Doctor Syn/Chapter 38

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CHAPTER XXXVIII


DYMCHURCH-UNDER-THE-WALL


THE next day war was again declared with France and every available man was pressed into service. Collyer was recalled from Dymchurch with all his men, and he was one of the first to fall under Nelson's command. His death was the saving of many necks in Dymchurch, for he had found out about everything. The demon riders and their steeds he could have marked down by day, and he had discovered how they transformed themselves, for in Mipps's coffin shop he had come across a recipe for the preservation of the sand phosphorous with which the sexton used to daub the riders and horses. The object of these men was to scare people away from the Marsh when the pack-ponies were out bringing the wool from the Marsh farms to the coast—people who were not in the wool-running scheme. With the death of Doctor Syn came the death of the wool-running. Sir Antony discovered in the vicarage much money stored away, and a sea-chest full of great valuables which Clegg had evidently amassed in the Southern Seas. A bar of gold and a wonderful ruby were sufficient in themselves to create a comfortable fortune, and as Doctor Syn had left a will leaving everything to Imogene, Sir Antony stretched a point and kept matters to himself, for he was afraid that the wealth would drift to the Crown by law. However, as Leveller of the Marsh Scotts, he found that it was easy enough to hush affairs up, for the French war was in everybody's mind. So eventually Denis married the daughter of the Incan princess, the adopted daughter of Mrs. Whyllie of Rye, though Sir Antony could never really prove her origin, but he would never admit even to himself that most probably Doctor Syn had been romancing. The secret of England's treasure died with Clegg, but whether that was only a lying excuse of the scoundrel to get away from Dymchurch, the squire could never make out. Jerry Jerk grew up and became the Maidstone hangman, and Dymchurch remained under the wall. But although Doctor Syn was succeeded by more righteous vicars, none was so popular as he had been, and the few Dymchurch men who survived the French war missed the long extempore prayers on a Sunday and the dry-as-dust sermons preached by a man who was a man before he became either a parson or a scoundrel, for scoundrelism is after all only a point of view of some community, and Dymchurch folk would have welcomed back Syn knowing that he was Clegg, because they all knew him to be a daring, dashing fellow and a dear old man.

Dymchurch is very quiet again, and the wild adventures of the few days recorded in this book were forgotten after Trafalgar, but the Doctor was never forgotten by those who knew him, and it would bring tears to their eyes did anybody chance to sing his quaint old capstan song:

"Here's to the feet wot have walked the plank;
Yo ho! for the dead man's throttle.
And here's to the corpses floating round in the tank;
And the dead man's teeth in the bottle.

"For a pound of gunshot tied to his feet,
And a ragged bit of sail for a winding sheet;
Then the signal goes with a bang and a flash.
And overboard you go with a horrible splash.

"And all that isn't swallowed by the sharks outside,
Stands up again upon its feet upon the running tide;
And it keeps a bowin' gently, and a lookin' with surprise
At each little crab a scramblin' from the sockets of its eyes."