Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/112

This page needs to be proofread.
82
LOST SHIPS AND LONELY SEAS

Captain Greig and his son left their English country home in their "travelling carriage" for the journey to Gravesend to join the ship. While crossing Bexley Heath they made their pistols ready, for the stretch of road was notorious for highwaymen, and as young Alexander Greig enjoy ably tells us:

 

I soon observed that my father's attention had been attracted by two horsemen riding across the Heath at full gallop, and notwithstanding the postilion was evidently exerting himself to outstrip our pursuers, they appeared to gain fast upon us. And in fifteen minutes they called loudly to him to stop, one of them at the same time discharging a pistol to bring us to. My father, after urging the postilion to drive faster (and we seemed then almost to fly across the Heath) told me to be prepared to receive the man on the left, "for," said he, "we will give them a warm reception, at any rate."

I was just about to follow his advice when I fancied that the men allowed us to gain ground and were out of pistol-shot, as I could see them curbing their horses while they discussed the prudence of keeping up the pursuit. It was fortunate for them that they did so, for one of them would have received the contents of my Joe Manton, as I was resolved not to fire till he came so close to the carriage that I could make sure of my man.

 

At the next tavern they described the adventure, and when young Greig mentioned that one of the