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Ten years had gone by since Captain Smith took the good ship _Margaret_
across the bar of the Guadalquiver in a very notable fashion. It was
late May in Essex, and all the woods were green, and all the birds sang,
and all the meadows were bright with flowers. Down in the lovely vale of
Dedham there was a long, low house with many gables--a charming old
house of red brick and timbers already black with age. It stood upon a
little hill, backed with woods, and from it a long avenue of ancient
oaks ran across the park to the road which led to Colchester and London.
Down that avenue on this May afternoon an aged, white-haired man, with
quick black eyes, was walking, and with him three children--very
beautiful children--a boy of about nine and two little girls, who clung
to his hand and garments and pestered him with questions.
"Where are we going, Grandfather?" asked one little girl.
"To see Captain Smith, my dear," he answered.
"I don't like Captain Smith," said the other little girl; "he is so fat,
and says nothing."
"I do," broke in the boy, "he gave me a fine knife to use when I am a
sailor, and Mother does, and Father, yes, and Grandad too, because he
saved him when the cruel Spaniards wanted to put him in the fire. Don't
"Yes, my dear," answered the old man. "Look! there is a squirrel
running over the grass; see if you can catch it before it reaches
Off went the children at full pelt, and the tree being a low one, began
to climb it after the squirrel. Meanwhile John Castell, for it was he,
turned through the park gate and walked to a little house by the
roadside, where a stout man sat upon a bench contemplating nothing in
particular. Evidently he expected his visitor, for he pointed to the
place beside him, and, as Castell sat down, said:
"Why didn't you come yesterday, Master?"
"Because of my rheumatism, friend," he answered. "I got it first in the
vaults of that accursed Holy House at Seville, and it grows on me year
by year. They were very damp and cold, those vaults," he added
"Many people found them hot enough," grunted Smith, "also, there was
generally a good fire at the end of them. Strange thing that we should
never have heard any more of that business. I suppose it was because our
Margaret was such a favourite with Queen Isabella who didn't want to
raise questions with England, or stir up dirty water."
"Perhaps," answered Castell. "The water _was_ dirty, wasn't it?"
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