Chapter XIX. Taking Possession
 

Cyril stayed a week at Oxford. He greatly enjoyed the visit; and not only was he most warmly received by his former comrades on board the Henrietta, but Prince Rupert spoke so strongly in his favour to other gentlemen to whom he introduced him that he no longer felt a stranger at Court. Much of his spare time he spent with Harry Parton, and in his rooms saw something of college life, which seemed to him a very pleasant and merry one. He had ascertained, as soon as he arrived, that the Earl of Wisbech and his family were down at his estate, near the place from which he took his title, and had at once written to Sydney, from whom he received an answer on the last day of his stay at Oxford. It contained a warm invitation for him to come down to Wisbech.

"You say you will be going to Norwich to take possession of your estate. If you ride direct from Oxford, our place will be but little out of your way, therefore we shall take no excuse for your not coming to see us, and shall look for you within a week or so from the date of this. We were all delighted to get your missive, for although what you say about infection carried by letters is true enough, and, indeed there was no post out of London for months, we had begun to fear that the worst must have befallen you when no letter arrived from you in December. Still, we thought that you might not know where we were, and so hoped that you might be waiting until you could find that out. My father bids me say that he will take no refusal. Since my return he more than ever regards you as being the good genius of the family, and it is certainly passing strange that, after saving my sisters' lives from fire you should, though in so different a way, have saved me from a similar death. So set off as soon as you get this--that is, if you can tear yourself away from the gaieties of Oxford."

Cyril had, indeed, been specially waiting for Sydney's answer, having told him that he should remain at Oxford until he received it, and on the following morning he packed his valise and rode for Wisbech, where he arrived three days' later. His welcome at the Earl's was a most cordial one. He spent a week there, at the end of which time Sydney, at his earnest request, started for Norwich with him. The Earl had insisted on Cyril's accepting a splendid horse, and behind him, on his other animal, rode a young fellow, the son of a small tenant on the Earl's estate, whom he had engaged as a servant. He had written, three days before, to Mr. Popham, telling him that he would shortly arrive, and begging him to order the two old servants of his father, whom he had, at his request, engaged to take care of the house to get two or three chambers in readiness for him, which could doubtless be easily done, as he had learnt from the deed that the furniture and all contents of the house had been included in the gift. After putting up at the inn, he went to the lawyer's. Mr. Popham, he found, had had a room prepared in readiness for him at his house, but Cyril, while thanking him for so doing, said that, as Lord Oliphant was with him, he would stay at the inn for the night.

The next morning they rode over with Mr. Popham to Upmead, which was six miles distant from the town.

"That is the house," the lawyer said, as a fine old mansion came in sight. "There are larger residences in the county, but few more handsome. Indeed, it is almost too large for the estate, but, as perhaps you know, that was at one time a good deal larger than it is at present, for it was diminished by one of your ancestors in the days of Elizabeth."

At the gate where they turned into the Park an arch of evergreens had been erected.

"You don't mean to say you let them know that I was coming home?" Cyril said, in a tone of such alarm that Lord Oliphant laughed and Mr. Popham said apologetically,--

"I certainly wrote to the tenants, sir, when I received your letter, and sent off a message saying that you would be here this morning. Most of them or their fathers were here in the old time, for Mr. Harvey made no changes, and I am sure they would have been very disappointed if they had not had notice that Sir Aubrey's son was coming home."

"Of course it was quite right for you to do so, Mr. Popham, but you see I am quite unaccustomed to such things, and would personally have been much more pleased to have come home quietly. Still, as you say, it is only right that the tenants should have been informed, and at any rate it will be a satisfaction to get it all over at once."

There were indeed quite a large number of men and women assembled in front of the house--all the tenants, with their wives and families, having gathered to greet their young landlord--and loud bursts of cheering arose as he rode up, Sydney and Mr. Popham reining back their horses a little to allow him to precede them. Cyril took off his hat, and bowed repeatedly in reply to the acclamations that greeted him. The tenants crowded round, many of the older men pressing forward to shake him by the hand.

"Welcome back to your own again, Sir Cyril!"

"I fought under your father, sir, and a good landlord he was to us all."

Such were the exclamations that rose round him until he reached the door of the mansion, and, dismounting, took his place at the top of the steps. Then he took off his hat again, and when there was silence he said,--

"I thank you heartily, one and all, good friends, for the welcome that you have given me. Glad indeed I am to come down to my father's home, and to be so greeted by those who knew him, and especially by those who followed him in the field in the evil days which have, we may hope, passed away for ever. You all know, perhaps, that I owe my return here as master to the noble generosity of Mr. Harvey, your late landlord, who restored me the estates, not being bound in any way to do so, but solely because he considered that he had already been repaid the money he gave for them. This may be true, but, nevertheless, there is not one man in a hundred thousand who would so despoil himself of the benefits of a bargain lawfully made, and I beg you therefore to give three cheers, as hearty as those with which you greeted me, for Mr. Harvey."

Three cheers, as long and loud as those that had before risen, responded to the appeal.

"Such a man," Cyril went on, when they subsided, "must have been a just and good landlord to you all, and I shall do my best to give you no cause for regret at the change that has come about."

He paused for a moment to speak to Mr. Popham, who stood beside him, and then went on,--

"I did not know whether I could ask you to drink to my health, but I learn from Mr. Popham that the cellars have been left well filled; therefore, my first orders on coming to the house of my fathers will be that a cask of wine shall be speedily broached, and that you shall be enabled to drink my health. While that is being done, Mr. Popham will introduce you to me one by one."

Another loud cheer arose, and then the tenants came forward with their wives and families.

Cyril shook hands with them all, and said a few words to each. The elder men had all ridden by his father in battle, and most of the younger ones said, as he shook hands with them,--

"My father fell, under Sir Aubrey, at Naseby," or "at Worcester," or in other battles.

By the time all had been introduced, a great cask of wine had been broached, and after the tenants had drunk to his health, and he had, in turn, pledged them, Cyril entered the house with Sydney and Mr. Popham, and proceeded to examine it under the guidance of the old man who had been his father's butler, and whose wife had also been a servant in Sir Aubrey's time.

"Everything is just as it was then, Sir Cyril. A few fresh articles of furniture have been added, but Mr. Harvey would have no general change made. The family pictures hang just where they did, and your father himself would scarce notice the changes."

"It is indeed a fine old mansion, Cyril," Lord Oliphant said, when they had made a tour of the house; "and now that I see it and its furniture I am even more inclined than before to admire the man who could voluntarily resign them. I shall have to modify my ideas of the Puritans. They have shown themselves ready to leave the country and cross the ocean to America, and begin life anew for conscience' sake--that is to say, to escape persecution--and they fought very doughtily, and we must own, very successfully, for the same reason, but this is the first time I have ever heard of one of them relinquishing a fine estate for conscience' sake."

"Mr. Harvey is indeed a most worthy gentleman," Mr. Popham said, "and has the esteem and respect of all, even of those who are of wholly different politics. Still, it may be that although he would in any case, I believe, have left this property to Sir Cyril, he might not have handed it over to him in his lifetime, had not he received so great a service at his hands."

"Why, what is this, Cyril?" Sydney said, turning upon him. "You have told us nothing whatever of any services rendered. I never saw such a fellow as you are for helping other people."

"There was nothing worth speaking of," Cyril said, much vexed.

Mr. Popham smiled.

"Most people would think it was a very great service, Lord Oliphant. However, I may not tell you what it was, although I have heard all the details from my father-in-law, Mr. Goldsworthy. They were told in confidence, and in order to enlighten me as to the relations between Mr. Harvey and Sir Cyril, and as they relate to painful family matters I am bound to preserve an absolute silence."

"I will be content to wait, Cyril, till I get you to myself. It is a peculiarity of Sir Cyril Shenstone, Mr. Popham, that he goes through life doing all sorts of services for all sorts of people. You may not know that he saved the lives of my three sisters in a fire at our mansion in the Savoy; he also performed the trifling service of saving Prince Rupert's ship and the lives of all on board, among whom was myself, from a Dutch fire-ship, in the battle of Lowestoft. These are insignificant affairs, that he would not think it worth while to allude to, even if you knew him for twenty years."

"You do not know Lord Oliphant, Mr. Popham," Cyril laughed, "or you would be aware that his custom is to make mountains out of molehills. But let us sit down to dinner. I suppose it is your forethought, Mr. Popham, that I have to thank for having warned them to make this provision? I had thought that we should be lucky if the resources of the establishment sufficed to furnish us with a meal of bread and cheese."

"I sent on a few things with my messenger yesterday evening, Sir Cyril, but for the hare and those wild ducks methinks you have to thank your tenants, who doubtless guessed that an addition to the larder would be welcome. I have no doubt that, good landlord as Mr. Harvey was, they are really delighted to have you among them again. As you know, these eastern counties were the stronghold of Puritanism, and that feeling is still held by the majority. It is only among the tenants of many gentlemen who, like your father, were devoted Royalists, that there is any very strong feeling the other way. As you heard from their lips, most of your older tenants fought under Sir Aubrey, while the fathers of the younger ones fell under his banner. Consequently, it was galling to them that one of altogether opposite politics should be their landlord, and although in every other respect they had reason to like him, he was, as it were, a symbol of their defeat, and I suppose they viewed him a good deal as the Saxons of old times regarded their Norman lords."

"I can quite understand that, Mr. Popham."

"Another feeling has worked in your favour, Sir Cyril," the lawyer went on. "It may perhaps be a relic of feudalism, but there can be no doubt that there exists, in the minds of English country folks, a feeling of respect and of something like affection for their landlords when men of old family, and that feeling is never transferred to new men who may take their place. Mr. Harvey was, in their eyes, a new man--a wealthy one, no doubt, but owing his wealth to his own exertions--and he would never have excited among them the same feeling as they gave to the family who had, for several hundred years, been owners of the soil."

Cyril remained for a fortnight at Upmead, calling on all the tenants, and interesting himself in them and their families. The day after his arrival he rode into Norwich, and paid a visit to Mr. Harvey. He had, in compliance to his wishes, written but a short letter of acknowledgment of the restitution of the estate, but he now expressed the deep feeling of gratitude that he entertained.

"I have only done what is right," Mr. Harvey said quietly, "and would rather not be thanked for it; but your feelings are natural, and I have therefore not checked your words. It was assuredly God's doing in so strangely bringing us together, and making you an instrument in saving our lives, and so awakening an uneasy conscience into activity. I have had but small pleasure from Upmead. I have a house here which is more than sufficient for all my wants, and I have, I hope, the respect of my townsfellows, and the affection of my workmen. At Upmead I was always uncomfortable. Such of the county gentlemen who retained their estates looked askance at me. The tenants, I knew, though they doffed their hats as I passed them, regarded me as a usurper. I had no taste for the sports and pleasures of country life, being born and bred a townsman. The ill-doing of my son cast a gloom over my life of late. I have lived chiefly here with the society of friends of my own religious and political feeling. Therefore, I have made no sacrifice in resigning my tenancy of Upmead, and I pray you say no further word of your gratitude. I have heard, from one who was there yesterday, how generously you spoke of me to your tenants, and I thank you for so doing, for it is pleasant for me to stand well in the thoughts of those whose welfare I have had at heart."

"I trust that Mrs. Harvey is in good health?" Cyril said.

"She is far from well, Cyril. The events of that night in London have told heavily upon her, as is not wonderful, for she has suffered much sorrow for years, and this last blow has broken her sorely. She mourns, as David mourned over the death of Absalom, over the wickedness of her son, but she is quite as one with me in the measures that I have taken concerning him, save that, at her earnest prayer, I have made a provision for him which will keep him from absolute want, and will leave him no excuse to urge that he was driven by poverty into crime. Mr. Goldsworthy has not yet discovered means of communicating with him, but when he does so he will notify him that he has my instructions to pay to him fifteen pounds on the first of every month, and that the offer of assistance to pay his passage to America is still open to him, and that on arriving there he will receive for three years the same allowance as here. Then if a favourable report of his conduct is forthcoming from the magistrates and deacons of the town where he takes up his residence, a correspondent of Mr. Goldsworthy's will be authorised to expend four thousand pounds on the purchase of an estate for him, and to hand to him another thousand for the due working and maintenance of the same. For these purposes I have already made provisions in my will, with proviso that if, at the end of five years after my death, no news of him shall be obtained, the money set aside for these purposes shall revert to the main provisions of the will. It may be that he died of the Plague. It may be that he has fallen, or will fall, a victim to his own evil courses and evil passions. But I am convinced that, should he be alive, Mr. Goldsworthy will be able to obtain tidings of him long before the five years have expired. And now," he said, abruptly changing the subject, "what are you thinking of doing, Sir Cyril?"

"In the first place, sir, I am going to sea again with the Fleet very shortly. I entered as a Volunteer for the war, and could not well, even if I wished it, draw back."

"They are a stiff-necked people," Mr. Harvey said. "That the Sovereigns of Europe should have viewed with displeasure the overthrow of the monarchy here was natural enough; but in Holland, if anywhere, we might have looked for sympathy, seeing that as they had battled for freedom of conscience, so had we done here; and yet they were our worst enemies, and again and again had Blake to sail forth to chastise them. They say that Monk is to command this time?"

"I believe so, sir."

"Monk is the bruised reed that pierced our hand, but he is a good fighter. And after the war is over, Sir Cyril, you will not, I trust, waste your life in the Court of the profligate King?"

"Certainly not," Cyril said earnestly. "As soon as the war is over I shall return to Upmead and take up my residence there. I have lived too hard a life to care for the gaieties of Court, still less of a Court like that of King Charles. I shall travel for a while in Europe if there is a genuine peace. I have lost the opportunity of completing my education, and am too old now to go to either of the Universities. Not too old perhaps; but I have seen too much of the hard side of life to care to pass three years among those who, no older than myself, are still as boys in their feelings. The next best thing, therefore, as it seems to me, would be to travel, and perhaps to spend a year or two in one of the great Universities abroad."

"The matter is worth thinking over," Mr. Harvey said. "You are assuredly young yet to settle down alone at Upmead, and will reap much advantage from speaking French which is everywhere current, and may greatly aid you in making your travels useful to you. I have no fear of your falling into Popish error, Sir Cyril; but if my wishes have any weight with you I would pray you to choose the schools of Leyden or Haarlem, should you enter a foreign University, for they turn out learned men and good divines."

"Certainly your wishes have weight with me, Mr. Harvey, and should events so turn out that I can enter one of the foreign Universities, it shall be one of those you name--that is, should we, after this war is ended, come into peaceful relations with the Dutch."

Before leaving the Earl's, Cyril had promised faithfully that he would return thither with Sydney, and accordingly, at the end of the fortnight, he rode back with him there, and, three weeks later, journeyed up to London with the Earl and his family.

It was the middle of March when they reached London. The Court had come up a day or two before, and the Fleet was, as Cyril learnt, being fitted out in great haste. The French had now, after hesitating all through the winter, declared war against us, and it was certain that we should have their fleet as well as that of the Dutch to cope with. Calling upon Prince Rupert on the day he arrived, Cyril learnt that the Fleet would assuredly put to sea in a month's time.

"Would you rather join at once, or wait until I go on board?" the Prince asked.

"I would rather join at once, sir. I have no business to do in London, and it would be of no use for me to take an apartment when I am to leave so soon; therefore, if I can be of any use, I would gladly join at once."

"You would be of no use on board," the Prince said, "but assuredly you could be of use in carrying messages, and letting me know frequently, from your own report, how matters are going on. I heard yesterday that the Fan Fan is now fitted out. You shall take the command of her. I will give you a letter to the boatswain, who is at present in charge, saying that I have placed her wholly under your orders. You will, of course, live on board. You will be chiefly at Chatham and Sheerness. If you call early to-morrow I will have a letter prepared for you, addressed to all captains holding commands in the White Squadron, bidding them to acquaint you, whensoever you go on board, with all particulars of how matters have been pushed forward, and to give you a list of all things lacking. Then, twice a week you will sail up to town, and report to me, or, should there be any special news at other times, send it to me by a mounted messenger. Mr. Pepys, the secretary, is a diligent and hard-working man, but he cannot see to everything, and Albemarle so pushes him that I think the White Squadron does not get a fair share of attention; but if I can go to him with your reports in hand, I may succeed in getting what is necessary done."

Bidding farewell to the Earl and his family, and thanking him for his kindness, Cyril stopped that night at Captain Dave's, and told him of all that had happened since they met. The next morning he went early to Prince Rupert's, received the two letters, and rode down to Chatham. Then, sending the horses back by his servant, who was to take them to the Earl's stable, where they would be cared for until his return, Cyril went on board the Fan Fan. For the next month he was occupied early and late with his duties. The cabin was small, but very comfortable. The crew was a strong one, for the yacht rowed twelve oars, with which she could make good progress even without her sails. He was waited on by his servant, who returned as soon as he had left the horses in the Earl's stables; his cooking was done for him in the yacht's galley. On occasions, as the tide suited, he either sailed up to London in the afternoon, gave his report to the Prince late in the evening, and was back at Sheerness by daybreak, or he sailed up at night, saw the Prince as soon as he rose, and returned at once.

The Prince highly commended his diligence, and told him that his reports were of great use to him, as, with them in his hand, he could not be put off at the Admiralty with vague assurances. Every day one or more ships went out to join the Fleet that was gathering in the Downs, and on April 20th Cyril sailed in the Fan Fan, in company with the last vessel of the White Squadron, and there again took up his quarters on board the Henrietta, the Fan Fan being anchored hard by in charge of the boatswain.

On the 23rd, the Prince, with the Duke of Albemarle, and a great company of noblemen and gentlemen, arrived at Deal, and came on board the Fleet, which, on May 1st, weighed anchor.

Lord Oliphant was among the volunteers who came down with the Prince, and, as many of the other gentlemen had also been on board during the first voyage, Cyril felt that he was among friends, and had none of the feeling of strangeness and isolation he had before experienced.

The party was indeed a merry one. For upwards of a year the fear of the Plague had weighed on all England. At the time it increased so terribly in London, that all thought it would, like the Black Death, spread over England, and that, once again, half the population of the country might be swept away. Great as the mortality had been, it had been confined almost entirely to London and some of the great towns, and now that it had died away even in these, there was great relief in men's minds, and all felt that they had personally escaped from a terrible and imminent danger. That they were about to face peril even greater than that from which they had escaped did not weigh on the spirits of the gentlemen on board Prince Rupert's ship. To be killed fighting for their country was an honourable death that none feared, while there had been, in the minds of even the bravest, a horror of death by the Plague, with all its ghastly accompaniments. Sailing out to sea to the Downs, then, they felt that the past year's events lay behind them as an evil dream, and laughed and jested and sang with light-hearted mirth.

As yet, the Dutch had not put out from port, and for three weeks the Fleet cruised off their coast. Then, finding that the enemy could not be tempted to come out, they sailed back to the Downs. The day after they arrived there, a messenger came down from London with orders to Prince Rupert to sail at once with the White Squadron to engage the French Fleet, which was reported to be on the point of putting to sea. The Prince had very little belief that the French really intended to fight. Hitherto, although they had been liberal in their promises to the Dutch, they had done nothing whatever to aid them, and the general opinion was that France rejoiced at seeing her rivals damage each other, but had no idea of risking her ships or men in the struggle.

"I believe, gentlemen," Prince Rupert said to his officers, "that this is but a ruse on the part of Louis to aid his Dutch allies by getting part of our fleet out of the way. Still, I have nothing to do but to obey orders, though I fear it is but a fool's errand on which we are sent."

The wind was from the north-east, and was blowing a fresh gale. The Prince prepared to put to sea. While the men were heaving at the anchors a message came to Cyril that Prince Rupert wished to speak to him in his cabin.

"Sir Cyril, I am going to restore you to your command. The wind is so strong and the sea will be so heavy that I would not risk my yacht and the lives of the men by sending her down the Channel. I do not think there is any chance of our meeting the French, and believe that it is here that the battle will be fought, for with this wind the Dutch can be here in a few hours, and I doubt not that as soon as they learn that one of our squadrons has sailed away they will be out. The Fan Fan will sail with us, but will run into Dover as we pass. Here is a letter that I have written ordering you to do so, and authorising you to put out and join the Admiral's Fleet, should the Dutch attack before my return. If you like to have young Lord Oliphant with you he can go, but he must go as a Volunteer under you. You are the captain of the Fan Fan, and have been so for the last two months; therefore, although your friend is older than you are, he must, if he choose to go, be content to serve under you. Stay, I will put it to him myself."

He touched the bell, and ordered Sydney to be sent for.

"Lord Oliphant," he said, "I know that you and Sir Cyril are great friends. I do not consider that the Fan Fan, of which he has for some time been commander, is fit to keep the sea in a gale like this, and I have therefore ordered him to take her into Dover. If the Dutch come out to fight the Admiral, as I think they will, he will join the Fleet, and although the Fan Fan can take but small share in the fighting, she may be useful in carrying messages from the Duke while the battle is going on. It seems to me that, as the Fan Fan is more likely to see fighting than my ships, you, as a Volunteer, might prefer to transfer yourself to her until she again joins us. Sir Cyril is younger than you are, but if you go, you must necessarily be under his command seeing that he is captain of the yacht. It is for you to choose whether you will remain here or go with him."

"I should like to go with him, sir. He has had a good deal of experience of the sea, while I have never set foot on board ship till last year. And after what he did at Lowestoft I should say that any gentleman would be glad to serve under him."

"That is the right feeling," Prince Rupert said warmly. "Then get your things transferred to the yacht. If you join Albemarle's Fleet, Sir Cyril, you will of course report yourself to him, and say that I directed you to place yourself under his orders."

Five minutes later Cyril and his friend were on board the Fan Fan. Scarcely had they reached her, when a gun was fired from Prince Rupert's ship as a signal, and the ships of the White Squadron shook out their sails, and, with the wind free, raced down towards the South Foreland.

"We are to put into Dover," Cyril said to the boatswain, a weatherbeaten old sailor.

"The Lord be praised for that, sir! She is a tight little craft, but there will be a heavy sea on as soon we are beyond shelter of the sands, and with these two guns on board of her she will make bad weather. Besides, in a wind like this, it ain't pleasant being in a little craft in the middle of a lot of big ones, for if we were not swamped by the sea, we might very well be run down. We had better keep her close to the Point, yer honour, and then run along, under shelter of the cliffs, into Dover. The water will be pretty smooth in there, though we had best carry as little sail as we can, for the gusts will come down from above fit to take the mast out of her."

"I am awfully glad you came with me, Sydney," Cyril said, as he took his place with his friend near the helmsman, "but I wish the Prince had put you in command. Of course, it is only a nominal thing, for the boatswain is really the captain in everything that concerns making sail and giving orders to the crew. Still, it would have been much nicer the other way."

"I don't see that it would, Cyril," Sydney laughed, "for you know as much more about handling a boat like this than I do, as the boatswain does than yourself. You have been on board her night and day for more than a month, and even if you knew nothing about her at all, Prince Rupert would have been right to choose you as a recognition of your great services last time. Don't think anything about it. We are friends, and it does not matter a fig which is the nominal commander. I was delighted to come, not only to be with you, but because it will be a very great deal pleasanter being our own masters on board this pretty little yacht than being officers on board the Henrietta where we would have been only in the way except when we went into action."

As soon as they rounded the Point most of the sail was taken off the Fan Fan, but even under the small canvas she carried she lay over until her lee rail was almost under water when the heavy squalls swooped down on her from the cliffs. The rest of the squadron was keeping some distance out, presenting a fine sight as the ships lay over, sending the spray flying high into the air from their bluff bows, and plunging deeply into the waves.

"Yes, it is very distinctly better being where we are," Lord Oliphant said, as he gazed at them. "I was beginning to feel qualmish before we got under shelter of the Point, and by this time, if I had been on board the Henrietta, I should have been prostrate, and should have had I know not how long misery before me."

A quarter of an hour later they were snugly moored in Dover Harbour. For twenty-four hours the gale continued; the wind then fell somewhat, but continued to blow strongly from the same quarter. Two days later it veered round to the south-west, and shortly afterwards the English Fleet could be seen coming out past the Point. As soon as they did so they headed eastward.

"They are going out to meet the Dutch," Sydney said, as they watched the ships from the cliffs, "The news must have arrived that their fleet has put out to sea."

"Then we may as well be off after them, Sydney; they will sail faster than we shall in this wind, for it is blowing too strongly for us to carry much sail."

They hurried on board. A quarter of an hour later the Fan Fan put out from the harbour. The change of wind had caused an ugly cross sea and the yacht made bad weather of it, the waves constantly washing over her decks, but before they were off Calais she had overtaken some of the slower sailers of the Fleet. The sea was less violent as they held on, for they were now, to some extent, sheltered by the coast.

In a short time Cyril ran down into the cabin where Sydney was lying ill.

"The Admiral has given the signal to anchor, and the leading ships are already bringing up. We will choose a berth as near the shore as we can; with our light draught we can lie well inside of the others, and shall be in comparatively smooth water."

Before dusk the Fleet was at anchor, with the exception of two or three of the fastest frigates, which were sent on to endeavour to obtain some news of the enemy.