Doctor Syn on the High Seas

Тема

by

Russell Thorndike

1936

keyed by Connie Lewis

To the memory of

John Buchan

under whose auscpices Doctor Syn

was first published, I respectfully

dedicate this volume, which

completes the Doctor’s history

Contents

Prologue: The Syns o’Lydd ……………………….. 4

1 Doctor Syn Meets Mister Mips ……………………… 6

2 Doctor Syn Becomes a Squire of Dames ………………. 10

3 Doctor Syn Escapes ………………………………. 17

4 The Challenge …………………………………… 22

5 The Abduction …………………………………… 29

6 The Duel ……………………………………….. 33

7 The Friend of the Family …………………………. 51

8 The Elopement …………………………………… 54

9 The Dead Man ……………………………………. 61

10 The Odyssey Begins ………………………………. 62

11 Pirates ………………………………………… 71

12 Syn Buys a Body and Soul …………………………. 75

13 Redskins ……………………………………….. 83

14 Clegg’s Harpoon …………………………………. 93

15 Syn Hoists the Black Flag ………………………… 102

16 The Red-Bearded Planter ………………………….. 104

17 Clegg’s “Imogene” ……………………………….. 106

18 Mutiny …………………………………………. 107

19 The Mulatto …………………………………….. 109

20 The Return ……………………………………….

- 3 -

Syns o’Lydd have been legal prolocutors and attorneys-at-law for

Marshmen since the old days when Thomas Wolsey raised the lofty

campanile of the parish church to heighten the glory of God in the

neighbourhood, and incidentally to typify his own ambition. No doubt a

Syn of those days was as useful to the Ipswich grazier’s son as other

Syns have been to native graziers upon the Marsh. Whenever they fell

into legal difficulties there was always a Syn to pull them out.

So: an ancient town, Lydd; and an ancient race, the Syns.

Prolific, too, as their massed ranks of tombstones in the churchyard

show; while their mural tablets in the church itself serve as a

testimony for all time to the family’s integrity and learnin g.

Go where you will in the neighbourhood, and rummage amongst old

chests and cupboards until you have collected a pile of legal documents,

ancient and modern, as high as Wolsey’s Tower, and you will indeed be

hard put to discover one parchment that does not show the signature of a

Syn attorney. Statutes, recognizances, fines, conveyance of land or

messuage, recoveries, easements, vouchers, testaments and bequests—the

signature of Syn appears upon them all.

Of comfortable means they always seem possessed. They inhabited the

most mellow houses in Lydd and the adjacent New Romney. While waiting

for clients, they purchased for themselves, until by judicious

bargaining they gradually acquired much fertile land, large flocks of

good wool, and such substantial homesteads that no other family could

boast of a more delectable name upon the Marsh.

When there were no more purchasable properties upon the Levels of the

Marsh, they lifted their eyes into the hills, carrying their territorial

conquests along the skyline from Aldington to Lympne. But when they

realized that no financial embarrassment could shift the ancient

Pemburys from their fastness of Lympne Castle, they pushed their own

family possessions inland, acquiring property in Bonnington, Bilsington

and Appledore, until there was even a Syn attorney secure in distant

Tenterden, possessing the best cellars and stables in that comfortable

sleepy town.

Now, the holding of land upon the hills gave to the Syns, as it did

to other Marshmen in like case, a sense of security, for

the reclaimed pasturage of Romney Marsh owed its existence to the

Dymchurch Wall, which held the sea in check. The slogan of

the Marsh, “Serve God, honour the King; but first maintain the Wall”,

showed that possible calamity wa s ever in their minds, and Marshmen like

to think they had a retreat in the uplands in the event of the sea

breaking through and overwhelming the lower Levels. As folk in face of

a common danger are apt to hang together, so did the Marshmen show a

loyalty to one another. But none were so clannish as the Syns. They

inter-married. Syn kith led Syn kin to the altar, and in due course

added further cousins to the Syns. But just as in the most fruitful

tree will sometimes have its barren period in all its

- 4 -

branches, so did the Syn dynasty have its sterile age, and this in the

mid years of the eighteenth century, the time in which this history is

about to be

unfolded. Then were the Syns sadly depleted. Jacobite tendencies

caused the family to send their best blood to be spilled in the Young

Pretender’s cause. Then an epidemic of ague which swept the Marsh took

heavy toll, so that the Syns, who had in the past multiplied so

exceedingly and covered the lands of the Levels of Romney, Welland, and

Denge; the Syns who had covered as many dead sheepskins with ink as they

had covered living sheepskins with wool, found themselves ten years

after the “45” bereft of their good men and true, and represented only

by old Solomon Syn, attorney at Romney, and his nephew Christopher Syn,

the youngest Don at Queen’s College, Oxford, and the youngest Doctor of

Divinity in either of the Great Universities.

His father, Septimus Syn, had been clerk to the Lords of the Level of

Romney Marsh, under the magistracy of Sir Charles Cobtree, who resided

at the Court House of Dymchurch-under-the-Wall. A tall, thin and

austere man, this Septimus, who to all outward appearances was as dry as

the parchments over which he toiled. But beneath his legal dustiness

there must have been burned a bright spark of adventurous romance, for

at the outbreak of the “45” he cast aside his quills and sandbox,

buckled on his sword, and took ship to Scotland, where he joined the

Young Pretender’s force. He wisely left his wife and only child under

the joint guardianship of his elder brother Solomon and Sir Charles

Cobtree. Wisely, for with three of his brothers he was killed at

Culloden. His wife followed him to the grave the same year—of a broken

heart, it was said—and thus at the age of eighteen was Christopher Syn

an orphan. Besides his two excellent guardians, his parents had

bequeathed to him many other valuable assets: a sufficient sum of money

to insure his independence and a brain and personality capable of

improving with security.

In the year 1754, when this history begins, Christopher Syn was in his

twenty-fifth year, and, as resident classical tutor at Queen’s College,

was respected by his elders and popular with

his students. As his great friend Antony Cobtree told his father, Sir

Charles, at Dymchurch, “I owe my degree to Christopher’s patience and

perseverence. By applying the spur at the right moment he lifted me

over the hedges that barred my way to scholarship.”

Although beloved by all, the young Doctor, two years juni or to Tony

Cobtree, was a sombre, tragic figure. Eyes deep, piercing and alive.

Hair raven black. Tall, slim and weird, with a brooding melancholy that

faded only when he smiled, and that because his smile conveyed a

princely graciousness, and a pledge of loyal friendship to the fortunate

recipient. Yes, a man of classic beauty and strength well equipped to

face and overcome whatever fate might hold in store for him. As an

orator he was magnificent, for each spoken syllable claimed its utmost

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