“And after all,” said Edrupt one day, as they sighted the cliffs of Dover, “you bore witness among the heathen, as the fat old monk directed.”
“Stupid pig!” David grumbled. “I’d like fine to have him bearing witness in a Barbary brick-yard, sweating and whaizling over his tale o’ brick. He’d throw his six hundred a day or I’d have his hide.”
“All the same,” said Edrupt thoughtfully, “a Londoner beats a Turk even for a galley-slave—eh, Nicholas?”
“We were never slaves,” said Nicholas. “We were free men doing the work of slaves for a time. We had memory and hope left us. There is nothing to be learned at such work. Stick together and give them the slip if you can— that’s all the wisdom of the galleys.”
Sails in the mist-gray morning, wide
wings alert for flight,
Outward you fare with the sea-wind, seeking your ancient right
To range with your foster-brethren, the sleepless waves of the sea,
And come at the end of your wandering home again to me.
By the bright Antares, the Shield of Sobieski,
By the Southern Cross ablaze above the hot black sea,
You shall seek the Pole-Star below the far horizon,—
Steer by Arthur’s Wain, lads, and home again to me!
Caravel, sloop and galleon follow
the salt sea gale
That whispers ever of treasure, the ancient maddening tale,—
Round the world he leads ye, the sorcerer of the sea,
Battered and patched and bleeding ye come again to me.
By the spice and sendal, beads and trumpery trinkets,
By the weight of ingots that cost a thousand dead,
You shall seek your fortune under hawthorn hedges,—
Come to know your birthright in the land you fled.
Sails of my sons and my lovers, I
watch for ye through the night,
My lamps are trimmed and burning, my hearth is clear and bright.
With every sough of the trade-wind that blows across the sea
I wake and wait and listen for the call of your hearts to me.
By Saint Malo’s lanterns, by Medusa-fires
Rolling round your plunging prows in midnight tropic sea,
You shall sight the beacon on my headlands lifting—
All sail set, lads, and home again to me!
Where the moor met the woodland beyond the Fairies’ Hill, old Izan went painfully searching for the herbs she had been wont to find there. The woodcutters had opened clearings that gave an unaccustomed look to the place. Fumiter, mercury, gilt-cups, four-leaved grass and the delicate blossoms of herb-robert came out to meet the sun with a half-scared look, and wished they had stayed underground. The old wife was in a bad humor, and she was not the better pleased when her donkey, moved by some eccentric donkeyish idea, gave a loud bray and went trotting gleefully off down the hill.
“Saints save us!” muttered the old woman, shaking a vain crutch after him. “I can never walk all that distance.”