How the Virginia Fleet Was Stopped by the Queen's Command

“The daughter of debate,
   That discord still doth sow,
Shall reap no gain where former rule
   Hath taught still peace to grow.
No foreign banish’d wight
   Shall anker in this port
Our realm it brooks no stranger’s force;
   Let them elsewhere resort.”
   —Qu. Elizabeth. 1569.

And now Amyas is settled quietly at home again; and for the next twelve months little passes worthy of record in these pages. Yeo has installed himself as major domo, with no very definite functions, save those of walking about everywhere at Amyas’s heels like a lank gray wolf-hound, and spending his evenings at the fireside, as a true old sailor does, with his Bible on his knee, and his hands busy in manufacturing numberless nicknacks, useful and useless, for every member of the family, and above all for Ayacanora, whom he insults every week by humbly offering some toy only fit for a child; at which she pouts, and is reproved by Mrs. Leigh, and then takes the gift, and puts it away never to look at it again. For her whole soul is set upon being an English maid; and she runs about all day long after Mrs. Leigh, insisting upon learning the mysteries of the kitchen and the still-room, and, above all, the art of making clothes for herself, and at last for everybody in Northam. For first, she will be a good housewife, like Mrs. Leigh; and next a new idea has dawned on her: that of helping others. To the boundless hospitality of the savage she has been of course accustomed: but to give to those who can give nothing in return, is a new thought. She sees Mrs. Leigh spending every spare hour in working for the poor, and visiting them in their cottages. She sees Amyas, after public thanks in church for his safe return, giving away money, food, what not, in Northam, Appledore, and Bideford; buying cottages and making them almshouses for worn-out mariners; and she is told that this is his thank-offering to God. She is puzzled; her notion of a thank-offering was rather that of the Indians, and indeed of the Spaniards,— sacrifices of human victims, and the bedizenment of the Great Spirit’s sanctuary with their skulls and bones. Not that Amyas, as a plain old-fashioned churchman, was unmindful of the good old instinctive rule, that something should be given to the Church itself; for the vicar of Northam was soon resplendent with a new surplice, and what was more, the altar with a splendid flagon and salver of plate (lost, I suppose, in the civil wars) which had been taken in the great galleon. Ayacanora could understand that: but the almsgiving she could not, till Mrs. Leigh told her, in her simple way, that whosoever gave to the poor, gave to the Great Spirit; for the Great Spirit was in them, and in Ayacanora too, if she would be quiet and listen to him, instead of pouting, and stamping, and doing nothing but what she liked. And the poor child took in that new thought like a child, and worked her fingers to the bone for all the old dames in Northam, and went about with Mrs. Leigh, lovely and beloved, and looked now and then out from under her long black eyelashes to see if she was winning a smile from Amyas. And on the day on which she won one, she was good all day; and on the day on which she did not, she was thoroughly naughty, and would have worn out the patience of any soul less chastened than Mrs. Leigh’s. But as for the pomp and glory of her dress, there was no keeping it within bounds; and she swept into church each Sunday bedizened in Spanish finery, with such a blaze and rustle, that the good vicar had to remonstrate humbly with Mrs. Leigh on the disturbance which she caused to the eyes and thoughts of all his congregation. To which Ayacanora answered, that she was not thinking about them, and they need not think about her; and that if the Piache (in plain English, the conjuror), as she supposed, wanted a present, he might have all her Mexican feather-dresses; she would not wear them—they were wild Indian things, and she was an English maid—but they would just do for a Piache; and so darted upstairs, brought them down, and insisted so stoutly on arraying the vicar therein, that the good man beat a swift retreat. But he carried off with him, nevertheless, one of the handsomest mantles, which, instead of selling it, he converted cleverly enough into an altar-cloth; and for several years afterwards, the communion at Northam was celebrated upon a blaze of emerald, azure, and crimson, which had once adorned the sinful body of some Aztec prince.

So Ayacanora flaunted on; while Amyas watched her, half amused, half in simple pride of her beauty; and looked around at all gazers, as much as to say, “See what a fine bird I have brought home!”

Another great trouble which she gave Mrs. Leigh was her conduct to the ladies of the neighborhood. They came, of course, one and all, not only to congratulate Mrs. Leigh, but to get a peep at the fair savage; but the fair savage snubbed them all round, from the vicar’s wife to Lady Grenville herself, so effectually, that few attempted a second visit.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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