To Have and To Hold
XXVI. In Which I Am Brought To Trial
MY lord came not again into the hold, and the untied cords and the broken chain
were not replaced. Morning and evening we were brought a niggard allowance of
bread and water; but the man who carried it bore no light, and may not even
have observed their absence. We saw no one in authority. Hour by hour my
wounds healed and my strength returned. If it was a dark and noisome prison, if
there were hunger and thirst and inaction to be endured, if we knew not how near
to us might be a death of ignominy, yet the minister and I found the jewel in the
head of the toad; for in that time of pain and heaviness we became as David and
At last some one came beside the brute who brought us food. A quiet gentleman,
with whitening hair and bright dark eyes, stood before us. He had ordered the
two men with him to leave open the hatch, and he held in his hand a sponge
soaked with vinegar. "Which of you is - or rather was - Captain Ralph Percy?" he
asked, in a grave but pleasant voice.
"I am Captain Percy," I answered.
He looked at me with attention. "I have heard of you before," he said. "I read the
letter you wrote to Sir Edwyn Sandys, and thought it an excellently conceived
and manly epistle. What magic transformed a gentleman and a soldier into a
As he waited for me to speak, I gave him for answer, "Necessity."
"A sad metamorphosis," he said. "I had rather read of nymphs changed into
laurel and gushing springs. I am come to take you, sir, before the officers of the
Company aboard this ship, when, if you have aught to say for yourself, you may
say it. I need not tell you, who saw so clearly some time ago the danger in which
you then stood, that your plight is now a thousandfold worse."
"I am perfectly aware of it," I said. "Am I to go in fetters?"
"No," he replied, with a smile. "I have no instructions on the subject, but I will take
it upon myself to free you from them, - even for the sake of that excellently writ
"Is not this gentleman to go too?" I asked.
He shook his head. "I have no orders to that effect."
While the men who were with him removed the irons from my wrists and ankles
he stood in silence, regarding me with a scrutiny so close that it would have been
offensive had I been in a position to take offense. When they had finished I
turned and held Jeremy's hand in mine for an instant, then followed the new-
comer to the ladder and out of the hold; the two men coming after us, and
resolving themselves above into a guard. As we traversed the main deck we
came upon Diccon, busy with two or three others about the ports. He saw me,
and, dropping the bar that he held, started forward, to be plucked back by an
angry arm. The men who guarded me pushed in between us, and there was no
word spoken by either. I walked on, the gentleman at my side, and presently
came to an open port, and saw, with an intake of my breath, the sunshine, a dark