By England's Aid
G. A. Henty
Part 4 out of 7
"It is still open to you," Geoffrey said, "to get your friends to
obtain a commission for you."
"I could do that," Gerald said moodily, "but of all things that is what
I should most hate."
"You might make your peace with the English government and get some of
your estates back again."
"That I will not do to feed myself," Gerald Burke said firmly. "I have
thought that if I ever carry off Inez I might for her sake do so, for I
own that now all hope of help from Spain is at an end, our cause in
Ireland is lost, and it is no use going on struggling against the
inevitable; but I am not going to sue the English government as a
beggar for myself. No doubt I could borrow small sums from Irishmen and
Scotchmen here, and hold on for a few months; but most of them are
well-nigh as poor as I am myself, and I would not ask them. Besides,
there would be no chance of my repaying them; and, if I am to rob
anyone, I would rather plunder these rich dons than my own countrymen."
"Of one thing I am resolved," Geoffrey said, "I will not live at your
expense any longer, Gerald. I can speak Spanish very fairly now, and
can either take service in some Spanish family or, as I said, get work
in the field."
Gerald laughed. "My dear Geoffrey, the extra expenses caused by you
last week were, as far as I can calculate, one penny for bread and as
much for fruit; the rest of your living was obtained at the expense of
"At any rate," Geoffrey said smiling, "I insist that my money be now
thrown into the common fund. I have offered it several times before,
but you always said we had best keep it for emergency. I think the
emergency has come now, and these ten English pounds in my belt will
enable us to take some step or other. The question is, what step? They
might last us, living as we do, for some three or four months, but at
the end of that time we should be absolutely penniless; therefore now
is the time, while we have still a small stock in hand, to decide upon
"But what are we to decide upon?" Gerald Burke asked helplessly.
"I have been thinking it over a great deal," Geoffrey said, "and my
idea is that we had best go to Cadiz or some other large port. Although
Spain is at war both with England and the Netherlands, trade still goes
on in private ships, and both Dutch and English vessels carry on
commerce with Spain; therefore it seems to me that there must be
merchants in Cadiz who would be ready to give employment to men capable
of speaking and writing both in Spanish and English, and in my case to
a certain extent in Dutch. From there, too, there might be a chance of
getting a passage to England or Holland. If we found that impossible
owing to the vessels being too carefully searched before sailing, we
might at the worst take passage as sailors on board a Spanish ship
bound for the Indies, and take our chance of escape or capture there or
on the voyage. That, at least, is what I planned for myself."
"I think your idea is a good one, Geoffrey. At any rate to Cadiz we
will go. I don't know about the mercantile business or going as a
sailor, but I could get a commission from the governor there as well as
here in Madrid; but at any rate I will go. Donna Inez was taken last
week by her father to some estates he has somewhere between Seville and
Cadiz, in order, I suppose, that he may be nearer Don Philip, who is, I
hear, at last recovering from his long illness. I do not know that
there is the slightest use in seeing her again, but I will do so if it
be possible; and if by a miracle I could succeed in carrying her off,
Cadiz would be a more likely place to escape from than anywhere.
"Yes, I know. You think the idea is a mad one, but you have never been
in love yet. When you are you will know that lovers do not believe in
the word 'impossible.' At any rate, I mean to give Inez the chance of
determining her own fate. If she is ready to risk everything rather
than marry Don Philip, I am ready to share the risk whatever it may
Accordingly on the following day Gerald Burke disposed of the greater
part of his wardrobe and belongings, purchased two ponies for a few
crowns, and he and Geoffrey, with a solitary suit of clothes in a
wallet fastened behind the saddle, started for their journey to Cadiz.
They mounted outside the city, for Gerald shrank from meeting any
acquaintances upon such a sorry steed as he had purchased; but once on
their way his spirits rose. He laughed and chatted gaily, and spoke of
the future as if all difficulties were cleared away. The ponies,
although rough animals, were strong and sturdy, and carried their
riders at a good pace. Sometimes they travelled alone, sometimes jogged
along with parties whom they overtook by the way, or who had slept in
the same posadas or inns at which they had put up for the night.
Most of these inns were very rough, and, to Geoffrey, astonishingly
dirty. The food consisted generally of bread and a miscellaneous olio
or stew from a great pot constantly simmering over the fire, the
flavour, whatever it might be, being entirely overpowered by that of
the oil and garlic that were the most marked of its constituents. Beds
were wholly unknown at these places, the guests simply wrapping
themselves in their cloaks and lying down on the floor, although in a
few exceptional cases bundles of rushes were strewn about to form a
But the travelling was delightful. It was now late in the autumn, and
when they were once past the dreary district of La Mancha, and had
descended to the rich plains of Cordova, the vintage was in full
progress and the harvest everywhere being garnered in. Their mid-day
meal consisted of bread and fruit, costing but the smallest coin, and
eaten by the wayside in the shade of a clump of trees. They heard many
tales on their way down of the bands of robbers who infested the road,
but having taken the precaution of having the doubloons for which they
had exchanged Geoffrey's English gold sewn up in their boots, they had
no fear of encountering these gentry, having nothing to lose save their
wallets and the few dollars they had kept out for the expenses of their
journey. The few jewels that Gerald Burke retained were sewn up in the
stuffing of his saddle.
After ten days' travel they reached Seville, where they stayed a couple
of days, and where the wealth and splendour of the buildings surprised
Geoffrey, who had not visited Antwerp or any of the great commercial
centres of the Netherlands.
"It is a strange taste of the Spanish kings," he observed to Gerald
Burke, "to plant their capital at Madrid in the centre of a barren
country, when they might make such a splendid city as this their
capital. I could see no charms whatever in Madrid. The climate was
detestable, with its hot sun and bitter cold winds. Here the
temperature is delightful; the air is soft and balmy, the country round
is a garden, and there is a cathedral worthy of a capital."
"It seems a strange taste," Gerald agreed; "but I believe that when
Madrid was first planted it stood in the midst of extensive forests,
and that it was merely a hunting residence for the king."
"Then, when the forests went I would have gone too," Geoffrey said.
"Madrid has not even a river worthy of the name, and has no single
point to recommend it, as far as I can see, for the capital of a great
empire. If I were a Spaniard I should certainly take up my residence in
Upon the following morning they again started, joining, before they had
ridden many miles, a party of three merchants travelling with their
servants to Cadiz. The merchants looked a little suspiciously at first
at the two young men upon their rough steeds; but as soon as they
discovered from their first salutations that they were foreigners, they
became more cordial, and welcomed this accession of strength to their
party, for the carrying of weapons was universal, and the portion of
the road between Seville and Cadiz particularly unsafe, as it was
traversed by so many merchants and wealthy people. The conversation
speedily turned to the disturbed state of the roads.
"I do not think," one of the merchants said, "that any ordinary band of
robbers would dare attack us," and he looked round with satisfaction at
the six armed servants who rode behind them.
"It all depends," Gerald Burke said, with a sly wink at Geoffrey, "upon
what value the robbers may place upon the valour of your servants. As a
rule serving-men are very chary of their skins, and I should imagine
that the robbers must be pretty well aware of that fact. Most of them
are disbanded soldiers or deserters, and I should say that four of them
are more than a match for your six servants. I would wager that your
men would make but a very poor show of it if it came to fighting."
"But there are our three selves and you two gentlemen," the merchant
said in a tone of disquiet.
"Well," Gerald rejoined, "I own that from your appearance I should not
think, worshipful sir, that fighting was altogether in your line. Now,
my servant, young as he is, has taken part in much fighting in the
Netherlands, and I myself have had some experience with my sword; but
if we were attacked by robbers we should naturally stand neutral.
Having nothing to defend, and having no inclination whatever to get our
throats cut in protecting the property of others, I think that you will
see for yourselves that that is reasonable. We are soldiers of fortune,
ready to venture our lives in a good service, and for good pay, but
mightily disinclined to throw them away for the mere love of fighting."
RECRUITING THEIR FUNDS.
As soon as Gerald Burke began conversing with the merchants, Geoffrey
fell back and took his place among their servants, with whom he at once
entered into conversation. To amuse himself he continued in the same
strain that he had heard Gerald adopt towards the merchants, and spoke
in terms of apprehension of the dangers of the journey, and of the
rough treatment that had befallen those who had ventured to offer
opposition to the robbers. He was not long in discovering, by the
anxious glances they cast round them, and by the manner of their
questions, that some at least of the party were not to be relied upon
in case of an encounter.
He was rather surprised at Gerald remaining so long in company with the
merchants, for their pace was a slow one, as they were followed by
eight heavily-laden mules, driven by two muleteers, and it would have
been much pleasanter, he thought, to have trotted on at their usual
pace. About midday, as they were passing along the edge of a thick
wood, a party of men suddenly sprang out and ordered them to halt.
Geoffrey shouted to the men with him to come on, and drawing his sword
Two of the men only followed him. The others hesitated, until a shot
from a musket knocked off one of their hats, whereupon the man and his
comrades turned their horses' heads and rode off at full speed. The
merchants had drawn their swords, and stood on the defensive, and
Geoffrey on reaching them was surprised to find that Gerald Burke was
sitting quietly on his horse without any apparent intention of taking
part in the fight.
"Put up your sword, Geoffrey," he said calmly; "this affair is no
business of ours. We have nothing to lose, and it is no business of
ours to defend the money-bags of these gentlemen."
The robbers, eight in number, now rushed up. One of the merchants,
glancing round, saw that two of their men only had come up to their
assistance. The muleteers, who were probably in league with the
robbers, had fled, leaving their animals standing in the road. The
prospect seemed desperate. One of the merchants was an elderly man, the
others were well on middle age. The mules were laden with valuable
goods, and they had with them a considerable sum of money for making
purchases at Cadiz. It was no time for hesitation.
"We will give you five hundred crowns if you will both aid us to beat
off these robbers."
"It is a bargain," Gerald replied. "Now, Geoffrey, have at these
Leaping from their ponies they ranged themselves by the merchants just
as the robbers attacked them. Had it not been for their aid the combat
would have been a short one; for although determined to defend their
property to the last, the traders had neither strength nor skill at
arms. One was unhorsed at the first blow, and another wounded; but the
two servants, who had also dismounted, fought sturdily, and Gerald and
Geoffrey each disposed of a man before the robbers, who had not
reckoned upon their interference, were prepared to resist their attack.
The fight did not last many minutes. The traders did their best, and
although by no means formidable opponents, distracted the attention of
the robbers, who were startled by the fall of two of their party.
Geoffrey received a sharp cut on the head, but at the same moment ran
his opponent through the body, while Gerald Burke cut down the man
opposed to him. The other four robbers, seeing they were now
outnumbered, at once took to their heels.
"By St. Jago!" one of the traders said, "you are stout fighters, young
men, and have won your fee well. Methought we should have lost our
lives as well as our goods, and I doubt not we should have done so had
you not ranged yourselves with us. Now, let us bandage up our wounds,
for we have all received more or less hurt."
When the wounds, some of which were serious, were attended to, the
fallen robbers were examined. Three of them were dead; but the man last
cut down by Gerald Burke seemed likely to recover.
"Shall we hang him upon a tree as a warning to these knaves, or shall
we take him with us to the next town and give him in charge of the
authorities there?" one of the traders asked.
"If I were you I would do neither," Gerald said, "but would let him go
free if he will tell you the truth about this attack. It will be just
as well for you to get to the bottom of this affair, and find out
whether it is a chance meeting, or whether any of your own people have
been in league with him."
"That is a good idea," the trader agreed, "and I will carry it out,"
and going up to the man, who had now recovered his senses, he said to
him sternly: "We have made up our minds to hang you; but you may save
your life if you will tell us how you came to set upon us. Speak the
truth and you shall go free, otherwise we will finish with you without
The robber, seeing an unexpected chance of escape from punishment, at
once said that the captain of their band, who was the man Geoffrey had
last run through, came out from Seville the evening before, and told
him that one Juan Campos, with whom he had long had intimate relations,
and who was clerk to a rich trader, had, upon promise that he should
receive one-fifth of the booty taken, informed him that his master with
two other merchants was starting on the following morning for Cadiz
with a very valuable lot of goods, and twenty-five thousand crowns,
which they intended to lay out in the purchase of goods brought by some
galleons that had just arrived from the Indies. He had arranged to
bribe his master's two servants to ride away when they attacked the
gang, and also to settle with the muleteers so that they should take no
part in the affair. They had reckoned that the flight of two of the
servants would probably affect the others, and had therefore expected
the rich booty to fall into their hands without the trouble of striking
a blow for it.
"It is well we followed your suggestion," one of the traders said to
Gerald. "I had no suspicion of the honesty of my clerk, and had we not
made this discovery he would doubtless have played me a similar trick
upon some other occasion. I will ride back at once, friends, for if he
hears of the failure of the attack he may take the alarm and make off
with all he can lay his hands upon. Our venture was to be in common. I
will leave it to you to carry it out, and return and dismiss Campos and
the two rascally servants." The three traders went apart and consulted
together. Presently the eldest of the party returned to the young men.
"We have another five days' journey before us," he said, "and but two
servants upon whom we can place any reliance. We have evidence of the
unsafety of the roads, and, as you have heard, we have a large sum of
money with us. You have already more than earned the reward I offered
you, and my friends have agreed with me that if you will continue to
journey with us as far as Cadiz, and to give us the aid of your valour
should we be again attacked, we will make the five hundred crowns a
thousand. It is a large sum, but we have well-nigh all our fortunes at
stake, and we feel that we owe you our lives as well as the saving of
"We could desire nothing better," Gerald replied, "and will answer with
our lives that your goods and money shall arrive safely at Cadiz."
The traders then called up their two serving-men, and told them that on
their arrival at Cadiz they would present them each with a hundred
crowns for having so stoutly done their duty. The employer of the
treacherous clerk then turned his horse's head and rode back towards
Seville, while the others prepared to proceed on their way. The two
muleteers had now come out from among the bushes, and were busy
refastening the bales on the mules, the ropes having become loosened in
the struggles of the animals while the fight was going on. The
merchants had decided to say nothing to the men as to the discovery
that they were in league with the robbers.
"Half these fellows are in alliance with these bands, which are a
scourge to the country," one of the traders said. "If we were to inform
the authorities at the next town, we should, in the first place, be
blamed for letting the wounded man escape, and secondly we might be
detained for days while investigations are going on. In this country
the next worse thing to being a prisoner is to be a complainant. Law is
a luxury in which the wealthy and idle can alone afford to indulge."
As soon, therefore, as the baggage was readjusted the party proceeded
on their way.
"What do you think of that, Geoffrey?" Gerald Burke asked as he rode
for a short distance by the side of his supposed servant.
"It is magnificent," Geoffrey replied; "and it seems to me that the
real road to wealth in Spain is to hire yourself out as a guard to
"Ah, you would not get much if you made your bargain beforehand. It is
only at a moment of urgent danger that fear will open purse-strings
widely. Had we bargained beforehand with these traders we might have
thought ourselves lucky if we had got ten crowns apiece as the price of
our escort to Cadiz, and indeed we should have been only too glad if
last night such an offer had been made to us; but when a man sees that
his property and life are really in danger he does not stop to haggle,
but is content to give a handsome percentage of what is risked for aid
to save the rest."
"Well, thank goodness, our money trouble is at an end," Geoffrey said;
"and it will be a long time before we need have any anxiety on that
"Things certainly look better," Gerald said laughing; "and if Inez
consents to make a runaway match of it with me I sha'n't have to ask
her to pay the expenses."
Cadiz was reached without further adventure. The merchants kept their
agreement honourably, and handed over a heavy bag containing a thousand
crowns to Gerald on their arrival at that city. They had upon the road
inquired of him the nature of his business there. He had told them that
he was at present undecided whether to enter the army, in which some
friends of his had offered to obtain him a commission, or to join in an
adventure to the Indies. They had told him they were acquainted with
several merchants at Cadiz who traded both with the east and west, and
that they would introduce him to them as a gentleman of spirit and
courage, whom they might employ with advantage upon such ventures; and
this promise after their arrival there they carried out.
"Now, Geoffrey," Gerald said as they sat together that evening at a
comfortable inn, "we must talk over matters here. We have five hundred
crowns apiece, and need not trouble any longer as to how we are to
support life. Your great object, of course, is to get out of this
country somehow, and to make your way back to England. My first is to
see Inez and find out whether she will follow my fortunes or remain to
become some day Marchesa of Sottomayor. If she adopts the former
alternative I have to arrange some plan to carry her off and to get out
of the country, an operation in which I foresee no little difficulty.
Of course if we are caught my life is forfeited, there is no question
about that. The question for us to consider is how we are to set about
to carry out our respective plans."
"We need only consider your plan as far as I can see," Geoffrey said.
"Of course I shall do what I can to assist you, and if you manage to
get off safely with the young lady I shall escape at the same time."
"Not at all," Burke said; "you have only to wait here quietly until you
see an opportunity. I will go with you to-morrow to the merchants I was
introduced to to-day, and say that I am going away for a time and shall
be obliged if they will make you useful in any way until I return. In
that way you will have a sort of established position here, and can
wait until you see a chance of smuggling yourself on board some English
or Dutch vessel. Mine is a very different affair. I may talk lightly of
it, but I am perfectly aware that I run a tremendous risk, and that the
chances are very strongly against me."
"Whatever the chances are," Geoffrey said quietly, "I shall share them
with you. Your kindness has saved me from what at best might have been
imprisonment for life, and not improbably would have been torture and
death at the hands of the Inquisition, and I am certainly not going to
withdraw myself from you now when you are entering upon what is
undoubtedly a very dangerous adventure. If we escape from Spain we
escape together; if not, whatever fate befalls you I am ready to risk."
"Very well; so be it, Geoffrey," Gerald Burke said, holding out his
hand to him. "If your mind is made up I will not argue the question
with you, and indeed I value your companionship and aid too highly to
try to shake your determination. Let us then at once talk over what is
now our joint enterprise. Ribaldo estate lies about half-way between
this and Seville, and we passed within a few miles of it as we came
hither. The first thing, of course, will be to procure some sort of
disguise in which I can see Inez and have a talk with her. Now, it
seems to me, for I have been thinking the matter over in every way as
we rode, that the only disguise in which this would be possible would
be that of a priest or monk."
Geoffrey laughed aloud. "You would in the first place have to shave off
your moustachios, Gerald, and I fear that even after you had done so
there would be nothing venerable in your appearance; and whatever the
mission with which you might pretend to charge yourself, your chances
of obtaining a private interview with the lady would be slight."
"I am afraid that I should lack the odour of sanctity, Geoffrey; but
what else can one do? Think it over, man. The way in which you played
the idiot when you were picked out of the water shows that you are
quick at contriving a plan."
"That was a simple business in comparison to this," Geoffrey replied.
"However, you are not pressed for time, and I will think it over to-
night and may light upon some possible scheme, for I own that at
present I have not the least idea how the matter is to be managed."
As in the morning there were several other travellers taking breakfast
in the same room, the conversation was not renewed until Gerald Burke
strolled out, followed at a respectful distance by Geoffrey, who still
passed as his servant, and reached a quiet spot on the ramparts. Here
Geoffrey joined him, and they stood for some minutes looking over the
"What a magnificent position for a city!" Geoffrey said at last.
"Standing on this rocky tongue of land jutting out at the entrance to
this splendid bay it ought to be impregnable, since it can only be
attacked on the side facing that sandy isthmus. What a number of ships
are lying up the bay, and what a busy scene it is with the boats
passing and repassing! Though they must be two miles away I fancy I can
hear the shouts of the sailors."
"Yes, it is all very fine," Gerald said; "but I have seen it several
times before. Still, I can make allowances for you. Do you see that
group of small ships a mile beyond the others? Those are the English
and Dutchmen. They are allowed to trade, but as you see they are kept
apart, and there are three war galleys lying close to them. No one is
allowed to land, and every boat going off is strictly examined, and all
those who go on board have to show their permits from the governor to
trade; so, you see, the chance of getting on board one of them is
slight indeed. Higher up the bay lies Puerto de Santa Maria, where a
great trade is carried on, and much wine shipped; though more comes
from Jeres, which lies up the river. You know we passed through it on
our way here.
"Yes, this is a splendid position for trade, and I suppose the commerce
carried on here is larger than in any port in Europe; though Antwerp
ranked as first until the troubles began in the Netherlands. But this
ought to be first. It has all the trade of the Atlantic sea-board, and
standing at the mouth of the Mediterranean commands that also; while
all the wealth of the New World pours in here. That is great already;
there is no saying what it will be in the future, while some day the
trade from the far East should flow in here also by vessels trading
round the south of Africa.
"Cadiz has but one fault: the space on which it stands is too small for
a great city. You see how close the houses stand together, and how
narrow are the streets. It cannot spread without extending beyond the
rock over the sands, and then its strength would be gone, and it would
be open to capture by an enterprising enemy having command of the sea.
There now, having indulged your humour, let us return to more important
matters. Have you thought over what we were talking about last night?"
"I have certainly thought it over," Geoffrey said; "but I do not know
that thinking has resulted in much. The only plan that occurs to me as
being at all possible is this. You were talking in joke at Madrid of
turning robber. Would it be possible, think you, to get together a
small band of men to aid you in carrying off the young lady, either
from the grounds of her father's house or while journeying on the road?
You could then have your talk with her. If you find her willing to fly
with you, you could leave the men you have engaged and journey across
the country in some sort of disguise to a port. If she objected, you
could conduct her back to the neighbourhood of the house and allow her
to return. There is one difficulty: you must, of course, be prepared
with a priest, so that you can be married at once if she consents to
Gerald Burke was silent for some time. "The scheme seems a possible
one," he said at last; "it is the question of the priest that bothers
me. You know, both in Seville and Cadiz there are Irish colleges, and
at both places there are several priests whom I knew before they
entered the Church, and who would, I am sure, perform the service for
me on any ordinary occasion; but it is a different thing asking them to
take a share in such a business as this, for they would render
themselves liable to all sorts of penalties and punishments from their
superiors. However, the difficulty must be got over somehow, and at any
rate the plan seems to promise better than anything I had thought of.
The first difficulty is how to get the ruffians for such a business. I
cannot go up to the first beetle-browed knave I meet in the street and
say to him, Are you disposed to aid me in the abduction of a lady?"
"No," Geoffrey laughed; "but fortunately you have an intermediary ready
"How so?" Gerald exclaimed in surprise. "Why, how on earth can you have
an acquaintance with any ruffians in Cadiz?"
"Not a very intimate acquaintance, Gerald; but if you take the trouble
to go into the court-yard of the inn when we get back you will see one
of those rascally muleteers who were in league with the robbers who
attacked us on the way. He was in conversation when we came out with a
man who breakfasted with us, and was probably bargaining for a load for
his mules back to Seville. I have no doubt that through him you might
put yourself into communication with half the cutthroats of the town."
"That is a capital idea, Geoffrey, and I will have a talk with the man
as soon as we get back; for if he is not still there, I am sure to be
able to learn from some of the men about the stables where to find
"You must go very carefully to work, Gerald," Geoffrey said. "It would
never do to let any of the fellows know the exact object for which you
engaged them, for they might be sure of getting a far larger sum from
the marquis for divulging your plans to carry off his daughter than you
could afford to pay them for their services."
"I quite see that, and will be careful."
On their return to the inn Gerald Burke at once made inquiries as to
the muleteer, and learned that he would probably return in an hour to
see if a bargain could be made with a trader for the hire of his mules
back to Seville.
Gerald waited about until the man came. "I want to have a talk with
you, my friend," he said.
The muleteer looked at him with a suspicious eye. "I am busy," he said
in a surly tone; "I have no time to waste."
"But it would not be wasting it if it were to lead to your putting a
dozen crowns in your pocket."
"Oh, if it is to lead to that, senor, I can spare an hour, for I don't
think that anything is likely to come out of the job I came here to try
"We will walk away to a quieter place," Gerald said. "There are too
many people about here for us to talk comfortably. The ramparts are but
two or three minutes' walk; we can talk there without interruption."
When they arrived upon the ramparts Gerald commenced the conversation.
"I think you were foolish, my friend, not to have taken us into your
confidence the other day before that little affair. You could have made
an opportunity well enough. We stopped to luncheon; if you had drawn me
aside, and told me frankly that some friends of yours were about to
make an attack upon the traders, and that you would guarantee that they
would make it worth my while-"
"What do you mean by saying my friends, or that I had any knowledge of
the affair beforehand?" the man asked furiously.
"I say so," Gerald replied, "because I had it on excellent authority.
The wounded robber made a clean breast of the whole affair, and of your
share in it, as well as that of the rascally clerk of one of the
traders. If it had not been for me the merchants would have handed you
over to the magistrates at the place where we stopped that night; but I
dissuaded them, upon the ground that they would have to attend as
witnesses against you, and that it was not worth their while to lose
valuable time merely for the pleasure of seeing you hung. However, all
this is beside the question. What I was saying was, it is a pity you
did not say to me frankly: Your presence here is inopportune; but if
you will stand apart if any unexpected affair takes place, you will get
say two thousand crowns out of the twenty-five thousand my friends are
going to capture. Had you done that, you see, things might have turned
"I did not know," the muleteer stammered.
"No, you did not know for certain, of course, that I was a soldier of
fortune; but if you had been sharp you might have guessed it. However,
it is too late for that now. Now, what I wanted to ask you was if you
could get me half a dozen of your friends to take service under me in a
little adventure I have to carry out. They will be well paid, and I do
not suppose they will have much trouble over it."
"And what would you pay me, cabbalero?" the muleteer asked humbly; for
he had been greatly impressed with the valour displayed by the young
Irishman and his servant in the fray, and thought that he intended to
get together a company for adventures on the road, in which case he
might be able to have some profitable dealings with him in the future.
"I will give you twenty crowns," Gerald replied; "and considering that
you owe your life to my interposition, I think that you ought not to
haggle about terms."
"The party who attacked us," the muleteer said, "lost their captain and
several of their comrades in that fray, and would I doubt not gladly
enter into your service, seeing that they have received such proof of
your worship's valour."
"Where could I see them?" Gerald asked.
"I think that they will be now in Jeres, if that would suit you, senor;
but if not I could doubtless find a party of men in this town equally
ready for your business."
"Jeres will do very well for me," Gerald said; "I shall be travelling
that way and will put up at the Fonda where we stopped as we came
through. When are you starting?"
"It depends whether I make my bargain with a man at your hotel," the
muleteer replied; "and this I doubt not I shall do, for with the twenty
crowns your honour is going to give me I shall not stand out for terms.
He is travelling with clothes from Flanders, and if your worship
"No," Gerald said. "I do not wish to undertake any adventures of that
sort until I have a band properly organized, and have arranged hiding-
places and methods of getting rid of the booty. I will go back with you
to the inn, and if you strike your bargain you can tell me as you pass
out of the gate what evening you will meet me at Jeres."
On arriving at the inn Gerald lounged at the gate of the court-yard
until the muleteer came out.
"I will meet your worship on the fifth night from this at Jeres."
"Very well; here are five crowns as an earnest on our bargain. If you
carry it out well I shall very likely forget to deduct them from the
twenty I promised you. Do not be surprised if you find me somewhat
changed in appearance when you meet me there."
At the appointed time the muleteer with his train of animals entered
the court-yards of the Fonda at Jeres. Gerald was standing on the steps
of the inn. He had altered the fashion of his hair, had fastened on
large bushy eyebrows which he had obtained from a skilful perruquier in
Cadiz, and a moustache of imposing size turned up at the tips; he wore
high buff leather boots, and there was an air of military swagger about
him, and he was altogether so changed that at the first glance the
muleteer failed to recognize him. As soon as the mules were unburdened,
Gerald found an opportunity of speaking with him.
"I will go round at once," the man said, "to the place where I shall
certainly obtain news of my friends if they are here. I told your
honour that they might be here, but they may have gone away on some
affair of business, and may be on the road or at Seville. They always
work between this town and Seville."
"I understand that you may not meet them to-night; if not, I will meet
you again in Seville. How long will you be finding out about them?"
"I shall know in half an hour, senor; if they are not here I shall be
back here in less than an hour, but if I find them I shall be detained
longer in order to talk over with them the offer your worship makes."
"Very well; in an hour you will find me in the street opposite the inn.
I shall wait there until you come. If all is well make a sign and I
will follow you. Do not mention to them that I have in any way
disguised myself. Our acquaintance was so short that I don't fancy they
had time to examine me very closely; and I have my own reasons for
wishing that they should not be acquainted with my ordinary appearance,
and have therefore to some extent disguised myself."
"I will say nothing about it," the muleteer replied. "Your worship can
depend upon my discretion."
"That is right," Gerald said. "We may have future dealings together,
and I can reward handsomely those I find trustworthy and punish those
who in the slightest degree disobey my orders."
In an hour and a half the muleteer returned, made a signal to Gerald
and passed on. The latter joined him at a short distance from the
"It is all settled, senor. I found the men much dispirited at the loss
of their captain and comrades; and when I proposed to them to take
service under the cabbalero who wrought them such mischief the other
day, they jumped at the idea, saying that under such a valiant leader
there was no fear of the failure of any enterprise they might
A quarter of an hour's walking took them to a small inn of villainous
appearance in one of the smallest lanes of the town. Gerald was wrapped
from head to foot in his cloak, and only his face was visible. He had a
brace of pistols in his belt, and was followed at a short distance,
unnoticed by the muleteer, by Geoffrey, who had arranged to keep close
to the door of any house he entered, and was to be in readiness to rush
in and take part in the fray if he heard the sound of firearms within.
Gerald himself had not at first entertained any idea of treachery; but
Geoffrey had pointed out that it was quite possible that the robbers
and the muleteer had but feigned acquiescence in his proposals in order
to get him into their power, and take revenge for the loss of their
captain and comrades, and of the valuable booty which had so
unexpectedly slipped through their fingers owing to his intervention.
The appearance of the six ruffians gathered in the low room, lighted by
a wretched lamp, was not very assuring, and Gerald kept his hand on the
butt of one of his pistols.
The four robbers who had been engaged in the fray, however, saluted him
respectfully, and the other two members of the band, who had been
absent on other business, followed their example. They had heard from
those present of the extraordinary valour with which the two travelling
companions of the trader had thrown themselves into the fray, and had
alone disposed of their four comrades, and being without a leader, and
greatly disheartened by their ill-luck, they were quite ready to
forgive the misfortunes Gerald had brought upon them, and to accept
such a redoubtable swordsman as their leader.
Gerald began the conversation. "You have heard," he said, "from our
friend here of the offer I make you. I desire a band of six men on whom
I can rely for an adventure which promises large profit. Don't suppose
that I am going to lead you to petty robberies on the road, in which,
as you learned to your cost the other day, one sometimes gets more hard
knocks than profit. Such adventures may do for petty knaves, but they
are not suited to me. The way to get wealthy is to strike at the rich.
My idea is to establish some place in an out-of-the-way quarter where
there is no fear of prying neighbours, and to carry off and hide there
the sons and daughters of wealthy men and put them to ransom. In the
first instance I am going to undertake a private affair of my own; and
as you will really run no risk in the matter, for I shall separate
myself from you after making my capture, I shall pay you only an
earnest-money of twenty crowns each. In future affairs we shall act
upon the principle of shares. I shall take three shares, a friend who
works with me will take two shares, and you shall take one share
apiece. The risk will really be entirely mine, for I shall take charge
of the captives we make at our rendezvous. You, after lending a hand in
the capture, will return here and hold yourself in readiness to join
me, and carry out another capture as soon as I have made all the
necessary arrangements. Thus, if by any chance we are tracked, I alone
and my friend will run the risk of capture and punishment. In that way
we may, in the course of a few months, amass a much larger booty than
we should in a lifetime spent in these wretched adventures upon
"Now, it is for you to say whether these terms will suit you, and
whether you are ready to follow my orders and obey me implicitly. The
whole task of making the necessary arrangements, or finding out the
habits of the families one of whose members we intend carrying off, of
bribing nurses or duennas, will be all my business. You will simply
have to meet when you are summoned to aid in the actual enterprise, and
then, when our captive is safely housed, to return here or scatter
where you will and live at ease until again summoned. The utmost
fidelity will be necessary. Large rewards will in many cases
be offered for the discovery of the missing persons, and one traitor
would bring ruin upon us all; therefore it will be absolutely necessary
that you take an oath of fidelity to me, and swear one and all to
punish the traitor with death. Do you agree to my proposal?"
There was a unanimous exclamation of assent. The plan seemed to offer
probabilities of large booty with a minimum of trouble and risk. One
or two suggested that they should like to join in the first capture on
the same terms as the others, but Gerald at once pronounced this to be
"This is my own affair," he said, "and money is not now my object. As
you will only be required to meet at a given hour some evening, and to
carry off a captive who will not be altogether unwilling to come, there
will be little or no risk in the matter, and twenty crowns will not be
bad pay for an evening's work. After that you will, as I have said,
share in the profits of all future captures we may undertake."
The band all agreed, and at once took solemn oaths of fidelity to their
new leader, and swore to punish by death any one of their number who
should betray the secrets of the body.
"That is well," Gerald said when the oaths had been taken. "It may be a
week before you receive your first summons. Here are five crowns apiece
for your expenses up to that time. Let one of you be in front of the
great church as the clock strikes eight morning and evening. Do not
wait above five minutes; if I am coming I shall be punctual. In the
meantime take counsel among yourselves as to the best hiding-place that
can be selected. Between you you no doubt know every corner and hole in
the country. I want a place which will be at once lonely and far
removed from other habitations, but it must be at the same time
moderately comfortable, as the captives we take must have no reason to
complain of their treatment while in my hands. Think this matter over
before I again see you."
Gerald then joined Geoffrey outside, and found that the latter was
beginning to be anxious at his long absence. After a few words saying
that everything had been successfully arranged, the two friends
returned together to their inn.
THE FESTA AT SEVILLE.
And now, Gerald, that you have made your arrangements for the second
half of the plan, how are you going to set about the first? because you
said that you intended to give Donna Inez the option of flying with you
or remaining with her father."
"So I do still. Before I make any attempt to carry her off I shall
first learn whether she is willing to run the risks."
"But how are you going to set about it? You may be quite sure that she
never goes outside the garden without having her duenna with her. If
there is a chapel close by, doubtless she will go there once a day; and
it seems to me that this would be the best chance of speaking to her,
for I do not see how you can possibly introduce yourself into the
"That would be quite out of the question, in daylight at any rate,
Geoffrey. I do not suppose she ever goes beyond the terrace by the
house. But if I could communicate with her she might slip out for a few
minutes after dark, when the old lady happened to be taking a nap. The
question is how to get a letter into her hands."
"I think I might manage that, Gerald. It is not likely that the duenna
ever happened to notice me. I might therefore put on any sort of
disguise as a beggar and take my place on the road as she goes to
chapel, and somehow or other get your note into her hand. I have hoard
Spanish girls are very quick at acting upon the smallest sign, and if I
can manage to catch her eye for a moment she may probably be ingenious
enough to afford me an opportunity of passing the note to her."
"That might be done," Gerald agreed. "We will at once get disguises. I
will dress myself as an old soldier, with one arm in a sling and a
patch over my eye; you dress up in somewhat the same fashion as a
sailor boy. It is about twelve miles from here to Ribaldo's place. We
can walk that easily enough, dress ourselves up within a mile or two of
the place, and then go on and reconnoitre the ground."
"I should advise you to write your note before you start; it may be
that some unexpected opportunity for handing it to her may present
"I will do that; but let us sally out first and pick up two suits at
some dealer in old clothes. There will be sure to be two or three of
these in the poorer quarter."
The disguises were procured without difficulty, and putting them in a
small wallet they started before noon on their walk. In four hours they
reached the boundary of the Marquis of Ribaldo's estate. Going into a
wood they assumed the disguises, packed their own clothes in a wallet,
and hid this away in a clump of bushes. Then they again started-Gerald
Burke with his arm in a sling and Geoffrey limping along with the aid
of a thick stick he had cut in the wood.
On arriving at the village, a quarter of a mile from the gates of the
mansion, they went into a small wine-shop and called for two measures
of the cheapest wine and a loaf of bread. Here they sat for some time,
listening to the conversation of the peasants who frequented the wine-
shop. Sometimes a question was asked of the wayfarers. Gerald replied,
for his companion's Spanish although fluent was not good enough to pass
as that of a native. He replied to the question as to where they had
received their hurts that they were survivors of the Armada, and
grumbled that it was hard indeed that men who had fought in the
Netherlands and had done their duty to their country should be turned
adrift to starve.
"We have enough to pay for our supper and a night's lodging," he said,
"but where we are going to take our meal tomorrow is more than I can
say, unless we can meet with some charitable people."
"If you take your place by the roadside to-morrow morning," one of the
peasants said, "you may obtain charity from Donna Inez de Ribaldo. She
comes every morning to mass here; and they say she has a kind heart,
which is more than men give her father the marquis the credit of
possessing. We have not many poor round here, for at this time of year
all hands are employed in the vineyards, therefore there is the more
chance of your obtaining a little help."
"Thank you; I will take your advice," Gerald said. "I suppose she is
sure to come?"
"She is sure enough; she never misses when she is staying here."
That night the friends slept on a bundle of straw in an outhouse behind
the wine-shop, and arranged everything; and upon the following morning
took their seats by the roadside near the village. The bell of the
chapel was already sounding, and in a few minutes they saw two ladies
approaching, followed at a very short distance by a serving-man. They
had agreed that the great patch over Gerald's eye, aided by the false
moustachios, so completely disguised his appearance that they need have
no fear of his being recognized; and it was therefore decided he should
do the talking. As Donna Inez came up he commenced calling out: "Have
pity, gracious ladies, upon two broken-down soldiers. We have gone
through all the dangers and hardships of the terrible voyage of the
great Armada. We served in the ship _San Josef_ and are now
broken-down, and have no means of earning our living."
Gerald had somewhat altered his natural voice while speaking, but
Geoffrey was watching Donna Inez closely, and saw her start when he
began to speak; and when he said they had been on board the _San
Josef_ a flush of colour came across her face.
"We must relieve these poor men," she said to the duenna; "it is
pitiful to see them in such a state."
"We know not that their tale is true," the duenna replied sharply.
"Every beggar in our days pretends to be a broken-down soldier."
At this moment Donna Inez happened to glance at Geoffrey, who raised
his hand to his face and permitted a corner of a letter to be
"An impostor!" Gerald cried in a loud voice. "To think that I,
suffering from my terrible wounds, should be taken as an impostor," and
with a hideous yell he tumbled down as if in a fit, and rolled over and
over on the ground towards the duenna.
Seized with alarm at his approach, she turned and ran a few paces
backward. As she did so Geoffrey stepped up to Inez and held out the
note, which she took and concealed instantly in her dress.
"There is nothing to be alarmed at," she cried to the duenna. "The poor
man is doubtless in a fit. Here, my poor fellow, get aid for your
comrade," and taking out her purse she handed a dollar to Geoffrey, and
then joining the duenna proceeded on her way.
Geoffrey knelt beside his prostrate companion and appeared to be
endeavouring to restore him, until the ladies and their servant were
out of sight.
[Illustration: GEOFFREY GIVES INEZ HER LOVER'S NOTE]
"That was well managed," Gerald Burke said, sitting up as soon as a
turn of the road hid them from view. "Now we shall have our answer to-
morrow. Thank goodness there is no occasion for us to remain any longer
in these garments!"
They went to the wood and resumed their usual attire, and then walked
to a large village some four miles away, and putting up at the
principal inn remained there until early the next morning; then they
walked back to the village they had left on the previous day and posted
themselves in a thicket by the roadside, so that they could see
passers-by without being themselves observed.
"My fate will soon be decided now," Gerald said. "Will she wear a white
flower or not?"
"I am pretty sure that she will," Geoffrey said. "She would not have
started and coloured when she recognized your voice if she did not love
you. I do not think you need be under much uneasiness on that score."
In half an hour the ladies again came along, followed as before by
their servants. Donna Inez wore a bunch of white flowers in her dress.
"There is my answer," Gerald said. "Thank heaven! she loves me, and is
ready to fly with me, and will steal out some time after dark to meet
me in the garden."
As there was no occasion for him to stay longer, Geoffrey returned to
the village where they slept the night before, and accounted for his
companion's absence by saying that he had been detained on business and
would probably not return until late at night, as he would not be able
to see the person with whom he had affairs to transact until late. It
was past ten o'clock when Gerald Burke returned.
"It is all arranged, Geoffrey. I hid in the garden close by the terrace
as soon as it became dark. An hour later she came out and sauntered
along the terrace until I softly called her name; then she came to me.
She loves me with all her heart, and is ready to share my fate whatever
it may be. Her father only two days ago had ordered her to prepare for
her marriage with Don Philip, and she was in despair until she
recognized my voice yesterday morning. She is going with her father to
a grand festa at Seville next Wednesday. They will stop there two
nights--the one before the festa and the one after. I told her that I
could not say yet whether I should make the attempt to carry her off on
her journey or after her return here, as that must depend upon
circumstances. At any rate, that gives us plenty of time to prepare our
plans. To-morrow we will hire horses and ride to Seville, and I will
there arrange with one of my friends at the Irish College to perform
the ceremony. However, we will talk it all over to-morrow as we ride. I
feel as sleepy as a dog now after the day's excitement."
Upon the road next day they agreed that if possible they would manage
to get Inez away in Seville itself. Owing to the large number of people
who would be attracted there to witness the grand procession and high
mass at the cathedral, the streets would be crowded, and it might be
possible for Inez to slip away from those with her. If this could be
managed it would be greatly preferable to the employment of the men to
carry her off by force. Therefore they agreed that the band should be
posted so that the party could be intercepted on its way back; but that
this should be a last resource, and that if possible Inez should be
carried off in Seville itself.
On reaching Seville they put up at an inn. Gerald at once proceeded to
the Irish College. Here he inquired for a young priest, who had been a
near neighbour of his in Ireland and a great friend of his boyhood. He
was, he knew, about to return home. He found that he was at the moment
away from Seville, having gone to supply the place of a village cure
who had been taken suddenly ill. This village was situated, he was
told, some six miles south-east of the town. It was already late in the
afternoon, but time was precious; and Gerald, hiring a fresh horse,
rode out at once to the village. His friend was delighted to see him,
for they had not met since Gerald passed through Seville on his way to
join the Armada at Cadiz, and the young priest had not heard whether he
had escaped the perils of the voyage.
"It is lucky you have come, Gerald," he said when the first greetings
were over, "for I am going to return to Ireland in a fortnight's time.
I am already appointed to a charge near Cork, and am to sail in a
Bristol ship which is expected in Cadiz about that time. Is there any
chance of my meeting you there?"
"An excellent chance, Denis, though my route is not as clearly marked
out as yours is. I wish to heaven that I could go by the same ship. And
that leads to what I have come to see you about," and he then told his
friend the service he wished him to render.
"It is rather a serious business, Gerald; and a nice scrape I should
get in if it were found out that I had solemnized the marriage of a
young lady under age without the consent of her father, and that father
a powerful nobleman. However, I am not the man to fail you at a pinch,
and if matters are well managed there is not much risk of its being
found out that I had a hand in it until I am well away, and once in
Ireland no one is likely to make any great fuss over my having united a
runaway pair in Spain. Besides, if you and the young lady have made up
your minds to run away, it is evidently necessary that you should be
married at once; so my conscience is perfectly clear in the business.
And now, what is your plan?"
"The only part of my plan that is settled is to bring her here and
marry her. After that I shall have horses ready, and we will ride by
unfrequented roads to Malaga or some other port and take a passage in a
ship sailing say to Italy, for there is no chance of getting a vessel
hence to England. Once in Italy there will be no difficulty in getting
a passage to England. I have with me a young Englishman, as staunch a
friend as one can need. I need not tell you all about how I became
acquainted with him; but he is as anxious to get out of Spain as I am,
and that is saying no little."
"It seems rather a vague plan, Gerald. There is sure to be a great hue
and cry as soon as the young lady is found to be missing. The marquis
is a man of great influence, and the authorities will use every effort
to enable him to discover her."
"You see, Denis, they will have no reason for supposing that I have had
any hand in the matter, and therefore no special watch will be set at
the ports. The duenna for her own sake is not likely to say a word
about any passages she may have observed between us at Madrid, and she
is unaware that there have been any communications with her since."
"I suppose you will at once put on disguises, Gerald."
"Yes, that will of course be the first thing."
"If you dress her as a young peasant woman of the better class and
yourself as a small cultivator, I will mention to my servant that I am
expecting my newly-married niece and her husband to stay with me for a
few days. The old woman will have no idea that I, an Irishman, would
not have a Spanish niece, and indeed I do not suppose that she has any
idea that I am not a Spaniard. I will open the church myself and
perform the service late in the evening, so that no one will be aware
of what is going on. Of course I can put up your friend too. Then you
can stay quietly here as long as you like."
"That will do admirably, Denis; but I think we had best go on the next
morning," Gerald said, "although it will be a day or two before there
is anything like an organized pursuit. It will be supposed that she is
in Seville, and inquiries will at first be confined to that town. If
she leaves a note behind saying that she is determined even to take the
veil rather than marry the man her father has chosen for her, that will
cause additional delay. It will be supposed that she is concealed in
the house of some friend, or that she has sought a refuge in a nunnery,
and at any rate there is not likely to be any search over the country
for some days, especially as her father will naturally be anxious that
what he will consider an act of rebellion on the part of his daughter
shall not become publicly known."
"All this, of course, is if we succeed in getting her clear away during
the fete. If we have to fall back on the other plan I was talking of
and carry her off by force on the way home, the search will be
immediate and general. In that case nothing could be better than your
plan that we should stop here quietly for a few days with you. They
will be searching for a band of robbers and will not dream of making
inquiry for the missing girl in a quiet village like this."
"Well, we will leave that open, Gerald. I shall let it be known that
you are expected, and whenever you arrive you will be welcome."
As soon as the point was arranged Gerald again mounted his horse and
returned to Seville. There upon the following morning he engaged a
lodging for the three days of the festa in a quiet house in the
outskirts of the town, and they then proceeded to purchase the various
articles necessary for their disguise and that of Inez. The next
morning they started on their return to Jeres. Here Gerald made
arrangements with the band to meet him in a wood on the road to Cadiz
at eight in the morning on the day following the termination of the
festa at Seville. One of the party was to proceed on that day to the
house among the hills they had fixed upon as their hiding-place, and to
get provisions and everything requisite for the reception of their
captive. They received another five crowns each, the remaining fifteen
was to be paid them as soon as they arrived with their captive at the
The party remained in ignorance as to the age and sex of the person
they were to carry off, and had little curiosity as to the point, as
they regarded this but a small adventure in comparison to the lucrative
schemes in which they were afterwards to be sharers.
These arrangements made, Gerald and Geoffrey returned to Seville, and
reached that city on the eve of the commencement of the festa, and took
up their abode at the lodging they had hired. On the following morning
they posted themselves in the street by which the party they expected
would arrive. Both were attired in quiet citizen dress, and Gerald
retained his formidable moustachios and bushy eyebrows.
In two or three hours a coach accompanied by four lackeys on horseback
came up the street, and they saw that it contained the Marquis of
Ribaldo, his daughter, and her duenna. They followed a short distance
behind it until it entered the courtyard of a stately mansion, which
they learnt on inquiry from a passer-by belonged to the Duke of
Sottomayor. The streets were already crowded with people in holiday
attire, the church bells were ringing, and flags and decorations of all
kinds waved along the route that was to be followed by the great
procession. The house did not stand on this line, and it was necessary
therefore for its inmates to pass through the crowd either to the
cathedral or to the balcony of the house from which they might intend
to view the procession pass.
Half an hour after the arrival of the coach, the marquis and his
daughter, accompanied by Don Philip de Sottomayor, sallied out,
escorted by six armed lackeys, and took their way towards the
cathedral. They had, however, arrived very late, and the crowd had
already gathered so densely that even the efforts of the lackeys and
the angry commands of the marquis and Don Philip failed to enable them
to make a passage. Very slowly indeed they advanced some distance into
the crowd, but each moment their progress became slower. Gerald and
Geoffrey had fallen in behind them and advanced with them as they
worked themselves in the crowd.
Angry at what they considered the impertinence of the people for
refusing to make way for them, the nobles pressed forward and engaged
in an angry controversy with those in front, who urged, and truly, that
it was simply impossible for them to make a way, so wedged in were they
by the people on all sides. The crowd, neither knowing nor caring who
were those who thus wished to take precedence of the first comers,
began to jeer and laugh at the angry nobles, and when these threatened
to use force threatened in return.
As soon as her father had left her side, Gerald, who was immediately
behind Inez, whispered in her ear, "Now is the time, Inez. Go with my
friend; I will occupy the old woman."
"Keep close to me, senora, and pretend that you are ill," Geoffrey said
to her, and without hesitation Inez turned and followed him, drawing
her mantilla more closely over her face.
"Let us pass, friends," Geoffrey said as he elbowed his way through
those standing behind them, "the lady needs air," and by vigorous
efforts he presently arrived at the outskirts of the crowd, and struck
off with his charge in the direction of their lodging. "Gerald Burke
will follow us as soon as he can get out," he said. "Everything is
prepared for you, senora, and all arrangements made."
"Who are you, sir?" the girl asked. "I do not recall your face, and yet
I seem to have seen it before."
"I am English, senora, and am a friend of Gerald Burke's. When in
Madrid I was disguised as his servant; for as an Englishman and a
heretic it would have gone hard with me had I been detected."
There wore but few people in the streets through which they passed, the
whole population having flocked either to the streets through which the
procession was to pass, or to the cathedral or churches it was to visit
on its way. Gerald had told Inez at their interview that, although he
had made arrangements for carrying her off by force on the journey to
or from Seville, he should, if possible, take advantage of the crowd at
the function to draw her away from her companions. She had, therefore,
put on her thickest lace mantilla, and this now completely covered her
face from the view of passers-by. Several times she glanced back.
"Do not be uneasy about him, senora," Geoffrey said. "He will not try
to extricate himself from the crowd until you are discovered to be
missing, as to do so would be to attract attention. As soon as your
loss is discovered he will make his way out, and will then come on at
the top of his speed to the place whither I am conducting you, and I
expect that we shall find him at the door awaiting us."
A quarter of an hour's walk took them to the lodging, and Inez gave a
little cry of joy as the door was opened to them by Gerald himself.
"The people of the house are all out," he said, after their first
greeting. "In that room you will find a peasant girl's dress. Dress
yourself as quickly as you can; we shall be ready for you in attire to
match. You had best do up your own things into a bundle, which I will
carry. If they were left here they might, when the news of your being
missing gets abroad, afford a clue to the manner of your escape. I will
tell you all about the arrangements we have made as we go along."
"Have you arranged--" and she hesitated.
"Yes, an Irish priest, who is an old friend of mine, will perform the
ceremony this evening."
A few minutes later two seeming peasants and a peasant girl issued out
from the lodging. The two men carried stout sticks with bundles slung
"Be careful of that bundle," Inez said, "for there are all my jewels in
it. After what you had said I concealed them all about me. They are my
fortune, you know. Now, tell me how you got on in the crowd."
"I first pushed rather roughly against the duenna, and then made the
most profuse apologies, saying that it was shameful people should crowd
so, and that they ought at once to make way for a lady who was
evidently of high rank. This mollified her, and we talked for three or
four minutes; and in the meantime the row in front, caused by your
father and the lackeys quarrelling with the people, grew louder and
louder. The old lady became much alarmed, and indeed the crowd swayed
about so that she clung to my arm. Suddenly she thought of you, and
turning round gave a scream when she found you were missing. 'What is
the matter?' I asked anxiously. 'The young lady with me! She was here
but an instant ago!' (She had forgotten you for fully five minutes.)
'What can have become of her?'
"I suggested that no doubt you were close by, but had got separated
from her by the pressure of the crowd. However, she began to squall so
loudly that the marquis looked round. He was already in a towering
rage, and he asked angrily,' What are you making all this noise about?'
and then looking round exclaimed, 'Where is Inez?' 'She was here a
moment since!' the old lady exclaimed, 'and now she has got separated
from me.' Your father looked in vain among the crowd, and demanded
whether anyone had seen you. Someone said that a lady who was fainting
had made her way out five minutes before. The marquis used some strong
language to the old lady, and then informed Don Philip what had
happened, and made his way back out of the crowd with the aid of the
lackeys, and is no doubt inquiring for you in all the houses near; but,
as you may imagine, I did not wait. I followed close behind them until
they were out of the crowd, and then slipped away, and once round the
corner took to my heels and made my way back, and got in two or three
minutes before you arrived."
The two young men talked almost continuously during their walk to the
village in order to keep up the spirits of Donna Inez, and to prevent
her from thinking of the strangeness of her position and the perils
that lay before them before safety could be obtained. Only once she
spoke of the future.
"Is it true, Gerald, that there are always storms and rain in your
country, and that you never see the sun, for so some of those who were
in the Armada have told me?"
"It rains there sometimes, Inez, I am bound to admit; but it is often
fine, and the sun never burns one up as it does here. I promise you you
will like it, dear, when you once become accustomed to it."
"I do not think I shall," she said, shaking her head; "I am accustomed
to the sun, you know. But I would rather be with you even in such an
island as they told me of than in Spain with Don Philip."
The village seemed absolutely deserted when they arrived there, the
whole population having gone over to Seville to take part in the great
fete. Father Denis received his fair visitor with the greatest
kindness. "Here, Catherine," he cried to his old servant, "here are the
visitors I told you I expected. It is well that we have the chambers
prepared, and that we killed that capon this morning."
That evening Gerald Burke and Inez de Ribaldo were married in the
little church, Geoffrey Vickars being the only witness. The next
morning there was a long consultation over their plans. "I could buy
you a cart in the village and a pair of oxen, and you could drive to
Malaga," the priest said, "but there would be a difficulty about
changing your disguises after you had entered the town. I think that
the boldest plan will be the safest one. I should propose that you
should ride as a well-to-do trader to Malaga, with your wife behind you
on a pillion, and your friend here as your servant. Lost as your wife
was in the crowd at the fete, it will be a long time before the fact
that she has fled will be realized. For a day or two the search will be
conducted secretly, and only when the house of every friend whom she
might have visited has been searched will the aid of the authorities be
called in, and the poorer quarters, where she might have been carried
by two or three ruffians who may have met her as she emerged in a
fainting condition, as is supposed, from the crowd, be ransacked. I do
not imagine that any search will be made throughout the country round
for a week at least, by which time you will have reached Malaga, and,
if you have good fortune, be on board a ship."
This plan was finally agreed to. Gerald and his friend at once went
over to Seville and purchased the necessary dresses, together with two
strong horses and equipments. It was evening before their return to the
village. Instead of entering it at once they rode on a mile further,
and fastened the horses up in a wood. Gerald would have left them there
alone, but Geoffrey insisted on staying with them for the night. "I
care nothing about sleeping in the open air, Gerald, and it would be
folly to risk the success of our enterprise upon the chance of no one
happening to come through the wood, and finding the animals before you
return in the morning. We had a hearty meal at Seville, and I shall do
very well until morning."
Gerald and his wife took leave of the friendly priest at daybreak the
next morning, with the hope that they would very shortly meet in
Ireland. They left the village before anyone was stirring.
The peasant clothes had been left behind them. Gerald carried two
valises, the one containing the garments in which Inez had fled, the
other his own attire-Geoffrey having resumed the dress he had formerly
worn as his servant.
On arriving at the wood the party mounted, and at once proceeded on
their journey. Four days' travel took them to Malaga, where they
arrived without any adventure whatever. Once or twice they met parties
of rough-looking men; but travelling as they did without baggage
animals, they did not appear promising subjects for robbery, and the
determined appearance of master and man, each armed with sword and
pistols, deterred the fellows from an attempt which promised more hard
knocks than plunder.
After putting up at an inn in Malaga, Gerald went down at once to the
port to inquire for a vessel bound for Italy. There were three or four
such vessels in the harbour, and he had no difficulty in arranging for
a passage to Naples for himself, his wife, and servant. The vessel was
to sail on the following morning, and it was with a deep feeling of
satisfaction and relief that they went on board her, and an hour later
were outside the port.
"It seems marvellous to me," Gerald said, as he looked back upon the
slowly-receding town, "that I have managed to carry off my prize with
so little difficulty. I had expected to meet with all sorts of dangers,
and had I been the peaceful trader I looked, our journey could not be
"Perhaps you are beginning to think that the prize is not so very
valuable after all," Inez said, "since you have won it so easily."
"I have not begun to think so yet," Gerald laughed happily. "At any
rate I shall wait until I get you home before such ideas begin to occur
"Directly I get to Ireland," Inez said, "I shall write to my father and
tell him that I am married to you, and that I should never have run
away had he not insisted on my marrying a man I hated. I shall, of
course, beg him to forgive me; but I fear he never will."
"We must hope that he will, Inez, and that he will ask you to come back
to Spain sometimes. I do not care for myself, you know, for as I have
told you my estate in Ireland is amply large enough for my wants; but I
shall be glad, for your sake, that you should be reconciled to him."
Inez shook her head.
"You do not know my father, Gerald. I would never go back to Spain
again--not if he promised to give me his whole fortune. My father never
forgives; and were he to entice me back to Spain, it would be only to
shut me up and to obtain a dispensation from Rome annulling the
marriage, which he would have no difficulty in doing. No, you have got
me, and will have to keep me for good. I shall never return to Spain,
never. Possibly when my father hears from me he may send me over money
to make me think he has forgiven me, and to induce me some day or other
to come back to visit him, and so get me into his power again; but
that, Gerald, he shall never do."
THE SURPRISE OF BREDA.
Lionel Vickars had, by the beginning of 1590, come to speak the Dutch
language well and fluently. Including his first stay in Holland he had
now been there eighteen months, and as he was in constant communication
with the Dutch officers and with the population, he had constant
occasion for speaking Dutch, a language much more akin to English than
any other continental tongue, and indeed so closely allied to the
dialect of the eastern counties of England, that the fishermen of our
eastern ports had in those days little difficulty in conversing with
He was one day supping with Sir Francis Vere when Prince Maurice and
several of his officers were also there. The conversation turned upon
the prospects of the campaign of the ensuing spring. Lionel, of course,
took no part in it, but listened attentively to what was being said,
and was very pleased to find that the period of inactivity was drawing
to an end, and that their commanders considered that they had now
gathered a force of sufficient strength to assume the offensive.
[Illustration: BREDA 1590.]
"I would," Prince Maurice said, "that we could gain Breda. The city
stands like a great sentinel against every movement towards Flanders,
and enables the Spaniards to penetrate at all times towards the heart
of our country; but I fear that it is altogether beyond our means. It
is one of the strongest cities in the Netherlands, and my ancestors,
who were its lords, little thought that they were fortifying and
strengthening it in order that it might be a thorn in the side of their
country. I would give much, indeed, to be able to wrest it from the
enemy; but I fear it will be long before we can even hope for that. It
could withstand a regular siege by a well-provided army for months; and
as to surprise, it is out of the question, for I hear that the utmost
vigilance is unceasingly maintained."
A few days after this Lionel was talking with Captain de Heraugiere,
who had also been at the supper. He had taken part in the defence of
Sluys, and was one of the officers with whom Lionel was most intimate.
"It would be a rare enterprise to surprise Breda," Captain de
Heraugiere said; "but I fear it is hopeless to think of such a thing."
"I do not see why it should be," Lionel said. "I was reading when I was
last at home about our wars with the Scotch, and there were several
cases in which very strong places that could not have been carried by
assault were captured suddenly by small parties of men who disguised
themselves as waggoners, and hiding a score or two of their comrades in
a waggon covered with firewood, or sacks of grain, boldly went up to
the gates. When there they cut the traces of their horses so that the
gates could not be closed, or the portcullis lowered, and then falling
upon the guards, kept them at bay until a force, hidden near the gates,
ran up and entered the town. I see not why a similar enterprise should
not be attempted at Breda."
"Nor do I," Captain Heraugiere said; "the question is how to set about
such a scheme."
"That one could not say without seeing the place," Lionel remarked. "I
should say that a plan of this sort could only be successful after
those who attempted it had made themselves masters of all particulars
of the place and its ways. Everything would depend upon all going
smoothly and without hitches of any kind. If you really think of
undertaking such an adventure, Captain Heraugiere, I should be very
glad to act under you if Sir Francis Vere will give me leave to do so;
but I would suggest that the first step should be for us to go into
Breda in disguise. We might take in a waggon-load of grain for sale, or
merely carry on our backs baskets with country produce, or we could row
up in a boat with fish."
"The plan is certainly worth thinking of," Captain Heraugiere said. "I
will turn it over in my mind for a day, and will then talk to you
again. It would be a grand stroke, and there would be great honour to
be obtained; but it will not do for me to go to Prince Maurice and lay
it before him until we have a plan completely worked out, otherwise we
are more likely to meet with ridicule than praise."
The following day Captain Heraugiere called at Lionel's lodgings. "I
have lain awake all night thinking of our scheme," he said, "and have
resolved to carry out at least the first part of it--to enter Breda and
see what are the prospects of success, and the manner in which the
matter had best be set about. I propose that we two disguise ourselves
as fishermen, and going down to the river between Breda and Willemstad
bargain with some fishermen going up to Breda with their catch for the
use of their boat. While they are selling the fish we can survey the
town and see what is the best method of introducing a force into it.
When our plan is completed we will go to Voorne, whither Prince Maurice
starts to-morrow, and lay the matter before him."
"I will gladly go with you to Breda," Lionel said, "and, as far as I
can, aid you there; but I think that it would be best that you only
should appear in the matter afterwards. I am but a young volunteer, and
it would be well that I did not appear at all in the matter, which you
had best make entirely your own. But I hope, Captain Heraugiere, that
should the prince decide to adopt any plan you may form, and intrust
the matter to you, that you will take me with you in your following."
"That I will assuredly," Captain Heraugiere said, "and will take care
that if it should turn out successful your share in the enterprise
shall be known."
"When do you think of setting about it?" Lionel asked.
"Instantly. My company is at Voorne, and I should return thither with
the prince to-day. I will at once go to him and ask for leave to be
absent on urgent affairs for a week. Do you go to Sir Francis Vere and
ask for a similar time. Do not tell him, if you can help it, the exact
nature of your enterprise. But if you cannot obtain leave otherwise, of
course you must do so. I will be back here in two hours' time. We can
then at once get our disguises, and hire a craft to take us to
Lionel at once went across to the quarters of Sir Francis Vere.
"I have come, Sir Francis, to ask for a week's leave of absence."
"That you can have, Lionel. What, are you going shooting ducks on the
"No, Sir Francis. I am going on a little expedition with Captain
Heraugiere, who has invited me to accompany him. We have an idea in our
heads that may perhaps be altogether useless, but may possibly bear
fruit. In the first case we would say nothing about it, in the second
we will lay it before you on our return."
"Very well," Sir Francis said with a smile. "You showed that you could
think at Sluys, and I hope something may come of this idea of yours,
whatever it may be."
At the appointed time Captain Heraugiere returned, having obtained
leave of absence from the prince. They at once went out into the town
and bought the clothes necessary for their disguise. They returned with
these to their lodgings, and having put them on went down to the wharf,
where they had no difficulty in bargaining with the master of a small
craft to take them to Willemstad, as the Spaniards had no ships
whatever on the water between Rotterdam and Bergen-op-Zoom. The boat
was to wait three days for them at that town, and to bring them back to
Rotterdam. As there was no reason for delay they at once went on board
and cast off. The distance was but thirty miles, and just at nightfall
they stepped ashore at the town of Willemstad.
The next morning they had no difficulty in arranging with a fisherman
who was going up to Breda with a cargo of fish to take the place of two
of his boatmen at the oars.
"We want to spend a few hours there," Captain Heraugiere said, "and
will give you five crowns if you will leave two of your men here and
let us take their places."
"That is a bargain," the man said at once; "that is, if you can row,
for we shall scarce take the tide up to the town, and must keep on
rowing to get there before the ebb begins."
"We can row, though perhaps not so well as your own men. You are, I
suppose, in the habit of going there, and are known to the guards at
the port? They are not likely, I should think, to notice that you
haven't got the same crew as usual?"
"There is no fear of that, and if they did I could easily say that two
of my men were unable to accompany me to-day, and that I have hired
fresh hands in their places."
Two of the men got out. Captain Heraugiere and Lionel Vickars took
their places, and the boat proceeded up the river. The oars were heavy
and clumsy, and the new-comers were by no means sorry when, after a row
of twelve miles, they neared Breda.
"What are the regulations for entering Breda?" Captain Heraugiere asked
as they approached the town.
"There are no particular regulations," the master of the boat said,
"save that on entering the port the boat is searched to see that it
contains nothing but fish. None are allowed to enter the gates of the
town without giving their names, and satisfying the officer on guard
that they have business in the place."
An officer came on board as the boat ran up alongside the quay and
asked a few questions. After assisting in getting the basket of fish on
shore Captain Heraugiere and Lionel sauntered away along the quay,
leaving the fishermen to dispose of their catch to the townspeople, who
had already begun to bargain for them.
The river Mark flowed through the town, supplying its moats with water.
Where it left the town on the western side was the old castle, with a
moat of its own and strong fortified lines. Within was the quay, with
an open place called the fish-market leading to the gates of the new
castle. There were 600 Spanish infantry in the town and 100 in the
castle, and 100 cavalry. The governor of Breda, Edward Lanzavecchia,
was absent superintending the erection of new fortifications at
Gertruydenberg, and in his absence the town was under the command of
his son Paolo.
Great vigilance was exercised. All vessels entering port were strictly
examined, and there was a guard-house on the quay. Lying by one of the
wharves was a large boat laden with peat, which was being rapidly
unloaded, the peat being sold as soon as landed, as fuel was very short
in the city.
"It seems to me," Lionel said as they stood for a minute looking on,
"that this would be just the thing for us. If we could make an
arrangement with the captain of one of these peat-boats we might hide a
number of men in the hold and cover them with peat. A place might be
built large enough, I should think, to hold seventy or eighty men, and
yet be room for a quantity of peat to be stowed over them."
"A capital idea," Captain Heraugiere said. "The peat comes from above
the town. We must find out where the barges are loaded, and try to get
at one of the captains."
After a short walk through the town they returned to the boat. The
fisherman had already sold out his stock, and was glad at seeing his
passengers return earlier than he expected; but as the guard was
standing by he rated them severely for keeping him waiting so long, and
with a muttered excuse they took their places in the boat and rowed
down the river.
"I want you to put us ashore on the left bank as soon as we are out of
sight of the town," Captain Heraugiere said. "As it will be heavy work
getting your boat back with only two of you, I will give you a couple
of crowns beyond the amount I bargained with you for."
"That will do well enough," the man said. "We have got the tide with
us, and can drop down at our leisure."
As soon as they were landed they made a wide detour to avoid the town,
and coming down again upon the river above it, followed its banks for
three miles, when they put up at a little inn in the small village of
Leur on its bank. They had scarcely sat down to a meal when a man came
in and called for supper. The landlord placed another plate at the
table near them, and the man at once got into conversation with them,
and they learnt that he was master of a peat-boat that had that morning
left Breda empty.
"We were in Breda ourselves this morning," Captain Heraugiere said,
"and saw a peat-boat unloading there. There seemed to be a brisk demand
for the fuel."
"Yes; it is a good trade at present," the man said. "There are only six
of us who have permits to enter the port, and it is as much as we can
do to keep the town supplied with fuel; for, you see, at any moment the
river may be frozen up, so the citizens need to keep a good stock in
hand. I ought not to grumble, since I reap the benefit of the Spanish
regulations; but all these restrictions on trade come mighty hard upon
the people of Breda. It was not so in the old time."
After supper was over Captain Heraugiere ordered a couple of flasks of
spirits, and presently learned from the boatman that his name was
Adrian Van de Berg, and that he had been at one time a servant in the
household of William of Orange. Little by little Captain Heraugiere
felt his way, and soon found that the boatman was an enthusiastic
patriot. He then confided to him that he himself was an officer in the
State's service, and had come to Breda to ascertain whether there was
any possibility of capturing the town by surprise.
"We hit on a plan to-day," he said, "which promises a chance of
success; but it needs the assistance of one ready to risk his life."
"I am ready to risk my life in any enterprise that has a fair chance of
success," the boatman said, "but I do not see how I can be of much
"You can be of the greatest assistance if you will, and will render the
greatest service to your country if you will join in our plan. What we
propose is, that we should construct a shelter of boards four feet high
in the bottom of your boat, leading from your little cabin aft right up
to the bow. In this I calculate we could stow seventy men; then the
peat could be piled over it, and if you entered the port somewhat late
in the afternoon you could manage that it was not unladen so as to
uncover the roof of our shelter before work ceased for the night. Then
we could sally out, overpower the guard on the quay, make for one of
the gates, master the guard there, and open it to our friends without."
"It is a bold plan and a good one," Van de Berg said, "and I am ready
to run my share of the risk with you. I am so well known in Breda that
they do not search the cargo very closely when I arrive, and I see no
reason why the party hidden below should not escape observation. I will
undertake my share of the business if you decide to carry it out. I
served the prince for fifteen years, and am ready to serve his son.
There are plenty of planks to be obtained at a place three miles above
here, and it would not take many hours to construct the false deck. If
you send a messenger here giving me two days' notice, it shall be built
and the peat stowed on it by the time you arrive."
It was late at night before the conversation was concluded, and the
next morning Captain Heraugiere and Lionel started on their return,
struck the river some miles below Breda, obtained a passage over the
river in a passing boat late in the afternoon, and, sleeping at
Willemstad, went on board their boat next morning and returned to
Rotterdam. It was arranged that Lionel should say nothing about their
journey until Captain Heraugiere had opened the subject to Prince
"You are back before your time," Sir Francis Vere said when Lionel
reported himself for duty. "Has anything come of this project of yours,
whatever it may be?"
"We hope so, sir. Captain Heraugiere will make his report to Prince
Maurice. He is the leader of the party, and therefore we thought it
best that he should report to Prince Maurice, who, if he thinks well of
it, will of course communicate with you."
The next day a message arrived from Voorne requesting Sir Francis Vere
to proceed thither to discuss with the prince a matter of importance.
He returned after two days' absence, and presently sent for Lionel.
"This is a rare enterprise that Captain Heraugiere has proposed to the
prince," he said, "and promises well for success. It is to be kept a
profound secret, and a few only will know aught of it until it is
executed. Heraugiere is of course to have command of the party which is
to be hidden in the barge, and is to pick out eighty men from the
garrisons of Gorcum and Lowesteyn. He has begged that you shall be of
the party, as he says that the whole matter was in the first case
suggested to him by you. The rest of the men and officers will be
A fortnight later, on the 22nd of February, Sir Francis Vere on his
return from the Hague, where Prince Maurice now was, told Lionel that
all was arranged. The message had come down from Van de Berg that the
hiding place was constructed. They were to join Heraugiere the next
On the 24th of February the little party started. Heraugiere had chosen
young, active, and daring men. With him were Captains Logier and
Fervet, and Lieutenant Held. They embarked on board a vessel, and were
landed near the mouth of the Mark, as De Berg was this time going to
carry the peat up the river instead of down, fearing that the passage
of seventy men through the country would attract attention. The same
night Prince Maurice, Sir Francis Vere, Count Hohenlohe, and other
officers sailed to Willemstad, their destination having been kept a
strict secret from all but those engaged in the enterprise. Six hundred
English troops, eight hundred Dutch, and three hundred cavalry had been
drawn from different garrisons, and were also to land at Willemstad.
When Heraugiere's party arrived at the point agreed on at eleven
o'clock at night, Van de Berg was not there, nor was the barge; and
angry and alarmed at his absence they searched about for him for hours,
and at last found him in the village of Terheyde. He made the excuse
that he had overslept himself, and that he was afraid the plot had been
discovered. As everything depended upon his co-operation, Heraugiere
abstained from the angry reproaches which the strange conduct of the
man had excited; and as it was now too late to do anything that night,
a meeting was arranged for the following evening, and a message was
despatched to the prince telling him that the expedition was postponed
for a day. On their return, the men all gave free vent to their
"I have no doubt," Heraugiere said, "that the fellow has turned coward
now that the time has come to face the danger. It is one thing to talk
about a matter as long as it is far distant, but another to look it in
the face when it is close at hand. I do not believe that he will come
"If he does not he will deserve hanging," Captain Logier said; "after
all the trouble he has given in getting the troops together, and after
bringing the prince himself over."
"It will go very near hanging if not quite," Heraugiere muttered. "If
he thinks that he is going to fool us with impunity, he is mightily
mistaken. If he is a wise man he will start at daybreak, and get as far
away as he can before night-fall if he does not mean to come."
The next day the party remained in hiding in a barn, and in the evening
again went down to the river. There was a barge lying there laden high
with turf. A general exclamation of satisfaction broke from all when
they saw it. There were two men on it. One landed and came to meet
"Where is Van de Berg?" Captain Heraugiere asked as he came up.
"He is ill and unable to come, but has sent you this letter. My brother
and myself have undertaken the business."
The letter merely said that the writer was too ill to come, but had
sent in his place his two nephews, one or other of whom always
accompanied him, and who could be trusted thoroughly to carry out the
plan. The party at once went on board the vessel, descended into the
little cabin aft, and then passed through a hole made by the removal of
two planks into the hold that had been prepared for them. Heraugiere
remained on deck, and from time to time descended to inform those below
of the progress being made. It was slow indeed, for a strong wind laden
with sleet blew directly down the river. Huge blocks of ice floated
down, and the two boatmen with their poles had the greatest difficulty
in keeping the boat's head up the stream.
At last the wind so increased that navigation became impossible, and
the barge was made fast against the bank. From Monday night until
Thursday morning the gale continued. Progress was impossible, and the
party cramped up in the hold suffered greatly from hunger and thirst.
On Thursday evening they could sustain it no longer and landed. They
were for a time scarce able to walk, so cramped were their limbs by
their long confinement, and made their way up painfully to a fortified
building called Nordand, standing far from any other habitations. Here
they obtained food and drink, and remained until at eleven at night one
of the boatmen came to them with news that the wind had changed, and
was now blowing in from the sea. They again took their places on board,
but the water was low in the river, and it was difficult work passing
the shallows, and it was not until Saturday afternoon that they passed
the boom below the town and entered the inner harbour.
An officer of the guard came off in a boat and boarded the barge. The
weather was so bitterly cold that he at once went into the little cabin
and there chatted with the two boatmen. Those in the hold could hear
every word that was said, and they almost held their breath, for the
slightest noise would betray them. After a while the officer got into
his boat again, saying he would send some men off to warp the vessel
into the castle dock, as the fuel was required by the garrison there.
As the barge was making its way towards the water-gate, it struck upon
a hidden obstruction in the river and began to leak rapidly. The
situation of those in the hold was now terrible, for in a few minutes
the water rose to their knees, and the choice seemed to be presented to
them of being drowned like rats there, or leaping overboard, in which
case they would be captured and hung without mercy. The boatmen plied
the pumps vigorously, and in a short time a party of Italian soldiers
arrived from the shore and towed the vessel into the inner harbour, and
made her fast close to the guard-house of the castle. A party of
labourers at once came on board and began to unload the turf; the need
of fuel both in the town and castle being great, for the weather had
been for some time bitterly cold.
A fresh danger now arose. The sudden immersion in the icy water in the
close cabin brought on a sudden inclination to sneeze and cough.
Lieutenant Held, finding himself unable to repress his cough, handed
his dagger to Lionel Vickars, who happened to be sitting next to him,
and implored him to stab him to the heart lest his cough might betray
the whole party; but one of the boatmen who was standing close to the
cabin heard the sounds, and bade his companion go on pumping with as
much noise and clatter as possible, while he himself did the same,
telling those standing on the wharf alongside that the boat was almost
full of water. The boatmen behaved with admirable calmness and
coolness, exchanging jokes with acquaintances on the quay, keeping up a
lively talk, asking high prices for their peat, and engaging in long
and animated bargains so as to prevent the turf from being taken too
At last, when but a few layers of turf remained over the roof of the
hold, the elder brother told the men unloading that it was getting too
dark, and he himself was too tired and worn-out to attend to things
any longer. He therefore gave the men some money and told them to go to
the nearest public-house to drink his health, and to return the first
thing in the morning to finish unloading. The younger of the two
brothers had already left the boat. He made his way through the town,
and started at full speed to carry the news to Prince Maurice that the
barge had arrived safely in the town, and the attempt would be made at
midnight; also of the fact they had learned from those on the wharf,
that the governor had heard a rumour that a force had landed somewhere
on the coast, and had gone off again to Gertruydenberg in all haste,
believing that some design was on foot against that town. His son Paolo
was again in command of the garrison.
A little before midnight Captain Heraugiere told his comrades that the
hour had arrived, and that only by the most desperate bravery could
they hope to succeed, while death was the certain consequence of
failure. The band were divided into two companies. He himself with one
was to attack the main guardhouse; the other, under Fervet, was to
seize the arsenal of the fortress. Noiselessly they stole out from
their hiding-place, and formed upon the wharf within the inclosure of
the castle. Heraugiere moved straight upon the guard-house. The sentry
was secured instantly; but the slight noise was heard, and the captain
of the watch ran out but was instantly cut down.
Others came out with torches, but after a brief fight were driven into
the guard-house; when all were shot down through the doors and windows.
Captain Fervet and his band had done equally well. The magazine of the
castle was seized, and its defenders slain. Paolo Lanzavecchia made a
sally from the palace with a few of his adherents, but was wounded and
driven back; and the rest of the garrison of the castle, ignorant of
the strength of the force that had thus risen as it were from the earth
upon them, fled panic-stricken, not even pausing to destroy the bridge
between the castle and the town.
Young Paolo Lanzavecchia now began a parley with the assailants; but
while the negotiations were going on Hohenlohe with his cavalry came
up--having been apprised by the boatman that the attempt was about to
be made--battered down the palisade near the water-gate, and entered
the castle. A short time afterwards Prince Maurice, Sir Francis Vere,
and other officers arrived with the main body of the troops. But the
fight was over before even Hohenlohe arrived; forty of the garrison
being killed, and not a single man of the seventy assailants. The
burgomaster, finding that the castle had fallen, and that a strong
force had arrived, then sent a trumpeter to the castle to arrange for
the capitulation of the town, which was settled on the following
terms:--All plundering was commuted for the payment of two months' pay
to every soldier engaged in the affair. All who chose might leave the
city, with full protection to life and property. Those who were willing
to remain were not to be molested in their consciences or households
with regard to religion.
The news of the capture of Breda was received with immense enthusiasm
throughout Holland. It was the first offensive operation that had been
successfully undertaken, and gave new hope to the patriots.
Parma was furious at the cowardice with which five companies of foot
and one of horse--all picked troops--had fled before the attack of
seventy Hollanders. Three captains were publicly beheaded in Brussels
and a fourth degraded to the ranks, while Lanzavecchia was deprived of
the command of Gertruydenberg.
For some months before the assault upon Breda the army of Holland had
been gaining vastly in strength and organization. Prince Maurice, aided
by his cousin Lewis William, stadholder of Friesland, had been hard at
work getting it into a state of efficiency. Lewis William, a man of
great energy and military talent, saw that the use of solid masses of
men in the field was no longer fitted to a state of things when the
improvements in firearms of all sorts had entirely changed the
condition of war. He therefore reverted to the old Roman methods, and
drilled his soldiers in small bodies; teaching them to turn and wheel,
advance or retreat, and perform all sorts of manoeuvres with regularity
and order. Prince Maurice adopted the same plan in Holland, and the
tactics so introduced proved so efficient that they were sooner or
later adopted by all civilized nations.
At the time when William of Orange tried to relieve the hard-pressed
city of Haarlem, he could with the greatest difficulty muster three or
four thousand men for the purpose. The army of the Netherlands was now
22,000 strong, of whom 2000 were cavalry. It was well disciplined, well
equipped, and regularly paid, and was soon to prove that the pains
bestowed upon it had not been thrown away. In the course of the
eighteen years that had followed the capture of Brill and the
commencement of the struggle with Spain, the wealth and prosperity of
Holland had enormously increased. The Dutch were masters of the sea-
coast, the ships of the Zeelanders closed every avenue to the interior,
and while the commerce of Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges, and the other cities
of the provinces that remained in the hands of the Spaniards was for
the time destroyed, and their population fell off by a half, Holland
benefited in proportion.
From all the Spanish provinces men of energy and wealth passed over in
immense numbers to Holland, where they could pursue their commerce and
industries--free from the exactions and cruelty under which they had
for so many years groaned. The result was that the cities of Holland
increased vastly in wealth and population, and the resources at the
disposal of Prince Maurice enormously exceeded those with which his
father had for so many years sustained the struggle.
For a while after the capture of Breda there was breathing time in
Holland, and Maurice was busy in increasing and improving his army.
Parma was fettered by the imperious commands of Philip, who had
completely crippled him by withdrawing a considerable number of his
troops for service in the war which he was waging with France. But
above all, the destruction of the Armada, and with it of the naval
supremacy of Spain, had changed the situation.
Holland was free to carry on her enterprises by sea, and had free
communication and commerce with her English ally, while communication
between Spain and the Netherlands was difficult. Reinforcements could
no longer be sent by sea, and had to be sent across Europe from Italy.
Parma was worn out by exertions, disappointment, and annoyance, and his
health was seriously failing; while opposed to him were three young
commanders--Maurice, Lewis William, and Francis Vere--all men of
military genius and full of confidence and energy.
A SLAVE IN BARBARY.
The _Tarifa_ had left port but a few hours when a strong wind rose
from the north, and rapidly increased in violence until it was blowing
"Inez is terribly ill," Gerald said when he met Geoffrey on deck the
following morning. "I believe at the present moment she would face her
father and risk everything if she could but be put on shore."
"I can well imagine that. However, she will think otherwise to-morrow
or next day. I believe these Mediterranean storms do not last long.
There is no fear of six weeks of bad weather such as we had when we
were last afloat together."
"No. I have just been speaking to the captain. He says they generally
blow themselves out in two or three days; but still, even that is not a
pleasant look-out. These vessels are not like your English craft, which
seem to be able to sail almost in the eye of the wind. They are
lubberly craft, and badly handled; and if this gale lasts for three
days we shall be down on the Barbary coast, and I would rather risk
another journey through Spain than get down so near the country of the
"I can understand that," Geoffrey agreed. "However, I see there are
some thirty soldiers forward on their way to join one of the regiments
in Naples, so we ought to be able to beat off any corsair that might
come near us.
"Yes; but if we got down on their coast we might be attacked by half a
dozen of them," Gerald said. "However, one need not begin to worry
one's self at present; the gale may abate within a few hours."
At the end of the second day the wind went down suddenly; and through
the night the vessel rolled heavily, for the sea was still high, and
there was not a breath of wind to fill her sails and steady her. By the
morning the sea had gone down, but there was still an absence of wind.
"We have had a horrible night," Gerald remarked, "but we may think
ourselves fortunate indeed," and he pointed to the south, where the
land was plainly visible at a distance of nine or ten miles. "If the
gale had continued to blow until now we should have been on shore long
"We are too near to be pleasant," Geoffrey said, "for they can see us
as plainly as we can see the land. It is to be hoped that a breeze may
spring up from the south before long and enable us to creep off the
land. Unless I am greatly mistaken I can see the masts of some craft or
other in a line with those white houses over there."
"I don't see them," Gerald replied, gazing intently in the direction in
which Geoffrey pointed.
"Let us go up to the top, Gerald; we shall see her hull from there
On reaching the top Gerald saw at once that his friend's eyes had not
"Yes, there is a vessel there sure enough, Geoffrey. I cannot see
whether she has one or two masts, for her head is in this direction."
"That is not the worst of it," Geoffrey said, shading his eyes and
gazing intently on the distant object. "She is rowing; I can see the
light flash on her oars every stroke. That is a Moorish galley, and she
is coming out towards us."
"I believe you are right," Gerald replied after gazing earnestly for
some time. "Yes, I saw the flash of the oars then distinctly."
They at once descended to the deck and informed the captain of what
they had seen. He hastily mounted to the top.
"There is no mistake about it," he said after looking intently for a
short time; "it is one of the Barbary corsairs, and she is making out
towards us. The holy saints preserve us from these bloodthirsty
"The saints will do their work if we do ours," Gerald remarked; "and we
had best do as large a share as possible. What is the number of your
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