Salute to Adventurers
11. Gravity Out Of Bed
A week later I had a visit from old Mercer. He came to my house in the evening just
after the closing of the store. First of all, he paid out to me the gold I had lost from my
ship at Accomac, with all the gravity in the world, as if it had been an ordinary
merchant's bargain. Then he produced some papers, and putting on big horn
spectacles, proceeded to instruct me in them. They were lists, fuller than those I had
already got, of men up and down the country whom Lawrence trusted. Some I had met,
many I knew of, but two or three gave me a start. There was a planter in Henricus who
had treated me like dirt, and some names from Essex county that I did not expect.
Especially there were several in James Town itself--one a lawyer body I had thought the
obedient serf of the London merchants, one the schoolmaster, and another a drunken
skipper of a river boat. But what struck me most was the name of Colonel Beverley.
"Are you sure of all these?" I asked.
"Sure as death," he said. "I'm not saying that they're all friends of yours, Mr. Garvald.
Ye've trampled on a good wheen toes since you came to these parts. But they're all
men to ride the ford with, if that should come which we ken of."
Some of the men on the list were poor settlers, and it was our business to equip them
with horse and gun. That was to be my special duty--that and the establishing of means
by which they could be summoned quickly. With the first Mercer could help me, for he
had his hand on all the lines of the smuggling business, and there were a dozen ports
on the coast where he could land arms. Horses were an easy matter, requiring only the
doling out of money. But the summoning business was to be my particular care. I could
go about the country in my ordinary way of trade without exciting suspicion, and my
house was to be the rendezvous of every man on the list who wanted news or
"Can ye trust your men?" Mercer asked, and I replied that Faulkner was as staunch as
cold steel, and that he had picked the others.
"Well, let's see your accommodation," and the old fellow hopped to his feet, and was out
of doors before I could get the lantern.
Mercer on a matter of this sort was a different being from the decayed landlord of the
water-side tavern. His spectacled eyes peered everywhere, and his shrewd sense
judged instantly of a thing's value. He approved of the tobacco-shed as a store for arms,
for he could reach it from the river by a little-used road through the woods. It was easy
so to arrange, the contents that a passing visitor could guess nothing, and no one ever
penetrated to its recesses but Faulkner and myself. I summoned Faulkner to the
conference, and told him his duties, which, he undertook with sober interest. He was a
dry stick from Fife, who spoke seldom and wrought mightily.