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Since Fortune's will is now so bent
To plague me thus, poor man!
SIR THOMAS WYATT.
Happy is he that lives in such a sort;
What comfort have we now?
THERE was a goodly company assembled in the parlour of mine host of the Ship at Chatham, whereof most of them seemed to be sea-faring men from the vessels lying in the harbour, shipwrights of the town, and the like. Some were a playing at shove-groat; others leaning out of the open bow-window watching the ships. Here one was upon a bench as fast as a church,—there another a nodding his head over the table, as if he would speedily follow his neighbour's example; many were a drinking, and some few discoursing very soberly; whilst ever and anon mine host (a
very tapster-looking varlet, with a right rosy face and a short plump body) came in and out, serving of his customers with a tankard or so, and having something to say to all.
Prythee, tell me what ship be that, Simon Mainsail ?” enquired a stout handicraftsman of some sort, to a weather-beaten old mariner with a scarred face, who stood by him at the window.
“ Which ship, messmate?” asked the other.
“ That one that hath but lately come in,” said the first.
“Oh! she that be squaring her yards ?” observed the mariner enquiringly.
Nay, I know not if she be squaring of her yards or her inches,” replied the handicraftsman; “ but it seemeth to me that she be just come to an anchor.”
- That be the craft, ey ?” answered his companion. “'Tis a pinnace of my Lord Admiral's, , called the Disdain, and many a time and oft' have I been afloat in her. She saileth well enough afore the wind_ay, my heart ! as bravely as a witch in a sieve; but she wears heavily in some weathers. I was in her off the Lizard, when we first had sight of the Spanish armada, and Captain Jonas Bradbury was her captain-a right gallant gentleman, and a skilful. Well, when my Lord Admiral had allowed the villain Spaniards, with all their
host of big ships, amounting to 160 sail, to pass him by as they did, swaggering it along like very bullies as they were, we in the Disdain were sent to challenge them to the fight, at the which we lost no time, for we straight bore down upon the nearest, and discharged our ordnance at her. Then up came my Lord Admiral, in the ark Royal, giving to the first galleon of the enemy such a broadside as made her shiver in all her timbers. Close at his stern came Drake, in the Revenge, Sir John Hawkins in the Victory, and Sir Martin Frobisher in the Triumph, which last was the biggest of all our ships, and they soon began to fire away like mad. Other of our craft followed, and they of the armada, after a while, liked not our salutations, I promise you; for they that were nighest to us bore away as if Old Clooty was at their heels; but not before we had done them great damagement, burnt one of their largest ships, and took another, in the which we found 55,000 ducats, whereof I spent my share (for it was all divided amongst the sailors) in drinking confusion to all villain Spaniards.”
“ That was a proud time for old England,” remarked a bystander.
- Proud time !” exclaimed Simon Mainsail. 66 'Slife, messmate ! I never think on't but I feel as if I were head and shoulders taller.”
“ Here be a brimming tankard, my masters !” cried mine host, as he set a filled jug before two youths, who appeared by their looks to be but simple apprentices. “I doubt not 'twill warm your young hearts famously. 'Tis mild as milk, and soft as silk; and as good as can be drunk by any nobleman in the land.
But the money, my masters—the money
!” 6 How much be the cost of it ?” asked one very innocently.
Why, to such noble young gentlemen I must say a groat; though I would not let those of meaner quality have it under three-pence, I promise you.” Thereat he nudged a bystander at the elbow.
“I thank you, kindly, good sir,” replied the youth; and then in a whisper added to his companion, “ T'im, hast got twopence ?—for no more than that have 1."
“ I have it to a farthing," said the other; and thereupon handed him the amount, which with his own he placed in the hands of mine host.
“I think you will find it right,” observed the apprentice, as he noticed the tapster begin count
ing of it.
“ One penny-two-three-a halfpenny and two farthings is it exactly, and thank your worship,” replied mine host, with a monstrous serious coun
tenance, whilst all in the room could scarce refrain from a laugh.
“Will you take a drink with us, good sir ?" asked
66 Tim modestly.
“ That will I, and thank your honour," answered mine host, raising the untasted jug to his mouth. “So, your worships' very good health !”
“ I thank you,” said both at the same time. The two apprentices now watched the tapster very curiously, as they saw his head gradually fall back as he was a drinking of their liquor, and his stomach poke out as much, till he put down the tankard.
Why, he's drank it all !” exclaimed one, opening his eyes with astonishment, as soon as he discovered the vessel was empty; at the which an. nouncement the jaw of the other fell prodigiously, and all the company burst out into a roar of laughter.
66 Your worship was good enough to ask me to take a drink, and methinks I have done your bidding famously,” said mine host; and without ever a word more, he walked straight from the room as if he had done nothing out of the common, leaving every one a laughing more than ever, and the two youths looking at each other as foolish as you please. The latter seemed as if they knew not whether to go or to stay.