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The trees had become small and scattered. The real forest was now below them. A few hundred yards before them they saw a dead tree, on the highest branch of which sat an eagle.
6 The dog has stopped,” said Cecil. « The end is
“ See,” said Samuel, “there is a handkerchief under the tree.”
“ That is the boy himself,” said Cecil.
They were up to him and off their horses in a moment. There the poor boy lay dead and stiff, one hand still grasping the flowers he had gathered on his last happy playday, and the other laid as a pillow between the soft cold cheek and the rough cold stone. His midsummer holiday was over, his long journey ended.
ONE by one the sands are flowing,
One by one the moments fall ;
Do not strive to grasp them all.
Let thy whole strength go to each.
Learn thou first what these can teach.
On the sea and at the Hogue, sixteen hundred ninety
two, Did the English fight the French, — woe to France ! And, the thirty-first of May, helter-skelter through
the blue, Like a crowd of frightened porpoises a shoal of sharks
pursue, Came crowding ship on ship to St. Malo on the
Rance, With the English fleet in view. 'Twas the squadron that escaped, with the victor in
full chase ; First and foremost of the drove, in his great ship, Damfreville;
Close on him fled, great and small,
Twenty-two good ships in all; And they signaled to the place Help the winners of a race ! Get us guidance, give us harbor, take us quick
- or, quicker still, Here's the English can and will !” Then the pilots of the place put out brisk and leapt
on board ;
“Rocks to starboard, rocks to port, all the passage
scarred and scored, Shall the Formidable here with her twelve and eighty
guns Think to make the river mouth by the single
row way, Trust to enter where 'tis ticklish for a craft of twenty
And with flow at full beside ?
Now, 'tis slackest ebb of tide.
Then was called a council straight. Brief and bitter the debate : “Here's the English at our heels; would you have
them take in tow All that's left us of the fleet, linked together stern
and bow, For a prize to Plymouth Sound ? Better run the ships aground !
(Ended Damfreville his speech.) Not a minute more to wait!
“Let the Captains all and each Shove ashore, then blow up, burn the vessels on
the beach! France must undergo her fate.
“ Give the word!” But no such word Was ever spoke or heard ; For up stood, for out stepped, for in struck amid
all these - A Captain ? A Lieutenant ? A Mate — first,
second, third ? No such man of mark, and meet With his betters to compete! But a simple Breton sailor pressed by Tourville for
the fleet, A poor coasting pilot he, Hervé Riel the Croisickese.
And “What mockery or malice have we here?” cries
Hervé Riel: “ Are you mad, you Malouins ? Are you cowards,
fools, or rogues ? Talk to me of rocks and shoals, me who took the
soundings, tell On my fingers every bank, every shallow, every swell ”Twixt the offing here and Grève where the river
disembogues ? Are you bought by English gold ? Is it love the lying's for?
Morn and eve, night and day,
Have I piloted your bay, Entered free and anchored fast at the foot of Solidor. - Burn the fleet and ruin France ? That were worse
than fifty Hogues ! Sirs, they know I speak the truth! Sirs, believe
me, there's a way! Only let me lead the line,
Have the biggest ship to steer,
Get this Formidable clear, Make the others follow mine, And I lead them, most and least, by a passage I know
well, Right to Solidor past Grève,
And there lay them safe and sound; And if one ship misbehave,
- Keel so much as grate the ground, Why, I've nothing but my life, - here's my head !”
cries Hervé Riel. Not a minute more to wait. “Steer us in, then, small and great ! Take the helm, lead the line, save the squadron!”
cried its chief. “Captains, give the sailor place!
He is Admiral, in brief.”
Still the north wind, by God's grace !