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Many more questions were asked by the wary youth as to his senior's plan of action, and these having been answered the assault was made. By this time, nine o'clock, the two men were again at the pumps. Lyde took off his coat, so that he might be more free in his operations, and also took off his cap. This he did, having but little hair, so that if they knocked him on the head he might be killed. He had no wish to trust himself as a living body to the mercies of the incensed privateersmen in case of failure.
Having said 'Lord! be with us, and strengthen us in the action!' he went softly into the cabin, holding the crowbar with both hands in the middle, and stretching out his legs to shorten his stature, because of the lowness of the cabin. The man who was nearest heard him and tried to make resistance, but Lyde was too quick for him and gave him a mortal blow upon the forehead. By the side of the dying man was another man who, hearing the blow, turned about and faced the Englishman, trying fiercely to grapple with him. Here again Lyde was too quick, and he struck the man a heavy blow, the greater force of which went on his head, although much of it was parried by the man's
The master in his cabin heard the noise and sat up, and seeing what Lyde had done he called aloud; but Lyde, 'having his eyes every way,' pushed at the master's ear with the point of the bar. The master in his fright fell back, nevertheless the claws of the crow struck into his cheek, and he became temporarily senseless. By this time the second of the two men had risen to his feet, and he charged Lyde with his head, intending to knock him over. Lyde aimed the crowbar at his assailant and dug the point into his forehead to the extent of an inch and a half.' As the man was falling down he seized him by the back and threw him into the steerage.
Lyde heard the boy, after he had knocked down the first man, strike two blows at the man at the helm, which two blows, as well they might, made him lie very still; then he himself, determined to run no danger from men returning to life, struck another blow at the man he had first attacked. All this time the master made no movement, and Lyde came to the belief that he had struck him under the ear and had killed him.
Lyde had so managed things that he had entered the cabin unseen by the men at the pumps. Having disposed of the men
below he prepared to attack the two men at the pumps, who were still unconscious of what had happened. When he was leaving the cabin he saw the man whose forehead he had pierced, and who was still alive, crawling on his hands and knees upon the deck. The poor wretch was beating his hands upon the deck, so as to make a noise which the men could hear, for he was too far gone to be able either to cry or speak. Instantly the two men left the pumps and rushed at Lyde. He struck at them, but the steerage not being more than four feet high he could not have a full blow at them. They warded off the blow and closed with him, and then began a long and desperate struggle for the weapon.
Lyde says the boy might easily have knocked the men down while they were struggling with him, but his heart had failed him, and he stood there at a distance like a 'stake.' He shouted to the boy to seize the crowbar and haul as the Frenchmen hauled, his object being suddenly to let go, so that the Frenchmen would roll over in a heap. The boy took the bar, and Lyde pushed it towards them and let it go. Immediately he began to take out his knife, but the Frenchmen themselves let the bar go to the boy, and rushing at Lyde grasped his right arm with both hands and ground their teeth at him. By this time the master had come to himself again, and hearing the fray, left his cabin, and also seized the Englishman, who was now engaged in a deadly struggle, and the man who had been struck down at the helm also recovering, he fell upon Lyde, whose chances of victory looked remote indeed.
Lyde grappled and wrestled like a giant with his four opponents, whose great object was to fling him to the floor and then secure him. He cried to the boy to come and knock on the head a man who held his left arm, and the boy came and struck, but so faintly that he missed his blow, and Lyde was greatly enraged against him. Wright did manage to strike one of the other men on the head and fell him, and although the man rose at once, yet he seemed to have no further stomach for the fray, and went and staggered to and fro upon the deck. In his extremity Lyde, looking about for a weapon and seeing none, cried, 'Lord! what shall I do?' Then he cast his eye upon his left side and saw a marlinspike hanging from a nail. He jerked his right arm, clearing the two men from it, and seized the piece of iron. Before the men he had cast off were upon him again he had struck the point of the marlinspike four times, about a quarter of
an inch deep, into the skull of the man that held his left arm. He also struck the weapon into his head three times after they had again seized him, 'which caused him to screech out.' These three blows, however, were not of great force, Lyde being pinned as he was; but the wounded Frenchman still stuck to him, being a man of stout heart.
After this there was a fierce struggle for the spike, which fell to the floor, and in this extremity Lyde said, 'Lord! what shall I do now?' He says it pleased God to put him in mind of his knife in his pocket, and this weapon he managed to get without his opponents seeing it. He managed to draw the knife from its sheath, and one of the men who by this time had his back to his breast, being the man who had been struck on the head with the spike, Lyde seized and cut his throat. Then 'with his left arm he gave both the men a push from him, hauled his right arm, with a jerk, to him, and so cleared it of them.' Being now free he intended to cut the throats of the two men with whom he still had to deal, but they held up their hands and cried for quarter, saying that, if Lyde pleased, they would go to England.
There is little further that need be said about this memorable fight. With not a little difficulty Lyde, with the help of the boy and the blunderbuss, got three Frenchmen into the hold, while the two who had been staggering up and down the deck surrendered, and one of them was added to the three below, the other being kept to help to sail the ship. The two dead men were hauled out and thrown overboard, and Lyde set himself to attend as well as he could to the wants of the captives, and shortly afterwards had the joy of knowing that he had fulfilled his pledges and was carrying the recaptured ship to England. He arrived at Topsham on March 9. Subsequently Lyde took his prisoners to Exeter and the ship to London, where a shameful attempt was made to swindle him by those whose wine was on board in addition to his own. In the end the freighters and Lyde went to law, in connection with which he lost both time and money, ending his law, as he said, and the greatest part of his money together.
THE HUMOROUS SIDE OF CLERICAL LIFE.
THERE are many views which may be taken of the average
But it is the humorous side of the parson's life which the writer wants to bring before his readers. A man misses much who has no sense of humour. For in life tragedy and comedy go often hand in hand. This is particularly noticeable to those who see, as the clergy do, much of the tragic side of life. I was visiting a house the other day in which a man was dying from some dreadful form of paralysis. The wife, who was in great distress, told me with many tears of the means she had adopted to rouse her husband when he had been first struck down. It appeared that the man was 'won'erful fond of 'is pigs;' indeed, it was in the pigstye that he was 'fust took.' 'So I sez to my boy, “John,” says I, "we must kill that there fat sow, and we'll bring her in and see as whether the master 'll take ony notice on it." The animal was accordingly sacrificed, and its white carcase was brought in and hung up on a rafter in the room. 'Did it rouse him,' I
asked. 'No,' she sobbed; "'e looked at it as innocent loike as a child, so I sez to my son "Tak' it awa', John, I knows now as 'ow the ould mon 'll never tak' up again." That there,' she added, pointing to some fine bacon which adorned the ceiling, 'is part of the very same pig, but 'e 'll niver know the taste o' bacon fat agin.'
At first scenes like this are rather trying to the risible faculties of the listener, but it is wonderful how, after a time, one can hear the most absurd things said and witness the most ridiculous situations without allowing a smile to cross the face. I remember, however, having these powers tested to the utmost on the occasion of the first marriage that I ever performed. The bridegroom, who was a dock labourer, was unable to get the ring over the somewhat enlarged knuckle of his bride's finger. For some moments I watched his efforts in silence, and then suggested it would serve the same purpose if he held the ring at the spot which it had reached and repeated the necessary words after me. But this did not suit his sense of propriety. So with inimitable sang froid he put the lady's finger in his mouth and licked it all over. Complete success attended this plan, and the ring slipped easily to its place; but the scene, with the perfect gravity which characterised it, was a sore trial to a novice.
Marriages are of course a fruitful occasion of funny incidents, but not a few of them are equally depressing. The absolutely thoughtless way in which young people will enter into matrimony is astounding. Often the bridegroom, aged nineteen, will say in answer to the question as to his trade, 'O, I do an odd job when I can pick 'em up'-a cheerful prospect of hopeless poverty, with the probability of ten or a dozen children into the bargain. The levity of the wedding party, and often of the two principal actors in the scene, is a melancholy fact. Not infrequently I have had to refuse to go on with the service till better behaviour has been obtained. I must say, however, that the giggling is often the result of nervousness, and one word of warning is sufficient. well remember one wedding which illustrates the-at timespeculiar reasons for entering into matrimony. I had just united a middle-aged sailor with a lady who had certainly passed the first blush of youth. On returning to the vestry, the bridegroom exclaimed, 'Well, sir, she's got me at last; she's met my ship every time as she's come into port, for seven years and more, and I would na 'ave 'er. But she's got me at last, and I 'ope she's