“I call thee to a danger which, possessed I thy marvellous skill in languages, I myself would meet. I will unbosom myself. The thought of a conflict with the Taranteens distresses me. It can result only in ruin to them and injury to the budding prospects of our colony. Our interest is peace. We want trade with the natives. We want their confidence. Without the latter there can be no trade, neither can we counteract the plots of our enemies, nor find opportunity to introduce the Gospel among them. The mysterious calamity which befel the embassy hath sadly shaken my expectations; but I am unwilling to abandon the field. What means are in my power I will apply to restore a good understanding. Moreover, I would be more fully assured of the truth or falsehood of the reports that there are Jesuits among the Taranteens. Where is the man more competent to take upon himself this important trust—one which hath for its object to prevent effusion of blood—to detect the traitorous plots of a wily and deadly foe, and to advance the cause of unadulterated religion, than thyself?”
The Knight bowed in acknowledgment of the compliment, but said nothing.
“I seem to see the finger of God displayed,” continued Winthrop. “For this very purpose wert thou sent among us; yet, noble sir, notwithstanding the importance of the object to be attained and the honor to accrue to him who shall secure them for us, let me not urge thee unreasonably. Seest thou imminent danger in the enterprise, undertake it not. I pray thee, without regarding aught that I have said, to act according to thy better judgment.”
“It was through no apprehension of peril that I was silent,” said the Knight. “Danger and I have been too long acquainted to distrust one another. I did but turn over in my mind the proper means to accomplish your designs. I place myself at your disposal, and am only rejoiced that (lamenting the occasion) I can be employed in any manner to advance a good work.”
“Heartily I thank thee, Sir Christopher, for the cheerful tender of thy service, though it was only what was to be expected from a man of thy chivalric temper. I will take this thing into further consideration, and will shortly acquaint thee with my conclusion.”
“And, meanwhile, I will prepare myself to fulfil the wishes of your worship,” answered the Knight, preparing to take leave.
“Commend me,” said Winthrop, “to the friendly thoughts of Lady Geraldine, with sincerest hopes that the peace which surpasseth understanding may nestle into her heart to chase away her melancholy, and may her steps be guided unto the true fold, where only safety is to be found.”
“With many thanks,” returned the Knight, “I seek my hermitage in the woods.”
“A something light as air—a
A word unkind, or wrongly taken—
Oh, love! that tempest never shook,
A breath, a touch like this, hath shaken.”