|• Main||• Contacts|
the widening river; now past villages, where knots of people waved
weapons at them as they went; now by desolate marshes, plains, and banks
clothed with pine.
When they reached Bonanza the sun was low, and when they were off San
Lucar it had begun to sink. Out into the wide river mouth, where the
white waters tumbled on the narrow bar, rowed two great galleys to cut
them off, very swift galleys, which it seemed impossible to escape.
Margaret and Castell were sent below, the crew went to quarters, and
Peter crept stiffly aft to where the sturdy Smith stood at the helm,
which he would suffer no other man to touch. Smith looked at the sky, he
looked at the shore, and the safe, open sea beyond. Then he bade them
hoist more sail, all that she could carry, and looked grimly at the two
galleys lurking like deerhounds in a pass, that hung on their oars in
the strait channel, with the tumbling breakers on either side, through
which no ship could sail. "What will you do?" asked Peter. "Master
Peter," he answered between his teeth, "when you fought the Spaniard
yesterday I did not ask you what _you_ were going to do. Hold your
tongue, and leave me to my own trade."
The _Margaret_ was a swift ship, but never yet had she moved so
swiftly. Behind her shrilled the gale, for now it was no less. Her stout
masts bent like fishing poles, her rigging creaked and groaned beneath
the weight of the bellying canvas, her port bulwarks slipped along
almost level with the water, so that Peter must lie down on the deck,
for stand he could not, and watch it running by within three feet
The galleys drew up right across her path. Half a mile away they lay bow
by bow, knowing well that no ship could pass the foaming shallows; lay
bow by bow, waiting to board and cut down this little English crew when
the _Margaret_ shortened sail, as shorten sail she must. Smith yelled an
order to the mate, and presently, red in the setting sun, out burst the
flag of England upon the mainmast top, a sight at which the sailors
cheered. He shouted another order, and up ran the last jib, so that now
from time to time the port bulwarks dipped beneath the sea, and Peter
felt salt water stinging his sore back.
Thus did the _Margaret_ shorten sail, and thus did she yield her to the
great galleys of Spain.
The captains of the galleys hung on. Was this foreigner mad, or ignorant
of the river channel, they wondered, that he would sink with every soul
Page 7 from 8: Back 1 2 3 4 5 6  8 Forward