The Pigeon Pie
Charlotte M. Yonge
Part 2 out of 2
"Why--no, sir; but--however, the young gentleman has had a lesson,
and I do not care if I do loose his hands. Here, unfasten him. But
I cannot permit him to be at large while you are in the house."
"Very well, then, perhaps you will allow him to share my chamber. We
have been separated for so many years, and it may be our last
"So let it be. Since you are pleased to be conformable, sir, I am
willing to oblige you," answered the rebel, whose whole demeanour had
curiously changed in the presence of one of such soldierly and
gentleman-like bearing as Edmund, prisoner though he was. "Now,
madam, to your own chamber. You will all meet to-morrow."
"Good-night, mother," said Edmund. "Sleep well; think this is but a
dream, and only remember that your eldest son is in your own house."
"Good-night, my brave boy," said Lady Woodley, as she embraced him
ardently. "A comfort, indeed, I have in knowing that with your
father's face you have his steadfast, loving, unselfish heart. We
meet to-morrow. GOD'S blessing be upon you, my boy."
And tenderly embracing the children she left the hall, followed by a
soldier, who was to guard her door, and allow no one to enter.
Edmund next kissed his sisters and little Charles, affectionately
wishing them good-night, and assuring the sobbing Lucy of his pardon.
Rose whispered to him to say something to comfort Deborah, who
continued to weep piteously.
"Deborah," he said, "I must thank you for your long faithful service
to my mother in her poverty and distress. I am sure you knew not
that you were doing me any harm."
"Oh, sir," cried poor Deborah, "Oh don't speak so kind! I had rather
stand up to be a mark for all the musketeers in the Parliament army
than be where I am now."
Edmund did not hear half what she said, for he and Walter were
obliged to hasten upstairs to the chamber which was to be their
prison for the night. Rose, at the same time, led away the children,
poor little Charles almost asleep in the midst of the confusion.
Deborah's troubles were not over yet; the captain called for supper,
and seeing Walter's basket of fish, ordered her to prepare them at
once for him. Afraid to refuse, she took them down to the kitchen,
and proceeded to her cookery, weeping and lamenting all the time.
"Oh, the sweet generous-hearted young gentleman! That I should have
been the death of such as he, and he thanking me for my poor
services! 'Tis little I could do, with my crooked temper, that
plagues all I love the very best, and my long tongue! Oh that it had
been bitten out at the root! I wish--I wish I was a mark for all the
musketeers in the Parliament army this minute! And Diggory, the
rogue! Oh, after having known him all my life, who would have
thought of his turning informer? Why was not he killed in the great
fight? It would have broke my heart less."
And having set her fish to boil, Deborah sank on the chair, her apron
over her head, and proceeded to rock herself backwards and forwards
as before. She was startled by a touch, and a lumpish voice,
attempted to be softened into an insinuating tone. "I say, Deb,
don't take on."
She sprung up as if an adder had stung her, and jumped away from him.
"Ha! is it you? Dost dare to speak to an honest girl?"
"Come, come, don't be fractious, my pretty one," said Diggory, in the
amiable tones that had once gained her heart.
But now her retort was in a still sharper, more angry key. "Your'n,
indeed! I'd rather stand up to be a mark for all the musketeers in
the Parliament army, as poor Master Edmund is like to be, all along
of you. O Diggory Stokes," she added ruefully, "I'd not have
believed it of you, if my own father had sworn it."
"Hush, hush, Deb!" said Diggory, rather sheepishly, "they've done
hanging the folk."
"Don't be for putting me off with such trash," she returned, more
passionately; "you've murdered him as much as if you had cut his
throat, and pretty nigh Master Walter into the bargain; and you've
broke my lady's heart, you, as was born on her land and fed with her
bread. And now you think to make up to me, do you?"
"Wasn't it all along of you I did it? For your sake?"
"Well, and what would you be pleased to say next?" cried Deb, her
voice rising in shrillness with her indignation.
"Patience, Deb," said Diggory, showing a heavy leathern bag. "No
more toiling in this ruinous old hall, with scanty scraps, hard
words, and no wages; but a tidy little homestead, pig, cow, and
horse, your own. See here, Deb," and he held up a piece of money.
"Silver!" she exclaimed.
"Ay, ay," said Diggory, grinning, and jingling the bag, "and there be
plenty more where that came from."
"It is the price of Master Edmund's blood."
"Don't ye say that now, Deb; 'tis all for you!" he answered, thinking
he was prevailing because she was less violent, too stupid to
perceive the difference between her real indignation and perpetual
"So you still have the face to tell me so!" she burst out, still more
vehemently. "I tell you, I'd rather serve my lady and Mistress Rose,
if they had not a crust to give me, than roll in gold with a rogue
like you. Get along with you, and best get out of the county, for
not a boy in Dorset but will cry shame on you."
"But Deb, Deb," he still pleaded.
"You will have it, then!" And dealing him a hearty box on the ear,
away ran Deborah. Down fell bag, money, and all, and Diggory stood
gaping and astounded for a moment, then proceeded to grope after the
coins on his hands and knees.
Suddenly a voice exclaimed, "How now, knave, stealing thy mistress's
goods?" and a tall, grim, steeple-hatted figure, armed with a
formidable halberd, stood over him.
"Good master corporal," he began, trembling; but the soldier would
not hear him.
"Away with thee, son of iniquity or I will straightway lay mine
halberd about thine ears. I bethink me that I saw thee at the fight
of Worcester, on the part of the man Charles Stuart." Here Diggory
judged it prudent to slink away through the back door. "And so,"
continued the Puritan corporal, as he swept the silver into his
pouch, "and so the gains of iniquity fall into the hands of the
In the meantime Edmund and Walter had been conducted up stairs to
Walter's bed-room, and there locked in, a sentinel standing outside
the door. No sooner were they there than Walter swung himself round
with a gesture of rage and despair. "The villains! the rogues! To
be betrayed by such a wretch, who has eaten our bread all his life.
O Edmund, Edmund!"
"It is a most unusual, as well as an unhappy chance," returned
Edmund. "Hitherto it has generally happened that servants have given
remarkable proofs of fidelity. Of course this fellow can have no
attachment for me; but I should have thought my mother's gentle
kindness must have won the love of all who came near her, both for
herself and all belonging to her."
A recollection crossed Walter: he stood for a few moments in
silence, then suddenly exclaimed, "The surly rascal! I verily
believe it was all spite at me, for--"
"For--" repeated Edmund.
"For rating him as he deserved," answered Walter. "I wish I had
given it to him more soundly, traitor as he is. No, no, after all,"
added he, hesitating, "perhaps if I had been civiller--"
"I should guess you to be a little too prompt of tongue," said
"It is what my mother is always blaming me for," said Walter; "but
really, now, Edmund, doesn't it savour of the crop-ear to be picking
one's words to every rogue in one's way?"
"Nay, Walter, you should not ask me that question, just coming from
France. There we hold that the best token, in our poverty, that we
are cavaliers and gentlemen, is to be courteous to all, high and low.
You should see our young King's frank bright courtesy; and as to the
little King Louis, he is the very pink of civility to every old
poissarde in the streets."
Walter coloured a little, and looked confused; then repeated, as if
consoling himself, "He is a sullen, spiteful, good-for-nothing rogue,
whom hanging is too good for."
"Don't let us spend our whole night in abusing him," said Edmund; "I
want to make the most of you, Walter, for this our last sight of each
"O, Edmund! you don't mean--they shall not--you shall escape. Oh! is
there no way out of this room?" cried Walter, running round it like
one distracted, and bouncing against the wainscot, as if he would
shake it down.
"Hush! this is of no use, Walter," said his brother. "The window is,
I see, too high from the ground, and there is no escape."
Walter stood regarding him with blank dismay.
"For one thing I am thankful to them," continued Edmund; "I thought
they might have shot me down before my mother's door, and so filled
the place with horror for her ever after. Now they have given me
time for preparation, and she will grow accustomed to the thought of
"Then you think there is no hope? O Edmund!"
"I see none. Sydney is unlikely to spare a friend of Prince
Walter squeezed his hands fast together. "And how--how can you?
Don't think me cowardly, Edmund, for that I will never be; never--"
"Never, I am sure," repeated Edmund.
"But when that base Puritan threatened me just now--perhaps it was
foolish to believe him--I could answer him freely enough; but when I
thought of dying, then--"
"You have not stood face to face with death so often as I have,
Walter," said Edmund; "nor have you led so wandering and weary a
"I thought I could lead any sort of life rather than die," said
"Yes, our flesh will shrink and tremble at the thought of the Judge
we must meet," said Edmund; "but He is a gracious Judge, and He knows
that it is rather than turn from our duty that we are exposed to
death. We may have a good hope, sinners as we are in His sight, that
He will grant us His mercy, and be with us when the time comes. But
it is late, Walter, we ought to rest, to fit ourselves for what may
Edmund knelt in prayer, his young brother feeling meantime both
sorrowful and humiliated, loving Edmund and admiring him heartily,
following what he had said, grieving and rebelling at the fate
prepared for him, and at the same time sensible of shame at having so
far fallen short of all he had hoped to feel and to prove himself in
the time of trial. He had been of very little use to Edmund; his
rash interference had only done harm, and added to his mother's
distress; he had been nothing but a boy throughout, and instead of
being a brave champion, he had been in such an agony of terror at an
empty threat, that if the rebel captain had been in the room, he
might almost, at one moment, have betrayed his brother. Poor Walter!
how he felt what it was never to have learnt self-control!
The brothers arranged themselves for the night without undressing,
both occupying Walter's bed. They were both too anxious and excited
to sleep, and Walter sat up after a time, listening more calmly to
Edmund, who was giving him last messages for Prince Rupert and his
other friends, should Walter ever meet them, and putting much in his
charge, as now likely to become heir of Woodley Hall and Forest Lea,
warning him earnestly to protect his mother and sisters, and be loyal
to his King, avoiding all compromise with the enemies of the Church.
Forest Lea that night was a house of sorrow: the mother and two sons
were prisoners in their separate rooms, and the anxieties for the
future were dreadful. Rose longed to see and help her mother,
dreading the effect of such misery, to be borne in loneliness, by the
weak frame, shattered by so many previous sufferings. How was she to
undergo all that might yet be in store for her--imprisonment, ill-
treatment, above all, the loss of her eldest son? For there was
little hope for Edmund. As a friend and follower of Prince Rupert,
he was a marked man; and besides, Algernon Sydney, the commander of
the nearest body of forces, was known to be a good deal under the
influence of the present owner of Woodley, who was likely to be glad
to see the rightful heir removed from his path.
Rose perceived all this, and her heart failed her, but she had no
time to pause on the thought. The children must be soothed and put
to bed, and a hard matter it was to comfort poor little Lucy, perhaps
the most of all to be pitied. She relieved herself by pouring out
the whole confession to Rose, crying bitterly, while Eleanor hurried
on distressing questions whether they would take mamma away, and what
they would do to Edmund. Now it came back to Lucy, "O if I had but
minded what mamma said about keeping my tongue in order; but now it
is too late!"
Rose, after doing her best to comfort them, and listening as near to
her mother's door as she dared, to hear if she were weeping, went to
her own room. It adjoined Walter's, though the doors did not open
into the same passage; and she shut that which closed in the long
gallery, where her room and that of her sisters were, so that the
Roundhead sentry might not be able to look down it.
As soon as she was in her own room, she threw herself on her knees,
and prayed fervently for help and support in their dire distress. In
the stillness, as she knelt, she heard an interchange of voices,
which she knew must be those of her brothers in the next room. She
went nearer to that side, and heard them more distinctly. She was
even able to distinguish when Edmund spoke, and when Walter broke
forth in impatient exclamations. A sudden thought struck her. She
might be able to join in the conversation. There had once been a
door between the two rooms, but it had long since been stopped up,
and the recess of the doorway was occupied by a great oaken cupboard,
in which were preserved all the old stores of rich farthingales of
brocade, and velvet mantles, which had been heirlooms from one Dame
of Mowbray to another, till poverty had caused them to be cut up and
adapted into garments for the little Woodleys.
Rose looked anxiously at the carved doors of the old wardrobe. Had
she the key? She felt in her pouch. Yes, she had not given it back
to her mother since taking out the sheets for Mr. Enderby. She
unlocked the folding doors, and, pushing aside some of the piles of
old garments, saw a narrow line of light between the boards, and
heard the tones almost as clearly as if she was in the same room.
Eager to tell Edmund how near she was, she stretched herself out,
almost crept between the shelves, leant her head against the board on
the opposite side, and was about to speak, when she found that it
yielded in some degree to her touch. A gleam of hope darted across
her, she drew back, fetched her light, tried with her hand, and found
that the back of the cupboard was in fact a door, secured on her side
by a wooden bolt, which there was no difficulty in undoing. Another
push, and the door yielded below, but only so as to show that there
must be another fastening above. Rose clambered up the shelves, and
sought. Here it was! It was one of the secret communications that
were by no means uncommon in old halls in those times of insecurity.
Edmund might yet be saved! Trembling with the excess of her delight
in her new-found hope, she forced out the second bolt, and pushed
again. The door gave way, the light widened upon her, and she saw
into the room! Edmund was lying on the bed, Walter sitting at his
Both started as what had seemed to be part of the wainscoted wall
opened, but Edmund prevented Walter's exclamation by a sign to be
silent, and the next moment Rose's face was seen squeezing between
"Edmund! Can you get through here?" she exclaimed in a low eager
Edmund was immediately by her side, kissing the flushed anxious
forehead: "My gallant Rose!" he said.
"Oh, thank heaven! thank heaven! now you may be safe!" continued
Rose, still in the same whisper. "I never knew this was a door till
this moment. Heaven sent the discovery on purpose for your safety!
Hush, Walter! Oh remember the soldier outside!" as Walter was about
to break out into tumultuous tokens of gladness. "But can you get
through, Edmund? Or perhaps we might move out some of the shelves."
"That is easily done," said Edmund; "but I know not. Even if I
should escape, it would be only to fall into the hands of some fresh
troop of enemies, and I cannot go and leave my mother to their
"You could do nothing to save her," said Rose, "and all that they may
do to her would scarcely hurt her if she thought you were safe. O
Edmund! think of her joy in finding you were escaped! the misery of
her anxiety now!"
"Yet to leave her thus! You had not told me half the change in her!
I know not how to go!" said Edmund.
"You must, you must!" said Rose and Walter, both at once. And Rose
added, "Your death would kill her, I do believe!"
"Well, then; but I do not see my way even when I have squeezed
between your shelves, my little sister. Every port is beset, and our
hiding places here can no longer serve me."
"Listen," said Rose, "this is what my mother and I had planned
before. The old clergyman of this parish, Dr. Bathurst, lives in a
little house at Bosham, with his daughter, and maintains himself by
teaching the wealthier boys of the town. Now, if you could ride to
him to-night, he would be most glad to serve you, both as a cavalier,
and for my mother's sake. He would find some place of concealment,
and watch for the time when you may attempt to cross the Channel."
Edmund considered, and made her repeat her explanation. "Yes, that
might answer," he said at length; "I take you for my general, sweet
Rose. But how am I to find your good doctor?"
"I think," said Rose, after considering a little while, "that I had
better go with you. I could ride behind you on your horse, if the
rebels have not found him, and I know the town, and Dr. Bathurst's
lodging. I only cannot think what is to be done about Walter."
"Never mind me," said Walter, "they cannot hurt me."
"Not if you will be prudent, and not provoke them," said Edmund.
"Oh, I know!" cried Rose; "wear my gown and hood! these men have only
seen us by candle-light, and will never find you out if you will only
"I wear girl's trumpery!" exclaimed Walter, in such indignation that
Edmund smiled, saying, "If Rose's wit went with her gown, you might
be glad of it."
"She is a good girl enough," said Walter, "but as to my putting on
her petticoat trash, that's all nonsense."
"Hear me this once, dear Walter," pleaded Rose. "If there is a
pursuit, and they fancy you and Edmund are gone together, it will
quite mislead them to hear only of a groom riding before a young
"There is something in that," said Walter, "but a pretty sort of lady
I shall make!"
"Then you consent? Thank you, dear Walter. Now, will you help me
into your room, and I'll put two rolls of clothes to bed, that the
captain may find his prisoners fast asleep to-morrow morning."
Walter could hardly help laughing aloud with delight at the notion of
the disappointment of the rebels. The next thing was to consider of
Edmund's equipment; Rose turned over her ancient hoards in vain,
everything that was not too remarkable had been used for the needs of
the family, and he must go in his present blood-stained buff coat,
hoping to enter Bosham too early in the morning for gossips to be
astir. Then she dressed Walter in her own clothes, not without his
making many faces of disgust, especially when she fastened his long
curled love-locks in a knot behind, tried to train little curls over
the sides of his face, and drew her black silk hood forward so as to
shade it. They were nearly of the same height and complexion, and
Edmund pronounced that Walter made a very pretty girl, so like Rose
that he should hardly have known them apart, which seemed to vex the
boy more than all.
There had been a sort of merriment while this was doing, but when it
was over, and the moment came when the brother and sister must set
off, there was lingering, sorrow, and reluctance. Edmund felt
severely the leaving his mother in the midst of peril, brought upon
her for his sake, and his one brief sight of his home had made him
cling the closer to it, and stirred up in double force the affections
for mother, brothers, and sisters, which, though never extinct, had
been comparatively dormant while he was engaged in stirring scenes
abroad. Now that he had once more seen the gentle loving countenance
of his mother, and felt her tender, tearful caress, known that noble-
minded Rose, and had a glimpse of those pretty little sisters, there
was such a yearning for them through his whole being, that it seemed
to him as if he might as well die as continue to be cast up and down
the world far from them.
Rose felt as if she was abandoning her mother by going from home at
such a time, when perhaps she should find on her return that she had
been carried away to prison. She could not bear to think of being
missed on such a morning that was likely to ensue, but she well knew
that the greatest good she could do would be to effect the rescue of
her brother, and she could not hesitate a moment. She crowded charge
after charge upon Walter, with many a message for her mother, promise
to return as soon as possible, and entreaty for pardon for leaving
her in such a strait; and Edmund added numerous like parting
greetings, with counsel and entreaties that she would ask for Colonel
Enderby's interference, which might probably avail to save her from
further imprisonment and sequestration.
"Good-bye, Walter. In three or four years, if matters are not
righted before that, perhaps, if you can come to me, I may find
employment for you in Prince Rupert's fleet, or the Duke of York's
"O Edmund, thanks! that would be--"
Walter had not time to finish, for Rose kissed him, left her love and
duty to her mother with him, bade him remember he was a lady, and
then holding Edmund by the hand, both with their shoes off, stole
softly down the stairs in the dark.
After pacing up and down Rose's room till he was tired, Walter sat
down to rest, for Rose had especially forbidden him to lie down, lest
he should derange his hair. He grew very sleepy, and at last, with
his arms crossed on the table, and his forehead resting on them, fell
sound asleep, and did not awaken till it was broad daylight, and
calls of "Rose! Rose!" were heard outside the locked door.
He was just going to call out that Rose was not here, when he luckily
recollected that he was Rose, pulled his hood forward, and opened the
He was instantly surrounded by the three children, who, poor little
things, feeling extremely forlorn and desolate without their mother,
all gathered round him, Lucy and Eleanor seizing each a hand, and
Charles clinging to the skirts of his dress. He by no means
understood this; and Rose was so used to it, as to have forgotten he
would not like it. "How you crowd?" he exclaimed.
"Mistress Rose," began Deborah, coming half way up stairs--Lucy let
go his hand, but Charles instantly grasped it, and he felt as if he
could not move. "Don't be troublesome, children," said he, trying to
shake them off; "can't you come near one without pulling off one's
"Mistress!" continued Deborah; but as he forgot he was addressed, and
did not immediately attend, she exclaimed, "Oh, she won't even look
at me! I thought she had forgiven me."
"Forgiven you!" said he, starting. "Stuff and nonsense; what's all
this about? You were a fool, that's all."
Deborah stared at this most unwonted address on the part of her young
lady; and Lucy, a sudden light breaking on her, smiled at Eleanor,
and held up her finger. Deborah proceeded with her inquiry:
"Mistress Rose, shall I take some breakfast to my lady, and the young
gentlemen, poor souls?"
"Yes, of course," he answered. "No, wait a bit. Only to my mother,
I mean, just at present."
"And the soldiers," continued Deborah--"they're roaring for
breakfast; what shall I give them?"
"A halter," he had almost said, but he caught himself up in time, and
answered, "What you can--bread, beef, beer--"
"Bread! beef! beer!" almost shrieked Deborah, "when she knows the
colonel man had the last of our beer; beef we have not seen for two
Christmases, and bread, there's barely enough for my lady and the
children, till we bake."
"Well, whatever there is, then," said Walter, anxious to get rid of
"I could fry some bacon," pursued Deborah, "only I don't know whether
to cut the new flitch so soon; and there be some cabbages in the
garden. Should I fry or boil them, Mistress Rose? The bottom is out
of the frying-pan, and the tinker is not come this way."
The tinker was too much for poor Walter's patience, and flinging away
from her, he exclaimed, "Mercy on me, woman, you'll plague the life
out of me!"
Poor Deborah stood aghast. "Mistress Rose! what is it? you look
wildly, I declare, and your hood is all I don't know how. Shall I
set it right?"
"Mind your own business, and I'll mind mine!" cried Walter.
"Alack! alack!" lamented Deborah, as she hastily retreated down
stairs, Charlie running after her. "Mistress Rose is gone clean
demented with trouble, and that is the worst that has befallen this
poor house yet."
"There!" said Lucy, as soon as she was gone; "I have held my tongue
this time. O Walter, you don't do it a bit like Rose!"
"Where is Rose!" said Eleanor. "How did you get out?"
"Well!" said Walter, "it is hard that, whatever we do, women and
babies are mixed up with it. I must trust you since you have found
me out, but mind, Lucy, not one word or look that can lead anyone to
guess what I am telling you. Edmund is safe out of this house, Rose
is gone with him--'tis safest not to say where."
"But is not she coming back?" asked Eleanor.
"Oh yes, very soon--to-day, or to-morrow perhaps. So I am Rose till
she comes back, and little did I guess what I was undertaking! I
never was properly thankful till now that I was not born a woman!"
"Oh don't stride along so, or they will find you out," exclaimed
"And don't mince and amble, that is worse!" added Lucy. "Oh you will
make me laugh in spite of everything."
"Pshaw! I shall shut myself into my--her room, and see nobody!" said
Walter; "you must keep Charlie off, Lucy, and don't let Deb drive me
distracted. I dare say, if necessary, I can fool it enough for the
rebels, who never spoke to a gentlewoman in their lives."
"But only tell me, how did you get out?" said Lucy.
"Little Miss Curiosity must rest without knowing," said Walter,
shutting the door in her face.
"Now, don't be curious, dear Lucy," said Eleanor, taking her hand.
"We shall know in time."
"I will not, I am not," said Lucy, magnanimously. "We will not say
one single word, Eleanor, and I will not look as if I knew anything.
Come down, and we will see if we can do any of Rose's work, for we
must be very useful, you know; I wish I might tell poor Deb that
Edmund is safe."
Walter was wise in secluding himself in his disguise. He remained
undisturbed for some time, while Deborah's unassisted genius was
exerted to provide the rebels with breakfast. The first interruption
was from Eleanor, who knocked at the door, beginning to call
"Walter," and then hastily turning it into "Rose!" He opened, and
she said, with tears in her eyes, "O Walter, Walter, the wicked men
are really going to take dear mother away to prison. She is come
down with her cloak and hood on, and is asking for you--Rose I mean--
to wish good-bye. Will you come?"
"Yes," said Walter; "and Edmund--"
"They were just sending up to call him," said Eleanor; "they will
find it out in--"
Eleanor's speech was cut short by a tremendous uproar in the next
room. "Ha! How? Where are they? How now? Escaped!" with many
confused exclamations, and much trampling of heavy boots. Eleanor
stood frightened, Walter clapped his hands, cut a very unfeminine
caper, clenched his fist, and shook it at the wall, and exclaimed in
an exulting whisper, "Ha! ha! my fine fellows! You may look long
enough for him!" then ran downstairs at full speed, and entered the
hall. His mother, dressed for a journey, stood by the table; a
glance of hope and joy lighting on her pale features, but her swollen
eyelids telling of a night of tears and sleeplessness. Lucy and
Charles were by her side, the front door open, and the horses were
being led up and down before it. Walter and Eleanor hurried up to
her, but before they had time to speak, the rebel captain dashed into
the room, exclaiming, "Thou treacherous woman, thou shalt abye this!
Here! mount, pursue, the nearest road to the coast. Smite them
rather than let them escape. The malignant nursling of the blood-
thirsty Palatine at large again! Follow, and overtake, I say!"
"Which way, sir?" demanded the corporal.
"The nearest to the coast. Two ride to Chichester, two to Gosport.
Or here! Where is that maiden, young in years, but old in wiles?
Ah, there! come hither, maiden. Wilt thou purchase grace for thy
mother by telling which way the prisoners are fled? I know thy
wiles, and will visit them on thee and on thy father's house, unless
thou dost somewhat to merit forgiveness."
"What do you mean?" demanded Walter, swelling with passion.
"Do not feign, maiden. Thy heart is rejoicing that the enemies of
the righteous are escaped."
"You are not wrong there, sir," said Walter.
"I tell thee," said the captain, sternly, "thy joy shall be turned to
mourning. Thou shalt see thy mother thrown into a dungeon, and thou
and thy sisters shall beg your bread, unless--"
Walter could not endure these empty threats, and exclaimed, "You know
you have no power to do this. Is this what you call manliness to use
such threats to a poor girl in your power? Out upon you!"
"Ha!" said the rebel, considerably surprised at the young lady's
manner of replying. "Is it thus the malignants breed up their
daughters, in insolence as well as deceit?"
The last word made Walter entirely forget his assumed character, and
striking at the captain with all his force, he exclaimed, "Take that,
for giving the lie to a gentleman."
"How now?" cried the rebel, seizing his arm. Walter struggled, the
hood fell back. "'Tis the boy! Ha! deceived again! Here! search
the house instantly, every corner. I will not be balked a second
He rushed out of the room, while Walter, rending off the hood, threw
himself into his mother's arms, exclaiming, "O mother dear, I bore it
as long as I could."
"My dear rash boy!" said she. "But is he safe? No, do not say
where. Thanks, thanks to heaven. Now I am ready for anything!" and
so indeed her face proved.
"All owing to Rose, mother; she will soon be back again, she--but
I'll say no more, for fear. He left love--duty--Rose left all sorts
of greetings, that I will tell you by and by. Ha! do you hear them
lumbering about the house? They fancy he is hid there! Yes, you are
"Hush! hush, Walter! the longer they look the more time he will
gain," whispered his mother. "Oh this is joy indeed!"
"Mamma, I found out Walter, and said not one word," interposed Lucy;
but there was no more opportunity for converse permitted, for the
captain returned, and ordered the whole party into the custody of a
soldier, who was not to lose sight of any of them till the search was
After putting the whole house in disorder, and seeking in vain
through the grounds, the captain himself, and one of his men, went
off to scour the neighbouring country, and examine every village on
Lady Woodley and her three younger children were in the meantime
locked into her room, while the soldier left in charge was ordered
not to let Walter for a moment out of his sight; and both she and
Walter were warned that they were to be carried the next morning to
Chichester, to answer for having aided and abetted the escape of the
notorious traitor, Edmund Woodley.
It was plain that he really meant it, but hope for Edmund made Lady
Woodley cheerful about all she might have to undergo; and even trust
that the poor little ones she was obliged to leave behind, might be
safe with Rose and Deborah. Her great fear was lest the rebels
should search the villages before Edmund had time to escape.
Cautiously stealing down stairs, Rose first, to spy where the rebels
might be, the brother and sister reached the kitchen, where Rose
provided Edmund with a grey cloak, once belonging to a former
serving-man, and after a short search in an old press, brought out
various equipments, saddle, belt, and skirt, with which her mother
had once been wont to ride pillion-fashion. These they carried to
the outhouse where Edmund's horse had been hidden; and when all was
set in order by the light of the lantern, Rose thought that her
brother looked more like a groom and less like a cavalier than she
had once dared to hope. They mounted, and on they rode, across the
downs, through narrow lanes, past farm houses, dreading that each
yelping dog might rouse his master to report which way they were
gone. It was not till day had dawned, and the eastern sky was red
with the approaching sun, that they came down the narrow lane that
led to the little town of Bosham, a low flat place, sloping very
gradually to the water. Here Rose left her brother, advising him to
keep close under the hedge, while she softly opened a little gate,
and entered a garden, long and narrow, with carefully cultivated
flowers and vegetables. At the end was a low cottage; and going up
to the door, Rose knocked gently. The door was presently cautiously
opened by a girl a few years older, very plainly dressed, as if busy
in household work. She started with surprise, then held out her
hand, which Rose pressed affectionately, as she said, "Dear Anne,
will you tell your father that I should be very glad to speak to
"I will call him," said Anne; "he is just rising. What is--But I
will not delay."
"Oh no, do not, thank you, I cannot tell you now." Rose was left by
Anne Bathurst standing in a small cleanly-sanded kitchen, with a few
wooden chairs neatly ranged, some trenchers and pewter dishes against
the wall, and nothing like decoration except a beau-pot, as Anne
would have called it, filled with flowers. Here the good doctor and
his daughter lived, and tried to eke out a scanty maintenance by
teaching a little school.
After what was really a very short interval, but which seemed to Rose
a very long one, Dr. Bathurst, a thin, spare, middle-aged man, with a
small black velvet cap over his grey hair, came down the creaking
rough wooden stairs. "My dear child," he asked, "in what can I help
you? Your mother is well, I trust."
"Oh yes, sir!" said Rose; and with reliance and hope, as if she had
been speaking to a father, she explained their distress and
perplexity, then stood in silence while the good doctor, a slow
"First, to hide him," he said; "he may not be here, for this--the old
parson's house--will be the very first spot they will search. But we
will try. You rode, you say, Mistress Rose; where is your horse?"
"Ah! there is one difficulty," said Rose, "Edmund is holding him now;
but where shall we leave him?"
"Let us come first to see the young gentleman," said Dr. Bathurst;
and they walked together to the lane where Edmund was waiting, the
doctor explaining by the way that he placed his chief dependence on
Harry Fletcher, a fisherman, thoroughly brave, trustworthy, and
loyal, who had at one time been a sailor, and had seen, and been
spoken to by King Charles himself. He lived in a little lonely hut
about half a mile distant; he was unmarried, and would have been
quite alone, but that he had taken a young nephew, whose father had
been killed on the Royalist side, to live with him, and to be brought
up to his fishing business.
Edmund and Rose both agreed that there could be no better hope of
escape than in trusting to this good man; and as no time was to be
lost, they parted for the present, Rose returning to the cottage to
spend the day with Anne Bathurst, and the clergyman walking with the
young cavalier to the place where the fisherman lived. They led the
horse with them for some distance, then tied him to a gate, a little
out of sight, and went on to the hut, which stood, built of the
shingle of the beach, just beyond the highest reach of the tide, with
the boat beside it, and the nets spread out to dry.
Before there was time to knock, the door was opened by Harry Fletcher
himself, his open sunburnt face showing honesty and good faith in
every feature. He put his hand respectfully to his woollen cap, and
said, with a sort of smile, as he looked at Edmund, "I see what work
you have for me, your reverence."
"You are right, Harry," said Dr. Bathurst; "this is one of the
gentlemen that fought for his Majesty at Worcester, and if we cannot
get him safe out of the country, with heaven's blessing, he is as
good as a dead man."
"Come in, sir," said Fletcher, "you had best not be seen. There's no
one here but little Dick, and I'll answer for him."
They came in, and Dr. Bathurst explained Edmund's circumstances. The
honest fellow looked a little perplexed, but after a moment said,
"Well, I'll do what in me lies, sir; but 'tis a long way across."
"I should tell you, my good man," said Edmund, "that I have nothing
to repay you with for all the trouble and danger to which you may be
exposing yourself on my behalf. Nothing but my horse, which would
only be bringing suspicion on you."
"As to that, your honour," replied Harry, "I'd never think of waiting
for pay in a matter of life and death. I am glad if I can help off a
gentleman that has been on the King's side."
So the plan was arranged. Edmund was to be disguised in the
fisherman's clothes, spend the day at his hut, and at night, if the
weather served, Fletcher would row him out to sea, assisted by the
little boy, in hopes of falling in with a French vessel; or, if not,
they must pull across to Havre or Dieppe. The doctor promised to
bring Rose at ten o'clock to meet him on the beach and bid him
farewell. As to the horse, Fletcher sent the little boy to turn it
out on the neighbouring down, and hide the saddle.
All this arranged, Dr. Bathurst returned to his school; and Rose,
dressed in Anne's plainest clothes, rested on her bed as long as her
anxiety would allow her, then came down and helped in her household
work. It was well that Rose was thus employed, for in the afternoon
they had a great fright. Two soldiers came knocking violently at the
door, exhibiting an order to search for the escaped prisoner. Rose
recognised two of the party who had been at Forest Lea; but happily
they had not seen enough of her to know her in the coarse blue stuff
petticoat that she now wore. One of them asked who she was, and Anne
readily replied, "Oh, a friend who is helping me;" after which they
paid her no further attention.
Her anxiety for Edmund was of course at its height during this
search, and it was not till the evening that she could gain any
intelligence. Edmund's danger had indeed been great. Harry Fletcher
saw the rebels coming in time to prepare. He advised his guest not
to remain in the house, as if he wished to avoid observation, but to
come out, as if afraid of nothing. His cavalier dress had been
carefully destroyed or concealed; he wore the fisherman's rough
clothes, and had even sacrificed his long dark hair, covering his
head with one of Harry's red woollen caps. He was altogether so
different in appearance from what he had been yesterday, that he
ventured forward, and leant whistling against the side of the boat,
while Harry parleyed with the soldiers. Perhaps they suspected Harry
a little, for they insisted on searching his hut, and as they were
coming out, one of them began to tell him of the penalties that
fishermen would incur by favouring the escape of the Royalists.
Harry did not lose countenance, but went on hammering at his boat as
if he cared not at all, till observing that one of the soldiers was
looking hard at Edmund, he called out, "I say, Ned, what's the use of
loitering there, listening to what's no concern of yours? Fetch the
oar out of yon shed. I never lit on such a lazy comrade in my life."
This seemed to turn away all suspicion, the soldiers left them, and
no further mischance occurred. At night, just as the young moon was
setting, the boat was brought out, and Harry, with little Dick and a
comrade whom he engaged could be trusted, prepared their oars. At
the same time, Dr. Bathurst and Rose came silently to meet them along
the shingly beach. Rose hardly knew her brother in his fisherman's
garb. The time was short, and their hearts were too full for many
words, as that little party stood together in the light of the
crescent moon, the sea sounding with a low constant ripple, spread
out in the grey hazy blue distance, and here and there the crests of
the nearer waves swelling up and catching the moonlight.
Edmund and his sister held their hands tightly clasped, loving each
other, if possible, better than ever. He now and then repeated some
loving greeting which she was to bear home; and she tried to restrain
her tears, at the separation she was forced to rejoice in, a parting
which gave no augury of meeting again, the renewal of an exile from
which there was no present hope of return. Harry looked at Dr.
Bathurst to intimate it was time to be gone. The clergyman came
close to the brother and sister, and instead of speaking his own
words, used these:-
"Turn our captivity, O LORD, as the rivers in the south."
"They that sow in tears shall reap in joy."
"He that now goeth on his way weeping, and beareth forth good seed,
shall doubtless come again with joy, and bring his sheaves with him."
"Amen," answered Edmund and Rose; and they loosened their hold of
each other with hearts less sore. Then Edmund bared his head, and
knelt down, and the good clergyman called down a blessing from heaven
on him; Harry, the faithful man who was going to risk himself for
him, did the same, and received the same blessing. There were no
more words, the boat pushed off, and the splash of the oars resounded
Rose's tears came thick, fast, blinding, and she sat down on a block
of wood and wept long and bitterly; then she rose up, and in answer
to Dr. Bathurst's cheering words, she said, "Yes, I do thank GOD with
all my heart!"
That night Rose slept at Dr. Bathurst's, and early in the morning was
rejoiced by the tidings which Harry Fletcher sent little Dick to
carry to the cottage. The voyage had been prosperous, they had
fallen in with a French vessel, and Mr. Edmund Woodley had been
safely received on board.
She was very anxious to return home; and as it was Saturday, and
therefore a holiday at the school, Dr. Bathurst undertook to go with
her and spend the Sunday at Forest Lea. One of the farmers of Bosham
helped them some little way with his harvest cart, but the rest of
the journey had to be performed on foot. It was not till noon that
they came out upon the high road between Chichester and Forest Lea;
and they had not been upon it more than ten minutes, before the sound
of horses' tread was heard, as if coming from Chichester. Looking
round, they saw a gentleman riding fast, followed by a soldier also
on horseback. There was something in his air that Rose recognised,
and as he came nearer she perceived it was Sylvester Enderby. He was
much amazed, when, at the same moment, he perceived it was Mistress
Rose Woodley, and stopping his horse, and taking off his hat, with
great respect both towards her and the clergyman, he hoped all the
family were well in health.
"Yes, yes, I believe so, thank you," replied Rose, looking anxiously
"I am on my way to Forest Lea," he said. "I bring the order my
father hoped to obtain from General Cromwell."
"The Protection! Oh, thanks! ten thousand thanks!" cried Rose. "Oh!
it may save--But hasten on, pray hasten on, sir. The soldiers are
already at home; I feared she might be already a prisoner at
Chichester. Pray go on and restrain them by your authority. Don't
ask me to explain--you will understand all when you are there."
She prevailed on him to go on, while she, with Dr. Bathurst, more
slowly proceeded up the chalky road which led to the summit of the
green hill or down, covered with short grass, which commanded a view
of all the country round, and whence they would turn off upon the
down leading to Forest Lea. Just as they came to the top, Rose cast
an anxious glance in the direction of her home, and gave a little
cry. Sylvester Enderby and his attendant could be seen speeding down
the green slope of the hill; but at some distance further on, was a
little troop of horsemen, coming from the direction of Forest Lea,
the sun now and then flashing on a steel cap or on the point of a
pike. Fast rode on Sylvester, nearer and nearer came the troop; Rose
almost fancied she could discern on one of the horses something
muffled in black that could be no other than her mother. How she
longed for wings to fly to meet her and cheer her heart with the
assurance of Edmund's safety! How she longed to be on Sylvester's
horse, as she saw the distance between him and the party fast
diminishing! At length he was close to it, he had mingled with it;
and at the same time Dr. Bathurst and Rose had to mount a slightly
rising ground, which for a time entirely obscured their view. When
at length they had reached the summit of this eminence, the party
were standing still, as if in parley; there was presently a movement,
a parting, Rose clasped her hands in earnestness. The main body
continued their course to Chichester, a few remained stationary. How
many? One, two, three--yes, four, or was it five? and among them the
black figure she had watched so anxiously! "She is safe, she is
safe!" cried Rose. "Oh, GOD has been so very good to us, I wish I
could thank Him enough!"
Leaving the smoother slope to avoid encountering the baffled rebels,
Dr. Bathurst and Rose descended the steep, the good man exerting
himself that her eagerness might not be disappointed. Down they
went, sliding on the slippery green banks, helping themselves with
the doctor's trusty staff, taking a short run at the lowest and
steepest part of each, creeping down the rude steps, or rather foot-
holes, cut out by the shepherd-boys in the more perpendicular
descents, and fairly sliding or running down the shorter ones. They
saw their friends waiting for them; and a lesser figure than the rest
hastened towards them, scaling the steep slopes with a good will,
precipitancy, and wild hurrahs of exultation, that would not let them
doubt it was Walter, before they could see his form distinctly, or
hear his words. Rose ran headlong down the last green slope, and was
saved from falling by fairly rushing into his arms.
"Is he safe? I need not ask!" exclaimed Walter.
"Safe! in a French vessel. And mother?"
"Safe! well! happy! You saw, you heard! Hurrah! The crop-ears are
sent to the right about; the captain has done mother and me the
favour to forgive us, as a Christian, all that has passed, he says.
We are all going home again as fast as we can, young Enderby and all,
to chase out the two rogues that are quartered on us to afflict poor
Deb and the little ones."
By this time Dr. Bathurst had descended, more cautiously, and Walter
went to greet him, and repeat his news. Together they proceeded to
meet the rest; and who can tell the tearful happiness when Rose and
her mother were once more pressed in each other's arms!
"My noble girl! under Providence you have saved him!" whispered Lady
The next evening, in secrecy, with the shutters shut, and the light
screened, the true pastor of Forest Lea gathered the faithful ones of
his flock for a service in the old hall. There knelt many a humble,
loyal, trustful peasant; there was the widowed Dame Ewins, trying to
be comforted, as they told her she ought; there was the lady herself,
at once sorrowful and yet earnestly thankful; there was Sylvester
Enderby, hearing and following the prayers he had been used to in his
early childhood, with a growing feeling that here lay the right and
the truth; there was Deborah, weeping, grieving over her own fault,
and almost heart-broken at the failure of him on whom she had set her
warm affections, yet perhaps in a way made wiser, and taught to trust
no longer to a broken reed, but to look for better things; there were
Walter and Lucy, both humbled and subdued, repenting in earnest of
the misbehaviour each of them had been guilty of. Walter did not
show his contrition much in manner, but it was real, and he proved it
by many a struggle with his self-willed overbearing temper. It was a
real resolution that he took now, and in a spirit of humility, which
made him glad to pray that what was past might be forgiven, and that
he might be helped for the future. That was the first time Walter
had ever kept up his attention through the whole service, but it all
came home to him now.
Each of that little congregation had their own sorrow of heart, their
own prayer and thanksgiving, to pour out in secret; but all could
join in one thank-offering for the safety of the heir of that house;
all joined in one prayer for the rescue of their hunted King, and for
the restoration of their oppressed and afflicted Church.
* * *
Nine years had passed away, and Forest Lea still stood among the
stumps of its cut-down trees; but one fair long day in early June
there was much that was changed in its aspect. The park was
carefully mown and swept; the shrubs were trained back; the broken
windows were repaired; and within the hall the appearance of
everything was still more strikingly cheerful, as the setting sun
looked smilingly in at the western window. Green boughs filled the
hearth, and were suspended round the walls; fresh branches of young
oak leaves, tasselled with the pale green catkins; the helmets and
gauntlets hanging on the wall were each adorned with a spray, and
polished to the brightest; the chairs and benches were ranged round
the long table, covered with a spotless cloth, and bearing in the
middle a large bowl filled with oak boughs, roses, lilac, honey-
suckle, and all the pride of the garden.
At the head of the table sat, less pale, and her face beaming with
deep, quiet, heartfelt joy, Lady Woodley herself; and near her were
Dr. Bathurst and his happy daughter, who in a few days more were to
resume their abode in his own parsonage. Opposite to her was a dark
soldierly sun-burnt man, on whose countenance toil, weather, and
privation had set their traces, but whose every tone and smile told
of the ecstasy of being once more at home.
Merry faces were at each side of the table; Walter, grown up into a
tall noble-looking youth of two-and-twenty, particularly courteous
and gracious in demeanour, and most affectionate to his mother;
Charles, a gentle sedate boy of fifteen, so much given to books and
gravity, that his sisters called him their little scholar; Rose, with
the same sweet thoughtful face, active step, and helpful hand, that
she had always possessed, but very pale, and more pensive and grave
than became a time of rejoicing, as if the cares and toils of her
youth had taken away her light heart, and had given her a soft
subdued melancholy that was always the same. She was cheerful when
others were cast down and overwhelmed; but when they were gay, she,
though not sorrowful, seemed almost grave, in spite of her sweet
smiles and ready sympathy. Yet Rose was very happy, no less happy
than Eleanor, with her fair, lovely, laughing face, or -
"But where is Lucy?" Edmund asked, as he saw her chair vacant.
"Lucy?" said Rose; "she will come in a moment. She is going to bring
in the dish you especially ordered, and which Deborah wonders at."
"Good, faithful Deborah!" said Edmund. "Did she never find a second
"Oh no, never," said Eleanor. "She says she has seen enough of men
in her time."
"She is grown sharper than ever," said Walter, "now she is Mistress
Housekeeper Deborah; I shall pity the poor maidens under her."
"She will always be kind in the main," rejoined Rose.
"And did you ever hear what became of that precious sweetheart of
hers?" asked Edmund.
"Hanged for sheep stealing," replied Walter, "according to the report
of Sylvester Enderby. But hush, for enter--"
There entered Lucy, smiling and blushing, her dark hair decorated
with the spray of oak, and her hands supporting a great pewter dish,
in which stood a noble pie, of pale-brown, well-baked crust,
garnished with many a pair of little claws, showing what were the
contents. She set it down in the middle of the table, just opposite
to Walter. The grace was said, the supper began, and great was the
merriment when Walter, raising a whole pigeon on his fork, begged to
know if Rose had appetite enough for it, and if she still possessed
the spirit of a wolf. "And," said he, as they finished, "now Rose
will never gainsay me more when I sing -
"For forty years our Royal throne
Has been his father's and his own,
Nor is there anyone but he
With right can there a sharer be.
For who better may
The right sceptre sway,
Than he whose right it is to reign?
Then look for no peace,
For the war will never cease
Till the King enjoys his own again.
"Then far upon the distant hill
My hope has cast her anchor still,
Until I saw the peaceful dove
Bring home the branch I dearly love.
And there did I wait
Till the waters abate
That did surround my swimming brain;
For rejoice could never I
Till I heard the joyful cry
That the King enjoys his own again!"
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