Flashing in the sunlight,
Move your mighty oars keeping time.
Sailors heave your anchors, chanting, chanting
Some strange and mystic rime.
Pearls and gold we bring you,
feathers of our wild birds,
Glowing in the sunshine like flowers.
Houses we will build you, food and clothing find you,
You shall share in all that is ours.
Why do you frighten us, white
men, white men?
Can you not be friends for a day?
Souls are like the sea-birds, flying, flying,
Borne by the sea-wind away.
Why do you chain us in the
mines of the mountains?
Why do you hunt us with your hounds?
We who were so free, are we evermore to be
Prisoned in your narrow hateful bounds?
One escape is left us, white
men, white men,—
You cannot forbid our souls to fly
To the stars of freedom, far beyond the sunset,—
We whom you have captured can die!
“But of what use is a King’s patent,” said Hugh Thorne of Bristol, “if the harbors be locked?”
The Italian merchant glanced up from his papers and smiled, which was all the answer the Englishman seemed to expect, for he stormed on, “Here have we better fleeces than Spain, better wheat than France, finer cattle than the Netherlands, the tin of Cornwall, the flax of Kent and Durham, and our people starve or live rudely because of the fettering of our trade.”
“’T is a sad misfortune,” said the merchant. “In a world so great as this there is surely room for all to work and all to get reward for their labor. But so long as the English merchant guilds wear away their time and substance in fighting one another I fear ’t will be no better.”
Thorne flung his cloak about him with an impatient gesture. “That’s true,” he answered, “the Spaniards hold by Spain, and all the Hanse merchants by one another, but our English go every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost. I speak freely to you, friend, because you have cast in your lot with us West Country folk and are content to be called John Cabot.”
The other smiled again, his quick childlike smile, and went with his guest to the door. When he entered again his small private room a dark-eyed boy of five was crawling out from under the table.
“Dad,” he inquired solemnly, “vat is a locked harbor?”
John Cabot laughed and swung his little son to his shoulder. “That is a great question for a little brain,” he said fondly. “But see thee here; suppose I put thee in the chest and shut the lid and turn the key; thou art locked in and canst not get out—so! But now I put thee out of door and set the bandog to guard it; thou art locked out though the door be wide open, seest thou? And when I forbid thee to pick up