Woodstock; or, The Cavalier
Sir Walter Scott
Part 2 out of 11
kind--I will speak it truly--than was due even to the relationship
betwixt you? Why think I would sacrifice to that young man my duty to
you? Know, that were I capable of such criminal weakness, Markham
Everard were the first to despise me for it."
She put her handkerchief to her eyes, but she could not hide her sobs,
nor conceal the distress they intimated. The old man was moved.
"I cannot tell," he said, "what to think of it. Thou seem'st sincere,
and wert ever a good and kindly daughter--how thou hast let that rebel
youth creep into thy heart I wot not; perhaps it is a punishment on me,
who thought the loyalty of my house was like undefiled ermine. Yet here
is a damned spot, and on the fairest gem of all--my own dear Alice. But
do not weep--we have enough to vex us. Where is it that Shakspeare hath
Give even way unto my rough affairs:
Put you not on the temper of the times,
Nor be, like them, to Percy troublesome.'"
"I am glad," answered the young lady, "to hear you quote your favourite
again, sir. Our little jars are ever wellnigh ended when Shakspeare
comes in play."
"His book was the closet-companion of my blessed master," said Sir Henry
Lee; "after the Bible, (with reverence for naming them together,) he
felt more comfort in it than in any other; and as I have shared his
disease, why, it is natural I should take his medicine. Albeit, I
pretend not to my master's art in explaining the dark passages; for I am
but a rude man, and rustically brought up to arms and hunting."
"You have seen Shakspeare yourself, sir?" said the young lady.
"Silly wench," replied the knight, "he died when I was a mere
child--thou hast heard me say so twenty times; but thou wouldst lead the
old man away from the tender subject. Well, though I am not blind, I can
shut my eyes and follow. Ben Jonson I knew, and could tell thee many a
tale of our meetings at the Mermaid, where, if there was much wine,
there was much wit also. We did not sit blowing tobacco in each other's
faces, and turning up the whites of our eyes as we turned up the bottom
of the wine-pot. Old Ben adopted me as one of his sons in the muses. I
have shown you, have I not, the verses, 'To my much beloved son, the
worshipful Sir Henry Lee of Ditchley, Knight and Baronet?'"
"I do not remember them at present, sir," replied Alice.
"I fear ye lie, wench," said her father; "but no matter--thou canst not
get any more fooling out of me just now. The Evil Spirit hath left Saul
for the present. We are now to think what is to be done about leaving
Woodstock--or defending it?"
"My dearest father," said Alice, "can you still nourish a moment's hope
of making good the place?"
"I know not, wench," replied Sir Henry; "I would fain have a parting
blow with them, 'tis certain--and who knows where a blessing may alight?
But then, my poor knaves that must take part with me in so hopeless a
quarrel--that thought hampers me I confess."
"Oh, let it do so, sir," replied Alice; "there are soldiers in the town,
and there are three regiments at Oxford!"
"Ah, poor Oxford!" exclaimed Sir Henry, whose vacillating state of mind
was turned by a word to any new subject that was suggested,--"Seat of
learning and loyalty! these rude soldiers are unfit inmates for thy
learned halls and poetical bowers; but thy pure and brilliant lamp shall
defy the foul breath of a thousand churls, were they to blow at it like
Boreas. The burning bush shall not be consumed, even by the heat of this
"True, sir," said Alice, "and it may not be useless to recollect, that
any stirring of the royalists at this unpropitious moment will make them
deal yet more harshly with the University, which they consider as being
at the bottom of every thing which moves for the King in these parts."
"It is true, wench," replied the knight; "and small cause would make the
villains sequestrate the poor remains which the civil wars have left to
the colleges. That, and the risk of my poor fellows--Well! thou hast
disarmed me, girl. I will be as patient and calm as a martyr."
"Pray God you keep your word, sir!" replied his daughter; "but you are
ever so much moved at the sight of any of these men, that"--
"Would you make a child of me, Alice?" said Sir Henry. "Why, know you
not that I can look upon a viper, or a toad, or a bunch of engendering
adders, without any worse feeling than a little disgust? and though a
roundhead, and especially a red-coat, are in my opinion more poisonous
than vipers, more loathsome than toads, more hateful than knotted
adders, yet can I overcome my nature so far, that should one of them
appear at this moment, thyself should see how civilly I would entreat
As he spoke, the military preacher abandoned his leafy screen, and
stalking forward, stood unexpectedly before the old cavalier, who stared
at him, as if he had thought his expressions had actually raised a
"Who art thou?" at length said Sir Henry, in a raised and angry voice,
while his daughter clung to his arm in terror, little confident that her
father's pacific resolutions would abide the shock of this unwelcome
"I am, one," replied the soldier, "who neither fear nor shame to call
myself a poor day-labourer in the great work of England--umph!--Ay, a
simple and sincere upholder of the good old cause."
"And what the devil do you seek here?" said the old knight, fiercely.
"The welcome due to the steward of the Lords Commissioners," answered
"Welcome art thou as salt would be to sore eyes," said the cavalier;
"but who be your Commissioners, man?"
The soldier with little courtesy held out a scroll, which Sir Henry took
from him betwixt his finger and thumb, as if it were a letter from a
pest-house; and held it at as much distance from his eyes, as his
purpose of reading it would permit. He then read aloud, and as he named
the parties one by one, he added a short commentary on each name,
addressed, indeed, to Alice, but in such a tone that showed he cared not
for its being heard by the soldier.
"_Desborough_--the ploughman Desborough--as grovelling a clown as is in
England--a fellow that would be best at home like an ancient Scythian,
under the tilt of a waggon--d--n him. _Harrison_--a bloody-minded,
ranting enthusiast, who read the Bible to such purpose, that he never
lacked a text to justify a murder--d--n him too. _Bletson_--a true-blue
Commonwealth's man, one of Harrison's Rota Club, with his noddle full of
new fangled notions about government, the clearest object of which is to
establish the tail upon the head; a fellow who leaves you the statutes
and law of old England, to prate of Rome and Greece--sees the Areopagus
in Westminster-Hall, and takes old Noll for a Roman consul--Adad, he is
like to prove a dictator amongst them instead. Never mind--d--n Bletson
"Friend," said the soldier, "I would willingly be civil, but it consists
not with my duty to hear these godly men, in whose service I am, spoken
of after this irreverent and unbecoming fashion. And albeit I know that
you malignants think you have a right to make free with that damnation,
which you seem to use as your own portion, yet it is superfluous to
invoke it against others, who have better hopes in their thoughts, and
better words in their mouths."
"Thou art but a canting varlet," replied the knight; "and yet thou art
right in some sense--for it is superfluous to curse men who already are
damned as black as the smoke of hell itself."
"I prithee forbear," continued the soldier, "for manners' sake, if not
for conscience--grisly oaths suit ill with grey beards."
"Nay, that is truth, if the devil spoke it," said the knight; "and I
thank Heaven I can follow good counsel, though old Nick gives it. And
so, friend, touching these same Commissioners, bear them this message;
that Sir Henry Lee is keeper of Woodstock Park, with right of waif and
stray, vert and venison, as complete as any of them have to their
estate--that is, if they possess any estate but what they have gained by
plundering honest men. Nevertheless, he will give place to those who
have made their might their right, and will not expose the lives of good
and true men, where the odds are so much against them. And he protests
that he makes this surrender, neither as acknowledging of these so
termed Commissioners, nor as for his own individual part fearing their
force, but purely to avoid the loss of English blood, of which so much
hath been spilt in these late times."
"It is well spoken," said the steward of the Commissioners; "and
therefore, I pray you, let us walk together into the house, that thou
may'st deliver up unto me the vessels, and gold and silver ornaments,
belonging unto the Egyptian Pharaoh, who committed them to thy keeping."
"What vessels?" exclaimed the fiery old knight; "and belonging to whom?
Unbaptized dog, speak civil of the Martyr in my presence, or I will do a
deed misbecoming of me on that caitiff corpse of thine!"--And shaking
his daughter from his right arm, the old man laid his hand on his
His antagonist, on the contrary, kept his temper completely, and waving
his hand to add impression to his speech, he said, with a calmness which
aggravated Sir Henry's wrath, "Nay, good friend, I prithee be still, and
brawl not--it becomes not grey hairs and feeble arms to rail and rant
like drunkards. Put me not to use the carnal weapon in mine own defence,
but listen to the voice of reason. See'st thou not that the Lord hath
decided this great controversy in favour of us and ours, against thee
and thine? Wherefore, render up thy stewardship peacefully, and deliver
up to me the chattels of the Man, Charles Stewart."
"Patience is a good nag, but she will bolt," said the knight, unable
longer to rein in his wrath. He plucked his sheathed rapier from his
side, struck the soldier a severe blow with it, and instantly drawing
it, and throwing the scabbard over the trees, placed himself in a
posture of defence, with his sword's point within half a yard of the
steward's body. The latter stepped back with activity, threw his long
cloak from his shoulders, and drawing his long tuck, stood upon his
guard. The swords clashed smartly together, while Alice, in her terror,
screamed wildly for assistance. But the combat was of short duration.
The old cavalier had attacked a man as cunning of fence as he himself,
or a little more so, and possessing all the strength and activity of
which time had deprived Sir Henry, and the calmness which the other had
lost in his passion. They had scarce exchanged three passes ere the
sword of the knight flew up in the air, as if it had gone in search of
the scabbard; and burning with shame and anger, Sir Henry stood
disarmed, at the mercy of his antagonist. The republican showed no
purpose of abusing his victory; nor did he, either during the combat, or
after the victory was won, in any respect alter the sour and grave
composure which reigned upon his countenance--a combat of life and death
seemed to him a thing as familiar, and as little to be feared, as an
ordinary bout with foils.
"Thou art delivered into my hands," he said, "and by the law of arms I
might smite thee under the fifth rib, even as Asahel was struck dead by
Abner, the son of Ner, as he followed the chase on the hill of Ammah,
that lieth before Giah, in the way of the wilderness of Gibeon; but far
be it from me to spill thy remaining drops of blood. True it is, thou
art the captive of my sword and of my spear; nevertheless, seeing that
there may be a turning from thy evil ways, and a returning to those
which are good, if the Lord enlarge thy date for repentance and
amendment, wherefore should it be shortened by a poor sinful mortal, who
is, speaking truly, but thy fellow-worm."
Sir Henry Lee remained still confused, and unable to answer, when there
arrived a fourth person, whom the cries of Alice had summoned to the
spot. This was Joceline Joliffe, one of the under-keepers of the walk,
who, seeing how matters stood, brandished his quarterstaff, a weapon
from which he never parted, and having made it describe the figure of
eight in a flourish through the air, would have brought it down with a
vengeance upon the head of the steward, had not Sir Henry interposed.
"We must trail bats now, Joceline--our time of shouldering them is past.
It skills not striving against the stream--the devil rules the roast,
and makes our slaves our tutors."
At this moment another auxiliary rushed out of the thicket to the
knight's assistance. It was a large wolf-dog, in strength a mastiff, in
form and almost in fleetness a greyhound. Bevis was the noblest of the
kind which ever pulled down a stag, tawny coloured like a lion, with a
black muzzle and black feet, just edged with a line of white round the
toes. He was as tractable as he was strong and bold. Just as he was
about to rush upon the soldier, the words, "Peace, Bevis!" from Sir
Henry, converted the lion into a lamb, and instead of pulling the
soldier down, he walked round and round, and snuffed, as if using all
his sagacity to discover who the stranger could be, towards whom, though
of so questionable an appearance, he was enjoined forbearance.
Apparently he was satisfied, for he laid aside his doubtful and
threatening demonstrations, lowered his ears, smoothed down his
bristles, and wagged his tail.
Sir Henry, who had great respect for the sagacity of his favourite, said
in a low voice to Alice, "Bevis is of thy opinion and counsels
submission. There is the finger of Heaven in this to punish the pride,
ever the fault of our house.--Friend," he continued, addressing the
soldier, "thou hast given the finishing touch to a lesson, which ten
years of constant misfortune have been unable fully to teach me. Thou
hast distinctly shown me the folly of thinking that a good cause can
strengthen a weak arm. God forgive me for the thought, but I could
almost turn infidel, and believe that Heaven's blessing goes ever with
the longest sword; but it will not be always thus. God knows his
time.--Reach me my Toledo, Joceline, yonder it lies; and the scabbard,
see where it hangs on the tree.--Do not pull at my cloak, Alice, and
look so miserably frightened; I shall be in no hurry to betake me to
bright steel again, I promise thee.--For thee, good fellow, I thank
thee, and will make way for thy masters without farther dispute or
ceremony. Joceline Joliffe is nearer thy degree than I am, and will make
surrender to thee of the Lodge and household stuff. Withhold nothing,
Joliffe--let them have all. For me, I will never cross the threshold
again--but where to rest for a night? I would trouble no one in
Woodstock--hum--ay--it shall be so. Alice and I, Joceline, will go down
to thy hut by Rosamond's well; we will borrow the shelter of thy roof
for one night at least; thou wilt give us welcome, wilt thou not?--How
now--a clouded brow?"
Joceline certainly looked embarrassed, directed a first glance to Alice,
then looked to Heaven, then to earth, and last to the four quarters of
the horizon, and then murmured out, "Certainly--without question--might
he but run down to put the house in order."
"Order enough--order enough for those that may soon be glad of clean
straw in a barn," said the knight; "but if thou hast an ill-will to
harbour any obnoxious or malignant persons, as the phrase goes, never
shame to speak it out, man. 'Tis true, I took thee up when thou wert but
a ragged Robin," (as the keeper's followers in the New Forest are called
in popular language,) "made a keeper of thee, and so forth. What of
that? Sailors think no longer of the wind than when it forwards them on
the voyage--thy betters turn with the tide, why should not such a poor
knave as thou?"
"God pardon your honour for your harsh judgment," said Joliffe. "The hut
is yours, such as it is, and should be were it a King's palace, as I
wish it were even for your honour's sake, and Mistress Alice's--only I
could wish your honour would condescend to let me step down before, in
case any neighbour be there--or--or--just to put matters something into
order for Mistress Alice and your honour--just to make things something
seemly and shapely."
"Not a whit necessary," said the knight, while Alice had much trouble in
concealing her agitation. "If thy matters are unseemly, they are fitter
for a defeated knight--if they are unshapely, why, the liker to the rest
of a world, which is all unshaped. Go thou with that man.--What is thy
"Joseph Tomkins is my name in the flesh," said the steward. "Men call me
Honest Joe, and Trusty Tomkins."
"If thou hast deserved such names, considering what trade thou hast
driven, thou art a jewel indeed," said the knight; "yet if thou hast
not, never blush for the matter, Joseph, for if thou art not in truth
honest, thou hast all the better chance to keep the fame of it--the
title and the thing itself have long walked separate ways. Farewell to
thee,--and farewell to fair Woodstock!"
So saying, the old knight turned round, and pulling his daughter's arm
through his own, they walked onward into the forest, in the same manner
in which they were introduced to the reader.
* * * * *
CHAPTER THE THIRD.
Now, ye wild blades, that make loose inns your stage,
To vapour forth the acts of this sad age,
Stout Edgehill fight, the Newberries and the West,
And northern clashes, where you still fought best;
Your strange escapes, your dangers void of fear,
When bullets flew between the head and ear,
Whether you fought by Damme or the Spirit,
Of you I speak.
LEGEND OF CAPTAIN JONES.
Joseph Tomkins and Joliffe the keeper remained for some time in silence,
as they stood together looking along the path in which the figures of
the Knight of Ditchley and pretty Mistress Alice had disappeared behind
the trees. They then gazed on each other in doubt, as men who scarce
knew whether they stood on hostile or on friendly terms together, and
were at a loss how to open a conversation. They heard the knight's
whistle summon Bevis; but though the good hound turned his head and
pricked his ears at the sound, yet he did not obey the call, but
continued to snuff around Joseph Tomkins's cloak.
"Thou art a rare one, I fear me," said the keeper, looking to his new
acquaintance. "I have heard of men who have charms to steal both dogs
"Trouble not thyself about my qualities, friend," said Joseph Tomkins,
"but bethink thee of doing thy master's bidding."
Joceline did not immediately answer, but at length, as if in sign of
truce, stuck the end of his quarterstaff upright in the ground, and
leant upon it as he said gruffly,--"So, my tough old knight and you were
at drawn bilbo, by way of afternoon service, sir preacher--Well for you
I came not up till the blades were done jingling, or I had rung
even-song upon your pate."
The Independent smiled grimly as he replied, "Nay, friend, it is well
for thyself, for never should sexton have been better paid for the knell
he tolled. Nevertheless, why should there be war betwixt us, or my hand
be against thine? Thou art but a poor knave, doing thy master's order,
nor have I any desire that my own blood or thine should be shed touching
this matter.--Thou art, I understand, to give me peaceful possession of
the Palace of Woodstock, so called--though there is now no palace in
England, no, nor shall be in the days that come after, until we shall
enter the palace of the New Jerusalem, and the reign of the Saints shall
commence on earth."
"Pretty well begun already, friend Tomkins," said the keeper; "you are
little short of being kings already upon the matter as it now stands;
and for your Jerusalem I wot not, but Woodstock is a pretty nest-egg to
begin with.--Well, will you shog--will you on--will you take sasine and
livery?--You heard my orders."
"Umph--I know not," said Tomkins. "I must beware of ambuscades, and I am
alone here. Moreover, it is the High Thanksgiving appointed by
Parliament, and owned to by the army--also the old man and the young
woman may want to recover some of their clothes and personal property,
and I would not that they were baulked on my account. Wherefore, if thou
wilt deliver me possession to-morrow morning, it shall be done in
personal presence of my own followers, and of the Presbyterian man the
Mayor, so that the transfer may be made before witnesses; whereas, were
there none with us but thou to deliver, and I to take possession, the
men of Belial might say, Go to, Trusty Tomkins hath been an Edomite--
Honest Joe hath been as an Ishmaelite, rising up early and dividing the
spoil with them that served the Man--yea, they that wore beards and
green Jerkins, as in remembrance of the Man and of his government."
Joceline fixed his keen dark eyes upon the soldier as he spoke, as if in
design to discover whether there was fair play in his mind or not. He
then applied his five fingers to scratch a large shock head of hair, as
if that operation was necessary to enable him to come to a conclusion.
"This is all fair sounding, brother," said he; "but I tell you plainly
there are some silver mugs, and platters, and flagons, and so forth, in
yonder house, which have survived the general sweep that sent all our
plate to the smelting-pot, to put our knight's troop on horseback. Now,
if thou takest not these off my hand, I may come to trouble, since it
may be thought I have minished their numbers.--Whereas, I being as
honest a fellow"--
"As ever stole venison," said Tomkins--"nay, I do owe thee an
"Go to, then," replied the keeper; "if a stag may have come to mischance
in my walk, it was no way in the course of dishonesty, but merely to
keep my old dame's pan from rusting; but for silver porringers,
tankards, and such like, I would as soon have drunk the melted silver,
as stolen the vessel made out of it. So that I would not wish blame or
suspicion fell on me in this matter. And, therefore, if you will have
the things rendered even now,--why so--and if not, hold me blameless."
"Ay, truly," said Tomkins; "and who is to hold me blameless, if they
should see cause to think any thing minished? Not the right worshipful
Commissioners, to whom the property of the estate is as their own;
therefore, as thou say'st, we must walk warily in the matter. To lock up
the house and leave it, were but the work of simple ones. What say'st
thou to spend the night there, and then nothing can be touched without
the knowledge of us both?"
"Why, concerning that," answered the keeper, "I should be at my hut to
make matters somewhat conformable for the old knight and Mistress Alice,
for my old dame Joan is something dunny, and will scarce know how to
manage--and yet,--to speak the truth, by the mass I would rather not see
Sir Henry to-night, since what has happened to-day hath roused his
spleen, and it is a peradventure he may have met something at the hut
which will scarce tend to cool it."
"It is a pity," said Tomkins, "that being a gentleman of such grave and
goodly presence, he should be such a malignant cavalier, and that he
should, like the rest of that generation of vipers, have clothed himself
with curses as with a garment."
"Which is as much as to say, the tough old knight hath a habit of
swearing," said the keeper, grinning at a pun, which has been repeated
since his time; "but who can help it? it comes of use and wont. Were you
now, in your bodily self, to light suddenly on a Maypole, with all the
blithe morris-dancers prancing around it to the merry pipe and tabor,
with bells jingling, ribands fluttering, lads frisking and laughing,
lasses leaping till you might see where the scarlet garter fastened the
light blue hose, I think some feeling, resembling either natural
sociality, or old use and wont, would get the better, friend, even of
thy gravity, and thou wouldst fling thy cuckoldy steeple-hat one way,
and that blood-thirsty long sword another, and trip, like the noodles of
Hogs-Norton, when the pigs play on the organ."
The Independent turned fiercely round on the keeper, and replied, "How
now, Mr. Green Jerkin? what language is this to one whose hand is at the
plough? I advise thee to put curb on thy tongue, lest thy ribs pay the
"Nay, do not take the high tone with me, brother" answered Joceline;
"remember thou hast not the old knight of sixty-five to deal with, but a
fellow as bitter and prompt as thyself--it may be a little more so--
younger, at all events--and prithee, why shouldst thou take such umbrage
at a Maypole? I would thou hadst known one Phil Hazeldine of these
parts--He was the best morris-dancer betwixt Oxford and Burford."
"The more shame to him," answered the Independent; "and I trust he has
seen the error of his ways, and made himself (as, if a man of action, he
easily might) fit for better company than wood-hunters, deer-stealers,
Maid Marions, swash-bucklers, deboshed revellers, bloody brawlers,
maskers, and mummers, lewd men and light women, fools and fiddlers, and
carnal self-pleasers of every description."
"Well," replied the keeper, "you are out of breath in time; for here we
stand before the famous Maypole of Woodstock."
They paused in an open space of meadow-land, beautifully skirted by
large oaks and sycamores, one of which, as king of the forest, stood a
little detached from the rest, as if scorning the vicinity of any rival.
It was scathed and gnarled in the branches, but the immense trunk still
showed to what gigantic size the monarch of the forest can attain in the
groves of merry England.
"That is called the King's Oak," said Joceline; "the oldest men of
Woodstock know not how old it is; they say Henry used to sit under it
with fair Rosamond, and see the lasses dance, and the lads of the
village run races, and wrestle for belts or bonnets."
"I nothing doubt it, friend," said Tomkins; "a tyrant and a harlot were
fitting patron and patroness for such vanities."
"Thou mayst say thy say, friend," replied the keeper, "so thou lettest
me say mine. There stands the Maypole, as thou seest, half a flight-shot
from the King's Oak, in the midst of the meadow. The King gave ten
shillings from the customs of Woodstock to make a new one yearly,
besides a tree fitted for the purpose out of the forest. Now it is
warped, and withered, and twisted, like a wasted brier-rod. The green,
too, used to be close-shaved, and rolled till it was smooth as a velvet
mantle--now it is rough and overgrown."
"Well, well, friend Joceline," said the Independent, "but where was the
edification of all this?--what use of doctrine could be derived from a
pipe and tabor? or was there ever aught like wisdom in a bagpipe?"
"You may ask better scholars that," said Joceline; "but methinks men
cannot be always grave, and with the hat over their brow. A young maiden
will laugh as a tender flower will blow--ay, and a lad will like her the
better for it; just as the same blithe Spring that makes the young birds
whistle, bids the blithe fawns skip. There have come worse days since
the jolly old times have gone by:--I tell thee, that in the holydays
which you, Mr. Longsword, have put down, I have seen this greensward
alive with merry maidens and manly fellows. The good old rector himself
thought it was no sin to come for a while and look on, and his goodly
cassock and scarf kept us all in good order, and taught us to limit our
mirth within the bounds of discretion. We might, it may be, crack a
broad jest, or pledge a friendly cup a turn too often, but it was in
mirth and good neighbour-hood--Ay, and if there was a bout at
single-stick, or a bellyful of boxing, it was all for love and kindness;
and better a few dry blows in drink, than the bloody doings we have had
in sober earnest, since the presbyter's cap got above the bishop's
mitre, and we exchanged our goodly rectors and learned doctors, whose
sermons were all bolstered up with as much Greek and Latin as might have
confounded the devil himself, for weavers and cobblers, and such other
pulpit volunteers, as--as we heard this morning--It will out."
"Well, friend," said the Independent, with patience scarcely to have
been expected, "I quarrel not with thee for nauseating my doctrine. If
thine ear is so much tickled with tabor tunes and morris tripping, truly
it is not likely thou shouldst find pleasant savour in more wholesome
and sober food. But let us to the Lodge, that we may go about our
business there before the sun sets."
"Troth, and that may be advisable for more reasons than one," said the
keeper; "for there have been tales about the Lodge which have made men
afeard to harbour there after nightfall."
"Were not yon old knight, and yonder damsel his daughter, wont to dwell
there?" said the Independent. "My information said so."
"Ay, truly did they," said Joceline; "and while they kept a jolly
house-hold, all went well enough; for nothing banishes fear like good
ale. But after the best of our men went to the wars, and were slain at
Naseby fight, they who were left found the Lodge more lonesome, and the
old knight has been much deserted of his servants:--marry, it might be,
that he has lacked silver of late to pay groom and lackey."
"A potential reason for the diminution of a household," said the
"Right, sir, even so," replied the keeper. "They spoke of steps in the
great gallery, heard by dead of the night, and voices that whispered at
noon, in the matted chambers; and the servants pretended that these
things scared them away; but, in my poor judgment, when Martinmas and
Whitsuntide came round without a penny-fee, the old blue-bottles of
serving-men began to think of creeping elsewhere before the frost
chilled them.--No devil so frightful as that which dances in the pocket
where there is no cross to keep him out."
"You were reduced, then, to a petty household?" said the Independent.
"Ay, marry, were we," said Joceline; "but we kept some half-score
together, what with blue-bottles in the Lodge, what with green
caterpillars of the chase, like him who is yours to command; we stuck
together till we found a call to take a morning's ride somewhere or
"To the town of Worcester," said the soldier, "where you were crushed
like vermin and palmer worms, as you are."
"You may say your pleasure," replied the keeper; "I'll never contradict
a man who has got my head under his belt. Our backs are at the wall, or
you would not be here."
"Nay, friend," said the Independent, "thou riskest nothing by thy
freedom and trust in me. I can be _bon camarado_ to a good soldier,
although I have striven with him even to the going down of the sun.--But
here we are in front of the Lodge."
They stood accordingly in front of the old Gothic building, irregularly
constructed, and at different times, as the humour of the English
monarchs led them to taste the pleasures of Woodstock Chase, and to make
such improvements for their own accommodation as the increasing luxury
of each age required. The oldest part of the structure had been named by
tradition Fair Rosamond's Tower; it was a small turret of great height,
with narrow windows, and walls of massive thickness. The Tower had no
opening to the ground, or means of descending, a great part of the lower
portion being solid mason-work. It was traditionally said to have been
accessible only by a sort of small drawbridge, which might be dropped at
pleasure from a little portal near the summit of the turret, to the
battlements of another tower of the same construction, but twenty feet
lower, and containing only a winding staircase, called in Woodstock
Love's Ladder; because it is said, that by ascending this staircase to
the top of the tower, and then making use of the drawbridge, Henry
obtained access to the chamber of his paramour.
This tradition had been keenly impugned by Dr. Rochecliffe, the former
rector of Woodstock, who insisted, that what was called Rosamond's
Tower, was merely an interior keep, or citadel, to which the lord or
warden of the castle might retreat, when other points of safety failed
him; and either protract his defence, or, at the worst, stipulate for
reasonable terms of surrender. The people of Woodstock, jealous of their
ancient traditions, did not relish this new mode of explaining them
away; and it is even said, that the Mayor, whom we have already
introduced, became Presbyterian, in revenge of the doubts cast by the
rector upon this important subject, rather choosing to give up the
Liturgy than his fixed belief in Rosamond's Tower, and Love's Ladder.
The rest of the Lodge was of considerable extent, and of different ages;
comprehending a nest of little courts, surrounded by buildings which
corresponded with each other, sometimes within-doors, sometimes by
crossing the courts, and frequently in both ways. The different heights
of the buildings announced that they could only be connected by the
usual variety of staircases, which exercised the limbs of our ancestors
in the sixteenth and earlier centuries, and seem sometimes to have been
contrived for no other purpose.
The varied and multiplied fronts of this irregular building were, as Dr.
Rochecliffe was wont to say, an absolute banquet to the architectural
antiquary, as they certainly contained specimens of every style which
existed, from the pure Norman of Henry of Anjou, down to the composite,
half Gothic half classical architecture of Elizabeth and her successor.
Accordingly, the rector was himself as much enamoured of Woodstock as
ever was Henry of Fair Rosamond; and as his intimacy with Sir Henry Lee
permitted him entrance at all times to the Royal Lodge, he used to spend
whole days in wandering about the antique apartments, examining,
measuring, studying, and finding out excellent reasons for architectural
peculiarities, which probably only owed their existence to the freakish
fancy of a Gothic artist. But the old antiquary had been expelled from
his living by the intolerance and troubles of the times, and his
successor, Nehemiah Holdenough, would have considered an elaborate
investigation of the profane sculpture and architecture of blinded and
blood-thirsty Papists, together with the history of the dissolute amours
of old Norman monarchs, as little better than a bowing down before the
calves of Bethel, and a drinking of the cup of abominations.--We return
to the course of our story.
"There is," said the Independent Tomkins, after he had carefully perused
the front of the building, "many a rare monument of olden wickedness
about this miscalled Royal Lodge; verily, I shall rejoice much to see
the same destroyed, yea, burned to ashes, and the ashes thrown into the
brook Kedron, or any other brook, that the land may be cleansed from the
memory thereof, neither remember the iniquity with which their fathers
The keeper heard him with secret indignation, and began to consider with
himself, whether, as they stood but one to one, and without chance of
speedy interference, he was not called upon, by his official duty, to
castigate the rebel who used language so defamatory. But he fortunately
recollected, that the strife must be a doubtful one--that the advantage
of arms was against him--and that, in especial, even if he should
succeed in the combat, it would be at the risk of severe retaliation. It
must be owned, too, that there was something about the Independent so
dark and mysterious, so grim and grave, that the more open spirit of the
keeper felt oppressed, and, if not overawed, at least kept in doubt
concerning him; and he thought it wisest, as well as safest, for his
master and himself, to avoid all subjects of dispute, and know better
with whom he was dealing, before he made either friend or enemy of him.
The great gate of the Lodge was strongly bolted, but the wicket opened
on Joceline's raising the latch. There was a short passage of ten feet,
which had been formerly closed by a portcullis at the inner end, while
three loopholes opened on either side, through which any daring intruder
might be annoyed, who, having surprised the first gate, must be thus
exposed to a severe fire before he could force the second. But the
machinery of the portcullis was damaged, and it now remained a fixture,
brandishing its jaw, well furnished with iron fangs, but incapable of
dropping it across the path of invasion.
The way, therefore, lay open to the great hall or outer vestibule of the
Lodge. One end of this long and dusky apartment was entirely occupied by
a gallery, which had in ancient times served to accommodate the
musicians and minstrels. There was a clumsy staircase at either side of
it, composed of entire logs of a foot square; and in each angle of the
ascent was placed, by way of sentinel, the figure of a Norman
foot-soldier, having an open casque on his head, which displayed
features as stern as the painter's genius could devise. Their arms were
buff-jackets, or shirts of mail, round bucklers, with spikes in the
centre, and buskins which adorned and defended the feet and ankles, but
left the knees bare. These wooden warders held great swords, or maces,
in their hands, like military guards on duty. Many an empty hook and
brace, along the walls of the gloomy apartment, marked the spots from
which arms, long preserved as trophies, had been, in the pressure of the
wars, once more taken down, to do service in the field, like veterans
whom extremity of danger recalls to battle. On other rusty fastenings
were still displayed the hunting trophies of the monarchs to whom the
Lodge belonged, and of the silvan knights to whose care it had been from
time to time confided.
At the nether end of the hall, a huge, heavy, stone-wrought
chimney-piece projected itself ten feet from the wall, adorned with many
a cipher, and many a scutcheon of the Royal House of England. In its
present state, it yawned like the arched mouth of a funeral vault, or
perhaps might be compared to the crater of an extinguished volcano. But
the sable complexion of the massive stone-work, and all around it,
showed that the time had been when it sent its huge fires blazing up the
huge chimney, besides puffing many a volume of smoke over the heads of
the jovial guests, whose royalty or nobility did not render them
sensitive enough to quarrel with such slight inconvenience. On these
occasions, it was the tradition of the house, that two cart-loads of
wood was the regular allowance for the fire between noon and curfew, and
the andirons, or dogs, as they were termed, constructed for retaining
the blazing firewood on the hearth, were wrought in the shape of lions
of such gigantic size as might well warrant the legend. There were long
seats of stone within the chimney, where, in despite of the tremendous
heat, monarchs were sometimes said to have taken their station, and
amused themselves with broiling the _umbles_, or _dowsels_, of the deer,
upon the glowing embers, with their own royal hands, when happy the
courtier who was invited to taste the royal cookery. Tradition was here
also ready with her record, to show what merry gibes, such as might be
exchanged between prince and peer, had flown about at the jolly banquet
which followed the Michaelmas hunt. She could tell, too, exactly, where
King Stephen sat when he darned his own princely hose, and knew most of
the odd tricks he had put upon little Winkin, the tailor of Woodstock.
Most of this rude revelry belonged to the Plantagenet times. When the
house of Tudor ascended to the throne, they were more chary of their
royal presence, and feasted in halls and chambers far within, abandoning
the outmost hall to the yeomen of the guard, who mounted their watch
there, and passed away the night with wassail and mirth, exchanged
sometimes for frightful tales of apparitions and sorceries, which made
some of those grow pale, in whose ears the trumpet of a French foeman
would have sounded as jollily as a summons to the woodland chase.
Joceline pointed out the peculiarities of the place to his gloomy
companion more briefly than we have detailed them to the reader. The
Independent seemed to listen with some interest at first, but, flinging
it suddenly aside, he said in a solemn tone, "Perish, Babylon, as thy
master Nebuchadnezzar hath perished! He is a wanderer, and thou shalt be
a waste place--yea, and a wilderness--yea, a desert of salt, in which
there shall be thirst and famine."
"There is like to be enough of both to-night," said Joceline, "unless
the good knight's larder be somewhat fuller than it is wont."
"We must care for the creature-comforts," said the Independent, "but in
due season, when our duties are done. Whither lead these entrances?"
"That to the right," replied the keeper, "leads to what are called, the
state-apartments, not used since the year sixteen hundred and
thirty-nine, when his blessed Majesty"--
"How, sir!" interrupted the Independent, in a voice of thunder, "dost
thou speak of Charles Stewart as blessing, or blessed?--beware the
proclamation to that effect."
"I meant no harm," answered the keeper, suppressing his disposition to
make a harsher reply. "My business is with bolts and bucks, not with
titles and state affairs. But yet, whatever may have happed since, that
poor King was followed with blessings enough from Woodstock, for he left
a glove full of broad pieces for the poor of the place"--
"Peace, friend," said the Independent; "I will think thee else one of
those besotted and blinded Papists, who hold, that bestowing of alms is
an atonement and washing away of the wrongs and oppressions which have
been wrought by the almsgiver. Thou sayest, then, these were the
apartments of Charles Stewart?"
"And of his father, James, before him, and Elizabeth, before _him_, and
bluff King Henry, who builded that wing, before them all."
"And there, I suppose, the knight and his daughter dwelt?"
"No," replied Joceline; "Sir Henry Lee had too much reverence for--for
things which are now thought worth no reverence at all--Besides, the
state-rooms are unaired, and in indifferent order, since of late years.
The Knight Ranger's apartment lies by that passage to the left."
"And whither goes yonder stair, which seems both to lead upwards and
"Upwards," replied the keeper, "it leads to many apartments, used for
various purposes, of sleeping, and other accommodation. Downwards, to
the kitchen, offices, and vaults of the castle, which, at this time of
the evening, you cannot see without lights."
"We will to the apartments of your knight, then," said the Independent.
"Is there fitting accommodation there?"
"Such as has served a person of condition, whose lodging is now worse
appointed," answered the honest keeper, his bile rising so fast that he
added, in a muttering and inaudible tone, "so it may well serve a
crop-eared knave like thee."
He acted as the usher, however, and led on towards the ranger's
This suite opened by a short passage from the hall, secured at time of
need by two oaken doors, which could be fastened by large bars of the
same, that were drawn out of the wall, and entered into square holes,
contrived for their reception on the other side of the portal. At the
end of this passage, a small ante-room received them, into which opened
the sitting apartment of the good knight--which, in the style of the
time, might have been termed a fair summer parlour--lighted by two oriel
windows, so placed as to command each of them a separate avenue, leading
distant and deep into the forest. The principal ornament of the
apartment, besides two or three family portraits of less interest, was a
tall full-length picture, that hung above the chimney-piece, which, like
that in the hall, was of heavy stone-work, ornamented with carved
scutcheons, emblazoned with various devices. The portrait was that of a
man about fifty years of age, in complete plate armour, and painted in
the harsh and dry manner of Holbein--probably, indeed, the work of that
artist, as the dates corresponded. The formal and marked angles, points
and projections of the armour, were a good subject for the harsh pencil
of that early school. The face of the knight was, from the fading of the
colours, pale and dim, like that of some being from the other world, yet
the lines expressed forcibly pride and exultation.
He pointed with his leading-staff, or truncheon, to the background,
where, in such perspective as the artist possessed, were depicted the
remains of a burning church, or monastery, and four or five soldiers, in
red cassocks, bearing away in triumph what seemed a brazen font or
laver. Above their heads might be traced in scroll, "_Lee Victor sic
voluit_." Right opposite to the picture, hung, in a niche in the wall, a
complete set of tilting armour, the black and gold colours, and
ornaments of which exactly corresponded with those exhibited in the
The picture was one of those which, from something marked in the
features and expression, attract the observation even of those who are
ignorant of art. The Independent looked at it until a smile passed
transiently over his clouded brow. Whether he smiled to see the grim old
cavalier employed in desecrating a religious house--(an occupation much
conforming to the practice of his own sect)--whether he smiled in
contempt of the old painter's harsh and dry mode of working--or whether
the sight of this remarkable portrait revived some other ideas, the
under-keeper could not decide.
The smile passed away in an instant, as the soldier looked to the oriel
windows. The recesses within them were raised a step or two from the
wall. In one was placed a walnut-tree reading-desk, and a huge stuffed
arm-chair, covered with Spanish leather. A little cabinet stood beside,
with some of its shuttles and drawers open, displaying hawks-bells,
dog-whistles, instruments for trimming falcons' feathers, bridle-bits of
various constructions, and other trifles connected with silvan sport.
The other little recess was differently furnished. There lay some
articles of needle-work on a small table, besides a lute, with a book
having some airs written down in it, and a frame for working embroidery.
Some tapestry was displayed around the recess, with more attention to
ornament than was visible in the rest of the apartment; the arrangement
of a few bow-pots, with such flowers as the fading season afforded,
showed also the superintendence of female taste.
Tomkins cast an eye of careless regard upon these subjects of female
occupation, then stepped into the farther window, and began to turn the
leaves of a folio, which lay open on the reading-desk, apparently with
some interest. Joceline, who had determined to watch his motions without
interfering with them, was standing at some distance in dejected
silence, when a door behind the tapestry suddenly opened, and a pretty
village maid tripped out with a napkin in her hand, as if she had been
about some household duty.
"How now, Sir Impudence?" she said to Joceline in a smart tone; "what do
you here prowling about the apartments when the master is not at home?"
But instead of the answer which perhaps she expected, Joceline Joliffe
cast a mournful glance towards the soldier in the oriel window, as if to
make what he said fully intelligible, and replied with a dejected
appearance and voice, "Alack, my pretty Phoebe, there come those here
that have more right or might than any of us, and will use little
ceremony in coming when they will, and staying while they please."
He darted another glance at Tomkins, who still seemed busy with the book
before him, then sidled close to the astonished girl, who had continued
looking alternately at the keeper and at the stranger, as if she had
been unable to understand the words of the first, or to comprehend the
meaning of the second being present.
"Go," whispered Joliffe, approaching his mouth so near her cheek, that
his breath waved the curls of her hair; "go, my dearest Phoebe, trip it
as fast as a fawn down to my lodge--I will soon be there, and"--
"Your lodge, indeed" said Phoebe; "you are very bold, for a poor
kill-buck that never frightened any thing before save a dun deer--_Your_
lodge, indeed!--I am like to go there, I think." "Hush, hush! Phoebe--
here is no time for jesting. Down to my hut, I say, like a deer, for the
knight and Mrs. Alice are both there, and I fear will not return hither
again.--All's naught, girl--and our evil days are come at last with a
vengeance--we are fairly at bay and fairly hunted down."
"Can this be, Joceline?" said the poor girl, turning to the keeper with
an expression of fright in her countenance, which she had hitherto
averted in rural coquetry.
"As sure, my dearest Phoebe, as"--
The rest of the asseveration was lost in Phoebe's ear, so closely did
the keeper's lips approach it; and if they approached so very near as to
touch her cheek, grief, like impatience, hath its privileges, and poor
Phoebe had enough of serious alarm to prevent her from demurring upon
such a trifle.
But no trifle was the approach of Joceline's lips to Phoebe's pretty
though sunburnt cheek, in the estimation of the Independent, who, a
little before the object of Joceline's vigilance, had been more lately
in his turn the observer of the keeper's demeanour, so soon as the
interview betwixt Phoebe and him had become so interesting. And when he
remarked the closeness of Joceline's argument, he raised his voice to a
pitch of harshness that would have rivalled that of an ungreased and
rusty saw, and which at once made Joceline and Phoebe spring six feet
apart, each in contrary directions, and if Cupid was of the party, must
have sent him out at the window like it wild duck flying from a
culverin. Instantly throwing himself into the attitude of a preacher and
a reprover of vice, "How now!" he exclaimed, "shameless and impudent as
you are!--What--chambering and wantoning in our very presence!--How--
would you play your pranks before the steward of the Commissioners of
the High Court of Parliament, as ye would in a booth at the fulsome
fair, or amidst the trappings and tracings of a profane dancing-school,
where the scoundrel minstrels make their ungodly weapons to squeak,
'Kiss and be kind, the fiddler's blind?'--But here," he said, dealing a
perilous thump upon the volume--"Here is the King and high priest of
those vices and follies!--Here is he, whom men of folly profanely call
nature's miracle!--Here is he, whom princes chose for their
cabinet-keeper, and whom maids of honour take for their bed-fellow!--
Here is the prime teacher of fine words, foppery and folly--Here!"--
(dealing another thump upon the volume--and oh! revered of the
Roxburghe, it was the first folio--beloved of the Bannatyne, it was
Hemmings and Condel--it was the _editio princeps_)--"On thee," he
continued--"on thee, William Shakspeare, I charge whate'er of such
lawless idleness and immodest folly hath defiled the land since thy
"By the mass, a heavy accusation," said Joceline, the bold recklessness
of whose temper could not be long overawed; "Odds pitlikins, is our
master's old favourite, Will of Stratford, to answer for every buss that
has been snatched since James's time?--a perilous reckoning truly--but I
wonder who is sponsible for what lads and lasses did before his day?"
"Scoff not," said the soldier, "lest I, being called thereto by the
voice within me, do deal with thee as a scorner. Verily, I say, that
since the devil fell from Heaven, he never lacked agents on earth; yet
nowhere hath he met with a wizard having such infinite power over men's
souls as this pestilent fellow Shakspeare. Seeks a wife a foul example
for adultery, here she shall find it--Would a man know how to train his
fellow to be a murderer, here shall he find tutoring--Would a lady marry
a heathen negro, she shall have chronicled example for it--Would any one
scorn at his Maker, he shall be furnished with a jest in this book--
Would he defy his brother in the flesh, he shall be accommodated with a
challenge--Would you be drunk, Shakspeare will cheer you with a cup--
Would you plunge in sensual pleasures, he will soothe you to indulgence,
as with the lascivious sounds of a lute. This, I say, this book is the
well-head and source of all those evils which have overrun the land like
a torrent, making men scoffers, doubters, deniers, murderers, makebates,
and lovers of the wine-pot, haunting unclean places, and sitting long at
the evening-wine. Away with him, away with him, men of England! to
Tophet with his wicked book, and to the Vale of Hinnom with his accursed
bones! Verily but that our march was hasty when we passed Stratford, in
the year 1643, with Sir William Waller; but that our march was hasty"--
"Because Prince Rupert was after you with his cavaliers," muttered the
"I say," continued the zealous trooper, raising his voice and extending
his arm--"but that our march was by command hasty, and that we turned
not aside in our riding, closing our ranks each one upon the other as
becomes men of war, I had torn on that day the bones of that preceptor
of vice and debauchery from the grave, and given them to the next
dunghill. I would have made his memory a scoff and a hissing!"
"That is the bitterest thing he has said yet," observed the keeper.
"Poor Will would have liked the hissing worse than all the rest." "Will
the gentleman say any more?" enquired Phoebe in a whisper. "Lack-a-day,
he talks brave words, if one knew but what they meant. But it is a mercy
our good knight did not see him ruffle the book at that rate--Mercy on
us, there would certainly have been bloodshed.--But oh, the father--see
how he is twisting his face about!--Is he ill of the colic, think'st
thou, Joceline? Or, may I offer him a glass of strong waters?"
"Hark thee hither, wench!" said the keeper, "he is but loading his
blunderbuss for another volley; and while he turns up his eyes, and
twists about his face, and clenches his fist, and shuffles and tramples
with his feet in that fashion, he is bound to take no notice of any
thing. I would be sworn to cut his purse, if he had one, from his side,
without his feeling it."
"La! Joceline," said Phoebe, "and if he abides here in this turn of
times, I dare say the gentleman will be easily served."
"Care not thou about that," said Joliffe; "but tell me softly and
hastily, what is in the pantry?"
"Small housekeeping enough," said Phoebe; "a cold capon and some
comfits, and the great standing venison pasty, with plenty of spice--a
manchet or two besides, and that is all."
"Well, it will serve for a pinch--wrap thy cloak round thy comely
body--get a basket and a brace of trenchers and towels, they are
heinously impoverished down yonder--carry down the capon and the
manchets--the pasty must abide with this same soldier and me, and the
pie-crust will serve us for bread."
"Rarely," said Phoebe; "I made the paste myself--it is as thick as the
walls of Fair Rosamond's Tower."
"Which two pairs of jaws would be long in gnawing through, work hard as
they might," said the keeper. "But what liquor is there?"
"Only a bottle of Alicant, and one of sack, with the stone jug of strong
waters," answered Phoebe.
"Put the wine-flasks into thy basket," said Joceline, "the knight must
not lack his evening draught--and down with thee to the hut like a
lapwing. There is enough for supper, and to-morrow is a new day.--Ha! by
heaven I thought yonder man's eye watched us--No--he only rolled it
round him in a brown study--Deep enough doubtless, as they all are.--But
d--n him, he must be bottomless if I cannot sound him before the night's
out.--Hie thee away, Phoebe."
But Phoebe was a rural coquette, and, aware that Joceline's situation
gave him no advantage of avenging the challenge in a fitting way, she
whispered in his ear, "Do you think our knight's friend, Shakspeare,
really found out all these naughty devices the gentleman spoke of?"
Off she darted while she spoke, while Joliffe menaced future vengeance
with his finger, as he muttered, "Go thy way, Phoebe Mayflower, the
lightest-footed and lightest-hearted wench that ever tripped the sod in
Woodstock-park!--After her, Bevis, and bring her safe to our master at
The large greyhound arose like a human servitor who had received an
order, and followed Phoebe through the hall, first licking her hand to
make her sensible of his presence, and then putting himself to a slow
trot, so as best to accommodate himself to the light pace of her whom he
convoyed, whom Joceline had not extolled for her activity without due
reason. While Phoebe and her guardian thread the forest glades, we
return to the Lodge.
The Independent now seemed to start as if from a reverie. "Is the young
woman gone?" said he.
"Ay, marry is she," said the keeper; "and if your worship hath farther
commands, you must rest contented with male attendance."
"Commands--umph--I think the damsel might have tarried for another
exhortation," said the soldier--"truly, I profess my mind was much
inclined toward her for her edification."
"Oh, sir," replied Joliffe, "she will be at church next Sunday, and if
your military reverence is pleased again to hold forth amongst us, she
will have use of the doctrine with the rest. But young maidens of these
parts hear no private homilies.--And what is now your pleasure? Will you
look at the other rooms, and at the few plate articles which have been
"Umph--no," said the Independent--"it wears late, and gets dark--thou
hast the means of giving us beds, friend?"
"Better you never slept in," replied the keeper.
"And wood for a fire, and a light, and some small pittance of
creature-comforts for refreshment of the outward man?" continued the
"Without doubt," replied the keeper, displaying a prudent anxiety to
gratify this important personage.
In a few minutes a great standing candlestick was placed on an oaken
table. The mighty venison pasty, adorned with parsley, was placed on the
board on a clean napkin; the stone-bottle of strong waters, with a
blackjack full of ale, formed comfortable appendages; and to this meal
sate down in social manner the soldier, occupying a great elbow-chair,
and the keeper, at his invitation, using the more lowly accommodation of
a stool, at the opposite side of the table. Thus agreeably employed, our
history leaves them for the present.
* * * * *
CHAPTER THE FOURTH.
Yon path of greensward
Winds round by sparry grot and gay pavilion;
There is no flint to gall thy tender foot,
There's ready shelter from each breeze, or shower.--
But duty guides not that way--see her stand,
With wand entwined with amaranth, near yon cliffs.
Oft where she leads thy blood must mark thy footsteps,
Oft where she leads thy head must bear the storm.
And thy shrunk form endure heat, cold, and hunger;
But she will guide thee up to noble heights,
Which he who gains seems native of the sky,
While earthly things lie stretch'd beneath his feet,
Diminish'd, shrunk, and valueless--
The reader cannot have forgotten that after his scuffle with the
commonwealth soldier, Sir Henry Lee, with his daughter Alice, had
departed to take refuge in the hut of the stout keeper Joceline Joliffe.
They walked slow, as before, for the old knight was at once oppressed by
perceiving these last vestiges of royalty fall into the hands of
republicans, and by the recollection of his recent defeat. At times he
paused, and, with his arms folded on his bosom, recalled all the
circumstances attending his expulsion from a house so long his home. It
seemed to him that, like the champions of romance of whom he had
sometimes read, he himself was retiring from the post which it was his
duty to guard, defeated by a Paynim knight, for whom the adventure had
been reserved by fate. Alice had her own painful subjects of
recollection, nor had the tenor of her last conversation with her father
been so pleasant as to make her anxious to renew it until his temper
should be more composed; for with an excellent disposition, and much
love to his daughter, age and misfortunes, which of late came thicker
and thicker, had given to the good knight's passions a wayward
irritability unknown to his better days. His daughter, and one or two
attached servants, who still followed his decayed fortunes, soothed his
frailty as much as possible, and pitied him even while they suffered
under its effects.
It was a long time ere he spoke, and then he referred to an incident
already noticed. "It is strange," he said, "that Bevis should have
followed Joceline and that fellow rather than me."
"Assure yourself, sir," replied Alice, "that his sagacity saw in this
man a stranger, whom he thought himself obliged to watch circumspectly,
and therefore he remained with Joceline."
"Not so, Alice," answered Sir Henry; "he leaves me because my fortunes
have fled from me. There is a feeling in nature, affecting even the
instinct, as it is called, of dumb animals, which teaches them to fly
from misfortune. The very deer there will butt a sick or wounded buck
from the herd; hurt a dog, and the whole kennel will fall on him and
worry him; fishes devour their own kind when they are wounded with a
spear; cut a crow's wing, or break its leg, the others will buffet it to
"That may be true of the more irrational kinds of animals among each
other," said Alice, "for their whole life is well nigh a warfare; but
the dog leaves his own race to attach himself to ours; forsakes, for his
master, the company, food, and pleasure of his own kind; and surely the
fidelity of such a devoted and voluntary servant as Bevis hath been in
particular, ought not to be lightly suspected."
"I am not angry with the dog, Alice; I am only sorry," replied her
father. "I have read, in faithful chronicles, that when Richard II. and
Henry of Bolingbroke were at Berkeley Castle, a dog of the same kind
deserted the King, whom he had always attended upon, and attached
himself to Henry, whom he then saw for the first time. Richard foretold,
from the desertion of his favourite, his approaching deposition. The dog
was afterwards kept at Woodstock, and Bevis is said to be of his breed,
which was heedfully kept up. What I might foretell of mischief from his
desertion, I cannot guess, but my mind assures me it bodes no good."
There was a distant rustling among the withered leaves, a bouncing or
galloping sound on the path, and the favourite dog instantly joined his
"Come into court, old knave," said Alice, cheerfully, "and defend thy
character, which is wellnigh endangered by this absence." But the dog
only paid her courtesy by gamboling around them, and instantly plunged
back again, as fast as he could scamper.
"How now, knave?" said the knight; "thou art too well trained, surely,
to take up the chase without orders." A minute more showed them Phoebe
Mayflower approaching, her light pace so little impeded by the burden
which she bore, that she joined her master and young mistress just as
they arrived at the keeper's hut, which was the boundary of their
journey. Bevis, who had shot a-head to pay his compliments to Sir Henry
his master, had returned again to his immediate duty, the escorting
Phoebe and her cargo of provisions. The whole party stood presently
assembled before the door of the keeper's hut.
In better times, a substantial stone habitation, fit for the
yeoman-keeper of a royal walk, had adorned this place. A fair spring
gushed out near the spot, and once traversed yards and courts, attached
to well-built and convenient kennels and mews. But in some of the
skirmishes which were common during the civil wars, this little silvan
dwelling had been attacked and defended, stormed and burnt. A
neighbouring squire, of the Parliament side of the question, took
advantage of Sir Henry Lee's absence, who was then in Charles's camp,
and of the decay of the royal cause, and had, without scruple, carried
off the hewn stones, and such building materials as the fire left
unconsumed, and repaired his own manor-house with them. The
yeoman-keeper, therefore, our friend Joceline, had constructed, for his
own accommodation, and that of the old woman he called his dame, a
wattled hut, such as his own labour, with that of a neighbour or two,
had erected in the course of a few days. The walls were plastered with
clay, white-washed, and covered with vines and other creeping plants;
the roof was neatly thatched, and the whole, though merely a hut, had,
by the neat-handed Joliffe, been so arranged as not to disgrace the
condition of the dweller.
The knight advanced to the entrance; but the ingenuity of the architect,
for want of a better lock to the door, which itself was but of wattles
curiously twisted, had contrived a mode of securing the latch on the
inside with a pin, which prevented it from rising; and in this manner it
was at present fastened. Conceiving that this was some precaution of
Joliffe's old housekeeper, of whose deafness they were all aware, Sir
Henry raised his voice to demand admittance, but in vain. Irritated at
this delay, he pressed the door at once with foot and hand, in a way
which the frail barrier was unable to resist; it gave way accordingly,
and the knight thus forcibly entered the kitchen, or outward apartment,
of his servant. In the midst of the floor, and with a posture which
indicated embarrassment, stood a youthful stranger, in a riding-suit.
"This may be my last act of authority here," said the knight, seizing
the stranger by the collar, "but I am still Ranger of Woodstock for this
night at least--Who, or what art thou?"
The stranger dropped the riding-mantle in which his face was muffled,
and at the same time fell on one knee.
"Your poor kinsman, Markham Everard," he said, "who came hither for your
sake, although he fears you will scarce make him welcome for his own."
Sir Henry started back, but recovered himself in an instant, as one who
recollected that he had a part of dignity to perform. He stood erect,
therefore, and replied, with considerable assumption of stately
"Fair kinsman, it pleases me that you are come to Woodstock upon the
very first night that, for many years which have passed, is likely to
promise you a worthy or a welcome reception."
"Now God grant it be so, that I rightly hear and duly understand you,"
said the young man; while Alice, though she was silent, kept her looks
fixed on her father's face, as if desirous to know whether his meaning
was kind towards his nephew, which her knowledge of his character
inclined her greatly to doubt.
The knight meanwhile darted a sardonic look, first on his nephew, then
on his daughter, and proceeded--"I need not, I presume, inform Mr.
Markham Everard, that it cannot be our purpose to entertain him, or even
to offer him a seat in this poor hut."
"I will attend you most willingly to the Lodge," said the young
gentleman. "I had, indeed, judged you were already there for the
evening, and feared to intrude upon you. But if you would permit me, my
dearest uncle, to escort my kinswoman and you back to the Lodge, believe
me, amongst all which you have so often done of good and kind, you never
conferred benefit that will be so dearly prized."
"You mistake me greatly, Mr. Markham Everard," replied the knight. "It
is not our purpose to return to the Lodge to-night, nor, by Our Lady,
to-morrow neither. I meant but to intimate to you in all courtesy, that
at Woodstock Lodge you will find those for whom you are fitting society,
and who, doubtless, will afford you a willing welcome; which I, sir, in
this my present retreat, do not presume to offer to a person of your
"For Heaven's sake," said the young man, turning to Alice, "tell me how
I am to understand language so misterious."
Alice, to prevent his increasing the restrained anger of her father,
compelled herself to answer, though it was with difficulty, "We are
expelled from the Lodge by soldiers."
"Expelled--by soldiers!" exclaimed Everard, in surprise--"there is no
legal warrant for this."
"None at all," answered the knight, in the same tone of cutting irony
which he had all along used, "and yet as lawful a warrant, as for aught
that has been wrought in England this twelvemonth and more. You are, I
think, or were, an Inns-of-Court-man--marry, sir, your enjoyment of your
profession is like that lease which a prodigal wishes to have of a
wealthy widow. You have already survived the law which you studied, and
its expiry doubtless has not been without a legacy--some decent
pickings, some merciful increases, as the phrase goes. You have deserved
it two ways--you wore buff and bandalier, as well as wielded pen and
ink--I have not heard if you held forth too."
"Think of me and speak of me as harshly as you will, sir," said Everard,
submissively. "I have but in this evil time, guided myself by my
conscience, and my father's commands."
"O, and you talk of conscience," said the old knight, "I must have mine
eye upon you, as Hamlet says. Never yet did Puritan cheat so grossly as
when he was appealing to his conscience; and as for thy _father_"--
He was about to proceed in a tone of the same invective, when the young
man interrupted him, by saying, in a firm tone, "Sir Henry Lee, you have
ever been thought noble--Say of me what you will, but speak not of my
father what the ear of a son should not endure, and which yet his arm
cannot resent. To do me such wrong is to insult an unarmed man, or to
beat a captive."
Sir Henry paused, as if struck by the remark. "Thou hast spoken truth in
that, Mark, wert thou the blackest Puritan whom hell ever vomited, to
distract an unhappy country."
"Be that as you will to think it," replied Everard; "but let me not
leave you to the shelter of this wretched hovel. The night is drawing to
storm--let me but conduct you to the Lodge, and expel those intruders,
who can, as yet at least, have no warrant for what they do. I will not
linger a moment behind them, save just to deliver my father's
message.--Grant me but this much, for the love you once bore me!"
"Yes, Mark," answered his uncle, firmly, but sorrowfully, "thou speakest
truth--I did love thee once. The bright-haired boy whom I taught to
ride, to shoot, to hunt--whose hours of happiness were spent with me,
wherever those of graver labours were employed--I did love that boy--ay,
and I am weak enough to love even the memory of what he was.--But he is
gone, Mark--he is gone; and in his room I only behold an avowed and
determined rebel to his religion and to his king--a rebel more
detestable on account of his success, the more infamous through the
plundered wealth with which he hopes to gild his villany.--But I am
poor, thou think'st, and should hold my peace, lest men say, 'Speak,
sirrah, when you should.'--Know, however, that, indigent and plundered
as I am, I feel myself dishonoured in holding even but this much talk
with the tool of usurping rebels.--Go to the Lodge, if thou wilt--yonder
lies the way--but think not that, to regain my dwelling there, or all
the wealth I ever possessed in my wealthiest days, I would accompany
thee three steps on the greensward. If I must be thy companion, it shall
be only when thy red-coats have tied my hands behind me, and bound my
legs beneath my horse's belly. Thou mayst be my fellow traveller then, I
grant thee, if thou wilt, but not sooner."
Alice, who suffered cruelly during this dialogue, and was well aware
that farther argument would only kindle the knight's resentment still
more highly, ventured at last, in her anxiety, to make a sign to her
cousin to break off the interview, and to retire, since her father
commanded his absence in a manner so peremptory. Unhappily, she was
observed by Sir Henry, who, concluding that what he saw was evidence of
a private understanding betwixt the cousins, his wrath acquired new
fuel, and it required the utmost exertion of self-command, and
recollection of all that was due to his own dignity, to enable him to
veil his real fury under the same ironical manner which he had adopted
at the beginning of this angry interview.
"If thou art afraid," he said, "to trace our forest glades by night,
respected stranger, to whom I am perhaps bound to do honour as my
successor in the charge of these walks, here seems to be a modest
damsel, who will be most willing to wait on thee, and be thy
bow-bearer.--Only, for her mother's sake, let there pass some slight
form of marriage between you--Ye need no license or priest in these
happy days, but may be buckled like beggars in a ditch, with a hedge for
a church-roof, and a tinker for a priest. I crave pardon of you for
making such an officious and simple request--perhaps you are a
ranter--or one of the family of Love, or hold marriage rites as
unnecessary, as Knipperdoling, or Jack of Leyden?"
"For mercy's sake, forbear such dreadful jesting, my father! and do you,
Markham, begone, in God's name, and leave us to our fate--your presence
makes my father rave."
"Jesting!" said Sir Henry, "I was never more serious--Raving!--I was
never more composed--I could never brook that falsehood should approach
me--I would no more bear by my side a dishonoured daughter than a
dishonoured sword; and this unhappy day hath shown that both can fail."
"Sir Henry," said young Everard, "load not your soul with a heavy crime,
which be assured you do, in treating your daughter thus unjustly. It is
long now since you denied her to me, when we were poor and you were
powerful. I acquiesced in your prohibition of all suit and intercourse.
God knoweth what I suffered--but I acquiesced. Neither is it to renew my
suit that I now come hither, and have, I do acknowledge, sought speech
of her--not for her own sake only, but for yours also. Destruction
hovers over you, ready to close her pinions to stoop, and her talons to
clutch--Yes, sir, look contemptuous as you will, such is the case; and
it is to protect both you and her that I am here."
"You refuse then my free gift," said Sir Henry Lee; "or perhaps you
think it loaded with too hard conditions?"
"Shame, shame on you, Sir Henry;" said Everard, waxing warm in his turn;
"have your political prejudices so utterly warped every feeling of a
father, that you can speak with bitter mockery and scorn of what
concerns your own daughter's honour?--Hold up your head, fair Alice, and
tell your father he has forgotten nature in his fantastic spirit of
loyalty.--Know, Sir Henry, that though I would prefer your daughter's
hand to every blessing which Heaven could bestow on me, I would not
accept it--my conscience would not permit me to do so, when I knew it
must withdraw her from her duty to you."
"Your conscience is over-scrupulous, young man;--carry it to some
dissenting rabbi, and he who takes all that comes to net, will teach
thee it is sinning against our mercies to refuse any good thing that is
freely offered to us."
"When it is freely offered, and kindly offered--not when the offer is
made in irony and insult--Fare thee well, Alice--if aught could make me
desire to profit by thy father's wild wish to cast thee from him in a
moment of unworthy suspicion, it would be that while indulging in such
sentiments, Sir Henry Lee is tyrannically oppressing the creature, who
of all others is most dependent on his kindness--who of all others will
most feel his severity, and whom, of all others, he is most bound to
cherish and support."
"Do not fear for me, Mr. Everard," exclaimed Alice, aroused from her
timidity by a dread of the consequences not unlikely to ensue, where
civil war sets relations, as well as fellow-citizens, in opposition to
each other.--"Oh, begone, I conjure you, begone! Nothing stands betwixt
me and my father's kindness, but these unhappy family divisions--but
your ill-timed presence here--for Heaven's sake, leave us!"
"So, mistress!" answered the hot old cavalier, "you play lady paramount
already; and who but you!--you would dictate to our train, I warrant,
like Goneril and Regan! But I tell thee, no man shall leave my
house--and, humble as it is, _this_ is now my house--while he has aught
to say to me that is to be spoken, as this young man now speaks, with a
bent brow and a lofty tone.--Speak out, sir, and say your worst!"
"Fear not my temper, Mrs. Alice," said Everard, with equal firmness and
placidity of manner; "and you, Sir Henry, do not think that if I speak
firmly, I mean therefore to speak in anger, or officiously. You have
taxed me with much, and, were I guided by the wild spirit of romantic
chivalry, much which, even from so near a relative, I ought not, as
being by birth, and in the world's estimation, a gentleman, to pass over
without reply. Is it your pleasure to give me patient hearing?"
"If you stand on your defence," answered the stout old knight, "God
forbid that you should not challenge a patient hearing--ay, though your
pleading were two parts disloyalty and one blasphemy--Only, be brief--
this has already lasted but too long."
"I will, Sir Henry," replied the young man; "yet it is hard to crowd
into a few sentences, the defence of a life which, though short, has
been a busy one--too busy, your indignant gesture would assert. But I
deny it; I have drawn my sword neither hastily, nor without due
consideration, for a people whose rights have been trampled on, and
whose consciences have been oppressed--Frown not, sir--such is not your
view of the contest, but such is mine. For my religious principles, at
which you have scoffed, believe me, that though they depend not on set
forms, they are no less sincere than your own, and thus far
purer--excuse the word--that they are unmingled with the blood-thirsty
dictates of a barbarous age, which you and others have called the code
of chivalrous honour. Not my own natural disposition, but the better
doctrine which my creed has taught, enables me to bear your harsh
revilings without answering in a similar tone of wrath and reproach. You
may carry insult to extremity against me at your pleasure--not on
account of our relationship alone, but because I am bound in charity to
endure it. This, Sir Henry, is much from one of our house. But, with
forbearance far more than this requires, I can refuse at your hands the
gift, which, most of all things under heaven, I should desire to obtain,
because duty calls upon her to sustain and comfort you, and because it
were sin to permit you, in your blindness, to spurn your comforter from
your side.--Farewell, sir--not in anger, but in pity--We may meet in a
better time, when your heart and your principles shall master the
unhappy prejudices by which they are now overclouded.--Farewell--
The last words were repeated twice, and in a tone of feeling and
passionate grief, which differed utterly from the steady and almost
severe tone in which he had addressed Sir Henry Lee. He turned and left
the hut so soon as he had uttered these last words; and, as if ashamed
of the tenderness which had mingled with his accents, the young
commonwealth's-man turned and walked sternly and resolvedly forth into
the moonlight, which now was spreading its broad light and autumnal
shadows over the woodland.
So soon as he departed, Alice, who had been during the whole scene in
the utmost terror that her father might have been hurried, by his
natural heat of temper, from violence of language into violence of
action, sunk down upon a settle twisted out of willow boughs, like most
of Joceline's few moveables, and endeavoured to conceal the tears which
accompanied the thanks she rendered in broken accents to Heaven, that,
notwithstanding the near alliance and relationship of the parties, some
fatal deed had not closed an interview so perilous and so angry. Phoebe
Mayflower blubbered heartily for company, though she understood but
little of what had passed; just, indeed, enough to enable her afterwards
to report to some half-dozen particular friends, that her old master,
Sir Henry, had been perilous angry, and almost fought with young Master
Everard, because he had wellnigh carried away her young mistress.--"And
what could he have done better?" said Phoebe, "seeing the old man had
nothing left either for Mrs. Alice or himself; and as for Mr. Mark
Everard and our young lady, oh! they had spoken such loving things to
each other as are not to be found in the history of Argalus and
Parthenia, who, as the story-book tells, were the truest pair of lovers
in all Arcadia, and Oxfordshire to boot."
Old Goody Jellycot had popped her scarlet hood into the kitchen more
than once while the scene was proceeding; but, as the worthy dame was
parcel blind and more than parcel deaf, knowledge was excluded by two
principal entrances; and though she comprehended, by a sort of general
instinct, that the gentlefolk were at high words, yet why they chose
Joceline's hut for the scene of their dispute was as great a mystery as
the subject of the quarrel.
But what was the state of the old cavalier's mood, thus contradicted, as
his most darling principles had been, by the last words of his departing
nephew? The truth is, that he was less thoroughly moved than his
daughter expected; and in all probability his nephew's bold defence of
his religious and political opinions rather pacified than aggravated his
displeasure. Although sufficiently impatient of contradiction, still
evasion and subterfuge were more alien to the blunt old Ranger's nature
than manly vindication and direct opposition; and he was wont to say,
that he ever loved the buck best who stood boldest at bay. He graced his
nephew's departure, however, with a quotation from Shakspeare, whom, as
many others do, he was wont to quote from a sort of habit and respect,
as a favourite of his unfortunate master, without having either much
real taste for his works, or great skill in applying the passages which
he retained on his memory.
"Mark," he said, "mark this, Alice--the devil can quote Scripture for
his purpose. Why, this young fanatic cousin of thine, with no more beard
than I have seen on a clown playing Maid Marion on May-day, when the
village barber had shaved him in too great a hurry, shall match any
bearded Presbyterian or Independent of them all, in laying down his
doctrines and his uses, and bethumping us with his texts and his
homilies. I would worthy and learned Doctor Rochecliffe had been here,
with his battery ready-mounted from the Vulgate, and the Septuagint, and
what not--he would have battered the presbyterian spirit out of him with
a wanion. However, I am glad the young man is no sneaker; for, were a
man of the devil's opinion in religion, and of Old Noll's in politics,
he were better open on it full cry, than deceive you by hunting counter,
or running a false scent. Come--wipe thine eyes--the fray is over, and
not like to be stirred again soon, I trust."
Encouraged by these words, Alice rose, and, bewildered as she was,
endeavoured to superintend the arrangements for their meal and their
repose in their new habitation. But her tears fell so fast, they marred
her counterfeited diligence; and it was well for her that Phoebe, though
too ignorant and too simple to comprehend the extent of her distress,
could afford her material assistance, in lack of mere sympathy.
With great readiness and address, the damsel set about every thing that
was requisite for preparing the supper and the beds; now screaming into
Dame Jellycot's ear, now whispering into her mistress's, and artfully
managing, as if she was merely the agent, under Alice's orders. When the
cold viands were set forth, Sir Henry Lee kindly pressed his daughter to
take refreshment, as if to make up, indirectly, for his previous
harshness towards her; while he himself, like an experienced campaigner,
showed, that neither the mortifications nor brawls of the day, nor the
thoughts of what was to come to-morrow, could diminish his appetite for
supper, which was his favourite meal. He ate up two-thirds of the capon,
and, devoting the first bumper to the happy restoration of Charles,
second of the name, he finished a quart of wine; for he belonged to a
school accustomed to feed the flame of their loyalty with copious
brimmers. He even sang a verse of "The King shall enjoy his own again,"
in which Phoebe, half-sobbing, and Dame Jellycot, screaming against time
and tune, were contented to lend their aid, to cover Mistress Alice's
At length the jovial knight betook himself to his rest on the keeper's
straw pallet, in a recess adjoining to the kitchen, and, unaffected by
his change of dwelling, slept fast and deep. Alice had less quiet rest
in old Goody Jellycot's wicker couch, in the inner apartment; while the
dame and Phoebe slept on a mattress, stuffed with dry leaves, in the
same chamber, soundly as those whose daily toil gains their daily bread,
and, whom morning calls up only to renew the toils of yesterday.
* * * * *
CHAPTER THE FIFTH.
My tongue pads slowly under this new language,
And starts and stumbles at these uncouth phrases.
They may be great in worth and weight, but hang
Upon the native glibness of my language
Like Saul's plate-armour on the shepherd boy,
Encumbering and not arming him.
As Markham Everard pursued his way towards the Lodge, through one of the
long sweeping glades which traversed the forest, varying in breadth,
till the trees were now so close that the boughs made darkness over his
head, then receding farther to let in glimpses of the moon, and anon
opening yet wider into little meadows, or savannahs, on which the
moonbeams lay in silvery silence; as he thus proceeded on his lonely
course, the various effects produced by that delicious light on the
oaks, whose dark leaves, gnarled branches, and massive trunks it gilded,
more or less partially, might have drawn the attention of a poet or a
But if Everard thought of anything saving the painful scene in which he
had just played his part, and of which the result seemed the destruction
of all his hopes, it was of the necessary guard to be observed in his
night-walk. The times were dangerous and unsettled; the roads full of
disbanded soldiers, and especially of royalists, who made their
political opinions a pretext for disturbing the country with marauding
parties and robberies. Deer-stealers also, who are ever a desperate
banditti, had of late infested Woodstock Chase. In short, the dangers of
the place and period were such, that Markham Everard wore his loaded
pistols at his belt, and carried his drawn sword under his arm, that he
might be prepared for whatever peril should cross his path.
He heard the bells of Woodstock Church ring curfew, just as he was
crossing one of the little meadows we have described, and they ceased as
he entered an overshadowed and twilight part of the path beyond. It was
there that he heard some one whistling; and, as the sound became
clearer, it was plain the person was advancing towards him. This could
hardly be a friend; for the party to which he belonged rejected,
generally speaking, all music, unless psalmody. "If a man is merry, let
him sing psalms," was a text which they were pleased to interpret as
literally and to as little purpose as they did some others; yet it was
too continued a sound to be a signal amongst night-walkers, and too
light and cheerful to argue any purpose of concealment on the part of
the traveller, who presently exchanged his whistling for singing, and
trolled forth the following stanza to a jolly tune, with which the old
cavaliers were wont to wake the night owl:
Hey for cavaliers! Ho for cavaliers!
Pray for cavaliers!
Rub a dub--rub a dub!
Have at old Beelzebub--
Oliver smokes for fear.
"I should know that voice," said Everard, uncocking the pistol which he
had drawn from his belt, but continuing to hold it in his hand. Then
came another fragment:
Hash them--slash them--
All to pieces dash them.
"So ho!" cried Markham, "who goes there, and for whom?"
"For Church and King," answered a voice, which presently added, "No,
d--n me--I mean _against_ Church and King, and for the people that are
uppermost--I forget which they are."
"Roger Wildrake, as I guess?" said Everard.
"The same--Gentleman; of Squattlesea-mere, in the moist county of
"Wildrake!" said Markham--"Wildgoose you should be called. You have been
moistening your own throat to some purpose, and using it to gabble tunes
very suitable to the times, to be sure!"
"Faith, the tune's a pretty tune enough, Mark, only out of fashion a
little--the more's the pity."
"What could I expect," said Everard, "but to meet some ranting, drunken
cavalier, as desperate and dangerous as night and sack usually make
them? What if I had rewarded your melody by a ball in the gullet?"
"Why, there would have been a piper paid--that's all," said Wildrake.
"But wherefore come you this way now? I was about to seek you at the
"I have been obliged to leave it--I will tell you the cause hereafter,"
"What! the old play-hunting cavalier was cross, or Chloe was unkind?"
"Jest not, Wildrake--it is all over with me," said Everard.
"The devil it is," exclaimed Wildrake, "and you take it thus quietly!--
Zounds! let us back together--I'll plead your cause for you--I know how
to tickle up an old knight and a pretty maiden--Let me alone for putting
you _rectus in curia_, you canting rogue.--D--n me, Sir Henry Lee, says
I, your nephew is a piece of a Puritan--it won't deny--but I'll uphold
him a gentleman and a pretty fellow, for all that.--Madam, says I, you
may think your cousin looks like a psalm-singing weaver, in that bare
felt, and with that rascally brown cloak; that band, which looks like a
baby's clout, and those loose boots, which have a whole calf-skin in
each of them,--but let him wear on the one side of his head a castor,
with a plume befitting his quality; give him a good Toledo by his side,
with a broidered belt and an inlaid hilt, instead of the ton of iron
contained in that basket-hilted black Andrew Ferrara; put a few smart
words in his mouth--and, blood and wounds! madam, says I--"
"Prithee, truce with this nonsense, Wildrake," said Everard, "and tell
me if you are sober enough to hear a few words of sober reason?"
"Pshaw! man, I did but crack a brace of quarts with yonder puritanic,
roundheaded soldiers, up yonder at the town; and rat me but I passed
myself for the best man of the party; twanged my nose, and turned up my
eyes, as I took my can--Pah! the very wine tasted of hypocrisy. I think
the rogue corporal smoked something at last--as for the common fellows,
never stir, but _they_ asked me to say grace over another quart."
"This is just what I wished to speak with you about, Wildrake," said
Markham--"You hold me, I am sure, for your friend?"
"True as steel.--Chums at College and at Lincoln's Inn--we have been
Nisus and Euryalus, Theseus and Pirithous, Orestes and Pylades; and, to
sum up the whole with a puritanic touch, David and Jonathan, all in one
breath. Not even politics, the wedge that rends families and friendships
asunder, as iron rives oak, have been able to split us."
"True," answered Markham: "and when you followed the King to Nottingham,
and I enrolled under Essex, we swore, at our parting, that whichever
side was victorious, he of us who adhered to it, should protect his less
"Surely, man, surely; and have you not protected me accordingly? Did you
not save me from hanging? and am I not indebted to you for the bread I
"I have but done that which, had the times been otherwise, you, my dear
Wildrake, would, I am sure, have done for me. But, as I said, that is
just what I wished to speak to you about. Why render the task of
protecting you more difficult than it must necessarily be at any rate?
Why thrust thyself into the company of soldiers, or such like, where
thou art sure to be warmed into betraying thyself? Why come hollowing
and whooping out cavalier ditties, like a drunken trooper of Prince
Rupert, or one of Wilmot's swaggering body-guards?"
"Because I may have been both one and t'other in my day, for aught that
you know," replied Wildrake. "But, oddsfish! is it necessary I should
always be reminding you, that our obligation of mutual protection, our
league of offensive and defensive, as I may call it, was to be carried
into effect without reference to the politics or religion of the party
protected, or the least obligation on him to conform to those of his
"True," said Everard; "but with this most necessary qualification, that
the party should submit to such outward conformity to the times as
should make it more easy and safe for his friend to be of service to
him. Now, you are perpetually breaking forth, to the hazard of your own
safety and my credit."
"I tell you, Mark, and I would tell your namesake the apostle, that you
are hard on me. You have practised sobriety and hypocrisy from your
hanging sleeves till your Geneva cassock--from the cradle to this
day,--and it is a thing of nature to you; and you are surprised that a
rough, rattling, honest fellow, accustomed to speak truth all his life,
and especially when he found it at the bottom of a flask, cannot be so
perfect a prig as thyself--Zooks! there is no equality betwixt us--A
trained diver might as well, because he can retain his breath for ten
minutes without inconvenience, upbraid a poor devil for being like to
burst in twenty seconds, at the bottom of ten fathoms water--And, after
all, considering the guise is so new to me, I think I bear myself
indifferently well--try me!"
"Are there any more news from Worcester fight?" asked Everard, in a tone
so serious that it imposed on his companion, who replied in his genuine
"Worse!--d--n me, worse an hundred times than reported--totally broken.
Noll hath certainly sold himself to the devil, and his lease will have
an end one day--that is all our present comfort."
"What! and would this be your answer to the first red-coat who asked the
question?" said Everard. "Methinks you would find a speedy passport to
the next corps de garde."
"Nay, nay," answered Wildrake, "I thought you asked me in your own
person.--Lack-a-day! a great mercy--a glorifying mercy--a crowning
mercy--a vouchsafing--an uplifting--I profess the malignants are
scattered from Dan to Beersheba--smitten, hip and thigh, even until the
going down of the sun!"
"Hear you aught of Colonel Thornhaugh's wounds?"
"He is dead," answered Wildrake, "that's one comfort--the roundheaded
rascal!--Nay, hold! it was but a trip of the tongue--I meant, the sweet
"And hear you aught of the young man, King of Scotland, as they call
him?" said Everard.
"Nothing but that he is hunted like a partridge on the mountains. May
God deliver him, and confound his enemies!--Zoons, Mark Everard, I can
fool it no longer. Do you not remember, that at the Lincoln's-Inn
gambols--though you did not mingle much in them, I think--I used always
to play as well as any of them when it came to the action, but they
could never get me to rehearse conformably. It's the same at this day. I
hear your voice, and I answer to it in the true tone of my heart; but
when I am in the company of your snuffling friends, you have seen me act
my part indifferent well."
"But indifferent, indeed," replied Everard; "however, there is little
call on you to do aught, save to be modest and silent. Speak little, and
lay aside, if you can, your big oaths and swaggering looks--set your hat
even on your brows."
"Ay, that is the curse! I have been always noted for the jaunty manner
in which I wear my castor--Hard when a man's merits become his enemies!"
"You must remember you are my clerk."
"Secretary," answered Wildrake: "let it be secretary, if you love me."
"It must be clerk, and nothing else--plain clerk--and remember to be
civil and obedient," replied Everard.
"But you should not lay on your commands with so much ostentatious
superiority, Master Markham Everard. Remember, I am your senior of three
years' standing. Confound me, if I know how to take it!"
"Was ever such a fantastic wrong-head!--For my sake, if not for thine
own, bend thy freakish folly to listen to reason. Think that I have
incurred both risk and shame on thy account."
"Nay, thou art a right good fellow, Mark," replied the cavalier; "and
for thy sake I will do much--but remember to cough, and cry hem! when
thou seest me like to break bounds. And now, tell me whither we are
bound for the night."
"To Woodstock Lodge, to look after my uncle's property," answered
Markham Everard: "I am informed that soldiers have taken possession--Yet
how could that be if thou foundest the party drinking in Woodstock?"
"There was a kind of commissary or steward, or some such rogue, had gone
down to the Lodge," replied Wildrake; "I had a peep at him."
"Indeed!" replied Everard.
"Ay, verily," said Wildrake, "to speak your own language. Why, as I
passed through the park in quest of you, scarce half an hour since, I
saw a light in the Lodge--Step this way, you will see it yourself."
"In the north-west angle?" returned Everard. "It is from a window in
what they call Victor Lee's apartment."
"Well," resumed Wildrake, "I had been long one of Lundsford's lads, and
well used to patrolling duty--So, rat me, says I, if I leave a light in
my rear, without knowing what it means. Besides, Mark, thou hadst said
so much to me of thy pretty cousin, I thought I might as well have a
peep, if I could."
"Thoughtless, incorrigible man! to what dangers do you expose yourself
and your friends, in mere wantonness!--But go on."
"By this fair moonshine, I believe thou art jealous, Mark Everard!"
replied his gay companion; "there is no occasion; for, in any case, I,
who was to see the lady, was steeled by honour against the charms of my
friend's Chloe--Then the lady was not to see me, so could make no
comparisons to thy disadvantage, thou knowest--Lastly, as it fell out,
neither of us saw the other at all."
"Of that I am well aware. Mrs. Alice left the Lodge long before sunset,
and never returned. What didst thou see to introduce with such preface?"
"Nay, no great matter," replied Wildrake; "only getting upon a sort of
buttress, (for I can climb like any cat that ever mewed in any gutter,)
and holding on by the vines and creepers which grew around, I obtained a
station where I could see into the inside of that same parlour thou
spokest of just now."
"And what saw'st thou there?" once more demanded Everard.
"Nay, no great matter, as I said before," replied the cavalier; "for in
these times it is no new thing to see churls carousing in royal or noble
chambers. I saw two rascallions engaged in emptying a solemn stoup of
strong waters, and dispatching a huge venison pasty, which greasy mess,
for their convenience, they had placed on a lady's work-table--One of
them was trying an air on a lute."
"The profane villains!" exclaimed Everard, "it was Alice's."
"Well said, comrade--I am glad your phlegm can be moved. I did but throw
in these incidents of the lute and the table, to try if it was possible
to get a spark of human spirit out of you, besanctified as you are."
"What like were the men?" said young Everard.
"The one a slouch-hatted, long-cloaked, sour-faced fanatic, like the
rest of you, whom I took to be the steward or commissary I heard spoken
of in the town; the other was a short sturdy fellow, with a wood-knife
at his girdle, and a long quarterstaff lying beside him--a black-haired
knave, with white teeth and a merry countenance--one of the
under-rangers or bow-bearers of these walks, I fancy."
"They must have been Desborough's favourite, trusty Tomkins," said
Everard, "and Joceline Joliffe, the keeper. Tomkins is Desborough's
right hand--an Independent, and hath pourings forth, as he calls them.
Some think that his gifts have the better of his grace. I have heard of
his abusing opportunities."
"They were improving them when I saw them," replied Wildrake, "and made
the bottle smoke for it--when, as the devil would have it, a stone,
which had been dislodged from the crumbling buttress, gave way under my
weight. A clumsy fellow like thee would have been so long thinking what
was to be done, that he must needs have followed it before he could make
up his mind; but I, Mark, I hopped like a squirrel to an ivy twig, and
stood fast--was wellnigh shot, though, for the noise alarmed them both.
They looked to the oriel, and saw me on the outside; the fanatic fellow
took out a pistol--as they have always such texts in readiness hanging
beside the little clasped Bible, thou know'st--the keeper seized his
hunting-pole--I treated them both to a roar and a grin--thou must know I
can grimace like a baboon--I learned the trick from a French player, who
could twist his jaws into a pair of nut-crackers--and therewithal I
dropped myself sweetly on the grass, and ran off so trippingly, keeping
the dark side of the wall as long as I could, that I am wellnigh
persuaded they thought I was their kinsman, the devil, come among them
uncalled. They were abominably startled."
"Thou art most fearfully rash, Wildrake," said his companion; "we are
now bound for the house--what if they should remember thee?"
"Why, it is no treason, is it? No one has paid for peeping since Tom of
Coventry's days; and if he came in for a reckoning, belike it was for a
better treat than mine. But trust me, they will no more know me, than a
man who had only seen your friend Noll at a conventicle of saints, would
know the same Oliver on horseback, and charging with his lobster-tailed
squadron; or the same Noll cracking a jest and a bottle with wicked
Waller the poet."
"Hush! not a word of Oliver, as thou dost value thyself and me. It is
ill jesting with the rock you may split on.--But here is the gate--we
will disturb these honest gentlemen's recreations."
As he spoke, he applied the large and ponderous knocker to the
hall-door. "Rat-tat-tat-too!" said Wildrake; "there is a fine alarm to
you cuckolds and round-heads." He then half-mimicked, half-sung the
march so called:--
"Cuckolds, come dig, cuckolds, come dig;
Round about cuckolds, come dance to my jig!"
"By Heaven! this passes Midsummer frenzy," said Everard, turning angrily
"Not a bit, not a bit," replied Wildrake; "it is but a slight
expectoration, just like what one makes before beginning a long speech.
I will be grave for an hour together, now I have got that point of war
out of my head."
As he spoke, steps were heard in the hall, and the wicket of the great
door was partly opened, but secured with a chain in case of accidents.
The visage of Tomkins, and that of Joceline beneath it, appeared at the
chink, illuminated by the lamp which the latter held in his hand, and
Tomkins demanded the meaning of this alarm.
"I demand instant admittance!" said Everard. "Joliffe, you know me
"I do, sir," replied Joceline, "and could admit you with all my heart;
but, alas! sir, you see I am not key-keeper--Here is the gentleman whose
warrant I must walk by--The Lord help me, seeing times are such as they
"And when that gentleman, who I think may be Master Desborough's
"His honour's unworthy secretary, an it please you," interposed Tomkins;
while Wildrake whispered in Everard's ear; "I will be no longer
secretary. Mark, thou wert quite right--the clerk must be the more
"And if you are Master Desborough's secretary, I presume you know me and
my condition well enough," said Everard, addressing the Independent,
"not to hesitate to admit me and my attendant to a night's quarters in
"Surely not, surely not," said the Independent--"that is, if your
worship thinks you would be better accommodated here than up at the
house of entertainment in the town, which men unprofitably call Saint
George's Inn. There is but confined accommodation here, your honour--and
we have been frayed out of our lives already by the visitation of
Satan--albeit his fiery dart is now quenched."
"This may be all well in its place, Sir Secretary," said Everard; "and
you may find a corner for it when you are next tempted to play the
preacher. But I will take it for no apology for keeping me here in the
cold harvest wind; and if not presently received, and suitably too, I
will report you to your master for insolence in your office."
The secretary of Desborough did not dare offer farther opposition; for
it is well known that Desborough himself only held his consequence as a
kinsman of Cromwell; and the Lord-General, who was well nigh paramount
already, was known to be strongly favourable both to the elder and
younger Everard. It is true, they were Presbyterians and he an
Independent; and that though sharing those feelings of correct morality
and more devoted religious feeling, by which, with few exceptions, the
Parliamentarian party were distinguished, the Everards were not disposed
to carry these attributes to the extreme of enthusiasm, practised by so
many others at the time. Yet it was well known that whatever might be
Cromwell's own religious creed, he was not uniformly bounded by it in
the choice of his favourites, but extended his countenance to those who
could serve him, even, although, according to the phrase of the time,
they came out of the darkness of Egypt. The character of the elder
Everard stood very high for wisdom and sagacity; besides, being of a
good family and competent fortune, his adherence would lend a dignity to
any side he might espouse. Then his son had been a distinguished and
successful soldier, remarkable for the discipline he maintained among
his men, the bravery which he showed in the time of action, and the
humanity with which he was always ready to qualify the consequences of
victory. Such men were not to be neglected, when many signs combined to
show that the parties in the state, who had successfully accomplished
the deposition and death of the King, were speedily to quarrel among
themselves about the division of the spoils. The two Everards were
therefore much courted by Cromwell, and their influence with him was
supposed to be so great, that trusty Master Secretary Tomkins cared not
to expose himself to risk, by contending with Colonel Everard for such a
trifle as a night's lodging.
Joceline was active on his side--more lights were obtained--more wood
thrown on the fire--and the two newly-arrived strangers were introduced
into Victor Lee's parlour, as it was called, from the picture over the
chimney-piece, which we have already described. It was several minutes
ere Colonel Everard could recover his general stoicism of deportment, so
strongly was he impressed by finding himself in the apartment, under
whose roof he had passed so many of the happiest hours of his life.
There was the cabinet, which he had seen opened with such feelings of
delight when Sir Henry Lee deigned to give him instructions in fishing,
and to exhibit hooks and lines, together with all the materials for
making the artificial fly, then little known. There hung the ancient
family picture, which, from some odd mysterious expressions of his uncle
relating to it, had become to his boyhood, nay, his early youth, a
subject of curiosity and of fear. He remembered how, when left alone in
the apartment, the searching eye of the old warrior seemed always bent
upon his, in whatever part of the room he placed himself, and how his
childish imagination was perturbed at a phenomenon, for which he could
With these came a thousand dearer and warmer recollections of his early
attachment to his pretty cousin Alice, when he assisted her at her
lessons, brought water for her flowers, or accompanied her while she
sung; and he remembered that while her father looked at them with a
good-humoured and careless smile, he had once heard him mutter, "And if
it should turn out so--why, it might be best for both," and the theories
of happiness he had reared on these words. All these visions had been
dispelled by the trumpet of war, which called Sir Henry Lee and himself
to opposite sides; and the transactions of this very day had shown, that
even Everard's success as a soldier and a statesman seemed absolutely to
prohibit the chance of their being revived.
He was waked out of this unpleasing reverie by the approach of Joceline,
who, being possibly a seasoned toper, had made the additional
arrangements with more expedition and accuracy, than could have been
expected from a person engaged as he had been since night-fall.
He now wished to know the Colonel's directions for the night.
"Would he eat anything?"
"Did his honour choose to accept Sir Henry Lee's bed, which was ready
"That of Mistress Alice Lee should be prepared for the Secretary."
"On pain of thine ears--No," replied Everard.
"Where then was the worthy Secretary to be quartered?"
"In the dog-kennel, if you list," replied Colonel Everard; "but," added
he, stepping to the sleeping apartment of Alice, which opened from the
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