of refuge. They stretched
their limbs like people awaking from a long sleep; and, as the ship
glided onward, leaned forward upon the bulwarks as though they would
leap into the water. They strained to catch the first aromatic breath
of the pines in their nostrils and their tongues clove to their parched
and fevered mouths as they sighed for the fruits which hung there
beyond, luscious and ripe for their plucking.

By sundown we had sailed into a little river. Here was a fine sandy
bottom, and we cast anchor for the night. So impatient were the seamen
and passengers that some of them, not to be withheld, took one of the
pinnaces and went upon the shore. Ribault, after warning them against
the savages, consented to this, and soon the beach was aglow with fires
which they lighted to keep off wild beasts; and parties well armed went
searching among the uplands for fruit and game. Throughout the night
we upon ship-board could hear the seamen and cavaliers as they laughed
and shouted. At daybreak they came aboard again, torn and bleeding from
the thorns and brambles, but happy as urchins. They bore several large
panniers of luscious wild pomegranates of a small variety, and grapes
of great size and sweetness.

But the Admiral would not tarry here long. He did not know how soon the
Spaniards might be coming, and he wished to learn what had happened in
his absence to Laudonnière, the Commander at Fort Caroline. Many things
had been charged against that officer and Ribault desired to establish
the French Protestants firmly in their colony, and secure them speedily
from attack or molestation. Accordingly the ships weighed anchor again
and we sailed up the coast to the River of Dolphins. This had been so
called by Ribault because of the great number of fish of that name
which disported themselves in its waters.

Seeing no sign of living persons we sailed still further northward to
the River of May, which we reached on the 29th of August, 1565. The
channel of the river being narrow and the draught of the large ships
being great, we cast anchor at about half a league from shore.

Ribault, anxious to communicate at once with Laudonnière, immediately
fitted out all the large barges from the fleet and crowded crews into
them, fully armed and equipped. He knew not what might have happened.
I, being an officer upon the flagship, went with him in the pinnace,
and so we made our way up the river.

At last we sighted a small headland or bluff which rose abruptly from
the water where the river narrowed, and under its shadow we could just
make out the bastions of Fort Caroline. As we came near we saw a great
commotion upon the shore, officers running out of the Fort brandishing
their swords; and two of the soldiers began casting loose a gun. Then
we knew that they took us for enemies of France. A soldier ran down the
beach and fired an arquebus at us, but the ball went skipping along the
water and did us no damage. The Admiral, seeing that they did not know
us and thinking harm might ensue, hereupon stood up in the pinnace.
We saw one of the officers take off his morion and throw it into the
air with a shout of joy. Then there was cheering, and we knew they had
recognized the Admiral. In a few moments, under the sturdy sweep of the
oarsmen, the barges grated upon the pebbly beach and we tumbled out
among those assembled there. There was great joy among the young French
gentlemen, some of them running to the newcomers and kissing them with
great display of friendship upon both cheeks. The cannon, which but a
moment before were to have been turned upon us, were fired in salute
and the air resounded with glad cries and cheers.

There were many Indians of the tribe of the Chief Satouriona upon the
beach. Fine, straight-bodied savages they were, painted in bright
colors all over the body and wearing only a breech-clout, and a band
around the head. They were most grave of countenance and smiled little;
but very friendly, crowding around the Admiral, bowing and touching
their heads to the earth, marvelling at the great length of his beard.

I could see that the Fort was erected in a careful manner though sadly
out of repair. It was built in the form of a triangle and surrounded by
a trench, the side toward the river enclosed with a palisade of planks
of timber after the manner in which gabions are made. In the middle was
a great court eighteen paces long and upon one side of this, the “corps
de garde.” Opposite to it, the living house. Laudonnière, asked us to
his lodging-place and gave us a wine fermented from the grape of the
country, most soothing to the palate and livening to the vitals.

Under the close questioning of the Admiral, Laudonnière related the
events of the past few months, showing the sad straits into which his
people had fallen for lack of food and munitions. He told of the mutiny
of his men and how he had intended entering two of his smaller vessels
and returning to France. The Admiral found that the charges against him
were untrue, and offered him a high command. But Captain Laudonnière
was disconsolate, saying that his honor had been touched and that he
must soon return to France to defend himself against his enemies.

We talked far into the night, Vasseur, Verdier and De Brésac, three
lieutenants of the garrison with whom I had much talk, giving me a fair
good idea of the country and people. It seemed that Laudonnière had no
need to have given up so easily. It was hard to see how, in a country
abounding in animals good to eat, in fish and in fruit and corn, they
should have been reduced to such distress as they were in. There are
beasts of every kind, and Sir John Hawkins has said that there are
lions and tigers as well as unicorns, but I saw none of these, though
there were crocodiles in great abundance.

Vasseur told me a habit of the natives who when they travel have a kind
of herb dried, which they put in an earthen cup and set a-fire. Then
they suck the smoke of this through a cane or reed and it has a strange
and pleasing effect, satisfying their hunger so that they can live four
or five days without meat or drink. Some of the company had come to use
this herb and had grown to like it well, though at first it made them
much inward discomfort. All of these things are known in England now,
for Sir Walter Raleigh hath brought this custom of tobacco smoking into
the court.

In the morning the three smaller vessels of the fleet came up, bringing
the greater number of the colonists, among them the Sieur de la Notte
and his family, and by the end of the day the rest had landed. Rude
sheds of cedar stripping were built and a tolerable sheltered place was
thus made to house the men until better quarters should be provided.
During the first nights the women were given the barracks of the
company of Laudonnière, who, for the time being, shared the lot of the
newcomers. For Mistress Diane de la Notte nothing was too good, Réné de
Laudonnière himself turning over to her and to Madame two rooms of his
quarters. After seeing to their comfort I set about to aid in landing
the munitions of war. This was safely done by the end of the second
day and the new ordnance was mounted upon the battlements which thus
commanded the river for a great distance. The shed now gave place to a
stronger construction under the bastions and all worked with so great a
vigor that new life animated the poor fort which but a few days before
had come nigh to being deserted. Never had the prospects of the colony
been brighter, and it seemed as if at last Fortune was smiling upon
their efforts, which under careful management were about to be crowned
with success.

’Tis a strange thing how misfortune doth pursue even when all else
in nature seems to smile. It was, I think, at midnight of the fifth
day that the first great shadow fell upon the luckless settlement.
We were sitting around the council table in the barracks discussing
the plans of Laudonnière for the extension of the colony. Ribault sat
at the end of the table, his brows knit in deep thought, his hands
clasped upon the table and his beard falling down to his lap. He was
much perturbed over a report which had come to him that two sails had
been sighted far out to sea just as the night was falling. From time
to time he would nod to one or the other, but he spoke little. At his
right were Laudonnière, Vasseur, Verdier, the Swiss, Arlac, Ottigny,
and Satouriona the great Carib chief with whom the Admiral was bent
upon making a friendship. At his left were Saint Marie, Yonville and La
Grange. Yonville was speaking of the magic mine of gold and silver that
La Roquette had found which would yield ten thousand crowns apiece for
every colonist and fifteen hundred thousand crowns for the King. The
Admiral listened gravely, but he was a practical man and had no such
flighty notions as these young gentlemen.

I tired at last of listening to their vaporings and moved to one of
the casements where I sat listening and looking out into the night,
drinking in the perfumes of the forest which the breezes of the sea
were wafting toward me. Outside all was quiet save for the call
of a night bird or the cry of some beast of prey as it prowled on
its midnight hunt. The rain had fallen so that the odor was almost
overpowering, and it was damp out toward the sea, where the clouds hung
heavily with but a slight break overhead. There was a glimmer here and
there from the water under the bastions. Down near the river’s mouth I
fancied I could see the twinkling of the lanthorns upon the _Trinity_
as she swung to the tide; but the ships were almost too far away for
that. My thoughts turned to Diane and I wondered--

But as I looked into the distance toward where the ships should lay,
there came suddenly two flashes of light, one beside the other, like
lightning and yet not to be mistaken. I started, with an exclamation,
straining my eyes, my heart beating furiously. Then clear and distinct
as though but half a league away there came the sound of cannon shots!

Ribault and his officers sprang to where I stood, breathless, all
a-fever with the excitement of the moment. They had not long to wait.
For again the flashes came, by twos and threes, and then by broadsides,
the echoes coming up the river like the roaring of distant thunder.
There was commotion outside and the sentry opened the door crying “The
Spaniards! The Spaniards!”

The drums beat to arms and most of the soldiers and the women too
rushed out into the courtyard, where they ran hither and thither asking
questions which no one could answer. The Admiral commanding silence,
mounted with Ottigny and Laudonnière to the battlements where he
listened and watched intently for some minutes. He knew the serious
import of those sounds and what they might mean to the ships lying out
there, under-manned and unprepared for battle. He knew too that the
sentry had said the truth when he uttered the fear that was in his own
heart. The Spanish fleet had come to Florida!

Ribault came down from the battlements and without more ado ordered
all his seamen and officers to the four smaller ships at anchor in
the river. To the landing place we ran in great haste, stopping only
to seize armor and weapons. In half an hour our little vessels were
sailing down toward the mouth of the river. No one of us spoke, but we
stood along the bulwarks listening to the sound of the cannon. It was
more distant now, and from its direction we knew that the three larger
ships were making out to sea. Should we be in time?

In a moment the lookout upon the fore-castle of the _Jesus_ came
running aft and reported that there were sounds ahead close inboard.
We listened intently and in a moment heard the sound of oars grinding
violently in their irons and the swash of a ship’s boat through the
water. A voice shouted hoarsely across the water the words “France!
France!” Our men stood crooked over the bulwarks, their weapons at
their shoulders, trying to pierce the darkness, and soon we could
just make out a gray shadow bearing directly upon us. There was great
tension as she drew nearer and the gunners blew their torches, ready
to blow her out of the water at the first sign the least suspicious.
Slowly she drew alongside and we saw that it was a barge of the
_Trinity_. An officer came hastily over the gangway. It was Bachasse, a
sub-lieutenant.

Ribault went to him, and the soldiers crowded around.

“Is it the Spaniards?” he asked.

“It is, your Excellency,” replied Bachasse shortly. He was stout and of
a brusque manner--as brave a seaman as ever stood his watch.

“They came upon us late this afternoon, in five ships,” he said.
“Captain Bourdelais wished me to report that we were not prepared for
battle. Half of our crews are at the Fort.” He paused.

“Go on,” said Ribault, sternly. “Tell me all and omit nothing.”

“It was dark before they came upon us in earnest, our men were waiting
at their guns. There was a trumpet from the Spanish flagship. Captain
Bourdelais answered from the _Trinity_. We saw lanthorns and a figure
upon the great vessel and we heard a strong voice say:

“‘Whence does this fleet come?’

“‘From France,’ Captain Bourdelais replied at once.

“‘What are you doing here?’

“‘We bring soldiers and supplies for a fort which the King of France
has built and for many others which he will soon build.’

“‘Are you Catholics or Lutherans?’ said the voice.

“‘We are Lutherans! we are Lutherans! Who are you?’

“‘I am Pedro Menendez, general of the fleet of the King of Spain. At
daybreak I will board your ships and every heretic shall die!’

“Then our men broke into laughter and jeering; ‘You are cowards,’ they
shouted, ‘come at once.’

“Then they came down upon us. Captain Bourdelais ordered the cables
cut, for we were at a disadvantage. All of the ships put to sea. My
Captain has sent me to you. They fired upon this boat but we escaped.
They are now fighting upon the sea--and this is my report.” When he had
finished he bowed and stood silent.

The Admiral stroked his beard. The worst had happened and he saw that
it would be war to the death. He told Bachasse to order his men upon
deck and to make his boat fast to the stern of the _Jesus_. Then they
came up carrying one who had been killed. So we sailed on down to the
mouth of the river.

We saw no more gun-flashes and only now and then could we hear a sound
far out to sea which told us where the ships were sailing. I doubted
not that it was wise of Captain Bourdelais to slip his cable and run
for the open; with a good wind he might escape. By and by we heard no
sounds at all.

The Admiral was for going in pursuit of the flying ships, but called
a consultation of his officers in the cabin and they advised against
it. Fort Caroline would be without vessels or men to protect it, and
the Spanish fleet might sail up within range and batter the bastions
down. Their counsel at last prevailed, and at dawn the soldiers were
landed upon the beach. The _Jesus_ and three other vessels cast anchor
in an arm of the sea behind the beach, broadside on, so that the
soldiers might be protected by a brave cannon fire. Then the bowmen and
arquebusiers dug into the sand, making trenches in which they might
find protection from arrows and small pieces.

These were moments of great anxiety. It was not until the sun had
mounted well into the sky that some sentinels who had been watching
down the beach, reported a sail coming up with the brisk wind. By ten
o’clock she was in plain sight and from her great bulk we made her out
to be the Spanish flag-ship _San Pelayo_. She could not have been less
than a thousand tons burthen; and came beautifully, sailing outside
the outer bar just beyond the range of our long pieces. She wore three
yellow streaks along her sides where her gun tiers were, and her sails,
crossed with great red stripes and bars, never spilled a cupful as
they bellied out into the wind and bore her onward, though she was
dipping and pitching in the chop as she went by. Her bulwarks gleamed
in the sunlight with the lines of polished helmets; and though I had no
spying-glass I fancied that high up near her lanthorns I could make out
the Adelantado and by his side the stalwart figure of Diego de Baçan. I
bit my lips and hoped they might try to make the entrance of the river.

But they threw the ship up into the wind, where she courtesied
disdainfully, and then a scornful puff of smoke came from her side and
a shot struck in the first line of surf. She hung there a minute and
then squared away down the beach again. The Adelantado was discreet as
well as valiant. Late in the afternoon three other sail were sighted,
and it was soon seen that they were French. At sunset they were near
enough and a boat put off from the _Gloire_, Captain Cosette himself
coming ashore through the surf to make his report. He had followed
the Spaniards to San Augustin and had seen that they had landed their
stores and negroes and were rapidly entrenching themselves.

Many of these facts have been set forth in the writings of the Captain
Laudonnière, and of Challeux the carpenter; and some stories have been
written by the Spaniard Barcia and by Mendoza, the priest. Yet it is
proper that everything bearing upon the events which are to follow
should be known to all Christians, that they may rightly judge between
these people and us.



CHAPTER IX.

WE PUT TO SEA.


After waiting all night and part of the next day we returned to the
Fort, leaving a guard upon the beach, with cannon to assist the ships
should they be attacked.

That night there was a council of war. Laudonnière was sick in his bed,
so we went to his chamber, standing and sitting at the bedside. There
were La Grange, Sainte Marie, Ottigny, Visty, Yonville, De Brésac and
others. The Admiral spoke boldly and at some length. He outlined his
plan, which was nothing less than an immediate attack by sea upon San
Augustin, before the Spaniards had time to well entrench themselves
against attack. His eye flashed as he spoke and he was good to see, for
there is naught so fine as the light of battle in the eyes of a man
of years. The younger men were with him body and heart, for the very
boldness of the plan was to their liking.

When he had finished, Laudonnière answered, favoring the plan of
remaining at Fort Caroline to fortify it against attack. La Grange and
Sainte Marie got upon their feet and spoke briefly to the same effect.
They all said that having lived in these parts for nearly two years,
they were better qualified to speak of these things; they thought it
dangerous to venture upon that coast in the month of September or
October, for the storms came with terrible swiftness and devastation.

Ribault reproved them for their timidity, asking whether they were
valiant sailor-men of France or dogs of Spaniards? Then he read a
letter from Admiral Coligny which he took to be an order to attack this
same Admiral Pedro Menendez if he ventured within the dominions of New
France. By sea, the distance was short and the route explored. It was
the proper strategy. With a sudden blow we would capture or destroy the
Spanish ships, and master the troops on shore before their companions
upon the sea could arrive.

Laudonnière, having been superseded in his command, had no actual
control in the matter, and though the Admiral spoke kindly to him
and to the other officers, the orders were at once issued for the
expedition. In order that there might be no possibility of miscarriage,
the most of the available men of the Fort as well as of the ships were
to be taken. Not only were all the officers and soldiers of the new
expedition to go but also La Caille, Laudonnière’s sergeant-major, his
Ensign--Arlac, De Brésac a friend of La Caille, Ottigny, La Grange and
the very pick of his men.

This was little to my liking. With these men gone and Laudonnière ill,
the Fort lay practically at the mercy of the enemy, were they Spaniards
or Indians. The Sieur de la Notte would come upon the _Trinity_ in
spite of all that I could urge, for though not born to the command of
men, he had a love for play with the steel and went where he felt his
duty strongest.

I could not conceal my fears, even from the Vicomte de la Notte. All
that was for me in this world would be left behind in a crumbling
fort with no one to defend. Of those to remain, but seventeen men of
Laudonnière and nine or ten of Ribault were in condition to bear arms,
and some of these were servants, one of them being the Admiral’s cook
and two others his dog-boys. There was an old carpenter of threescore
named Challeux, two shoemakers, an old cross-bow maker, a player upon
the spinet and four valets--a beggarly array of fighting men surely to
defend the one hundred and fifty women, children and camp-followers the
Admiral would leave behind! I went to him, but he would not listen to
me. His mind was made to carry out all these plans, he said; and so I
left him. La Grange and Ottigny went to him again; but we saw that it
was useless. I then sought Madame and Mademoiselle in their chamber in
the living quarters.

We had only a short time, but Mademoiselle and I went out upon the
bastion and stood by the breeching of one of the cannon, looking out to
sea. The air was close and sultry and not a breath stirred the trees
to the back of us or rippled the surface of the river that flowed,
deep and sluggish, below. The leaves, half turned in color and wet by
a rain-storm during the night, hung sere and motionless. The standard
above our heads hung closely about the staff, drooped and faded. The
ships in the river were shaking out their sails, which fell heavily and
hung from their yards in straight and listless folds to the deck. The
men moved down from the Fort to the boats as though they had no joy
in the undertaking. There was no gleam upon their breastpieces, for
the sun did not shine that morning, and never the rollicking song that
means so much to the man-at-arms. I was in no cheerful disposition, and
there was a reflection of my mood in the manner of Mademoiselle.

“There is no great danger,” I began, “and we will return within the
week. I have asked your father to stay, as he can be of no great
service in a culverin fight, or a fight of ships. But he will go.”

“If there is a battle,” she smiled, “it were difficult to keep him
where the women and children are. He hath ever given a good account of
himself.”

“Yes, Mademoiselle, but he should not go.”

I said it in a tone so convincing that she looked at me to get my
meaning. I had not meant to betray my uneasiness to her, but with her
woman’s wit she guessed my thought.

“You are thinking of us,” she said quietly.

I did not answer. I looked down at the ground, tapping my boot with my
scabbard.

“I know not what it is, Mademoiselle, but my mind is deep in
melancholy.”

She looked across to the pine barrens, sighing.

“It is the dying of the year or some movement of the elements,” she
replied.

“Yes, doubtless that is it.”

And then we both sat silent again.

“Mademoiselle, you know that Don Diego de Baçan is there,” I said at
last, pointing to the southward. “If anything should happen that we
do not return so soon as we expect, promise me that you will yourself
cause a private watch to be kept at the gates of Fort Caroline. If
there are signs of attack, go at once with Madame to the woods. Forgive
me, Mademoiselle, for asking you to bear a part of my uneasiness, but
there are not many wise heads at Fort Caroline.”

She smiled a little at my eagerness.

“I have no fear of Diego de Baçan, or Menendez de Avilés,” she replied,
“but I will do as you wish.” She then took from the breast of her gown
a straight dagger, long and fine. As I looked at it a chill went over
me and I held up my hands before my eyes.

“Mademoiselle! Mademoiselle!” I cried in anguish.

She held the weapon poised a moment on her finger-tips looking at it
strangely, then slowly set it in its sheath and returned it to her
breast. I looked her in the eyes and they were calm. I knew that she
would do as she meant. She stood straight as any one of Satouriona’s
warriors, smiling bravely at me, and I wished that I might take her in
my arms and tell her all that I would before we parted. I looked up
at her, my hands trembling to touch her, my eyes wide with adoration;
and something came over her then that she knew how deep I loved her.
For a great tear came to her eye and trickled down upon her cheek. But
she brushed it away brusquely with the back of her hand. She thrust
her fingers toward me, turning her head away; and I pressed them to my
lips, kissing them blindly--blindly many times.

“God bless you, Mademoiselle!” I murmured.

Then I left her. That was the memory of Diane de la Notte I carried out
to sea.

We entered pinnaces at about four of the afternoon and put out across
the bar for the _Trinity_, which, swinging wide at her anchorage,
rolled upon the glassy water, light as a feather. For the cargo was
out of her and she sat high and proud, for all the world like a great
swan. There was no air stirring and the surface of the sea was like
oil,--I felt again the same ominous foreboding of impending evil.
There had been a storm somewhere, for the waves rolled in and burst
with a roar upon the beach below us. It was choppy over the bar, but
beyond a wetting we got upon the ship safely enough. I liked not the
looks of the sky and sea. Overhead the clouds hung dark and heavy, for
though ’twas a full hour before sunset the sky was so gloomy that all
the lanthorns below were lighted. We could see all around the horizon,
for the air was most clear and the blue black line of it came strong
against the coppery glow of the heavens to the east and southward. The
sand upon the shore gleamed white by contrast against the dark green of
the pines beyond, which cut across the sky-line so black that you could
see with distinctness each particular needle and spur. The thunder of
the surf was loud above the dip and murmur of the ship, and to the
southward along the coast as far as the eye could reach the white lines
of froth, growing smaller and smaller in the distance, rolled in from
the outer bar.

It was no pleasant berth for a ship of our size upon a lee shore. She
could not go into any of the rivers as the _Pearl_ and the _Jesus_
could, and I was for putting to sea at once, where in the open we
could clew up everything and run for it if a storm were brewing. The
Admiral and the Captain Bourdelais were upon the after-castle in
conversation and looking at the sky or up the river toward the Fort,
where the Captain La Grange, with one of the vessels of Laudonnière,
still tarried. It was plain to be seen that they liked the looks of
the weather no better than I, for in a little while orders were passed
forward to secure everything for sea, and the anchor was hove up to a
short cable. Before dark La Grange appeared, and as a light breeze had
sprung up, signals were flashed and we put out to sea under all plain
sail. As soon as the sheets had been trimmed aft and the course had
been set down the coast, I took a lanthorn and lay below decks with one
of the midship’s men of the watch to see that all was secure in the
hold and cabins.

When I went under the half deck and opened the hatch to the quarters
of the men, a cloud of blue smoke rolled out and I thought there must
be a fire. There, upon a sea-chest, sitting most disconsolate, was my
Englishman, Job Goddard. Around him in a half-moon was a crowd of the
French bowmen and arquebusiers holding their sides and laughing at his
plight. For while I looked he put his hand upon his stomach, retching
and groaning like a person ill unto death.

“Why, how now, Job Goddard,” I laughed--for the ship was pitching--“is
this your maiden voyage?”

But Goddard only bent the further forward, and the bowmen laughed the
more. At this I feared ’twas serious, for Goddard was no man to be
laughed at by any Frenchman.

I went over to him and clapped my hand upon his shoulder. “Chut, man,”
said I half angrily, “what is it? Speak up!”

And with that he turned toward me the sorriest look and wryest face I
have ever beheld upon mortal man. But he made no sign that he heard me
or indeed that he was aware of my presence, only gripping his middle
and groaning the louder. I made a shrewd guess that ’twas no vital
sickness that had come upon him, and remembering how I had once before
seen a man cured of some such an ailment, without further ado I fetched
him a resounding whack upon the thigh.

I had not counted upon so speedy a recovery, for I had scarce time
to spring behind him when he flew into the air and in the very thick
of the Frenchmen--striking this way and that with feet and hands,
until two of the arquebusiers measured their length upon the floor
and the rest of them were flying in all directions before the fury of
his onslaught. Unable longer to restrain myself I burst into a fit of
laughter, which even my sense of authority could not withhold.

It was not until then that Goddard espied me. His countenance fell and
he looked around him as though to gather his wits. But in a moment
he walked over to his sea-chest, and I saw that he had been sucking
upon one of these tobacco reeds which Vasseur had described to me. He
looked at the packet and bowl a moment stupidly and then, with a sudden
motion, dashed them upon the deck, where they broke into a hundred
pieces.

Then and not until then would he speak.

“Blow me, sir,” said he, “if I bean’t sick at me stomick.” The
expression of his face at this unaccustomed sensation was so comical
that I could not blame the Frenchmen, and I laughed as loud as the best
of them.

The next morning when within but two leagues of San Augustin the wind
fell again to the same dead, sluggish calm of the day before, and we
could make no progress; but plain to the naked eye behind the sand spit
at the entrance showed the vessels of the Spaniards, where they had
anchored to receive us.

The weather by now was growing thicker and thicker, and in an hour
we saw that a squall would strike us. We had barely time to get our
canvas in when down it came with great force and away we rode trying to
bear up against it. Close as we hauled we could not get to the harbor
and give battle; and so the Admiral, seeing that some of the smaller
vessels would be blown ashore, signaled for all to follow, and under
storm-sails stood off until the tempest should abate. Had we held on
so close to that lee shore some of our vessels must surely have fallen
into the hands of the Spaniards.

But the storm showed no sign of abating. Before noon the wind increased
to such a force that the vessels could wear but their very lightest
canvas; and heavy gusts of wind came now and then, in which those sails
cracked and strained, the ship groaning like a thing in pain.

Bourdelais stood upon the poop glancing first at the slatting canvas
and then at the Spanish vessels within the harbor, growing every moment
more indistinct in the wrack and mist under our lee. De Brésac, who
had stood fingering his sword-hilt impatiently, awaiting the beginning
of the battle, had railed so openly at the Admiral’s decision to put
to sea, that he had been sent below, like a sulky boy, to recover his
usual tepor. Salvation Smith had stopped reading to Job Goddard from
the “Martyrs,”--his accustomed relish before going into battle--and sat
moody and dispirited in the lee of the barge in the waist, while his
companion swore softly to himself.

I doubted not, it was a wise decision to put to sea, but to me it
seemed a bitter thing to be forced to turn aside from a battle which
meant so much to us all. If Ribault himself had any doubts as to
his decision, he did not show them; for he paced up and down the
quarter-deck, his calm demeanor setting a worthy example in forbearance
to the younger and less moderate among us, who were anxious to be up
and at our enemies, and found small pleasure in a sailing drill upon
the ocean when other and more troublous business might have been doing.

The next day the wind went down. From green the sea had turned to gray.
But the waves did not break in masses of foam. They boiled along,
churning and seething as though disturbed by some mighty current
beneath. Only the crest, in a wall of amber thin as parchment, was
tossed up to curl and break in a jet of spray; and broken lines of
gray swayed and rolled athwart the trough where the foam had been. The
clouds from brown had turned to a heavy blue, the color of a Spanish
blade. They hung low and menacing, while great fingers of them curled
and twisted like furies, or shot out in long lines here and there to be
torn to pieces and carried in shreds down to leeward.

For six days this weather continued. There was no great danger to the
ships so long as it blew no harder. The Admiral was running around this
mounthsoun, as he called it, which came up from the south. Could we
but go through it, all danger would be past; but in this sea it would
have been destruction to some of his fleet to have hazarded an approach
to San Augustin again. We could get no sight of clear sky; but by the
drift and speed I made it that we had gone three hundred leagues or so
to the north and into the Mares’ sea, as it has come to be called.

Here we saw no longer the great rollers of the coast, for the wind now
blew fitfully from the east and the waves ran first in one way and then
in another. The sky lightened a little and the Admiral, thinking the
storm had gone out to sea, shifted his helm and put about again.

The Sieur de la Notte, who was chafing under this delay, could hardly
restrain his great anxiety. The Spaniards had seen us struggling in the
face of the storm and might conceive the bold project to attack Fort
Caroline before the ships returned. The very thought of it filled my
heart with dread, and I could not forbear speaking of it to Ribault.

That was the only time I had ever seen him angry. He flashed upon me,
his features distorted with rage. He had seized a pin from the rail and
I thought for the moment he would strike me with it.

“You Anglais are always meddling,” he shouted. “What have you to do
with this command?”

But I did not move. I looked at him squarely and some one took the pin
away from him; then he went below.

It was plain to see, none the less, that the situation of the French
and the Spanish had changed. Here were we, many leagues upon the ocean,
at the mercy of the winds and seas; while the Spaniards, our deadliest
enemies, outnumbering us two to one, were ashore, and but two days’
march from all we had in New France--all the most of us had anywhere
upon the face of the earth!

Would we never come to land again? And, Mademoiselle!

I dared not think!



CHAPTER X.

THE HERICANO.


We were sailing toward the shore again, but the wind had gone down and
the _Trinity_ moved sluggishly enough through the heavy swells, making
scarce a league an hour. But this was a humor of the elements and meant
nothing--or everything. In those latitudes a ship-master should ever be
in a plague and torment.

It was three weeks that we had been upon the sea, when one night,
at the beginning of October, four of the ships still being in
company, there broke a storm, the equal of which I have never had the
ill-fortune to behold. And it was afterwards told me by Indians of
Emola that never had there been known such a tempest upon that coast.

The Lieutenant Bachasse had the watch on deck. I was standing by his
side. Suddenly far down on the starboard quarter we heard a roaring
like that of the surf upon the shore; only it was a hundred times
greater and had in it something more ominous and terrible. The sky
was black as soot in that direction, and though we peered through the
darkness we could see nothing there. More and more distinct it grew,
and then we could make out a line of white growing more plain with
each second. Bachasse was giving some hoarse orders to have the sails
and yards lowered, when the Admiral rushed from his cabin clad only in
shirt and breeches.

“Dieu nous bénisse!” he shouted. “It is the hericano! Set her stern to
it, mes gars, for your lives!”

I knew what he meant and rushing to the starboard tiller rope, caught
the slack from the hand of the man who stood there and ran it through
the pulley with all the strength and quickness I could muster. I jammed
it far over and hung on like death.

Amid the deafening noise, with the ripping and slatting of the sails,
the threshing of the ropes and pollys, and the roaring of the sea above
it all, I could not think. I hung blindly to the tackle, loosing and
easing her as she felt the helm. I saw the main topsail which had been
reefed down, torn out of its ropes and go flying entire like a great
bird in the air, where it vanished in the wrack and mist. Then the
faces blew out of the lanthorns, hitting and cutting us like needles,
and we were in darkness. I could dimly make out the figures of the
Admiral, Bourdelais, and several others as they hung to the tackling at
the mizzen. I saw them put hand to mouth as though shouting, but could
hear no sound other than the thundering of wind and sea.

The first shock had caught the ship fairly upon her stern. Her nose had
gone well down into the smother, for I felt the poop rise high in the
air as though she were going all way over. Then she fell back into the
depths with a blow that seemed to shake loose every joint and elbow in
her hull. A wave many feet high dashed over, washing forward into the
waist the man at my side and carrying overboard everything that was
not lashed to the rail or mast. One of the lanthorns came down with a
crash, just missing me where I swung to the tiller-polly, and swept
down the slant of the after-castle, carrying away the hand-rail of the
mounting ladder and vanishing into the quarter-deck.

The ship swayed and yawed frightfully from this side to that. It was
a moment fraught with dreadful anxiety. The great tiller was smashing
into the bulwarks and pounding back against the tackle, and it seemed
for a moment as though the ship would fall into the trough. With great
difficulty I reached the larboard tackle and hand over hand gathered
the slack of it in until both gearings pulled alternately so that she
seemed to be going aright. These tackles I passed through a ring-bolt
to ease the strain, which pulled me this way and that like a rope
yarn. It was desperate work keeping the feet; for with the great seas
coming aboard over the quarter and the swaying of the top hamper from
side to side I should have been thrown overboard a dozen times but for
the gripe upon the tiller tackle. From the trough, the ship with a
sickening motion rose high into the air as though shot from a saker;
and then the deck fell away under the feet as she was thrust forward
by the mighty rush of wind and wave behind her. Those great leaps
were twice the length of the _Trinity_ herself, for we could not have
been going at a less rate than fifteen leagues an hour. Before long
there was a great crash up aloft and the fore topmast was carried
away, bringing down the fore and main top gallant yards. There came a
pounding that jarred the ship grievously, but by God’s Providence the
wreckage tore away and went by the board.

And yet it was most wonderful! I strained and sweated at the tiller,
all hot with the work, though the spray was cutting my face like hail
and I could feel the sting of the rain-drops even through my doublet.
We were going to the westward now--to Fort Caroline perhaps, and I
cared not how hard it blew. The spirit of the storm entered into me
and I was drunk--drunk with the speed and motion, and mad with the
struggle. The strain upon endurance was great; but there came a
feeling of the glory of it, and as I fought on I prayed that no one
might reach me. I set my teeth till my jaws throbbed and throbbed
again, while my eyes watched the glow of the mass of foam forward as
the water dashed up and over the bows, at times completely hiding the
forward part of the ship.

I do not know how long I struggled there alone. It may have been ten
minutes--it may have been an hour. But by and by I made out several
figures crawling along the larboard bulwarks, seizing hold upon any
rigging that came within their reach. They were the Admiral, Job
Goddard and one other. When they could stand upright, Goddard and a
seaman took hold upon the tackles, thus relieving me of a part of the
strain. Then, in a while, Bachasse came up from below, saying that the
ship was taking water both forward and aft and was creaking piteously.

Matters were bad enough, for we could not be far from the coast. Unless
the wind veered to the north, nothing could save us from the breakers.
The topsails had been blown to ribbons and the seas would have set us
on our beam ends or the wind would have overset us completely had we
tried to put the ship on the wind. And so we flew on, the _Trinity_
leaping every moment nearer to her death, the waves dashing over and
around her, sure of their prey.

Goddard swinging to his tackle leaned over till his mouth was next my
ear shouting,

“Tis a fine speed for enterin’ Paradise, Master Sydney!”

All the night long we stood there, having now and then a relief of four
men upon the tackles, the officers for the most part moving at their
places of duty and saying what they could of good cheer to the men. The
Sieur de la Notte came up toward dawn and asked Captain Bourdelais what
the chances were. He being a person of few words replied shortly, “The
ship will be upon the beach in three hours.”

Never had I seen the ocean wear so frightful a mien as when the long
night came at last to an end. There was a gray waste about us and one
could see no color anywhere; the ocean was like the dead ashes of a
fire. At night we had not been able to see; we could only feel the
great motion, and accustom ourselves. But by light of day the _Trinity_
seemed but a speck upon those waves. At one moment, high as our
top-hamper was, upon all sides we could see nothing but great walls of
water, tumbling down upon us; the next we would look over abysses which
were bottomless, out across a waste of foam which seemed to mingle and
war with the cloud flakes that fell down upon it.

Among the soldiers there was great fear; for they had no stomach for
such business as this. Even the seamen, many of them hardy in service,
had lost their wits completely. Once when a wave had come aboard an old
boatswain dashed terror-stricken into the half-deck and fore-castle
shouting,

“The cabin is stove in,--we are sinking!” and three arquebusiers crazy
with fear jumped overboard. One of the fine gentry of the cabin, with
a satin coat, came running wild-eyed from below and falling upon his
knees threw his hands in the air raving that should he reach land he
would be no more a Lutheran, but a good Catholic, as he always was.

Providence intervened, for a sea struck him fairly in the face and he,
having no hold--by reason of his hands being up--was overset backwards
and vanished with a shriek. Salvation Smith disappeared, and came upon
deck again dressed in a suit of black which he had taken from some
half-dead gentleman in the cabin, “to go before the Holy Trinity in
a fitting manner,” as he solemnly said. Another seaman, getting most
drunk upon _eau de vie_ ran amuck with a pike, maiming and hurting
several.

It was about two hours of the morning watch when the waves seemed to
grow suddenly less in length; and though the wind still roared as
fiercely as ever, and the foam flew by us in scattering flakes or
lashed furiously against the masts and shrouds, it was plain to be seen
we were coming into the shallows. The _Trinity_ moved more steadily,
and that showed the better the great speed at which we were making for
the beach. The wrack and the spume hid everything ahead, but I thought
in a moment I could mark a white jet here and there which showed where
the breakers were. Bourdelais saw them too, for he rushed to the
tiller-tackles. The Admiral stood at the break of the poop, calm and
quiet as though at a sailing drill, ready to set the bows straight for
the beach when the end was near. The tackle crew were straining at the
tiller watching the yawing of the ship and the motions of the hands of
Bourdelais as he gave the course.

Suddenly out of the mist ahead I saw a line of white, leaping and
writhing as far as the eye could reach to starboard and larboard;
and then another beyond it, rolling onward. We came up to them and
were soon in the midst of the seething, churning mass of white as the
_Trinity_ went pounding over the outer bar. She hung there a moment,
reluctant; and then dashed forward again like a poor desperate creature
hunted by the hounds, with a great straining leap. Everything was white
about us now, and we had barely time to note the yellow strip of the
beach under the bows, when with pitiful tremble and a quiver that went
through her, bow and stern, the poor ship took her death blow with a
dreadful crash and brought up hard and fast upon the sands.

The white tongues of surf licked her sides greedily, and sea after sea
made clean breaches over bows and waist as though impatient to engulf
her. So fairly and fast had we struck that the waves which followed us
did not at first swing her broadside to the beach. But at last the drag
of the wreck of the spars to larboard, added to the stress of the wind,
pulled her around and we swung high up completely wrecked.

We were in bad case. Now we could plainly see the line of the beach
with its backing of brown sand grasses and here and there a patch of
dark where the gnarled firs and bay trees grew sparsely in the dunes.

The wrack and spray were flying thick, and the great waves behind
drove completely over the vessel, wedging her farther up and making
her destruction more certain. Yet one thing we noted. There were no
rocks or reefs; only the long line of gently shelving beach. It seemed
that with care we might all be saved; but there was not a moment to be
lost. Bachasse went below again, with a carpenter, and found the hold
turned into a small sea, which had flowed over the provision lockers
and buried them under six feet of water. The surges were washing this
way and that and seemed like to rend the timbers apart. Already a sea,
larger than the others, had torn off one of the quarter galleries, and
this wreckage had floated up on the beach, where it lay in the drift
of the spent sea.

No boats could swim in that surf. So a most fearless young Frenchman,
called Brunel, sprang into the waves with a rope about his body and
struck out for the shore. It was not far to the shallows, and but for
the anger of the waves it would have been an easy passage. We watched
the swimmer borne along; now he was carried ahead shoreward in the very
cap of a wave, and then he was swept back in the hollow toward the
ship. It was a fine struggle. Twice he disappeared, and we thought he
must have gone; but in a moment a great wave took him and bore him well
onward in its topping of foam. Then he was up to his shoulders in the
brine, fighting desperately for a foothold. Soon we saw him rise and
work his way to the dry beach, where he fell and lay exhausted.

But after a little space he rose, waving his hands, and ropes were
attached to his line. These Brunel hauled ashore and made fast to
trees among the sand hills. Over these other men went, hand over hand;
and soon two pollys with their tackling were traveling back and forth
carrying the company ashore, many of them bearing their armor and
accoutrements.

The work had been done none too speedily. A dozen or so of the
company remained on the ship when we heard below decks the creaking
of the timbers as the bolts pulled out and split them apart. Captain
Bourdelais now urged the Admiral to go ashore; he would not, saying
that none should leave after him,--a matter which Bourdelais and
Bachasse disputed. There they stood with their hands on their hearts,
all three bowing to one another as though at some fine levee of the
Court. I had no humor for this business, for ’twas no place for
foot-scraping. I was minded to get ashore without further ado, and so
sprang to the tackle, which I hitched about my body. I had no more than
done so when there was a great crashing and the deck suddenly fell away
under my feet, throwing me into the sea.



CHAPTER XI.

WHAT BEFELL US UPON THE SAND-SPIT.


Down I went, the water roaring about my ears and my body pulled this
way and that by the undertow which swept me fiercely up and down. I
opened my eyes, but the surf was full of foam and sand, so I closed
them. I felt that I was being borne out to sea, and scarce had the
mind to continue the struggle. Then came a sudden wrench. For a moment
I thought I must have been crushed among the timbers, and to this day
have often wondered that it was not so. But the strain was steady
and then relaxed and I remembered the rope which I had put about me
and knew it was the taughtening of the tackle about my shoulders. As
my body touched the sandy bottom, with a mighty effort and springing
upward I reached the surface, bewildered and all but exhausted. About,
in all directions, were tossing pieces of the wreckage. I reached a
spar with difficulty and to it clung, warding off meanwhile as best
possible the planks and gratings which were dashing all around. I saw
five or six men floating near and among them to my great joy marked the
figure of the Admiral, clinging to a spar. He saw me at the same moment
and feebly raised a hand in acknowledgment. Fearing he might lose his
hold, and watching my chance, I swam to him and set him astride the
yard. He seemed to have no will or power of his own and I thought he
must have been badly injured.

“Are you much hurt, monsieur?” I asked him while I struggled to raise
him. He made no great effort to aid me and would have toppled over
again had I not held him firmly.

“I do not know, my friend,” he replied, “and I care not.”

Then I discovered there was a cut upon the back of his head, which was
bleeding freely, dyeing his linen and doublet a sombre hue and marking
in greater contrast the pallor of his face.

“Be of good cheer,” I said as cheerfully as I might, “we will be ashore
in a moment, sir.” By the tackle about me, we were presently hauled
through the surf and reached the shallows, where a dozen arms plucked
us from our hazardous hold and landed us high upon the beach.

The perils of the last two days, ending in the position into which
we were thrown, had taken my thoughts from the desperate fear at my
heart. Until then--until we were surely wrecked and saw all destroyed
before our eyes, we had hoped at least to get back to Fort Caroline
before the Spaniards could attack. I made no doubt they would do that
at the earliest moment if indeed they had not done so already.

My God! For the first time the horrible chances came upon and
overwhelmed me. Wrecked and ruined upon an unknown and barren coast
with the Indians on one side and the Spaniards perhaps barring our way
to Fort Caroline and Mademoiselle! I was weak and could not bear to
think more. The horror of it overcame me! I rose to my feet and strode
up the beach like one distraught, breasting the flying sand and peering
fruitlessly through the mist, vainly searching for some familiar mark
to judge of our whereabouts. The motion of struggling against the
wind seemed to lessen the dreadful ferment of mind; and bare-handed
and worn as I was, no wish remained except only to press onward to
Mademoiselle, or learn that she was safe. Once above the roaring of
the storm I heard a sound like the cry of a woman and, with heart
a-leap started running with all my might. But it was only some shrill
creature which swirled near on the wind, uttering its storm-cry. On I
struggled, heat and fever making riot of thought, until I fell again
exhausted to the beach. I remember closing my eyes, but the eyeballs
swam in a red mist and burned so that I opened them again. Then I
seemed to sleep and dream. I saw dimly a woman seated at a table in
a room. Back of her and around her were many men in armor, and their
hands and faces were streaked with the red. It was Mademoiselle! By her
side, leaning forward toward her, was a man, his eyes swimming as he
gazed and his white teeth gleaming hatefully through his beard. He had
a mug upraised, from which the liquor was spilling about as he pledged
her, laughing coarsely the while. I could hear him too; for there was a
gruesome reality about it. The others watched amused. He reached toward
her, and I saw her shrink to a corner, away. He came again. She took
a dagger from her bosom. Then drew herself up cold, white, and set,
the weapon in both hands at her heart. No one moved. They stood, those
men in armor, their hands raised, like statues. There was silence,
deadly and oppressive; and I was dumb too and could make no sound. Then
everything grew red again and I saw no more. In my agony I dug my nails
deep into the sand and I cried aloud, calling to God. It was not so! It
could not be so! I was mad! Yes, yes,--I knew that I was mad, and that
comforted me.

By and by--it was a long while--for the clouds had broken and the light
of the sun had gone high in the heavens--I grew better and stronger
and got upon my feet. Cold and wet, the wind cut sharp as a knife,
but the fever had gone, and I laughed aloud to think of the fool I had
been. The situation was hopeless enough, but we were strong men, many
of us bearing weapons and armor, and much might be done. When the storm
abated the other ships would put in and take us aboard. All would yet
be well. Even if the ships did not come we would make a forced march
through the backwoods, persuading friendly Indians to guide and aid
us. We might not be far--perhaps only half a dozen leagues from Fort
Caroline.

I went back down the beach the wind at my back, warming with the new
impulse until I was soon running again. I found I had gone near a
league to the northward, and it was many minutes before I was back
among the company. They had moved behind the sand dunes the better to
find shelter from the wind. Fires had been kindled and around these
they huddled wretchedly, drying their clothing. There was nothing to
eat save a few biscuits which had been washed up in a cask, and these
were salt-soaked and unpleasing to the taste. Some of the men had gone
down the beach, where they found some ledges of moss and rock and
brought back a few shell-fish. These they ate raw from the shells; but
I was not hungry and they seemed unsightly to me, so I could find no
stomach for them.

When I came up La Caille, the sergeant-major, approached.

“Well, sir,” he asked, “what do you find? Is San Augustin to the north
or the south?”

“To the north, I should say. But there is nothing but sand and sea so
far as the eye can reach.” He turned to De Brésac gloomily and together
they walked in the direction from which I had come.

Admiral Ribault sat upon the sand, a rag binding his temples, his
head bent forward upon his breast, the very presentment of misery. I
went to him and tried to say a few words of good cheer. But a deep
melancholy had settled upon the man, and he looked down at the sand,
saying nothing. I could see that he was in no condition to speak upon
any subject. I felt, God knows, keen as he the desperate plight in
which we found ourselves. Yet, now that I had come to myself, I knew
that sighing would not mend the matter and so went among the officers
and cavaliers for counsel. These I found to be in as grievous a spirit
as their Admiral. Broken in spirit and sore in body, they felt horribly
the loneliness and the failure at the very beginning of a project into
which they had ventured all. By and by, Job Goddard and Salvation
Smith, who had gone down the beach on a voyage of discovery, returned
to the camp. They had come upon two Indians and learned that San
Augustin was fourteen leagues to the northward.

“I bade them stay with us for dinner to-day, Master Sydney,” said
Goddard, cheerfully, “but they had no stomach for truffles of
shell-fish and wet biscuit. The heathen scut! They fled to the woods as
though the fiend was after them. Salvation Smith fired at them with an
arquebus, but they vanished among the trees unscathed. Salvation has a
better knowledge of the pike than of the arquebus, sir.”

That apostle of the Martyrs stood by, looking ruefully at the weapon he
held in his hand.

“True, sir,” said he at last, “’tis a toy for women and lads. Give me a
pike or a shaft and a good yew-bow and I warrant our invitations will
not be so scorned another time.”

We were to the southward then! That was no pleasant information,
for Menendez lay between us and the River of May; and the Indians,
doubtless those of Outina, at war with the friendly Satouriona, would
lose no time in letting the Spaniards know of our whereabouts and
condition. Some of the gentlemen went into the forest, but came back
cut by the brambles, saying they saw no beasts nor food of any kind
and that they could not penetrate a rod into the thicket; we should
starve before receiving any aid from that quarter. Of one thing I was
soon convinced,--we could not lie long upon the beach our mouths agape
with hunger and thirst. And many more of us feeling the same cravings,
among them Bachasse, Arlac, De Brésac and La Caille,--late that night
we persuaded the Admiral to set out upon a march up the beach.

Many things save food had been brought upon the shore, among them two
trumpets, drums and two standards. And so at dawn of the next day
with waving banners and beating drums, with some show of gaiety and
a martial spirit--though famished--we set forth to the northward.
Ribault, who walked with the rear-guard, turned at the last to where
the timbers of the _Trinity_ were scattered down the shore as far as
the eye could reach. He had grown ten years older in the night and
walked with Bourdelais and the Sieur de la Notte, the mere shadow of
the man he had been at the Fort and upon the ship. By and by some of
the Huguenots set up a martial hymn, which all the gentlemen sang with
a fine good will and rhythm, keeping the cadence of the march. That
seemed to put new life into them. They were like children and, drawing
their swords, began looking to their weapons and jesting at the chances
of the good fight which might soon be. They manfully tightened their
girths to stay their hunger and each vied with the other in good humor
and courage. But in the afternoon one man, a great burly calker, threw
up his hands and then fell down dead. They said his heart had rotted.

It was a desperate expedition, and the reflection of the Admiral’s
melancholy, in spite of some flashes of good cheer, was seen in the
eyes of all who knew the obstacles before us. Any man with half a
seaman’s eye could tell that any storm that had wrecked the _Trinity_
could not fail to beach the other vessels; and few of us believed
that we would be saved by them. If we could but find a break in the
impenetrable forest and strike inland we might prey upon the Indians
and so by an easy detour at last reach the Fort. Perhaps Menendez had
put to sea again in the hope of finding us storm-beaten and unprepared
for battle. If he had done this we might come quickly upon his fort
at the lodge of Seloy, and by audacity and rapidity compass what mere
strength or force of numbers might not effect.

This was my hope, and the Admiral took great heart when it was
spoken to him. We would know upon the morrow. In the afternoon the
storm-clouds blew away and the wind went down. The ocean still lashed
the beach sullenly, but the horizon clouds to the eastward were tinged
with pink, and with the prospect of fair weather there was much
happiness. More shell-fish were found, the moisture of which cooled
the palate, though the taste was unpleasing, and the saltiness made
one long the more for fresh water and food. At about sunset we passed
around a point of land and abruptly came upon the timbers of a vessel.
The beams were split and the yellow of the splinters showed most
plainly that she had been recently wrecked. A bit of the stern piece of
a pinnace was found, which bore the name of the _Gloire_ and then we
knew that others of the French fleet shared our fate. In a little while
we made an abrupt turn and came upon more wreckage and a large party of
our shipwrecked comrades.

The worst that we had expected had happened. The French fleet was no
more! I glanced at Jean Ribault. His face was pale as death, and when
he saw these men before him his under-lip dropped and his mouth fell
open, his eyes expressing the bitterness of soul he could not contain.
He stopped short and let his head fall forward. His muscles loosened
and I thought he would have fallen. But at the touch of the Sieur de
la Notte at his elbow, he straightened again and casting his eyes
heavenward, said tremblingly, “The will of God be done!”

But all of Ribault’s officers were not discouraged. Indeed upon the
sight of so large a company many of the men and soldiers took great
heart again and cried joyously to one another. The men we had found
were sailors of the _Gloire_, who had elected to remain together upon
the beach, until sighted by some French ship while the main body of
their company had gone northward. Others were of the _Petit-Jean_
and of the _Jesus_, which had gone ashore leagues below. We numbered
now three hundred and fifty persons, and but for our hunger and the
smallness of the supply of powder and ball would have been a formidable
little army indeed. Captain Cosette of the _Gloire_, who was there,
embraced the Admiral with great joy, and Bourdelais commanded a halt,
for the men of the _Trinity_ were tired out. Many of them dropped
to the ground, and, forgetting their hunger and their thirst fell
mercifully into a deep sleep in which they were left to rest.

I seemed to have no further sensation--even of weariness. Quiet was
more irksome to me than aught else. I could not remain seated like the
others but must walk up and down upon the sand. And yet I was not in
a fever as before. It was easier for me to think thus upon my feet. I
felt myself most calm in mind and could not understand how it should
be so when every new discovery went to confirm the premonition of the
doom that had hung over us like a pall since that day--years ago it
seemed--when I had bade farewell to Mademoiselle upon the bastion at
Fort Caroline. It all came back upon me as some dream, the stifling
atmosphere, the ominous elements, the listlessness of all things human
and animate upon the earth, and the misery which took the joy from
those last words with my love. Then I thought of those red sunsets
upon the ocean, when we had sat upon the fore-castle laughing at our
ill omens and watched the great ball of fire drop down into the purple
mists of the hot western sea. Such a sun there was this night--I
mounted a sand hill that I might see it the better. A yellow mist rose
from a swamp somewhere inland and the disk grew to a greater size than
I had ever seen. Yet one could look at it squarely ere it had come to
the horizon, for it was not bright and seemed not to be shining at all;
only a great ball of blood poised in the air, which one might almost
reach out and pluck from the sky. Then it fell down behind a line of
barren pine trees at the horizon, which cut across it cold and clear as
prison bars,--and in a moment was gone.

When I went back the officers of the _Trinity_ and some of the other
gentlemen had lit a fire and sat in a circle upon the sand. A council
of war was held. The wilder blades were for pushing on at once.
Bourdelais stood up and on behalf of the Admiral, said he, “We must be
patient. To-morrow we will know something.”

“Bah!” said Arlac, angrily, “you speak of patience as though it were
water or sand or anything that is easy to have. What will you know
to-morrow? Sacré! Speak to us of food, if you please. Bigre! We’re
hungry I tell you.”

“Yes,” growled others, “we starve. Let us die fighting at any rate.”

Some of the more moderate wished to wait until the dawn, that the
men could sleep and so be fresh against any new adversity on the
morrow. Others were for a rest until midnight and then a quick march
to the mainland; for we did not doubt that we were on one of the many
promontories which in these parts jut up and down the coast for long
distances. For my part I asked nothing better than to move quickly, to
the northward, or westward or which ever way would bring us soonest
to our journey’s ending. So, at midnight we set forth again, the men
moving uncomplaining.

By four of the morning, it being still dark, those of the company who
were in advance came to a sudden halt. In a moment we were all at a
standstill, peering out into the darkness over a body of water. It
was a channel or sluice, through which the tide was running strongly
into the sea. The line of the beach took a turn sharply to the left
and follow it as we might there was no chance to gain our way to the
mainland.

Across the channel from time to time we fancied we could make out
the twinkling of lights, small like stars; but whether they were
glow-flies or lights of lanthorns or fires upon a distant beach we
could not discover. Men were at once set to work building large rafts
out of small trees, upon which when day dawned we might make our way
across this channel. Slowly the dawn came up out of the sea, and a
faint glow spread over the sky overhead, turning it to a color deep
and fathomless. One by one the lines of foam on the bar came out of
the darkness until the sea was dark against the lightening sky and
the stars grew fainter in the glow of coming day. It was cool and
frosty--the freshness of something new begun, and the dry grasses
behind us were trembling together in the morning breeze. Never did
the spur of new-born day find such ready response. For the blithe
Frenchmen, hungry as they were, answering readily to the crisp call
of the dawn, set about putting their weapons to rights and gathered
together in their companies in fine fettle.

By and by we could plainly see the low-lying beach of a shore not far
distant across the channel. We seemed on a kind of cape or sand-spit,
for the bay lay far around to the left and was lost in the angle of
the sand dunes. There were sand dunes there, across this channel, in
plenty too and bushes and hills higher than those we had passed. The
sergeant-major, La Caille, the Chevalier de Brésac, and Bachasse came
and stood by me, waiting until we could clearly make out the line of
the coast.

Presently, upon a hill, outlined clear against the sky, his arquebus
upon his shoulder and his breastpieces and helmet catching the first
glint of the morning light, a soldier appeared. I fancied that my mind
had played my eyes some trick. But the sergeant-major saw him at the
same time; and in a moment there followed two, three, five figures who
stood besides the first one pointing at us and waving their arms.

Were they friends or enemies--Protestants or Catholics? I strained my
eyes to find in their garb or manner some familiar sign.

We had not long to wait, for in a moment other soldiers appeared from
behind the hills and out on the air there floated the ominous standard
of Spain.



CHAPTER XII.

TRUCE.


La Caille started and his cry was echoed from one end of the camp to
the other. Officers and men, aroused by the commotion, started up,
seizing their weapons, running here and there in bewilderment. The
trumpets blared and there was a clanking of steel as the sick and
starving men gladly arrayed themselves in the ranks of battle. Ribault,
aroused for the moment by the martial sounds and sights, marched before
the company, his eyes flashing and his sword bare, giving orders in
so inspiring a way that the men took great heart and stood strong and
reliant. The arquebusiers loaded their pieces and at an order from
their captains, marched down the beach to the end of the sand-spit
opposite the Spaniards, where they grounded their arms and waited.

But regardless of this warlike show upon our part, the Spaniards made
no move to show their numbers or intentions. Many more men appeared
upon the hills and others to the number of three-score or more came
out of the bushy hollows between the sand dunes and stood unconcerned
looking across at us. There seemed something portentous in this
calmness and confidence, and this notion of mine was not quieted by the
subsequent actions of the Spanish officers. For three or four of them
came upon the beach and arm in arm walked calmly up and down, talking
together, while their men sat themselves upon the ground and ate their
morning meal.

This calmness of the enemy had its effect upon the companies of the
Frenchmen. We could easily see that, sick, hungry and weak as we
were, our men could prove no match for these hardy Biscayans, with
the confidence born of full bellies and continued good fortune. Our
men stood nervously, their hands to their waistbands and their eyes
starting from their sunken sockets as they saw these gluttons across
the channel contentedly munch their biscuits and drink some steaming
stuff which was brought them in a great iron pot from the camp among
the hills. The hunger, which during the two days had been reduced to
a dull gnawing at the vitals and a general weakness of mind and body,
now at the sight of this steaming potage, suddenly became most keen and
poignant. As I looked, my mouth opened and my tongue came out from my
lips. “Ventre bleu!” shouted De Brésac. “They tantalize us. It is not
to be borne.”

Job Goddard, who was one of my company of seamen, made no concealment
of his suffering, and leaned upon his pike with both hands, craning his
neck, his mouth and eyes wide distended. Then without a word--which
was the surer sign of his madness--and without changing his gaze or
expression, he threw down his weapon and walked forward out of the
ranks, down the beach toward the Spaniards, and into the water until
the surface rose over his head. None among us had a notion of his
intention until he came up sputtering, for he could not swim, drifting
seaward with the tide. He must surely have been drowned had not one of
the company fastened upon him from one of the rafts with a boat-hook.

Ribault then set the men at rest and called a conference of the
officers, at which it was quickly decided to raise a white flag and
call for a parley with those in authority among the Spaniards. A
white shirt was thereupon fastened to a staff, and La Caille, the
sergeant-major, went out upon a raft in plain sight of the enemy,
waving this standard to and fro. Presently an officer emerged from the
bushes on the other shore, replying. Then La Caille raising his voice
so that it echoed plainly among the distant sand hills, shouted,

“We are Frenchmen,--company of Jean Ribault, Admiral of France. If you
would parley, send an envoy.”

There was a pause before the answer came. In our ranks, so great was
the interest, no word was spoken.

Then we heard in a harsh, commanding voice,

“You have a raft. Come yourselves!”

But the raft would have been of little avail in the current of this
channel. So Brunel, the valiant swimmer who had gone first ashore from
the _Trinity_, swam quickly to the opposite side, and seeing a canoe
which lay there, entered it and paddled back to us unmolested. La
Caille presently returned with him to the Spaniards as an envoy from
the Admiral. We saw La Caille, who feared nothing, directly approach
a group of the officers among the bushes, whom we could make out by
reason of the swords they carried. These he saluted, and one in a cloak
arose and acknowledged him courteously. Then he sat down and talked
with them.

Ribault meanwhile had gone back among the dunes, where many of those
most religiously inclined had fallen upon their knees in prayer. It
was not proper that he should have left the front of his command when
a mission so delicate as this was trembling in the balance. It is not
my desire to belittle the use of prayer at any time; since, if meet and
fitting, such petitions are frequently heard, and the great God is very
good. But it was little like this gallant man to give a public sign
of his doubts to cope with any questions or adversaries. And such,
perhaps, a prayer would not have been had not all his actions since the
wrecking of the _Trinity_ shown a timidity unaccountable. A great gloom
had fallen upon those petitioners, but there were few of us who had not
come under its ban. By and by they sang a hymn. The melancholy cadences
rolled and echoed from one sand hill to another, until the sound sunk
deep into our souls and made us weak and womanish. So dispirited were
my men that I perforce gave out a few sharp orders of discipline, and
so set them to rights.

The face of La Caille wore no great signs of encouragement as he
returned. The Admiral met him upon the beach as the canoe touched the
shore.

“Is it----?” he began.

“It is Menendez de Avilés, the Adelantado,” said La Caille gravely.

“And his force?”

“Many hundreds, I should judge, your Excellency; so disposed that
progress in this direction is impossible.”

Ribault put his hand to his brow as though a great pain were at his
temples. “I thought as much,” he said.

La Caille went on. “I am bidden tell your Excellency that if you
should desire to speak with this Spaniard you may go with four or six
companions, and he pledges his word you shall come back safe.”

Ribault was in a great ferment of spirit. But he could not doubt that
what the sergeant-major said was true, and so he called the Ensign
Arlac, the Sieur de la Notte and myself, who with La Caille, De Brésac
and one other entered the canoe and paddled to the opposite shore.

       *       *       *       *       *

Upon our approach Menendez de Avilés arose, and with two officers and a
priest walked down upon the beach to meet us. He stood very erect and
bore his hand lightly upon the hilt of his sword. A black cloak thrown
around his shoulders half hid his mouth and chin, but for all that I
could mark the sinister smile and cruel lips, the sight of which had
been burnt into my memory as I lay weak and helpless in the dungeon
at Dieppe. His chaplain, De Solis, was at his heels. The officers
were not ill-favored, only servile and full of fear of him. All four
bowed low, doffing their morions and sweeping them to the Admiral, who
acknowledged the courtesy in kind. Many compliments upon the reputation
of each of these men were passed by the other, and it might have been
thought that they were rather new-found friends than the deadliest
enemies of their generation in this poor world.

De Avilés came well prepared to treat with starving men. He led us
up to the bushes and bidding us be seated, caused wine and preserved
fruits to be placed before us. Though it had seemed I had no mind to
eat, we all partook of these things with great avidity. Were there
great events to come, it were better, I thought, to borrow strength to
meet them. There was little said; Ribault addressed to the Adelantado
a few questions, yet these were for the most part unimportant. The
silence of La Caille and the others was that of hungry men and not to
be mistaken for fear or intimidation. I was using my eyes to as good an
advantage as my teeth and let them travel from one bush and hummock to
another, seeking to discover, if possible, more than La Caille of their
disposition and force. Yet look as I might, everywhere did I see a
breast-piece, morion, pike or arquebus. The bushes seemed fairly alive
with soldiery and at least an hundred and fifty men were in plain sight
from where we sat upon the sand. If this were but an advance guard,
or escort from the army of Menendez, then surely the half-starved,
illy-armed, dispirited three hundred and fifty cavaliers, seamen,
soldiers and tinkers of Admiral Ribault had scant chance of fighting a
victorious battle here or otherwhere.

Though I looked much at the scenes and persons about me, my eyes would
ever return to a low lying bush some fifty feet away upon a sand dune.
For in its shadow was a human leg, booted, the toe of which extended
partly out into the sunlight. I thought it at first the member of some
tired fellow asleep and so gave it no thought. But my gaze came back
upon that foot with a sinister persistency. For follow the line of the
leg into the shadow as I would I could find no companion to it, nor yet
a body. It ended with horrid abruptness half above the knee.

Menendez de Avilés abruptly broke the silence.

“Captain Juan Ribao,” he said with an air of command which jarred
strangely upon his courteous demeanor, “further subterfuge between
us were now a sin and a lie before the face of God our Lord. Are you
Catholics or Lutherans?”

“We are Lutherans of the New Faith,” returned Ribault, staunchly.

The Spaniard sucked in a long breath between his teeth.

“Gentlemen, your fort is taken and in it all are put to the sword.”

He spat the words out mercilessly and hatefully.

There was a dreadful stillness, and then we started up with one accord,
looking around from the one to the other. The Sieur de la Notte tried
to speak, but the words would not come forth from his throat, at which
he clutched and would have gone to the ground had he not fallen back
into my arms. The Admiral was bewildered. La Caille, only, did not
tremble. He stood up, straight and fearless.

“Señor Pedro Menendez de Avilés,” he said calmly and distinctly, “it is
my belief that you lie.”

Menendez seized his sword at this insult and the Spanish officers
rushed forward. They thought surely the Adelantado would run the
valiant Frenchman through the body.

But the devil was not ready yet. It was too pleasant a torture to have
been ended so soon. He thrust his sword back until it rung in the
scabbard and folded his arms, laughing.

“You wish proofs,” he then said quickly. “Very well, you shall have
them!”

And going to the edge of the bushes he gave some orders, while we stood
horror-stricken. In a while came three soldiers bringing some weapons
and a sack. Arlac the Ensign, with a look of dismay upon his face,
seized upon a sword which was thrust toward him.

“Par la bonté de Dieu,” he cried. “It is La Vigne’s very own!”

And then we saw dishes and platters bearing the Arms of Réné de
Laudonnière, two axes, dark-stained and broken at the handle, but
bearing the name of a maker of Dieppe, a canteen, a cross-bow--all of
which were known of De Brésac and La Caille. I pray that never again
may any man upon the earth be given such sufferings of mind as began
for me from that moment.

Diane--Diane!----

No, no, I would not believe it! The Sieur de la Notte, who had been
looking vacantly from La Caille to Arlac the Ensign, fell heavily to
the beach uttering a moan which sounded more like that of some poor
beast than of a man. I thought that he was dead. He made no move though
we dashed water at his head again and again. At last his breathing came
with difficulty and when some wine had been poured down his throat he
lifted his head and tried to speak.

“Señor Adelantado,” he cried, trembling and halting at every word,--at
the terror of uttering it,--“my daughter--Diane--Diane de la Notte--she
is not--dead--dead. For the love of God--say that--she is not--dead!”
And the love he bore her in that speech welded his soul and mine so
tight together that not even death could draw us apart.

But the Adelantado would give no answer, only standing there with
folded arms gloating upon our misfortune like some great snake upraised
to strike, yet sure of his prey and charming by his venomousness.
Surely it was the very perfection of cruelty; for the old man lifted
himself to a sitting posture with both hands upraised and then fell
back upon the sand making no sound. Lifting the poor gentleman in my
arms I carried him down the beach to the canoe, where I laid him upon a
boat-cloak.

But that was not all. Fearful of some new discovery, yet bewitched and
trusting in the word of this Spaniard we followed him and his officers
up the beach. One horror but waited upon another. The Spaniards made
no concealment of it, and now I knew the reason of the dread horror
that had hung upon me. Not only did I see dismembered human legs, half
covered with sand, but here and there a body bearing no longer any
human semblance. The Adelantado walked a little in advance, swerving
neither to the right nor to the left for the dreadful things which his
boots frequently touched, regardless,--familiar. Once he stumbled in
the sand and cursing, like to have fallen as he uncovered a human head
which rolled over until it sat upon its neck, the beard spreading out
fan-wise upon the sand and the face through the matted hair grinning
fiercely. Arlac and the Admiral, being in front, fell back shuddering,
turning whiter even than the sand and holding each other by the arms. I
looked at the dreadful object and my blood turned to water. The thing
was Verdier!

The Admiral would now go no further, saying that he had seen enough
and wished only to go away from it all. But Menendez, in great good
humor, smiled, saying it were better to see and know all that could
be known. And we believed him. We were heedless of treachery--or aught
else, for it seemed to matter little now whether we lived or died, and
there was a horrible fascination which seemed to lead us on in spite of
ourselves. And so we followed, trembling.

We had gone a distance of a gunshot or more from the end of the
sand-spit when we came to two sand hills larger than those we had
passed. They lay in two curves, the one toward the other, making an
enclosed place which at the two entrances and on the sides was thickly
grown up with grass and bushes. To the nearest of these entrances
Menendez led us, then stopped and turning grimly to the Admiral,

“Here, Juan Ribao,” he said, “is the company of the _Gloire_!”

And entering by the pathway he motioned us to follow.

But a terror had fallen upon us as at the dread of something
supernatural. There was no wind and a silence heavy and oppressive hung
about the place, the more appalling for the distant roar of the waves
upon the beach.

Overhead high in the sky several vultures were idly wheeling. I looked
at the faces of the others. La Caille was livid, but his jaw was set
and his eye was glassy like that of the dead. Arlac was white as
marble, and hung upon me cold and nerveless. The Admiral had clasped
his hands together before him and bent his head to his breast. His eyes
were closed. He was praying.

For myself I seemed to have no further fear or dread, only a curiosity
which fascinated. Leaving Arlac, I walked forward with La Caille and
entered. At first I could see nothing, for bushes grew about the place.
And God’s pure sand, which had unwillingly drunk up the blood of this
reeking sacrifice, had mercifully blown in upon it and tenderly made a
white coverlet here and there which hid the freshness of the barbarity.

I halt at the horror of it, and I cannot write more of the scene. It is
enough to say that the men of the _Gloire’s_ company had been led to
this place in small parties, their hands bound behind their backs with
the match-cords of their own arquebuses. Menendez de Avilés with his
cane had drawn a line across the entrance. When they had passed within
they were set upon by these savage people like tigers and, defenseless,
were slaughtered like sheep. They were about two hundred in number and
of these not one was left alive. Menendez told us these things calmly,
as one who recites that of which he has been told.

Then he turned once more to the Admiral, saying somewhat softly as
though to atone a little in our eyes for the deeds he had acknowledged,
“It is sad that human beings should be enemies and I would not
pursue war relentlessly. But I believe that this is a just fate for
all heretics. All Catholics I will befriend; but as you are of the
New Sect, I hold you as enemies, and wage deadly war against you. And
this I will do with all cruelty (_crueldad_) in this country, where I
command as Viceroy and Captain-General for my King. I am here to plant
the Holy Gospel, that the Indians may be enlightened and come to a
knowledge of the faith.”

The Admiral made no reply and so he turned back and we followed him.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE LINE UPON THE SAND.


As I write, the memory of these scenes comes back to me as if the years
that are gone were but as yesterday. There is much that is too dreadful
to set down and the things of which I speak are told only in order
that they may be truthfully known of all honest men of whatever creed
or faith. I am told that the artist Le Moyne has related much that
happened at Fort Caroline and, as I have said, Nicholas Challeux, the
carpenter, has added more. But saving the short story of Christophe Le
Breton, there is nothing to my knowledge written down by any survivor
from the wrecked vessels of the French fleet. And though the acts of
one generation, or indeed a shorter period, may not be lightly judged
by another, it can be truthfully said that no deeds of savagery among
heathen peoples have ever surpassed those of Menendez for blood-letting
and ferocity. It has been told me that the Indians of Outina, seeing in
this Spaniard a cruelty and murder-love more marvelous than anything
they themselves had known or dreamed, fell straightway to worshiping
him as a god, aiding him in his devilries and hanging upon his orders
with a greater devotion than that displayed by his own men. Whether
this be true or not I do not know. I can better relate the things of
which I was a witness.

When we came back to the landing-place the Admiral had succeeded in
mastering his despair.

The Spaniard, Menendez, his hand upon his sword hilt listened to him
coldly:

“We are wrecked upon this barren shore,” Ribault was saying. “A death
from hunger threatens more even than your pikes and ordnance. We can
only throw ourselves on your pity. What has befallen us may one day
befall you.”

“That were indeed a misfortune,” replied De Avilés.

“I beseech you,” continued Ribault, “in the name of the friendship
between the Kings of France and Spain, who are brothers and close
friends, to aid me in conveying my followers home.”

Menendez paused a while. Then he said, slowly and deliberately, “Of
that I cannot say. If you will give up your arms and banners and place
yourselves at my mercy, you may do so; and I will act towards you as
God shall give me grace.”[A]

  [A] “--si ellos quieren entregarle las Vanderas, é las Armas, é
      ponerse en su Misericordia, lo pueden hacer, para que el haga
      de ellos lo que Dios le diere de Gratia.”--The words of De
      Solis, the brother-in-law of Menendez.

“I cannot be sure my followers will do that,” returned the Admiral,
“but there is little doubt that under this promise the greater part
of my officers and men will surrender upon these terms as honorable
prisoners of war. With your permission I will return and consult with
those in command upon the other shore.”

“Do as you will. Other than this you can have neither truce nor
friendship with me.” His manner after this was more cordial than before
and left a good impression upon our minds.

With formal salutations on both sides, we returned to the canoe. As
we were conveyed to our comrades upon the other shore the Sieur de la
Notte lay against my knee, conscious, but more dead with grief than
alive. I could say little save that I thought Mademoiselle was still
living; but I could not tell why, and he took no comfort.

In spite of the sights we had seen and the massacre of the company of
the _Gloire_ it was plain to all who had heard him that the words and
manner of Menendez contained an assurance of protection for such of us
as would surrender; but few were in a mood to give up without a battle.

The horror which hung over us and the tidings of the fall of Fort
Caroline had unnerved me. But the absence of Diego de Baçan I took for
a favorable augury, and fancied that perhaps Mademoiselle had escaped
to Satouriona and that De Baçan was searching for her. I knew that not
all at Fort Caroline had been killed, for one of the officers had said
as much. I could not believe Mademoiselle dead, for, that being so,
I felt that some instinct should tell me of it and I should have no
further wish for life. But back upon the shore my love of life returned
to me tenfold. I wished to live to find Mademoiselle, and would perform
any feat or strategy to save her and carry her back with me to England.
If she were alive, my death would not help her; if she were dead,
then my own life could be given in no better cause than in taking
satisfaction against him who had slain her.

It was no easy matter to decide. Whether to stay upon the sand-spit
to die of hunger or at the hands of the Indians, or to surrender to
Menendez and be sent for life to the galleys, I could not determine.
Either plan promised little enough. In the one case I was not sure
that communication with the interior could be found, for dangerous
swamps and quicksands ran this way and that, making progress almost
impossible; and starvation was imminent. Before we could come to
the domain of Satouriona there were miles of hostile country, the
traversing of which would take many weeks, perhaps months. To
surrender seemed equally desperate. We had seen the deeds of which this
madman was capable; and in spite of his word of honor, which holds high
among men of authority, and which he now wished to give under seal, his
humor might change and our fate be that of those who had gone before.
But by the one plan I could not hear of Mademoiselle for months; by the
other I would be carried straightway to San Augustin by our enemies,
and might see her within the week. The thought enthralled me.

By some ruse and skill I would effect her escape. De Baçan probably
thought me dead; and unless Mademoiselle had told him, could not know
that I was of this expedition. And the beard which had grown upon my
face might well disguise me; so that until I was prepared to meet him
on equal footing I would not let my presence be known.

In a little while the Admiral sent another messenger across the water
offering a ransom of an hundred thousand ducats, and the answer which
came back encouraged us much more. He would accept the ransom, he said,
“it would much grieve him not to do so, for he had great need of it.” I
felt that I could not do better than to become a captive, and so win my
way most quietly to where the prisoners of Fort Caroline were confined.

Toward evening, the sun being about an hour from setting, the Admiral
mounted upon a hummock of sand and addressed his desperate little army
in the following terms:

“You have heard, _mes braves_, of the conditions which this Spanish
general has set before us. Those among you who will render up your
arms and surrender in peace, he will accept as honorable prisoners of
war, to be done with as he shall deem most fitting. You have heard of
the massacre of your comrades of the _Gloire_ and must be the judge of
your own actions. I would force no man to surrender against his will
without a battle; but I do believe in the promises which now have been
made to me by word of mouth and by writ. For no man professing any sort
of religion, as this Spaniard does, were so hideous as to fall upon
unarmed men after a given word which has put them in his power.”

There was a murmur among the seamen and several of them raised their
voices, shouting,

“But he has done so! He has done so!”

“Perhaps,--my friends. I could not learn from the Spaniard how your
comrades of the _Gloire_ came to fall into his hands. But I cannot
believe that he promised to them what he has promised me to-day. I have
it from him in a writing which he has signed and sealed, and which
he has sent me of his own free will; and I believe that he will keep
these promises. On the morrow I shall surrender myself to him as an
honorable prisoner of war to be sent to Spain, and by the grace of God,
perhaps soon released.”

This last statement of the Admiral’s position raised a great
hue-and-cry among the company, and many of them shouted loudly.

“No, we will not go! We will not surrender!” Others were silent,
waiting for the Admiral to finish. He stood there upon the sand-hill,
his tall figure straight as a spar, outlined sharp and clear against
the western glow. His hands were clasped before him, a position in
which we had often found him of late, and he waited composed until the
strife should cease.

“My friends,” he said at last, and a deep and solemn silence fell
around us, “we are in the hands of God. We have done what it has
pleased Him to permit us to do toward building up in this great country
the Church of Christ according to our religion. We have been pursued by
every misfortune possible, and yet our faith in Him should not diminish
one jot.”

“Amen! Amen!” murmured many with deep reverence.

Then the Admiral walked down from the hummock towards the ocean,
drawing with his sword as he went,--a line in the sand! Then raising
his hand, he said,

[Illustration: “A LINE IN THE SAND!”]

“To-morrow morning, my friends, I shall surrender. All of those who
will accompany me will follow over upon the hither side of this line
which I have marked. I make no compulsion. Those others of you who will
not come must pass to the farther side.” And so saying he walked over
to the side of the line toward the Spanish camp.

It was a supreme moment. That mark in the sand which the winds and
seas could sweep away at will seemed the dividing line between life
and death, and none knew which side to choose. Not even a whisper came
from the men, and the droning of the surf as it rolled in on the beach
seemed ominous and loud in the stillness.

After a period of suspense which seemed interminable an old man with
a gray beard, bowing his head as though in submission to a will over
which he had no control, gathered his cloak about him and walked to
where stood the Admiral. Bordelais followed. Then Arlac and three
seamen passed to the opposite side. Bachasse, dutiful as ever, followed
his captain, together with Ottigny and others to the number of ten. But
many more moved to the opposite side. It was like a game. For, until
the matter was settled, no man spoke. They came from the crowd in twos
and threes, gravely until they reached their companions, when some of
them patted the others upon the back, saying quietly, but with good
cheer,

“We sink or swim together, mes gars!”

“There will at least be a fine fight, eh?”

“We are not yet ready for the sheep-market, mon Amiral!”

“There is still good wine to be drunk in San Augustin, and we’ve good
use for our windpipes.”

And many other rude jests which reached only the ears of La Caille, De
Brésac, myself and those few who were standing by them. For a moment I
wavered. There was something much after my own heart in the way these
brave fellows defied this Menendez, casting themselves out into the
wilderness of forest and swamp where death would certainly find them.
They had a fighting chance and La Caille, De Brésac and I would have
gone with them; but I knew that the surer way to Mademoiselle was that
which I had chosen, and so I wavered not for long.

By the time the sun was down the matter was settled, but few still
standing aloof. About two hundred officers and men had gone to the
further side, refusing to surrender, and were now forming into some
kind of martial order under Arlac, a sea-lieutenant named Pierre Le
Jeune and another called D’Alençon. The remainder, among them the Sieur
de la Notte, La Caille, De Brésac, Bourdelais, Bachasse, Ottigny, Job
Goddard, Salvation Smith, myself and many other soldiers and gentlemen
as well as seamen, to the number of about one hundred and fifty, stood
on the side of the Admiral.

With the vain hope that one of the French ships might yet appear
unharmed to take us off, the Admiral determined to wait until the
morning before crossing the channel, and so informed Menendez de Avilés
by messenger.

The night fell chill and gusty, for it was well into the middle of
October. That last night we remained together, those of one party
sending messages by those of the other to any refugees from Fort
Caroline who might be discovered, or friends in France whom they
might not see again. Huge fires were lit upon the beach in order
that any vessels sailing on the coast might see us and come to the
rescue. Around these we sat or lay, some of us sleeping but most of
us waking--until the dawn. When the stars began to pale a little, Le
Jeune, Arlac and D’Alençon got their men in motion, taking as many arms
with them as was needful, and marched down the beach in the direction
from which we had come. And that was the last I saw of them.



CHAPTER XIV.

THE MARTYRDOM.


The morning of that dreadful day dawned cold and clear. In the east
over the ocean the sky was bright and glorious as though the heavens
were opening. But scan the sea as we might, not a sail appeared and all
hope of thus saving ourselves from imprisonment was gone.

When the company of Arlac had disappeared around the point a league
or so away to the southward, the Admiral arose from where he had been
lying upon the beach by one of the fires and, calling about him those
who would come, knelt down upon the sand and fervently prayed for the
safety of those who had been spared until that day. Then rising he went
down the beach and with La Caille, Bourdelais and myself, entered the
canoe and we were rowed rapidly to the other shore. The Admiral, in
order to keep his part of the compact with De Avilés, carried with him
the royal standard and other flags, his sword, dagger, helmet, buckler
and the official seal given him by Coligny.

Menendez, upon our approach, arose and stood waiting for the Admiral to
speak.

“I have come in behalf of myself and one hundred and fifty persons of
my command to surrender as honorable prisoners of war. I have brought
these standards and my personal arms and seal in token of the good
faith which shall therefore bear equally between us.”

Menendez motioned to one of his officers, who took from the hands of La
Caille and me these things which we had brought.

“Two hundred of your men,” said the Spaniard, “have retreated from
their position and I will wage a war against them with blood and fire.
And you I shall treat as our Lord shall inspire.”

Calling to some of his soldiers, he directed two of them to enter the
canoe and bring over the Frenchmen, who stood waiting upon the opposite
bank. It seemed that they were to come in companies of ten and, as they
arrived, would be made prisoners by an equal number of the Spanish
soldiers and led toward San Augustin.

Then Menendez came again to where we stood at the edge of the bushes.
He was surrounded by a number of his soldiers and he motioned to us to
move behind the sand-hills; this, unsuspecting, we did, out of sight of
the other shore.

Then for the first time I took notice of the face of the Adelantado.
If it were hard and cruel of ordinary, the look it now wore was
like nothing so much as that of a wild beast; his under jaw and lip
projected hideously, but under the brows, in spite of their ferocity,
there was the gleam of intelligence and cunning which made the whole
expression the more sinister and dreadful. He came close to the
Admiral, looking him in the face:--

“Juan Ribao,” he said, “you and all of your company are now in my
power, and I shall do with you--_as God shall give me grace_!”

As God should give him grace! I looked around me at the bearded faces
of the soldiery, who were now closing in upon us, and the menace of
those words,--the very same that he had uttered in his promise of
yesterday,--first dawned upon me with its terrible meaning.

The Admiral looked him in the eyes, still unknowing. “I am ready to go
with you,” he replied calmly.

But two soldiers came up from behind, seizing his arms and then--and
not till then--the scales fell from the eyes of all of us and we saw
that we had been duped,--trapped, by this arch fiend and traitor.

La Caille and I exchanged glances and turning about made one desperate
spring for liberty. La Caille fell full upon the point of a pike and
so died, making not even an outcry. A sword scratched my arm and I
pitched upon the figure of the man who wielded it. The sword flew
from his hand, but his arms closed about me tightly and over and over
we rolled among the bushes, the soldiers dodging about trying to get
their weapons home upon my body, but fearing to hurt their fellow. He
was strong and I weak from lack of food; in a few moments he had me
undermost, while he was striving to draw a poniard. Another man here
fell upon my legs, while still another was running forward with a
partisan.

I gave myself up for lost. Hoping to warn those who had not yet been
conveyed across the channel, I let forth a loud cry. Then my adversary
leaned down on me, clapping his hand across my mouth. I bit into his
finger fiercely and thought the dagger was coming down.

But I saw his face at the same moment that he saw mine; and knew why I
had been so easily overcome, for it was Don Diego de Baçan! I watched
the point of the dagger; but it did not fall. His surprise was so great
that his hand remained suspended in mid-air, and he drew in a quick
breath of fright as though he had seen a phantom. His soldiers, noting
his discomfiture, did not strike, but stood waiting. In a moment a
knowledge of the truth came to him.

Then, perhaps in a spirit of fair play, remembering a time when I had
set him free, he lowered his weapon and bade his men bind and gag me
and set me on my feet.

He stood in front of me holding his sides, alternately laughing and
sucking his bitten finger.

“Well, well, Sir Pirato, the dead hath come to life of a verity. And
this is no miracle but a clear process of reasoning. It would have
grieved me much to see thee die just now, for I have rarely met a man
of such honest thews. It doth me good to see thy face again. Though
by my conscience I have always sworn that I like not a beard upon the
countenance of Englishmen, which to my mind should ever be round and
hairless like the sucklings that they are.”

I listened composedly to his banter, glad of the chance to rid my mind
of the horror which was to come.

“It is a pity, my fledgling cock, that Mademoiselle de la Notte did
not inform me--ah! you start. Yes, yes, she lives--in very excellent
health and would have bidden you farewell, had she known. She will
mourn when you’re dead, Sir Pirato, for she thinks of you with great
kindness.” And so he went on adding one insult to another, veiling them
under this thin coating of humor, so that they might cut the deeper.
But I saw from his surprise and from the manner in which he spoke that
Mademoiselle had told him nothing. He was lying in his throat. If she
were alive she was safe also from him--that I knew. But I trembled
with rage at his manner and innuendos and would have killed him if I
could. I remembered the chance I had upon the _Cristobal_ and felt
accursed for having let such a thing as he continue to live upon the
earth. I saw him go over to the Adelantado and talk earnestly, pointing
toward me as though asking some favor. The Adelantado shook his head in
refusal, but at last wavering, seemed to give assent.

The safety of Mademoiselle was first in my thoughts and made me almost
happy as I stood there, though for myself there seemed little chance
that I should come out of the adventure alive. De Baçan had won, it
seemed. If there were a chance of escape I should not be slow to take
it; but if I were to die I would show no white feather to this Spaniard
whom I hated,--and now hate, even that he is dead, as I think no man
was ever hated before.

My comrades of the _Trinity_ gave no sign of fear, though they felt the
nearness of their doom as keen as I. The Admiral stood erect, his head
high in air. Bourdelais had been pinioned and bound, and stood near his
chief, helpless but determined that no supplication for pity should
escape his lips. My heart went out to the Sieur de la Notte, for he was
white as death and so weak that two soldiers carried him. His livid,
delicate face looked this way and that as though his mind wandered and
were unconscious of it all. I wanted to speak to him one last word--to
tell him that Mademoiselle was alive and might be among the people of
Satouriona; he might have died happy. The pity of it! But I could not,
for my mouth was bandaged tightly and it was impossible for me to make
a sound above a murmur.

At length all the Frenchmen of Ribault had come upon this shore and
stood or lay bound and helpless among the sand-hills. Then Menendez de
Avilés came to Admiral Ribault and said again,

“Is there any one among you who will go to confession?”

Ribault turned his head, closing his eyes and answered calmly,

“I and all here are of the Reformed Faith.”

Then he looked upward as though making one last mute appeal for the
lives of the men whom he had unwittingly led to this martyrdom. His
face shone with a new beauty as he gazed upward, and the heavens smiled
back at him. The brightness, and glory of the day were wonderful, and
that made the contrast the stranger. It even seemed as though the sun,
the sea, the sky and all the wonders of God’s earth and firmament were
sullied and polluted by the touch of these atrocities. There, upon the
lonely sand-spit in the hands of these fanatics, we were forgotten of
God.

Then Ribault raised his voice in a chant which mingled softly with the
roar of the surf and melted into the air like the passing of a soul.
It was the Psalm “_Domine memento mei_” and one by one the Huguenots,
some kneeling, but most standing upright, fearlessly took it up until a
great and holy prayer went up to God. There was something greater than
the things of earth in that grand chorus, and in the faces of these
martyrs was the look which must be borne by those already within the
gates of Paradise.

As I saw Menendez de Avilés and his butchers come forward, closing in,
two men took me from the rear, dragging me behind a sand-hill, throwing
me upon the beach and tightly binding my feet and legs with ropes and
arquebus cords. They fastened my handkerchief over the bandage upon my
mouth to make it the more secure, and passed this closely over my ears
so that now only sight remained to me. But this assisted me little, for
my neck was bound so tight that I could not turn my head. They threw me
face downward upon the sand and so left me.

       *       *       *       *       *

I lay there I know not how long, expecting each moment to receive the
point of a pike between the shoulders. I have thanked God many times
since then that in those dreadful moments he made me powerless to see
and hear. So great was the agony of mind that more than once I prayed
that all might soon be ended. The sufferings through which I was
passing had made me well-nigh distraught; but it was only a temporary
lunacy like that upon the beach after the wreck. And I have come to
this day, at a ripe age, in full possession of all my faculties. Death
was not yet for me.

In a while there came two of these fiends reeking and drunk with
slaughter; unbinding my feet, they bade me follow on behind their
fellows who had gone before toward San Augustin, carrying their bloody
trophies. The lives of four others beside mine own had been spared;
and we prisoners,--De Brésac, a fifer, a drummer and a trumpeter were
tied together for our better security, and in single line were marched
up the beach. Each looked at the heels of the man in front, fearing to
raise his eyes upon some new barbarity. Toward noon there was a rest
and these butchers fed us upon biscuit and preserved fruits, giving
each a draught of _eau de vie_. It seemed from this that they meant
for the present to save us further physical suffering. The drink set
new life coursing through my veins, and by afternoon I had steeled
my memory in some sort against the things which had been, and had
prepared my spirit against the new and, like enough, more desperate
trials of mind and body which must surely come.

For what else could De Baçan be saving me? Was it for a torture worse
than the death of Ribault, La Notte and those other martyrs, my
companions? What hideous devilry could he be devising? I thought of
his sinister threat upon the _San Cristobal_, and I felt sure he was
preparing to work his worst upon me. But even as I was,--helpless, in
his power,--I had no fear of him; only hatred, which had driven out all
other personal relation. There was no instrument that the Inquisition
had devised which should provoke one groan, and no torture that he
could invent which should wring one tribute to his devilish ingenuity.
So long as Mademoiselle were not there to make my pulses tremble, he
should have no sign. Nay, more,--I would escape. Mademoiselle alive,
let them give me so much as half a hair’s breadth of license and I
vowed that there were not enough Spaniards in all the Flowery Land to
hold me a prisoner. And--why I knew not,--I was as sure she was alive
as though she were there by my side. I would escape back to Europe to
let the King of France and our own Queen Bess of England know what
manner of fiends the King of Spain had let loose, to make a living hell
of this great and good land across the water.

It was right that I should escape. There were none who were with
Ribault when he was betrayed save me, and none who could give the lie
to the tales this Spaniard Menendez would tell to his people and to
the people of France. I determined that if God willed, I would be the
instrument of justice upon them. And if the iron helm of fate were
entrusted to my hands, I would seize it with no light grasp. For the
moment, even the thought of Mademoiselle and all she had suffered and
might still suffer vanished from my mind, and I wished nothing but
vengeance for the murder of my comrades. I knew not until now how dear
they had been to me. _She_ would understand. She would know. They were
of her religion; but like me, she had not the humility to bow meekly
under such a blow. If I could first escape out of their intimate
clutches I knew that I could get to France. There had been many ships
on the Florida coast of late--English ships too--and Admiral Hawkins,
or perhaps even Captain Hooper, might now be in those waters.

And so my mind planned and planned, as I trudged along toward San
Augustin between the serried ranks of my captors. There was no chance
of escape, for arquebusiers to the number of ten brought up the rear,
and De Baçan had given them orders to shoot us in the back did we give
the slightest sign or movement of a nature suspicious. In this fashion
we walked until dark, De Baçan saying no word nor even coming near.
Then we turned sharply through the dunes in-shore to the left, and came
abruptly to the bay within the sand-spit and upon four large barges
which had been brought to convey us across this arm of the sea.

It was not until then that I had a chance for words with Diego de
Baçan. I determined that could I speak with him I would leave no effort
of diplomacy unmade to secure his attention and approval. For this was
no place for pride, and therein lay the way to safety. It so happened
that in the boat his thwart was next to mine. With some display of good
humor he addressed me:--

“Gratitude may not be one of your virtues, Sir Pirato.”

“I find little cause for gratitude, Don de Baçan,” said I.

“Not even that you have your life as a gift from the Adelantado? You
are truly hard to please. Here have I saved you from a long wait in the
bowels of hell, and you pay me with what?--not even a smile of thanks
or welcome.”

“Then it is to you I owe my life?”

“For the present, Señor Killigrew.”

“And why have you spared me?”

“I know not. A whim, perhaps.”

“A happy whim for me.”

“Be not so sure of that, my bantam. I fancied you dead long since, you
see, in spite of the Señorita La Notte. There was something of surprise
that made me spare you the dagger--something of curiosity that made me
beg your life of the Captain General--curiosity to see in what way it
were best to kill men like you who die hard.”

“We can die but once,” I returned doggedly.

“I’m not so sure. You don’t die easy, my master. And you own such fine
tough sinews it were a pity to have you foisted off upon the devil with
such small display of resistance.”

“It is the torture then?” I asked.

“It will be, my friend, as the Adelantado shall decide. I have a fancy
that in a short time thou wilt become a valiant servant of the Church.
I have known a heretic rabid as thyself, turn speedily Christian at the
stake.”

“Fire is a very excellent servant of the devil,” I returned, and so
warmly that I regretted my petulance the moment after.

“Ah, you think I may not bend your spirit! Wait and see. Why, in our
army we have a little soldier so skilful in mechanical toys that he
can set his touch upon each particular nerve in the body, running his
fingers over them as lightly as one would play the lute.”

“It ill becomes a fine, big man like you,” I returned, “a man who
has little fear of aught upon the earth, to trifle with these petty
contrivances.” I thought I would try him upon a new course.

“My muscles, like yours, are good enough for most of the purposes of
this life; but with careful feeding you might best me again. You see,
I acknowledge you. Nay, my bantam, you cannot again touch my vanity. I
fight you no more.”

“You will not fight me in your own camp?” said I, unwilling to drop the
question so easily. “Surely, there will be little danger to yourself.”

“Who spoke of danger?” he said irritably, and then laughing, “Ha! ha! I
fear no danger. Why should I fight you? I can see my soldiers take your
spirit out by slow inches. And I will view the spectacle with great
serenity--in company with a lady of your acquaintance who has been
pleased----”

“You devil!” I cried, unable to restrain myself. “You liar and
blasphemer!” and with a leap I hurled myself against him until he fell
against the gunwale, and we all but went overboard. I striking at him
with my bound hands and elbows. The boat rocked from this side to that,
and we seemed like to capsize. Several men were striking at me with
boat-hooks and oars, and at length they dragged me off and threw me
down in the bottom of the boat.

“As God lives--I will kill you now!” he said fiercely; and rising he
drew his dagger. But he thought better of it before he touched me, for
he thrust the weapon back and sat quietly down on his thwart.

“We will wait,” he said calmly.

Thus ended my diplomacy! What a fool I was; perhaps every chance of
escape was lost. That was all there was of it. They would take us to
the camp at San Augustin and there kill us like dogs.



CHAPTER XV.

THE LODGE OF SELOY.


At the landing-place we were met by a large concourse of soldiers
and priests, who crowded about with waving flambeaux, shouting and
bidding the victors welcome. Then a half-dozen of the priests, with De
Solis, took position at the head of the column and we marched toward
the Lodge of Seloy, the priests chanting the _Te Deum_ as we marched.
And when we had come to an open place, a chaplain called Mendoza, who
seemed a person of importance,--the same who has since written of this
expedition,--came walking to meet the Adelantado, holding forward a
crucifix in his hand.

When Menendez de Avilés reached the spot where the chaplain stood, he
fell down upon his knees and most of his followers with him and gave
a thousand thanks for his victory. Then Mendoza raised his voice and
said, “We owe to God and His mother, more than to human strength,
this victory over the adversaries of the holy Catholic religion. The
greatest profit of this victory is the triumph which our Lord has
granted us, whereby His holy Gospel will be introduced into this
country, a thing so needful for saving so many souls from perdition.”[B]

  [B] Mendoza’s Journal.

What a dreadful sacrilege it seemed that these brutal men, dripping yet
with the blood of human creatures they had put to death, should call
upon their God in thanksgiving, asking Him to be an accomplice in the
murders they had done!

By and by we were taken to the great Lodge of Seloy, which had been
converted into a general council chamber and meeting-place. It was a
huge barn-like structure, strongly framed of entire trunks of trees and
thatched with palmetto leaves. Around it, entrenchments and fascines
of sand had been thrown up so that it was very capable of defense. In
one corner of this place there was a small cabin, used as a dungeon; it
had a door leading out to the square and another leading into the large
hall. But there were no windows, the light coming in the daytime from
an aperture in the roof and in the night from a fire burning on the
sandy floor. They threw us upon some cots of bark and skins and mounted
a guard of three soldiers over us--far too many, I thought, since we
were tightly bound.

I looked about me, along the sides, trying to pierce the duskiness,
which a torch and the burning fire dimly served to lighten, to get my
bearings in case any fortunate event should give a chance for escape.
But I could see nothing to give hope now, and despondency came over me
as I thought of what had been. Could it be that only a day had passed
since I had been with my company of the _Trinity_ alive and well upon
the sand-spit? It seemed a hundred years.

One by one the events of the last few days passed in view and I found
myself marveling not a little at the actions of Diego de Baçan. He
wished to torture me, no doubt; but as I thought of his manner, it
seemed that he held me in a certain awe. The way in which his life and
mine seemed intertwined, the one with the other, was strange indeed.
I could not believe that I was to die as he had intended--before
Mademoiselle. In spite of his boasts, I believed that she was not
there at the Camp of San Augustin, nor yet at Fort Caroline,--now
blood-christened San Mateo. I recalled the vision when half-distracted
I lay upon the sands after the wreck, and I remembered the look in the
eyes of Mademoiselle as she balanced the poniard upon her fingers. I
had heard some of the guards speak of certain women who had been saved
from Fort Caroline, but they were servants and wives of artisans,
and I had not the courage to ask further. Had I done so they would
doubtless have insulted her and demeaned me, or perhaps brutally have
told me of her death. So I thought it wise to hold my peace, though my
heart seemed bursting within me. I watched the light flicker upon the
breastpiece of the guard beside the fire, and wondered what the morrow
would bring forth. Then the anguish and struggle of the day told, and I
fell into deep and merciful sleep.

In the morning they took us out manacled two and two and marched us up
and down the square to keep the blood in circulation, that the withes
might not bite too deep into the flesh before the time appointed; and
this they did thereafter daily. They were fattening us like fowls.
The soldiers came out and jostled and spurned us, tossing billets of
wood at our heads so that we were dodging about, most of the time in a
quandary.

The guards seemed to have no interest in the matter and watched
composedly as the others danced about us, laughing merrily at any
sally more witty than ordinary. But for my part, I found it better to
my liking than to lie there in the dark shadows of the Lodge of Seloy
trussed like pigs for the Tavistock market. I bore these taunts and
gibes in rare good humor, for I was stretching my limbs and could feel
my strength coming back to me unimpaired. On the second day they took
away the other prisoners, leaving only De Brésac and me together. Why
they had spared him he could not say, save only that Menendez himself,
aiming a blow at him with a poniard and blood-befuddled missing his
mark, had seen in that a sign of God’s displeasure, and so saved him
until he might debate upon the subject.

On the third day De Baçan, in company of Menendez de Avilés, going the
rounds of the barracks, came to where we lay. Menendez had on a costly
suit of black velvet with a cap to match, silk trunks and boots of a
fine leather. He began prodding at me with his cane. “So this is the
English heretic of Dieppe,” he said, making an uncouth sound which
might have been a laugh in any other.

“Señor,” said De Baçan, “this man has as many lives as a cat.”

“Ah! But no more! We must take him severally--one life after the other.
Have you thought of the matter, Captain?”

“Nothing, your Excellency, save that the end for this one must be
certain.”

“And the other? Can they not be made to confess in the Faith? ’Twould
be a merciful work to set them aright.”

As they turned away, Menendez laughingly said,

“Have them well fattened, my good Captain, for I like not scrawny
captives. But after all we owe this fellow much, and dog that he
is----” but I could not hear the rest of what he said. ’Twas no
cheerful conversation for De Brésac and me.

At the end of this day a thing most curious happened. We were sitting
bound by the fire, for after the dropping of the sun the night grew raw
and chill. The guard had just been changed. The flames burned brightly
within and made a yellow ghost of the sentinel at the door as he stood
against the blackness without. A second guard sat within the lodge, and
another could be seen down the path as he walked slowly to and fro. The
face of the man at the door was held in the shadow of his morion, but I
could see that he wore a great black beard which covered his face and
that he was most stocky and strong of build, the muscles of his calves
and thighs swelling out, much to my admiration, and his knotty fingers
betokening great strength. ’Twould be no easy task to get by this
fellow.

Suddenly, clear and distinct upon my ear, but not so loud as to seem
out of ordinary, came that same low whistle I had heard once before in
the prison at Dieppe--the call of the boatswain upon the _Griffin_! My
heart stopped its beat,--I thought that I had been dreaming, it was so
low and soft. Then it came again, and De Brésac would have spoken of it
had I not laid my hand against his arm.

Whence did it come? I knew that I was not mistaken now, and my heart
was beating high. Then the fellow at the door whom I had been watching,
after looking at his fellow guards, raised his head and I saw the
movement of his lips through the great black mustache. I heard the
whistle for the third time. I looked around hastily at the guard in the
lodge, but he was intent upon burnishing his breastpiece. Presently I
said in English as though speaking with De Brésac:

“Welcome, Job Goddard, to San Augustin,” and I saw the shoulders of my
sentinel shake in comprehension. Then he shouldered his arquebus and
settled his sword in its sheath, walking up and down again. He made
a threatening and ugly figure against the darkness, scowling as he
walked, but he was so welcome a sight I could have shouted in glee. How
in God’s providence had this seaman of mine been spared?

Making no sign of aught unusual I talked on with De Brésac, telling
him who this man was and how, God willing, we might make a break for
liberty. I bethought me of a plan to have a sign with Goddard. I poured
the water from the pitcher in a corner behind the skins and then
raising my voice I cried in Spanish,

“Hey, señor the guard! Is it not possible to have some water fresh from
the spring? We die soon enough, in all conscience.”

But Goddard made no sign, only walking up and down and looking out into
the night.

I was perplexed. What could be the matter with the man? Could he not
see the advantage I had prepared?

“Hola, there!” I cried again, pointing to the pitcher, “our throats are
parched. Water! water!” But he made no motion of having understood.

Then the other fellow came forward grumbling.

“You Frenchmen have throats of flint,” he growled, “but you may shout
at that fellow till you die of weariness and he will not hear, for he
has lost both speech and hearing. Patiño must think you safe enough. A
fine fashion, I say, to leave the eyes and ears for me.”

“Ah, he hears not?” said I, comprehending.

“He is of a detachment from Fort San Mateo that came down to-night. I
do not know him.”

And taking the pitcher he went out past Goddard, jostling him with an
oath, and so toward the spring that was at the corner of the building.
No sooner had he gone than Goddard--being sure the third guard could
not see--sprang with a bound to where we were lying.

“You must get away to-night, Master Sydney,” he whispered hoarsely.
“To-morrow they’ll find me out.”

“Yes, yes,” said I, starting up in excitement, “cut me loose!”

“No!--not now! The square is full of soldiers. To-night! The scuts are
drinking brandy brought from the Fort, sir. Before the change of the
watch, I’ll have weapons an’ help ye both. Sh----” and he moved back to
his post, for the third sentinel had come to the path.

In a moment the surly fellow who had gone for water returned, and
set the pitcher down between us. He found us talking with unconcern;
though I felt my temples throbbing so that I feared he would discover
me, and I was glad enough to raise the pitcher to my lips to conceal
my excitement. De Brésac kept countenance well; and, unsuspecting, the
guard returned to the task of cleaning the spots from his plates and
morion.

We could now hear plainly the shouts of the soldiers as they sang and
danced in the square, though for an angle in the doorway we could not
see them. They were making a fine festival over their feats of butchery!

“’Tis fortunate,” whispered De Brésac, “for we may yet make a good
running fight for it.”

“Aye, Chevalier. ’Tis better to be spitted outright than to die at
intervals. I think we may give some account of ourselves.”

“If I had but a piece of steel,” he groaned,--“but a piece of steel--I
would make carrion of the fellow with the morion there!”

“Aye, and you haven’t! Wait a little. Something may happen.”

But like most plans of the like, this one came to naught; and I saw our
hopes of escape upon that night go glimmering. For at about three hours
from sunset who should come into the hut but Don Diego de Baçan with
a quarrelsome disposition of mind and a swaggering body. He had been
drinking freely and still carried a jug of _eau-de-vie_, from which
he drank at intervals while he talked. With him were two officers, by
name Vincente and Patiño. Patiño, a thin black fidgety shadow of a man,
was captain of the watch. He had been upon the _San Cristobal_ and I
remembered him well. Fortunately, he, too, had drunk more than was
good, for otherwise he was just such a squirming worm to pry into all
small affairs with most profit, and I trembled lest Job Goddard should
betray himself. They had us carried into the main hall, where a fire of
logs was built; and then when chairs and table had been brought, they
set upon us in every conceivable fashion to try the temper; to the end
that in a short while De Brésac, whose nerves were near the surface,
was touched to the very quick of his honor and lay foaming, speechless
with rage.

It suited the humor of De Baçan to offer us drink; of which, since it
came from his own jug, I took a little, though it was not needful for
the business I had in hand, and I never had a habit of much drinking.

“Well, my petticoat hunter,” he jeered at last, “you have made a fine
mess of this business, sure enough.”

“I must confess, Señor,” I replied, smiling up at him, “that I am none
so comfortable as I might be.”

“Comfort is ever the desire of old women and Englishmen, Sir Pirato!”

“But we have no chance to exercise--to stretch our limbs----” I began.

“Stretch indeed!” put in little Patiño. “There is a rack in the camp;
it can stretch you out to ten feet at least, my friend.”

“’Tis only a matter of a few inches more or less,” said De Baçan,
laughing, “and upon my life, I have ever thought you too broad across
the shoulders to be in good proportion.” Then the three of them roared
with laughing.

I saw no humor in this speech.

“In a bout at strength I find the breadth of shoulder of some small
value,” said I.

“Well said! The old woman grows a spicy tongue, Patiño. Humph! You like
the shoulders broad,--mayhap you’d like them broader; we can stretch or
draw you out in any direction to suit the fancy--cut you down or push
you in--eh! Patiño?--bloat you up or pull you out--as you will. What
think you of the business?”

“There is small profit in it for me, Señor,” I replied in good part.

“He’s content with his deformity, Vincente.”

“’Tis like a smug Englishman,” sneered Patiño.

“Nay, I am but a slow sort of person, lieutenant, and find your mode of
progress far too rapid,” I laughed.

“Bah!” growled Diego. “You fancy yourself most satisfactory upon all
points.”

“There is nothing that these Englishmen can do,” lisped Patiño, “but
eat and sleep--eat and sleep----”

“And fight, Señor,” said I. “You have forgotten the _Great Griffin_.”

And as De Baçan laughed at him, the little man hid his face in his mug
in chagrin.

“Well, what of it, Englishman?” said Diego, smiling. “Let me tell you
that the most of life lies not in fighting. There is one thing,”--and
he paused significantly,--“one thing you fat-headed English don’t
know--nor ever will. And do you care what that is? It’s woman! No more
notion of the art of loving have you than a row of marlinespikes, no
more warmth of temper than a dolphinfish! Pouf! You live too far away
from the sun to have much success with ladies, Señor Killigrew.”

I foresaw now that finding other means unavailing to try my temper,
he meant again to speak of Mademoiselle, knowing that here he had a
never-failing source of rancor. I glanced to where Job Goddard stood
at the doorway and a look passed between us. Then he went out into the
shadow and disappeared down the path.

I knew not whither Goddard had gone, and wishing to gain time, said
with as good grace as I could summon,

“The Spanish have ever had the repute for great courtliness of manner,
Don de Baçan.”

“You speak in ignorance, my fledgling. It is no question of manner, but
of a thousand things you beef-eaters have no notion of.”

“Aye,” said Patiño, ruefully, twisting his mustache, “and their women
are as bad as themselves.”

“Bah! they’re cold and lifeless every one of them. It is the French
women who respond most aptly and most--er--delightfully--eh, Vincente?”

“Yes, my captain,” he replied. “And of those saved from Fort
Caroline”--and he grinned like a ghoul--“there are five or six most
enticing.”

“And most responsive you would say--eh? You are successful upon most
occasions, Vincente.” And so saying he poured out a pot half full of
his fiery liquor, which he straightway drained to the dregs, setting
the vessel down with a crash which split it half in two. Then he
called to Goddard for a new pot and more liquor. But Goddard would not
hear, and the other man was sent.

“No, ’tis not courtliness, Señor Pirato,” said he, leaning forward at
last, “but a matter which concerns only the lover and the lady--the
flash of an eye--the touch of a hand--which sends the pulses tingling;
the opening of the lips--which tremble for the touch of kisses--this
and much more.”

At this moment there was a noise without, which sounded like a groan,
followed by silence, and I knew why Job Goddard had gone out by the
sentry’s path.

“What was it?” said Vincente, staggering to the door. But Job Goddard
met him there most unconcerned, pointing out over his shoulder.

“’Tis nothing but some drunken beast of a soldier,” said Patiño. And
Vincente came back to the table.

I now knew there was no time to lose, and made up my mind upon a course
of action. Catching the eye of De Brésac, I suddenly began to strain
at my bonds, jumping and struggling as well as I could about the fire,
rolling at last under the table.

“Here! here! what is the man about?” shouted Patiño. “Help, sentry,
help, he will get away!”

Goddard came running in and fell upon me with all his weight as though
trying to secure me. I felt his keen knife slit through the bonds and
a poniard was thrust into my hand. Then we rolled out from under the
table as though struggling furiously, and so upon De Brésac, Goddard
turning him loose and arming him as he had armed me.

The drunken fools seemed in a kind of stupor, not alive to what was
really happening until we three sprang upon our feet. The surprise was
complete and the advantage was clearly with us. I have never struck a
blow so hard as that one which I put upon the face of this Vincente,
for he went flying backward over the table, upon his head, his boots
sticking up over a bench. Before Patiño could even draw, Goddard thrust
him through the heart and he sank down, making no sound.

De Brésac, seizing a sword, valiantly had set upon De Baçan; who,
giving a roar like a bull, fell to with such energy that the Frenchman
was put immediately upon the defensive and was forced over toward the
door, through which, before we knew it, De Baçan vanished like the
wind, running out across the square to the barracks of the men, yelling
like a demon the while. He was a fiend incarnate, this man.

There was not a moment to lose. Seizing the weapons of Patiño and
Vincente, we dashed out around the corner of the lodge and so into the
forest, running at the top of our speed.



CHAPTER XVI.

OF OUR ESCAPE.


As we sped up the wide path through the thicket, we could hear De Baçan
as he ran bellowing across the square. It was black darkness under the
branches, but as we accustomed ourselves we could make out the line of
the path ahead. Twigs and branches struck us in the face, but Goddard
thundered on with great confidence, setting for us a good round pace,
and De Brésac, who was a fleet runner, keeping close upon his heels.

In a moment there were loud cries from the buildings behind, but we
could hear plain above them all the great roars of Don Diego as the
soldiers came after us in full pursuit. Ignorant of the road as we were
we had the advantage of being in our sober senses, spurred, moreover,
by the love of life, which now at this chance came with a fulness to
nerve us for any desperateness. After all the suffering of mind and
body which had gone before, this freedom was sweet indeed, and in our
hearts we knew that we could not again fall alive into the hands of
these people. The fresh air of the forest tasted sweet to the throat,
and I drank it greedily into my lungs as I ran, following the gray
shadows ahead of me.

After a while, we heard the shouting of De Baçan no more, only the
cries of some of the soldiers who were speedily coming forward.

But the great speed told upon us, and the sea legs of Job Goddard,
which were not meant for such work as this, refused to move so rapidly
and he fell a little behind. De Brésac seemed imbued with new life and
ran with great agility, leaping over logs and twisting through the
bushes like one brought up to the crafts of the woods rather than the
courtesies and fantasies of the Court.

But it was uncertain and awkward progress at best. Goddard had a pike
and an arquebus, while De Brésac and I had each a poniard and a rapier.
Twice I fell prone to the ground over the tree trunks and bushes, and
once had overrun Goddard in the dark and we two had fallen, rolling
over in a monstrous tangle. The sound of the pursuit was growing
louder every minute; De Brésac paused, impatient at our awkwardness.
He could have got well away had he wished, but he only stood there as
we stumbled to our feet, the sound of men crashing through the bushes
showing how near were the more fleet-footed of these Spaniards. It was
desperate work for heavy men. Off we started once more, De Brésac
seizing the arquebus to lighten the burden of Goddard, who was swearing
and trying to rub his shin, which he had bruised most severely, with
his pike-handle.

We came to an open space two hundred yards or so in width in which the
Indians had planted a field of maize. But the crop had been garnered
and only the short stalks remained. The moon had come out and it
seemed hardly possible that we could get across this open and escape
discovery. Could we but reach the other side where the deeper forest
began there would seem to be less chance of immediate capture. Goddard
was well-nigh done, but managed to struggle on over the rough loam
toward an opening in the bush beyond. De Brésac had passed him and
entered the wood, and I had come to his side, when behind us there was
a loud shouting and two soldiers, stripped of their armor, emerged from
the forest and came toward us at the top of their speed.

De Brésac stopped and dropped down upon one knee, and I knew what he
meant to do. Goddard fell almost exhausted beside him and I crouched
behind a bush a little to the rear, awaiting the coming of our
adversaries. We were all breathing very hard, but De Brésac, full of
vitality, was crouched like a cat ready to spring.

“The one in front,” said he to me in a whisper, “I will account for the
other.”

On the Spaniards came, leaping from one hillock to another, their naked
weapons gleaming fitfully in the moonlight. The fellow in advance
was but a boy; his hair was fair and he was comely to see. My heart
misgave me as he came nearer, rushing onward fearlessly. But it was
his life or mine,--my life and Mademoiselle’s, perhaps--and so I did
not hesitate, rising just as he came into the shadow of the trees and
running him through with such force that the basket hilt of the weapon
struck against him and as he fell the blade broke short off against
the ground. The other man, seeing the fate of his comrade, paused for
a moment; but De Brésac was upon him like a flash and sent his sword
a-flying. After all, these lives in the heat of action were few enough
against those of all our friends who had been murdered in cold blood
before.

Then De Brésac, who was a man of ingenuity, drew the bodies under some
bushes and we started off along in the shadow of the woods at the edge
of the clearing toward the left--doubling in a way upon our own track
to throw our pursuers the more surely off in another direction.

We saw two, and then six more, of them go flying across the clearing,
following the track of our boots in the soft earth; but they did not
pause, going crashing through and shouting to one another until the
sounds were lost in the many voices of the night. We were free--at
least for the present.

We looked around the one to the other, and long breaths burst at the
same moment from the three of us.

“Phew! Master Sydney,” said Goddard, pulling his beard, which had
been glued to his cheeks, “’tis little I thought I’d ever get up in
this _dis_-guise, sir. Odds bobs, but I’m done! I’ve been feedin’
up this night, to last a week, sir,--an’ me stommick--is somethin’
feeble--since--this--smoke--suckin’.” He fell to the ground, breathing
like a bellows, and vowed he would move no more.

Then De Brésac planned quickly. “If we go to the beach,” he said, “they
will surely take us. There they can drive us into the sea, or prison
us on one of these sand-spits, and take us at their ease. Let us keep
among the woods and the swamps. There we can retreat at will, and may
support life until we can find a friend, or come to the great inland
channel of which they speak. We may come upon the canoes of the Indians
of Satouriona, for the Potanous are far to the west, and the Thimagoas
of Outina are to the south.”

We saw that what he said was wise, for Menendez, now thinking the beach
his natural shambles, would certainly try again to find us there.

At any rate, where we were was no comfortable neighborhood, for some
stray Spaniard might at any moment be stumbling upon us, and then there
would surely be more killing, and I was sick at the sight of blood, and
wanted no more of it. So in some fashion, when he had got his breath,
we put Goddard on his feet and moved steadily forward, pausing only now
and then to listen for the signs of pursuit. In this way we moved for
two hours through the moss-hanging forest. We talked but little, having
need of all our strength and breath.

Goddard managed to tell his story. He had been struck upon the head
and had fallen for dead under a pile of corpses. When he had come to
himself it was dark, and the Spaniards had gone. He had come across the
bay at night in a canoe he found at the landing-place. He possessed
himself of the arms and weapons of a Spaniard who was sleeping in the
woods,--and who sleeps there yet; cutting off the soldier’s beard
and fastening the hair of it upon himself with tree-gum. Then making
a detour, he had come in at nightfall, following in the footsteps
of a detachment of the soldiery who had marched down from Fort San
Mateo, and in the confusion and debauchery of the camp, by simulating
dumbness, escaped detection, taking the sentry duty with little
difficulty. It was a most wonderful thing; but Goddard would say little
further than this, only smiling when he spoke of the Spaniard in the
woods. He took off his morion and mopped the sweat from his brow.

“Master Sydney, I saw Jem Smith die, sir,” he said. “He went to join
his martyrs with a smile on his lips. He wore his velvet suit o’ black,
an’ he was beautiful to see. I saw him die, sir,--cut down like a
dog afore my eyes. An’, sir, I saw the man as did it.” He tapped the
Spanish morion with a significant gesture, and then grimly,--“’Twas
him!”

We had covered a distance of perhaps three leagues when we came to a
body of water, which seemed a kind of river, but not so wide as the
River of May; only a hundred yards across to the thither bank. There
we stopped to plan, for Goddard could not swim. It looked but a short
time before the day, for the heavens were brightening through the great
trees behind us. If we could place Job Goddard upon the trunk of a
tree, then we might push him across the stream; there was one floating
out in the current. De Brésac had removed his boots to swim for it,
and had even taken a step down into the slime of the bank, when, as
we looked, the log began sluggishly to move, but against the current,
and then we saw the thing was alive. De Brésac rushed out upon high
ground in terror, for the log was no log at all, but one of those great
horny lizards, which Admiral Hawkins has since reported, and which
are called _crocodiles_, or _alligartos_. If the Spaniards had come
upon us at that moment, they could have taken us without a fight, for
this beast was of such a great size and length, so ugly moreover and
slimy, that we stood with knees trembling upon the bank. But by and by
Job Goddard, plucking his courage up, cast a stone at it, and as the
missile fell in the water the great beast, with a flurry and a splash
of its tail, went plowing down the stream more frightened even than we.

The heavens were well alight before we could persuade ourselves to
make the attempt to cross. Sure at last that there was no fording
place, we three got astride of a wide log and began the passage of this
treacherous stream, expecting each moment to have a leg nipped off at
the knee. We had long pieces of bark for paddles, and made a great
commotion, thinking thus to scare these monstrous animals away; and
finally we arrived upon the other bank, wet, and trembling with fright,
but safe.

Upon the third day the Chevalier shot at a furry wild animal which lay
in a ball at the top of a tree. He had the skill to carry away the twig
on which it swung. The beast fell to the ground snarling like a dog,
to be killed in a trice by Goddard, who pinned it to the earth with
his pike. We were most hungry and fell to upon this beast like wolves,
hardly waiting for the flesh to be cooked through. ’Twas little
enough, but kept us alive two days. On the morning of the fifth day
we saw the great inland channel, which we afterwards discovered was a
part of the River of May, and by good fortune came upon a hunting party
of Satouriona’s warriors. I have said that we came upon them, but it
were more truthful to say that they came upon us. For an arrow whirred
past and we looked around to see half a score of them coming from
the thicket. I held up my hand, shouting loudly “_Antipola! Antipola
bonnasson!_”--which means “friend”--and they came forward and welcomed
us with great rejoicing. They fed us on game which they had shot with
arrows, and took us at last in a canoe to their village. I had seen the
Paracousi--the “Chief,”--when we first came to Fort Caroline. He was
named Emola and entertained us in his lodge, sparing nothing for our
comfort.

De Brésac was tireless. Liberty was breath to his nostrils, and he went
about in the village inquiring and planning, making ready to continue
our pilgrimage to the coast when we should be rested.

For myself, with liberty came a reaction from those horrible days and
nights upon the ship, on the sand-spit and in the prison, when in my
deeper moods of despair I could see no hope to bring Mademoiselle out
of this country alive. In spite of the continuous dread at my heart,
there had come again in all its first eagerness the desire only to
find her and take her in my arms away from that dreadful Menendez, the
very nearness of whom befouled and polluted. I was certain of but one
thing--that she was not at San Augustin. Had she been there, in those
last days De Baçan would have lost no opportunity to bring us together
for his own pleasure, that he might gloat upon us the better and keep
his promise of torture to me. But where could she be? What had happened
that she was not a prisoner of De Baçan? For it seemed certain that she
had been saved from Fort Caroline. I was in a great quandary, and for
all my uncertainty I had not the will even to question the Indians upon
the subject, for in spite of my hopes I feared--feared the truth they
might tell me.

We sat about the lodge of this good Emola, looking out at the bright
forest, gaining back our strength and will. Well do I remember that
wonderful day with its great stillness and sadness. The Paracousi sat
by the open doorway, dark against the golden sunshine, smoking from a
great tobacco bowl which he offered to us one after the other. We each
took a swallow of it, this being the habit of these people when in
good will, and Goddard, bringing forth his own bowl and reed, helped
himself from the pouch of Emola and was soon puffing away valiantly to
the great satisfaction of the Chief. It was most curious to see these
two sucking upon the reeds like babes upon the breast, and puffing out
the smoke in curls and rings, regarding each other the while with great
solemnity.

“Ye see, Master Sydney,” said Goddard between puffs, “if once I can
get me stommick made good against the smoke suckin’, ’twill be a most
gratifyin’ achievin’. For though we may find an’ win no new lands--by
the beards of the martyrs, ’tis surely somethin’ we have done to make
the discovery of a new habitude, or taste, which has much of the vartue
an’ little of the inconvenciency of drinkin’.”

I could not but smile at this sally, for things most ridiculous have a
way of intruding themselves upon the most sad and melancholy moments of
life.

“To-morrow we will push onward to the sea,--is it not so?” asked De
Brésac abruptly.

This brought me to myself.

“I am most uncertain, monsieur,” I replied. “I hardly know in which
way my duty or desire lies. I have felt to this moment as though my
greatest wish were to find my way back to Europe and set the armies of
all civilized nations about the ears of this devil Menendez de Avilés.
But now that I am free--well, monsieur--I will tell you.”

Whereupon I told him briefly of the love I bore for Diane de la Notte,
of the hope I had of her escape from death and of my fears for her
safety, saying at the last that I could not leave the vicinity of San
Augustin until I was sure that she was not in the power of Diego de
Baçan.

As I told my story his face saddened. “I suspected as much,” he said.
“There is a great bond between us, monsieur; I too have loved--the
sister of La Caille was my betrothed. When she died, I vowed I would
look no more upon the face of woman, and so I came here to this savage
land to lose my sorrow in adventure and perhaps in death. And I have
come only to lose him I loved best after his sister.” He spoke of La
Caille. “No, monsieur, I cannot forget--and it is fated that I shall
not die. That is my story.”

I wrung him silently by the hand.

“Monsieur, monsieur,” he went on quickly, “there is a duty which you
and I owe to our God--a duty stronger than any earthly tie. A foul
deed has been done which has no equal in the history of the world.”
He paused a moment. “Forgive me if I seem to bring more grief to your
heart. But I know that there is no chance upon this earth to see again
the one you love. Believe me, what I say is true. It is the love that
is in your heart which makes you wilful not to ask and to believe the
thing you most dread.”

I buried my face in my hands, for it was so and I was a coward.

“Monsieur, listen,” he continued softly. “Do not blind yourself further
to these facts. For you will but add one more life to those which have
already been recklessly thrown away. And with your doubts at rest, your
life should be given to Justice.”

“Ah, but my heart can never again be satisfied until I have found her!”

“Then I must tell you the truth, mon ami, whatever may come. I have
spoken with these Indians in such manner as it was possible, and I
know most of the things that have happened since the massacre. I have
seen articles which came from the Fort, and I know that there are no
women there at this time. Many of them were cut down and killed. A few
only were taken towards San Augustin; with them was Mademoiselle de la
Notte.”

I started up. “Diane--and how----”

“Ah, monsieur! calm yourself and listen with a stout heart--for I have
dreadful news. She was of a party of women. There were Spanish soldiers
with them. When these women got to a certain place they would go no
further. The soldiers then killed them as they had done the others.”

“But this is mere hazard--how do you know? What proofs have you?” I
cried in anguish.

“Only this,” he said solemnly; “I have myself beheld it and you will
know.” And going to Emola he made a motion towards his hand. The
Paracousi produced from his belt a bit of gold and De Brésac placed
it in my hands. It was the finger ring with the ancient setting which
Diane had worn!

I took the bauble from him silently, stupidly, and then unconsciously
bore it to my lips. Slowly the cruel truth dawned upon me as I looked
at the jewel. It seemed as though my breast were bursting with the
emotions that flooded up from that secret corner in my soul in which
man hides the things he holds most holy. What would I not have given
for woman’s tears to have wept out upon it all the tenderness in
my heart? I could only bend over it reverently, dry-eyed, mutely
suffering. But I had undergone all this torture before, and the
certainty now that she had died seemed to make no further enduring
wound. I sat at last, looking at Emola as he told how the ring had come
to him from one of his braves, who had exchanged it for some silver
neck-pieces. After the first shock of this dreadful discovery, I seemed
rather stupefied than aught else, with no capacity for great grief nor
any great sensation of any kind.

When he understood, the Paracousi came and put his hand upon my
shoulder, and this aroused me. He indicated by pointing that he would
give me the ring which I still held in my hand. I thanked him with
a look and a hand-clasp and got upon my feet, stretching my limbs,
arising from my grief-stupor.

When he had finished speaking I turned to the Chevalier De Brésac,
saying to him:

“My friend, I will follow wherever you will lead.”

He took me by one hand joyfully, and Job Goddard with gruff heartiness
seized the other. Then we three, of no religion, but made one by
suffering and the loss of those three persons we loved the best, took
an oath, with the grave Paracousi for witness, that not while we lived
would we rest until we had seen our enemies visited with vengeance by
fire and the sword.



CHAPTER XVII.

IN WHICH WE JOURNEY TO PARIS.


If I have dwelt upon these events hitherto with great particularity,
it is that there might be a record of all that passed and that the
devotion of this seaman Goddard, a yeoman of England, should be known
to all men. Of the Chevalier de Brésac, I need say nothing further at
this time, since his public service is well known alike in England and
France.

Upon the morning following my discovery of the ring with the ancient
setting, we entered one of the great war canoes in company with the
Paracousi Emola and eight warriors, and set forth upon our journey to
the sea. There was nothing to fear from the Spaniards, for the camp of
Emola was in the country of Satouriona, and until we came again within
sight of the battlements of Fort San Mateo, there was little danger of
discovery; and even had we been attacked we should have been able to
give a good account of ourselves. The River of May for a long distance
was shallow, but of a great width and seemed like a vast morass. At
noon on the following day we set into a current which speedily took us
into a deeper channel, where the sand grasses no longer waved beside
us. The paddles dipped deep and, as they sent the water gurgling
musically astern, put us along down-stream at a fair brave rate.

By and by the Indians told us that Fort San Mateo was but four leagues
below; and, as it lacked an hour to sunset, we hauled in our canoe
to the bank to await the friendly cover of night before resuming our
journey to the sea. But there was little need for precaution, for we
saw no sign of human life. We stole along the shadow of the western
shore, drifting down with the tide, which was ebbing strongly. At some
time after midnight the sound of men’s voices singing a rough chorus
came up to us on the wind; and in a while we crept out from behind a
point of land to see the lights of Fort San Mateo, lurid and garish,
come dancing down to us across the face of the star-sprinkled waters.
The Spaniards were making merry, and the hoarse sound of their laughter
blasphemed the sweetness of the night, and shivered the silence again
and again with its echoes. They had no fear of attack. Had they not
swept out of existence a whole nation from these new shores? We saw no
sentries upon the bastions even, and passed fairly under the cannon,
arousing no challenge or inquiry. When we had passed below the Fort, a
desperate sadness fell upon me again at the sight of the familiar shore
and hills at which she and I had looked together. I turned my head and
looked back as I had on that morning when we went down to the sea to
give battle to the Spaniards. I seemed to see her standing there again
upon the battlements tall and lithe, looking fearlessly up at me as
I told her my fears. The farewell, the tender tears in her eyes, the
touch of her fingers, all--all were as real as though it had been but
yesterday instead of two long months ago,--months of suffering which
had made days into weeks and weeks into years. The pain came again
fiercely to my breast and I caught my breath to ease it. The firm
fingers of De Brésac closed upon my own as he whispered.

“Courage, mon brave! Courage!”

Ah me! The meaning of the travails through which we are brought to
our better understanding are little known of men--nor will be through
many generations of time. In a moment or so the pang was past, and in
a sudden flash of unreason--Nature’s compensation for her sorrows--I
felt again as I had felt before, that Mademoiselle was at that moment
somewhere near--not cold in death--but breathing and living. All this
in spite of the ring, the silent evidence of the truth of what had
been spoken, which I felt at every breath, against my heart.

We had passed a little below the Fort and had drifted toward a bluff of
dunes which jutted out into the stream almost athwart our course--for
here the channel runs close to the shore. Upon this point grew a
thatch of palmetto scrub and knot of stunted firs and pines, whose
gnarled branches stretched this way and that, an impenetrable black
tangle against the starlit sky. As we came nearer, the dark blur of
the branches took a definite form, and we could mark their gentle sway
in the breeze. We were bearing toward a sand bar which jutted well
out toward the other shore and I would have spoken of it; but as I
turned, Emola seized me by the arm, placing his hand upon his mouth in
token of silence. He and the warriors were craning their heads toward
the out-spreading branches. They sat mute as statues, saying no word.
I could not make it out. Long as I stared I saw no sign or heard no
movement save the rhythm of the swaying branches.

The silence was broken by one of the Indians beside me who uttered a
hoarse sound in his throat, and lifting his head he passed his index
finger grimly around his neck. We drifted in again with the current,
and in a moment we understood. There, a horrid plaything for the wind
of the sea, its clothing limp and loose, we saw a human body, swinging
by the neck!

De Brésac started up. “Par la Mort!” he cried. “The infamous ones!
Honest braves, fighting for their King, to be given this dog’s death!
Come, Emola, land us here. It is too much, mon ami! He shall not hang
so!” He was almost sobbing with the stress of his emotion.

The paddles swept us in to the beach and we climbed the dunes to where
the body was hung. Over its head that villain had nailed a piece of
white bark upon which had been burned the dreadful confession,

                       “_Not As To Frenchmen
                        But As To Lutherans!_”

Tenderly, as though he had been one of those we three most deeply
mourned, we cut him down and tried to straighten his poor stiffened
limbs. Then we carried him where the sand was soft and with the canoe
paddles buried him out of sight. There were others, we knew, for the
placard had said it, and three more we saw hung in the same way and
bearing the same inscription. These we cut down and buried as we had
buried the first, while Emola and his warriors stood by and gravely
watched. Then silently as though the hand of death were upon our own
hearts, we entered the canoe again and pushed onward.

The tide had turned; but before dawn we had come well within the sound
of the surf and pulled into a secluded river or creek on the north
bank, before the sun had come out of the sea. We ate a portion of
dried venison apiece, and concealing the canoe among the branches, cut
into the thicket, Goddard carrying a large packet of tobacco which the
Paracousi had given him. By marching steadily all the morning along
the line of this river, we came by noon to another body of water as
large as the River of May. Here we halted again, and to our surprise
and great joy discovered a small vessel riding securely at anchor, and
flying the flag of France!

There is no need to dwell at length upon the events which followed.
The vessel was the _Epervier_, Captain Gillonne, of the fleet of poor
Ribault. After much signaling a boat was lowered from her side and many
men armed with arquebus and pike dropped down into her. They approached
within thirty yards of the shore, when we proved to them by word of
mouth that we were no Spaniards but men of their own company. Then
they brought their boat in upon the beach and welcomed us with great
rejoicing. The _Epervier_ had been upon the sea for many weeks, and
blown to the southward, had ridden through the fury of the storm which
had sent the other vessels upon the coast. The Frenchmen had seen the
wrecks upon the beach, but no man save a few soldiers in armor carrying
a standard of Spain. They had come to the River of May only to find our
Fort in the hands of the enemy and had much to do to escape to the open
sea again, out of range of the Spanish ordnance. This gallant Gillonne,
watchful against the Spaniards, remained warily at anchor, hoping by
this delay to save any Frenchman who might have escaped, although he
thus placed himself in direst jeopardy of capture by the Spanish fleet.

It seemed, then, that most of our physical sufferings were to end.
We went aboard the “great canoe” as the Paracousi called it, Captain
Gillonne setting red wine before these Indians, which indeed they drank
with as much avidity as Job Goddard himself. They walked about the
vessel looking up at the rigging, speaking among themselves, though
they made no outward sign of curiosity, surprise or any other emotion.
They are a strange people, these Caribs; haughty, and solitary as the
great pines which tower in their wild forests. The good Paracousi was
given many gifts to carry back to his people. He bore messages of
good will from the French to the great Satouriona, and we three who
had been his guests shook him by the hand and smoked a pipe of peace,
which Goddard brought forth from beneath his doublet. The chief and
his warriors departed to the shore as gravely and silently as they had
come.

The people of the _Epervier_ all sickened for the sight of France; and
the provisions being low, it was at last decided to set sail. There
was small chance of finding other refugees and the danger of capture
was imminent, depending only upon discovery. And so we hoisted our
anchor in the morning and with a brisk wind sailed forth from that
harbor into the open sea, seeing no Spanish ships and making a clear
run to the eastward out of land-sight by evening. Of the trials of that
voyage I will not speak, since the matter is one having no importance
in the description of these events. It is enough that after many weeks
of storm and stress, privation and suffering, we had a fight with a
Spanish vessel, but being weak-handed were glad enough to get secure
away. A sickness broke out among our men, but we landed at last, worn
by adversity, at Rochelle in France.

As before written, I make no attempt to justify my actions in the
happenings which followed. Thrust by ill-fortune out of employment, I
had made this quarrel my own. And the love which had changed me for
the nonce from man to god had now turned me devil. A new glory had
shone into my life for a short hour and made me all resplendent with
its gold--but the light had gone out and the darkness hung like a
pall about my soul. I could not reason but with relation to the dark
thoughts which filled my mind. I thirsted for vengeance upon Menendez
and Diego de Baçan, and there was no slaking. Nor could I understand
that I, a quiet-tempered English lad, had turned adventurer like a Moor
or a Spaniard. It was the tame stable-dog made wolfish by the sight
of blood. I have said much of the cruelty of the Spaniards, but as I
look back upon those dreadful times and the more dreadful ones which
followed, I know that I was as mad as the others and that we were no
instruments of God--as, to ease our consciences, we said we were,--but
only the willing tools of our own passions.

Truly the Chevalier de Brésac was animated by much the same spirit as
myself. For upon French soil he proved himself a man of resource. The
roads were blocked with snow, but friends in Rochelle made our journey
to Paris possible; and in the middle of the month of December we rode
into that city by the Porte St. Marcel. De Brésac was a fine horseman
and I had been bred to ride long before I took to a sailor’s life,
but it was no tranquil riding for Job Goddard. The beasts were of the
quietest, but even so he found it no easy matter to keep upright in the
saddle, and was three times tossed into the snow drifts, from which he
emerged swearing and vowing that he would ride no more.

“’Tis worse than the weather top-gallant yardarm in a cross-chop,
Master Sydney,” he would say, “an’ never a lift or handful o’ sail to
hang on by. For d’ye see, sir, this craft will mind no helm but the
fore sheets, and ’tis mighty poor sailin’ in a squall.” He bore so
rueful a countenance that we laughed at him in spite of ourselves, and
by dint of much persuading and lifting he was got each time again in
the saddle.

Once within the gates of Paris we rode straightway to the house of M.
Henri de Teligny, the uncle of my good friend. He was a fine, bristly,
red-visaged, gallant figure of a man; an old soldier, a man of much
power and, as we soon learned, with a leaning to the cause of the
Huguenots. He welcomed the Chevalier with every mark of affection, and
after bidding us to the hospitality of his house, caused refreshments
to be brought and plied his nephew with questions as to his adventures
in New France. It had been the intention of De Brésac to approach him
with some care and niceness upon matters of religion and to bring
out an expression upon the tale before enlisting his sympathies in
our cause. Therefore, he at first was guarded in his replies, using
a very skilful diplomacy. But when he had at last fairly begun, the
old man listened to the story of the massacres of Fort Caroline and
San Augustin with undisguised horror. He had heard rumors from Spain
that the French colony was destroyed. He had not entirely believed it;
but, were it true, victory had been gained by honorable war and not
by criminal deceit. He could not remain quiet through the telling of
the real tale and strode up and down the chamber pulling at his gray
mustaches and venting himself in the loudest expressions of wrath and
sorrow. When the Chevalier had come to the voyage in the canoe and
the discovery of the swinging bodies over which the legends had been
placed, he could contain himself no longer.

“Jarnichien!” he shouted. “Hung like a pirate or a Marane! Par la Pâque
Dieu! It is a stain upon the honor--not of Coligny--but of France!
These Spaniards think that this New World was made only for themselves
and that no other living man has a right to move or breathe there!”

“Would even that justify the murder of French women and children, my
General?” returned the Chevalier keenly.

“La Dogue! I should say, no! You were gentlemen of France with a patent
from your King to settle in this Terre aux Bretons, which is as much
the property of France as of Spain.”

“Since this Colomb first set foot upon the land the Spanish claim it
all. Menendez has said it.”

“And that all others are Moors or piratos, to have their throats slit
like hogs or be hung like thieves? Ah! perhaps even in Spain there is
justice for such Generals as Menendez de Avilés! This is the King’s
quarrel, mes garçons, not yours. Forquevaulx is our Ambassador to
Madrid. I know him well. We have fought side by side in siege and
field. He too is a soldier and knows what a soldier’s death, as well
as his life, should be. This is murder--assassination, I tell you--of
the foulest kind! Done openly, and not even Philip of Spain could
countenance it. Forquevaulx shall demand the degradation of this man.”

He paused, out of breath and countenance from rapid speaking. Here
truly was a friend indeed; we had not counted upon such a valiant
partisan.

“The Admiral shall know of these facts at once. I will go to him--or
better--he shall come to me. The Hôtel de Châtillon and the Louvre have
ears and my house is my fortress, mes garçons, where all obey me. There
are no spies here.”

When he had composed himself, he sat and addressed a letter to Coligny,
acquainting him with our arrival and asking him to come secretly under
the cover of night. The publicity of an audience at the Hôtel de
Châtillon could thus be avoided and M. de Teligny did not doubt that,
in view of the importance of the matter, the Admiral would come with
all haste.

The Chevalier de Brésac was tireless. He worked with a nervous energy
which was most astonishing in one of his slender frame. For my part I
was glad enough to seek some rest; for my ride of many miles upon the
back of a horse, my first journey of the kind for years, had made me
more stiff and sore than when I had fought Don Diego de Baçan. Goddard
had long since been put to bed below stairs. While I lay upon a couch,
De Brésac wrote steadily; seeking to place on record, in some sort of
order, the argument and statement of the case for the Admiral. As he
had aroused Henri de Teligny, so he hoped to arouse Coligny; though
from what I knew of the man I had little thought that this would be
hard to do.

That night the Chevalier de Brésac repeated our story to Gaspard de
Coligny. The great Admiral had thrown off his mask and cloak and sat in
a straight high-backed chair before the fire. He was dressed solemnly
enough in a suit of black, with boots and slashed trunks. He wore a
rolling collar or kind of ruff; and a gold chain of fine workmanship,
the symbol of his rank, hung about his neck and down his doublet. In
stature he was tall, though he seemed less so by reason of his head
being somewhat bowed in thought. His forehead was lofty and wrinkled,
but marked rather by the weather than by the ravages of time. His hair
was plentiful but was cut short, standing straight upon his head.
A pointed white beard fell down upon his breast. His hands grasped
the straight arms of the chair as he looked forward into the fire.
His eyes, though clear and alert like those of a hawk and seeming to
look not at but through, had yet an expression of sadness rather than
severity. The light of the fire, which was thrown up from below, shone
upon the cheek-bones and marked the deeper the hollows below. At one
corner of the mouth was a great scar half-hidden by the mustache--a
relic of Montcontour--which made him to appear still more gaunt and
hollow-eyed. It was the face of a keen, daring man, but not that of a
cruel or even a vengeful one.

The Chevalier stood a little to one side opposite him, leaning lightly
against the chimney-piece. As he proceeded with the story the Admiral’s
hands gripped the chair-arms the harder and he chewed nervously upon a
toothpick, which he had put into his mouth. For the most part he sat
quiet, saying no word; but when he heard of the promise of Menendez for
safe conduct as prisoners of war, he could contain himself no longer.
He got upon his feet, walking up and down, asking short questions the
while to complete his view. De Brésac told all that had happened much
as I have related it here, save only the parts which are intimate
and personal to me. When he described the patience and martyrdom of
Ribault and the others and the manner in which they had met their doom,
Coligny raised his hands to his brow, saying as though to himself,

“It is not possible--not possible! I cannot believe it!” asking
questions until all doubt of the barbarity had been removed from his
mind. “It is horrible!” he said. “Horrible, even now when assassination
is so much the fashion that it is the argument of the fool and the wise
alike.”

When De Brésac had finished, having spoken of the good conduct of
those who were lost and the probable position of the survivors--were
there any--the Admiral remained silent awhile looking into the fire,
his hands clinched and his brows knit in a tangled frown. He had quite
forgotten us; for his mind was fixed upon the bearing of this news upon
matters of State. No word was spoken and the only sound in that great
chamber was the crackling of the logs upon the hearth. We saw by the
look upon his face how deep was his interest in the fate of his poor
colony, and we saw how the melancholy was driven from his eyes by the
expression of stern resolve which suddenly fixed his features. It was
like watching a hericano drive up over a windy sea.

After a while he put again in rapid succession a number of questions
upon facts unconsidered by De Brésac, which would have a certain
diplomatic value at the Court of Madrid. It was far into the night when
he had done, and he made no further statement and gave no opinion of
any kind save at the end, when his men had been called and he was about
to draw on his cloak.

“A great crime has been committed against duly-constituted officers
of France, my friends,” he said gravely. “It is a matter in which the
honor of the King is concerned. It may not be overlooked, and God alone
knows what may come. You are to speak no word of this affair, but must
wait in readiness to be called to audience with the King. You have done
well, Monsieur de Brésac. Good night, messieurs! Monsieur de Teligny,
good night.”

And so saying he disappeared down the stairway and out a street door,
muffling himself as he went.

De Brésac turned to me, his eyes glittering and his lips set in a grim
smile of triumph. “We shall have vengeance upon them,--yes, we shall
have vengeance!”



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE POET KING.


Not for two weeks did we have word or sign from Admiral de Coligny;
but at last a messenger came speedily for De Brésac, who followed
in haste to the Hôtel de Châtillon. The Admiral sought further
information. Then there was another long silence and our impatience was
not diminished when the report of the massacre got abroad and a rumor
came from Madrid that a vessel had reached Spain from San Augustin and
that the messengers of Menendez to King Philip had been received with
great good will and circumstance. I wished this business brought to a
favorable conclusion, but if naught were to come of it, I longed to
justify myself before Captain Hooper and would rather have sought other
employment at the Pelican in Plymouth than to dilly-dally at the French
Court.

Yet what we saw and learned in this great city of Paris was most
instructive. Through the good offices of M. de Teligny, and of
Coligny, I had been enabled to renew my costume; and Goddard had been
given a purse well-lined with pistoles, out of which he had bought
himself from a dealer in cast-off garments a most gaudy vesture of red
and yellow velvet and silk, these being the colors most to his liking.
He had a gray, high-pointed hat, of a bygone fashion, ornamented with a
wide-flowing plume; the breeches were most capacious and trimmed with
ribbons; the stockings were gray and the shoes were high, ornamented
with great flame-colored rosettes. His sword was of a most prodigious
length, and though hooked well up by his shoulder straps, clanked
and clattered upon the paving stones like that of a swaggerer of the
Reiters. Much of the time he spent below in the courtyard smoking and
conversing with La Chastro, the body-servant of our host, a roystering
man-at-arms who, second only to Goddard himself, had the most voluble
proficiency in camp language I had ever heard. There upon a bench in
the sun the two of them would sit during most of the day, the one
rolling out his roundest, mouth-filling speech, which the other would
set in some fashion into a language of his own. Goddard had soon cut
his hair short in the prevailing fashion, and by the end of a week his
upper lip was blue with stubble which, with elbow aloft, he vainly
strove to stroke and twist after the manner of the _raffinés_ he had
seen coming from the _levee_. When I, marveling and curious at his
wonderful jerkin and shadowy lip, called him to me and asked him how it
was that he was turning frog-eater upon so short occasion, he sent a
great whiff of smoke from his pipe, saying,

“’Tis a wench, sir,--a most comely wench who vows that ’til I grow a
beard upon my face, she will have none of me. ‘A man without hair upon
his face,’ says she, ‘is like a pasty without truffles.’ What think you
of that for a saucy minx?”

I went off to the fencing hall. Here Pompée, the maître d’armes to
the King, sometimes gave a showing of his art; and I picked up one or
two tricks of fence on the use of the dagger and had much interest in
some strokes which had come newly into vogue at court. Once when we
were returning thence, we came to a small hostel before the door of
which a crowd had gathered. From within there was a babel of voices
and much laughter. A familiar odor saluted my nostrils, for there was
Job Goddard teaching mine host the art of smoking. That ’twas not
altogether to the fancy of that worthy was readily to be seen by the
grimaces he made and the groans which he let forth from his throat. But
La Chastro was behind him, the point of his rapier touching the wide
breeches, prodding at intervals between the puffs to spur his energy.
Goddard, with his tall plume waving in the air, was standing in front
of him holding the reed within his lips and saying,

“Suck,--suck my little pasty-flipper! Thus only you may learn the
virtues of the tabac. ’Tis none so sweet as malvoisie, eh, my little
wine-bibber?” then, leaning forward, imitating the grimaces of the
rogue.

“Ventre de loup!” roared La Chastro. “So! you do not like us to make a
smoke in your house--eh? You say we shall not! Quarrelsome little pig
that you are! Bah! Now puff! puff! puff!”--and each time came a new
prod in the breeches, making mine host to writhe the more, though he
puffed and clung to the pipe which Job Goddard held, as though death
alone could separate them.

“_Parbleu!_” said Goddard, “puff, and puff again! ’Twill make ye proof
against the plague,--and other things. Also it is of much benefit to
the manners, taking away all fretting an’ excitement. ’Tis a way we
have among the Caribs, when all is in agreement. The pipe of peace is
what ye smoke, me lad. When ’tis finished, no more discussion will
there be atween us.”

But the little man had no further humor for discussion of any kind, for
he turned the color of lead, and, putting his two hands upon his wide
paunch in dismay, he spat forth the pipe and dashed frantically back
among his pots and pans, La Chastro aiding his departure with the toe
of his boot.

The on-lookers roared with merriment, and Goddard blew out some
marvelous smoke rings from his lungs, to the great delight of the
wondering crowd.

So, after all, there was much to amuse and entertain. M. de Teligny
took us out upon the streets at the hour of the afternoon when the
world was abroad, pointing out to us those of the courtiers who were
closest in the councils of the King. He showed us the beauties,--and
their lovers--and told us the number of duels fought over each, and
how, the greater the number, the greater the fame of the lady. Here
was one favorite who numbered her duels in the twenties; and there
another poor creature for whom but four men had fought, and no person
been killed. We saw little Comminges, Prince of _raffinés_, who had
more deaths to his credit--or debit--than any man in France. He had
once taken a man out to the Prè-aux-clercs. When they had uncloaked, he
had said to his cavalier, “Are you not Berny of Auvergne?” “No,” says
the other, “I am Villequier from Normandy.” “’Tis a pity to have been
mistaken,” said Comminges, “but I have challenged you, and of course
we must fight.” And he killed him with a beautiful feint and thrust in
tierce. We passed the house of Réné the Florentine, the poisoner for
Catherine de Medicis. We saw Thoré de Montmorency, “Little Captain
Burn-the-Benches”; His Grace the “Archbishop of Bottles,” who by reason
of the early hour was still walking with much steadiness; the Count
de Rochefoucauld, nicknamed the “Cabbage Killer,” who had ordered his
arquebusiers to cut a plot of cabbages to pieces, his poor sight taking
them for lanzknechts. There the Tuileries, just a-building; and here
the Louvre, where the King and the Queen-mother were holding court.
Once we saw the royal cavalcade returning from the hunt at the Château
de Madrid, and the jerkin of the King was covered with blood, it being
his delight to kill the stag with his own hands.

He seemed a young man fairly well set together, but with a head put
somewhat low and awkwardly between his shoulders, the neck craning
forward unpleasantly, giving a lowering look to a figure otherwise
agreeable. As to his face, the forehead protruded, and heavy ridges
above the eyes gave notice of a high temper; the nose was thick, and
the upper lip protruded, while the lower one fell away. The eyes seemed
of a greenish hue, and shifted from this side to that; the skin pale
yellow, which showed the habitual derangement to which he was prey. But
it was not a harsh face--only stupid and wistful--truthful, upon the
whole, but weak; most unlike Catharine, who once rode beside him--that
Jezebel from Italy, who thought that to be honest was to be a fool.

It was well into the month of January before word came again from
Coligny summoning us to the Louvre. We knew that long communications
had been sent by both Charles and Catherine de Medicis to Forquevaulx,
at Madrid, asking reparation for the slaughter at San Augustin. The
Duke d’Alava the Spanish Ambassador at Paris, had replied for his
sovereign that Philip considered the French colonists pirates and
intruders upon the domains of Spain, and that there could be no
reparation. The position of Admiral Coligny was unchanged, and there,
so far as we knew, the affair rested. Now however, we should perhaps
learn something more. The summons from Coligny excited hope.

De Brésac and I, with M. de Teligny, passed by way of the Rue d’Averon
and the Rue St. Germain l’Auxerrois to the Louvre, over the moat and
through a stone arch into a great courtyard. The place was alive with
men in armor, but M. de Teligny, having the entrée, was well known
to the cornet of the guard, and we walked up the wide stairs to the
Audience Chamber, where most of the general business of the King,
Queen-mother or the Admiral was carried forward. The names of M.
de Teligny and of De Brésac having been passed by the gentlemen in
waiting, we were presently shown into the anteroom of his Majesty’s
apartments, where Gaspard de Coligny was awaiting us.

He bore a most serious countenance as, dismissing those about him, he
arose to greet us. “The King is within,” he said, “and I have wished
him to see and speak with M. de Brésac and M. Killigrew. M. d’Alava has
been here this morning and there is news from Madrid.”

Not knowing what was desired of us, we entered the King’s apartment
after the great Admiral and stood inside the curtains. The room had
more the appearance of an armory than of an audience chamber, for
about the walls there hung halberds, pikes, spears, hunting horns,
knives and arquebuses; while upon the floor were saddles, a morion and
breastpieces, and a wolf-trap which his Majesty had but just devised.
Foils and masks lay upon a chair by the chimney-piece, before which a
great staghound bitch lay sleeping upon the hearth-rug. Here it was
that the King took his fencing lessons with M. Pompée and wrote verses
with M. Ronsard.

His Majesty, his back toward the door, sat before a table covered with
books and papers, hawk-bells and nets. He was leaning over, his elbow
upon a book, his chin in his hand, while his eyes in deep thought were
cast upward toward the ceiling. So deeply engrossed was he upon the
verses he was writing that he was not aware of our presence until the
Admiral, waiting a moment, went forward and spoke.

The King started from his reverie.

“Sire,” said Coligny.

“Ah, mon père,” he exclaimed, rising and stretching forward a hand. “It
is you? I was in a fine poetic frenzy, was I not?”

“Your Majesty has a ready gift.”

“Come, my Plato,” said he joyously, “you shall be the judge of how this
couplet runs:

    “Pour maintenir la foy
     Je suis belle et fidele.”

“But your Majesty----”

    “Aux ennemies du roy
     Je suis belle et cruelle.”

“’Tis for a new arquebus, monsieur, which the armorer has made me.
Think you not it has a glittering ring?”

“Your Majesty, Ronsard himself could not have invented better. But this
morning----”

“Think you so?”

“Sire, I have come this morning upon a State matter of great
importance.”

Charles dropped back into his chair.

“Matters of State! Matters of Court! Can I never get away from this
confusion?”

The Admiral paused a moment, motioning us forward.

“Sire, there is news from Madrid to-day, and these are the gentlemen
whom you wished to see, M. de Brésac, M. Killigrew and M. de Teligny.”

For the first time the King looked around toward us, smiling.

“Ah, M. de Teligny, I thought you boar-hunting in the South.”

“I did not go, Sire. A touch of the wound I had at Havre.”

“I have a great desire to hunt in the South.” And then petulantly,
“Well, well, mon père, what is it this morning?”

“The matter of these Huguenots in Florida, Sire.”

“I thought it would be upon some matter of religious concern,” he
muttered with a flash of ill-humor. “Catholic and Huguenot,--Huguenot
and Catholic,--I am sick of you both.” Then seeing that Coligny,
looking at his papers, remained grave and silent, the King sighed
deeply and seized the Admiral impetuously by the hand.

“Pardon, my brave Counselor. What is it that you will?”

“Your Majesty, this news from Madrid is serious. In spite of your
Majesty’s request of Philip of Spain, M. d’Alava has replied for the
second time that the blame of this massacre is upon the Huguenots
themselves. He says that the view of his Majesty of Spain is that
the blood of these Frenchmen is upon the soul of Coligny, Admiral of
France, and that he, and he alone, should be punished.”

“You!--Impossible!”

“Sire, you shall see. Here are other communications. One from
Forquevaulx, one from other survivors of the colony, and one from
relatives of the slain. Our Ambassador but repeats what D’Alava has
said and writes that so pleased is His Majesty of Spain with the acts
of this Menendez de Avilés, that he has conferred upon him the title of
Marquis of Florida.”

“Foi de gentilhomme! It cannot be so!” said the King.

“It is as I have said, your Majesty. The first Spanish ship to arrive
in the Biscayan ports brought some of the officers of San Augustin, and
they are to-day the heroes of the hour in the Spanish capital. They
also hold certain prisoners who were spared from the massacre, and
these too have petitioned you to secure their release. They are held as
pirates, which, as your Majesty well knows, they are not.”

“Jour de Dieu!” shouted Charles, rising to his feet. “I myself gave
this commission under my own private seal. It is an insult which my
brother of Spain offers me, messieurs, an insult--to honor so highly
a man who murders my people!” He walked up and down the floor, his
hands behind him, his brow clouded, the picture of resolution. Then by
a curious inconsistency, he leaned over the stag-hound which followed
him, patting it on the head and saying, “Is it not so, Lisette?” as
though matters of State had vanished from his memory.

Coligny turned impatiently.

“Sire, I have also the narration of other survivors and I would have
you talk with M. de Brésac.”

“Yes, yes, by all means let us hear M. de Brésac.” Whereupon, following
the direction of the Admiral, Brésac told again of the day upon the
sand-spit before the massacre, when Menendez had given Jean Ribault his
promise, under seal, to hold us as honorable prisoners of war; of our
desperate condition, of the surrender and of the martyrdom.

Through it all the King sat nervously pulling at his pen and looking
at us, his eyes shifting uneasily from the one to the other. Before
the tale was far advanced he had the appearance of one most _ennuyé_
who wished to have the audience at an end at the soonest possible
convenience. That he and the Admiral had been grievously and publicly
insulted was a matter most apparent; and yet all signs of anger had
disappeared from his manner, which was now that of a lad awkward and
ill at ease in the presence of a company whose thoughts and mission he
could not comprehend. Doubtless Coligny understood his mood better than
we, but for my part he seemed but as a child to deal with the great
national disgrace which was pending upon him if this disagreement with
the King of Spain could not be set speedily aright. But suddenly, the
horror of the deception came upon him as it had upon M. de Teligny. A
phrase or a gesture of De Brésac caught his attention, and he sprang
to his feet in the intensity of passion, striding up and down again,
saying over and over,

“It is monstrous! It is monstrous!”

He stopped as suddenly by the side of Coligny, putting his hand upon
the Admiral’s shoulder. When the Chevalier finished, he said: “It is
well, M. de Brésac, you have served the Admiral well--and you, M.
Killigrew. You may be sure that this matter is not ended here.” And
then to Coligny, “Did you not say, mon père, that there were other
reports of this unfortunate colony?”

“Yes, sire, and I will read.”

He seated himself and began, while Brésac and I, uncertain whether the
survivors were of the ships or of the fort, strained forward to listen.

It was the narrative of Nicholas Challeux, the carpenter. He spoke at
some length of the happenings within the fort and of the attack by
the Spaniards which came at an early hour in the morning--at dawn in a
driving rain-storm. He himself was surprised going to his duty, with
naught but a clasp-knife in his hand. Seeing no other means of escape
he turned his back and leaped over the palisade.

“I know not how it was,” said he, “unless by the grace of God, that my
strength was redoubled, old man as I am and gray-headed, a thing which
I could not have done at any other time, for the rampart was raised
eight or nine feet.... Having then lost all hope of seeing our men
rally, I resigned all my senses to the Lord. Recommending myself to His
mercy, grace and favor, I threw myself into the wood, for it seemed to
me that I could find no greater cruelty among the savage beasts than
that which I had seen shown toward our people.... By and by I came upon
the old crossbow-maker, who was hiding in terror among some bushes,
with two gentlewomen, Madame de la Notte and her daughter----”

“Diane!”

I started forward, with a cry which I could not restrain. It seemed as
though all my life-blood was ebbing out of my finger-ends.

De Brésac put a hand upon my arm, while the Admiral looked up from his
papers sharply.

“You know----” he began.

“Yes, monsieur. The wife and daughter of the Vicomte de la Notte.”

“I thought him at Villeneuve,” said the King.

“Sire, he was with Ribault,” I said, my heart bursting.

Coligny still paused.

“For the love of God, sir, read on,” I exclaimed, forgetting the
Presence and everything save that we were there, speaking of the woman
I loved--and that she might still be alive.

The King smiled a little.

“You are impatient, monsieur,” he said, not unkindly.

“--Madame and Mademoiselle de la Notte,” continued the Admiral, “who
had been upon their guard and had fled to the woods through a lower
casement at the first sound of danger. The rain was coming down in
torrents, but these women hid themselves in the hollow of an oak tree.
Madame de la Notte could go no further, for she was terrified and sick
unto death. I threw some bark and brush-wood before the opening to the
tree, but heard the sounds of the Spaniards coming and so fled away
toward the sea in company with the crossbow-maker, who was weeping and
wringing his hands----”

“The coward!” said De Brésac.

“I presently descried others, and came upon the artist Le Moyne and
a Flemish soldier carrying a woman who had been wounded in the
breast. Then after toiling through a deep swamp we met Captain Réné
de Laudonnière, with whom we struggled through the marshes in great
distress to the vessel of Captain Mallard.”

The Admiral paused, scanning the document. “Um--ah. The remainder deals
with the voyage to Swansea in Wales, and is of no importance.”

“By my faith! Nor is any of it, save as information. ’Twas a most
scurvy trick to lock those gentlewomen up to die in an oak tree. Your
carpenter could better have learnt gallantry from the hardy Flemish
soldier whom he is at pains to describe.”

“And yet ’tis just such a place that these devils might overlook,”
replied Coligny. “Réné de Laudonnière, who has sent me his report----”

“Ah, mon père,” said the King, rising abruptly. “Shall you not spare us
further reports this morning? It will all be looked to in good time.
You shall prepare a plan and I will follow it. Will that please you?”
And then gaily, “As for me, this morning, mon brave,--ah! I have so
inventive a humor that not less than three inspirations have come to me
while I have listened. My dear Ronsard will be here within the minute
and I have a sonnet which I must write to him.” And then turning to us,
“Messieurs, you may be sure that nothing will be left undone to secure
the punishment of this Menendez de Avilés for the insult which he has
offered me and the people of France.”

And so we bowed ourselves out, I a prey to violent emotion, De Brésac
not knowing whether the King were insincere or only a fool--M. de
Teligny sure that he was both.



CHAPTER XIX.

I MEET THE AVENGER.


My wound was open again. I had learned that the carpenter Challeux
had seen Mademoiselle alive after the massacre at Fort Caroline, and
the tide of ebbing hope, ever restless as the moving sea, flooded up
again upon my heart and engulfed me with tender memories. There was
a chance--the merest thread of doubt--which held and led me willing
captive amid the maze of uncertainties which seemed to compass me
about. Even as Challeux had told, the story of Emola’s brave might
still be true. They had perhaps captured her and she had died on the
way to San Augustin! But the ring might have been lost! She who was
killed might have been another! My lady may have remained hidden secure
in the great tree trunk where Challeux had concealed her! She had
followed my advice to be on her guard; why might she not have waited
and fled by night to Satouriona? His camp at that time, as she knew,
was to the north, nearer the Fort than that of Emola, where we had
been. If she had reached it, she would be safe as though in England.
For had not the great Satouriona, marveling at her beauty, given her
a necklace of beads, saying that she was fair as the moon and calling
her the “Moon-Princess”? These strange people would take her into their
village and serve her as they would one of their own blood, high in the
councils of their nation.

Ah! ’Twas sweet and holy thinking for me. But alive or dead, my wish
to cease this idle play at service to the King and be up and doing
something to find her, or to avenge her death, came upon me again
strong as upon the sand-spit when my heart beat high with hope. I must
go back in search of Mademoiselle. I could not wait with this fever
of hope burning into my heart. I wished now that I had never left the
country--that I had thrown in my lot with the Indians and thus lost
no opportunity to hang upon the trail of the Spaniards and so have
learned the truth beyond any doubt. De Brésac would say nothing. He
merely shook his head, or, sighing deeply, shrugged his shoulders. M.
de Teligny advised that I give up all hope of ever seeing Mademoiselle
again. So I had no encouragement, save only that hope which came like
an instinct from my own breast.

The days dragged slowly by. Another messenger had been sent to
Forquevaulx and another answer had arrived from the Court of Spain. The
whole affair was now the property of the people, and in every inn could
be heard expressions of horror and consternation from Catholic and
Protestant alike. Charles had written Forquevaulx in this fashion:

    “It is my will that you renew your complaint, that reparation
    be made for the wrong done me and the cruelties committed on
    my subjects, to which I cannot submit without too great a loss
    of reputation. The Seigneur de Forquevaulx will not fail to
    insist, be the answer what it may, in order that the King of
    Spain shall understand that His Majesty of France has no less
    spirit than his predecessors to repel an insult.”

Brave words enough. Words indeed! Words were made to hide the thoughts
of courtiers!

Forquevaulx fulfilled his commission. Philip’s only reply was to refer
him to the Duke of Alava.

“I have no hope,” wrote Forquevaulx after this, “that the Duke d’Alava
will give any satisfaction as to the massacre, for it was he who
advised it from the first.”

That was the news we heard, and that was like to be the end of the
matter. The King of France had been three times insulted and now
refused to raise further voice in reply. Charles and the Queen-mother
would not quarrel with Spain, and all France rang with the indignity.
They had resigned themselves to the affront. We saw the King almost
daily going to the hunt, a faint color stealing into his sallow cheeks
as he cantered down the crooked streets with his brave following.
Smiles wreathed the lips where sternness should have been; and eyes
that should have wept his own heart’s blood danced and sparkled with
the joy and passion of the chase. It was a grievous thing to see a man
of his good presence falling deeper and deeper under the blight of his
weakness. For all Charles cared, outraged humanity might forever cry
aloud, the blood of hundreds of murdered Frenchmen might stain his very
hearthstone, and the proud standards of France be lowered and trampled
in the dust by the soldiers or assassins of any nation of the earth.
Was he not the King? Was the stag-hunting not good? And had he not
written a sonnet to the eyes of Marie Touchet and an ode to “Justice,”
both of which M. Ronsard had pronounced incomparable?

But there were still gallant men in France. Our petitions and those
of the relatives of the martyrs were not to be made in vain. Upon
the morning of a certain day, while we were yet within doors, came a
gentleman asking for M. de Brésac. He was a soldier of ancient birth
and high renown, named Dominique de Gourgues of Mont-de-Marsan. De
Brésac had served with him, and had told me something of his vigorous
fiery nature and life; how as a boy he had been taken by the Spaniards
near Sienna; how with brutal insult they had chained him to the oar
as a galley-slave; how the Turks had captured this vessel and carried
her to Constantinople; how they had put to sea again and were captured
by a galley of the Knights of Malta who had set the prisoners free.
De Gourgues had served in all parts of the world and his reputation
as a naval commander in France was high--second only to that of the
martyred Ribault. He hated the Spaniards with a mortal hatred and the
tidings which we had brought from Florida had set his hot Gascon blood
a boiling.

But I was ill-prepared for the figure he presented. I had pictured him
a great swarthy man built somewhat upon the scale of Diego de Baçan,
with a deep roaring voice and the manner of a bravo. The person I saw
was none of this; for he was not large in stature, having a figure
tight-knit even to slenderness. Yet it was plain to see he was built
upon the model of a hound, and that the muscles upon him were as
steel springs fastened upon a frame of iron. His head was ugly beyond
expression, somewhat in the shape of a pear, with a wide bulging
forehead, the flesh falling away at the temples and cheeks almost to
emaciation. I looked in vain to his mouth and chin for the force I
could not find in his brows; and then back to his eyes, where my gaze
at last rested enthralled. All else might have been as nothing and
those mysterious eyes would have revealed how deep lay the soul of
the man. I saw them not often in repose upon this morning, for they
were flashing forth the fire that was raging in his heart; but when he
paused a moment they opened wide under the broad brows,--melancholy,
penetrating, but frank, sincere and true; eyes to watch, to grieve, to
weep even, but not to deceive those he held in esteem. His voice was
not strident or harsh, even as he spoke loudly, but soft as that of a
woman. But in it there was that note of command which no man who has
served with a great officer can ever forget.

He bounded up the stone stairs, two steps at a time, and came into the
chamber with an unmistakable vigor and firmness, as one accustomed and
sure of his welcome.

“Ah, seigneur,” he cried, espying De Brésac. “Welcome to France!” And
rushing to the Chevalier he embraced him as a brother.

“Mon ami, you are new-come from Mont-de-Marsan?”

“This very hour, mon brave, and I have ridden directly to you.”

Whereupon the Chevalier presented me to him, explaining that I was the
Killigrew who had been at San Augustin.

“Good!” he said abruptly. “Monsieur, I am indeed fortunate. It is upon
this very business that I am come to you.” With an abrupt gesture he
threw his cloak aside and seated himself. Then without ado, he began to
speak.

“The King of France is a sluggard and a coward,” he said fiercely. “He
has bowed the head of every honorable man in France upon the breast
in shame. I, who have been upon the soil of many countries, have ever
held my head aloft in pride; for I am a Frenchman. That heritage holds
enough honor to place me among the ranks of the chosen of the earth.
Our nation is a brave nation and in our land a man of honor dies rather
than suffer a stain to fall upon his name. The glory of our deeds has
resounded from one end of the world to the other, and the lustre of our
achievements has been like the gleam of a shining blade in the fore of
battle.”

He paused and then continued slowly, “M. le Chevalier, that pride is
gone; that heritage of a good name,--an empty sound; that lustrous
escutcheon,--beaten to the earth, and dimmed and blotted by the blood
of our own kindred which has flowed upon it.”

“God knows it is so,” said De Brésac.

“You of England,” he continued, appealing to me, “know well that no
insult such as this could rest against the fair fame of your Queen,
monsieur,” and he rose from his seat. “Unless something is done we are
a people dishonored upon the face of the earth.”

“The King has promised the degradation of this Menendez,” said the
Chevalier.

“His promises, like his verses, come ready made,” sneered De Gourgues.
“Pah! he is without candor, this King;--without strength, without
honor,--without anything that men hold most high.” M. de Gourgues was
walking furiously up and down as one possessed.

“Sh----” said De Brésac.

“I care not,” said the wild Gascon. “’Tis better far to die, or to have
no country. Spain insults the King and the King is dumb. The nobles
about him are Italians in the Spanish interest. God save poor France
from her rulers now and ever, say I.”

Then he sat down and unburthened himself of the object for which he had
come to Paris.

“I am come,” he continued less wildly, “to ask you to help me avenge
this wrong--to raise again the Standard of France from where it has
been trailing in the mud by Spanish feet.”

So rapid and fiery had been his speech that I could not get the exact
purport of his words. How he, a simple country gentleman, could hope to
embark upon so large a venture without King’s aid or commission was
more than I could readily comprehend. Nor was De Brésac in any better
understanding. “But, monsieur,” he began, “if there were any----”

“Ah, Brésac,” he cut in, “you do not trust me. You think I will not do
as I say. As you will--I tell you, I will destroy this Fort San Mateo
if it takes every crown and acre in Mont-de-Marsan!”

“Forgive me, Chevalier, I am but a slow thinker. I am with you if you
will but give me half an earful of your plans.”

“You will go?”

“With all my heart.”

“And you?”--to me.

“If not with you, then with some other,” I replied.

“Ah! Then that is done,” he exclaimed joyfully. “Now to the plans. I
believe in my company first and my plans next. For plans are of no use
if there is no one to put them to practise. Here is what I shall do. If
during the week to come the King of France does not obtain reparation
from Spain and the degradation of this monster, Menendez, I will
provide ships and men, and myself sail for Florida.”

“But how?” we both asked in the same breath.

“My inheritance is for sale,” said this wonderful man with a cunning
smile, as though he were bartering a horse. “I shall obtain money
from my brother and any others who may still find a virtue in honor. I
shall have three small vessels with a hundred arquebusiers and eighty
sailors. Blaise de Montluc, lieutenant for the King in Guienne, where
my brother has a high post, will give me a commission to make war upon
the negroes of Benin--to bring them out as slaves, an adventure now
held most honorable--and then--then, voyez-vous, we will go not to
Benin, but elsewhere--where, we cannot at this time precisely tell and
so cannot inform our valiant company--but to some place where there is
easy service and much profit. Is not the plan a good one?”

De Brésac had listened, his eye kindling with enthusiasm. He now cried
out, “It is more than good, it is wonderful! And upon my life, it
succeeds! You shall have--not two hundred men, but two thousand--for
by now there is not one Indian friendly to the Spanish among all the
tribes of Satouriona. They will not live in subjection. I have lived
among them and I know.”

“Think you so? Then pardieu, ’tis simple as plain sailing, and not one
stone of this fort will we leave upon another. There’s my hand on it.
And now adieu and for the present--silence!” So saying he threw his
cloak about him and went away as quickly as he had come.

So rapidly had the whole business been accomplished, that when he had
disappeared I began wondering whether it were all true, or whether this
strange person were but a whirlwind creature of the fancy. But there
was De Brésac holding his hand and looking at his fingers, which De
Gourgues had clasped.

“Ugh! Shall I ever straighten them?” he cried. “He has the grasp of the
Scavenger’s Daughter.[C] This comes of being chained to a galley-oar.
No, ’tis no dream. He will do what he promises, never fear. ’Tis the
most wonderful man this side of hell, Killigrew!”

  [C] An instrument of torture.

I laughed at his manner of expressing it. Yet I did not doubt that it
was so. For after De Gourgues had gone, I could not cast from me the
spell of those melancholy eyes, and so great was his charm and vigor
that it seemed as if the spirit of vengeance had been born again and
had taken a new life in us all. Here was a man to dare a chimera--to
achieve the impossible. Brésac and I embraced each other and went
flying to M. de Teligny to tell him of the good fortune.

As I think of it now it seemed as though we were going upon a journey
for sport or play at beast hunting instead of a deadly mission of death
and destruction upon men like ourselves. But like the Avenger, there
was no restraining us. At last we had a champion--at last there was a
plan--something definite and certain in our minds, however foolhardy,
to lift us from this quiet and inaction, this slough of despond, which,
after our travail and excitement, lay upon us and weighed us down like
a sickness.

M. de Teligny listened in surprise to the plan of De Gourgues, his
eyes sparkling with joy at the news, for all the world like those of
some old war-horse champing at the bit and impatient for the scent of
battle. It was a great venture, he vowed, and much honor would come of
it. It was one of those expeditions most to his liking, for were we not
outnumbered three to one? And would not all men rejoice that we had
wiped away a stain from the fair name of France? He sighed deeply that
he was worn in years and service. But he would have gone had we not
shown him how much more we would have need for men with all the vigor
of youth, to strike blows quicker and harder than had ever been struck
before.

The week passed, and the King was still busy upon his hunting and
ballade-making. No word came from the Court of Spain and no word was
given forth at the Louvre for the people. The affront had been passed
over.

De Gourgues, not wishing that M. de Teligny should be implicated
in his plots, came no more to his house. Our meetings, which M. de
Teligny attended, however, were held in a small house just off the
Place St. Germain, where negotiations were conducted, with the utmost
secrecy. I had not acquainted Goddard with our plans, for I knew from
what had happened in Dieppe that on any matter of deep interest his
tongue would wag in spite of himself. I told him only that we were
soon to depart upon another mission to the New World. At which he knew
not whether to manifest most joy or sorrow; for he was torn between a
desire to remain at the side of the damsel he had gained and the wish
for another packet of tobacco, as his own through much squandering had
been greatly reduced in size. Day after day we saw our numbers slowly
increase until soon ten gallants, young and hardy like ourselves, the
rank and chivalry of France, were vowed to our purpose. The Chevalier
de Gourgues meanwhile had entered upon negotiations for the sale of his
estates and had written to his brother in Guienne, from whom after a
time there came a reply most encouraging, enclosing the commission from
Blaise de Montluc and an offer of money for the enterprise. Fortune so
far seemed to smile upon our efforts, for nothing had occurred to mar
our plans and all things needful were readily procurable. Word came
from Bordeaux, where an agent of the Chevalier had been secretly at
work, that several vessels lay at that harbor which might be made to
serve us admirably.

Twice M. de Teligny went to Admiral Coligny to learn if despatches
had passed between Paris and Madrid and what was the disposition of
the King. Each time he came back with fury at his heart, saying that
the King had no humor for religious discussions. But even had Charles
shown a disposition to take up his own quarrel, nothing would have
deterred the Chevalier de Gourgues from carrying out his plans, upon
which he had entered with a nervous energy that knew no abating. By the
end of a month or so, all the necessary money having been secured, De
Gourgues and I set out for Bourdeaux to look into the worthiness of the
vessels upon which the agent had reported. We found all three to be of
small size. One was somewhat larger than the others, being built upon
the plan of the vessels of the Levant, propelled, if need be, by both
wind and oars. The two smaller ones were staunch enough and could they
hold all of our company, I did not doubt that we might reach the Terra
Florida in safety. They, too, had banks of oars and this I considered
to be a matter of great value; for, the draught being not too deep, all
of the craft could be brought over the bar and into the River of May
if necessary. Arrangements were made with a victualer that supplies to
last a year were to be set aboard; and arquebuses, morions, pikes,
and arbalests were to be procured. The agent was instructed upon the
class of men we needed and notices were set up in the shipping towns
for men of youth, skilled in the use of pike and arquebus, who wished a
venture of a year which would be attended with honor and profit. During
the second month of our preparations the word had gone abroad that we
were gold-seeking and many hundreds of adventurers came beseeching De
Gourgues to take them. From these he picked out those he wished, with
the same skill and quick judgment that he used in buying his hemp and
oakum. He had that nice eye for hardiness that Pompée had for a piece
of steel or Montmorency for a saucy bit of horseflesh. Toward the end
of April, De Brésac with Goddard, and the cavaliers, rode down from
Paris, and with great rejoicing we all straightway entered aboard the
ships which lay, full victualed and supplied, at anchor in the Rade.



CHAPTER XX.

WE SET FORTH AGAIN.


The last figure we saw as the barges pulled away from the pier was that
of M. de Teligny outlined against the sky, erect and soldierly, his
feathered beaver hat raised above his head in salute. We gave him a
round and hearty cheer, for we knew how deep his heart was grieving for
the youth that was his no more.

By great good fortune I found myself with De Brésac upon the larger
vessel, which De Gourgues had renamed the _Vengeance_. The two smaller
vessels were under the command of Lieutenant Cazenove an officer of
experience and devotion. With us was François Bourdelais, a brother of
the captain of the _Trinity_, and four other gallants. Of arquebusiers
there were fifty, and of seamen there were a dozen or more, including
Goddard and a trumpeter named Dariol, who had been with Réné de
Laudonnière and knew the Indian language better even than De Brésac.
These arquebusiers were a rough-looking lot--different in character
from most of those who had gone with Ribault--and De Gourgues, who knew
his Frenchmen, said with joy that he had never seen so hard-hitting a
company. I smiled a little as I looked at them and he knew my thought,
as he seemed, through some operation of will, to know everything.

“Ah! M. Killigrew, you think them better let loose upon the Spanish
than upon us.” He laughed. “True it is, mon ami, but they need only a
little prodding into shape. Take my word for it, these are the only men
for a venture such as this. Make them forget the debt the world owes
them, give them a free swordarm and a Saint to swear by and they will
charge through an army of Dons and back again for a faith which may set
as lightly upon their consciences as the skin upon their elbows.”

Our voyage was not to be so favorable as our preparations. De Gourgues
gave a rendezvous at the River Lor, in Barbary, and we set sail upon a
brisk breeze. Before night, this wind blew up into a storm which drove
us into Rojan. Twice did we venture forth, and each time were driven
back, being at last forced into the Rade at Rochelle, where we came to
anchor in the Charente and remained eight days. This was a source of
deep chagrin to De Gourgues for our provisions were being consumed,
while we were coming no nearer to our destination.

For a few hours the storm abated, and with some misgivings at the
looks of the weather we put to sea again and set our prows to the
southward. But hardly had we dropped the land into the ragged sea
behind us than it began to blow still more fiercely than before. ’Twas
more like a summer storm in the tropics, and hardly to be understood
so early in the year, for the summer was yet a month away. Nor was
it a favorable augury for our voyage. We did not know our men; and
sea-people are of a wont to put strange interpretations upon the
movements of the elements, so I feared that they would take this
misfortune as an evil presage of what was to come. For two weeks off
Cape Finisterre we were tossed hither and thither at the mercy of the
winds, the waves running sprit-high, dashing in at the ports, which had
come loose, and flooding the lower deck. It was in no manner so severe
as the storm which had driven the fleet of Ribault upon the beach,
but this _Vengeance_ to which we had trusted our fortunes was not the
_Trinity_ or the _Gloire_, and the buffets which met us were short
and severe enough to play great havoc with the mind of a landsman. At
last, all sight of the vessels of Lieutenant Cazenove being lost, and
having had many small misfortunes--such as the staving of one of our
quarter-boats and the loss of a piece of the bowsprit--the thing I had
been expecting came to pass. The arquebusiers mutinied.

The trouble came on an afternoon, the third week from the Charente.
The men had gathered forward in a seething group, with looks more
lowering than the clouds; and there was an ominous muttering and a
clatter of steel under the fore-castle, where some of the arms were
kept. Many of the rogues were still sea-sick, and this made their
tempers even worse than they were wont to be. These sounds and sights
were most obtrusive where we stood upon the poop, but De Gourgues had
the appearance of one most oblivious. He searched the sea line with
his glass for the lost sails, glancing ever and anon to the westward,
where the weather was showing signs of promise; but no look would he
give to the waist or forward deck, where the men were scowling and
gesticulating among themselves. Not until the sounds became too unruly
to be mistaken did he notice. Then laying his glass upon the binnacle,
he passed to De Brésac and bade him have two of the inboard patereros
loosed and trained upon the decks below. The Chevalier and Bourdelais
sprang to the guns and in a moment had cast off the sea-breaching. The
rogues saw the movement, and, led by a tall bearded scoundrel named
Cabouche, came aft in a most formidable array.

They had not passed the main-mast before De Gourgues with a spring was
down the ladder with drawn sword, and single-handed stood face to face
with their leader.

“Back!” he said in a voice of thunder. “Back to your kennels, you dogs!”

I had never seen him thus. So entirely was he transformed that he
seemed a very demon of rage. He was leaning forward as though crouching
for a spring. His voice was like the yelp of an arquebus in the
beginning of a battle. We could not see his face, but it was plain it
must have shown something the rogues had not thought to see in one
ordinarily so melancholy and calm. They stopped as of one accord, and
looked from one to the other as though some mistake had been made, each
ready to accuse his neighbor.

For Cabouche, the posture was more awkward. He stood alone in the face
of the enemy, plain to the eye of every man upon the ship. He did not
see his comrades behind him; he only knew that did he not make good
his defiance, his position as bravo upon that ship was gone for all.
He lowered his pike and came forward upon De Gourgues with the rush of
an angry bull. It was a terrible lunge that he made. Armed only with
a rapier as the commander was, the blow would have done for any other
most surely. But De Gourgues stood firm, looking at the fellow, the
point of his rapier upon the deck. He waited until the pike seemed
almost to be touching his doublet, when like the wind he sprang aside.
Then with a deft turn of his foot he tripped the lout and sent him
sprawling, so that he went into the lee-scuppers and rolled with the
wash of the deck, cursing.

The mutineers, covered by our guns, remained as de Gourgues had halted
them, and stood as though spellbound at the turn of the affairs of
Cabouche. One discharge and a sudden rush of our seamen and cavaliers
would have driven them below like sheep. But there was need of none of
this. De Gourgues, holding up his hand to restrain us, stood swinging
with the slant of the deck, watching Cabouche, who was rising from the
scuppers, dripping with salt water and swearing aloud that he was not
yet done. The man drew his dagger and came forward, moving in a circle
around De Gourgues, looking most dangerous. The Chevalier stood this
play for only a minute, when, lurching forward like a flash, he spitted
Cabouche neatly through the hollow of one of his great ears, and bore
him back against the fife-rail.

The rascal dropped his dagger, gave a roar of pain, and sought to
disengage himself. But his ear was tough, and the Captain only pushed
him the harder, holding him spitted at arm’s length, talking to him
and examining him the while as though he were an underdone fowl over a
broiling-iron.

“Thou art satisfied, Cabouche?” he inquired in a crisp, sharp voice.
“Thou art satisfied? Wilt remain upon this vessel? Or wilt thou go
ashore? Thou wilt remain in the fore-castle,--is it not so? Thou wilt
tell them,--thy mutineers,--that rapier points and pike-points fly on
end and bristle for such as thee?” And here he cast him off against the
main-mast in contempt. “Bah! Cabouche,--thou art but a poor pikeman.
For there is much more to learn in the management of the feet than of
the hands; and these things I will teach thee one day. For the present,
go below and wash the blood from thy face. And if the lesson is not
enough, I’ll have an ear-ring for thee to match the hole I have made.
And ’twill be none so fashionable as those you wear, I’ll warrant.”

The fellow slunk away from his look like a dog. As for the other
arquebusiers, most of them had put their pieces back in the racks, and
had gone about their business.

I marveled at the skill of De Gourgues in catching his man so nicely.
But he only said, “’Twas most simple; the rascal has the ears of a
donkey--and the stubbornness--_ma foi_! But ’tis too brawny a fellow to
feed to the fish, and his hearing of my commands will be all the better
for a little blood-letting in the ear.”

Afterwards, when I saw Mongol coins, thrown about into the air, picked
upon the point of his rapier, through the square holes in them, I
marveled no more at the ease with which De Gourgues had spitted this
Cabouche. It was the influence of his look which I was at pains to
understand. For though I had seen and quelled mutinies such as this
three or four times in my life, I am at loss to describe the power
which lay behind the boldness,--power felt by every man upon the ship.
It was the very witchery of fearlessness. Cabouche troubled us no more;
and in the end made a most excellent soldier, hanging upon the looks
and orders of the Captain, and truckling as he had never before done,
either upon sea or land.

To our great joy, when we came to the rendezvous we found our consorts
awaiting us, they having had little misfortune of any kind, and all
being well. We went ashore and rested; there, with water, game, and
fresh fruits, the men of the _Vengeance_ were refreshed and comforted
until we set to sea again. At Cape Blanco, where we anchored for the
last time upon the Afric coast, we were attacked by three negro chiefs
whom the Portuguese, jealous of our vicinage to their fort, set upon
us, hoping to encompass our destruction. The black chiefs came in long
canoes with their men, but so warm was their reception that, though
they rushed upon us twice, but one man reached the deck. This one
fought so gallantly that De Gourgues would not have him killed. So we
took him a slave to make good our commission from Blaise de Montluc.
When the chiefs found they could do nothing with us, they went back to
the Portuguese, leaving us the freedom of the port.

Here again we filled our water casks, and then set out across the great
ocean. We drilled each day, and so sweet was the weather that at no
time were the decks uncomfortable. Had De Gourgues the ordering of
the winds, they could not have pleased him better, for ’twas a voyage
of little event; and in four weeks we came to the island called St.
Germain de Porterique, where we landed and rested again. We sighted,
and landed on La Manne and Saint Dominique. In the first place, we
met the King of the island, who took us to his gardens, where lemons,
oranges, melons and plantains grew in great abundance. He led us to his
fountain, which he called “Paradise,” and which he said would cure the
plague and the fever. The Chevalier gave him a bale of cloth, and the
chiefs loaded us down with fruit. At Saint Dominique many of the people
had been killed by the Spaniards, and many had starved themselves to
death rather than be ruled by these people. They made a perpetual war
against the Spanish settlements.

“These men with long garments,” they said, “came among us to teach us
of their God and to make us worship him. And they tell us that we must
hate the Devil. Their soldiers kill our children and steal our wives,
and they are cowards. For us, if this is what their God teaches them,
then we believe that the Devil is the best. We adore him. He makes men
brave.”

We sailed on thus from island to island, taking water and fresh
provisions where we could, capturing many sea-turtles so big that the
flesh of one of them would serve for sixty people at a meal, the shells
being of such a great size that large men could lie in them, and so
hard of surface that an arquebus ball would not go through. When we
reached Cape San Antonio, which is at the end of the Island of Juanna,
we found a body of Spaniards drawn up on to the beach to dispute our
landing. These we defeated after a brisk battle and procured the water
of which we were in need.

But during all this time no word had passed the lips of De Gourgues
as to the object of our voyage. No slaves had been captured, save the
one man who had fought his way to the deck of the _Vengeance_. When
the men had wished to go into the interior of the islands in search of
gold, which the Caribs said was plentiful, the Chevalier restrained
them, saying that the time was not yet and that their profit would all
come in good season. But he could not much longer conceal his mission.
Murmurs again arose among the men of all of the ships; and though they
went willingly enough about their duties, it was plain that the desire
to get upon shore could not much longer be restrained. For discontent
upon ship-board is often less pleasant to live with than ripe mutiny.
So one day when we had arrived at a point not eighty leagues from San
Augustin, De Gourgues called the companies of all three vessels upon
the decks of the _Vengeance_. The momentous time had come. We knew not
how much sympathy or how little they would have with our cause and De
Brésac could not conceal his impatience. If De Gourgues had any doubts
or misgivings as to the matter, he did not show them, but stood before
the soldiers and sailors upon the deck at the main mast, an expression
of great calmness and seriousness upon his features.

“Gentlemen and brothers,” he began slowly, “the time has arrived that
you should know why we, men of France, have come so far and braved so
many dangers under the shadow of the Western sun. The God who rules
the raging of the waters, who is the God of all men upon the sea, has
brought us safely to this day upon a most just and righteous mission. A
foul crime has been committed against our beloved France, mes braves.
A year has passed and no hand has been raised to cleanse our fair
Standard of the trail of blood which the Spaniards have drawn across
it.”

At first the men listened in silence. Then as they comprehended, they
looked at one another and the name of San Augustin passed the lips
of several. Muttered curses broke from them here and there. But in a
moment even these few murmurs of anger were stifled and borne away by
the flood of the fiery Gascon’s eloquence, as he told them in his own
way the story of the massacres at Fort Caroline and on the sand-spit.
As he went on his voice arose in excitement until it rang out fair and
true like a clarion-call in battle, and his eyes were illumined with
the light of his inspiration, as he painted the worst horrors of those
scenes as I have not dared to paint them here. He told his men that
this alone was his purpose, and that he had chosen them from among
hundreds of others because they were the men who could best defeat
twice their own number. And knowing that the duty before them would be
attended with great travail he knew that he should not fail in the hour
of danger.

“What disgrace,” he cried at last, “if such an insult should pass
unpunished! What glory will there come to us, if we avenge it! To this
venture I have devoted my fortune. The vessels upon which you float
are mine. The morions and the pieces on your backs are mine! Your
weapons,--mine! All mine to avenge your soldier brothers! From the
first I have relied upon you, even when you did not trust me. I have
thought you jealous enough of your country’s glory to sacrifice life
itself in a cause like this! Was I deceived? Must the bodies of your
soldier brothers swing like thieves from these wild fir trees, the
brand of shame upon them, food for crows and vultures? Will no one cut
them down? My men, I am here to show you the way,--I will be always at
your head,--I will bear the brunt of danger. Will you refuse to follow
me?”

Never had I heard such an impassioned voice, and the spirits of the
men, doubtful and restless at first, burst from a spark into a flame at
his words, and at his last appeal their response rose in a roar that
seemed to shake the firmament.

“A la mort! To the death will we follow you!”

It was a wonderful scene. No English company would have changed so
quickly to the fury of enthusiasm that possessed them. They threw their
caps into the sea and began heaving up the anchor. Many of them crowded
around our Captain, begging that he would take them to Fort San Mateo
and lead them at once. It was with great difficulty that he could get
them to listen to him; but at last, quiet having been in a certain
measure restored, he told them that they would sail through the Bahama
Channel--which was most treacherous--at the full of the moon. It would
be folly to take any risk at this time, when a mistake would bring to
naught the planning of months.

“The time will come soon enough, my friends, for there is much to be
done. To-night or the night after, if the weather be fair, we shall
sail. In a week, with Gods help, Ribault will be avenged.”



CHAPTER XXI.

WE FORM AN ALLIANCE.


That night as we slowly crept up the Bahama Channel under the
resplendent tropic moon, I told my story to De Gourgues. He heard it
throughout, saying no word but sighing now and then, his melancholy
eyes looking down the glimmering streak, into which we were sailing
as into a glory. That this strange man had once been loved, and had
passionately loved in return, I did not doubt; for despite his ugliness
of visage there was that in his expression which would command the
adoration of women, who often reckon deeper than by mere lineaments
of feature; and softly illumined as he was by the pale and ghostly
translucence of the night, I thought no more of his ugliness, but of
his soul. For he was transfigured, and looked in his calmness even as
he looked in all the majesty of passion, inspired and of this world a
thing apart.

When I had done, he put his hand upon my shoulder, saying,

“It is not often that Englishmen love as do you, my friend. Build not
your hopes too high, for you have suffered much to suffer so much
again. It will not be long before we shall know--we shall know----” and
he paused, sucking in his lip ominously. After that he took my hand and
said,

“I have taken a great fondness for thee, mon ami; and our solemn duty
performed, what can be done shall be done, upon that you may rely. We
will first sail to the northward of the River of May to the Indians of
Satouriona. If what the Chevalier de Brésac says be true, they will
be willing allies upon this expedition.” De Brésac, hearing his name
spoken, now joined us.

“We were wondering, seigneur, how great a value to set upon these
Indians of yours,” De Gourgues said.

“I have ventured but an humble opinion, my Captain,” replied Brésac,
“but I would stake my honor that there is no love lost between
Satouriona and De Baçan.” De Baçan, the despatches had said, was the
new-appointed Commander at San Mateo.

“I pray God that it may be as you say. For a palisaded fort of stone
with half a thousand men is no slight obstacle even for the brave
fellows of the fleet of the _Vengeance_.”

“All of us who have been at Fort Caroline know of the love which the
great Paracousi bore for Jean Ribault. Dariol, the trumpeter, who was
with the first expedition, has lived among them longer than I; and he
has boasted that he will go among them without fear.”

“It is in my mind to sail directly to the country of this chief; his
boast may not prove an idle one,” replied De Gourgues. And then to the
guard, “Pass the word below to Dariol the trumpeter. We shall see.”

Presently the man came from the fore-castle and stood before us.

“You have no fear of the Indians of Florida, Dariol?” asked De Gourgues.

“None more than I have of M. Killigrew or M. de Brésac, my Captain,”
replied the man with a smile.

“You have lived among them longer than M. de Brésac?”

“A year and more, my Captain.”

“They were friendly to M. de Laudonnière?”

“Until the madness for gold, when his soldiers broke faith with them.”

“And Monsieur Ribault?” asked de Gourgues.

“Satouriona thought the Admiral a great chief, M. le Chevalier. They
swore an eternal friendship.”

“M. de Brésac says you speak their language, Dariol.”

“As I do my own.”

“You know their customs. How think you they will look upon our landing?”

“Monsieur,” replied the trumpeter firmly, “I believe with M. de Brésac
that if they think us Spaniards they will dispute our landing. If
we prove ourselves Frenchmen and friends, they will receive us with
gladness.”

“Why so?”

“It is my belief that they hold the Spaniards in great enmity. For no
arrogance will be borne by Satouriona. He is a great King, with great
pride of spirit, and numbers his people by many thousands.”

“But the Spanish have friends among the Indians? M. de Brésac has said
so.”

“Yes, my Captain. But they are the false-hearted, dirt-eaters of
Outina. Against these, Satouriona wages a war more fierce even than
against the Spanish.”

De Gourgues stroked his mustache, saying,

“When we reach the coast, I will call for you, Dariol. For the present,
that is all.”

The man saluted and went below.

“Par la mort, his words ring true as steel,” muttered De Gourgues.
“If these Caribs are valiant, as he says, we will sweep this scum of
pestilence from off the western land.”

The next day at noon we sighted the coast of the Terra Florida, and
at the thought of all Diane had suffered there my heart welled full of
emotion. Now as we came nearer and nearer our mission’s ending, the
cloud fell down upon my spirit again, and the same struggle between
hope and fear--of pain which is the price of joy--tossed me to and
fro--held and freed me, like the embrace of some temptation. The sun
was yet above the foreyard when we came in sight of the River of May,
but De Gourgues, wishing to reconnoiter, stood on until sunset, when
we were within less than three leagues from the coast. Suddenly we
saw several puffs of smoke spurt from the beach as the Spaniards,
suspecting no enemy, fired their cannon in salute. Not until then did
we know of the new defenses which the enemy were putting upon the shore
at either side of the river’s mouth. Our three vessels, to better keep
up the guise of friendship, boomed forth a salute in reply, after which
we put out to sea again and soon lost the shore line in the rapidly
falling dusk.

The river that the Indians of Satouriona call Tacatacourou, after the
name of their second greatest warrior, enters the ocean by two mouths
at a distance of not more than fifteen leagues to the northward of the
River of May. Within the bar there is a safe harbor, and it was for
this haven that Dariol and the Chevalier de Brésac were directing our
course. But not wishing to pass over the bar until day, De Gourgues
held out to sea, not coming in sight of land again until well into the
forenoon. Then, the river entrance being easily discerned, he put his
helm over and entered the channel, coming safely to anchor at an early
hour of the afternoon.

Now that we had come to our journey’s ending there was a great stir
and excitement aboard the little vessels of the fleet. The arm chests
and ammunition lockers were opened and all hands put merrily to work
setting the arquebuses to rights, fixing new match cords, seeing to the
barrels and rests that no disaster might befall them by reason of any
negligence of their own. The grinding stones were brought out into the
sunshine of the open deck and the grit of the polishing steel and the
rattle of the pike heads made music brave and martial to the ear. The
seaman sang about their work as the lighter yards came clattering down
upon the deck, and the culverins, unharnessed from their sea-apparel,
shone anew in the brightness of the summer sun. The shore upon both
sides was plain to the view at a distance of half a league, and once or
twice we saw the dusky figures of Indians upon the beach. Bourdelais
and one or two of the gallants, unaware of the plans of De Gourgues,
were for going ashore at once and giving battle; but he was in no
haste,--when he was ready for all emergencies he would go, and not
before.

Night fell again; and with the coming of dawn a great surprise awaited
us, for in the gathering light, we saw that the beach was alive with
savages. They made no sound but stood in groups as far as the pines,
where they were lost in the misty shadows of the forest behind them.
Here and there a figure was moving from one group to another, and we
knew that their runners had gone out to the nearer villages and that
they had assembled to combat our landing. De Gourgues frowned as he
came upon deck.

“Crebleu!” he scowled, “there must be three thousand of them at least.
Fools that they are! I have no men to waste upon such carrion as these.
You are a wise soothsayer, M. de Brésac!”

“Monsieur!” replied the Chevalier with some dignity, “I have only
replied to your questions with the best of my understanding.”

“But these red devils,” De Gourgues continued, “are armed to the very
finger-nails. They look from here little like the allies you have
promised us, M. de Brésac. Ho! Dariol, come aft!”

De Gourgues was striding up and down in a ferment. He saw his anchors
gone and his plans set adrift by this unexpected resistance. When
Dariol came, he stopped before him savagely, and pointing to the dark
mass upon the beach said with scorn:

“Look you, master trumpeter, at your friends yonder! Look, I say! Must
we cut our way through all this red vermin before we may reach the
Spanish Fort? Explain it,--if you can. What has happened?”

Dariol wore a most serious face.

“The matter is bad, my Captain, for these Indians are surely bent upon
war----”

“Well!”

“If we cannot prove our friendship we shall not land without a battle.”

“’Tis plain as a pike-handle,” said Bourdelais.

“A pretty pickle, sure enough----”

“M. de Gourgues, had you thought,” interrupted De Brésac quietly, “that
they may take us for Spaniards?”

“But even so----”

“Seigneur, I am willing to take a risk. If Dariol will go with me, I
will go to the beach asking for Satouriona----”

A murmur arose among those within hearing. It seemed to many a most
daring thing to offer; for to our people, many of whom had never passed
the borders of France, these Indians were as wild beasts or Africans,
fit only to be shot or captured as slaves. For me, I believed with
Brésac and having been at the council table with Satouriona I foresaw
little harm if he were put among the natives upon the beach. So when
Dariol had said that he would go, I too offered my services.

But De Gourgues in his uncertain and dangerous mood was of a different
mind.

“I have no humor to lose all my men upon such a fool’s venture,” he
said. “Dariol may go, if he have the hardihood. M. de Brésac----”

“Seigneur,” interrupted the Chevalier, “this man must be rowed ashore.
He cannot talk and make signs to these Indians, rowing at the same
time. It is I who first offered this service.”

De Gourgues frowned, debating for some little time, but at last gave
orders that a boat should be lowered into the water. Every persuasion
that I might, I used upon him until I saw that further argument was
mere waste of words. He would not let me go.

“No,” he said shortly, “we are already too small a number. Were you to
go I should be sending--not three, but six, men--and that were already
four too many.”

With great anxiety he watched Dariol and De Brésac drop down into the
boat. They had no weapons and had removed their doublets to row the
better. Dariol had put in the bow a number of small trinkets, such
as mirrors, knives and strings of beads, with which he hoped to show
the signs of friendliness. The morions of our arquebusiers lined the
bulwarks, for the company thought these two men were going most surely
to their death. No word was spoken and the sound of the oars plashing
in the quiet water of the harbor came down clearly upon the breeze
from the land as the little craft drew nearer the shore. When half the
distance had been traversed we saw Dariol lay down his oars and stand
up in the bow shouting, “Antipola! Antipola!” waving a string of beads
in his hand. This brought forth a chorus of cries from the beach, and
the savages came down to the water’s edge shouting and waving their
bows. But De Brésac, at the oars, not even turned his head at the
outcry. He bent steadily to his work like a London waterman, sending
the boat at each stroke nearer and nearer the moving crowd.

The excitement upon the ship was intense, for in a moment the craft
would be grounded upon the beach in the very midst of the enemy.

“Most gallantly done,” said De Gourgues, beside me, below his breath.

Dariol began shouting again, asking for Satouriona, but in the
commotion we could not hear what further was said. Then something
happened; for we saw a tall figure come out to his waist in the water,
holding up his hands before him. In a moment the boat disappeared in
the human wave that engulfed it as the Indians surrounded it upon every
side, seizing the gunwales and running it up on the beach. It was a
most confused mass and we could make out little of what was going on.
A fellow up forward shouted, “They have killed them! They have killed
them!” and a great cry arose on the _Vengeance_ which drowned the
yelling of the savages upon the shore. Some of the Indians were jumping
into the air and throwing their bows aloft; and Bourdelais, who was
looking through the glass, said haltingly,

“I see them--there is the shirt of De Brésac. Three of them are holding
him--no--they are,”--and then excitedly, “upon my faith--they are
clasping him by the hand--they are touching Dariol upon the shoulders.
It is friendship--seigneur--friendship!”

De Gourgues snatched the glass from Bourdelais’ hand and fixed it
quickly to his eye.

“You are right, Bourdelais. They walk up the beach, my comrade! They
converse together. Ah! it is well.”

It was now patent to all on board the _Vengeance_ that no harm had
befallen our comrades, and there was great rejoicing. For there in
plain sight walked Dariol and De Brésac talking with the Indian who
had walked into the water, who, by his stature, wide shoulders and
dignified bearing, I made out to be none other than Satouriona himself.

After awhile we saw the boat push off from the shore and make for the
ship. Dariol and De Brésac rowed; in the stern we marked the figures
of Satouriona and several dusky savages. At this De Gourgues ordered
the company to be drawn up upon the deck, and prepared to welcome his
strange visitors over the side with all the state and formality he
would have shown a King of France. It was a course which diplomacy
suggested.

I had not before seen Satouriona in his war dress, for at Fort Caroline
he and his braves had come smoking the pipe of peace and wearing a
small headdress and only the _aziam_, or breech-clout, upon the body.
As his broad shoulders rose above the bulwarks, we saw that his hair
had been lifted upon his head, and two eagle’s feathers painted with
streaks were stuck upon it. Upon his breast was painted a picture
of one of those beasts which had so frightened us in the swamp--an
alligarto--which was the totem of his tribe. Streaks of red and
white paint were drawn upon his face, making his features fierce and
threatening. I should not have known him but for his bearing, for
at Fort Caroline I had thought him a most comely savage, rugged and
strong-featured, but of a great calm and dignity. Behind him walked
Olotoraca, a young brave, his nephew, and Tacatacourou, the second
great chief of the tribe. They bore no weapons, but walked past the
ranks of the pikemen and arquebusiers, making no sign of any emotion
as they went with De Gourgues below to the cabin. Here he had caused
a feast of wine and preserved fruits to be set forth, of which the
Indians took sparingly. After this Goddard’s pipe and what remained of
his tobacco was brought forth, and De Gourgues, lighting it, himself
passed it to Satouriona, who solemnly puffed it and handed it to his
neighbor.

De Gourgues’ luminous eyes went from one of the chiefs to the other,
as he considered the words best to use in the delicate business before
him. Dariol stood behind his chair ready to interpret.

“I have come to the country of the great Satouriona,” he said at last,
“to bring him presents and to continue that friendship which was begun
by the great white chief, Ribault.”

Satouriona nodded gravely. “So it has been said. I and my people are
glad.”

“I thank you, great chief, in the name of my country and of my great
master across the water, who in love and good will has sent me,” said
De Gourgues, from necessity speaking of the King of France. “He has
sent me to give you many gifts which will be useful in your lodges as
well as in the hunting. My master knows of the kindness of the great
Satouriona to his servant Ribault, and prays that this good-will and
friendship will continue through the passing of many years.”

Satouriona arose with great dignity and spoke. His heavy voice, made
to resound under the vaulted arches of the forest, rang mellow and deep
in the little cabin.

“I have said to the great white chief Ribault that the sky shall fall
upon the earth sooner than I will become an enemy to the people of your
nation. Since the great stone house was taken by these dark-bearded
ones there has been no happy day among the people of the nation of
Satouriona. The sun hides his face behind the clouds, and the flowers
and fruits have ceased to blossom and to ripen. There is a blight upon
all the land, and the rivers and streams dry up like the blood which
flows from our hearts. The Spanish have beaten us back with their
sticks which speak a loud noise, and they have burned our cabins. They
have ravished our wives and daughters, they have killed our children;
and our hearts are heavy and ready to burst within us for shame and
anguish.”

Satouriona paused to give his speech a greater value.

“All this we have suffered because we loved the great white Paracousi,
Ribault. But now the end has come. We can endure it no longer, and we
shall make a deadly war against them until the tribe of Satouriona is
no more or the people with the black beards are beaten back into the
sea out of which they came.”

Again fortune seemed to be favoring us. The display of force was meant
for our enemies, not for us. We knew the joy De Gourgues must have
felt; but no sign of it showed upon his face. In Europe his reply would
have been called diplomacy.

“It is a great sorrow to me, O, Paracousi! that the love which
Satouriona bears my people has brought ill treatment upon his tribe.
But such things shall be no longer. If his nation has been abused for
the love of the French, then the French will be his avengers.”

As this was interpreted by Dariol we watched the face of the Paracousi.
Slowly, as the truth of what had been said dawned upon him, Satouriona
arose from his seat and leaning forward upon the table, looked over at
De Gourgues, a broad smile upon his face.

“What!” he exclaimed, “will you fight the Spaniards?”

“I came here,” replied De Gourgues, rising, “only to reconnoitre the
country and make friends with you, and then go back and bring more
soldiers; but when I hear what you are suffering from them I wish to
fall upon them this very day, and rescue you from their tyranny.”

The effect of this speech upon these Indians was great. Their faces,
usually stolid and expressionless, broke into smiles; and all their
dignity and quiet was swept away by the joyful tidings. Their voices
rang through the narrow cabin as they rose to their feet and in rough
gutturals and cries of their own wildly applauded the words of the
Avenger. It was some moments before quiet was again restored, for so
great was the joy of Satouriona that he had no better control upon his
composure than Olotoraca, the youngest of his chiefs.

When the Indians were seated again De Gourgues, raising his hand
commanding silence, continued.

“It is most certain, O, Paracousi! that this expedition is no play
for children; for those we must fight are sturdy men, well armed and
sheltered in a fort built of many thicknesses of stone. You must summon
the greatest chiefs and braves of your tribe, so that we shall make
good our promises. We do not covet all the honor of this victory, and
will share that as well as the spoils of the battle with you and your
people.”

“We will go,” replied Satouriona, solemnly uplifting his hand, “we will
go and die with you, if need be!”

“It is well. There should be no delay. If we fight we should fight at
once; for it will not be many suns before the black-beards will know
that our great white canoes have anchored near their fort. This should
not be, for what we do, we must do in secrecy.”

When this was rendered into his language, Satouriona drew his knife
from his belt,--leaned forward, lifting his hands and elbows,
crouching, the very picture of keenness and stealth. His voice was low
and threatening like the murmur of the rising storm in the tops of the
giant firs of the seashore.

“Do not doubt,” said he. “Do not doubt we hate them more than you can
do.”

After this there followed a long discussion upon the best method of
attack upon the Fort, Satouriona asking but three days to send his
runners to outlying villages that there might be no lack of warriors
for the expedition. It was decided by De Gourgues to send three scouts
at once to learn the strength and position of the two forts at the
river’s mouth as well as many details of the new armament of Fort San
Mateo.



CHAPTER XXII.

OLOTORACA.


During all this talk, my mind in a ferment, I was forced to sit with
elbows glued to sides, unable to put the query for Mademoiselle which
trembled upon the lips even as I listened to what was going forward.

I had kept my eyes upon Olotoraca, the nephew of the great chieftain,
as he sat leaning forward with hands upon his knees listening to the
words of Dariol. ’Twas a wonderfully handsome face and even the hideous
streaks of crimson upon it could not disguise the regularity of the
features and the expression of candor and fearlessness which animated
them; and the pride of his port was that of a prince, heir to some
great kingdom. As he glanced about the cabin from time to time I caught
his eye and gave him a look of welcome which he returned with a smile.
The sun coming in the after-port lit up the scarlet streaks upon his
face and head-gear and penetrated the ferocious disguise, reducing
him after all to his proper dimension--a fine, brave lad of five and
twenty, who if born an Englishman would have served his queen with
honor and profit.

So I took a mind that this Olotoraca should be the one with whom I
would speak of Mademoiselle. Not until the planning and discussion of
the attack upon Fort San Mateo had become general could I get the ear
of De Brésac and then I told him what was in my mind.

“Olotoraca,” said Brésac, when at last we had come together, “it will
not be many suns ere your crest will wear another eagle’s feather.
You will go upon such a warpath as was never known among the tribes
of Satouriona or Tacatacourou; and when you come back to your village
there will be many trophies upon your girdle and you will be a great
chief among your people.”

His eyes shone as he said simply, “It is so--or I shall be dead.”

“You may one day be Paracousi of all your nation. After the great
Satouriona is gone, it is to you that our people will look for the
friendship which has been begun to-day.”

“The Paracousi Satouriona and Olotoraca are one in all their thoughts.
For is it not from him that Olotoraca has learned the signs of the
forests and the medicine of his tribe? How shall he change what
Satouriona has done? What Satouriona does is good, and shall not be
altered.”

“It is wisdom, Olotoraca. For the French are a great people and
they love their friends with their whole hearts. At Fort Caroline
Monsieur Killigrew and I have fought the Outinas and the Spaniards for
Satouriona; and soon our chief with the pale face will revenge the
insults and abuses which the Black-beards have put upon you.”

The young brave at the mention of the name of Killigrew had sent his
cold glance upon me with startling abruptness as though to pierce me
through. For the nonce he was a wild animal of the forest again. Then
he looked calmly at De Brésac.

“Keel-ee-gru--the pale giant is called Keel-ee-gru?” He muttered the
words half aloud, half to himself and then tossed his head so that the
bear-claws rattled about his neck.

“You have heard my name?” I asked.

“The Captain Keel-ee-gru is a friend of the Paracousi Emola. A friend
of Emola is a brother of Olotoraca,” he replied easily.

A look passed between the Chevalier and me. There was that in the
manner of Olotoraca which we could not understand. But De Brésac had
made a quick theory of his own, and acting on it as was his wont, he
put his hand upon the muscular shoulder of the young warrior, turning
him about and looking him steadily in the eyes.

“We believe in the truth of the things you say, Olotoraca, and for
our part we will keep our promises. But you, what have you done for us
since we have been away? What will you do for us when we are gone?” The
Indian did not look at De Brésac, but straight before him.

“We will keep friendship as we have ever done,” he said evenly, “asking
no more than we can give.”

“You have kept friendship with our people?” said the Chevalier
craftily, and I saw his drift. “Then you have among you those who
escaped from Fort Caroline!”

A great change came suddenly over the face of the young brave. He
flashed the eye of a hawk first at the Chevalier and then at me.
De Brésac was impassive. I was leaning forward, the query that was
vexing my soul hanging upon my tongue. His face lost the boyish look
and in a moment became again as it was when he mounted the entering
ladder--haughty and immobile.

“There is but one of your race among us,” he said, carelessly, “a
youth who calls himself Debré. He is at the village of the Paracousi
Satouriona and will be brought hither on the morrow.”

It all happened thus as I have written it. ’Twas but a second of time
that his eyelid fluttered at our sudden query as he sought to gain
his composure. But in that brief moment there was that which showed
us that the personal friendship which this young brave avowed was no
friendship at all, but only breath upon his lips and in no manner to
be believed. If something had happened to make the Indian distrust us,
’twas no good beginning for our foray. And these doubts must speedily
be cleared if success was to attend our undertaking. For my part I was
so sure Olotoraca was lying, that I made myself no concern over his
denial. A French youth named Debré had escaped and had been cared for.
Then why not others? If Satouriona was a friend of the French, then all
refugees should be safe in his lodges.

After the Indians had been set ashore again and De Gourgues had been
told of the manner of Olotoraca, he stroked his chin gravely.

“You are certain of some deception? H-m! That is strange, for I have
found a great frankness in the manner of the Paracousi. But it may
be as you say--and we will be upon our guard against him. ’Tis most
certain that these Caribs do hate the Spaniards with a mortal hatred
and we must show no doubt of them until our mission is accomplished. So
I say, do nothing to gain their enmity, even should you believe that
friends of yours are in their keeping.”

These were orders and he spoke them firmly. But all night long I strode
up and down the deck under the deep vault of starlit sky, trying to hit
upon some plan by which I could learn the truth. Why had Olotoraca
started at the mention of my name? Emola had spoken it, he said, but
my return to Florida should be no cause for alarm or even surprise to
him, since in the presence of that chief we three, De Brésac, Goddard
and I, had sworn to visit vengeance upon the Spaniards, and Emola knew
that we would return as soon as could be. Unless our judgment was at
fault there was some matter of common interest between this young Carib
prince and me. For the chance perception which had enabled us to pierce
the weak spot in his armor had shown that there was something in his
mind against me, which in spite of his accustomed immobility he could
not hide. What could it mean? The instinct of battle and the desire to
measure my strength and skill against any man who looked at me askance,
an instinct which has not been taken from me even at this day, rose
up strong and I vowed I would have some fair good exercise from this
fellow, should he not explain. Perhaps Mademoiselle--

Ah--there was I making mysteries again! Why should I be forever
bringing her forward into every uncertainty. At any rate Debré, the
boy, would know. If she were among the Indians he could tell me where.
Upon his speech, then, hung all my chance of earthly happiness.

Early on the morrow we went ashore and with a ruthless disregard for
the orders of De Gourgues I set about trying to find Olotoraca. But
since dawn he had been gone with our scouts to reconnoiter the Spanish
fort. Satouriona was at the encampment, sending out his runners and
receiving messages from the outlying villages. He received us gravely
and took us to his lodge, lifting the deerskin at its entrance with a
grace and courtliness to excite the envy of a gallant. He gave some
orders, and when we were seated and De Brésac asked him who were the
French people that had escaped into his hands, he looked at us from the
one to the other, saying most frankly.

“We have only one, my brother, and he is but a boy. Because of the love
which we bear his people we have kept him safe, though the Spanish have
offered us many gifts to return him to the Fort. We love him now for
himself, and have made him one of our people. Behold, he is here!”

And turning, we saw a youth of sixteen or thereabouts standing at the
entrance of the lodge. For a moment he drew back, awkward and fearful,
and would have vanished had not De Brésac called to him in French.

“No. We are no Spaniards, mon cher, but those of your own race. Come
then!”

So great was his joy that with a cry he threw himself upon us, clasping
and patting our hands for all the world like some dumb animal at the
sight of its master. Satouriona, cautioning us with a smile not to do
him hurt, wrapped his blanket about him and went out of the lodge down
to the beach to meet the boat of De Gourgues, which was reported to
have left the _Vengeance_.

Debré was a slender lad of comely appearance; but neither I nor Brésac
remembered to have seen him at Fort Caroline. When his first transports
of delight were over and we had told him that our object was to destroy
the Fort and to restore fugitives such as he to their kinsmen, he
looked at us in dismay, saying of his own accord,

“Alas, messieurs, I am the only one who has been spared.”

That was all I wished to know. I would have arisen and gone forth from
the lodge but Brésac looked at me, laying a hand upon my arm.

“Wait,” said he.

Then said the Chevalier to the boy,

“You alone escaped from the Fort. Did you come direct to the Indians of
Satouriona?”

“I fell in with a war party of Tacatacourou. They brought me to the
chief village of Satouriona.”

“You saw no other persons from the Fort?”

“Oui, monsieur. There were several men who fled through the swamps.”

“But no women?”

“Non, monsieur. Stay--yes, there were two women who fled by the
casement before me and whom I saw in the forest.”

“Do you remember them, Pierre?”

“Oui, monsieur--they were ladies who came upon the _Trinity_ with
Admiral Ribault. They were noble, I think--though I do not remember the
name,--La--La----”

“La Notte?”

“Yes, that is the name, monsieur. I know it now, because Mademoiselle
was very beautiful, and when we landed from the _Gloire_ I asked my
mother how she was called.”

“And you saw them no more after that?” We leaned forward breathlessly
to get the boy’s reply.

“Monsieur, I was wild with fear,” he said, flushing red in shame. “My
mother had been killed before my eyes and two Spaniards had pursued me
to the breach in the wall. I fled to the forest, passing these women in
my flight. I ran on and on until I dropped exhausted in the thicket.”

“You have not seen them since?”

“In the head village of the Indians?” he asked wide-eyed with surprise.
“No, monsieur! They could not have been in the village of Satouriona or
I should have known.”

He spoke with an air of conviction which drove away doubt from the mind.

But De Brésac pursued his questions undeterred.

“There is a village called Tacatacourou, is it not so?”

“Oui, monsieur.”

“It is possible that other French persons could have been kept there
without your knowledge?”

“Oui, monsieur,” said the boy wondering--“but why should the great
Paracousi, who had been so kind, keep me away from the people of my
race? I cannot understand.”

“You may know in time, my good Pierre. But there is a mystery which you
may help us to solve--only let no word of this come to the ears of the
Paracousi.”

“Monsieur,” said Pierre firmly, “Satouriona is my father and if any
harm----”

“Ah, my child, you do not comprehend,” smiled De Brésac. “We are
friends of Satouriona and with him we will fight the Spaniards. You
must take our word that we mean him no harm.”

“I will, messieurs,” replied the boy at last, sighing.

“It is well, mon ami. You will have no cause for regret,” said De
Brésac. “You have been to the village of Tacatacourou?” he continued.

“No, monsieur. It is a day’s journey from the village of Satouriona.”

“Did you not wish to go?”

“Oui, monsieur, but there was no opportunity. The Paracousi Olotoraca
feared I should be captured by the Spaniards.”

“Olotoraca!”

“Oui, monsieur. The Paracousi Olotoraca has been a good friend and
brother to me.”

“Ah! I understand. He thought that you might be captured again. But
why should you fear capture on such a journey? Is not the village of
Tacatacourou to the northward of this place,--away from the fort of the
Spaniards?”

“I do not fear, monsieur,” replied Debré with dignity; “but if the
Paracousi Olotoraca did not wish me with him, it was not possible for
me to go.”

“Then he did not desire you to go? That is what I wished to learn,”
said De Brésac with a smile. Then after a pause, “Why did Olotoraca go
to the village of Tacatacourou? Is he not the nephew of Satouriona? Is
not his place by the side of his uncle the great Paracousi?”

“Monsieur, the Paracousi Olotoraca is a great brave and the first young
chief in all the country. He looks about him that he may choose a squaw
from the most beautiful maidens of the nation. Therefore he goes to
Tacatacourou. This is the common report.”

“Then he loves? The women there are beautiful, Pierre?”

“So it is said, monsieur; though having seen none of them, I cannot
say. Perhaps that is why he did not wish me to go; or perhaps that is
not the reason,--I cannot say. That is all I know, and I pray that no
harm may come of the words I have spoken.”

“Never fear, good Pierre. You have done well. Now if it pleases we will
go forth to meet the Chevalier de Gourgues. You will tell him what you
have told us, and as much more concerning the armament and condition of
Fort Mateo as you have been able to learn from the Indians. Will you go
too, Killigrew, or will you await us here?”

“I will stay,” said I with a sigh, dropping on a pile of skins.

The Chevalier looked at me sharply.

“Pouf! Have you no instincts--no perceptions? You grow weary at a most
purposeful time!”

But I did not reply. Of a truth, I was weary. So many times had I
sailed these flights of fancy to have my poor sails torn to shreds and
my poor hulk racked bone from bone, that I was for choosing at the
last some harbor of refuge where I could find a rest after it all.
I had come with my harebrained followers over a thousand leagues of
sea,--and for what? For murder?--for destruction?--for a vengeance
by fire and sword, as the others had? No. It was not that which had
drawn me to these God-forsaken shores--drawn me more surely than ever
plummet sought an anchorage. It was the memory of a pair of honest
eyes with tear-drops trembling on the lashes, as my lady bade me go
and fight her battle for her--a battle which by God’s grace had been
deferred until now. True, I wanted the life of De Baçan--that was my
own private affair. But what cared I for their wars about religion?
There was sin enough in any worship which was not done in the way
of peace and good-will and I knew that we as well as the Spaniards
would all be most justly condemned for using God’s altar to wipe
our sword-blades on. With the discovery that Mademoiselle was not
in the village of Satouriona my mind seemed to be weakening, and I
had not control over my thoughts. The Chevalier de Brésac with his
fine philosophy had solved the matter to his satisfaction, seeing in
the actions of Olotoraca at mention of my name a sure sign that for
reasons of his own, he held Mademoiselle de la Notte a prisoner. I
could not--nay, would not,--bring myself to believe she was at the
village of Tacatacourou. A truce to imagining! I had gone too far, and
suffered too much, to be inventing new theories to drive me mad. We had
voyaged from one end of the earth to the other and had come at last to
the place where I had sworn we should find her. And she was not there!
That was all. I had had enough. God forgive me! As I lay there in my
unreason, I lost all control and cursed all things that came to my
tongue, forgetting that it was only through God’s providence that I
had been let to live and come to this day.

Not caring what came of me I lay there oblivious, until I presently
heard a sound without. I raised my head, a figure darkened the door
of the lodge. For a moment, I thought it was Pierre returning. But
a moccasined foot was thrust forward, and with a deft and graceful
movement the figure dropped the skin at the entrance way and stepped
within the lodge. Then I saw that it was an Indian, a girl--the most
beautiful of that race I had ever seen.

As I lifted on my elbow I brushed my hand across my eyes, for so quiet
was she I thought truly that this dusky vision was some creature of the
fancy. With a commanding gesture she approached. I would have spoken;
but she placed her finger upon her lips, looking around toward the
entrance in token of secrecy. I kept my peace. At last she uttered
the one word, _Maheera_ and, touching her breast with a long slender
finger, I understood that she was telling me her name. The words,
uttered in a quiet tone, seemed to come from her throat rather than
from her lips and her voice was very low and sweet. When she had said
that, she touched me upon my arm calling me Keel-ee-gru as though my
name were some word in the soft language of her own. I marveled that
she should know me and could not understand what she wished. But in
a moment her object was clearer, for she began to speak in the sign
language which these strange people have for conversing with one
another when their tongues are unfamiliar. Of this I understood a
little. She had several French words, and she moved her lithe young
arms and body with wonderful grace, telling me by pointing to her dusty
moccasins and simulating weariness that she had come a journey from a
great distance to seek me. I nodded my head in comprehension.

Then her face grew sad and her body seemed to melt to nothingness. She
clasped her right hand upon her left and laid them both upon her heart,
saying the name of Olotoraca. So gentle, soft and lingering was the
word upon her tongue and so melancholy her attitude, no language could
have told plainer that her heart was hers no more and that a sadness
had come upon her. She sighed deeply, looking upon her hands and
fingering her silver bracelets. I put my fingers upon the head in pity,
for I too knew what heart wounds were.

But at my touch she shrunk away and her mood changed like an April day.
The look she flashed up at me was one of pride and majesty, and there
was a spark of vengefulness, of wild unreason in it that taught me
how concealed and subtle were the channels of her thought. She wanted
no pity--none from me at any rate. In a moment she was gentle again,
telling me that she had come from the village of Tacatacourou and, with
a gesture which I might not mistake, that she was a princess of the
blood.

It was not till then, not until she had mentioned the name of her
tribe and village, that I even so much as thought upon the object of
her visit to me. Then the suspicions of the Chevalier, the association
of the names of Olotoraca and Tacatacourou linked her story together
in my mind in some fashion. She had come from Tacatacourou! I started
up drawing in my breath quickly and looking her in the eyes. What
if--if----?

She saw the note of anxious and expectant inquiry in my look and met it
with a smile and sparkling eyes.

“Oui, oui,” she cried in joy. “The Moon-Princess! The Moon-Princess!”

I understood. This was no mill-stone to look through. I remembered the
name Satouriona had given to Mademoiselle at Fort Caroline. The darkest
hour of my night was past and it was dawn that was breaking.



CHAPTER XXIII.

THE MOON-PRINCESS.


Taking Maheera by the hand and lifting her to her feet, I pointed to
the entrance of the lodge, where the sunlight was sifting through,
and motioned her to lead on. With a friendly look she put finger upon
her lips again and peered out across the clearing. She shook her
head, and lifting the skins at the rear of the lodge motioned me to
follow. Soon we had crept through the thicket into the forest and went
rapidly down the long aisle of pines. At last the sounds of the Indian
encampment were merged into the voices of the wood. A bird was singing
somewhere and the sough of the wind through the tree tops overhead
somehow brought back in a sudden flood of memory the nights at sea when
Mademoiselle and I journeyed towards this wild western land.

It had all come so suddenly that I was bewildered, as one who has been
rudely awakened from a long sleep. Truly I had been sleeping and the
hideous pictures I had dreamed were false, De Brésac was right after
all; it was his keenness of perception that had guessed the truth. It
almost angered me to think that my intuition, steadfast through all
these long months, should have failed me at the time when my heart
was nearest its desire; but I was too near happiness to let any other
emotion enter into my soul.

I hurried on through the forest with Maheera; who, regardless of the
heat of the morning and the roughness of the traveling, moved on beside
me, seeming not even to touch the ground and giving no sign of fatigue.
Her soft moccasins made almost no sound among the dried branches,
while I, unskilled in wood-craft, crashed through them, awkward and
heavy-footed, raising many a bird and beast which skurried away into
the underbrush terrified at such noisy and unaccustomed intrusion. But
for all that, it seemed to me as though my feet bore wings and once or
twice I found myself going at so round a pace that my companion was
sore put about to keep up with me. Then, with an exclamation at my lack
of thought, I reduced my gait and we went along more reasonably side
by side. Her mouth was set and she kept her glance before her upon
the ground. She had traversed this distance once before, during the
hours of the night, but no complaint or sound of any kind came from
her throat. At about noon, when I wished to know the distance of the
place to which we were traveling, she looked at the sun and pointed to
the heavens, signifying that at an hour midway between noon and sunset
we should reach our journey’s ending. Once only did we rest. When I,
feeling that the pace must be telling upon her, stopped and pointed
to a fallen tree, she shook her head and would have gone on had I not
taken her by the hand and led her to a seat, placing myself beside her
and offering her a mouthful of _eau-de-vie_ from the flask which by
some good fortune I carried. We ate a few wild berries and then hurried
onward. We had gone what I should have thought to be a distance of five
or six leagues when there opened out in front of us a quiet valley with
many fields of grain which cut into the hills with squares of green and
yellow. Beyond, by the border of a river which lay like a silver snake
in the meadows, was the smoke of the village of Tacatacourou.

Maheera, wishing to conceal the object of our coming, had not chosen
to go straight as the eagle flies from the encampment of Satouriona.
By taking a roundabout way we had escaped the curiosity of the braves
of Tacatacourou, who were hastening to the great war dance and the
“black-drinking” which Satouriona had proclaimed before the attack upon
the Spaniards. Maheera, halting upon the edge of the clearing, made a
sign to me and we stopped. She motioned me to take my place behind her,
and following a thicket we moved cautiously, encircling a plowed field
in which two women were working. Presently we passed the trees upon
which they had hung their babes, this being their custom, and I thought
we must surely have been discovered, for the infants made sinister,
wry faces when I came close to them and seemed about to cry out. But
Maheera crept up, crooning in a low tone; and, saying some phrases in
her soft voice, held them quiet till I had got by and was safely in
the underbrush of the forest beyond. We walked silently for some time
longer, threading the mazes of the forest, and at last Maheera led me,
trembling at the nearness of my happiness, to an open place within a
close growth of great pine trees where several lodges, neatly thatched
and cared for, stood in an enclosure. Then with a smile the Indian girl
beckoned me on and pointed to the entrance of the palisade.

I walked forward upon my tip-toes and craning my neck here and there in
a very agony of expectation. Maheera fell noiselessly behind me, and
the crackling of every twig beneath my feet seemed to shake me like
an aspen. But we must have made little noise, for we reached the gate
of the palisade without notice and scarce daring to breathe, I looked
around the entrance post.

Mademoiselle was there! She sat upon a wooden bench beside the door
of the lodge. Her look was turned toward the west and she did not see
us as we paused upon the threshold of the palisade. Her hair was cast
loose about her shoulders; the breeze played wantonly with its meshes,
and the slanting sun burnished it with a golden glow like an aureole.
She was dressed, like Maheera, in deerskin; and so pale a gem did she
seem in this rough setting that her very slenderness and fairness
startled me into the dread that she was translated, and no more a
creature of this earth. I feared to move and break the spell that held
me. But an Indian woman who sat opposite, weaving, glanced up at this
moment and espied us; and then my mistress turned her head.

“Mademoiselle!” I cried, coming forward, “Mademoiselle,--it is I!”

She started to her feet; but casting a fleeting glance upon me, turned
half around and fell senseless upon the ground.

Maheera was on her knees beside her in a moment, and together we
carried her within the lodge and laid her upon a bed of skins and
hemlock-boughs. It was not until then that I saw how wasted she was. I
cursed myself for the boor that I was to burst upon her so. What if,
after all she had suffered, she was to fade away like a flower under
my very eyes. It were better that she had been struck down among the
first at Fort Caroline. What if I had killed her? The misery of that
moment! I fell upon my knees, raised my voice and prayed to God, who
had watched so long over her, that she might be spared.

The moments passed anxiously. Maheera forced _eau-de-vie_ between her
lips and at last, with an intaking of breath that racked her from head
to foot, she opened her eyes and looked to where I knelt beside her, my
anguish all unconcealed.

“Ah yes,” she sighed, “I remember now! It was silly of me. I have never
done so before. But I am so weak,--so weak----”

Brave little heart! Undaunted and strong even in her weakness!

“Nay, sweetheart. It was I who startled you. Blame it to me. God knows,
rather would I cut my hand from my body----”

She laid her soft fingers upon my wrist.

“Hush!” she said gently, “I know. I have learned. I know how you love
me,--dear.”

She paused as she gained her strength, while I mutely worshiped--then
she went on reverently.

“It is that which neither time nor distance can alter. It has been with
me always, and so I knew that you still lived and one day would come
for me.”

I had no answer but to press my lips upon her slender wrist.

She closed her eyes for a while and seemed to sleep, while I sat
beside her bed in great ferment of mind at her suffering. But soon
Maheera came into the lodge with a bowl of some steaming herb. This
Mademoiselle drank with relish and Maheera propped her up with robes
and branches. As she grew stronger the faint color came back into her
cheeks.

“It is over now?” she asked at last.

“Yes. It is over. There shall be no more suffering. Your friends are
here and you are safe.”

She leaned back her head, closing her eyes and sighing contentedly.
Presently, as a thought came to her, she started up from her pillow.

“Olotoraca!” she said half in alarm. “Where is Olotoraca?”

I set my teeth as I thought of the haughty young brave and his lies to
me in the cabin of the _Vengeance_.

“You are the prisoner of Olotoraca, Mademoiselle? If he has----”

“There! there! Vex me not now, Sir Firebrand.” She smiled.

“But, Mademoiselle----”

“Nay, I am aweary. Vex me not,--there must be no anger between you two.
What! Cannot you understand? He can be no enemy to you----”

“But he lied to me! He would have concealed you and kept you from your
own people.”

“Yes. I am his prisoner. But you must listen to me and do what I ask of
you. When you know, you will say, it is rather a debt of gratitude than
of blood that you owe him.”

“Say on, dear heart, I will listen.”

“Then it is this.” She paused, fingering the robe. “Olotoraca loves me,
Sydney.--Nay, do not scowl so blackly. For shame! And he but a savage
creature of the woods! Can you not understand? It is a kind of worship.
Though he comes often to this place, he stands aloof and waits upon me
as though I were a very queen, content only to look and do my bidding;
asking for nothing and hoping for nothing that I could not give.”

“But he has kept you here!”

“Where else could I go, good Sydney? Here was everything this country
affords. I have been safe and cherished by his people, and this old
woman and the gentle Maheera; guarded, until last night when they were
called to the war dance, by his own braves with never a fear of beast
or Spaniard. Sydney, it was this Paracousi who saved my life from De
Baçan, and it is he who has preserved me against their expeditions.
Presently you shall know. Ah, you wrong him to doubt for a moment his
service or his intent. Has he not saved me for you? No! no! no! There
must be no more blood--no more blood! But where is he, Maheera?” she
inquired anxiously. “Where is Olotoraca?”

“There is no need for fear,” said the girl. “Olotoraca is at San Mateo.”

“Ah, I am thankful.”

Mademoiselle gained strength rapidly. Happiness does not often kill.
And as for me, what could I say? The mastery of my spirit was no easy
task, but as I looked at her and thought of all her suffering there
was nothing I would not have done for her. I resolved not to wait
for Olotoraca but to take her away aboard the _Vengeance_ before he
returned. Afterwards, when I learned of the battles he had fought in
her defense, upon my soul I began to have a liking for the man, as I
had at first sight of him, in the cabin of the ship. The love we bore
made this red chief and me akin.

Just before sunset, my lady, having slept a little, called Maheera to
her. The Indian girl put her dark fingers upon the fair brow, tenderly
stroking the hair away from the temples, and sighing.

Mademoiselle understood the easier words of the Indian tongue and their
signs, and spoke a few words to Maheera asking her why she was sad. The
red blood of the Indian came to her face as she answered,

“It is that the skin of Maheera is not fair like that of the
Moon-Princess. Olotoraca looks no more upon the maidens of his own
race.”

“The Moon-Princess will soon be gone.”

“It is that also which makes Maheera sigh. For now that she has brought
the White Giant to take her away, Maheera is sorry.”

“It is best so, Maheera. But why did Maheera not say that she was going
to bring the White Giant?”

“Maheera does not know. Only late last night came a message to
Tacatacourou, saying that the White Canoes of the French had come.”

“But why did she think the White Giant would be with them?”

Maheera smiled.

“Because the Moon-Princess many times had said that he would
come--and--well--because she wished----” Maheera was confused. She
could not acknowledge that it was jealousy. “She wished--she wished--to
please the Moon-Princess.”

It was my lady’s turn to flush.

“Ah! Maheera,” she laughed, shaking her finger. “You must not tell of
these things.”

The simple straightforwardness of the Indian nature would not permit
her to understand, for she opened her eyes in wonder.

“Maheera thought that what she did was good.”

Mademoiselle replied not, but I told Maheera by signs that her heart
was a heart of gold.

Then said my lady, “Will Maheera grieve when the Moon-Princess is
gone?”

“Not so much as Olotoraca will grieve.”

“But Maheera will be here and he will soon forget the Moon-Princess.”

“Maheera knows not. She is sorry. She loves Olotoraca with her whole
heart but she has no hatred for the Moon-Princess. She will think of
her and love her always--even when she has gone into the water of the
coming day.”

There was trembling in the soft voice of the maid. It is a sadness to
make so true a friend only to lose her again.

The following morning, with many pauses, Mademoiselle told the dreadful
story of her sufferings. Nicholas Challeux had spoken the truth. For
hidden in their hollow tree, covered by branches, Diane and Madame lay
concealed throughout the terrific wind and rain-storm of that frightful
night and through the terror of the next day. I did not press her to
tell me more than she offered, for it grieved her to the soul to live
over again that unhappy time. With hushed voice she told how she had
fallen into the sleep of utter exhaustion and had wakened to find her
hand clasped in the icy one of Madame, whose wide eyes showed that
she had died of fear; she shuddered as she told of her escape upon
the second night, worn almost to death by the agony through which she
had passed; of her struggle, worn and draggled, more dead than alive,
to the river upon whose bank she had fallen from exhaustion. Then
her face lightened a little as she told how an Indian warrior had
discovered her in the long grass and how he had carried her stealthily
to the hiding-place among the Tacatacourous. But a Spanish soldier
had seen her, and three times Diego de Baçan had come himself to the
camps and villages of Satouriona telling of the death of the Sieur de
la Notte and of the massacres upon the sand-spit, asking for her and
offering great rewards if they would return her to the Fort, saying
that she should be treated as a princess. Spanish spies were always
upon the track of Olotoraca; but he, wary and skilled in woodcraft, had
ever slipped away from them,--save once, when two of them traced him
to the palisade. They had surprised him at a time when no guards were
about the enclosure. Fearing to arouse the Tacatacourous they would
not fire their arquebuses and so set upon him both at once with their
swords. With his spear he had pierced one through the neck. The other,
taking to flight, he lamed badly with an arrow,--so badly that the
fellow could not get back to the fort to tell his discovery, but was
killed that same night not a league away. Could I wonder after the tale
of this service that Mademoiselle would have no blood-letting between
the Paracousi and me?

Then I in my turn, sick even at the memory of it, told how the braves
of Emola had found the ring with the ancient setting and how I had
given her up for lost, and then I learned how she had given this ring
to a waiting-maid of the household of Laudonnière in recompense for her
kindness and service to Madame. Thus all was explained.

That night when we had eaten, we went out into the sweet-scented woods
and seated ourselves upon a bed of moss under a wide-spreading oak. The
sun had set and the twilight fell down upon us warm and soft as the
touch of velvet. The breeze had blown into the west, where great banks
of clouds hid the last glorious rays of this wonderful day of ours.
For a long time we sat silent, fearing to break upon the hush of the
animate things about us. Every twig was sleeping and over us fell that
deep mysterious spell of the giant forest which linked us with time.
For the nonce we were instincts only, symbols of nature, apiece with
eternity.

We were so happy that we knew how little was the meaning of mere words.
At last Mademoiselle sighed deeply.

“It is the end of travail,” she said. “The world is as tired and as
content as we.”

“Thou art so content?” I asked, bending over her.

She drew a little from me, smiling.

“Not too content, monsieur. Perhaps ’tis by contrast with what has gone
before.” She said it with a touch of coquetry, that last ingredient
which goes to make a woman. For all my boorishness, I understood.

“Yes, thou art happy. I can see it by thine eyes. As for me, I will be
happy when I see the roses blooming in thy cheeks again.”

She made an impatient gesture. “For shame upon such a loutish speech!
Thou art not happy!”

“I would say----”

“You would say that the roses bloom not in my cheeks----”

“But, Mademoiselle----”

“Am I so pale, monsieur? And so uncomely? In my life I have heard
nothing so ungallant! Think you I can find mirror and lady’s-maid in
this wild place? Monsieur--if you like me not----”

Scorning further parley, I had but one answer for this protesting.

A little soft gray squirrel, belated, had come down from a tree near by
and sat upon his haunches, switching his tail and looking at us most
curiously.

“Upon my word, I find you a most forward person,” said my lady,
brushing back her hair from her temples.

“And I, by your leave, find you most impertinent, and therefore quite
strong enough to make a journey with me.”

“Then we may get away to the ships on the morrow?”

“And you are willing for me to carry you.”

The color flushed again into her pale cheeks as she cast down her eyes
upon her deer-skin leggings and then strove to pull the short skirt to
cover over her knees.

“What matters it, my Diane?” I whispered. “And besides when the Fort is
taken we may find a minister or priest----”

But she clapped her hand upon my mouth and would hear no more.



CHAPTER XXIV.

WE ADVANCE.


Before the sun had gilded again the tops of the loftiest pines,
Mademoiselle, Maheera and I had started upon our way. I had counseled
traveling in the afternoon, but in spite of her weakness Mademoiselle
was impatient. She feared that by some mischance Olotoraca might
return. We marched on bravely, covering two leagues before the heat
of the morning, when we made a halt that Mademoiselle might rest. She
vowed that she felt no weariness, but after all that had befallen her,
neither Maheera nor I had the humor to see her pressed. We knew that
she would have walked on until she had fallen from utter weariness
before she would have spoken a word of plaint. There was no need for
haste. In the depths of the woods there was little to fear. If we
reached the encampment of Satouriona by sunset I would be well content,
for Mademoiselle could not safely be conveyed aboard the _Vengeance_
save under the cover of darkness. The attack upon Fort San Mateo could
not well be made for two days, for Maheera made sure that not until
the war-dance and the “black-drink” were over would her people start
upon their journey to the southward.

As we rested there in the deep shadows of the forest I told Mademoiselle
of Domenique de Gourgues, and of the Chevalier de Brésac, and what they
had done for her and for me and how much I owed the Avenger on her
account and my own. When I had finished telling her of the plans of De
Gourgues, she gave a sign of fear--the only one she ever showed.

“You will go!” she cried, starting up. “You will go to the attack of
Fort San Mateo?”

I took her hand in mine.

“Mademoiselle,” I said, in anguish that she should be so troubled,
“Mademoiselle! Can you not see? My word is pledged. I must--I must go!”

Her hand clasped mine convulsively and she turned her head away.

“I had hoped--hoped that you would not! That you loved me more----”

“Do not say it, dear heart! You do not mean----”

“But it seems so hard! I have been so long alone--alone and forgotten!”

“My Diane! Do not make it even harder for me. Do not weaken now--you
who have been so brave.” I put my head in my hands, for I was grieving
sorely. My suffering seemed to give her strength.

“No! no!” she whispered. “Forgive me. I meant it not. I am not myself.
I wish you to go. It is a just fight. If God wills that you should have
victory, then you will come back to me safe. If you are defeated----”

I raised my head with a smile.

“Never fear for that, dearest. There shall be no defeat. In two days
we will return--in a week will be sailing for Merry England.” And then
with a smile, “As for me, my Diane, why I promise you upon my word
that, even if affairs go badly, I will still return to you unscathed. I
shall bear a charmed life, and when I see that there is danger I shall
stand in the ranks of the laggards in the attack and if there is ever a
tree big enough to hide me, there will I stay until the Fort is won.”

Mademoiselle was laughing through her tears by this time.

“Nay, that you will not,” said she proudly. “If you go, you shall be
nowhere but in the very fore of battle.”

“There speaks my brave Diane! But it is impossible we should fail. With
these Indians we outnumber them three to one; and by secrecy we will
fall upon them as they fell upon Fort Caroline, and take them before
they know that we have come.”

“Yes,” said Diane, “all will be well. We cannot have been separated and
thus brought together to be again ruthlessly torn apart. God has been
good to me. If there is to be further suffering--but I cannot believe
it--I will not! And now--” starting to her feet--“En avant, Monsieur!”

In this way by resting often we came toward sunset to within a short
distance of the harbor and encampment. Then, by making a wide circuit
to the left, we passed the Indian trail and by stepping-stones crossed
a small stream which ran into the harbor. Down this we walked, I
carrying Mademoiselle, much against her will, in my strong arms, until
at the right we saw the glare of the Indian fires upon the beach and
the glimmer of lights which showed where the _Vengeance_ and the other
ships lay at anchor. When we came to another crossing place Maheera
bade us wait while she went forward toward the encampment.

By this time Olotoraca must have returned from his expedition to the
Spanish Forts. I hoped that Maheera would escape his notice, but I
doubted not that she could explain her presence at the camp to his
satisfaction. In spite of this assurance, it seemed a long while
before she came back. Several times we heard the sound of footsteps,
and thinking that some keen-scented Indian might have wandered upon
our trail and be following it, I drew Mademoiselle deeper into the
thicket. While I feared no injury, I knew not what complications might
come should the escape of Diane be discovered to Olotoraca. I had
disobeyed the orders of De Gourgues in following Maheera, and I was in
something of a quandary how to have Mademoiselle conveyed aboard the
_Vengeance_, to safety. I knew that I had some stormy moments before me
with De Gourgues, but felt that could we carry forward our object and
bring Mademoiselle aboard the vessel secretly, his displeasure would
speedily pass by; and I trusted much to Mademoiselle. Could he resist
her, he were less than a man. After a time we heard the footsteps not
of one but of two persons, and presently Maheera’s soft voice called
out through the darkness from the crossing place where we had been. In
a moment we were together. There was De Brésac--my good Brésac,--whom
our little guide had found at the camp. He embraced me with great joy,
saying that De Gourgues was much perturbed over my absence, but that he
himself had believed I would return safe and sound. To Mademoiselle he
bowed with a grace which would have done him honor at a levee, bending
over and kissing her hand and telling her in courtly phrase how long
he had looked forward to this moment. I thought it savored too much of
Paris for these rough woods, but nothing the Chevalier de Brésac saw
fit to do was greatly out of place. Mademoiselle, for her part, told
him in her sweet voice how deep was her debt, and the Chevalier--like
all others who saw her--thereupon vowed himself forever to her
service. I told him straightway that he might try his service now,
since Mademoiselle had no humor to swim to the ship.

“Yes, good Sydney,” he replied, “and you have come near enough crossing
the plans of the Avenger to set a smaller value upon your life than I
have put upon the Spanish. If I mistake not, you yourself will need
some further service from me. But I will see. Stay here and I will
return as soon as may be.” And so he departed alone.

By and by the red glare of the Indian fires increased and a murmur
which at first rose no higher than the distant booming of the surf upon
the beach came to our ears. There was a measured and rumbling noise
which I did not understand. Maheera craned her neck and put her hands
to her ears.

“It is the war-dance,” she said excitedly, “the dance of the battle.
Olotoraca is there. I can hear him. They are playing upon the tawægons.
To-morrow they will drink the ‘black-drink.’ Then they will go.”

In a little while the glow of the fires seemed to light the whole
firmament and the sound of the voices and the drumming rose to a
prolonged and savage note. Louder and wilder it grew, swelling into a
vengeful and relentless scream, more animal than human, which seemed to
rend the very sky. The dancers saw themselves already victorious at
San Mateo--and fiercely cried their desires to their gods of war and
vengeance. So piercing were the shrieks that the beasts of the forest
were aroused and we could hear the answering howls come now and then
from the woods behind us. Even the birds started from their perches,
fluttering down past us crying shrilly to one another in fear at the
unwonted turmoil.

Mademoiselle shuddered; Maheera, missing no note of the savage chorus,
said proudly,

“Olotoraca dances first and dances longest. Olotoraca is a great chief!”

It seemed long before De Brésac returned. But when he did, it was with
the news that De Gourgues had been placated and that a boat had come
ashore for us, down the beach.

“My good friend,” said he, “never in my life have I seen a man so glad
or so angry at the same time. He walked the cabin driving his heels
fiercely into the deck. Upon my life, one would have thought it was not
you but I who had disobeyed his orders. You might have set the whole
tribe at enmity for all the difference there would have been in his
demeanor. When I could find a pause I told him all--Mademoiselle saved
and Olotoraca in ignorance; and he swore the harder, saying a man who
obeyed not orders had no conscience and was better dead. In his heart
I think he secretly rejoices. For no matter what the result of our
venture, Mademoiselle may stay aboard with Bourdelais, and so be safe.”

All of this and much more he told me as we walked behind Mademoiselle
and Maheera to the boat, which we found upon a sandy beach at some
distance from the Indian camp.

In half an hour we had hooked the entering ladder of the _Vengeance_
and I breathed a sigh of relief when Mademoiselle was over the side and
safely upon deck. De Gourgues stood by the bulwarks and bowed low over
the hand of Mademoiselle, conveying her himself to his cabin which was
brilliantly lighted in honor of the event. But of me he took no more
notice than if I had been a lyer or a sweeper. He requested De Brésac
to go with them, and I saw through the open door that food had been
prepared. Then the door was shut and I was left in darkness to muse
upon my indiscretions. I leaned upon the taffrail somewhat sadly, for
’twas not a brilliant home-coming for me. For a long time, it seemed, I
stood with Job Goddard watching the whirling shapes at the Indian fires
and listening to the savage cries of the dancers.

“’Tis time them Spaniards was a-praying, Master Sydney,” said Job;
“there’s a smell o’ blood about this here.”

“Aye, Job,” I replied; “I’m sick of it.”

At last the cabin door flew open with a clatter and the Chevalier de
Gourgues himself came out upon the deck shouting,

“Pass the word for Monsieur Killigrew.”

I walked out of the darkness and stood before him in the glare.

“I have come aboard, sir,” I said, doffing my cap.

“My eyes are reasonably good, monsieur,” said he most sharply and
coldly, looking up at me like a game-cock for some moments. “Nor have
I a custom of any incertitude of mind. But Saprelotte!--I am of two
dispositions about you!”

He leaned forward scowling and I was much disconcerted. “You have
placed all my plans in jeopardy and I know not whether ’twere best to
hang you to the main yard or to blow you to perdition with a powder
charge. But”--his rigidness fell away from him and he broke into a
merry laugh--“you could not wait? Eh, my beef-eater? Par la Pâque-Dieu.
I blame you not--I blame you for nothing! Not if you had disobeyed the
orders of the Admiral himself.”

He took me by the arm and led me into the cabin, where Mademoiselle,
tired but content, was smiling at us.

“The lady pleads your cause well, monsieur,” said De Gourgues. “She has
my service. This time I forgive you. But remember,” he laughed, “if it
happens that you disobey _her_”--and he paused--“if you disobey _her_,
there will be no spar upon the _Vengeance_ high enough to bear your
bones!”

By midnight the sound of the mad revelry upon the shore had ceased, and
in the silence of a night which held a deeper content for me than I had
ever known, I fell into a deep and dreamless sleep.

The following day was consumed in the final preparations for the
attack and in the drinking of the “black-drink” by the Indians. It is
a custom with them before they go into battle or danger of any kind
to drink as much of this concoction, which is the brew of a kind of
leaf, as they can hold. They believe that it purifies them from all
sin, leaves them in a state of perfect innocence, and inspires them
with an invincible prowess in war. De Gourgues, in order to show how
strong were his prowess and sympathies, pretended to swallow the stuff;
but he afterward told me that when he found the opportunity he had
poured a quantity of it out upon the ground. It was evening before
the Indians gathered their weapons and filed off into the forest, it
being agreed that the French should go by water and meet them before
the attack. De Gourgues had no further need to encourage his men. The
excitement was at fever heat; and aroused to the very bursting point of
enthusiasm, they tumbled down into the boats with ready weapons and
purpose that could know no turning. François Bourdelais, with twenty
sailors, was left upon the ships. In the event of failure he was to
wait as long as might be for the men to return and then set sail for
France. Mademoiselle was safe at any rate. I was glad that she did
not appear upon the deck. It would have savored too much of that day
when I had left her upon the bastion at Fort Caroline. But among the
excited Frenchmen there were many embracings and many messages to wives
and mistresses. After that, they went blithely enough. For it was a
wonderful venture on which we were going. We were about to attack four
hundred hardy, well-trained men, in a stone fort where with reasonable
skill they might hold their own against an army.

We were well under way before the darkness swallowed up the dim shadows
of the ships. Hour after hour of that calm, half-tropic night we pulled
at our oars, gliding softly along by the sombre shores, sliding now and
then over a pebbly bar, but moving ever slowly on to the southward,
with the soothing murmur of the surf in our ears, and the balsam of the
land breeze in our nostrils. In the gray of the dawn we came to another
river and a breeze sprang up from the sea, which, by sunrise, blew with
violence from the north-east. Here we found our Indians waiting upon
the bank. For a while the gale delayed us, but our Frenchmen would
not wait long, rowing at last boldly across. Had it not been for the
morions with which they were forced to bale incessantly, they must
surely have sunk. As it was, the boat in which I was conveyed with De
Gourgues was half full of water when we arrived upon the beach.

When we had landed and put ourselves to rights, led by the Avenger, we
pushed forward on foot through the forest. By the side of the Captain
marched Olotoraca armed with bow and arrows and a French pike to which
he had taken a great liking. Looks of friendliness passed between us.
I doubted if they had been so friendly,--at least upon his part,--had
he known. The arquebusiers followed, while De Brésac and I with our
armed seamen brought up the rear. All of that day until five of the
afternoon, pausing only to eat and drink, we hewed our way through
the swamps and thickets toward our destination. Then almost spent by
hunger and fatigue we came to another river, or inlet of the sea which
Dariol--interpreting for Olotoraca--said was not far from the nearest
of the Spanish forts at the mouth of the river.

Job Goddard, footsore and weary, brightened at the gleam of the water.

“’Odds ’ounds! Master Sydney, ’tis a mighty sweet sight. Do we take
to the boats again now, sir? For my legs have little energy enough.
Unless I may sit down to my work, ’tis a bad fight I’ll make this day
for poor Salvation Smith, sir.”

When we had crossed the river in the canoes which had been sent, we
found three hundred Indians waiting for us. But tired as he was De
Gourgues would not rest. With Olotoraca and ten arquebusiers he set out
to reconnoiter, for he wished to attack at daybreak. While we rested,
night closed in, and finding it vain to struggle on in the darkness
among the tangled vines and fallen trees, De Gourgues was forced to
return to us anxious and gloomy. After he had eaten something, a brave
of the Chief Olotoraca came to him saying that he knew of a path along
the margin of the sea. De Gourgues joyfully set us all in motion again.

The brief rest had made new men of us, and even Job Goddard caught
some of the spirit of the adventure. The path being a good one we
went forward with speed; and at dawn, after a night of indomitable
perseverance upon the part of these soldiers, we reached the banks of
a small stream. Beyond this and very near was the first of the smaller
forts that had saluted the _Vengeance_ as we sailed up the coast. But
to our great chagrin we discovered that the tide was in, and having
no boats at this point we could not cross. De Gourgues was in a great
ferment of mind, for he had hoped to take the fort while the defenders
slept. He walked nervously up and down the bank trying in vain to find
a fording-place. To add to the discomforts, a drenching rain fell upon
us and the arquebusiers had much ado to keep their gun-matches alight.
But they held them under morions, thus preserving them and screening
the glow from the sentries of the Spaniards. The light grew fast, and
so we withdrew to the shelter of the thicket. The fort was now plainly
to be seen and the defenses seemed slight and unfinished. We could even
mark the Spaniards within, yawning and stretching their arms as they
crawled lazily from their beds at the call of day. It was maddening to
the Frenchmen. I could see them crouching all around me, their eyes
glowing like the sparks of their match-cords, and their hands trembling
with excitement.

After a time, which seemed interminable, the tide went down; or at
least it fell so low that the stream would not come higher than the
arm-pits. And, finding a spot concealed by trees from the view of
the fort, the passage of this stream was begun. Each man tied his
powder-flask to his morion, held his arquebuse above his head with
one hand and grasped his sword with the other. The channel was a
bed of sharp-pointed shell-fish, and the edges of them cut the feet
like knives even through our boots. The Frenchmen rushed through the
water unmindful of all save the eagerness to be within the Spanish
fort. But as they came out from the stream, lacerated and bleeding
from the briars and the shells, the Avenger restrained them and set
them in array of battle under cover of the trees, where they stood
panting, their eyes kindling and their hearts throbbing in a frenzy of
anticipation. Now that his quarry was in plain sight, De Gourgues laid
his plans with the deliberation of a careful field-captain, sure of his
position and of his men, but waiting only to devise the more surely.
Whatever happened at Fort San Mateo, he was sure of these two forts at
least.

When the men were all in line and had looked carefully to their
weapons, he drew his sword so fiercely that it rang against the
scabbard. He pointed it through the trees.

“Look! my comrades!” he cried, “there are the robbers who have stolen
this land from our King; there are the murderers who have butchered our
countrymen!”



CHAPTER XXV.

THE DEATH OF THE WOLF.


De Gourgues gave the word. Cazenove with thirty men pushed forward to
the Fort gate while the main body of us under De Gourgues ran at full
speed for the glacis. We were not discovered until we were well up
the slope, when a cannoneer who had come upon the rampart sent up a
startled cry.

“To arms! To arms! The French are coming! The French are coming!”

The Spaniards had just finished their morning meal and came rushing
up, fastening on their steel-pieces. The gunner who had given the
alarm, hastily aiming his cannon at us, fired wildly and the ball went
crashing into the thicket. He had time even to load and fire again
before Olotoraca, who had outstripped the others, ran up the glacis,
leaped the unfinished ditch and drove his pike through the Spaniard
from breast to back, pinning him to the gun-carriage. Some of the
Frenchmen were by his side in a moment, and jumping down into the fort
they cut their way into the thick of the superior numbers, who fell
back before the fierce onslaught.

“After me,” shouted Cazenove from the gate. “They fly by this way. At
their throats, mes garçons, cut them down!” De Gourgues turned the rest
of his men in that direction. The Spaniards were caught between two
fires and all of those who had escaped from the Fort were imprisoned
between our party and that of Cazenove. The Indians too came thrusting
upon their flanks. Many of them fought desperately, but their efforts
were futile against the whirlwind of passion of the Frenchmen who
beat them to the earth like chaff. All except a few were killed upon
the spot. Those who were spared were saved by the Avenger for a more
inglorious end.

During all this time we had been aware that the Spaniards in the fort
upon the other shore had taken alarm and were firing upon us without
ceasing. But when the first victory had been won De Gourgues turned
four of the captured cannon against them; and to such good purpose that
one of the Spanish guns ceased firing at once, the men running below in
dismay. Then one of the boats, a very large barge which by this time
had arrived along-shore, was brought to the landing-place and eighty
of us were crowded into it. The river here is about a quarter of a
league in width, but the Indians rushed into the water after us and
holding their bows and arrows above their heads, swam across straight
as water-rats. Their dark faces, fierce and scarlet-streaked, seemed
to darken the whole surface of the water and inspired a great fear
in the Spanish garrison. Whichever way the Spanish looked, there was
certitude of a horrible death before them, and so, seized by a sudden
panic, they fled terrified to the woods. But by this time we had landed
below them and blocked their path with the arquebusiers, sending charge
after charge into their ranks and cutting them down without mercy. They
recoiled again in dismay, but the Indians had crawled dripping upon
the beach and were upon them with savage shouts, beating them down
before we could come within sword-thrust. It was with difficulty that
De Gourgues could save the lives of a few; and indeed he had no notion
of sparing them altogether. He only saved them--as he had saved the
others--for another death.

I did not know De Gourgues in the character of blood-letter. He had
lost that cheeriness and buoyancy that had drawn me so closely to him.
Upon his face he wore a look of satisfaction that was a horror to see.
For, vengeance done, a man with any shred of compassion in him must now
and then give vent to some expression to show that his devil craves
a compromise with his God. But not so, De Gourgues. He looked at the
blood about him without pity or compunction, and cast upon those who
had been taken so sour a look that some of them drew shuddering to the
length of their bonds away from him. Even I, accustomed as I had become
to the horrors of carnage, turned away in disgust, for the sights I
saw among the Indians were too savage for description, and the French
were little better. Job Goddard was everywhere in the thickest of the
fighting. And though he had little pity for the Spaniards, he, like
myself, shrank from cutting down disarmed men. Once I saw a fellow whom
he had spared rise upon an elbow and with his last remnant of strength
send his poniard flying at my Englishman. It hit Job fairly in the
upper arm and stuck there quivering. Goddard nonchalantly plucked it
out and put it in his belt saying,

“A good line shot, me friend, but most indifferent elevation. When ye
wish to strike home, _aim high_ me garlic eater, _aim high_! An’ ’tis
no cursed bad advice for a man about stepping across the threshold of
eternity!”

As for me, all this slaughter turned my stomach and I sat apart, for
I had come out for no such business as this; I wanted the butchery
speedily over, and the attack on San Mateo made immediately. Should we
be successful there, I knew that other such scenes would be witnessed,
for De Gourgues had vowed there should be no shadow of difference
between the massacres of Fort Caroline and Fort San Mateo. But in spite
of repugnance at what would follow I hoped and prayed that we might be
victorious. For I felt again the same old passion to be at the throat
of De Baçan. I made my vow that he should die only through a fair test
of skill or strength with me. How I might save him from those red
hell-hounds, our allies, I did not know, but if I could compass it, I
intended to meet him upon even terms. My practise in Pompée’s _salle
d’armes_ should have made my sword-play good enough to cross blades
with him. I scarce know why this haunting desire to fight De Baçan
should have filled me so relentlessly through all these months; and
now since Mademoiselle had not fallen into his hands, I--not he--had
won the game, and the ancient grudge was fitter upon his side of the
balance than upon mine.

But De Gourgues had deferred the attack upon San Mateo until his
preparations could be carefully finished. All the next day we spent in
making ladders to scale the walls; sending orders through Satouriona
and Olotoraca to the Indians, giving them their stations in the forest
and arranging that no movement should be made until a signal was given.
So closely had Satouriona and Tacatacourou watched the Fort, that,
though making no attack and keeping well in the shadows of the forest,
they had succeeded in confining all the Spaniards within their own
lines. Those gentry heard the savage cries resounding through the woods
until their echoes faded away in the distance. There was desperate
work before them and they knew that the sounds of the war-cries and
the barking of the French arquebuses down the river meant a harder
fight than they had ever had before. They judged from the sound of the
shots that the French numbered several thousand. All of this we learned
from a Spanish soldier who ventured out, feathered and painted like an
Indian. He came within the lines of our outposts, but the lynx-eyed
Olotoraca, walking with De Gourgues, spied through his disguise and the
man was seized before he could get away. From him the Avenger learned
that in Fort San Mateo were two hundred and sixty Spaniards under Don
Diego de Baçan. This confirmed the report we had heard. De Baçan was
still there. I feared at this last moment of my quest that some unhappy
accident might have sent him on an errand to San Augustin.

On the evening of the second day after the first assault, De Gourgues,
well pleased and confident that his plans were carefully laid, gave
orders that the Indians should close in upon the fort with all possible
secrecy and lie in wait under the shadows of the trees and bushes
of the hills and river bank. Before the day had broken we were in
marching order and after a hearty meal went up the stream in glittering
ranks, joyful but steady and assured of victory. De Gourgues made no
concealment of our movements, and when we came in view of the Fort we
saw the battlements shining with men in armor and knew that De Baçan
was prepared to receive us. Presently, when within range of their
ordnance they opened fire with their culverins from a projecting
bastion. De Gourgues broke our column and scattered us through the
woods, where their fire had little effect; for here the forest was very
thick and overgrown and afforded a most excellent cover. We marched
to the left, passing through our Indian allies, who lay like snakes
among the undergrowth. We came at last to the top of a small hill, from
which we had a good view of the whole extent of the defenses of Fort
San Mateo. It was plain to be seen that these had been greatly improved
since its capture from Laudonnière.

De Baçan apparently had by this time lost all trace of our whereabouts.
Thinking we had defiled by the river bank, in a moment he sent a strong
party of Spaniards to reconnoitre. They came from their works, crossing
the ditch and, all unconscious, made straight for the clump of woods
in which we lay ensconced. De Gourgues, noting the advantage of his
position, quickly detached Cazenove with a party to station himself
at a point well hidden by trees where he could soon take them in the
flank. The Spaniards, unaware that they were exposing themselves to
this enfilading fire, with a strange insistence which seemed not unlike
infatuation, continued sturdily to advance.

Now it was that the discipline of the arquebusiers of De Gourgues
showed to greatest advantage. He had cautioned them under pain of dire
punishment not to fire before the word of command. In their ardor
they strained forward eagerly, leaning upon their rests, their eyes
glancing down their weapons, their fingers toying lovingly with their
match cords. But not until the Spaniards had come so near that we could
plainly make out their features did the Avenger give the order to fire.

Then a deadly blaze flashed in their faces, almost close enough to burn
them. The shock was terrific; and before its echoes had rumbled up the
river we were upon them through the smoke, slashing and piercing right
and left those who stood their ground, driving those who ran, in dire
confusion, back toward the Fort. But here Cazenove awaited them and
poured in a scorching fire at easy range which still further cut them
down. None escaped. The pikemen of Cazenove charged over them again
and again like demons, and those few who were left threw down their
weapons and fell upon their knees extending their arms and begging for
mercy.

The fight was speedily over, with no loss to us. When we had mounted
the hill again, it was easy to see that consternation reigned in the
Fort. Soldiers ran here and there upon the battlements shouting in
confusion; while men, women and children, uttering piercing screams,
rushed to the gate, battering upon it with their bare fists, trying to
force their way out that they might escape to the forest.

The trumpet of Dariol, sounding the charge, rang out clear above the
din. Never before, it seemed to me, had a battle-blast been sent up so
loud and exultant. It was the signal of De Gourgues. Through thicket
and scrub, down the hill for the Fort, we ran, a very human mounthsoun,
shouting like madmen. Every stump and tree to the right and left of
us seemed to turn by some magic into a painted savage and the air was
filled with their wild screams. De Gourgues, Olotoraca and I reached
the gate at the same moment, followed closely by the more speedy of
the rest. By this time the women and children were running through the
postern, screaming, to the forest. Their fate I like not to think of.

We were after more sturdy game. Most of the soldiers had fled even
before the women, but we saw forty or fifty Spanish arquebusiers formed
in the square by the corps-de-garde for a last resistance. I knew I
should find De Baçan there. Nor was I mistaken; I saw him at the same
moment that he caught sight of me, and we ran forward upon each other
with the same full-hearted hatred that had ever envenomed us. The world
was too small a place for both.

It seemed as though the affair were to be ended one way or the other
then and there. But as luck would have it, Olotoraca, being more swift
of foot, reached him first and began thrusting with his pike. De Baçan
was thus put upon his guard against the Indian and had all that he
could do to parry his furious onslaught. Twice his guard lay open and
I might have thrust him clear through the body, but I could not bring
myself to take such advantage. A nimble fellow rushed at me and all
but caught me off my guard, giving me trouble for some minutes. He was
a most excellent swordsman and fought with desperation. But he tired
easily, and while I played upon the defensive, I watched De Baçan and
Olotoraca out of the tail of my eye. By this time the sword of the
Spaniard was hissing backward and forward like the tongue of a serpent
along the pike of Olotoraca. The Indian had not the skill of a seasoned
pikeman and only made up for his lack of knowledge of the art by his
great suppleness and agility. Suddenly I saw him lunge too far. I beat
the blade of my fellow down and let him go his way, while I made for
De Baçan. The Spaniard seized the pike-handle just behind the head and
pulled the young brave forward, thrusting at the same time, I made a
leap, hoping to parry the thrust of the Spaniard, and partly succeeded,
but the sword point passed through the body of the Paracousi so that he
fell back upon the ground.

Men were fighting all around us, but by some chance we were quite alone
in the shadow of the Corps-de-garde.

“You might have killed me,” he panted--glancing this way and
that,--“why did you not?”

“We are quits then. But it is not too late, Señor de Baçan. On guard!”

Still looking furtively around, he made no motion to raise his bloody
point from the ground, but kept edging away.

“Quick, sir! On guard!” I cried, “or I will run you through!”

He made a sudden leap backward and vanished quickly around the corner
of the building, passing several Frenchmen, and in the confusion
reached the battlements before I could stop him, and with a laugh
sprang out into space. Without so much as looking, I leaped after him
into the mud and water of the river bank. I landed fair up to my knees
and fell over in the water. For a moment I thought my legs had been
driven into my body, but managed to get to my feet in time to see my
enemy rushing for the thicket. In a second I was after him and plunged
through the bushes guided by the gleam of his morion. All around us
were shouts of French and Indians and once we passed a half-score red
men who were dancing around a poor wretch tied to a tree. They saw us
go by and let fly a shower of arrows at both, thinking that I too was
an escaping Spaniard. But they did not follow us; they were enjoying
too horrid a pleasure to leave. We ran thus for some distance, when,
reaching a level space of ground, De Baçan stopped suddenly, awaiting
my coming. He leaned with both hands upon his blade, breathing heavily.
His face was purple from exertion and the sweat poured from his
forehead down his cheeks and into his beard. I was hard put myself for
breath and came forward cautiously.

“Again! Señor Pirato,” he sneered, with a kind of a laugh.

“For the last time,--Señor Spaniard!” I said approaching.

“For the last time? Ah! then you do grant I am the better skilled at
sword-play?”

“Let us settle the matter at once,” said I, bringing my point into line.

“One moment!” he said craftily. “When I kill you, what will become of
Mademoiselle?”

I saw his object. He sought to unsteady my nerves. But I only laughed
at him.

“Mademoiselle is in the hands of her friends, Señor.--Come now! Enough!
You have your wind. Fall to, or I will run you through!”

I threw off my morion to keep my brow cool. And while in the very act
of tossing it aside he leaped for me, engaging with such incomparable
swiftness that I broke ground and gave back ten--twenty paces--under
his fierce assault. I held my own with great trouble. But he saw no
sign of it, upon my face and it is my pride that I ever looked coldly
in his eyes, fearless and confident. Once he grazed my arm and with
flashing eye sprang forward to follow his advantage; but I met him
with so shrewd a guard and thrust that he drew back, looking at me
in surprise. We heard indistinctly the cries of the soldiers and the
Indians at the fort, and now and then a wild yell would start the
echoes in the forest near us. But we fought on, our eyes looking into
each other’s, glittering and more piercing even than the swords we
wielded. Shouting was now most plainly to be heard in the direction
from which we had come. I heard Job Goddard’s whistle and a cheery cry.

“Keep him at work, sir! we are with you in a minute!” Diego’s eyes
looked over my shoulder.

“Unless you hurry, Don Diego,” I said, coolly bantering him, “there
will be little time for this exhibition of sword-play you have promised
me.”

I knew could I get him angry that I might have the better advantage.

“Bah!” he cried, furious. “Coward! you cannot fight your battles for
yourself!”

“I am holding my own!” I smiled.

I know not just why it was, but strive as he might, he could get no
advantage. I have no memory of ever having used my sword so well. Quick
as he was, my hand was ever quicker and my eye seemed by the look of
his own to divine his thrust before he made it. The sounds of the
voices grew louder and louder each moment and seemed to be near the
edge of the wood. The look in the eyes of De Baçan became uncertain.
He had tried upon me every feint and thrust he knew, and there I still
stood before him smiling and confident. It was not fear that he felt,
for I believe the man feared nothing on earth--or above it--or below.
It was an expression rather of wonder and curiosity as if at the last
he saw in me the image of vengeance come to bring him, in spite of his
prowess, the retribution he so amply deserved. Twice he had had me in
his power, my death hanging by a web so fine that he could have blasted
it by the breath from his lips,--and still I lived.

[Illustration: “QUICK AS HE WAS, MY HAND WAS EVER QUICKER.”]

All of this I saw in his look. I smiled at him again, and that
infuriated him the more. Scorning all thought of defense, he crouched
his head and came for me desperately--his feints and thrusts were
quicker than thought itself, and my eye, bewildered, could no longer
follow the motions. He caught the point of my blade near the hilt of
his own, and with a quick back stroke of the wrist sent it flying down,
the handle almost out of my fingers. I clutched it again, bringing it
up to the guard. But he had sprung in and thrust me through the thigh.
At this moment there was an outcry upon our left, and De Brésac, with
some of my seamen, came running forward.

“Good-by, Sir Pirato!” laughed De Baçan. “I have no time to finish
this----” and turning, he made for the opposite side of the clearing.

I shouted at the top of my lungs and made a leap after him, but fell
prone to the earth. He made for a hole in the thicket, and I thought
must surely go free.

But while I looked, a number of dusky figures sprang up all around
him, and I saw them leap upon him like hounds upon a stag. He threw
his arms out wildly, and one of the savages who bounded into the air,
was skewered upon his sword, while another fell away from him into
the bushes as though he had been tossed by an ox. The Spaniard was
making a wonderful fight, but the Indians, infuriated by the fall of
Olotoraca, went rushing fiercely forward crying that he should not
escape. One of them pinioned his left arm to his body, and hung with
a death-like clutch around his legs. Before Satouriona reached them,
another, more successful than the others, sprang upon the back of De
Baçan, and, brushing off his morion, struck again and again upon the
bare head with his hatchet. When the hollow dulness of the strokes fell
upon my ear, I knew that the end had come. He swayed back and forth a
moment, striving to keep his feet, unwilling to relinquish his hold
upon life, fighting even when death had come; then, with a groan like
that of some hunted animal, turned half around and sank to the ground,
dead where he had stood.

When he had fallen the savages fell upon the prostrate body like
wolves, tearing at the clothing, and would have beaten him with their
war clubs as he lay, had not De Brésac and Satouriona come up. I cried
out to them that it was the Commandante of the Fort whom they had
killed. De Brésac was among them, striking with the flat of his sword,
and crying:

“Stop! you dogs! Away with you! Stop! I say!” He stood over the body
with his drawn sword while they glowered at him, and would have struck
him down had not Satouriona come between. At last the Paracousi, with
a few words, sent them away, their gruesome fancies ungratified.

It was a dog’s death for so valiant a man--pulled down like some wild
beast of the forest. When I had been carried to where the body lay, De
Brésac and I vowed he should have a decent burial. I hated him, and
hate him now. But it was a passion made great by the intensity of it,
and I could not bear that the majesty of his prowess should be dimmed
by any ignominy at his death. De Brésac, fearing to bury him in the
knowledge of the Indians, gave orders to the seamen that he should
be taken to Fort San Mateo. When I had bound up my leg, thither we
presently repaired, I leaning upon the arms of Job Goddard and Brésac.



CHAPTER XXVI.

AND LAST.


And so it was all over. The mission of De Gourgues was ended. However
bloody the retribution he had wrought upon his enemies, France was
avenged. I was thankful that my flight into the woods had spared me
much of the butchery at Fort San Mateo; what we saw in the forest was
horrible enough, and though by the time we returned the Fort had been
cleared, a dreadful climax to this grim tragedy was being enacted.

As we entered the postern gate we saw De Gourgues standing,--menacing,
sinister and pitiless,--before the ranks of trembling, haggard wretches
who had been spared from the massacre. They were not many; and the
slenderness of their number was a dire augury of the punishment which
was to be theirs. They did not know what was to come. They scanned the
merciless man who stood before them, seeking to find in the lines of
his face one trace of sorrow or pity. But the eyes where pity might
have been were set and fixed; hard as the lines of the nose and mouth.
The brows had lost their melancholy and were drawn into a tangle and
snarl of wrinkles, which took away every vestige of the man I knew and
loved. He returned their look with a glance from which they cowered as
though he had struck them; a glance that meant but one thing, and that
was--the end. A few of them stood upright and fearless; others fell
down upon their knees, whimpering. The end--Holy Virgin! What end? What
death? When the Avenger spoke, his voice was dry and hard as flint.

“Did you think,” he said, “that so vile a treachery, so detestable a
cruelty, against a King so potent and a nation so fearless, would go
unpunished? Hell knows no viler traitor than your master, Menendez
de Avilés, of whom you are but the spawn! No! I am only one of the
humblest of the subjects of my King, but I have charged myself with
avenging the deeds of this Menendez--and yours--against my hapless
countrymen. There is no name base enough to brand your actions, no
punishment sharp enough to requite them. But though you cannot suffer
as you deserve, you shall suffer all that an enemy can honorably
inflict, that your example may teach others to observe the peace and
alliance between our Kings which you have so perfidiously violated.”

Then he waved his hand, and the wretches were marched out through
the gate down to the river. Some of them cried aloud that they would
not go. Others clasped the knees of the French arquebusiers, sobbing
out like women in their degradation that they had helped to hang the
Frenchmen of Fort Caroline, that they had confessed and hoped for
mercy. These were rudely dragged to their feet and prodded with pikes
until they followed the others, trembling in an agony of fear. When
they had come to a place near the river, the Indians pointed out to De
Gourgues the trees upon which the Frenchmen of Fort Caroline had hung.
De Brésac and I knew them well. And upon these same trees without other
speech or ceremony, the Spaniards were hanged.

After it was over, De Gourgues caused tablets of pine to be nailed
over their heads where all men might read. Upon these tablets were
inscriptions burned with a hot iron which read:--

                         “NOT AS TO SPANIARDS,
                    BUT AS TO TRAITORS, ROBBERS AND
                              MURDERERS.”

His vengeance was complete.

       *       *       *       *       *

That night, when it was dark, De Brésac, Job Goddard and another,
buried De Baçan deep in a sand-dune. Indian messengers were sent to the
river of Tacatacourou to bring the _Vengeance_ and others’ vessels into
the River of May. But at dawn the following morning we saw them passing
the forts at the river’s mouth and we knew that the anxiety of François
Bourdelais had got the better of him. When those on the vessels saw the
standards of France waving upon the battlements of the lower forts,
their cannon boomed forth a joyous salute which was answered there and
at San Mateo. Before noon they anchored near the Fort and I was carried
aboard to Mademoiselle.

I could not suffer her to go ashore while traces of the slaughter were
in such ghastly evidence. For there were sights to cloud and torment
throughout all recollection a mind innocent of the indecencies of life.
Already the vultures were wheeling high over the forest and I prayed
that the business which still kept the Avenger would soon be concluded.
We were sick of the place, and Mademoiselle and I had no desire to go
upon the shore.

In the afternoon Maheera came aboard. Unable to stay at the Tacatacourou
River while these great events were going forward, she had followed us
and lain in concealment since the attack. To Mademoiselle she brought a
message from Olotoraca, who was at the Indian encampment--not dead, but
very sorely wounded from the thrust De Baçan had given him--and who
wished Mademoiselle to go to him.

I would have deterred her, for I knew not what design he might
cherish. Maheera understood me, but she smiled as she had not smiled
since I had seen her.

“The White Giant has no need to fear. Olotoraca knows all, and it is
well. He has a great friendship for the White Giant.”

Mademoiselle started up.

“I must go, Sydney. There will be no harm, and if he wishes me I cannot
leave this land without seeing him. Maheera would not give me bad
counsel.”

“The Moon-Princess will take no hurt.”

I could not be satisfied to have her out of my sight, but asked
Cazenove to take some men and go with her. They were gone a long time,
and when they returned Mademoiselle was smiling and tranquil. Olotoraca
was very weak, but would recover. He said that I, the White Giant, had
parried the blow which had wounded him and so had saved his life. He
wished to live fair in the memory of the White Giant,--he was glad that
the Moon-Princess was safe with me.

“It is not well,” he had said at last, taking Maheera’s hand in his,
“that a man should love at all unless of the people of his own race.”

Had I been able to go to him I would have clasped him heartily by the
hand. But they told me I must lie quiet for fear of setting loose an
artery, and so I stayed on my pallet fanned by the cool breezes of
the sea and blessed by the sight of Diane, who sat near at hand with
beaming eyes, ministering to me.

The capture of the Spanish Fort had in one way been a great godsend
to her. For in the quarters of the women, De Brésac had found a box
full of linen and silks and a few things even that had been brought to
Florida by Mademoiselle herself. These the Chevalier sent to her with
a gracious word as her share of the spoils. The silks were of no very
recent fashion to be sure, but all the gold and silver in the world
could not have contributed so much as these to Mademoiselle’s content.
Nor were they of any particular kind of shape, hanging about her
slender figure like lean biscuit-bags. But with ready grace and wit she
made shift to fasten and tuck them, so that after all they were none
so bad as they might have been. She was so sweet and graceful a sight
to my eyes that I feared should I close them I would lose not only the
vision but the reality, and find myself again upon the sand-spit,--at
Paris,--or in the forest,--seeking her ever with new hopes which were
born only to be blasted again and again.

At last I slept; and the morning sun was breaking across the narrow
cabin as I wakened. When I had eaten, I felt so strong and well that I
would have risen, but Diane pressed me quietly by the shoulders and
would not permit it. After awhile, when all was ready, my pallet was
carried up on the after-castle, in the shadow of an awning, where I
lay with several others and watched the fellows upon the shore. They
were busy as bees and I felt a lazy dolt to be lying there twiddling my
thumbs.

Two or three times the unruly and riotous spirit, engendered by
shedding of blood, broke forth among the Frenchmen; but so complete was
the control and discipline which De Gourgues had put upon them that
little harm was done. Once they had broken into a wine cask without
his knowledge, and there was like to be a repetition of the affair of
Cabouche. It is a strange thing that Cabouche himself, who had often
made good his boast of bully of the fore-castle, should have been the
one to put this small mutiny down. For he stood in the doorway of the
wine room pointing his arquebuse toward his companions and vowing he
would shoot the one who advanced. It was said, when it was done and
they had retreated, that he disappeared into the darkness and took a
good paunch-full himself, coming forth with a strong smell of alcohol
hanging about him.

In the afternoon there was a wonderful scene. De Gourgues gathered all
the Indians about him under the battlements and, through Dariol, made
them a long speech. From time to time they uttered loud cries which
broke in upon his words. When he had done, a prolonged yell came from
the savages and they swarmed over the ill-fated Fort, looking not
unlike a swarm of ants upon a hill of their own. They rushed through
the living quarters and the barracks and out upon the roofs tearing
and rending until it seemed as though some movement of the earth or
elements were splitting the buildings to pieces. In two hours the
corps-de-garde was razed to the ground. Meanwhile a great number had
mounted the battlements and with pikes, pieces of iron, and any rough
implements that came to hand, began prying the stones from their
places. With savage cries of exultation they tossed these out into the
river or threw them in the ditch or thicket. A dust arose which hid
them from our sight, but they worked on, as though maddened, in the
heat and glare until sundown, when not one stone was left upon another.
It was a whirlwind of ruin.

That night when I heard the preparations above me for sailing on the
morrow, it seemed impossible that only a week and three days had
passed since we had come to anchor in the Tacatacourou--since we had
made our league--found Mademoiselle--passed the hardships of the march
and attack, and come to the successful ending of our expedition. De
Gourgues said little. When he had finished speaking to the Indians
he had come aboard and set all the seamen to work stowing the vessel
and breaking out the spars and sails for the voyage. That night
Mademoiselle and Maheera bade a tearful good-by, for they had come to
love each other with a fond affection; and to this day I cannot forget
the services the Indian maiden did for me and mine. On the morrow the
anchors were broken out, and with a favoring breeze we moved slowly
down the river toward the sea; while the Indians, shouting messages
of good will to us, ran along the banks until the freshening wind had
driven us from their sight.

When the ships passed the smaller forts I could see that there too the
work of destruction had been complete; for the stones and fascines were
scattered in all directions, and only a few overturned and broken gun
rests showed where the bastions had been. We sailed out over the bar at
high tide and with a last salute to our friendly hosts we set our prow
squarely abreast the broad surges, for France. In a few days I could
almost crawl about the decks without an arm to steady me. In two weeks
I went about some simple duties; and in the long summer twilights,
Mademoiselle and I would sit high up on the slanting after-castle near
the lanthorns, looking back down the pink, swirling wake toward the
land where we had both suffered so much. Of De Baçan we spoke but once.
I let fall a word of regret that so gallant and splendid a fighter
should have been of so ill-favored a disposition. But Mademoiselle
made me no reply. With the thought how near she had come to falling
into his hands after the capture of Fort Caroline, she shuddered, drew
closer to me and would hear of him no more. We had too many present
joys to conjure up the miseries that were past. We had been born into
a new world of our own and we peopled it with fancies as blithe as
ourselves. Under the laughing stars we were creatures of unreality,
unconscious of all save the great love which had conquered everything.
De Gourgues sat with us sometimes, but not for long; for there is no
pain keener than that which comes from seeing a forbidden joy through
the eyes of another.

My tale is soon ended. We reached Rochelle after a voyage of little
event, and were greeted with great honor. So soon as it could be
accomplished,--and that was with such speed of habit and frock making
as was never known before or since,--Diane and I were married. The
endurance and strength of heart which bore her up in all her sufferings
among those wild western forests has, to this day of our age and
contentment, been my sturdiest prop in time of stress. I need not tell
at length how, through Coligny, the prize money for the _San Cristobal_
was turned over at last to Captain Hooper; and how upon a certain
successful voyage from Plymouth I came to be his second in command, nor
how I owned my own vessel before my mistress had Domenique and little
Diane well out of their swaddling clothes. The Chevalier de Brésac
has come back from his voyage with Sir Walter Raleigh. M. de Teligny
is dead, leaving the Chevalier a great fortune, and he is now out
upon a venture of his own. Job Goddard, hoary headed and staunch, but
convincing and windy-worded as ever, sits smoking at his window in the
Pelican with Martin Cockrem. And the two rogues, gathering the growing
youth of the docks about them, with easy elaboration, tell wonderful
yarns of voyages to strange countries where people walk upside down,
and of a preference use their toes for fingers, to which the urchins
listen, their wide mouths agape and their eyes agog with curiosity. Job
has set about planting a patch of tobacco at Plymouth; but his pursuit
has fared ill, and so he gets the leaf in bales from the ships that
come laden to Plymouth from the western main.

It is history how De Gourgues was spurned at Paris by that weakling,
Charles; how our own good Queen Bess of England offered him a command,
and how Charles thereupon relented, and would have given him a position
of authority. But De Gourgues was never a stranger to adversity; and
through it all, his great grief has ever been that Menendez de Avilés
escaped the vengeance at San Mateo, of which he had been the dearest
object. This malefactor died full of honor and riches, high in the
favor of Philip of Spain, who, had he lived, would have given him
command of the great Armada.

That Spanish fleet, so long threatened, has come and gone. Through
the good offices of Sir Francis Drake and Lord Howard, for both of
whom my father had performed some service, I was given considerable
responsibility and command upon Drake’s own _Revenge_, acquitting
myself to the great Admiral’s satisfaction. So that I came into the
royal service again as commander of the _White Bear_, and gained for
myself many emoluments and honors. By great good fortune I thus won
my way into the notice of the Queen, and so, through her generosity,
was enabled in some sort to restore my family to the prestige it had
enjoyed before the imprudences and generosities of my grandfather and
father had depleted the value of the estates. I lay no claim to credit
for these achievements. Had it not been for Diane, I should have made
no attempt to regain the position of my family before the Court. Her
soft influences, strong and womanly, have weaned me away from the
boisterous habits of my wild young life, and have shown me the value
of the refinements which come of gentle living: With the death of the
Queen Mother, in France, there came, too, a change in the fortunes of
Diane and the great Henry--the greatest, Henry of Navarre,--with that
rare grace which has ever distinguished him, has given back again the
estate of La Notte, at Villeneuve, to my wife. Thither, at certain
seasons, we go; forming thus another link, not without a certain value,
between two great Christian monarchs.

Diane has built a summer-house on her estate, and she has fashioned it
after the lodge of Olotoraca, where during those long months she waited
for me. It is not in a wild pine forest, where every night the winds
may sing their grand and lonely psalms. It is on the borders of a quiet
lake, where soft sweeping willows whisper with the rippling water, and
tall poplars, like sentinels, guard us against the legions of unrest.
When the sun has set, and the slender moon has sailed out across the
deep green vault above us, then we sit, hand-in-hand, dreaming and at
peace, I--and Mademoiselle.


THE END.



 Transcriber’s Notes:

 --Text in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).

 --Punctuation and spelling inaccuracies were silently corrected.

 --Archaic and variable spelling has been preserved.

 --Variations in hyphenation and compound words have been preserved.

 --Incorrect chapter numbers for Chapters XXIV (p. 329), XXV (p. 344)
   and XXVI (p. 361) were adjusted to match the Table of Contents.





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