Read THE DISTANT CLOUD : Chapter V of Privy Seal His Last Venture , free online book, by Ford Madox Ford, on ReadCentral.com.

‘My mad nephew,’ Master Printer Badge said to Throckmorton, ’shall travel down from his chamber anon.  When ye shall see the pickle he is in ye shall understand wherefore it needeth ten minutes to his downcoming.’  To Throckmorton’s query he shook his dark, bearded head and muttered:  ’Nay; ye used him for your own purposes.  Ye should know better than I what is like to have befallen him.’

Throckmorton swallowed his haste and leant back against the edge of a press that was not at work.  Of these presses there were four there in the middle of the room:  tall, black, compounded of iron and wood, the square inwards of each rose and fell rhythmically above the flutter of the printed leaves that the journeymen withdrew as they rose, and replaced, white, unsullied and damp as they came together again.  Along the walls the apprentice setters stood before the black formes and with abstruse, deliberate or hesitating expressions, made swift snatches at the little leaden dice.  The sifting sound of the leads going home and the creak of the presses with the heavy wheeze of one printer, huge and grizzled like a walrus, pulling the press-lever back and bending forward to run his eyes across the type-wheeze, creak and click-made a level and monotonous sound.

‘Ye drill well your men,’ Throckmorton said lazily, and smoothed his white fingers, holding them up against the light, as if they of all things most concerned him.

He had received that day at Hampton a letter from the printer here in Austin Friars, sent hastening by the hands of the pressman whose idle machine he now leant against.  ‘Sir,’ the letter said, ’my nephew saith urgently that T.C. is landed at Greenwich.  He might not stay him.  What this importeth best is yknown to your worshipful self.  By the swaying of the sea which late he overpassed, being tempestive, and by other things, my nephew is rendered incoherent.  That God may save you and guide your counsels and those of your master to the more advantaging of the Protestant religion that now, praised be God! standeth higher in the realm than ever it did, is the prayer of Jno.  Badge the Younger.’

Throckmorton had hastened there to the hedges of Austin Friars at the fastest of his bargemen’s oars.  The printer had told him that, but that the business was the Lord Privy Seal’s and, as he understood, went to the advantaging of Protestantism and the casting down of Popery, never would he ha’ sent with the letter his own printer journeyman, busied as they were with printing of his great Bible in English.

‘Here is an idle press,’ he said, pointing at the mute and lugubrious instrument of black, ‘and I doubt I ha’ done wrong.’  His moody brow beneath the black, dishevelled hair became overcast so that it wrinkled into great furrows like crowns.  ’I doubt whether I have done wrong,’ and he folded his immense bare arms, on which the hair was like a black boar’s, and pondered.  ’If I thought I had done wrong, I might not sleep seven nights.’

A printer yawned at his loom, and the great dark man shouted at him: 

’Foul knave, ye show indolence!  Wot ye that ye be printing the Word of God to send abroad in this land?  Wot ye that for this ye shall stand with the elect in Heaven?’ He turned upon Throckmorton.  ‘Sir,’ he said, ‘your master Cromwell advanceth the cause, therefore I ha’ served him in this matter of the letter.  But, sir, I am doubtful that, by losing one moment from the printing of the pure Word of God, I have not lost more time than a year’s work of thy master.’

Throckmorton rubbed gently the long hand that he still held against the light.

‘Ye fall away from Privy Seal?’ he asked.

The printer gazed at him with glowering and suffused eyes, choking in his throat.  He raised an enormous hand before Throckmorton’s face.

‘Courtier,’ he cried, ‘with this hand I ha’ stopped an ox, smiting it between the eyes.  Wo befal the man, traitor to Privy Seal, that I do meet and betwixt whose eyes this hand doth fall.’  The hand quivered in the air with fury.  ’I can raise a thousand ’prentices and a thousand journeymen to save Privy Seal from any peril; I can raise ten thousand citizens, and ten thousand to-morrow again from the shires by pamphlets of my printing; I can raise a mighty army thus to shield him from Papists and the devil’s foul contrivances.  An I were a Papist, I would pray to him, were he dead, as he were a saint.’  Throckmorton moved his face a line or two backwards from the gesticulating ham of a hand, and blinked his eyes.  ’My gold were Privy Seal’s an he needed it; my blood were his and my prayers.  Nevertheless,’ and his voice took a more exalted note, ’one letter of the Word of God, God aiding it, is of more avail than Privy Seal, or I, and all those I can love, or he.  With his laws and his nose for treason he hath smitten the Amalekites above the belt; but a letter of the Word of God can smite them hip and thigh, God helping.’  He seemed again to choke in his throat, and said more quietly:  ’But ye shall not think a man in land better loveth this godly flail of the monks.’

‘Why, I do think ye would stand up against the King’s self,’ Throckmorton said, ‘and I am glad to hear it.’

‘Against all printers and temporal powers,’ the printer answered.  Amongst the apprentices and journeymen a murmur arose of acclamation or of denial, some being of opinion that the King was divine in origin and inspiration, but for the most part they supported their master, and Throckmorton’s blue eyes travelled from one to the other.

But the printer heaved a sigh of satisfaction.

‘God be thanked,’ he said, ’that keepeth the hearts of princes and guideth with His breath all temporal occurrences.’  Throckmorton was about to touch his cap at the name of Omnipotence, but remembering that he was among Protestants changed the direction of his hand and scratched his cheek among the little hairs of his beard; ’the signs are favourable that our good King’s Highness shall still incline to our cause and Privy Seal’s.’

Throckmorton said:  ‘Anan?’

‘Aye,’ the printer said heavily, ‘good news is come of Cleves.’

‘Ye ha’ news from Cleves?’ Throckmorton asked swiftly.

‘From Cleves not,’ the printer answered; ’but from the Court by way of Paris and thence from Cleves.’  And to the interested spy he related, accurately enough, that a make of mouthing, mowing, magister of the Latin tongues had come from Paris, having stolen copies of the Cleves envoy’s letters in that town, and that these letters said that Cleves was fast inclined to the true Schmalkaldner league of Lutherans and would pay tribute truly, but no more than that do fealty to the accursed leaguer of the Pope called Charles the Emperor.

Throckmorton inclined his cap at an angle to the floor.

‘How had ye that news that was so secret?’ he asked.

The printer shook his dark beard with an air of heavy pleasure.

‘Ye have a great organisation of spies,’ he said, ’but better is the whisper of God among the faithful.’

‘Why,’ Throckmorton answered, ’the magister Udal hath to his sweetheart thy niece Margot Poins.’

At her name the printer’s eyes filled with a sudden and violent heat.

‘Seek another channel,’ he cried, and waved his arms at the low ceiling.  ‘Before the face of Almighty God I swear that I ha’ no truck with Margot my niece.  Since she has been sib with the whore of the devil called Kat Howard, never hath she told me a secret through her paramour or elsewise.  A shut head the heavy logget keepeth-let her not come within reach of my hand.’  He swayed back upon his feet.  ’Let her not come,’ he said.  He bent his brows upon Throckmorton.  ’I marvel,’ he uttered, ‘that ye who are so faithful a servant o’ Privy Seal’s can have truck with the brother of my niece Margot.’

‘Printer,’ Throckmorton answered him, ’ye know well that when the leaven of Protestantism hath entered in there, houses are divided against themselves.  A wench may be a foul Papist and serve, if ye will, Kat Howard; but her brother shall yet be an indifferent good servant for me.’

The printer, who had tolerated that his men should hear his panegyric of the Bible and Privy Seal, scowled at them now so that again the arms swung to and fro with the levers, the leads clicked.  He put his great head nearer Throckmorton’s and muttered: 

’Are ye certain my nephew serveth ye well?  He was never wont to favour our cause, and, before ye sent him on this errand, he was wont to cry out in his cups that he was disgraced for having carried letters betwixt Kat Howard and the King.  If this were true he was no friend of ours.’

‘Why, it was true,’ Throckmorton uttered negligently.

The printer caught at the spy’s wrist, and the measure of his earnestness showed the extent of his passion for Privy Seal’s cause.

‘Use him no more,’ he said.  ’Both children of my sister were ever indifferents.  They shall not serve thee well.’

’It was ever Privy Seal’s motto and habit to use for his servitors those that had their necks in his noose.  Such men serve him ever the best.’

The printer shook his head gloomily.

‘I wager my nephew will yet play the traitor to Privy Seal.’

‘I will do it myself ere that,’ and Throckmorton yawned, throwing his head back.

‘The scaldhead is there,’ the printer said; and in the doorway there stood, supporting himself by the lintel, the young Poins.  His face was greenish white; a plaster was upon his shaven head; he held up one foot as if it pained him to set it to the floor.  Through the house-place where sat the aged grandfather with his cap pulled over his brows, pallid, ironical and seeming indescribably ancient, the printer led the spy.  The boy hobbled after them, neglecting the old man’s words: 

‘Ha’ no truck with men of Privy Seal’s.  Privy Seal hath stolen my ground.’  In the long shed where they ate all, printer, grandfather, apprentices and journeymen, the printer thrust open the door with a heavy gesture, entering first and surveying the long trestles.

‘Ye can speak here,’ he said, and motioned away an aged woman.  She bent above a sea coal fire on the hearth where boiled, hung from a hook, a great pot.  The old thing, in short petticoats and a linsey woolsey bodice that had been purple and green, protested shrilly.  Her crock was on the boil; she was not there to be driven away; she had work like other folk, and had been with the printer’s mother eight years before he was born.  His voice, raised to its height, was useless to drown her words.  She could not hear him; and shrugging his shoulders, he said to Throckmorton that she heard less than the walls, and that was the best place he had for them to talk in.  He slammed the door behind him.

Throckmorton set his foot upon the bench that ran between table and wall.  He scowled fell-ly at the boy, so that his brows came down below his nose-top.  ‘Ye ha’ not stayed him,’ he said.

The boy burst forth in a torrent of rage and despair.  He cursed Throckmorton to his face for having sent him upon this errand.

‘I ha’ been beaten by a gatewarden! by a knave! by a ploughman’s son from Lincolnshire!’ he cried.  ‘A’ cracked my skull with a pikestave and kicked me about the ribs when I lay on the ship’s floor, sick like a pig.  God curse the day you sent me to Calais, a gentleman’s son, to be beat by a boor!’ He broke off and began again.  ’God curse you and the day I saw you!  God curse Kat Howard and the day I carried her letter!  God curse my sister Margot and the day she gar’d me carry the letters!  And may a swift death of the pox take off Kat Howard’s cousin-may he rot and stink through the earth above his grave.  He would not fight with me, but aboard a ship when I was sick set a Lincolnshire logget to beat me, a gentleman’s son!’

‘Why, thy gentility shall survive it,’ Throckmorton said.  ’But an it will not have more beating to its back, ye shall tell me where ye left T. Culpepper.’

‘At Greenwich,’ said the young Poins, and vomited forth curses.  The old woman came from her pots to peer at the plasters on his skull, and then returned to the fire gibbering and wailing that she was not in that house plasters for to make.

‘Knave,’ Throckmorton said, ’an ye will not tell me your tale swiftly ye shall right now to the Tower.  It is life and death to a leaden counter an I find not Culpepper ere nightfall.’

The young Poins stretched forth his arm and groaned.

‘Part is bruises and part is sickness of the waves,’ he muttered; ’but if I make not shift to slit his weazand ere nightfall, pox take all my advancement for ever.  I will tell my weary tale.’

Throckmorton paused, held his head down, fingered his beard, and said: 

‘When left ye him at Greenwich?’

‘This day at dawn,’ Poins answered, and cursed again.

‘Drunk or sober?’

‘Drunk as a channel codfish.’

The old woman came, a sheaf of jack-knives in her arms, muttering along the table.

‘Get you to bed,’ she croaked.  ‘I will not ha’ warmed new sheets for thee, and thee not use them.  Get thee to bed.’

Throckmorton pushed her back, and caught the boy by the jacket near the throat.

‘Ye shall tell me the tale as we go,’ he said, and punctuated his words by shakes.  ’But, oaf that I trusted to do a man’s work, ye swing beneath a tree this night an we find not the man ye failed to stay.’

The young Poins-he panted out the story as he trotted, wofully keeping pace to Throckmorton’s great strides between the hedges-had stuck to Culpepper as to his shadow, in Calais town.  At each turn he had showed the warrant to be master of the lighters; he had handed over the gold that Throckmorton had given him.  But Culpepper had turned a deaf ear to him, and, setting up a violent friendship with the Lincolnshire gatewarden over pots of beer in a brewhouse, had insisted on buying Hogben out of his company and taking him over the sea to be witness of his wedding with Katharine Howard.  Dogged, and thrusting his word and his papers in at every turn, the young Poins had pursued them aboard a ship bound for the Thames.

This story came out in jerks and with divagations, but it was evident to Throckmorton that the young man had stuck to his task with a dogged obtuseness enough to have given offence to a dozen Culpeppers.  He had begged him, in the inn, to take the lieutenancy of the Calais lighters; he had trotted at Culpepper’s elbow in the winding streets; he had stood in his very path on the gangway to the ship that was to take them to Greenwich.  At every step he had pulled out of his poke the commission for the lieutenancy-so that Throckmorton had in his mind, by the time they sat in the stern of the swift barge, the image of Culpepper as a savage bulldog pursued along streets and up ship-sides by a gambolling bear cub that pulled at his ears and danced before him.  And he could credit Culpepper only with a saturnine and drunken good humour at having very successfully driven Cardinal Pole out of Paris.  That was the only way in which he could account for the fact that Culpepper had not spitted the boy at the first onslaught.  But for the sheer ill-luck of his sword’s having been stolen, he might have done it, and been laid by the heels for six months in Calais.  For Calais being a frontier town of the English realm, it was an offence very serious there for English to draw sword upon English, however molested.

It was that upon which Throckmorton had counted; and he cursed the day when Culpepper had entered the thieves’ hut outside Ardres.  But for that Culpepper must have drawn upon the boy; he must have been lying then in irons in Calais holdfast.  As it was, there was this long chase.  God knew whether they would find him in Greenwich; God knew where they would find him.  He had gone to Greenwich, doubtless, because when he had left England the Court had been in Greenwich, and he expected there to find his cousin Kat.  He would fly to Hampton as soon as he knew she was at Hampton; but how soon would he know it?  By Poins’ account, he was too drunk to stand, and had been carried ashore on the back of his Lincolnshire henchman.  Therefore he might be lying in the streets of Greenwich-and Greenwich was a small place.  But different men carried their liquor so differently, and Culpepper might go ashore too drunk to stand and yet reach Hampton sober enow to be like a raging bear by eventide.

That above all things Throckmorton dreaded.  For that evening Katharine would be come back from the interview with Anne of Cleves at Windsor; and whether she had succeeded or not with her quest, the King was certain to be with her in her room-to rejoice on the one hand, or violently to plead his cause on the other.  And Throckmorton knew his King well enough-he knew, that is to say, his private image of his King well enough-to be assured that a meeting between the King then and Culpepper there, must lead Katharine to her death.  He considered the blind, immense body of jealousy that the King was.  And, at Hampton, Privy Seal would have all avenues open for Culpepper to come to his cousin.  Privy Seal had detailed Viridus, who had had the matter all the while in hand, to inflame Culpepper’s mind with jealousy so that he should run shouting through the Court with a monstrous outcry.

It was because of this that Throckmorton dreaded to await Culpepper at Hampton; there he was sure enow to find him, sooner or later, but there would be the many spies of Privy Seal’s around all the avenues to the palace.  He might himself send away the spies, but it was too dangerous; for, say what he would, if he held Culpepper from Katharine Howard, Cromwell would visit it mercilessly upon him.

He turned the nose of his barge down the broadening, shining grey stream towards Greenwich.  The wind blew freshly up from the sea; the tide ran down, and Throckmorton pulled his bonnet over his eyes to shade them from sea and breeze, and the wind that the rowers made.  For it was the swiftest barge of the kingdom:  long, black, and narrow, with eight watermen rowing, eight to relieve them, and always eight held in reserve at all landing stages for that barge’s crew.  So well Privy Seal had organised even the mutinous men of the river that his service might be swift and sudden.  Throckmorton had set down the bower at the stern, that the wind might have less hold.

Nevertheless it blew cold, and he borrowed a cloak and a pottle of sack to warm the young Poins, who had run with him capless and without a coat.  For, listening to the boy’s disjointed tale out in the broad reaches below London, Throckmorton recognised that if the young man were incredibly a fool he was incredibly steadfast too, and a steadfast fool is a good tool to retain for simple work.  He had, too-the boy-a valuable hatred for Culpepper that he allowed to transfer itself to Katharine herself:  a brooding hatred that hung in his blue eyes as he gazed downwards at the barge floor or spat at the planks of the side.  Its ferocity was augmented by the patches of plaster that stretched over his skull and dropped over one blonde eyebrow.

‘Cod!’ he ejaculated.  ‘Cod!  Cod!  Cod!’ and waved a fist ferociously at the rushes that spiked the waters of the river in their new green.  ’They waited till I was too sick of the sickness of the sea, too sick to stand-more mortal sick than ever man was.  I hung to a rope and might not let go.  And Cod!  Cod!  Cod!  Culpepper lay under the sterncastle in a hole and set his Lincolnshire beast to baste my ribs.’

He spat again with gloomy quiescence into the bottom of the boat.

‘In the mid of the sea,’ he said, ’where the ship pointed at heaven and then at the fiend his home, I hung to a rope and was basted!  And that whore’s son lay in his hole and laughed.  For I was a cub, says he, and not fit for a man’s converse or striking.’

Throckmorton’s eyes glimmered a little.

‘You have been used as befits no gentleman’s son,’ he said.  ’I will see to the righting of your wrongs.’

Poins swore with an amazing obscenity.

’Shall right ’em myself,’ he said, ’so I meet T. Culpepper in this flesh as a man.’

Throckmorton leaned gently forward and touched his arm.

‘I will right thy wrongs,’ he said, ’and see to thine advancement; for if in this service you ha’ failed, yet ha’ you been persistent and feal.’  He dabbled one white hand in the water, ‘Nevertheless,’ he said slowly, ’I would have you consider that your service in this ends here.’  He spoke still more slowly:  ’I would have you to understand this.  Aforetime I gave you certain instructions as to using your sword upon this Culpepper if you might not otherwise stay him.’  He held up one finger.  ’Now mark; your commission is ceased.  You shall no longer for my service draw sword, knife or dagger, stave nor club, upon this man.’

Poins looked at him with gloomy surprise that was changing swiftly to hot rage.

‘I am under oath to a certain one to use no violence upon this man,’ Throckmorton said, ‘and to encourage no other to do violence.’

Poins thrust his round, brick-red brow out like a turkey cock’s from the boat cloak into Throckmorton’s face.

‘I am under no oath of yourn!’ he shouted.  Throckmorton shrugged his shoulders and wagged one finger at him.  ‘No oath o’ yourn!’ the boy repeated.  ‘God knows who ye be or why it is so.  But I ha’ heard ye ha’ my neck in a noose; I ha’ heard ye be dangerous.  Yet, before God, I swear in your teeth that if I meet this man to his face, or come upon his filthy back, drunk, awake, asleep, I will run him through the belly and send his soul to hell.  He had me, a gentleman’s son, basted by a hind!’

This long speech exhausted his breath, and he fell back panting.

‘I had as soon ye had my head as not,’ he muttered desperately, ’since I have been basted.’

‘Why,’ Throckmorton answered, ’for your private troubles, I know naught of them.  There may be some that will thank ye or advance ye for spitting of this gallant.  But I am not one of them.  Nevertheless will I be your friend, whom ye would have served better an ye could.’

He smiled in his inward manner and went to polishing of his nails.  A little later he felt the bruises on the boy’s arms, and stayed the barge for a moment the stage where, swiftly, eight oarsmen took the places of the eight that had rowed two shifts out of three-stayed the barge for time enough to purchase for the boy a ham, a little ginger, some raw eggs and sack.

The barge rushed forward, with the jar of oars and the sound, like satin tearing, of the water at the bows, across the ruffled reaches of the broad waters.  The gilded roofs, the gabled fronts of the palace at Greenwich called Placentia, winked in the fresh sunlight.  Throckmorton had a great fever of excitement, but having sworn to let his oarsmen be scourged with leathern thongs if they made no more efforts, he lay back upon the purple cushions and toyed with the strings of the yellow ensign that floated behind them.  It was his purpose to put heart in the boy and to feed his rage, so that alternately he promised to give him the warding of the Queen’s door-a notable advancement-or assented to the lad’s gloom when he said that he was fit only for the stables, having been beaten by a groom.  So that at the quay the boy sprang forth mightily, swaying the boat behind him.  The trace of his sea-sickness had left him; he swore to tear Culpepper’s throat apart as if it had been capon flesh.

Throckmorton swiftly quartered the gardens, sending, in his passage beneath the tall palace arch, a dozen men to search all the paths for any drunkards that might there lie hidden.  He sent the young Poins to search the three alehouses of the village where seamen new landed sat to drink.  But, having found the sergeant of void palaces asleep in a small cell at the house end, he learned that two men, speaking Lincolnshire, had been there two hours agone, questing for Master Viridus and swearing that they had rid France of the devil and were to be made great lords for it.  The sergeant, an old, corpulent Spaniard who had been in England forty years, having come with the dead Queen Katharine and been given this honourable post because the queen had loved him, folded his fat hands across his round stomach as he sat on the floor, his legs stretched out, his head against the hangings.

‘I might not make out if they were lords or what manner of cavaliers,’ he said.  ’They sought some woman whom they would not name, and ran through a score of empty rooms.  God knows whither they went.’

He pulled his nightcap further over his head, nodded at Throckmorton, and resumed his meditations.

There was no finding them in the still and empty corridors of the palace; but at the gateway he heard that the two men had clamoured to know where they might purchase raw shinbone of beef, and had been directed to the house of a widow Emden.  There Throckmorton found their tracks, for the sacking that covered the window-holes was burst outwards, beef-bones lay on the road before the door, and, within, the widow, black, begrimed and very drunk, lay inverted on the clay of the floor, her head beneath the three legs of the chopping block, so that she was as if in a pillory, but too fuddled to do more than wave her legs.  A prentice who crouched, with a broken head, in a corner of the filthy room, said that a man from Lincolnshire, all in Lincoln green, with a red beard, had wrought this ruin of beef-bones that he had cast through the windows, and had then comforted the screaming widow with much strong drink from a black bottle.  They had wanted raw beef to make them valiant against some wedding, and they threw the beef-bones through the sacking because they said the place stunk villainously.  They seemed, these two, to have visited every hovel in the damp and squalid village that lay before the palace gates.  They had kicked beds of straw over the floors, thrown crocks at the pigs, melted pewter plates in the fires.

For pure joy at being afoot and ashore in England again, they had cast coins into all the houses and hovels of mud; they had brought out cans and casks from the alehouses, and cast pies into the streets, and caused the dismal ward to cry out:  ‘God save free Englishmen!’ ’Curse the sea!’ and ‘A plague of Frenchmen that be devils!’

And the after effects of their carnival menaced Throckmorton, for from the miserable huts, where ragged women were rearranging the scattered straws and wiping egg-yolk from the broken benches, there issued a ragged crowd of men with tangled and muddy hair and boys unclothed save for sacks that whistled about their lean hips.  The liquor that Culpepper and Hogben had distributed had rendered them curious or full of mutiny and discontent, and they surrounded Throckmorton’s brilliant figure in its purple velvet, with the gold neck-chains and the jewelled hat, and some of them asked for money, and some called him ‘Frenchman,’ and some knew him for a spy, and some caught up stones and jawbones furtively to cast at him.

But, arrogant and with his head set high, he borrowed a whip from a packman that shouldered his way through the street, and lashed at their legs and ragged heads.  The crowd slunk, one by one, back under the darkness that was beneath the roofs of reeds, and the idea of a good day that for a moment had risen in their minds at Culpepper’s legendary approach, sank down and flickered out once more in their hungry bellies and fever-dimmed minds.

‘God!’ he said, ‘we will have hangmen here,’ and pursued his search.  He met the young Poins at the head of the village street, and learned from him that Culpepper and his supporter had hired horses to ride to Hampton and had galloped away three hours before, holding legs of mutton by the feet and using them for cudgels to beat their horses.

‘Before God!’ the boy said, ’an I had money to hire horses I would overtake them, if I overtook not the devil erstwhile.’

Throckmorton pulled out his purple purse that was embroidered with silk crosses.  He extracted from it four crowns of gold.

‘Lad,’ he said, ’I do not give thee gold to follow Kat Howard’s cousin with.  This is thy wage for the service thou hast done aforetime.’  He reflected for a moment.  ’If thou wilt have a horse-but I urge it not-to go to Hampton where thy fellows of the guard are-for, having served well ye may once more and without danger rejoin your mates-if ye will have such a horse, go to the horseward of the palace and say I sent you.  Withouten doubt ye are mad to hasten back to your mates, a commendable desire.  And the King’s horses shall hasten faster than any hired horse-so that ye may easily overtake a man that hath but two hours’ start towards Hampton.’

Whilst Poins was already hastening towards the gateway, Throckmorton cried to him at a distance: 

’Ask at each cross-road guard-house and at all ferries and bridges if some have passed that way; and at the landing-stage if perchance caballeros have altered their desires and had it in their minds to take to boats.’

He sped through the wind to the riverside, set again his oars in motion and swept up the tide.  It had turned and they made good progress.