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24

PRIZE STORIES OF 1924

dropped on our faces—slept, with the tide of rain pouring on us; slept till noon. . . .”

“And what came of it?” asked Rafe.

“Naught! When we woke ’twas bright blue day, the sun shining round in the sky. The minnikin—we saw it not again. But through it all, Trink holds him fast to the firkin. And when we two, Cal and me, woke chatter-toothed, ‘Here’s my comfort!’ says Trink; and pulls long at the wine.”

“And how came you back to the ship?” Rafe demanded.

“Oh, they put out from the ship a gang who searched until they found us.”

“And what punishment gave they you?”

“Irons for sennight and bread and water in the hold. But Sir Jarge—too pleased he was a’d found the Bermoothes to hold his anger long—so soon on deck we came and made our voyage fair and safe to England.”

“How now—did Cal and Trink mind them of that minnikin after their drink had passed?” Rafe asked, shrewdly.

“Never came we twain together without talk of it,” Stephen asserted, gravely. “I see him now—the little misty wight, with eyes a-mock like elves, lips smiling, beguiling like a maid’s, and wee hands beckoning. . . .”

Shakspere arose from his seat as from a dream. He moved so quietly that Stephen and Rafe took no note of his departure. He walked slowly at first, then swiftly across the bridge, up Cheapside to Silver and Muggle. As he neared the Montjoy house, he broke into a run. Once indoors, “What’s happened to thee, Will Shakspere?” Mistress Montjoy asked. “Thy eyes are coals; thy colour fever-high.”

Shakspere did not answer her query. “Send up paper to me, mistress,” he begged. “All thou hast and then send out for more!” He ran, light as a lad, over the stairs. Once in his room, he seated himself at the table; drew a blank sheet to him. Writing swiftly, he inscribed, A Summer's Tale. Then he drew a line through the title; wrote

The Tempest

Scene: A ship at sea.
A storm with thunder and lightning.