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   Chapter 53 FROM THE DEEP

The Mystery of the Sea By Bram Stoker Characters: 79174

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

It could not have been more than a few minutes before I recovered consciousness, if indeed I were ever absolutely unconscious. It was rather the inevitable yielding to a strain on nerve and muscle and brain, than a time of oblivion. I think that I always knew that I was by the sea, and that Marjory was beside me and in trouble; but that was all. I was in the nightmare stage, when one can understand danger and realise terror; and when the only thing impossible to one is to do anything. Certainly, when I came to myself I was fully conscious of my surroundings. I was even surprised that I did not see on Marjory's pale face, the cold faint gleam of light which had been there when last I saw her. The general light had, however, increased. The strand and the rocks looked now not black, but inexpressibly drear in the uniform grey which seemed to make all colour and shape and distance into one sad flat screen. My first work was of course to attend Marjory. For a while I feared that she was dead, so white was she amid the surrounding grey. But her heart still beat, and her breast moved, though very slightly, with her breathing. I could now see that we were in Broad Haven and, so, close to my own home. I could see through the pierced rock called the "Puir Mon." I took my wife in my arms and carried her, though with infinite difficulty for I was sorely exhausted, up the steep path, and brought her into the house. I had to break the door in again, but there was no one to help me or to interfere in the matter. I got some brandy and poured a few drops into her mouth, and laid her in a pile of rugs whilst I lit the fire. The supply of whin bushes in the wood house was not exhausted, and very soon there was a roaring fire. When Marjory opened her eyes and looked around the room, a certain amount of consciousness came to her. She imagined the occasion of her being with me was the same as when we had escaped from the flooded cave; holding out her arms she said to me with infinite love and sweetness:

"Thank God, dear, you are safe!" A moment later she rubbed her eyes and sat up, looking wildly around as one does after a hideous dream. In her survey, however, her eyes lit on her own figure, and a real wave of shame swept over her; she hastily pulled the rug round her shoulders and sank back. The habit of personal decorum had conquered fear. She closed her eyes for a moment or two to remember, and when she opened them was in full possession of all her faculties and her memory.

"It was no dream! It is all, all real! And I owe my life to you, darling, once again!" I kissed her, and she sank back with a sigh of happiness. A moment later, however, she started up, crying out to me:

"But the others, where are they? Quick! quick! let us go to help them if we can!" She looked wildly round. I understood her wishes, and hurrying into the other room brought her an armful of her clothes.

In a few minutes she joined me; and hand in hand we went out on the edge of the cliff. As we went, I told her of what had happened since she became unconscious in the water.

The wind was now blowing fiercely, almost a gale. The sea had risen, till great waves driving amongst the rocks had thrashed the whole region of the Skares into a wild field of foam. Below us, the waves dashing over the sunken rocks broke on the shore with a loud roaring, and washed high above the place where we had lain. The fog had lifted, and objects could be seen even at a distance. Far out, some miles away, lay a great ship; and by the outermost of the Skares a little to the north of the great rock and where the sunken reef lies, rose part of a broken mast. But there was nothing else to be seen, except away to south a yacht tossing about under double-reefed sails. Sea and sky were of a leaden grey, and the heavy clouds that drifted before the gale came so low as to make us think that they were the fog belts risen from the sea.

Marjory would not be contented till we had roused the whole village of Whinnyfold, and with them had gone all round the cliffs and looked into every little opening to see if there were trace or sign of any of those who had been wrecked with us. But it was all in vain.

We sent a mounted messenger off to Crom with a note, for we knew in what terrible anxiety Mrs. Jack must be. In an incredibly short time the good lady was with us; and was rocking Marjory in her arms, crying and laughing over her wildly. By and bye she got round the carriage from the village and said to us:

"And now my dears, I suppose we had better get back to Crom, where you can rest yourselves after this terrible time." Marjory came over to me, and holding my arm looked at her old nurse lovingly as she said with deep earnestness:

"You had better go back, dear, and get things ready for us. As for me, I shall never willingly leave my husband's side again!"

The storm continued for a whole day, growing rougher and wilder with each hour. For another day it grew less and less, till finally the wind had died away and only the rough waves spoke of what had been. Then the sea began to give up its dead. Some seamen presumably those of the Wilhelmina were found along the coast between Whinnyfold and Old Slains, and the bodies of two of the blackmailers, terribly mangled, were washed ashore at Cruden Bay. The rest of the sailors and of the desperadoes were never found. Whether they escaped by some miracle, or were swallowed in the sea, will probably never be known.

Strangest of all was the finding of Don Bernardino. The body of the gallant Spanish gentleman was found washed up on shore behind the Lord Nelson rock, just opposite where had been the opening to the cave in which his noble ancestor had hidden the Pope's treasure. It was as though the sea itself had respected his devotion, and had laid him by the place of his Trust. Marjory and I saw his body brought home to Spain when the war was over, and laid amongst the tombs of his ancestors. We petitioned the Crown; and though no actual leave was given, no objection was made to our removing the golden figure of San Cristobal which Benvenuto had wrought for the Pope. It now stands over the Spaniard's tomb in the church of San Cristobal in far Castile.

* * *


* * *




"In the First Edition of his work "The Two Bookes of Francis Bacon, of the proficience and advancement of Learning, divine and humane" published at London in 1605, the Author only alludes briefly to his Bi-literal Cipher. Speaking of Ciphers generally (Booke II) he says:

"But the vertues of them, whereby they are to be preferred, are three; that they be not laborious to write and reade; that they bee impossible to discypher; and in some cases, that they bee without suspicion. The highest Degree whereof, is to write OMNIA PER OMNIA; which is undoubtedly possible, with a proportion Quintuple at most, of the writing infoulding, to the writing infoulded, and no other restrainte whatsoever."

It was not till eighteen years later that he gave to the public an explanation of this 'infoulding' writing. In the rarely beautiful edition of the work in Latin printed in London by Haviland in 1623, the passage relating to secret writing is much amplified. Indeed the entire work is completed in many ways and greatly enlarged as is shown by its title.

"De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum. Libros IX."

The following is his revised statement:

"Ut vero suspicio omnis absit, aliud Juventum subijciemus, quod certe, cum Adolescentuli essemus Parisiis, excogitavimus; nec etiam adhuc visa vobis res digna est, quae pereat. Habet enim gradum Ciphrae altissimum; nimirum ut Omnia per Omnia significari possint: ita tamen, ut Scriptis quae involuitut, quintuplo minor sit, quam ea cui involvatur: Alia nulla omnino requiritur Conditio, aut Restrictio. Id hoc modo fiet. Primo, universae literae Alphabeti in duas tantummodo Literas soluantur, per Transpositionem earum. Nam Transpositis duarum Literarum, per Locos quinque, Differentiis triginta duabus, multo magis viginti quatuor (qui est Numerus Alphabeti apud nos) sufficiet. Huius Alphabeti. Exemplum tale est."

* * *

"But for avoiding suspicion altogether, I will add another contrivance, which I devised myself when I was at Paris in my early youth, and which I still think worthy of preservation. For it has the perfection of a cipher, which is to make anything signifying anything; subject however to this condition, that the infolding writing shall contain at least five times as many letters as the writing infolded; no other condition or restriction is required. The way to do it is this: First let all the letters of the Alphabet be resolved into transpositions of two letters only. For the transposition of two letters through five places will yield thirty-two differences; much more twenty-four, which is the number of letters in our Alphabet. Here is an example of such an Alphabet.


aaaaa aaaab aaaba aaabb aabaa aabab aabba aabbb


abaaa abaab ababa ababb abbaa abbab abbba abbbb


baaaa baaab baaba baabb babaa babab babba babbb

"Nor is it a slight thing which is thus by the way effected. For heare we see how thoughts may be communicated at any distance of place by means of any objects perceptible either to the eye or ear, provided only that those objects are capable of two differences; as by bells, trumpets, torches, gunshots, and the like. But to proceed with our business. When you prepare to write, you must reduce the interior epistle to this bi-literal alphabet. Let the interior epistle be:


Example of reduction.


aabab ababa babba

"Have by you at the same time another alphabet in two forms; I mean in which each of the letters of the common alphabet, both capitals and small, are exhibited in two different forms,-any forms that you find convenient."

[For instance, Roman and Italic letters; "a" representing Roman and "b" representing Italic.]

"Then take your interior epistle, reduced to the bi-literal shape, and adapt it, letter by letter, to your exterior epistle in the biform character; and then write it out. Let the exterior epistle be:

"Do not go till I come."

Example of reduction


aabab ababa babba


do not go till I come

* * *

From the above given dates it would almost seem as if Bacon had treated the matter in a purely academic manner, and had drawn out of his remembrance of his younger days a method of secret communication which had not seen any practical service. Spedding mentions in his book "Francis Bacon and his Times" that Bacon may have got the hint of the 'bi-literal cypher' from the work of John Baptist Porta, "De occultis literarum notis," reprinted in Strasburg in 1606, but the first edition of which was published when Porta was a young man. It is however manifest from certain evidence, that Bacon practised his special cipher and used it for many years. Lady Bacon, mother of the philosopher, writing in 1593, to her son Anthony, elder brother of Francis, speaking of him, Francis, says, "I do not understand his enigmatical folded writing." Indeed it is possible that many years before he had tried to have his invention made use of for public service. His was an age of secret writing. Every Ambassador had to send his despatches in cipher, for thus-and even then not always-could they be safe from hostile eyes. The thousands of pages of reports to King Philip made by Don Bernardino de Mendoza, the Spanish Ambassador at the Court of Queen Elizabeth, before the time of the Armada, were all written in this form; the groaning shelves of the records at Simancas bear evidence of the industry of such political officials and of their spies and secretaries. An ambitious youth like Francis Bacon, son of the Lord Keeper, and so traditionally and familiarly in touch with Court and Council, who in his baby days was addressed by Elizabeth as her "young Lord Keeper," and who spent the time between his sixteenth and eighteenth years in the suite of the English Ambassador in Paris, Sir Amyas Paulet, must have had constant experience of the need of a cipher which would fulfill the conditions which he laid down as essential in 1605-facility of execution, impossibility of discovery, and lack of suspiciousness. When, in a letter of 16 Sept. 1580, to his uncle Lord Burghley, he made suit to the Queen for some special employment, it is possible that the post he sought was that of secret writer to Her Majesty. His letter, though followed up with a more pressing one on 18th October of the same year, remained unanswered. Whatever the motive or purpose of these last two letters may have been, it remained on his mind; for eleven years later we find him again writing to his uncle the Lord Keeper: "I ever have a mind to serve Her Majesty," and again, "the meanness of my estate doth somewhat move me." In the interval, on 25th August, 1585, he wrote to the Right Hon. Sir Francis Walsingham, Principal Secretary to the Queen: "In default of getting it, will go back to course of practice (at Bar) I must and will follow, not for my necessity of estate but for my credit's sake, which I fear by being out of action will wear." His brother Anthony spent the best part of his life abroad, presumably on some secret missions; and as Francis was the recipient of his letters it was doubtless that "folded writing" which so puzzled their mother which was used for the safety and secrecy of their correspondence. Indeed to what a fine point the biliteral method must have been brought by Bacon and his correspondents is shown by the extraordinarily minute differences given in his own setting forth of the symbols for "a" and "b" etc., in the "De Augmentis" of 1623 and later. In the edition printed in Latin in Paris the next year, 1624, by Peter Mettayer, the differences, possibly through some imperfection of printing, are so minute that even the reader studying the characters set before him, with the extra elucidation of their being placed under their proper headings, finds it almost impossible to understand them. The cutting for instance of the "n" which represents "a" and that which represents "b" seems, even after prolonged study, to be the same.

It is to be noticed that Bacon in setting forth the cipher in its completeness directs attention to its infinite possibilities and variations. The organised repetition of any two symbols in combinations of not more than five for one or both symbols may convey ideas. Not letters only but colours, bells, cannon, or other sounds may be used with effect. All the senses may be employed, or any or some of them, in endless combinations.

Again it is to be noted that even in his first allusion to the system in 1605, he says, "to write Omnia per Omnia, which is undoubtedly possible, with a proportion Quintuple at most, of the writing infoulding, to the writing infoulded."

"Quintuple at most!" But in the instances of his system which he gives eighteen years later, when probably his time for secret writing as a matter of business had ceased, and when from the lofty altitude of the Woolsack he could behold unmoved any who had concealments to make-provided of course that they were not connected with bribes-there is only one method given, that of five infolding letters for each one infolded. In the later and fuller period he speaks also of the one necessary condition "that the infoulding writing shall contain at least five times as many letters as the writing infoulded"-

Even in the example which he gives "Do not go till I come," there is a superfluous letter,-the final "e;" as though he wished to mislead the reader by inference as well as by direct statement.

Is it possible that he stopped short in his completion of this marvellous cipher? Can we believe that he who openly spoke from the first of symbols "quintuple at most," was content to use so large a number of infolding letters when he could possibly do with less? Why, the last condition of excellence in a cipher which he himself laid down, namely, that it should "bee without suspicion," would be endangered by a larger number than was actually necessary. It is by repetition of symbols that the discovery of secret writing is made; and in a cipher where, manifestly, the eye or the ear or the touch or the taste must be guided by such, and so marked and prolonged, symbols, the chances of discovery are enormously increased. Doubtless, then, he did not rest in his investigation and invention until he had brought his cipher to its least dimensions; and it was for some other reason or purpose that he thus tried to divert the mind of the student from his earlier suggestion. It will probably be proved hereafter that more than one variant and reduction to lower dimensions of his biliteral cipher was used between himself and his friends. When the secrets of that "Scrivenry" which, according to Mr. W. G. Thorpe in his interesting volume, "The Hidden Lives of Shakespeare and Bacon," Bacon kept at work in Twickenham Park, are made known, we shall doubtless know more on the subject. Of one point, however, we may rest assured, that Bacon did not go back in his pursuance of an interesting study; and the change from "Quintuple at most" of the infolding writing of 1605, to "Quintuple at least," of 1623, was meant for some purpose of misleading or obscuration, rather than as a limitation of his original setting forth of the powers and possibilities of his great invention. It will some day be an interesting theme of speculation and study what use of his biliteral cipher had been made between 1605 and 1623; and what it was that he wished to conceal.

That the original cipher, as given, can be so reduced is manifest. Of the Quintuple biliteral there are thirty-two combinations. As in the Elizabethan alphabet, as Bacon himself points out, there were but twenty-four letters, certain possibilities of reduction at once unfold themselves, since at the very outset one entire fourth of the symbols are unused.

* * *



When I examined the scripts together, both that of the numbers and those of the dots, I found distinct repetitions of groups of symbols; but no combinations sufficiently recurrent to allow me to deal with them as entities. In the number cipher the class of repetitions seemed more marked. This may have been, however, that as the symbols were simpler and of a kind with which I was more familiar, the traces or surmises were easier to follow. It gave me hope to find that there was something in common between the two methods. It might be, indeed, that both writings were but variants of the same system. Unconsciously I gave my attention to the simpler form-the numbers-and for a long weary time went over them forward, backward, up and down, adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing; but without any favorable result. The only encouragement which I got was that I got additions of eight and nine, each of these many times repeated. Try how I would, however, I could not scheme out of them any coherent result.

When in desperation I returned to the dotted papers I found that this method was still more exasperating, for on a close study of them I could not fail to see that there was a cipher manifest; though what it was, or how it could be read, seemed impossible to me. Most of the letters had marks in or about them; indeed there were very few which had not. Examining more closely still I found that the dots were disposed in three different ways: (a) in the body of the letter itself: (b) above the letter: (c) below it. There was never more than one mark in the body of the letter; but those above or below were sometimes single and sometimes double. Some letters had only the dot in the body; and others, whether marked on the body or not, had no dots either above or below. Thus there was every form and circumstance of marking within these three categories. The only thing which my instinct seemed to impress upon me continually was that very few of the letters had marks both above and below. In such cases two were above and one below, or vice versa; but in no case were there marks in the body and above and below also. At last I came to the conclusion that I had better, for the time, abandon attempting to decipher; and try to construct a cipher on the lines of Bacon's Biliteral-one which would ultimately accord in some way with the external conditions of either, or both, of those before me.

But Bacon's Biliteral as set forth in the Novum Organum had five symbols in every case. As there were here no repetitions of five, I set myself to the task of reducing Bacon's system to a lower number of symbols-a task which in my original memorandum I had held capable of accomplishment.

For hours I tried various means of reduction, each time getting a little nearer to the ultimate simplicity; till at last I felt that I had mastered the principle.

Take the Baconian biliteral cipher as he himself gives it and knock out repetitions of four or five aaaaa: aaaab: abbbb: baaaa: bbbba: and bbbbb. This would leave a complete alphabet with two extra symbols for use as stops, repeats, capitals, etc. This method of deletion, however, would not allow of the reduction of the number of symbols used; there would still be required five for each letter to be infolded. We have therefore to try another process of reduction, that affecting the variety of symbols without reference to the number of times, up to five, which each one is repeated.

Take therefore the Baconian Biliteral and place opposite to each item the number of symbols required. The first, (aaaaa) requires but one symbol "a," the second, (aaaab) two, "a" and "b;" the third (aaaba) three, "a" "b" and "a;" and so on. We shall thus find that the 11th (ababa) and the 22nd (babab) require five each, and that the 6th, 10th, 12th, 14th, 19th, 21st, 23rd and 27th require four each. If, therefore, we delete all these biliteral combinations which require four or five symbols each-ten in all-we have still left twenty-two combinations, necessitating at most not more than two changes of symbol in addition to the initial letter of each, requiring up to five quantities of the same symbol. Fit these to the alphabet; and the scheme of cipher is complete.

If, therefore, we can devise any means of expressing, in conjunction with each symbol, a certain number of repeats up to five; and if we can, for practical purposes, reduce our alphabet to twenty-two letters, we can at once reduce the biliteral cipher to three instead of five symbols.

The latter is easy enough, for certain letters are so infrequently used that they may well be grouped in twos. Take "X" and "Z" for instance. In modern printing in English where the letter "e" is employed seventy times, "x" is only used three times, and "z" twice. Again, "k" is only used six times, and "q" only three times. Therefore we may very well group together "k" and "q," and "x" and "z." The lessening of the Elizabethan alphabet thus effected would leave but twenty-two letters, the same number as the combinations of the biliteral remaining after the elision. And further, as "W" is but "V" repeated, we could keep a special symbol to represent the repetition of this or any other letter, whether the same be in the body of a word, or if it be the last of one word and the first of that which follows. Thus we give a greater elasticity to the cipher and so minimise the chance of discovery.

As to the expression of numerical values applied to each of the symbols "a" and "b" of the biliteral cipher as above modified, such is simplicity itself in a number cipher. As there are two symbols to be represented and five values to each-four in addition to the initial-take the numerals, one to ten-which latter, of course, could be represented by 0. Let the odd numbers according to their values stand for "a":






and the even numbers according to their values stand for "b":






and then? Eureka! We have a Biliteral Cipher in which each letter is represented by one, two, or three, numbers; and so the five symbols of the Baconian Biliteral is reduced to three at maximum.

Variants of this scheme can of course, with a little ingenuity, be easily reconstructed.

* * *



Place in their relative order as appearing in the original arrangement the selected symbols of the Biliteral:

a a a a a

a a a a b


Then place opposite each the number arrived at by the application of odd and even figures to represent the numerical values of the symbols "a" and "b."

Thus aaaaa will be as shown 9

aaaab will be as shown 72

aaaba will be as shown 521

and so on. Then put in sequence of numerical value. We shall then have: 0. 9. 18. 27. 36. 45. 54. 63. 72. 81. 125. 143. 161. 216. 234. 252. 323. 341. 414. 432. 521. 612. An analysis shows that of these there are two of one figure; eight of two figures; and twelve of three figures. Now as regards the latter series-the symbols composed of three figures-we will find that if we add together the component figures of each of those which begins and ends with an even number they will tot up to nine; but that the total of each of those commencing and ending with an odd number only total up to eight. There are no two of these symbols which clash with one another so as to cause confusion.

To fit the alphabet to this cipher the simplest plan is to reserve one symbol (the first-"0") to represent the repetition of a foregoing letter. This would not only enlarge possibilities of writing, but would help to baffle inquiry. There is a distinct purpose in choosing "0" as the symbol of repetition for it can best be spared; it would invite curiosity to begin a number cipher with "0," were it in use in any combination of figures representing a letter.

Keep all the other numbers and combinations of numbers for purely alphabetical use. Then take the next five-9 to 45 to represent the vowels. The rest of the alphabet can follow in regular sequence, using up of the triple combinations, first those beginning and ending with even numbers and which tot up to nine, and when these have been exhausted, the others, those beginning and ending with odd numbers and which tot up to eight, in their own sequence.

If this plan be adopted, any letter of a word can be translated into numbers which are easily distinguishable, and whose sequence can be seemingly altered, so as to baffle inquisitive eyes, by the addition of any other numbers placed anywhere throughout the cipher. All of these added numbers can easily be discovered and eliminated by the scribe who undertakes the work of decipheration, by means of the additions of odd or even numbers, or by reference to his key. The whole cipher is so rationally exact that any one who knows the principle can make a key in a few minutes.

As I had gone on with my work I was much cheered by certain resemblances or coincidences which presented themselves, linking my new construction with the existing cipher. When I hit upon the values of additions of eight and nine as the component elements of some of the symbols, I felt sure that I was now on the right track. At the completion of my work I was exultant for I felt satisfied in believing that the game was now in my own hands.

* * *



The problem which I now put before myself was to make dots in a printed book in which I could repeat accurately and simply the setting forth of the biliteral cipher. I had, of course, a clue or guiding principle in the combinations of numbers with the symbols of "a" and "b" as representing the Alphabetical symbols. Thus it was easy to arrange that "a" should be represented by a letter untouched and "b" by one with a mark. This mark might be made at any point of the letter. Here I referred to the cipher itself and found that though some letters were marked with a dot in the centre or body of the letter, those both above and below wherever they occurred showed some kind of organised use. "Why not," said I to myself, "use the body for the difference between "a" and "b;" and the top and bottom for numbers?"

No sooner said than done. I began at once to devise various ways of representing numbers by marks or dots at top and bottom. Finally I fixed, as being the most simple, on the following:

Only four numbers-2, 3, 4, 5-are required to make the number of times each letter of the symbol is repeated, there being in the original Baconian cipher, after the elimination of the ten variations already made, only three changes of symbol to represent any letter. Marks at the top might therefore represent the even numbers "2" and "4"-one mark standing for "two" and two marks for "four"; marks at the bottom would represent the odd numbers "3" and "5"-one mark standing for "three" and two marks for "five."

Thus "a a a a a" would be represented by "?a" or any other letter with two dots below: "a a a a b" by ? b, or any other letters similarly treated. As any letter left plain would represent "a" and any letter dotted in the body would represent "b" the cipher is complete for application to any printed or written matter. As in the number cipher, the repetition of a letter could be represented by a symbol which in this variant would be the same as the symbol for ten or "0." It would be any letter with one dot in the body and two under it, thus-?t.

For the purpose of adding to the difficulty of discovery, where two marks were given either above or below the letter, the body mark (representing the letter as "b" in the Biliteral) might be placed at the opposite end. This would create no confusion in the mind of an advised decipherer, but would puzzle the curious.

On the above basis I completed my key and set to my work of deciphering with a jubilant heart; for I felt that so soon as I should have adjusted any variations between the systems of the old writer and my own, work only was required to ultimately master the secret.

The following tables will illustrate the making and working-both in ciphering and de-ciphering-of the amended Biliteral Cipher of Francis Bacon:


P (Plain) means letter left untouched D (Dot) means letter with dot in body

One Dot-(.) at Top (t) = 2 One Dot-(.) at Bottom (b) = 3

Two Dots-(..) at Top (t) = 4 Two Dots-(..) at Bottom (b) = 5

Bacon Cipher. No. of Symbols Required Number Cipher. Alphabet to be arranged in order. Dot Cipher

No. Values of Symbols reported.

A - 1 - a a a a a - 1 - 9 - A - P..b

B - 2 - a a a a b - 2 - 7.2 - D - P..t - D

C - 3 - a a a b a - 3 - 5.2.1 - Y - P .b - D - P

D - 4 - a a a b b - 2 - 5.4 - B - P .b - D.t

E - 5 - a a b a a - 3 - 3.2.3 - T - P .t - D - P.t

F - 6 - a a b a b - 4 -

G - 7 - a a b b a - 3 - 3.4.1 - X.Z. - P .t - D.t - P

H - 8 - a a b b b - 2 - 3.6 - O - P .t - D.b

I - 9 - a b a a a - 3 - 1.2.5 - P - P - D - P.b

K - 10 - a b a a b - 4 -

L - 11 - a b a b a - 5 -

M - 12 - a b a b b - 4 -

N - 13 - a b b a a - 3 - 1.4.3 - R - P - D .t - P.t

O - 14 - a b b a b - 4 -

P - 15 - a b b b a - 3 - 1.6.1 - S - P - D .b - P

Q - 16 - a b b b b - 2 - 1.8 - E - P - D..t

R - 17 - b a a a a - 2 - 2.7 - I - D - P..t

S - 18 - b a a a b - 3 - 2.5.2 - K.Q. - D - P .b - D

T - 19 - b a a b a - 4 -

V - 20 - b a a b b - 3 - 2.3.4 - H - D - P .t - D.t

W - 21 - b a b a a - 4 -

X - 22 - b a b a b - 5 -

Y - 23 - b a b b a - 4 -

Z - 24 - b a b b b - 3 - 2.1.6 - G - D - P - D.b

25 - b b a a a - 2 - 4.5 - U.V. - D .t - P.b

26 - b b a a b - 3 - 4.3.2 - M - D .t - P.t - D

27 - b b a b a - 4 -

28 - b b a b b - 3 - 4.1.4 - L - D .t - P - D.t

29 - b b b a a - 2 - 6.3 - C - D .b - P.t

30 - b b b a b - 3 - 6.1.2 - N - D .b - P - D

31 - b b b b a - 2 - 8.1 - F - D..t - P

32 - b b b b b - 1 - 9 - Repeat - D..b

Note.-When there are to be two dots at either top or bottom of a letter, the dot usually put in the body of a letter which is to indicate "b" can be placed at the opposite end of the letter to the double dotting. This will help to baffle investigation without puzzling the skilled interpreter.


Divide off into additions of nine or eight. Thus if extraneous figures have been inserted, they can be detected and deleted.

Cipher. De-Cipher.

A = 9 O = Repeat Letter

B = 54 125 = P

C = 63 143 = R

D = 72 161 = S

E = 18 18 = E

F = 81 216 = G

G = 216 234 = H

H = 234 252 = K or Q

I = 27 27 = I

K.Q = 252 323 = T

L = 414 341 = X or Z

M = 432 36 = O

N = 612 414 = L

O = 36 432 = M

P = 125 45 = U or V

R = 143 521 = Y

S = 161 54 = B

T = 323 612 = N

U.V = 45 63 = C

X.Z = 341 72 = D

Y = 521 81 = F

Repeat = O 9 = A

Finger Cipher.

Values the same as Number Cipher.

The RIGHT hand, beginning at the thumb, represent the ODD numbers,

The LEFT hand, beginning at the thumb, represent the EVEN numbers.


P-Letter left plain. .-Dot.

D-Dot in centre or where are two dots t or b in other end (b or t). t-top of letter.

b-bottom of letter.

Cipher. De-Cipher.

A = P .. b P --D --P . b = P

B = P . b -D . t P --D . t -P . t = R

C = D . b -P . t P --D .. t -- = E

D = P .. t -D P --D . b -P - = S

E = P -D .. t P . t -D --P . t = T

F = D .. t -P P . t -D . t -P - = X or Z

G = D -P -D . b P . t -D . b -- = O

H = D -P . t -D . t P .. t -D --- = D

I = D -P .. t P . b -D --P = Y

K.Q = D -P . b -D P . b -D . t -- = B

L = D . t -P -D . t P .. b ----- = A

M = D . t -P . t -D D --P --D . b = G

N = D . b -P -D D --P . t -D . t = H

O = P . t -D . b D --P .. t -- = I

P = P -D -P . b D --P . b -D - = K or Q

R = P -D . t -P . t D . t -P --D . t = L

S = P -D . b -P D . t -P . t -D - = M

T = P . t -D -P . t D . t -P . b -- = U or V

U.V = D . t -P . b D .. t -P --- = F

X.Z = P . t -D . t -P D . b -P --D - = N

Y = P . b -D -P D . b -P . t -- = C

Repeat = D .. b (W=U repeated) D .. b -- = Repeat (W)


Begin fresh with each line.

Take no account of stops.

Take no account of Capitals or odd words.

y? is one letter.

* * *


Page --


When my kinsman who was known as the "Spanish Cardinal" heard of my arrival in Rome in obedience to his secret summons, he sent one to me who took me to see him at the Vatican. I went at once and found that though the carriage of his great office had somewhat aged my kinsman it had not changed the sweet bearing which he had ever had towards me. He entered at once on the matter regarding which he had summoned me, leaving to later those matters of home and family which were close to us both, and prefacing his speech with an assurance-unnecessary I enforced on him-that he would not have urged me to so great a voyage, and at a time when the concerns of home and of His Catholic Majesty so needed me in my own place, had there not been strictest need of my presence at Rome. This he then explained, ever anticipating my ignorance, so lucidly and with sweet observance of my needs, that I could not wonder at his great advancement.

Entering at once on the enterprise of the King as to the restoration of England to the fold of the True Church he made clear to me that the one great wish of His Holinesse was to aid in all ways the achievement of the same. To such end he was willing to devote a vast treasure, the which he had accumulated for the purpose through many years. "But" said my kinsman, and with so much smiling as might become his grave office "the King hath here at the Court of Rome one to represent him, who, though doubtless a zealous and faithful servant of his Royal Master, hath not those qualities of discretion and discernment, of the subjugation of self and the discipline of his own ideas, which go to make up the perfection of the Ambassador. He hath already many times and in many ways, to many persons and in many Countries, said of His Holinesse such things as, even if true-and they are not so-were, in the high discretion of his office as Ambassador, better unspoken. This, moreover, in an Embassy wherein he wishes to acquire much which the mundane world holds to be of great worth. The Count de Olivares hath spoken freely and without reserve of the Holy Father's reticence in handing over vast sums of money to His Catholic Majesty as due to parsimony, to avarice, to meanness of spirit, and to other low qualities which, though common enough in men, are soil to the name of God's Vicegerent on Earth! Nay" he went on, seeing that my horror was such as to verge on doubt, "trust me in this, for of the verity of these things I am assured. Rome hath many eyes, and the hearing of her ears is widecast. The Pope and his Cardinals are well served throughout the world. Little indeed happens in Christendom-aye and beyond it-which is not echoed in secret in the Vatican. I know that not only has Count de Olivares spoken of his beliefs regarding the Holy Father to his mundane friends, but he has not hesitated in his formal despatches to say the same to his Royal Master. It hath grieved His Holinesse much that any could so misunderstand him, and it hath grieved him more that His Catholic Majesty should receive such calumnies without demur. Wherefore he would take some other means than the hand of the King of Spain to accomplish his own secret ends. He knoweth well the high purpose of His Catholic Majesty, your Royal Master, in the restoration of England to the True Faith; but yet his mind is much disturbed by his recent pronouncements regarding the Bishoprics. The See of Rome is the Arch Episcopate of the Earth, and to its Bishop belongs by God's very ordinance the ruling of all the bishoprics of the Church. "Upon this Rock shall I build my Church." Now His Holinesse hath already promised a million crowns towards the great emprise of the Armada; and he hath promised it so that it be handed over to the King when his emprise, which is after all for the enlargement of his own kingdom, hath begun to bear fruit. But Count de Olivares is not content with this promise-the promise remember of God's Vicegerent-and he is ever clamorous, not only for the immediate payment of this promised sum, but for other sums. His new request is for another million crowns. And even in the very presence of His Holinesse, he so bears himself as if the non-compliance with his demand were a wrong to him and to his Master. From all which His Holinesse, consulting in privacy with me who am also his friend-such is the greatness with which he honoureth me-hath determined that, whereas he will of course keep to the last letter his promise of help, and will even exceed largely the same, he will dispose in other ways of the great treasure which he had already set aside for this English affair. When he honoured me by asking my advice as to whom should be entrusted with this high

endeavour, and had shown that of necessity it should be some Spaniard so that hereafter it might not be said that the emprise of the Armada had not his full sanction and support, I ventured to suggest that in you first of all men this high trust should be reposed. For yourself, I said that I had known you from childhood, and had found you without a flaw; and that you came from a race that had gone clothed in honour since the time of the Moors."

Much other of like kind, my children, did my kinsman tell me that he had said to His Holinesse; which so satisfied him that he had commanded him to send for me so that he could have the assurance of his own seeing what manner of man I was. My kinsman then went on to tell me how he had told His Holinesse of what I had already taken in hand regarding the Great Armada. How I had promised the King a galleon fully equipped and manned with seamen and soldiers from our old Castile; and how His Majesty was so pleased, since my offer had been the first he had received, that he had sworn that my vessel should carry the flag of the squadron of the galleons of Castile. He told him also that the galleon was to be called the San Cristobal from my patron saint; and also that so her figurehead should bear the image of the Christ into English waters the first of all things that came from my Province. Which idea so wrought upon the mind of His Holinesse that he said: "Good man! Good Spaniard! Good Christian! I shall provide the figurehead for the San Cristobal myself. When Don de Escoban comes here I shall arrange it with him."

When my kinsman had so informed me as to many things he left me a while, saying that he would ask the Pope to arrange for an audience with me. Shortly he returned with haste, saying that the Holy Father wished me to come to him at once. I went in exaltation mingled with fear; and all my unworthiness of such high honour rose before me. But when I came to His Holinesse and knelt before him he blessed me and raised me up himself. And when he bade me, I raised my eyes and looked at him in the face. Whereat he turned to the Spanish Cardinal and said: "You have spoken under the mark, my brother. Here is a man indeed in whom I can trust to the full."

And so, my children, he made me sit by him, and for a long time-it was more than two hours by the clock-he talked with me about his wish. And, oh my children, I would that you and others could hear the wise words of that great and good man. He was so worldly-wise, in addition to his Saintly wisdom, that nothing seemed to lack in his reasoning; nothing was too small to be outside his understanding and considerations of the motives and arts of men. He told me with exceeding frankness of his views of the situation. All the while, my kinsman smiled and nodded approval now and again; and it filled me with pride that one of my own blood should stand so close to the counsels of His Holinesse. He told me that though war was a sad necessity, which he as himself an earthly monarch was compelled to understand and accept, yet he preferred infinitely the ways of peace; and moreover believed in them. In his own wise words, "the logic of the cannon, though more loud, speaks not so forcibly as the logic of the living day between sunrise and sunset." When later he added to this conviction that, "the chink of the money-bag speaks more loudly than either," I ventured an impulsive word of protest. Whereupon he stopped and looking at me sharply asked if I knew how to bribe. To which I replied that as yet I had given none, nor taken none. Then smilingly he laid his hand in friendlinesse on my shoulder and said: "My friend, Saint Escoban, these be two things, not one; and though to take a bribe is to be unforgiven, yet to give one at high command is but a duty, like the soldier's duty to kill which is not murder, which it would be without such behest." Then raising his hand to silence my protest he said: "I know what you would say: 'Woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh,' but such argument, my friend, is my province; and its responsibility is mine. Ere you proceed on your mission you shall have indemnity for the carriage of all my commands. You go into an enemy's country; a country which is the professed and malignant enemy of Holy Church, and where faith and honour are not. God's work is to be done in many ways. It is sufficient that He has allowed instruments that are unworthy and unholy; and as unworthy and unholy we must use them to His ends. You, Don de Escoban, shall have no pain in such matters, and no shame. My commands shall cover you!" Then, when I had bowed my recognition of his will, he resumed his instructions. He said that in England in high places were many men who were open to sell their knowledge or their power, and that when once they had accepted payment it were needful for their own credit and even for their safety, that they should further the end which they had undertaken. "These English," he said, "are pagans; and it was said of this our Holy City in pagan times 'Omnia Romae venalia sunt!'" Whereupon there was borne upon me a recollection of years before when I was in the suite of the Ambassador at Paris, how a boy in the British Embassy who was shewing me a cipher of encloased writing which he had just perfected had written in it with uncouth lettering as an illustration "Omnia Britaniae venalia sunt." And further did remember how we had enlarged and perfected the cipher when we resided together at Tours. His Holinesse told me that in great seasons it were needful to scatter favours with a lavish hand, and that no season was or could be so great as that which foreran the restoring to the fold a great and active nation who was already beginning to rule the seas. "To which end," he said, "I am placing with you a vastness of treasure such as no nation hath ever seen. The gifts of the Faithful have begun it and enlarged it; and the fruits of many victories have enhanced it. Regarding it, there is only one promise which I will exact from you, and that I shall exact in the most solemn way of which the Church has knowledge; that this vast treasure be applied to onely that purpose to which it is ordained-the advancement of the True Faith. It will add also, of course, to the honour and glory of the Kingdom of Spain, so that for all time the world may know that the comfort of the Roman See is on the emprise of the Great Armada! In proof of which should, for the sins of men, the great emprise fail, you or those who may succeed you in the Trust are, if I myself be not then living, to hand the Treasure to the custody of whatever monarch may then sit upon the throne of Spain for his good guardianship, in trust with me."

So he proceeded to detail; and gave full instructions as to the amount of the treasure. How it was to be placed in my hands, and when; and all details of its using when the Armada should have made landing on English shores. And how I should use it myself, in case I were not told to hand it over to some other. If I were to yield up the treasure, the mandate should be enforced by letter, together with the showing of a ring, which he took from the purse where he kept the Fisherman's ring wherewith he signs all briefs, and allowed me to examine it so that I might recognize it if shown to me hereafter. All of which things of using are not now of importance to you, my children, for the time of their usefulness has passed by; but only to show that the treasure is to be guarded, and finally given to the custody of the King of Spain.

Then His Holiness spoke to me of my own vessel. He promised me that a suitable figurehead, one wrought for his own galley by the great Benvenuto Cellini, and blessed by Himself, should be duly sent on to me. He promised also that the Quittance to me and mine, which he had named should be completed and lodged in the secret archives of the Papacy. Then once more he blessed me, and on parting gave me a relic of San Cristobal, whose possession, together with the honour done me, made me feel as I left the Vatican as though I walked upon air.

On my return to Spain I visited the ship yard at San Lucar, where already the building of the San Cristobal was in progress. I arranged in private with the master builder that there should be constructed in the centre of the galleon a secret chamber, well encased round with teak wood from the Indies, and with enforcement of steel plates; and with a lock to the iron door, such as Pedro the Venetian hath already constructed for the treasure chest of the King. By my suggestion, and his wisdom in the doing of the matter, the secret chamber was so arranged in disposition, and so masked in with garniture of seeming unimportance, that none, unless of the informed, might tell its presence, or indeed of its very existence. It was placed as though in a well of teak wood and steel, hemmed in on all sides; without entrance whatever from the lower parts, and only approachable from the top which lay under my own cabin, down deep in the centre of the galleon. Men in single and detachments, were brought from other ship yards for the doing of this work, and all so disposed in Port that none might have greater knowledge than of that item which he completed at the time. Save only those few of the guilds whose faith had long been made manifest by their rectitude of life and their discretion of silence.

Into this secret receptacle (to continue this narrative out of its due sequence) when the final outfitting of the Invincible Armada came to pass, was placed, under my own supervision, in the night time and in secret, all the vast treasure which had before then been sent to me secretly by agents of His Holinesse. Full tally and reckoning made I with my own hand, nominating the coined money by its value in crowns and doubloons, and the gold and silver in bullion by their weight. I made a list in separate also of the endless array of precious stones, both those enriched in carvings and inriching the jewells of gold and silver wrought by the cunning of the great artizans. I made list also of the gems unplanted, which were of innumerable number and of various bigness. These latter I specified by kind and number, singling out some of rare size and quality for description. The whole table of the list I signed and sent by his messengers to the Pope, specifying thereon that I had them in trust for His Holinesse to dispose of them as he might direct; or to yield over to whomsoever he might depute to receive them whenever and wherever they might be in the guardianship of me or mine, the order of His Holinesse being verified by the exhibition by the new trustee of the Eagle Ring.

Before the San Cristobal had left San Lucar, there arrived from Rome, in a package of great bulk-brought by a ship accredited by the Pope, so that corsairs other than Turks and pagans might respect the flag, and so abstain from plunder-the figurehead of the galleon which His Holinesse had promised to supply. With it came a sealed missive cautioning me that I should open the package in privacy, and deal with its contents only by means of those in whom I had full trust, since it was even in its substance most precious. In addition to which it had been specially wrought by Benvenuto Cellini, the Master goldsmith whose work was contended for by the Kings of the earth. It was the wish of His Holinesse himself that on the conversion of England being completed, either through peace or war, this figurehead of the San Cristobal should be set over the High Altar of the Cathedral at Westminster, where it would serve for all time of an emblem of the love of the Pope for the wellbeing of the souls of his English children.

I opened the case with only present a chosen few; and truly we were wonderstruck with the beauty and richness of the jewell, for it was none other, which was discloased to us. The great figure of San Cristobal was silver gilded to look like gold, and of such thickness that the hollow within rang sweetly at a touch as though a bell sounded there. But the Figure of the child Christ which he bore upon his shoulder was of none other than solid gold. When we who were present saw it, we sank to our knees in gratitude for so great a tribute of Holinesse, and also the beauty of the tribute to the Divine Excellence. Truly the kindness of the Pope and the zeal of his artist were without bound; for with the figurehead came a jewell made in the form of a brooch carven in gold which represented it in petto. It was known to all the Squadron that the Pope himself had sent the figurehead of the San Cristobal; and as our vessel moved along the line of galleons and ships, and hulks, and pataches, and galleys of the Armada, the heads of all were uncovered and the knees of all were bent. We had not any christening of the galleon, for the blessing of the Holy Father was already on the figurehead of the ship and encompassed it round about.

None knew on board the San Cristobal of the existence of the treasure, save only the Captain of the galleons and ships, and hulks, and pataches, and galleys of the Squadron of Castile, to both of whom I entrusted the secret of the treasure (though not the giver nor the nature of the Trust nor the amount thereof), lest ill should befall me, and in ignorance the whole through some disaster be lost. And let me here say to their honour that my confidence was kept faithfully to the last; though it may be that had they known the magnitude of the treasure it might have been otherwise, men being but as flax before the fire of cupidity.

For myself after I embarked, I went on the journey with mixed feelings; for my body unaccustomed to the sea warred mightily with my soul that had full trust in the enterprise. The many days of storm and trial after we had left Lisbon, until we had found a refuge in Corunna did seem as though the comings of eternity had been made final. For the turmoil of the winds and the waves was indeed excessive, and even those most skilled in the ways and the wonders of the deep asseverated that never had been known weather so unpropitious to the going forth of ships. Truly this time, though less than three weeks in all, did seem of a durance inconceivable to one on land.

Whilst we lay in the harbour of Corunna, which was for more than four weary weeks, we effected some necessary repairs. The San Cristobal had been taking water at the prow, and we should find the cause and remedy it. Possibly it was that the bow was left unfinished at San Lucar for the better fixing of the figurehead, and that some small flaw thus begun met enlargement from the straining of the timbers in the prolonged storm. To the end of this repairing the work was given to some of the ship-men on board, Swedes and other Northerns, the same being expert calkers on account of their much experience of their repair of ships injured in their troublous seas. Among them was one whom I mistrusted much, as did all on board, so that he should not have been retained save only that he was a nimble and fearless mariner who be the seas never so great would take his place in the furlment of sails or in other perilous labour of the sea. He was a Russian Finn and like all these heathen people had strange powers of evill, or was by all accredited with the same. For be it known that these Finns can, by some subtile and diabolic means, suck or otherwise derive the strength from timbers; so that many a tall ship has through this agency gone down to the deep unknown. This Finn, Olgaref by name, was a notable calker and with some others was slung over the bow to calk the gaping seams. I made it to myself a necessity to be present, for I regarded ever the cupidity of man together with the inestimable value of the Pope's gift. Right sure was I that no Spaniard or no Christian would lay a sacrilegious hand on the Sacred Figure of Our Lord or of the good Saint who bore Him; and hitherto the esteem of all had been so great that none would dare so much. But with a pagan such considerations avail not, and I feared lest even his suspicions might be aroused. Well indeed were my fears justified. For as I leaned over the prow, I saw him touch the metal of the Christ and of the Saint as though some of the same diabolic instinct which had taught him to deal infamously with the timbers of ships had guided him to the discernment of the metals also. Then as I looked, he, all unknowing of my observation, tapped softly with his calking-mallet on both the metals which in turn gave out sounds which no one could mistake. He seemed satisfied with his quest, and resumed his work upon the oakum with renewed zeal. Thenceforth during our stay in Corunna I so arranged matters that ever both day and night there was a sentinel on the prow of the San Cristobal. When the day came when, praise be to God, 8,000 soldiers and sailors confessed to the friars of the fleet on an island in the harbour in which the Archbishop of Santiago had arranged altars-for we had no Bishop on the Armada-I feared lest Olgaref should make, through some inadvertence of those left behind, some attempt upon the precious gift. He was too wary, however, and behaved with such discretion that for the time my suspicion was disarmed.

On the 22nd. July, after a Council of War in the Royal Galleon in which the chief Admirals of the Fleet took part, our squadron, which had been waiting outside the harbour of Corunna with the squadron of Andalusia, the Guipuzcoan Squadron and the squadron of Ojeda, set sail on our great emprise.

Truly it did seem as though the powers of the seas and the winds was leagued against us; for after but three days of fair weather we met with calms and fogs and a very hurricane which was as none other of the same ever known in the month of Leo. The waves mounted to the very heavens, and some of them broke over the ships of the fleet doing thereby a vast of damage which could not be repaired whilst at sea. In this storm the whole of the stern gallery of our galleon was carried away, and it was only by the protection of the Most High that the breach so made was not the means of ultimately whelming us in the sea. With the coming of the day we found that forty of the ships of the Armada were missing. On this day it was that that great and bold mariner the Admiral Don Pedro de Valdes by his great daring and the hazard of his life saved my own life, when I had been swept overboard by a mighty sea. In gratitude for which I sent him that which I held most dear of my possessions, the jewell of the San Cristobal given me by the Pope.

Thenceforth for a whole week were we hourly harassed by the enemy, who, keeping aloof from us, yet managed by their superior artillery to inflict upon us incalculable damage; so that our carpenters and divers had to work endlessly to stop the shot holes above water and below it with tow and leaden plates.

On the last day of July two disasters befell, in both of which our galleon afterwards had a part. The first, was to the ship San Salvador of Admiral Miguel de Aquendo's squadron, through the diabolic device of a German gunmaster, who in revenge for punishment inflicted on him by Captain Preig, threw, after firing his gun, his lighted linstock into a barrel of powder, to the effect of blowing up the two afterdecks and the poop castle, and killing over two hundred men. As on this ship was Juan de Huerta the Paymaster General with a great part of the treasure of the King, it was necessary that she should if possible be saved from the enemy who were rushing in upon her. The Duke, therefore firing a signal gun to the fleet to follow, stood by her to the dismay of the English, thus baulked of so rich a prey. In the strategy of getting the wounded ship back to her place in the formation came the second disaster; for the foremast of the flagship of Don Pedro de Valdes Nuestra Senora del Rosario gave way at the hatches, falling on the mainsail boom. The rising sea forbade the giving her a hawser; the Duke ordered Captain Ojeda to stand by her with our pataches together with Don Pedro's own vice flagship the San Francisco and our own San Cristobal. A galleon also was to try to fix a hawser for towing; but the night shut down on us, and the wiser counsel of the Admiral-in-Chief advised by Diego Flores forbade so many ships to remain absent from the going on of the Armada lest they too should be cut off. So we said farewell to that gallant mariner Don Pedro de Valdes.

That same evening the wind began to blow and the sea to rise so that the injured ship of Admiral Oquendo was in danger of sinking; wherefore the High Admiral, on such word being brought to him, gave orders that we should keep close to her and take in our care the mariners and soldiers on board her and also the King's treasure chest; for it was said that His Catholic Majesty had on the Armada half a million crowns in bullion and coined money. It was dark as pitch when we saw the signal made when the flagship shortened sail-two lanterns at the poop and one halfway up the rigging, put out for the guidance of the fleet. Fearsome their lights looked shining over the dark heaving waters which now and again so broke with the oncoming waves that the tracks of light seemed in places to rise and fall about as though they could never be reunited. But our Mariners answered to the call, and the boats soon rocked by our sides and with a flash of our blades in the lamplight-for the battle lanterns were lit to aid them-one by one they were swept into the dark. It was long before they came back, for the wild sea made their venture impossible. But before noon of the next day they again made essay; and in several voyages brought back many men and great store of heavy boxes, which latter were forthwith lodged in the powder room which was guarded by night and day. This made greater anxiety for Senor de las Alas, in that his seamen and mariners, and worse still the foreigners, knew that there was such a store of wealth aboard.

Thenceforth we bore our part in the running fight which ensued between our Armada and the Squadrons of Drake and the Lord Admiral Howard; and also that of John Hawkins which assailed us with such insistence that we fain thought the Devil himself must have some hand in his work. At last came a time when by God's grace the flagship of the enemy was almost within our grasp, for she lay amongst us disabled. But many oar-boats of her consorts flocked to her, and towed her to safety in the calm which forbade us to follow. In this action a dire disaster had almost befallen us, and Christendom too, for a shot struck us athwart the bow and so loosened the girding of our precious figurehead that almost it had fallen into the sea. San Cristobal watched over his own, however; and presently we had with ropes haled it aboard and held it firmly with cables so that it was immediately safe. It was covered up with tow and sacking and so hidden under pretence of safety that none might discover the secret of its intrinsic preciosity. Ere this was completed we were again called to action, as for our fleetness we were required to chase with the San Juan of Portugal, the flagship of the enemy which was flying from our attack. For the English ships, though not so large, were swift as our own and more easy of handling; and by their prerogative of nimble steerage could so thwart our purposes that ere we could recover on following their tacking, they were well away with full-bellied sail. By this, however, we were saved much pain of concern, for when off Calais roads the Armada lay at anchor we, coming amongst the latermost, were placed on the skirts of the fleet. Thus when the English on the night of Sunday August 7th. sent their fire ships floating with wind and tide down on the Armada, so that in panic most of the great vessels had to slip their anchors or even to cut their cables, we could weigh with due deliberance and set sail northerly according to our orders from the Duke.

When by Newcastle we saw the English ships drop off in their pursuit we knew thereby that their finding was at an end and their magazines empty. Whereupon, setting our course ever northwards, so that rounding Scotland and Ireland we might seek Spain once more, we began our task of counting our scars, and thence to the work of the leech. Truly we were in pitiable plight, for the long continued storm and strain had opened our seams and we took water abominably. In that we were of the most swift of the vessels of the fleet, our galleon and the Trinidad of our own squadron outsailed the rest, and bearing away to the eastward, though not too much so, and thence north, found ourselves on the 11th day of August, off the coast of Aberdeyne. The sea had now fallen so far that though the waves were more than we had reckoned upon at the first yet they were but mild in comparison with what had been. Here in a sandy bay close under Buquhan Ness we cast anchor and began to overhaul.

* * *

Both our ships had been very seriously damaged, and repairs were indeed necessary which required careening, had such been possible. But it could not be in a latitude where, even in the summer, the seas rose so fast and broke so wildly. Our consort the Trinidad, though in sad plight, was not so bad as we were; and it was greatly to be feared that if occasion was not to be had for making good the ravages of the storm and the enemy she might meet with disaster. But such amending might not be at this time. The weather was threatening; and moreover the enemy would soon be following hard behind us. From one of our foreign seamen, a Scotchman who in secret visited Aberdeyne, we learned that Queen Elizabeth was sending out a swift patache to scour the whole northern coast for any traces of the Armada. Though we were two galleons, we yet feared such a meeting; for our stores were exhausted and our powder had run low. Of ball we had none, for such fighting as these dogged Englishmen are prone to. Moreover it is the way of these islanders to so hold together that when one is touched all others run to aid; whereby were but one gun of ours fired, even off that desolate coast, in but a little while would be an army on the shore and a squadron of ships upon the sea. It began therefore sorely to exercise my conscience as to how I should best protect the treasure entrusted to me. Were it to fall into the hands of our enemies it were the worst that could happen; and matters had already so disastrously arranged themselves that it was to be feared we should not hold ourselves in safety. Therefore, taking much counsel with Heaven, whose treasure indeed it was that I was guarding, I began to look about for some secret place of storage, to the which I might resort in case danger should threaten before we could get safely away from the shore. The Artificers said that two days, or perhaps three, would be required to complete our restorations; and on the first of these I took a small boat, and with two trusty mariners of my own surroundings I set out to explore the land close to us, which was of a veritable desolation. The shallow bay, in whose mouth we were anchored in a sufficiency of water at all tides, was lined with great sandhills from end to end save at the extremities, where rocks of exceeding durability manifested themselves even at high tide, but which shewed with ferocity at low water. We essayed at first the northern side, but presently abandoned the quest, for though there were many deep indentures, wherein the sea ran at times with exceeding violence, the simple contours of the rocks and of the land above gave little promise of a secret place of storage.

But the south side was different. There had been in times long past much upheaval of various kinds, and now were many little bays, all iron-bound and full of danger, lying between outflanking rocks of a steepness unsurpassable. Seaweed was on many great rocks rising from the sea whereon multitudinous wild fowl sat screaming; between them rose numberless points often invisible, save when the surges fell from them in their course, and amongst which the tide set with a wonderful current, most perilous. Here, after we had many times escaped overturning, being borne by the side of sunken rocks, I at last made discovery of such a place as we required. Elsewhere I have recorded for your guidance its bearings and all such details as may be needful for the fullfillment of your duty. The cave was a great one on the south side of the bay, with many windings and blind offsets; and as best met my wishes in accordance with my task, the entrance was not easy to be discovered, being small and of a rare quality for concealment. Here I made preparation for the landing of the treasure, in so far as that I took note of all things and made perfect my designs. I had left the mariners in the boat, enjoining them to remain in her in case of need, so that none of them, much though I trusted them, knew of the discovered cave. When we had returned to the galleon night had fallen.

Forthwith, after secret consultation with our admiral, I visited the captain of the Trinidad and obtained his permission to use on that same night one of his boats with a crew for some special private service. For I had thought that it were better that none of our own crew, who might have had suspicion of what wealth we carried, should have a part in our undertaking. This my own kinsman Admiral de las Alas had advised. When night came, he had so disposed matters on the San Cristobal that whilst our debarkation was being made, not even the sentries on deck or in the passage ways could see aught-they being sent below. The Captain himself onely remained on deck.

We made several voyages between the ship and the shore, piling after each our weighty packets on the pebble beach. None were left to guard them, there being no one to molest. Last of all we took the great figurehead of silver and gold, which Benvenuto had wrought and which the Pope had blessed, and placed it on the shore beside the rest. Then the boat went back to the Trinidad. Climbing on the rock overhead, I saw a lantern flashed on her deck, as signal to assure me that the boat had returned.

Presently a boat of our own vessel drew near, as had been arranged, manned by three trusty men of my own; and in silence we brought the treasure into the cave. In the doing so we were mightily alarmed by a shot from a harquebuss from one of the ships in the bay. Eagerly we climbed the rocks and looked around as well as we could in the darkness. But all was still; what so had been, was completed. In the darkness, and whilst the tide was low, we placed the treasure in a far branch of the cave, placing most of it in the shallow water. The sides of the rock were sheer in this far chamber, save onely at the end where was a great shelf of rock. On this we placed the image of San Cristobal, not thinking it well that the Sacred Figure should lie prone. In this far cave the waters rose still and silent, for the force of the waves was broken by the rocks without. It was risen so high in places as to cause us disquietude as we made our way out. My chosen mariners made, before we left the shore, solemn oath on the Holy Relic of San Cristobal which the Pope had given to me that they would never reveal aught of the doings of the night.

Before dawn, which cometh early in these latitudes, we were back on board ship; and sought our various quarters silently that none who knew of our absence might guess whence we came.

Morning brought only more trouble to me. I was told that in the night the harquebussier on sentry had seen a man swim from the ship and had fired at him. He could not tell in the darkness if his aim had been true. I said nothing of my suspicion; but later on discovered that the Russian Finn, Olgaref, had disappeared. I knew then that this man, having suspicions, had watched us; and that if he was still alive he perhaps knew of the entrance of the cave.

All day I took much counsel with myself as to how I should act; and at the last my mind was made up. I had a sacred duty in protecting the treasure. I should seek Olgaref if he had reached the shore and should if need be kill him; and by this and other means, secure the secret of the entrance of the cave. Thus, you will see, oh! my children, the heavy nature of the Pope's Trust, and what stern duty it may entail on all of us who guard it.

Secretly during the day I made preparation for my enterprise. I placed on board the small boat which we had used, some barrels of gunpowder, wherein I had very much difficulty for our store of armament had run low indeed and only the Admiral's knowledge of the greatness of my Trust and the measure of my need inclined him to part with even so much. I rowed myself ashore in the afternoon, and harquebuss in hand made search of all the many promontories and their secret recesses for the Finn. For some hours I searched, examining every cranny in the rock; but no sign could I find of Olgaref. At last I gave up my search and came to the cave to complete the work which I had determined upon. Lighting my lantern I waded into the shallow water which lay in the entrance and stretched inland under the great overhanging rock flanked by two great masses of stone that towered up on either hand. Patiently I waded on, for the tide was low, through the curvings of the cave; the black stone on one hand and the red on the other giving back the flare of the lantern. Turning to the right I waded on, knowing that I would see before me the golden figure of San Cristobal. But suddenly I came to an end and for a moment stood appalled. The Figure no longer stood erect as placed on the wide shelf of rock, but lay prone resting on something which raised one end of it. Lifting high the lantern, I saw that this mass was none other than the dead body of Olgaref.

The wretched man had after all escaped from the galleon and in secret followed us to the cave. He had climbed upon the shelf and in an endeavour to steal the precious figure had pulled it over on himself; and the weight of the gold which formed the Christ had in falling killed him. He had evidently not known of the other treasure, and had followed only this of which he had knowledge. As I was about to shut the entrance to the cave until such time as I could come with safety to open it, I did not disturb the body, but left it underneath the Holy Image which he had dared to touch with sacrilegious hand.

At the Judgment Day, should the treasure not be recovered, he will find it hard to rise from that encumbrance that his evil deed had brought upon him.

With sad heart I came away; and then, for that I had to guard the Pope's treasure, I fixed the barrels of gunpowder in place to best wreak the effect I wished. After piling them with rocks as mighty as I could lift, I laid a slow match which I lighted; then I stood afar off to wait and watch.

Presently the end came. With a sound as of many cannon, though muffled in its coming, the charge was fired, and with a great puff of white smoke which rose high in air together with stones and earth and the upheaval of a great mass of rock which seemed to shake the far off place on which I rested, the whole front of the cave blew up. Then the white cloud sank lower and floated away over the grass; and for a few minutes only a dark thin vapour hung over the spot. When this had gone too I came close and saw that the great stone pinnacles had been overthrown, and that so many great rocks had fallen around that the entrance to the cave was no more, there being no sign of it. Even the channel of water which led up to it was so overwhelmed with great stones that no trace of it remained.

Then I breathed more freely, for the Pope's treasure was for the present safe, and enclosed in the great cave in the bowels of the earth, where I or mine though with much labour could find it again, in good season.

In the dark I came back to the San Cristobal where my kinsman the admiral told me that already rumours were afloat that I had gone to hide some treasure. Whereupon we conferred together, and late that night, but making such noise that many of the soldiers and mariners could hear what was being done and give news in secret of our movements, we made pretense of making a great shipment into the Trinidad so that the suspicions of all were thereupon allayed.

In the morning the Armada-all that was left of it-hove in sight; and joining it we began a dreary voyage, amid storms and tempests and trials and the loss of many of our great ships on the inhospitable coast of Ireland, which lasted many days till we found ourselves back again in Spain.

Thence, in due season, anxious to see that the Pope's treasure had not been discovered, I made my way in secret again to Aberdeyne where there overtook me, from the rigours of this northern climate and from many hardships undergone, the sickness whereof I am weary.

Where and how the place of hiding will be found I have told in the secret writing deposited in the place prepared for it, the chart being exact. I have written all these matters, because it is well that you my sonne, and ye all my children who may have to look forward so much and so long to the fullfillment of the Trust, may know how to look back as well.

These letters and papers, should I fail to return from that wild headland, shall be placed in your hands by one whose kindness I have reason to trust, and who has sworn to deliver them safely on your application. Vale.

Bernardino de Escoban.

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Transcriber's note

Some punctuation errors were silently corrected, but a lot of seemingly missing commas were not added. (In sentences like: "There is so much to tell" I said "that I hardly know where to begin.")

Oddities like the repeating of parts of a sentence ("at all at all" on page 314), and possibly misspelled foreign words ("clientele" without accent) were not corrected.

Errors in the chapter numbers were corrected.

Inconsistently spelled or hyphenated words were usually not corrected, the few exceptions are mentioned in the following list.

These corrections are made, on page

ix "510" was changed to "310" (The Duty of a Wife 310)

29 "fulfilment" changed to "fulfillment" (realisation or fulfillment of the old prophecy)

36 "felt" changed to "fell" (I fell in a sort of spiritual trance.)

49 "jugment" changed to "judgment" (that you should sit in judgment on me.)

54 "MacNeil" changed to "MacNiel" (the greedy eyes of Gormala MacNiel.)

86 "as" changed to "is" (This is why I thanked God then)

165 paragraph break added between "if you don't dislike telling me." and "So she went on:"

247 "Marjorie" changed to "Marjory" (Deftly Marjory stretched sections of her gossamer thread)

310 "night" changed to "nights" (If she knew of the last two nights)

332 "embarassment" changed to "embarrassment" (With manifest embarrassment he went on)

350 "subleties" changed to "subtleties" (better than the subtleties which)

473 "33" changed to "23" (-23-b a b b a)

477 "Ambasador" changed to "Ambassador" (his office as Ambassador)

485 "galleons leons" changed to "galleons" (Captain of the galleons and ships).

Otherwise the original was preserved.

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