The Cloister and the Hearth by Charles Reade.
A small portion of this tale appeared in Once a Week, July-September, 1859, under the title of "A Good Fight".)
The Cloister and the Hearth is a historical novel by the English author Charles Reade. Set in the 15th century, it relates the story revolving about the travels of a young scribe and illuminator, Gerard Eliassoen, through several European countries.
Ships at anchor reared their tall masts, here and there; and the broad stream was enlivened and colored by junks and boats of all sizes and vivid hues, propelled on the screw principle by a great scull at the stern, with projecting handles for the crew to work; and at times a gorgeous mandarin boat, with two great glaring eyes set in the bows, came flying, rowed with forty paddles by an armed crew, whose shields hung on the gunwale and flashed fire...