You are here

قراءة كتاب Two Gallant Sons of Devon: A Tale of the Days of Queen Bess

تنويه: تعرض هنا نبذة من اول ١٠ صفحات فقط من الكتاب الالكتروني، لقراءة الكتاب كاملا اضغط على الزر “اشتر الآن"

‏اللغة: English
Two Gallant Sons of Devon: A Tale of the Days of Queen Bess

Two Gallant Sons of Devon: A Tale of the Days of Queen Bess

No votes yet
دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 1

Harry Collingwood

"Two Gallant Sons of Devon"

Chapter One.

How Phil Stukely and Dick Chichester narrowly escaped drowning.

It was a little after seven o’clock on June 19 in the year of Our Lord 1577, and business was practically over for the day. The taverns and alehouses were, of course, still open, and would so remain for three or four hours to come, for the evening was then, as it is now, their most busy time; but nearly all the shops in Fore Street of the good town of Devonport were closed, one of the few exceptions being that of Master John Summers, “Apothecary, and Dealer in all sorts of Herbs and Simples”, as was announced by the sign which swung over the still open door of the little, low-browed establishment.

The shop was empty of customers for the moment, its only occupants being two persons, both of whom were employees of Master John Summers. One—the tall, thin, dark, dreamy-eyed individual behind the counter who was with much deliberation and care completing the preparation of a prescription—was Philip Stukely, the apothecary’s only assistant; while the other was one Colin Dunster, a pallid, raw-boned youth whose business it was to distribute the medicines to his master’s customers. He was slouching now, outside the counter, beside a basket three-parts full of bottles, each neatly enwrapped in white paper and inscribed with the name and address of the customer to whom it was to be delivered in due course. Apparently the package then in course of preparation would complete the tale of those to be delivered that night; for as Stukely tied the string and wrote the address in a clear, clerkly hand, the lad Dunster straightened himself up and laid a hand upon the basket, as though suddenly impatient to be gone.

At this moment another youth, with blue-grey eyes, curly, flaxen hair, tall, broad-chested, and with the limbs of a young Hercules, burst into the shop, taking at a stride the two steps which led down into it from the street, as he exclaimed:

“Heyday, Master Phil, how is this? Hast not yet finished compounding thy potions? My day’s work ended an hour and more ago; and the evening is a perfect one for a sail upon the Sound.”

“Ay, so ’tis, I’ll warrant,” answered Stukely, as he deposited the package in the basket. “There, Colin, lad,” he continued, “that is the last for to-night; and—listen, sirrah! See that thou mix not the parcels, as thou didst but a week agone, lest thou bring sundry of her most glorious Majesty’s lieges to an untimely end! There”—as the boy seized the basket and hurried out of the shop—“that completes my day’s work. Now I have but to put up the shutters and lock the door; and then, have with thee whither thou wilt. Help me with the shutters, Dick, there’s a good lad, so shall I be ready the sooner.”

Five minutes sufficed the two to put up the shutters, and for Stukely to wash his hands, discard his apron, change his coat, and lock up the shop; then the two somewhat oddly contrasted friends wended their way quickly down the narrow street on their way to the waterside.

As they go, let us take the opportunity to become better acquainted with them both, for, although they knew it not, they were taking their first steps on the road to many a strange and wild adventure, whither we who also love adventure propose to accompany them.

Philip Stukely, the elder of the two, aged twenty-three and a half years, tall, spare, sallow of complexion, with long, straight, black hair, and dark eyes—the precise colour of which no man precisely knew, for it seemed to change with his varying moods—was, as we have seen, by some strange freak of fortune, an apothecary’s assistant. But merely to say that he was an apothecary’s assistant very inadequately describes the man; for, in addition to that, he was both a poet and a painter in thought and feeling, if not in actual fact. He was also a voracious reader of everything that treated of adventure, from the story of the Flood, and Jonah’s memorable voyage, to Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, and everything else of a like character that he could lay hands upon. Altogether, he was a very strange fellow, who evidently thought deeply, and originally, and held many very remarkable opinions upon certain subjects.

This it was that made his friendship for and deep attachment to Dick Chichester, and Chichester’s equally deep attachment to him, so strange a thing; for the two had not a trait in common. To begin with, Chichester was much younger than Stukely, being just turned seventeen years of age, although this difference in age was much less apparent than usual, for while Stukely, in his more buoyant and expansive moments, seemed considerably younger than his years, Chichester might easily have been, and indeed often was, mistaken for a young man of twenty-one or twenty-two. While Stukely was spare of frame and sallow of complexion, Chichester possessed the frame, stature, and colouring of a young Viking, being already within a quarter of an inch of six feet two inches in height, although he had by no means done growing, broad in proportion, with eyes of steel blue, and a shock of curly hair which his friends would in these latter days have called auburn, while his enemies—if he had possessed any—would have tersely described it as “carrots”. In temperament, too, Chichester was the very antithesis of Stukely, for he was absolutely unimaginative and matter-of-fact. Perhaps his occupation may have had something to do with this; for he was apprenticed to a shipwright, and delighted in his work. He was also an orphan; his nearest relative being his uncle Michael Chichester, a merchant of Plymouth, who had adopted him upon the death of his parents, and with whom he now lived.

Not much was said as the strangely assorted pair strode along side by side on their way to the water, for both of them loved boats, and sailing, and all that pertained to the sea life, and both were equally eager to get afloat as quickly as possible, so as not to waste unnecessarily a moment of that glorious evening. At last, however, as Dick turned unexpectedly into a narrow side alley, Stukely pulled up short with:

“Hillo, Master Dick! whither away, my lad? This is not the way to the spot where our boat is moored.”

“No,” answered Dick, “it is not, I know. But we are not going to take our own boat to-night, Phil; we are going to take Gramfer Heard’s lugger. Gramfer is to Tavistock to-night; and he told me this morning that I might use the lugger whenever I pleased, if he did not want her himself. We’ll have something like a sail to-night, Phil, for there is enough wind blowing to just suit the lugger, while it and the sea would be rather too much for our own boat.”

So saying, Chichester led the way down the alley, and halted at a door in the wall, nearly at its farthest extremity. Then, drawing a key from his pocket, he unlocked the door, flung it open, and Stukely found himself looking in upon Gramfer Heard’s shipyard, the scene of Dick Chichester’s daily labours. He gazed, for a few seconds, with appreciative eyes at the forms of three goodly hulls in varying stages of progress, inhaled with keen enjoyment the mingled odours of pine chips and Stockholm tar, and then hurried after Dick, who was already busily engaged in unmooring a small skiff, in which to pull off to a handsome five-ton lugger-rigged boat that lay lightly straining at her moorings in the tideway.

A few minutes later they were aboard the lugger, busily engaged in loosing and setting the sails; and presently they were under way, having slipped their moorings and transferred them to the skiff, which they left behind to serve as a buoy to guide them to the moorings upon their return. The lugger was a beautiful boat, according to the idea of