my lads of Devon, I’ve brought you to the mouth of the world’s treasure-house, and it’s your own fault now if you don’t sweep it out as empty as a stock-fish.’”

“Why didn’t you bring some of they home, then, Mr. Oxenham?”

“Why weren’t you there to help to carry them? We would have brought ’em away, safe enough, and young Drake and I had broke the door abroad already, but Captain Drake goes off in a dead faint; and when we came to look, he had a wound in his leg you might have laid three fingers in, and his boots were full of blood, and had been for an hour or more; but the heart of him was that, that he never knew it till he dropped, and then his brother and I got him away to the boats, he kicking and struggling, and bidding us let him go on with the fight, though every step he took in the sand was in a pool of blood; and so we got off. And tell me, ye sons of shotten herrings, wasn’t it worth more to save him than the dirty silver? for silver we can get again, brave boys: there’s more fish in the sea than ever came out of it, and more silver in Nombre de Dios than would pave all the streets in the west country: but of such captains as Franky Drake, Heaven never makes but one at a time; and if we lose him, good-bye to England’s luck, say I, and who don’t agree, let him choose his weapons, and I’m his man.”

He who delivered this harangue was a tall and sturdy personage, with a florid black-bearded face, and bold restless dark eyes, who leaned, with crossed legs and arms akimbo, against the wall of the house; and seemed in the eyes of the schoolboy a very magnifico, some prince or duke at least. He was dressed (contrary to all sumptuary laws of the time) in a suit of crimson velvet, a little the worse, perhaps, for wear; by his side were a long Spanish rapier and a brace of daggers, gaudy enough about the hilts; his fingers sparkled with rings; he had two or three gold chains about his neck, and large earrings in his ears, behind one of which a red rose was stuck jauntily enough among the glossy black curls; on his head was a broad velvet Spanish hat, in which instead of a feather was fastened with a great gold clasp a whole Quezal bird, whose gorgeous plumage of fretted golden green shone like one entire precious stone. As he finished his speech, he took off the said hat, and looking at the bird in it—

“Look ye, my lads, did you ever see such a fowl as that before? That’s the bird which the old Indian kings of Mexico let no one wear but their own selves; and therefore I wear it,—I, John Oxenham of South Tawton, for a sign to all brave lads of Devon, that as the Spaniards are the masters of the Indians, we’re the masters of the Spaniards:” and he replaced his hat.

A murmur of applause followed: but one hinted that he “doubted the Spaniards were too many for them.”

“Too many? How many men did we take Nombre de Dios with? Seventy-three were we, and no more when we sailed out of Plymouth Sound; and before we saw the Spanish Main, half were gastados, used up, as the Dons say, with the scurvy; and in Port Pheasant Captain Rawse of Cowes fell in with us, and that gave us some thirty hands more; and with that handful, my lads, only fifty-three in all, we picked the lock of the new world! And whom did we lose but our trumpeter, who stood braying like an ass in the middle of the square, instead of taking care of his neck like a Christian? I tell you, those Spaniards are rank cowards, as all bullies are. They pray to a woman, the idolatrous rascals! and no wonder they fight like women.”

“You’m right, captain,” sang out a tall gaunt fellow who stood close to him; “one westcountry-man can fight two easterlings, and an easterling can beat three Dons any day. Eh! my lads of Devon?

“For O! it’s the herrings and the good brown beef,
   And the cider and the cream so white;
O! they are the making of the jolly Devon lads,
   For to play, and eke to fight.”

“Come,” said Oxenham, “come along! Who lists? who lists? who’ll make his fortune?

“Oh, who will join, jolly mariners all?
   And who will join, says he, O!
To fill his pockets with the good red goold,
   By sailing on the sea, O!”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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