into treachery, rebellion, and murder. Elizabeth’s own words have been fulfilled at last, after years of long-suffering,—

“The daughter of debate,
   That discord aye doth sow,
Hath reap’d no gain where former rule
   Hath taught still peace to grow.”

And now she can do evil no more. Murder and adultery, the heart which knew no forgiveness, the tongue which could not speak truth even for its own interest, have past and are perhaps atoned for; and her fair face hangs a pitiful dream in the memory even of those who knew that either she, or England, must perish.

“Nothing is left of her
Now, but pure womanly.”

And Mrs. Leigh, Protestant as she is, breathes a prayer, that the Lord may have mercy on that soul, as “clear as diamond, and as hard,” as she said of herself. That last scene, too, before the fatal block—it could not be altogether acting. Mrs. Leigh had learned many a priceless lesson in the last seven years; might not Mary Stuart have learned something in seventeen? And Mrs. Leigh had been a courtier, and knew, as far as a chaste Englishwoman could know (which even in those coarser days was not very much), of that godless style of French court profligacy in which poor Mary had had her youthful training, amid the Medicis, and the Guises, and Cardinal Lorraine; and she shuddered, and sighed to herself“— To whom little is given, of them shall little be required!” But still the bells pealed on and would not cease.

What was that which answered them from afar out of the fast darkening twilight? A flash, and then the thunder of a gun at sea.

Mrs. Leigh stopped. The flash was right outside the bar. A ship in distress it could not be. The wind was light and westerly. It was a high spring-tide, as evening floods are always there. What could it be? Another flash, another gun. The noisy folks of Northam were hushed at once, and all hurried into the churchyard which looks down on the broad flats and the river.

There was a gallant ship outside the bar. She was running in, too, with all sails set. A large ship; nearly a thousand tons she might be; but not of English rig. What was the meaning of it? A Spanish cruiser about to make reprisals for Drake’s raid along the Cadiz shore! Not that, surely. The Don had no fancy for such unscientific and dare-devil warfare. If he came, he would come with admiral, rear-admiral, and vice-admiral, transports, and avisos, according to the best-approved methods, articles, and science of war. What could she be?

Easily, on the flowing tide and fair western wind, she has slipped up the channel between the two lines of sandhill. She is almost off Appledore now. She is no enemy; and if she be a foreigner, she is a daring one, for she has never veiled her topsails,—and that, all know, every foreign ship must do within sight of an English port, or stand the chance of war; as the Spanish admiral found, who many a year since was sent in time of peace to fetch home from Flanders Anne of Austria, Philip the Second’s last wife.

For in his pride he sailed into Plymouth Sound without veiling topsails, or lowering the flag of Spain. Whereon, like lion from his den, out rushed John Hawkins the port admiral, in his famous Jesus of Lubec (afterwards lost in the San Juan d’Ulloa fight), and without argument or parley, sent a shot between the admiral’s masts; which not producing the desired effect, alongside ran bold Captain John, and with his next shot, so says his son, an eye-witness, “lackt the admiral through and through;” whereon down came the offending flag; and due apologies were made, but not accepted for a long time by the stout guardian of her majesty’s honor. And if John Hawkins did as much for a Spanish fleet in time of peace, there is more than one old sea-dog in Appledore who will do as much for a single ship in time of war, if he can find even an iron pot to burn powder withal.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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