"Then I will deliver it myself. You do not appear to know me " "Not from Adam." "My name is Cornelius van Adrienssen, and you, Captain Runacles, once flung a boot at my head." "Did I, indeed! It was in a moment of extreme irritation, no doubt." "We were engaged off the Texel June the 5th, '71, was the date. You were on board the Galloper, I on the Zeelandshoop. Night parted us "
And now, about starting for England I was about to propose that as Captain van Adrienssen's frigate "Captain van Adrienssen!" "You know him? He is about to sail from Amsterdam in the frigate Merry Maid to escort a convoy of thirty-six merchantmen to the Thames. If you start at once you will overtake him." "Unfortunately, sire, Captain van Adrienssen will not be able to start for many days." "Eh?"
"He is unwell." "Unwell? Why, it is not an hour since he left me!" "Nevertheless " "Let me explain, sire," said Captain Runacles, stepping forward again. "It happened thus. We met Captain van Adrienssen on our way from The Hague." "Yes, yes." "And it appeared though I had forgotten it that twenty years ago I had the imprudence to throw a boot at his head. It was off the Texel "
"And that for the glove, sir!" retorted his adversary, parrying and running his blade on and through the exposed arm by the elbow. The arm dropped. Captain van Adrienssen scowled, looked round, and was caught in his companion's arms as he fell. "And now, sir, let me express my regret," began Captain Jerry, advancing and stooping over him.
He had little science, but an extremely tough wrist. As for Captain van Adrienssen, the veins of his neck were so swollen with passion that his wig curled up at the edge and stood out straight behind him in the absurdest fashion. "The boot the boot!" he kept exclaiming, stamping with each lunge. "Take that for the boot, sir!" He aimed a furious thrust in tierce at Captain Runacles' breast.
You are to escort this convoy to the Thames but you will read your instructions in the papers which Van Adrienssen will give you. You, Captain Barker, are the senior, I believe. Yes? I thought so; and therefore you will take command. Unless your friend declines to act on this occasion as your lieutenant " "My lord, how can we thank you?"
"Have you lost your senses?" "I beg your Majesty to listen. The sight of me revived that painful recollection. We pulled out our swords and fell on each other, forgetting, alas! that now we are both servants of your Majesty. It is annoying; but before we could remember it, Captain van Adrienssen was wounded." William's brow was black as night. "A duel?" he said sternly.
"Tut, tut!" "I regret that I have not the boot with me to fling back at you " "You have a pair on your feet, sir," suggested the Englishman, whose temper was rising. " But this shall do instead!" and taking his glove Captain van Adrienssen dashed it in Captain Runacles' face. "By the Lord, you shall pay for this!" "I am ready, sir." They tugged off their coats and pulled out their swords.
"I begin to remember the incident." "Then I need not proceed. Let me merely remark that I have kept that boot." "Whatever for?" "What for, sir?" cried the choleric old gentleman, now fairly hopping with rage. "What for? To throw it back, sir that's why." "My dear Captain van Adrienssen, is not this rather childish? Twenty years is a long time to harbour resentment." "You shall fight me, sir."
"In what way, my lord?" "You will go at once to The Hague and find out the condition of Captain van Adrienssen. If, as I suspect, he be unfit to travel, you will, with this authority, take over his papers and post to Amsterdam, where you will find the Merry Maid frigate with her convoy.