A Knight of the White Cross : a tale of the siege of Rhodes eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 431 pages of information about A Knight of the White Cross .

“I don’t think there is any doubt about that.  A few of them are pretty well worn out with labour and suffering, but all have gained strength and spirits greatly in the past week, and you may be sure that they will fight to the death rather than run the risk of another turn in the galleys.”

“And have you got the stuff to make the mantles?”

“Yes.  There was plenty of the coarse black cloth which they wear in summer —­ in winter, of course, they are clad in sheepskins; and I have sufficient white cotton cloth to make the crosses.”

“We have only one thing to wish for now, Ralph, and that is, that the corsairs may not take it into their heads to sail tomorrow.  Fosco will bring me news at daybreak, and we will at once send another boat off to watch the mouth of the bay when he leaves it.  If they sail, we cannot venture to attack them as long as they keep together, the odds are far too heavy, and our only plan will be to follow them at a distance, when we can just keep their upper sails in sight, and then to attack any detachment that may separate from the main body.”

“I hope it will not come to that, Gervaise.  It would be hard indeed, when you have devised such a splendid plan, and we have got everything ready to carry it out, if they were to give us the slip.  Do the others know anything about it yet?”

“No.  I thought it better to keep silence till tomorrow.  No doubt some of the galley slaves understand enough of one or other of our languages to gather what is on foot.  Besides, their late captives might, in their satisfaction at the thought of revenge, say enough to them to let them know that an attack on their fleet was intended, and one of them might, in some way, free himself from his irons and swim ashore.  We know there is a small fishing village across the island, and there would be no difficulty in stealing a boat and making off with the news.  I do not say that the risk is great; still, it were better not to throw away even a chance.  The knights have all turned in in a very gloomy mood, for Caretto has returned with news that there is no hope of assistance from Genoa for a fortnight, and it seemed, therefore, that all our pains had been thrown away.  And now we may as well turn in until daylight.”

CHAPTER XV A SPLENDID EXPLOIT

Gervaise was up again at dawn.  He was amused at the wonder of the knights, as they came up one by one, at the sight of the little fleet anchored outside them.  As soon as it was fairly daylight, he sent off to the three prizes to request all the knights to come on board the galley.  When all were assembled there he said, “You are all aware, comrades, that Sir Fabricius Caretto has brought news that the galleys at Genoa are all laid up, and that it will be a fortnight before they can put to sea.  Long before that, the corsairs will assuredly be ravaging all the villages and small towns along the coast of Italy, unless we can prevent their doing so.  It would be simple madness to try to attack them at sea; of that I feel sure you are all conscious.  It would be only throwing away our lives and our galley.”

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A Knight of the White Cross : a tale of the siege of Rhodes from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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