Chapter XX. The Fight Off Dunkirk
 

As soon as the Fan Fan had been brought to an anchor the boat was lowered, and Cyril was rowed on board the Admiral's ship.

Albemarle was on the poop, and Cyril made his report to him.

"Very well, sir," the Duke said, "I dare say I shall be able to make you of some use. Keep your craft close to us when we sail. I seem to know your face."

"I am Sir Cyril Shenstone, my Lord Duke. I had the honour of meeting you first at the fire in the Savoy, and Prince Rupert afterwards was good enough to present me to you."

"Yes, yes, I remember. And it was you who saved the Henrietta from the fire-ship at Lowestoft. You have begun well indeed, young sir, and are like to have further opportunities of showing your bravery."

Cyril bowed, and then, going down the side to his boat, returned to the Fan Fan. She was lying in almost smooth water, and Sydney had come up on deck again.

"You heard no news of the Dutch, I suppose, Cyril?"

"No; I asked a young officer as I left the ship, and he said that, so far as he knew, nothing had been heard of them, but news had come in, before the Admiral sailed from the Downs, that everything was ready for sea, and that orders were expected every hour for them to put out."

"It is rather to be hoped that they won't put out for another two days," Sydney said. "That will give the Prince time to rejoin with his squadron. The wind is favourable now for his return, and I should think, as soon as they hear in London that the Dutch are on the point of putting out, and Albemarle has sailed, they will send him orders to join us at once. We have only about sixty sail, while they say that the Dutch have over ninety, which is too heavy odds against us to be pleasant."

"I should think the Duke will not fight till the Prince comes up."

"I don't think he will wait for him if he finds the Dutch near. All say that he is over-confident, and apt to despise the Dutch too much. Anyhow, he is as brave as a lion, and, though he might not attack unless the Dutch begin it, I feel sure he will not run away from them."

The next morning early, the Bristol frigate was seen returning from the east. She had to beat her way back in the teeth of the wind, but, when still some miles away, a puff of white smoke was seen to dart out from her side, and presently the boom of a heavy gun was heard. Again and again she fired, and the signal was understood to be a notification that she had seen the Dutch. The signal for the captains of the men-of-war to come on board was at once run up to the mast-head of the flagship, followed by another for the Fleet to be prepared to weigh anchor. Captain Bacon, of the Bristol, went on board as soon as his ship came up. In a short time the boats were seen to put off, and as the captains reached their respective ships the signal to weigh anchor was hoisted.

This was hailed with a burst of cheering throughout the Fleet, and all felt that it signified that they would soon meet the Dutch. The Fan Fan was under sail long before the men-of-war had got up their heavy anchors, and, sailing out, tacked backwards and forwards until the Fleet were under sail, when Cyril told the boatswain to place her within a few cables' length of the flagship on her weather quarter. After two hours' sail the Dutch Fleet were made out, anchored off Dunkirk. The Blue Squadron, under Sir William Berkley, led the way, the Red Squadron, under the Duke, following.

"I will put a man in the chains with the lead," the boatswain said to Cyril. "There are very bad sands off Dunkirk, and though we might get over them in safety, the big ships would take ground, and if they did so we should be in a bad plight indeed."

"In that case, we had best slack out the sheet a little, and take up our post on the weather bow of the Admiral, so that we can signal to him if we find water failing."

The topsail was hoisted, and the Fan Fan, which was a very fast craft in comparatively smooth water, ran past the Admiral's flagship.

"Shall I order him back, your Grace?" the Captain asked angrily.

Albemarle looked at the Fan Fan attentively.

"They have got a man sounding," he said. "It is a wise precaution. The young fellow in command knows what he is doing. We ought to have been taking the same care. See! he is taking down his topsail again. Set an officer to watch the yacht, and if they signal, go about at once."

The soundings continued for a short time at six fathoms, when suddenly the man at the lead called out sharply,--

"Three fathoms!"

Cyril ran to the flagstaff, and as the next cry came--"Two fathoms!"--hauled down the flag and stood waving his cap, while the boatswain, who had gone to the tiller, at once pushed it over to starboard, and brought the yacht up into the wind. Cyril heard orders shouted on board the flagship, and saw her stern sweeping round. A moment later her sails were aback, but the men, who already clustered round the guns, were not quick enough in hauling the yards across, and, to his dismay, he saw the main topmast bend, and then go over the side with a crash. All was confusion on board, and for a time it seemed as if the other topmast would also go.

"Run her alongside within hailing distance," Cyril said to the boatswain. "They will want to question us."

As they came alongside the flagship the Duke himself leant over the side.

"What water had you when you came about, sir?"

"We went suddenly from six fathoms to three, your Grace," Cyril shouted, "and a moment after we found but two."

"Very well, sir," the Duke called back. "In that case you have certainly saved our ship. I thought perhaps that you had been over-hasty, and had thus cost us our topmast, but I see it was not so, and thank you. Our pilot assured us there was plenty of water on the course we were taking."

The ships of the Red Squadron had all changed their course on seeing the flagship come about so suddenly, and considerable delay and confusion was caused before they again formed in order, and, in obedience to the Duke's signal, followed in support of the Blue Squadron. This had already dashed into the midst of the Dutch Fleet, who were themselves in some confusion; for, so sudden had been the attack, that they had been forced to cut their cables, having no time to get up their anchors.

The British ships poured in their broadsides as they approached, while the Dutch opened a tremendous cannonade. Besides their great inferiority in numbers, the British were under a serious disadvantage. They had the weather gauge, and the wind was so strong that it heeled them over, so that they were unable to open their lower ports, and were therefore deprived of the use of their heaviest guns.

Four of the ships of the Red Squadron remained by the flagship, to protect her if attacked, and to keep off fire-ships, while her crew laboured to get up another topmast. More than three hours were occupied in this operation, but so busily did the rest of the Fleet keep the Dutch at work that they were unable to detach sufficient ships to attack her.

As soon as the topmast was in place and the sails hoisted, the flagship and her consorts hastened to join their hard-pressed comrades.

The fight was indeed a desperate one. Sir William Berkley and his ship, the Swiftsure, a second-rate, was taken, as was the Essex, a third-rate.

The Henry, commanded by Sir John Harman, was surrounded by foes. Her sails and rigging were shot to pieces, so she was completely disabled, and the Dutch Admiral, Cornelius Evertz, summoned Sir John Harman to surrender.

"It has not come to that yet," Sir John shouted back, and continued to pour such heavy broadsides into the Dutch that several of their ships were greatly damaged, and Evertz himself killed.

The Dutch captains drew off their vessels, and launched three fire-ships at the Henry. The first one, coming up on her starboard quarter, grappled with her. The dense volumes of smoke rising from her prevented the sailors from discovering where the grapnels were fixed, and the flames were spreading to her when her boatswain gallantly leapt on board the fire-ship, and, by the light of its flames, discovered the grapnels and threw them overboard, and succeeded in regaining his ship.

A moment later, the second fire-ship came up on the port side, and so great a body of flames swept across the Henry that her chaplain and fifty men sprang overboard. Sir John, however, drew his sword, and threatened to cut down the first man who refused to obey orders, and the rest of the crew, setting manfully to work, succeeded in extinguishing the flames, and in getting free of the fire-ship. The halliards of the main yard were, however, burnt through, and the spar fell, striking Sir John Harman to the deck and breaking his leg.

The third fire-ship was received with the fire of four cannon loaded with chain shot. These brought her mast down, and she drifted by, clear of the Henry, which was brought safely into Harwich.

The fight continued the whole day, and did not terminate until ten o'clock in the evening. The night was spent in repairing damages, and in the morning the English recommenced the battle. It was again obstinately contested. Admiral Van Tromp threw himself into the midst of the British line, and suffered so heavily that he was only saved by the arrival of Admiral de Ruyter. He, in his turn, was in a most perilous position, and his ship disabled, when fresh reinforcements arrived. And so the battle raged, until, in the afternoon, as if by mutual consent, the Fleets drew off from each other, and the battle ceased. The fighting had been extraordinarily obstinate and determined on both sides, many ships had been sunk, several burnt, and some captured. The sea was dotted with wreckage, masts, and spars, fragments of boats and debris of all kinds. Both fleets presented a pitiable appearance; the hulls, but forty-eight hours ago so trim and smooth, were splintered and jagged, port-holes were knocked into one, bulwarks carried away, and stern galleries gone. The sails were riddled with shot-holes, many of the ships had lost one or more masts, while the light spars had been, in most cases, carried away, and many of the yards had come down owing to the destruction of the running gear.

In so tremendous a conflict the little Fan Fan could bear but a small part. Cyril and Lord Oliphant agreed, at the commencement of the first day's fight, that it would be useless for them to attempt to fire their two little guns, but that their efforts should be entirely directed against the enemy's fire-ships. During each day's battle, then, they hovered round the flagship, getting out of the way whenever she was engaged, as she often was, on both broadsides, and although once or twice struck by stray shots, the Fan Fan received no serious damage. In this encounter of giants, the little yacht was entirely overlooked, and none of the great ships wasted a shot upon her. Two or three times each day, when the Admiral's ship had beaten off her foes, a fire-ship directed its course against her. Then came the Fan Fan's turn for action. Under the pressure of her twelve oars she sped towards the fire-ship, and on reaching her a grapnel was thrown over the end of the bowsprit, and by the efforts of the rowers her course was changed, so that she swept harmlessly past the flagship.

Twice when the vessels were coming down before the wind at a rate of speed that rendered it evident that the efforts of the men at the oars would be insufficient to turn her course, the Fan Fan was steered alongside, grapnels were thrown, and, headed by Lord Oliphant and Cyril, the crew sprang on board, cut down or drove overboard the few men who were in charge of her. Then, taking the helm and trimming the sails, they directed her against one of the Dutch men-of-war, threw the grapnels on board, lighted the train, leapt back into the Fan Fan, rowed away, and took up their place near the Admiral, the little craft being greeted with hearty cheers by the whole ship's company.

The afternoon was spent in repairing damages as far as practicable, but even the Duke saw it was impossible to continue the fight. The Dutch had received a reinforcement while the fighting was going on that morning, and although the English had inflicted terrible damage upon the Dutch Fleet, their own loss in ships was greater than that which they had caused their adversaries. A considerable portion of their vessels were not in a condition to renew the battle, and the carpenters had hard work to save them from sinking outright. Albemarle himself embarked on the Fan Fan, and sailed from ship to ship, ascertaining the condition of each, and the losses its crew had suffered. As soon as night fell, the vessels most disabled were ordered to sail for England as they best could. The crew of three which were totally dismasted and could hardly be kept afloat, were taken out and divided between the twenty-eight vessels which alone remained in a condition to renew the fight.

These three battered hulks were, early the next morning, set on fire, and the rest of the Fleet, in good order and prepared to give battle, followed their companions that had sailed on the previous evening. The Dutch followed, but at a distance, thinking to repair their damages still farther before they again engaged. In the afternoon the sails of a squadron were seen ahead, and a loud cheer ran from ship to ship, for all knew that this was Prince Rupert coming up with the White Squadron. A serious loss, however, occurred a few minutes afterwards. The Royal Prince, the largest and most powerful vessel in the Fleet, which was somewhat in rear of the line, struck on the sands. The tide being with them and the wind light, the rest of the Fleet tried in vain to return to her assistance, and as the Dutch Fleet were fast coming up, and some of the fire-ships making for the Royal Prince, they were forced to give up the attempt to succour her, and Sir George Ayscue, her captain, was obliged to haul down his flag and surrender.

As soon as the White Squadron joined the remnant of the Fleet the whole advanced against the Dutch, drums beating and trumpets sounding, and twice made their way through the enemy's line. But it was now growing dark, and the third day's battle came to an end. The next morning it was seen that the Dutch, although considerably stronger than the English, were almost out of sight. The latter at once hoisted sail and pursued, and, at eight o'clock, came up with them.

The Dutch finding the combat inevitable, the terrible fight was renewed, and raged, without intermission, until seven in the evening. Five times the British passed through the line of the Dutch. On both sides many ships fell out of the fighting line wholly disabled. Several were sunk, and some on both sides forced to surrender, being so battered as to be unable to withdraw from the struggle. Prince Rupert's ship was wholly disabled, and that of Albemarle almost as severely damaged, and the battle, like those of the preceding days, ended without any decided advantage on either side. Both nations claimed the victory, but equally without reason. The Dutch historians compute our loss at sixteen men-of-war, of which ten were sunk and six taken, while we admitted only a loss of nine ships, and claimed that the Dutch lost fifteen men-of-war. Both parties acknowledged that it was the most terrible battle fought in this, or any other modern war.

De Witte, who at that time was at the head of the Dutch Republic, and who was a bitter enemy of the English, owned, some time afterwards, to Sir William Temple, "that the English got more glory to their nation through the invincible courage of their seamen during those engagements than by the two victories of this war, and that he was sure that his own fleet could not have been brought on to fight the fifth day, after the disadvantages of the fourth, and he believed that no other nation was capable of it but the English."

Cyril took no part in the last day's engagement, for Prince Rupert, when the Fan Fan came near him on his arrival on the previous evening, returned his salute from the poop, and shouted to him that on no account was he to adventure into the fight with the Fan Fan.

On the morning after the battle ended, Lord Oliphant and Cyril rowed on board Prince Rupert's ship, where every unwounded man was hard at work getting up a jury-mast or patching up the holes in the hull.

"Well, Sir Cyril, I see that you have been getting my yacht knocked about," he said, as they came up to him.

"There is not much damage done, sir. She has but two shot-holes in her hull."

"And my new mainsail spoiled. Do you know, sir, that I got a severe rating from the Duke yesterday evening, on your account?"

Cyril looked surprised.

"I trust, sir, that I have not in any way disobeyed orders?"

"No, it was not that. He asked after the Fan Fan, and said that he had seen nothing of her during the day's fighting, and I said I had strictly ordered you not to come into the battle. He replied, 'Then you did wrong, Prince, for that little yacht of yours did yeomen's service during the first two days' fighting. I told Sir Cyril to keep her near me, thinking that she would be useful in carrying orders, and during those two days she kept close to us, save when we were surrounded by the enemy. Five times in those three days did she avert fire-ships from us. We were so damaged that we could sail but slowly, and, thinking us altogether unmanageable, the Dutch launched their fire-ships. The Fan Fan rowed to meet them. Three of them were diverted from their course by a rope being thrown over the bowsprit, and the crew rowing so as to turn her head. On the second day there was more wind, and the fire-ships could have held on their course in spite of the efforts of the men on board the Fan Fan. Twice during the day the little boat was boldly laid alongside them, while the crew boarded and captured them, and then, directing them towards the Dutch ships, grappled and set them on fire. One of the Dutchmen was burned, the other managed to throw off the grapnels. It was all done under our eyes, and five times in the two days did my crew cheer your little yacht as she came alongside. So you see, Prince, by ordering her out of the fight you deprived us of the assistance of as boldly handled a little craft as ever sailed.'

"'I am quite proud of my little yacht, gentlemen, and I thank you for having given her so good a christening under fire. But I must stay no longer talking. Here is the despatch I have written of my share of the engagement. You, Sir Cyril, will deliver this. You will now row to the Duke's ship, and he will give you his despatches, which you, Lord Oliphant, will deliver. I need not say that you are to make all haste to the Thames. We have no ship to spare except the Fan Fan, for we must keep the few that are still able to manoeuvre, in case the Dutch should come out again before we have got the crippled ones in a state to make sail. '"

Taking leave of the Prince, they were at once rowed to the Duke's flagship. They had a short interview with the Admiral, who praised them highly for the service they had rendered.

"You will have to tell the story of the fighting," he said, "for the Prince and myself have written but few lines; we have too many matters on our minds to do scribe's work. They will have heard, ere now, of the first two days' fighting, for some of the ships that were sent back will have arrived at Harwich before this. By to-morrow morning I hope to have the Fleet so far refitted as to be able to follow you."

Five minutes later, the Fan Fan, with every stitch of sail set, was on her way to the Thames. As a brisk wind was blowing, they arrived in London twenty-four hours later, and at once proceeded to the Admiralty, the despatches being addressed to the Duke of York. They were immediately ushered in to him. Without a word he seized the despatches, tore them open, and ran his eye down them.

"God be praised!" he exclaimed, when he finished them. "We had feared even worse intelligence, and have been in a terrible state of anxiety since yesterday, when we heard from Harwich that one of the ships had come in with the news that more than half the Fleet was crippled or destroyed, and that twenty-eight only remained capable of continuing the battle. The only hope was that the White Squadron might arrive in time, and it seems that it has done so. The account of our losses is indeed a terrible one, but at least we have suffered no defeat, and as the Dutch have retreated, they must have suffered well-nigh as much as we have done. Come along with me at once, gentlemen; I must go to the King to inform him of this great news, which is vastly beyond what we could have hoped for. The Duke, in his despatch, tells me that the bearers of it, Lord Oliphant and Sir Cyril Shenstone, have done very great service, having, in Prince Rupert's little yacht, saved his flagship no less than five times from the attacks of the Dutch fire-ships."

The Duke had ordered his carriage to be in readiness as soon as he learnt that the bearers of despatches from the Fleet had arrived. It was already at the door, and, taking his seat in it, with Lord Oliphant and Cyril opposite to him, he was driven to the Palace, learning by the way such details as they could give him of the last two days' fighting. He led them at once to the King's dressing-room. Charles was already attired, for he had passed a sleepless night, and had risen early.

"What news, James?" he asked eagerly.

"Good news, brother. After two more days' fighting--and terrible fighting, on both sides--the Dutch Fleet has returned to its ports."

"A victory!" the King exclaimed, in delight.

"A dearly-bought one with the lives of so many brave men, but a victory nevertheless. Here are the despatches from Albemarle and Rupert. They have been brought by these gentlemen, with whom you are already acquainted, in Rupert's yacht. Albemarle speaks very highly of their conduct."

The King took the despatches, and read them eagerly.

"It has indeed been a dearly-bought victory," he said, "but it is marvellous indeed how our captains and men bore themselves. Never have they shown greater courage and endurance. Well may Monk say that, after four days of incessant fighting and four nights spent in the labour of repairing damages, the strength of all has well-nigh come to an end, and that he himself can write but a few lines to tell me of what has happened, leaving all details for further occasion. I thank you both, gentlemen, for the speed with which you have brought me this welcome news, and for the services of which the Duke of Albemarle speaks so warmly. This is the second time, Sir Cyril, that my admirals have had occasion to speak of great and honourable service rendered by you. Lord Oliphant, the Earl, your father, will have reason to be proud when he hears you so highly praised. Now, gentlemen, tell me more fully than is done in these despatches as to the incidents of the fighting. I have heard something of what took place in the first two days from an officer who posted up from Harwich yesterday."

Lord Oliphant related the events of the first two days, and then went on.

"Of the last two I can say less, Your Majesty, for we took no part in, having Prince Rupert's orders, given as he came up, that we should not adventure into the fight. Therefore, we were but spectators, though we kept on the edge of the fight and, if opportunity had offered, and we had seen one of our ships too hard pressed, and threatened by fire-ships, we should have ventured so far to transgress orders as to bear in and do what we could on her behalf; but indeed, the smoke was so great that we could see but little.

"It was a strange sight, when, on the Prince's arrival, his ships and those of the Duke's, battered as they were, bore down on the Dutch line; the drums beating, the trumpets sounding, and the crews cheering loudly. We saw them disappear into the Dutch line; then the smoke shut all out from view, and for hours there was but a thick cloud of smoke and a continuous roar of the guns. Sometimes a vessel would come out from the curtain of smoke torn and disabled. Sometimes it was a Dutchman, sometimes one of our own ships. If the latter, we rowed up to them and did our best with planks and nails to stop the yawning holes close to the water-line, while the crew knotted ropes and got up the spars and yards, and then sailed back into the fight.

"The first day's fighting was comparatively slight, for the Dutch seemed to be afraid to close with the Duke's ships, and hung behind at a distance. It was not till the White Squadron came up, and the Duke turned, with Prince Rupert, and fell upon his pursuers like a wounded boar upon the dogs, that the battle commenced in earnest; but the last day it went on for nigh twelve hours without intermission; and when at last the roar of the guns ceased, and the smoke slowly cleared off, it was truly a pitiful sight, so torn and disabled were the ships.

"As the two fleets separated, drifting apart as it would almost seem, so few were the sails now set, we rowed up among them, and for hours were occupied in picking up men clinging to broken spars and wreckage, for but few of the ships had so much as a single boat left. We were fortunate enough to save well-nigh a hundred, of whom more than seventy were our own men, the remainder Dutch. From these last we learnt that the ships of Van Tromp and Ruyter had both been so disabled that they had been forced to fall out of battle, and had been towed away to port. They said that their Admirals Cornelius Evertz and Van der Hulst had both been killed, while on our side we learnt that Admiral Sir Christopher Mings had fallen."

"Did the Dutch Fleet appear to be as much injured as our own?"

"No, Your Majesty. Judging by the sail set when the battle was over, theirs must have been in better condition than ours, which is not surprising, seeing how superior they were in force, and for the most part bigger ships, and carrying more guns."

"Then you will have your hands full, James, or they will be ready to take to sea again before we are. Next time I hope that we shall meet them with more equal numbers."

"I will do the best I can, brother," the Duke replied. "Though we have so many ships sorely disabled there have been but few lost, and we can supply their places with the vessels that have been building with all haste. If the Dutch will give us but two months' time I warrant that we shall be able to meet them in good force."

As soon as the audience was over, Cyril and his friend returned to the Fan Fan, and after giving the crew a few hours for sleep, sailed down to Sheerness, where, shortly afterwards, Prince Rupert arrived with a portion of the Fleet, the rest having been ordered to Harwich, Portsmouth, and other ports, so that they could be more speedily refitted.

Although the work went on almost without intermission day and night, the repairs were not completed before the news arrived that the Dutch Fleet had again put to sea. Two days later they arrived off our coast, where, finding no fleet ready to meet them, they sailed away to France, where they hoped to be joined by their French allies.

Two days later, however, our ships began to assemble at the mouth of the Thames, and on June 24th the whole Fleet was ready to take to sea. It consisted of eighty men-of-war, large and small, and nineteen fire-ships. Prince Rupert was in command of the Red Squadron, and the Duke of Albemarle sailed with him, on board the same ship. Sir Thomas Allen was Admiral of the White, and Sir Jeremiah Smith of the Blue Squadron. Cyril remained on board the Fan Fan, Lord Oliphant returning to his duties on board the flagship. Marvels had been effected by the zeal and energy of the crews and dockyard men. But three weeks back, the English ships had, for the most part, been crippled seemingly almost beyond repair, but now, with their holes patched, with new spars, and in the glory of fresh paint and new canvas, they made as brave a show as when they had sailed out from the Downs a month previously.

They were anchored off the Nore when, late in the evening, the news came out from Sheerness that a mounted messenger had just ridden in from Dover, and that the Dutch Fleet had, in the afternoon, passed the town, and had rounded the South Foreland, steering north.

Orders were at once issued that the Fleet should sail at daybreak, and at three o'clock the next morning they were on their way down the river. At ten o'clock the Dutch Fleet was seen off the North Foreland. According to their own accounts they numbered eighty-eight men-of-war, with twenty-five fire-ships, and were also divided into three squadrons, under De Ruyter, John Evertz, and Van Tromp.

The engagement began at noon by an attack by the White Squadron upon that commanded by Evertz. An hour later, Prince Rupert and the Duke, with the Red Squadron, fell upon De Ruyter, while that of Van Tromp, which was at some distance from the others, was engaged by Sir Jeremiah Smith with the Blue Squadron. Sir Thomas Allen completely defeated his opponents, killing Evertz, his vice- and rear-admirals, capturing the vice-admiral of Zeeland, who was with him, and burning a ship of fifty guns.

The Red Squadron was evenly matched by that of De Ruyter, and each vessel laid itself alongside an adversary. Although De Ruyter himself and his vice-admiral, Van Ness, fought obstinately, their ships in general, commanded, for the most part, by men chosen for their family influence rather than for either seamanship or courage, behaved but badly, and all but seven gradually withdrew from the fight, and went off under all sail; and De Ruyter, finding himself thus deserted, was forced also to draw off. During this time, Van Tromp, whose squadron was the strongest of the three Dutch divisions, was so furiously engaged by the Blue Squadron, which was the weakest of the English divisions, that he was unable to come to the assistance of his consorts; when, however, he saw the defeat of the rest of the Dutch Fleet, he, too, was obliged to draw off, lest he should have the whole of the English down upon him, and was able the more easily to do so as darkness was closing in when the battle ended.

The Dutch continued their retreat during the night, followed at a distance by the Red Squadron, which was, next morning, on the point of overtaking them, when the Dutch sought refuge by steering into the shallows, which their light draught enabled them to cross, while the deeper English ships were unable to follow. Great was the wrath and disappointment of the English when they saw themselves thus baulked of reaping the full benefit of the victory. Prince Rupert shouted to Cyril, who, in the Fan Fan, had taken but small share in the engagement, as the fire-ships had not played any conspicuous part in it.

"Sir Cyril, we can go no farther, but do you pursue De Ruyter and show him in what contempt we hold him."

Cyril lifted his hat to show that he heard and understood the order. Then he ordered his men to get out their oars, for the wind was very light, and, amidst loud cheering, mingled with laughter, from the crews of the vessels that were near enough to hear Prince Rupert's order, the Fan Fan rowed out from the English line in pursuit of the Dutch.