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hulk beyond which the prow of the _Margaret_ began to appear, for the
wind was fresh, and she gathered way every moment.
"Let down the ladder, and make ready ropes," shouted Peter.
It was done, but not too soon, for next instant the boat was bumping on
their side. The sailors in her caught the ropes and hung on, while the
captain, Smith, half-drowned, clung to the stern-sheets, for the water
washed over his head.
"Save him first," cried Peter. A man, running down the ladder, threw a
noose to him, which Smith seized with one hand and by degrees worked
beneath his arms. Then they tackled on to it, and dragged him bodily
from the river to the deck, where he lay gasping and spitting out foam
and water. By now the ship was travelling swiftly, so swiftly that
Margaret was in an agony of fear lest the boat should be towed under
But these sailor men knew their trade. By degrees they let the boat drop
back till her bow was abreast of the ladder. Then they helped Castell
forward. He gripped its rungs, and eager hands gripped him. Up he
staggered, step by step, till at length his hideous, fiend-painted cap,
his white face, whence the beard had been shaved, and his open mouth, in
which still was fixed the wooden gag, appeared above the bulwarks, as
the mate said afterwards, like that of a devil escaped from hell. They
lifted him over, and he sank fainting in his daughter's arms. Then one
by one the sailors came up after him--none were missing, though two had
been wounded, and were covered with blood. No, none were missing--God
had brought them, every one, safe back to the deck of the _Margaret_.
Smith, the captain, spat up the last of his river water and called for a
cup of wine, which he drank; while Peter and Margaret drew the accursed
gag from her father's mouth, and poured spirit down his throat. Shaking
the water from him like a great dog, but saying never a word, Smith
rolled to the helm and took it from the mate, for the navigation of the
river was difficult, and none knew it so well as he. Now they were
abreast the famous Golden Tower, and a big gun was fired at them; but
the shot went wide. "Look!" said Margaret, pointing to horsemen
galloping southwards along the river's bank.
"Yes," said Peter, "they go to warn the ports. God send that the wind
holds, for we must fight our way to sea."
The wind did hold, indeed it blew ever more strongly from the north; but
oh! that was a long, evil day. Hour after hour they sped forward down
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