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doubt they were monstrously ashamed, and would have given their ears never to have entered into a place, whereof, it is on the face of it, they had had so little experience; but whilst they were a reddening and fidgetting about, and making up a resolution to take to their heels, in comes mine host with a full tankard, as if for another customer, and with such an exceeding comic face, that at the sight of it the company laughed louder than at first.
“ Here be a somewhat larger tankard than the one I brought you in awhile since,” said the tapster, as he placed the vessel before the astonished youths.
“ But the liquor hath been drawn from the same tap, I'll warrant it. 'Tis in exchange for that I have swallowed. Drink, and make your hearts merry, my masters.
But let me give you this piece of advice, which you will, I doubt not, find of some profit to follow. Never ask another to drink with you till first gauged his stomach to see what he will hold.”
“ I'll gauge him without fail, depend on’t, good sir,” exclaimed Tim, in an excellent cheerful humour; and then all in the room expressed their delight at mine host's conceit, and many did order fresh tankards, they were so well pleased with the handsome way in which he had made amends to the simple apprentices for the trick he had played upon them.
“ That be so like thee, Ephraim Spigot,” observed one merrily.
“ That be a sure thing," replied he, after the same fashion. “ For of all my family I be reckoned most like myself.” Thereat there was a laugh of course; and he took himself out in the midst of it.
66 Knowest thou where that vessel hath been?" enquired the handicraftsman of his neighbour.
“ I did hear she sailed to bring back Sir Walter Raleigh,” replied Simon Mainsail.
66 What, he that went from here on the late expedition ?” asked his companion.
“Ay, messmate, the same," said the mariner.
“ It hath been said that he be in disgrace at court, for that he will not splice himself unto a gentlewoman of the queen's choosing,” observed another seafaring man.
“ Now, I heard from my gammer," said an artificer; “ and my gammer got it from her gosşip, and her gossip had it from a cousin of hers, who is a serving-man to some person of worship in London, that this Sir Walter Raleigh hath fallen out with the great Earl of Essex, and that they were nigh coming to blows before the queen's majesty, the which put her into so monstrous a fret, that she straightway forbid them her presence."
" 'Tis said that this Raleigh be a famous conceited fellow,” remarked another, “and spendeth as much on his back as would clothe a whole county.”
“ What dreadful extravagance !” exclaimed the handicraftsman; “why cannot he be content with a jerkin of a moderate price, such as might become any honest man, and give the rest to the poor?”
“Why, messmate, thus runs the log,” replied the old mariner, hitching up his slops; “if so be he be ordered to dress his vessel after one fashion, he must needs do it, or be put in the bilboes for a mutineer. Mayhap he hath had signals from his admiral to have his rigging smarter than ordinary; and like a good seaman, he hath obeyed orders. As for his hanging astern at court, for not consorting with such as his betters choose for him, I have seen none that have taken soundings there, therefore have I no chart to go by to lead me to the truth; and whether he have come to an engagement with Lord Essex, know I as little; but let him have sailed on either tack, or for the matter of that, on both, I see nothing in it discreditable to his seamanship."
" I heard from a very honest intelligencer that he was to be fetched back from his command, in huge disgrace," observed one of the artificers.
Mayhap,” replied Simon Mainsail; “the very best man that walks a plank can't always have fair
weather with his officers, albeit he have no fault in him ;--for on one watch they shall be in this humour, and the next in one that is clean contrary. Slife ! it be the difficultest thing that is for a fellow to warp out o' harbour without meeting with a squall from some of 'em. As for Sir Walter Raleigh, 'tis like enough I be as familiar with his trim and sea-worthiness as any, seeing that I served as gunner under him in Drake and Norris's expedition to the Groyne, in the year eighty-nine; and I can say this much, that never met I a more proper commander. He be none of your thundering great ships that bear down upon us smaller craft, as if they would swamp every mother's son of us; but he hath often and often crept up along side of me, and spoke about gunnery and such matters with as much cunning as if he had been at load and fire all his life. And as for his spirit,-after we landed in the Bay of Ferrol, I saw him bear up among the Spaniards at Puente de Burgos, after a fashion that reminded me only of that right gallant officer his kinsman, Sir Richard Grenville.”
66 And what did he, neighbour?” asked the handicraftsman.
66 What did he, messmate ?” replied the veteran,
6 why he did the gallantest thing that ever was known on the high seas. You shall hear, for it be marvellously worth the telling. You see there was
a fleet sent out in the year ninety-one, under the command of Lord Thomas Howard, consisting of six ships royal, six victuallers, and a few pinnaces, whereof Sir Richard Grenville was vice-admiral, in the Revenge, in the which I had gone on board as master gunner; and this expedition, like unto the one that sailed from here awhile ago with Sir Walter Raleigh, had for its object the surprising of the Plate fleet, belonging to the villain Spaniards, as it rendezvoused at the Azores, coming from America. Somehow or another, the pestilent knaves, the enemy, had wind of it, and they sent a fleet of fifty-three of their biggest ships of war to act as convoy; of the which we knowing nothing, were quietly taking in water at Flores, when down they came upon us.
All hurried on board to weigh anchor and escape, as there was no fighting against such odds. But Sir Richard Grenville, having seen every one of his men embark, was the last to leave the shore; and by this necessary delay the Revenge was left alone. He seeing that there was no hope of recovering the wind, knew nothing was possible but to cut his mainsail, tack about, and be off with what speed he might, or stay and fight with all that could come up with him : but though the enemy had surrounded his ship in such a way as to leave him little chance of escape, and though ninety of his men were on the sick-list, and only