John Paul Jones: Man of Action

By Phillips Russell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVI
Spies and Counter Spies

And now the storm-blast came, and he Was tyrannous and strong: He struck with his o'ertaking wings, And chased us south along.


I

ONE morning after his return to Brest, Jones suddenly entered the courtyard of a post-inn where a man in American dress was about to step into a diligence bound for Paris. This man was of large dimensions, about six feet high and weighing perhaps 200 pounds. Without warning Jones sprang at him. We have the word of Nathaniel Fanning, who was an officer under Jones and at one time his secretary, that the little captain "was quicker than chain lightning -- when roused he could strike more blows and do more damage in a second than any other man I ever saw could do in a minute." It was so now. Jones's fist caught the fat man on the jaw and knocked him flat. Jones then seized the whip of the amazed driver of the diligence and began to lash the prostrate man furiously about the body, at the same time kicking him with unmistakable signs of rage and contempt. Passersby and servants ran up and caught Jones's hands as he reached for one of the three pistols in his belt. The fat man meantime covered his face with his hands and bawled like a calf. When pulled to his feet, he made no attempt to fight back but hastily hid himself in the diligence. Jones would make no explanation, and the surrounding Frenchmen gave up the matter as evidently being a private one among those Americans, who beyond a doubt were given to dementia.

-103-

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