Days of the Discoverers eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 247 pages of information about Days of the Discoverers.

These and other instructions form an ideal far beyond anything found in the merchant shipping of any other land at that time, and the wisdom which inspired them undoubtedly laid the foundation of the fine and noble tradition which formed the best officers of the navy not yet born.  There was no British navy in the modern sense until a hundred years after Cabot’s day.  In time of war the King impressed all suitable ships into his service, if they were not freely offered by private owners.  In time of peace the monarch was a ship-owner like any other, and such a thing as a standing navy was not thought of.  Hence the brave, generous, and courteous merchant adventurer, when such a man was abroad, was the upholder of the honor of his country as well as the upbuilder of her commerce.

GRAY SAILS

    Gray sails that fill with the winds of the morning,
      Out upon the Channel or the bleak North sea,
    Neither cross nor fleur-de-lis goes to your adorning,—­
      Arctic frost and southern gale your tirewomen shall be. 
    Yet when you come home again—­home again—­home again,
      Gray sails turn to silver when the keel runs free.

    Gray sails of Plymouth, ’ware the wild Orcades,
      Gray sails of Lisbon, ’ware the guns of Dieppe. 
    Cross-bows of Genoa, ’ware the wharves of Gades,—­
      You that sail the Spanish Seas may neither trust nor sleep. 
    Yet when you come home again—­home again—­home again,
      You shall make the covenant for Kings to keep!

    Gray sails are crowding where the sea-fog sleeping
      Masks the faces of the folk that throng and traffic there. 
    When the winds are free again and the cod are leaping,
      All the tongues of Pentecost wake the laughing air. 
    And when they come home again—­home again—­home again,
      They shall bring their freedom for the world to share!

VII

LITTLE VENICE

“Translators,” observed Amerigo Vespucci, “are frequently traitors.  Now who is to be surety that yonder interpreter does not change your words in repeating them?”

Alonso de Ojeda touched the hilt of his poniard.  “This,” he said.  “Toledo steel speaks all languages.”

The Florentine’s black eyebrows lifted a little, but he did not pursue the subject.  Ojeda was not the sort of man likely to be convinced of anything he did not believe already, and Vespucci was having too good a time to waste it in argument.

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Days of the Discoverers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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