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we have swum for our sport, ere this, a longer space than lies betwixt us and the shore; the tide, too, is at the slack, and there is floating wreck enow about, whereon to rest if our arms shall tire."

The old knight smiled again-this time very sadly.

"'Tis a brave design"-he said—" and, if it be within compass of man's strength or hardihood, I doubt not thou wilt achieve it. Thou must carry thine answer concerning the matters we spake of to Bordeaux to other than me; for I know of a surety that this day Walter Breckenridge dealeth his last swordstroke. Still I trust that thy mind will be swayed aright, and that thou mayest yet do King Edward wight service. And so God keep and prosper thee."

Even while their hands were locked together, each glanced over his shoulder to windward. Not half a bowshot off, the great Spanish war-ship bore down under press of sail; her decks crowded with spearmen, and her towers bristling with cross-bows. In the forward turret stood a knight wearing a gorgeous surcoat over bright plate-armour; who ever and anon turned his head, motioning to the steersman with his drawn sword. This was none other than Ponce de Leon, brother to Hernando, the Vice-Admiral, and one of the famousest knights in Castile. The huge black stem forged nearer and nearer, as though purposing to strike the English craft amidships, and sink it with the mere shock; but at the last moment the galley's helm was jammed hard down, so that her sails shivered in the wind, and she ranged up to her enemy broadside on. As the bulwarks touched, the Spaniard cast out his grappells; and then ensued a mellay, fierce and obstinate.

Keen and reckless as in his maiden fray, old Walter Breckenridge cast himself into the teeth of the boarders; and, repelling their first onslaught, crossed blades on the Spanish deck with Ponce de Leon. So doughty, indeed, did the veteran bestir himself, that Ralph, though he had work enough on his own hands, could not refrain from glancing sometimes over his shoulder to watch the sword-play on his left. Suddenly a cry-half of wrath, half of warning-broke from the Free Companion's lips; but it came too late. Walter Breckenridge, fully engaged with the foe in his front, wist not of a blow levelled sidelong at him, till the mace descended where the neck joins the spine. "Twas a felon stroke; but so starkly delivered that the brave old knight dropped dead in his tracks, with scarce a quiver in his lower limbs-like an ox felled in the shambles. Ponce de Leon turned, in hot anger, to see who had dared to interfere with his handiwork; but he had no chance to chide the offender. Ralph Brakespeare marked who dealt the


blow-a tall, dark-visaged hidalgo-and swore under his breast a bitter oath that he would have that man's life, at whatsoever peril of his own.

But he chose a surer way than combat, after the rules of warfare; wherein, by stress of numbers, he might have been baulked of his vengeance, and lost liberty to boot. Flinging down his estoc, so that both hands were free, he drove headlong through the press, and in another second, those two were knit in grapple. The Spaniard's mace was useless; but, plucking his poignard from its sheath, he smote his assailant with it on the breast, fair and full. The Toledan blade shivered like glass on the Milan mail-shirt; and, before any were aware of his intent, the Free Companion had dragged his victimchoking and struggling in a grasp against which the gorget was poor fence-across the deck, through the skirts of the throng, and plunged over the weather bulwark, keeping the fetter-lock of his fingers fast. With a splash that was heard over all the battle-din, the two bodies struck the water together; but only one rose to the surface; the other the deep sea kept for her own-to have and to hold until the day, when, perforce, she must render up her dead.

Lanyon, as you know, was standing within earshot when his master first spoke of swimming; and incontinently, without further orders, he began to make ready-in this wise.

There was still a goodly quantity of liquor left in the flask that he carried back to the cabin; putting this to his lips, he drained it to the very dregs, muttering to himself some gruff apology about "keeping out the cold." Next he cast loose his cumbrous leather gipon, and doffed his bascinet, so that he stood bareheaded in tight-fitting jerkin and hose; then he took out of an iron-bound coffer a broad leathern belt, and thrust into this, when he had buckled it round his waist, a light dudgeon-dagger. Thus accoutred, he emerged on deck, just at the moment when the Spaniard cast out his grappling-ladders. The squire had evidently no purpose of taking part in the mellay. He was a very glutton of hard blows at proper times and seasons; but he was none of those hair-brained desperadoes who fight for fighting sake, and would as soon have thought of thrusting himself into a feast whereto he was not bidden, as into a fray where he had no concern. So he climbed up a little way into the lee rigging, where, for the nonce, he was out of danger, save from stray missiles; and followed keenly and coolly every movement of his master's, intending to guide his own thereby. Seeing Brakespeare disappear, with his prey in his gripe,

over the bulwark of the Spanish galley, Lanyon drew a long, slow breath, after the fashion of practised divers; and, without more ado, leaped head foremost into the water.

When the Free Companion came up panting after the long plunge, the first sound in his ears was a familiar voice close by.

"Hither away, my lord. Hither away."

And, as he dashed the brine out of his eyes, he saw rising on the crest of the swell the shaggy head and bull-neck of his old retainer.

So many and diverse were the phases of peril those two had faced together, that both master and man took such matters now with incredible equanimity.

"Aha! thou art here, then ?"—was all the knight said. Then, with one hand, unclasping his bascinet, he tossed it away, turned himself about, and led the way shorewards. They might have advanced half a furlong, when a great cry from behind made both 'swimmers look back.

Mere weight of numbers had forced the English back to the deck of their own vessel, and there the fray was waged savagely as ever; for the stout squires and sturdy yeomen fought on the more doggedly, because, since their leader was down, there was none cared to take upon himself to cry "Surrender ;" and the Spaniards, enraged by such obstinacy, were little minded to show quarter. So they hurtled to and fro, never heeding the gurgle of the water rushing into the hold under their feet, or the gunwale's sinking till it touched the water's edge. All at once came a heel to leeward; the green foam-flecked surge swept in amidships up to the waists of the combatants; and tearing herself clear of the grapples, the English craft foundered bodily-carrying with her the dead, the wounded, and the living, who were scarce in better case: for, of those who went down alive, all harnessed, into the ghastly whirlpool, not one in ten saw light again. Amongst the drowned were Ponce de Leon, and other renowned Castilian captains besides. So, when awhile later, the Spaniards stripped Breckenridge of his armour, and flung his corpse over with the rest, a gallant company waited for him down there twenty fathoms deep; though never an one of the sleepers, when he came amongst them, turned on his pillow. "God rest their souls!"-quoth the knight, through his set teeth. “Amen”—said the squire.

With that brief funeral oration, each set his face again shorewards, and swam on silently. For a while they made steady way; the tide, which was at its slack, neither aiding nor impeding

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