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Sir Mortimer   By: (1870-1936)

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First Page:

Sir Mortimer

A Novel

BY

Mary Johnston

AUTHOR OF "TO HAVE AND TO HOLD" "PRISONERS OF HOPE" ETC.

1904

TO

J.A.J. AND W.A.J.

Illustrations

"'OH, I ENVIED HER!' SHE CRIED" . . . . . . . . . . . . Frontispiece

"SIR JOHN THRUST HIMSELF BETWEEN THE TWO" . . . . . . . . Facing p . 16

"IT WAS BALDRY'S SHIP, THE LITTLE STAR " . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52

"'DO YOU PURPOSE, THEN, THAT HE SHALL DIE?' DEMANDED BALDRY" . . . . 138

"'I BEG THE SHORTEST SHRIFT THAT YOU MAY GIVE'" . . . . . . . . . . 174

"'DAMARIS, THEY CALL HIM TRAITOR'" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 190

'"AH, LOOK NOT SO UPON ME!'" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 244

"THE FRIAR PRESENTED A BLANK COUNTENANCE TO SIR MORTIMER'S QUERIES" 260

"'LAD, LAD,' HE WHISPERED, 'WHERE IS THY MASTER?'" . . . . . . . . . 284

Sir Mortimer

I

"But if we return not from our adventure," ended Sir Mortimer, "if the sea claims us, and upon his sandy floor, amid his Armida gardens, the silver singing mermaiden marvel at that wreckage which was once a tall ship and at those bones which once were animate, if strange islands know our resting place, sunk for evermore in huge and most unkindly forests, if, being but pawns in a mighty game, we are lost or changed, happy, however, in that the white hand of our Queen hath touched us, giving thereby consecration to our else unworthiness, if we find no gold, nor take one ship of Spain, nor any city treasure stored, if we suffer a myriad sort of sorrows and at the last we perish miserably "

He paused, being upon his feet, a man of about thirty years, richly dressed, and out of reason good to look at. In his hand was a great wine cup, and he held it high. "I drink to those who follow after!" he cried. "I drink to those who fail pebbles cast into water whose ring still wideneth, reacheth God knows what unguessable shore where loss may yet be counted gain! I drink to Fortune her minions, to Francis Drake and John Hawkins and Martin Frobisher; to all adventurers and their deeds in the far off seas! I drink to merry England and to the day when every sea shall bring her tribute! to England, like Aphrodite, new risen from the main! Drink with me!"

The tavern of the Triple Tun rang with acclamation, and, the windows being set wide because of the warmth of the June afternoon, the noise rushed into the street and waylaid the ears of them who went busily to and fro, and of them who lounged in the doorway, or with folded arms played Atlas to the tavern walls. "Who be the roisterers within?" demanded a passing citizen of one of these supporters. The latter made no answer; he was a ragged retainer of Melpomene, and he awaited the coming forth of Sir Mortimer Ferne, a notable encourager of all who would scale Parnassus. But his neighbor, a boy in blue and silver, squatted upon a sunny bench, vouchsafed enlightenment.

"Travellers to strange places," quoth he, taking a straw from his mouth and stretching long arms. "Tall men, swingers in Brazil beds, parcel gilt with the Emperor of Manoa, and playfellows to the nymphs of Don Juan Ponce de Leon his fountain, in plain words, my master, Sir Mortimer Ferne, Captain of the Cygnet , and his guests to dinner, to wit, Sir John Nevil, Admiral of our fleet, with sundry of us captains and gentlemen adventurers to the Indies, and, for seasoning, a handful of my master's poor friends, such as courtiers and great lords and poets."

"Thinkest to don thy master's wit with his livery?" snapped the poetaster. "'Tis a chain for a man, too heavy for thy wearing."

The boy stretched his arms again. "'Master' no more than in reason," quoth he. "I also am a gentleman. Heigho! The sun shineth hotter here than in the doldrums!"

"Well, go thy ways for a sprightly crack!" said the citizen, preparing to go his. "I know them now, for my cousin Parker hath a venture in the Mere Honour , and that is the great ship the Queen hath lent Sir John, his other ships being the Marigold , the Cygnet , and the Star , and they're all a lying above Greenwich, ready to sail on the morrow for the Spanish Main... Continue reading book >>




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