Woodstock; or, The Cavalier
Sir Walter Scott
Part 6 out of 11
us to open our hearts to each other."
They did walk up to the little town in company, and somewhat to Master
Holdenough's surprise, the Colonel, though they talked on various
subjects, did not request of him any ghostly advice on the subject of
his love to his fair cousin, while, greatly beyond the expectation of
the soldier, the clergyman kept his word, and in his own phrase, was not
so superfluous as to offer upon so delicate a point his unasked counsel.
* * * * *
CHAPTER THE EIGHTEENTH.
Then are the harpies gone--Yet ere we perch
Where such foul birds have roosted, let us cleanse
The foul obscenity they've left behind them.
The embassy of Wildrake had been successful, chiefly through the
mediation of the Episcopal divine, whom we formerly found acting in the
character of a chaplain to the family, and whose voice had great
influence on many accounts with its master.
A little before high noon, Sir Henry Lee, with his small household, were
again in unchallenged possession of their old apartments at the Lodge of
Woodstock; and the combined exertions of Joceline Joliffe, of Phoebe,
and of old Joan, were employed in putting to rights what the late
intruders had left in great disorder.
Sir Henry Lee had, like all persons of quality of that period, a love of
order amounting to precision, and felt, like a fine lady whose dress has
been disordered in a crowd, insulted and humiliated by the rude
confusion into which his household goods had been thrown, and impatient
till his mansion was purified from all marks of intrusion. In his anger
he uttered more orders than the limited number of his domestics were
likely to find time or hands to execute. "The villains have left such
sulphureous steams behind them, too," said the old knight, "as if old
Davie Leslie and the whole Scottish army had quartered among them."
"It may be near as bad," said Joceline, "for men say, for certain, it
was the Devil came down bodily among them, and made them troop off."
"Then," said the knight, "is the Prince of Darkness a gentleman, as old
Will Shakspeare says. He never interferes with those of his own coat,
for the Lees have been here, father and son, these five hundred years,
without disquiet; and no sooner came these misbegotten churls, than he
plays his own part among them."
"Well, one thing he and they have left us," said Joliffe, "which we may
thank them for; and that is, such a well-filled larder and buttery as
has been seldom seen in Woodstock Lodge this many a day: carcasses of
mutton, large rounds of beef, barrels of confectioners' ware, pipes and
runlets of sack, muscadine, ale, and what not. We shall have a royal
time on't through half the winter; and Joan must get to salting and
"Out, villain!" said the knight; "are we to feed on the fragments of
such scum of the earth as these? Cast them forth instantly! Nay,"
checking himself, "that were a sin; but give them to the poor, or see
them sent to the owners. And, hark ye, I will none of their strong
liquors. I would rather drink like a hermit all my life, than seem to
pledge such scoundrels as these in their leavings, like a miserable
drawer, who drains off the ends of the bottles after the guests have
paid their reckoning, and gone off. And, hark ye, I will taste no water
from the cistern out of which these slaves have been serving
themselves--fetch me down a pitcher from Rosamond's spring."
Alice heard this injunction, and well guessing there was enough for the
other members of the family to do, she quietly took a small pitcher, and
flinging a cloak around her, walked out in person to procure Sir Henry
the water which he desired. Meantime, Joceline said, with some
hesitation, "that a man still remained, belonging to the party of these
strangers, who was directing about the removal of some trunks and mails
which belonged to the Commissioners, and who could receive his honour's
commands about the provisions."
"Let him come hither." (The dialogue was held in the hall.) "Why do you
hesitate and drumble in that manner?"
"Only, sir," said Joceline, "only perhaps your honour might not wish to
see him, being the same who, not long since"--
"Sent my rapier a-hawking through the firmament, thou wouldst say? Why,
when did I take spleen at a man for standing his ground against me?
Roundhead as he is, man, I like him the better of that, not the worse. I
hunger and thirst to have another turn with him. I have thought on his
passado ever since, and I believe, were it to try again, I know a feat
would control it. Fetch him directly."
Trusty Tomkins was presently ushered in, bearing himself with an iron
gravity, which neither the terrors of the preceding night, nor the
dignified demeanour of the high-born personage before whom he stood,
were able for an instant to overcome.
"How now, good fellow?" said Sir Henry; "I would fain see something more
of thy fence, which baffled me the other evening; but truly, I think the
light was somewhat too faint for my old eyes. Take a foil, man--I walk
here in the hall, as Hamlet says; and 'tis the breathing-time of day
with me. Take a foil, then, in thy hand."
"Since it is your worship's desire," said the steward, letting fall his
long cloak, and taking the foil in his hand.
"Now," said the knight, "if your fitness speaks, mine is ready. Methinks
the very stepping on this same old pavement hath charmed away the gout
which threatened me. Sa--sa--I tread as firm as a game-cock."
They began the play with great spirit; and whether the old knight really
fought more coolly with the blunt than with the sharp weapon, or whether
the steward gave him some grains of advantage in this merely sportive
encounter, it is certain Sir Henry had the better in the assault. His
success put him into excellent humour.
"There," said he, "I found your trick--nay, you cheat me not twice the
same way. There was a very palpable hit. Why, had I had but light enough
the other night--But it skills not speaking of it--Here we leave off. I
must not fight, as we unwise cavaliers did with you roundhead rascals,
beating you so often that we taught you to beat us at last. And good
now, tell me why you are leaving your larder so full here? Do you think
I or my family can use broken victuals? What, have you no better
employment for your rounds of sequestrated beef than to leave them
behind you when you shift your quarters?"
"So please your honour," said Tomkins, "it may be that you desire not
the flesh of beeves, of rams, or of goats. Nevertheless, when you know
that the provisions were provided and paid for out of your own rents and
stock at Ditchley, sequestrated to the use of the state more than a year
since, it may be you will have less scruple to use them for your own
"Rest assured that I shall," said Sir Henry; "and glad you have helped
me to a share of mine own. Certainly I was an ass to suspect your
masters of subsisting, save at honest men's expense."
"And as for the rumps of beeves," continued Tomkins, with the same
solemnity, "there is a rump at Westminster, which will stand us of the
army much hacking and hewing yet, ere it is discussed to our mind."
Sir Henry paused, as if to consider what was the meaning of this
innuendo; for he was not a person of very quick apprehension. But having
at length caught the meaning of it, he burst into an explosion of louder
laughter than Joceline had seen him indulge in for a long while.
"Right, knave," he said, "I taste thy jest--It is the very moral of the
puppet-show. Faustus raised the devil, as the Parliament raised the
army, and then, as the devil flies away with Faustus, so will the army
fly away with the Parliament, or the rump, as thou call'st it, or
sitting part of the so-called Parliament. And then, look you, friend,
the very devil of all hath my willing consent to fly away with the army
in its turn, from the highest general down to the lowest drum-boy. Nay,
never look fierce for the matter; remember there is daylight enough now
for a game at sharps."
Trusty Tomkins appeared to think it best to suppress his displeasure;
and observing that the wains were ready to transport the Commissioners'
property to the borough, took a grave leave of Sir Henry Lee.
Meantime the old man continued to pace his recovered hall, rubbing his
hands, and evincing greater signs of glee than he had shown since the
fatal 30th of January.
"Here we are again in the old frank, Joliffe; well victualled too. How
the knave solved my point of conscience!--the dullest of them is a
special casuist where the question concerns profit. Look out if there
are not some of our own ragged regiment lurking about, to whom a
bellyful would be a God-send, Joceline. Then his fence, Joceline, though
the fellow foins well, very sufficient well. But thou saw'st how I dealt
with him when I had fitting light, Joceline."
"Ay, and so your honour did," said Joceline. "You taught him to know the
Duke of Norfolk, from Saunders Gardner. I'll warrant him he will not
wish to come under your honour's thumb again."
"Why, I am waxing old," said Sir Henry; "but skill will not rust through
age, though sinews must stiffen. But my age is like a lusty winter, as
old Will says, frosty but kindly; and what if, old as we are, we live to
see better days yet! I promise thee, Joceline, I love this jarring
betwixt the rogues of the board and the rogues of the sword. When
thieves quarrel, true men have a chance of coming by their own."
Thus triumphed the old cavalier, in the treble glory of having recovered
his dwelling,--regained, as he thought, his character as a man of fence,
and finally, discovered some prospect of a change of times, in which he
was not without hopes that something might turn up for the royal
Meanwhile, Alice, with a prouder and a lighter heart than had danced in
her bosom for several days, went forth with a gaiety to which she of
late had been a stranger, to contribute her assistance to the regulation
and supply of the household, by bringing the fresh water wanted from
fair Rosamond's well.
Perhaps she remembered, that when she was but a girl, her cousin Markham
used, among others, to make her perform that duty, as presenting the
character of some captive Trojan princess, condemned by her situation to
draw the waters from some Grecian spring, for the use of the proud
victor. At any rate, she certainly joyed to see her father reinstated in
his ancient habitation; and the joy was not the less sincere, that she
knew their return to Woodstock had been procured by means of her cousin,
and that even in her father's prejudiced eyes, Everard had been in some
degree exculpated of the accusations the old knight had brought against
him; and that, if a reconciliation had not yet taken place, the
preliminaries had been established on which such a desirable conclusion
might easily be founded. It was like the commencement of a bridge; when
the foundation is securely laid, and the piers raised above the
influence of the torrent, the throwing of the arches may be accomplished
in a subsequent season.
The doubtful fate of her only brother might have clouded even this
momentary gleam of sunshine; but Alice had been bred up during the close
and frequent contest of civil war, and had acquired the habit of hoping
in behalf of those dear to her, until hope was lost. In the present
case, all reports seemed to assure her of her brother's safety.
Besides these causes for gaiety, Alice Lee had the pleasing feeling that
she was restored to the habitation and the haunts of her childhood, from
which she had not departed without much pain, the more felt, perhaps,
because suppressed, in order to avoid irritating her father's sense of
his misfortune. Finally, she enjoyed for the instant the gleam of
self-satisfaction by which we see the young and well-disposed so often
animated, when they can be, in common phrase, helpful to those whom they
love, and perform at the moment of need some of those little domestic
tasks, which age receives with so much pleasure from the dutiful hands
of youth. So that, altogether, as she hasted through the remains and
vestiges of a wilderness already mentioned, and from thence about a
bow-shot into the Park, to bring a pitcher of water from Rosamond's
spring, Alice Lee, her features enlivened and her complexion a little
raised by the exercise, had, for the moment, regained the gay and
brilliant vivacity of expression which had been the characteristic of
her beauty in her earlier and happier days.
This fountain of old memory had been once adorned with architectural
ornaments in the style of the sixteenth century, chiefly relating to
ancient mythology. All these were now wasted and overthrown, and existed
only as moss-covered ruins, while the living spring continued to furnish
its daily treasures, unrivalled in purity, though the quantity was
small, gushing out amid disjointed stones, and bubbling through
fragments of ancient sculpture.
With a light step and laughing brow the young Lady of Lee was
approaching, the fountain usually so solitary, when she paused on
beholding some one seated beside it. She proceeded, however, with
confidence, though with a step something less gay, when she observed
that the person was a female; some menial perhaps from the town, whom a
fanciful mistress occasionally dispatched for the water of a spring,
supposed to be peculiarly pure, or some aged woman, who made a little
trade by carrying it to the better sort of families, and selling it for
a trifle. There was no cause, therefore, for apprehension.
Yet the terrors of the times were so great, that Alice did not see a
stranger even of her own sex without some apprehension. Denaturalized
women had as usual followed the camps of both armies during the Civil
War; who, on the one side with open profligacy and profanity, on the
other with the fraudful tone of fanaticism or hypocrisy, exercised
nearly in like degree their talents, for murder or plunder. But it was
broad daylight, the distance from the Lodge was but trifling, and though
a little alarmed at seeing a stranger where she expected deep solitude,
the daughter of the haughty old Knight had too much of the lion about
her, to fear without some determined and decided cause.
Alice walked, therefore, gravely on toward the fount, and composed her
looks as she took a hasty glance of the female who was seated there, and
addressed herself to her task of filling her pitcher.
The woman, whose presence had surprised and somewhat startled Alice Lee,
was a person of the lower rank, whose red cloak, russet kirtle,
handkerchief trimmed with Coventry blue, and a coarse steeple hat, could
not indicate at best any thing higher than the wife of a small farmer,
or, perhaps, the helpmate of a bailiff or hind. It was well if she
proved nothing worse. Her clothes, indeed, were of good materials; but,
what the female eye discerns with half a glance, they were indifferently
adjusted and put on. This looked as if they did not belong to the person
by whom they were worn, but were articles of which she had become the
mistress by some accident, if not by some successful robbery. Her size,
too, as did not escape Alice, even in the short perusal she afforded the
stranger, was unusual; her features swarthy and singularly harsh, and
her manner altogether unpropitious. The young lady almost wished, as she
stooped to fill her pitcher, that she had rather turned back, and sent
Joceline on the errand; but repentance was too late now, and she had
only to disguise as well as she could her unpleasant feelings.
"The blessings of this bright day to one as bright as it is," said the
stranger, with no unfriendly, though a harsh voice.
"I thank you," said Alice in reply; and continued to fill her pitcher
busily, by assistance of an iron bowl which remained still chained to
one of the stones beside the fountain.
"Perhaps, my pretty maiden, if you would accept my help, your work would
be sooner done," said the stranger.
"I thank you," said Alice; "but had I needed assistance, I could have
brought those with me who had rendered it."
"I do not doubt of that, my pretty maiden," answered the female; "there
are too many lads in Woodstock with eyes in their heads--No doubt you
could have brought with you any one of them who looked on you, if you
Alice replied not a syllable, for she did not like the freedom used by
the speaker, and was desirous to break off the conversation.
"Are you offended, my pretty mistress?" said the stranger; "that was far
from my purpose.--I will put my question otherwise.--Are the good dames
of Woodstock so careless of their pretty daughters as to let the flower
of them all wander about the wild chase without a mother, or a somebody
to prevent the fox from running away with the lamb?--that carelessness,
methinks, shows small kindness."
"Content yourself, good woman, I am not far from protection and
assistance," said Alice, who liked less and less the effrontery of her
"Alas! my pretty maiden," said the stranger, patting with her large and
hard hand the head which Alice had kept bended down towards the water
which she was laving, "it would be difficult to hear such a pipe as
yours at the town of Woodstock, scream as loud as you would."
Alice shook the woman's hand angrily off, took up her pitcher, though
not above half full, and as she saw the stranger rise at the same time,
said, not without fear doubtless, but with a natural feeling of
resentment and dignity, "I have no reason to make my cries heard as far
as Woodstock; were there occasion for my crying for help at all, it is
nearer at hand."
She spoke not without a warrant; for, at the moment, broke through the
bushes, and stood by her side, the noble hound Bevis; fixing on the
stranger his eyes that glanced fire, raising every hair on his gallant
mane as upright as the bristles of a wild boar when hard pressed,
grinning till a case of teeth, which would have matched those of any
wolf in Russia, were displayed in full array, and, without either
barking or springing, seeming, by his low determined growl, to await but
the signal for dashing at the female, whom he plainly considered as a
But the stranger was undaunted. "My pretty maiden," she said, "you have
indeed a formidable guardian there, where cockneys or bumpkins are
concerned; but we who have been at the wars know spells for taming such
furious dragons; and therefore let not your four-footed protector go
loose on me, for he is a noble animal, and nothing but self-defence
would induce me to do him injury." So saying, she drew a pistol from her
bosom, and cocked it--pointing it towards the dog, as if apprehensive
that he would spring upon her.
"Hold, woman, hold!" said Alice Lee; "the dog will not do you
harm.--Down, Bevis, couch down.--And ere you attempt to hurt him, know
he is the favourite hound of Sir Henry Lee of Ditchley, the keeper of
Woodstock Park, who would severely revenge any injury offered to him."
"And you, pretty one, are the old knight's house-keeper, doubtless? I
have often heard the Lees have good taste."
"I am his daughter, good woman."
"His daughter!--I was blind--but yet it is true, nothing less perfect
could answer the description which all the world has given of Mistress
Alice Lee. I trust that my folly has given my young mistress no offence,
and that she will allow me, in token of reconciliation, to fill her
pitcher, and carry it as far as she will permit."
"As you will, good mother; but I am about to return instantly to the
Lodge, to which, in these times, I cannot admit strangers. You can
follow me no farther than the verge of the wilderness, and I am already
too long from home: I will send some one to meet and relieve you of the
pitcher." So saying, she turned her back, with a feeling of terror which
she could hardly account for, and began to walk quickly towards the
Lodge, thinking thus to get rid of her troublesome acquaintance.
But she reckoned without her host; for in a moment her new companion was
by her side, not running, indeed, but walking with prodigious long
unwomanly strides, which soon brought her up with the hurried and timid
steps of the frightened maiden. But her manner was more respectful than
formerly, though her voice sounded remarkably harsh and disagreeable,
and her whole appearance suggested an undefined, yet irresistible
feeling of apprehension.
"Pardon a stranger, lovely Mistress Alice," said her persecutor, "that
was not capable of distinguishing between a lady of your high quality
and a peasant wench, and who spoke to you with a degree of freedom,
ill-befitting your rank, certainly, and condition, and which, I fear,
has given you offence."
"No offence whatever," replied Alice; "but, good woman, I am near home,
and can excuse your farther company.--You are unknown to me."
"But it follows not," said the stranger, "that _your_ fortunes may not
be known to _me_, fair Mistress Alice. Look on my swarthy brow--England
breeds none such--and in the lands from which I come, the sun which
blackens our complexion, pours, to make amends, rays of knowledge into
our brains, which are denied to those of your lukewarm climate. Let me
look upon your pretty hand,--(attempting to possess herself of it,)--and
I promise you, you shall hear what will please you."
"I hear what does _not_ please me," said Alice, with dignity; "you must
carry your tricks of fortune-telling and palmistry to the women of the
village.--We of the gentry hold them to be either imposture or unlawful
"Yet you would fain hear of a certain Colonel, I warrant you, whom
certain unhappy circumstances have separated from his family; you would
give better than silver if I could assure you that you would see him in
a day or two--ay, perhaps, sooner."
"I know nothing of what you speak, good woman; if you want alms, there
is a piece of silver--it is all I have in my purse."
"It were pity that I should take it," said the female; "and yet give it
me--for the princess in the fairy tale must ever deserve, by her
generosity, the bounty of the benevolent fairy, before she is rewarded
by her protection."
"Take it--take it--give me my pitcher," said Alice, "and begone,--yonder
comes one of my father's servants.--What, ho!--Joceline--Joceline!"
The old fortune-teller hastily dropped something into the pitcher as she
restored it to Alice Lee, and, plying her long limbs, disappeared
speedily under cover of the wood.
Bevis turned, and barked, and showed some inclination to harass the
retreat of this suspicious person, yet, as if uncertain, ran towards
Joliffe, and fawned on him, as to demand his advice and encouragement.
Joceline pacified the animal, and, coming up to his young lady, asked
her, with surprise, what was the matter, and whether she had been
frightened? Alice made light of her alarm, for which, indeed, she could
not have assigned any very competent reason, for the manners of the
woman, though bold and intrusive, were not menacing. She only said she
had met a fortune-teller by Rosamond's Well, and had had some difficulty
in shaking her off.
"Ah, the gipsy thief," said Joceline, "how well she scented there was
food in the pantry!--they have noses like ravens, these strollers. Look
you, Mistress Alice, you shall not see a raven or a carrion-crow in all
the blue sky for a mile round you; but let a sheep drop suddenly down on
the green-sward, and before the poor creature's dead you shall see a
dozen of such guests croaking, as if inviting each other to the
banquet.--Just so it is with these sturdy beggars. You will see few
enough of them when there's nothing to give, but when hough's in the
pot, they will have share on't."
"You are so proud of your fresh supply of provender," said Alice, "that
you suspect all of a design on't. I do not think this woman will venture
near your kitchen, Joceline."
"It will be best for her health," said Joceline, "lest I give her a
ducking for digestion.--But give me the pitcher, Mistress Alice--meeter
I bear it than you.--How now? what jingles at the bottom? have you
lifted the pebbles as well as the water?"
"I think the woman dropped something into the pitcher," said Alice.
"Nay, we must look to that, for it is like to be a charm, and we have
enough of the devil's ware about Woodstock already--we will not spare
for the water--I can run back and fill the pitcher." He poured out the
water upon the grass, and at the bottom of the pitcher was found a gold
ring, in which was set a ruby, apparently of some value.
"Nay, if this be not enchantment, I know not what is," said Joceline.
"Truly, Mistress Alice, I think you had better throw away this gimcrack.
Such gifts from such hands are a kind of press-money which the devil
uses for enlisting his regiment of witches; and if they take but so much
as a bean from him, they become his bond-slaves for life--Ay, you look
at the gew-gaw, but to-morrow you will find a lead ring, and a common
pebble in its stead."
"Nay, Joceline, I think it will be better to find out that
dark-complexioned woman, and return to her what seems of some value. So,
cause enquiry to be made, and be sure you return her ring. It seems too
valuable to be destroyed."
"Umph! that is always the way with women," murmured Joceline. "You will
never get the best of them, but she is willing to save a bit of
finery.--Well, Mistress Alice, I trust that you are too young and too
pretty to be enlisted in a regiment of witches."
"I shall not be afraid of it till you turn conjuror," said Alice; "so
hasten to the well, where you are like still to find the woman, and let
her know that Alice Lee desires none of her gifts, any more than she did
of her society."
So saying, the young lady pursued her way to the Lodge, while Joceline
went down to Rosamond's Well to execute her commission. But the
fortune-teller, or whoever she might be, was nowhere to be found;
neither, finding that to be the case, did Joceline give himself much
trouble in tracking her farther.
"If this ring, which I dare say the jade stole somewhere," said the
underkeeper to himself, "be worth a few nobles, it is better in honest
hands than in that of vagabonds. My master has a right to all waifs and
strays, and certainly such a ring, in possession of a gipsy, must be a
waif. So I shall confiscate it without scruple, and apply the produce to
the support of Sir Henry's household, which is like to be poor enough.
Thank Heaven, my military experience has taught me how to carry hooks at
my finger-ends--that is trooper's law. Yet, hang it, after all, I had
best take it to Mark Everard and ask his advice--I hold him now to be
your learned counsellor in law where Mistress Alice's affairs are
concerned, and my learned Doctor, who shall be nameless, for such as
concern Church and State and Sir Henry Lee.--And I'll give them leave to
give mine umbles to the kites and ravens if they find me conferring my
confidence where it is not safe."
* * * * *
CHAPTER THE NINETEENTH.
Being skilless in these parts, which, to a stranger,
Unguided and unfriended, often prove
Rough and inhospitable.
There was a little attempt at preparation, now that the dinner hour was
arrived, which showed that, in the opinion of his few but faithful
domestics, the good knight had returned in triumph to his home.
The great tankard, exhibiting in bas-relief the figure of Michael
subduing the Arch-enemy, was placed on the table, and Joceline and
Phoebe dutifully attended; the one behind the chair of Sir Henry, the
other to wait upon her young mistress, and both to make out, by formal
and regular observance, the want of a more numerous train.
"A health to King Charles!" said the old knight, handing the massive
tankard to his daughter; "drink it, my love, though it be rebel ale
which they have left us. I will pledge thee; for the toast will excuse
the liquor, had Noll himself brewed it."
The young lady touched the goblet with her lip, and returned it to her
father, who took a copious draught.
"I will not say blessing on their hearts," said he; "though I must own
they drank good ale."
"No wonder, sir; they come lightly by the malt, and need not spare it,"
"Say'st thou?" said the knight; "thou shalt finish the tankard thyself
for that very jest's sake."
Nor was his follower slow in doing reason to the royal pledge. He bowed,
and replaced the tankard, saying, after a triumphant glance at the
sculpture, "I had a gibe with that same red-coat about the Saint Michael
"Red-coat--ha! what red-coat?" said the hasty old man. "Do any of these
knaves still lurk about Woodstock?--Quoit him down stairs instantly,
Joceline.--Know we not Galloway nags?"
"So please you, he is in some charge here, and will speedily be
gone.--It is he--he who had a rencontre with your honour in the wood."
"Ay, but I paid him off for it in the hall, as you yourself saw.--I was
never in better fence in my life, Joceline. That same steward fellow is
not so utterly black-hearted a rogue as the most of them, Joceline. He
fences well--excellent well. I will have thee try a bout in the hall
with him to-morrow, though I think he will be too hard for thee. I know
thy strength to an inch."
He might say this with some truth; for it was Joceline's fashion, when
called on, as sometimes happened, to fence with his patron, just to put
forth as much of his strength and skill as obliged the Knight to contend
hard for the victory, which, in the long run, he always contrived to
yield up to him, like a discreet serving-man.
"And what said this roundheaded steward of our great Saint Michael's
"Marry, he scoffed at our good saint, and said he was little better than
one of the golden calves of Bethel. But I told him he should not talk
so, until one of their own roundheaded saints had given the devil as
complete a cross-buttock as Saint Michael had given him, as 'tis carved
upon the cup there. I trow that made him silent enough. And then he
would know whether your honour and Mistress Alice, not to mention old
Joan and myself, since it is your honour's pleasure I should take my bed
here, were not afraid to sleep in a house that had been so much
disturbed. But I told him we feared no fiends or goblins, having the
prayers of the Church read every evening."
"Joceline," said Alice, interrupting him, "wert thou mad? You know at
what risk to ourselves and the good doctor the performance of that duty
"Oh, Mistress Alice," said Joceline, a little abashed, "you may be sure
I spoke not a word of the doctor--No, no--I did not let him into the
secret that we had such a reverend chaplain.--I think I know the length
of this man's foot. We have had a jollification or so together. He is
hand and glove with me, for as great a fanatic as he is."
"Trust him not too far," said the knight. "Nay, I fear thou hast been
imprudent already, and that it will be unsafe for the good man to come
here after nightfall, as is proposed. These Independents have noses like
bloodhounds, and can smell out a loyalist under any disguise."
"If your honour thinks so," said Joceline, "I'll watch for the doctor
with good will, and bring him into the Lodge by the old condemned
postern, and so up to this apartment; and sure this man Tomkins would
never presume to come hither; and the doctor may have a bed in Woodstock
Lodge, and he never the wiser; or, if your honour does not think that
safe, I can cut his throat for you, and I would not mind it a pin."
"God forbid!" said the knight. "He is under our roof, and a guest,
though not an invited one.--Go, Joceline; it shall be thy penance, for
having given thy tongue too much license, to watch for the good doctor,
and to take care of his safety while he continues with us. An October
night or two in the forest would finish the good man."
"He's more like to finish our October than our October is to finish
him," said the keeper; and withdrew under the encouraging smile of his
He whistled Bevis along with him to share in his watch; and having
received exact information where the clergyman was most likely to be
found, assured his master that he would give the most pointed attention
to his safety. When the attendants had withdrawn, having previously
removed the remains of the meal, the old knight, leaning back in his
chair, encouraged pleasanter visions than had of late passed through his
imagination, until by degrees he was surprised by actual slumber; while
his daughter, not venturing to move but on tiptoe, took some
needle-work, and bringing it close by the old man's side, employed her
fingers on this task, bending her eyes from time to time on her parent,
with the affectionate zeal, if not the effective power, of a guardian
angel. At length, as the light faded away, and night came on, she was
about to order candles to be brought. But, remembering how indifferent a
couch Joceline's cottage had afforded, she could not think of
interrupting the first sound and refreshing sleep which her father had
enjoyed, in all probability, for the last two nights and days.
She herself had no other amusement, as she sat facing one of the great
oriel windows, the same by which Wildrake had on a former occasion
looked in upon Tomkins and Joceline while at their compotations, than
watching the clouds, which a lazy wind sometimes chased from the broad
disk of the harvest-moon, sometimes permitted to accumulate, and exclude
her brightness. There is, I know not why, something peculiarly pleasing
to the imagination, in contemplating the Queen of Night, when she is
_wading_, as the expression is, among the vapours which she has not
power to dispel, and which on their side are unable entirely to quench
her lustre. It is the striking image of patient virtue, calmly pursuing
her path through good report and bad report, having that excellence in
herself which ought to command all admiration, but bedimmed in the eyes
of the world, by suffering, by misfortune, by calumny.
As some such reflections, perhaps, were passing through Alice's
imagination, she became sensible, to her surprise and alarm, that some
one had clambered up upon the window, and was looking into the room. The
idea of supernatural fear did not in the slightest degree agitate Alice.
She was too much accustomed to the place and situation; for folk do not
see spectres in the scenes with which they have been familiar from
infancy. But danger from maurauders in a disturbed country was a more
formidable subject of apprehension, and the thought armed Alice, who was
naturally high spirited, with such desperate courage, that she snatched
a pistol from the wall, on which some fire-arms hung, and while she
screamed to her father to awake, had the presence of mind to present it
at the intruder. She did so the more readily, because she imagined she
recognised in the visage, which she partially saw, the features of the
woman whom she had met with at Rosamond's Well, and which had appeared
to her peculiarly harsh and suspicious. Her father at the same time
seized his sword and came forward, while the person at the window,
alarmed at these demonstrations, and endeavouring to descend, missed
footing, as had Cavaliero Wildrake before, and went down to the earth
with no small noise. Nor was the reception on the bosom of our common
mother either soft or safe; for, by a most terrific bark and growl, they
heard that Bevis had come up and seized on the party, ere he or she
could gain their feet.
"Hold fast, but worry not," said the old knight.--"Alice, thou art the
queen of wenches! Stand fast here till I run down and secure the
"For God's sake, no, my dearest father!" Alice exclaimed; "Joceline will
be up immediately--Hark!--I hear him."
There was indeed a bustle below, and more than one light danced to and
fro in confusion, while those who bore them called to each other, yet
suppressing their voices as they spoke, as men who would only be heard
by those they addressed. The individual who had fallen under the power
of Bevis was most impatient in his situation, and called with least
precaution--"Here, Lee,--Forester--take the dog off, else I must shoot
"If thou dost," said Sir Henry, from the window, "I blow thy brains out
on the spot. Thieves, Joceline, thieves! come up and secure this
ruffian.--Bevis, hold on!"
"Back, Bevis; down, sir!" cried Joceline. "I am coming, I am coming, Sir
Henry--Saint Michael, I shall go distracted!"
A terrible thought suddenly occurred to Alice; could Joceline have
become unfaithful, that he was calling Bevis off the villain, instead of
encouraging the trusty dog to secure him? Her father, meantime, moved
perhaps by some suspicion of the same kind, hastily stepped aside out of
the moonlight, and pulled Alice close to him, so as to be invisible from
without, yet so placed as to hear what should pass. The scuffle between
Bevis and his prisoner seemed to be ended by Joceline's interference,
and there was close whispering for an instant, as of people in
"All is quiet now," said one voice; "I will up and prepare the way for
you." And immediately a form presented itself on the outside of the
window, pushed open the lattice, and sprung into the parlour. But almost
ere his step was upon the floor, certainly before he had obtained any
secure footing, the old knight, who stood ready with his rapier drawn,
made a desperate pass, which bore the intruder to the ground. Joceline,
who clambered up next with a dark lantern in his hand, uttered a
dreadful exclamation, when he saw what had happened, crying out, "Lord
in heaven, he has slain his own son!"
"No, no--I tell you no," said the fallen young man, who was indeed young
Albert Lee, the only son of the old knight; "I am not hurt. No noise, on
your lives; get lights instantly." At the same time, he started from the
floor as quickly as he could, under the embarrassment of a cloak and
doublet skewered as it were together by the rapier of the old knight,
whose pass, most fortunately, had been diverted from the body of Albert
by the interruption of his cloak, the blade passing right across his
back, piercing the clothes, while the hilt coming against his side with
the whole force of the lunge, had borne him to the ground.
Joceline all the while enjoined silence to every one, under the
strictest conjurations. "Silence, as you would long live on
earth--silence, as ye would have a place in heaven; be but silent for a
few minutes--all our lives depend on it."
Meantime he procured lights with inexpressible dispatch, and they then
beheld that Sir Henry, on hearing the fatal words, had sunk back on one
of the large chairs, without either motion, colour, or sign of life.
"Oh, brother, how could you come in this manner?" said Alice.
"Ask no questions--Good God! for what am I reserved!" He gazed on his
father as he spoke, who, with clay-cold features rigidly fixed, and his
arms extended in the most absolute helplessness, looked rather the image
of death upon a monument, than a being in whom existence was only
suspended. "Was my life spared," said Albert, raising his hands with a
wild gesture to heaven, "only to witness such a sight as this!"
"We suffer what Heaven permits, young man; we endure our lives while
Heaven continues them. Let me approach." The same clergyman who had read
the prayers at Joceline's hut now came forward. "Get water," he said,
"instantly." And the helpful hand and light foot of Alice, with the
ready-witted tenderness which never stagnates in vain lamentations while
there is any room for hope, provided with incredible celerity all that
the clergyman called for.
"It is but a swoon," he said, on feeling Sir Henry's palm; "a swoon
produced from the instant and unexpected shock. Rouse thee up, Albert; I
promise thee it will be nothing save a syncope--A cup, my dearest Alice,
and a ribbon or a bandage. I must take some blood--some aromatics, too,
if they can be had, my good Alice."
But while Alice procured the cup and bandage, stripped her father's
sleeve, and seemed by intuition even to anticipate every direction of
the reverend doctor, her brother, hearing no word, and seeing no sign of
comfort, stood with both hands clasped and elevated into the air, a
monument of speechless despair. Every feature in his face seemed to
express the thought, "Here lies my father's corpse, and it is I whose
rashness has slain him!"
But when a few drops of blood began to follow the lancet--at first
falling singly, and then trickling in a freer stream--when, in
consequence of the application of cold water to the temples, and
aromatics to the nostrils, the old man sighed feebly, and made an effort
to move his limbs, Albert Lee changed his posture, at once to throw
himself at the feet of the clergyman, and kiss, if he would have
permitted him, his shoes and the hem of his raiment.
"Rise, foolish youth," said the good man, with a reproving tone; "must
it be always thus with you? Kneel to Heaven, not to the feeblest of its
agents. You have been saved once again from great danger; would you
deserve Heaven's bounty, remember you have been preserved for other
purposes than you now think on. Begone, you and Joceline--you have a
duty to discharge; and be assured it will go better with your father's
recovery that he see you not for a few minutes. Down--down to the
wilderness, and bring in your attendant."
"Thanks, thanks, a thousand thanks," answered Albert Lee; and, springing
through the lattice, he disappeared as unexpectedly as he had entered.
At the same time Joceline followed him, and by the same road.
Alice, whose fears for her father were now something abated, upon this
new movement among the persons of the scene, could not resist appealing
to her venerable assistant. "Good doctor, answer me but one question.
Was my brother Albert here just now, or have I dreamed all that has
happened for these ten minutes past? Methinks, but for your presence, I
could suppose the whole had passed in my sleep; that horrible
thrust--that death-like, corpse-like old man--that soldier in mute
despair; I must indeed have dreamed."
"If you have dreamed, my sweet Alice," said the doctor, "I wish every
sick-nurse had your property, since you have been attending to our
patient better during your sleep than most of these old dormice can do
when they are most awake. But your dream came through the gate of horn,
my pretty darling, which you must remind me to explain to you at
leisure. Albert has really been here, and will be here again."
"Albert!" repeated Sir Henry, "who names my son?"
"It is I, my kind patron," said the doctor; "permit me to bind up your
"My wound?--with all my heart, doctor," said Sir Henry, raising himself,
and gathering his recollection by degrees. "I knew of old thou wert
body-curer as well as soul-curer, and served my regiment for surgeon as
well as chaplain.--But where is the rascal I killed?--I never made a
fairer _stramašon_ in my life. The shell of my rapier struck against his
ribs. So, dead he must be, or my right hand has forgot its cunning."
"Nobody was slain," said the doctor; "we must thank God for that, since
there were none but friends to slay. Here is a good cloak and doublet,
though, wounded in a fashion which will require some skill in
tailor-craft to cure. But I was your last antagonist, and took a little
blood from you, merely to prepare you for the pleasure and surprise of
seeing your son, who, though hunted pretty close, as you may believe,
hath made his way from Worcester hither, where, with Joceline's
assistance, we will care well enough for his safety. It was even for
this reason that I pressed you to accept of your nephew's proposal to
return to the old Lodge, where a hundred men might be concealed, though
a thousand were making search to discover them. Never such a place for
hide-and-seek, as I shall make good when I can find means to publish my
Wonders of Woodstock."
"But, my son--my dear son," said the knight, "shall I not then instantly
see him! and wherefore did you not forewarn me of this joyful event?"
"Because I was uncertain of his motions," said the doctor, "and rather
thought he was bound for the sea-side, and that it would be best to tell
you of his fate when he was safe on board, and in full sail for France.
We had appointed to let you know all when I came hither to-night to join
you. But there is a red-coat in the house whom we care not to trust
farther than we could not help. We dared not, therefore, venture in by
the hall; and so, prowling round the building, Albert informed us, that
an old prank of his, when a boy, consisted of entering by this window. A
lad who was with us would needs make the experiment, as there seemed to
be no light in the chamber, and the moonlight without made us liable to
be detected. His foot slipped, and our friend Bevis came upon us."
"In good truth, you acted simply," said Sir Henry, "to attack a garrison
without a summons. But all this is nothing to my son, Albert--where is
he?--Let me see him."
"But, Sir Henry, wait," said the doctor, "till your restored strength"--
"A plague of my restored strength, man!" answered the knight, as his old
spirit began to awaken within him.--"Dost not remember, that I lay on
Edgehill-field all night, bleeding like a bullock from five several
wounds, and wore my armour within six weeks? and you talk to me of the
few drops of blood that follow such a scratch as a cat's claw might have
"Nay, if you feel so courageous," said the doctor, "I will fetch your
son--he is not far distant."
So saying, he left the apartment, making a sign to Alice to remain, in
case any symptoms of her father's weakness should return.
It was fortunate, perhaps, that Sir Henry never seemed to recollect the
precise nature of the alarm, which had at once, and effectually as the
shock of the thunderbolt, for the moment suspended his faculties.
Something he said more than once of being certain he had done mischief
with that _stramašon_, as he called it; but his mind did not recur to
that danger, as having been incurred by his son. Alice, glad to see that
her father appeared to have forgotten a circumstance so fearful, (as men
often forget the blow, or other sudden cause, which has thrown them into
a swoon,) readily excused herself from throwing much light on the
matter, by pleading the general confusion. And in a few minutes, Albert
cut off all farther enquiry, by entering the room, followed by the
doctor, and throwing himself alternately into the arms of his father and
of his sister.
* * * * *
CHAPTER THE TWENTIETH.
The boy is--hark ye, sirrah--what's your name?--
Oh, Jacob--ay, I recollect--the same.
The affectionate relatives were united as those who, meeting under great
adversity, feel still the happiness of sharing it in common. They
embraced again and again, and gave way to those expansions of the heart,
which at once express and relieve the pressure of mental agitation. At
length the tide of emotion began to subside; and Sir Henry, still
holding his recovered son by the hand, resumed the command of his
feelings which he usually practised.
"So you have seen the last of our battles, Albert," he said, "and the
King's colours have fallen for ever before the rebels."
"It is but even so," said the young man--"the last cast of the die was
thrown, and, alas! lost at Worcester; and Cromwell's fortune carried it
there, as it has wherever he has shown himself."
"Well--it can but be for a time--it can but be for a time," answered his
father; "the devil is potent, they say, in raising and gratifying
favourites, but he can grant but short leases.--And the King--the King,
Albert--the King--in my ear--close, close!"
"Our last news were confident that he had escaped from Bristol."
"Thank God for that--thank God for that!" said the knight. "Where didst
thou leave him?"
"Our men were almost all cut to pieces at the bridge," Albert replied;
"but I followed his Majesty with about five hundred other officers and
gentlemen, who were resolved to die around him, until as our numbers and
appearance drew the whole pursuit after us, it pleased his Majesty to
dismiss us, with many thanks and words of comfort to us in general, and
some kind expressions to most of us in especial. He sent his royal
greeting to you, sir, in particular, and said more than becomes me to
"Nay, I will hear it every word, boy," said Sir Henry; "is not the
certainty that thou hast discharged thy duty, and that King Charles owns
it, enough to console me for all we have lost and suffered, and wouldst
thou stint me of it from a false shamefacedness?--I will have it out of
thee, were it drawn from thee with cords!"
"It shall need no such compulsion," said the young man--"It was his
Majesty's pleasure to bid me tell Sir Henry Lee, in his name, that if
his son could not go before his father in the race of loyalty, he was at
least following him closely, and would soon move side by side."
"Said he so?" answered the knight--"Old Victor Lee will look down with
pride on thee, Albert!--But I forget--you must be weary and hungry."
"Even so," said Albert; "but these are things which of late I have been
in the habit of enduring for safety's sake."
"Joceline!--what ho, Joceline!"
The under-keeper entered, and received orders to get supper prepared
"My son and Dr. Rochecliffe are half starving," said the knight. "And
there is a lad, too, below," said Joceline; "a page, he says, of Colonel
Albert's, whose belly rings cupboard too, and that to no common tune;
for I think he could eat a horse, as the Yorkshireman says, behind the
saddle. He had better eat at the sideboard; for he has devoured a whole
loaf of bread and butter, as fast as Phoebe could cut it, and it has not
staid his stomach for a minute--and truly I think you had better keep
him under your own eyes, for the steward beneath might ask him
troublesome questions if he went below--And then he is impatient, as all
your gentlemen pages are, and is saucy among the women."
"Whom is it he talks of?--what page hast thou got, Albert, that bears
himself so ill?" said Sir Henry.
"The son of a dear friend, a noble lord of Scotland, who followed the
great Montrose's banner--afterwards joined the King in Scotland, and
came with him as far as Worcester. He was wounded the day before the
battle, and conjured me to take this youth under my charge, which I did,
something unwillingly; but I could not refuse a father, perhaps on his
death-bed, pleading for the safety of an only son."
"Thou hadst deserved an halter, hadst thou hesitated" said Sir Henry;
"the smallest tree can always give some shelter,--and it pleases me to
think the old stock of Lee is not so totally prostrate, but it may yet
be a refuge for the distressed. Fetch the youth in;--he is of noble
blood, and these are no times of ceremony--he shall sit with us at the
same table, page though he be; and if you have not schooled him
handsomely in his manners, he may not be the worse of some lessons from
"You will excuse his national drawling accent, sir?" said Albert,
"though I know you like it not."
"I have small cause, Albert," answered the knight--"small cause.--Who
stirred up these disunions?--the Scots. Who strengthened the hands of
Parliament, when their cause was well nigh ruined?--the Scots again. Who
delivered up the King, their countryman, who had flung himself upon.
their protection?--the Scots again. But this lad's father, you say, has
fought on the part of the noble Montrose; and such a man as the great
Marquis may make amends for the degeneracy of a whole nation."
"Nay, father," said Albert, "and I must add, that though this lad is
uncouth and wayward, and, as you will see, something wilful, yet the
King has not a more zealous friend in England; and, when occasion
offered, he fought stoutly, too, in his defence--I marvel he comes not."
"He hath taken the bath" said Joceline, "and nothing less would serve
than that he should have it immediately--the supper, he said, might be
got ready in the meantime; and he commands all about him as if he were
in his father's old castle, where he might have called long enough, I
warrant, without any one to hear him."
"Indeed?" said Sir Henry, "this must be a forward chick of the game, to
crow so early.--What is his name?"
"His name?--it escapes me every hour, it is so hard a one," said
Albert--"Kerneguy is his name--Louis Kerneguy; his father was Lord
Killstewers, of Kincardineshire."
"Kerneguy, and Killstewers, and Kin--what d'ye call it?--Truly," said
the knight, "these northern men's names and titles smack of their
origin--they sound like a north-west wind, rumbling and roaring among
heather and rocks."
"It is but the asperities of the Celtic and Saxon dialects," said Dr.
Rochecliffe, "which, according to Verstegan, still linger in those
northern parts of the island.--But peace--here comes supper, and Master
Supper entered accordingly, borne in by Joceline and Phoebe, and after
it, leaning on a huge knotty stick, and having his nose in the air like
a questing hound--for his attention was apparently more fixed on the
good provisions that went before him, than any thing else--came Master
Kerneguy, and seated himself, without much ceremony, at the lower end of
He was a tall, rawboned lad, with a shock head of hair, fiery red, like
many of his country, while the harshness of his national features was
increased by the contrast of his complexion, turned almost black by the
exposure to all sorts of weather, which, in that skulking and rambling
mode of life, the fugitive royalists had been obliged to encounter. His
address was by no means prepossessing, being a mixture of awkwardness
and forwardness, and showing in a remarkable degree, how a want of easy
address may be consistent with an admirable stock of assurance. His face
intimated having received some recent scratches, and the care of Dr.
Rochecliffe had decorated it with a number of patches, which even
enhanced its natural plainness. Yet the eyes were brilliant and
expressive, and, amid his ugliness--for it amounted to that degree of
irregularity--the face was not deficient in some lines which expressed
both sagacity and resolution.
The dress of Albert himself was far beneath his quality, as the son of
Sir Henry Lee, and commander of a regiment in the royal service; but
that of his page was still more dilapidated. A disastrous green jerkin,
which had been changed to a hundred hues by sun and rain, so that the
original could scarce be discovered, huge clouterly shoes, leathern
breeches--such as were worn by hedgers--coarse grey worsted stockings,
were the attire of the honourable youth, whose limping gait, while it
added to the ungainliness of his manner, showed, at the same time, the
extent of his sufferings. His appearance bordered so much upon what is
vulgarly called the queer, that even with Alice it would have excited
some sense of ridicule, had not compassion been predominant.
The grace was said, and the young squire of Ditchley, as well as Dr.
Rochecliffe, made an excellent figure at a meal, the like of which, in
quality and abundance, did not seem to have lately fallen to their
share. But their feats were child's-play to those of the Scottish youth.
Far from betraying any symptoms of the bread and butter with which he
had attempted to close the orifice of his stomach, his appetite appeared
to have been sharpened by a nine-days' fast; and the knight was disposed
to think that the very genius of famine himself, come forth from his
native regions of the north, was in the act of honouring him with a
visit, while, as if afraid of losing a moment's exertion, Master
Kerneguy never looked either to right or left, or spoke a single word to
any at table.
"I am glad to see that you have brought a good appetite for our country
fare, young gentleman," said Sir Henry.
"Bread of gude, sir!" said the page, "an ye'll find flesh, I'se find
appetite conforming, ony day o' the year. But the truth is, sir, that
the appeteezement has been coming on for three days or four, and the
meat in this southland of yours has been scarce, and hard to come by;
so, sir, I'm making up for lost time, as the piper of Sligo said, when
he eat a hail side o' mutton."
"You have been country-bred, young man," said the knight, who, like
others of his time, held the reins of discipline rather tight over the
rising generation; "at least, to judge from the youths of Scotland whom
I have seen at his late Majesty's court in former days; they had less
appetite, and more--more"--As he sought the qualifying phrase, which
might supply the place of "good manners," his guest closed the sentence
in his own way--"And more meat, it may be--the better luck theirs."
Sir Henry stared and was silent. His son seemed to think it time to
interpose--"My dear father," he said, "think how many years have run
since the Thirty-eight, when the Scottish troubles first began, and I am
sure that you will not wonder that, while the Barons of Scotland have
been, for one cause or other, perpetually in the field, the education of
their children at home must have been much neglected, and that young men
of my friend's age know better how to use a broadsword, or to toss a
pike, than the decent ceremonials of society."
"The reason is a sufficient one," said the knight, "and, since thou
sayest thy follower Kernigo can fight, we'll not let him lack victuals,
a God's name.--See, he looks angrily still at yonder cold loin of
mutton--for God's sake put it all on his plate!"
"I can bide the bit and the buffet," said the honourable Master
Kerneguy--"a hungry tike ne'er minds a blaud with a rough bane."
"Now, God ha'e mercy, Albert, but if this be the son of a Scots peer,"
said Sir Henry to his son, in a low tone of voice, "I would not be the
English ploughman who would change manners with him for his ancient
blood, and his nobility, and his estate to boot, an he has one.--He has
eaten, as I am a Christian, near four pounds of solid butcher's meat,
and with the grace of a wolf tugging at the carcass of a dead horse.--
Oh, he is about to drink at last--Soh!--he wipes his mouth, though,--and
dips his fingers in the ewer--and dries them, I profess, with the
napkin!--there is some grace in him, after all."
"Here is wussing all your vera gude healths!" said the youth of quality,
and took a draught in proportion to the solids which he had sent before;
he then flung his knife and fork awkwardly on the trencher, which he
pushed back towards the centre of the table, extended his feet beneath
it till they rested on their heels, folded his arms on his
well-replenished stomach, and, lolling back in his chair, looked much as
if he was about to whistle himself asleep.
"Soh!" said the knight--"the honourable Master Kernigo hath laid down
his arms.--Withdraw these things, and give us our glasses--Fill them
around, Joceline; and if the devil or the whole Parliament were within
hearing, let them hear Henry Lee of Ditchley drink a health to King
Charles, and confusion to his enemies!"
"Amen!" said a voice from behind the door.
All the company looked at each other in astonishment, at a response so
little expected. It was followed by a solemn and peculiar tap, such as a
kind of freemasonry had introduced among royalists, and by which they
were accustomed to make themselves and their principles known to each
other, when they met by accident.
"There is no danger," said Albert, knowing the sign--"it is a
friend;--yet I wish he had been at a greater distance just now."
"And why, my son, should you wish the absence of one true man, who may,
perhaps, wish to share our abundance, on one of those rare occasions
when we have superfluity at our disposal?--Go, Joceline, see who
knocks--and, if a safe man, admit him."
"And if otherwise," said Joceline, "methinks I shall be able to prevent
his troubling the good company."
"No violence, Joceline, on your life," said Albert Lee; and Alice
echoed, "For God's sake, no violence!"
"No unnecessary violence at least," said the good knight; "for if the
time demands it, I will have it seen that I am master of my own house."
Joceline Joliffe nodded assent to all parties, and went on tiptoe to
exchange one or two other mysterious symbols and knocks, ere he opened
the door. It, may be here remarked, that this species of secret
association, with its signals of union, existed among the more dissolute
and desperate class of cavaliers, men habituated to the dissipated life
which they had been accustomed to in an ill-disciplined army, where
everything like order and regularity was too apt to be accounted a badge
of puritanism. These were the "roaring boys" who met in hedge alehouses,
and when they had by any chance obtained a little money or a little
credit, determined to create a counter-revolution by declaring their
sittings permanent, and proclaimed, in the words of one of their
"We'll drink till we bring
In triumph back the king."
The leaders and gentry, of a higher description and more regular morals,
did not indeed partake such excesses, but they still kept their eye upon
a class of persons, who, from courage and desperation, were capable of
serving on an advantageous occasion the fallen cause of royalty; and
recorded the lodges and blind taverns at which they met, as wholesale
merchants know the houses of call of the mechanics whom they may have
occasion to employ, and can tell where they may find them when need
requires it. It is scarce necessary to add, that among the lower class,
and sometimes even among the higher, there were men found capable of
betraying the projects and conspiracies of their associates, whether
well or indifferently combined, to the governors of the state. Cromwell,
in particular, had gained some correspondents of this kind of the
highest rank, and of the most undoubted character, among the royalists,
who, if they made scruple of impeaching or betraying individuals who
confided in them, had no hesitation in giving the government such
general information as served to enable him to disappoint the purposes
of any plot or conspiracy.
To return to our story. In much shorter time than we have spent in
reminding the reader of these historical particulars, Joliffe had made
his mystic communication; and being duly answered as by one of the
initiated, he undid the door, and there entered our old friend Roger
Wildrake, round-head in dress, as his safety and dependence on Colonel
Everard compelled him to be, but that dress worn in a most cavalier-like
manner, and forming a stronger contrast than usual with the demeanour
and language of the wearer, to which it was never very congenial.
His puritanic hat, the emblem of that of Ralpho in the prints to
Hudibras, or, as he called it, his felt umbrella, was set most knowingly
on one side of the head, as if it had been a Spanish hat and feather;
his straight square-caped sad-coloured cloak was flung gaily upon one
shoulder, as if it had been of three-plied taffeta, lined with crimson
silk; and he paraded his huge calf-skin boots, as if they had been
silken hose and Spanish leather shoes, with roses on the instep. In
short, the airs which he gave himself, of a most thorough-paced wild
gallant and cavalier, joined to a glistening of self-satisfaction in his
eye, and an inimitable swagger in his gait, which completely announced
his thoughtless, conceited, and reckless character, formed a most
ridiculous contrast to his gravity of attire.
It could not, on the other hand, be denied, that in spite of the touch
of ridicule which attached to his character, and the loose morality
which he had learned in the dissipation of town pleasures, and
afterwards in the disorderly life of a soldier, Wildrake had points
about him both to make him feared and respected. He was handsome, even
in spite of his air of debauched effrontery; a man of the most decided
courage, though his vaunting rendered it sometimes doubtful; and
entertained a sincere sense of his political principles, such as they
were, though he was often so imprudent in asserting and boasting of
them, as, joined with his dependence on Colonel Everard, induced prudent
men to doubt his sincerity.
Such as he was, however, he entered the parlour of Victor Lee, where his
presence was any thing but desirable to the parties present, with a
jaunty step, and a consciousness of deserving the best possible
reception. This assurance was greatly aided by circumstances which
rendered it obvious, that if the jocund cavalier had limited himself to
one draught of liquor that evening, in terms of his vow of temperance,
it must have been a very deep and long one.
"Save ye, gentlemen, save ye.--Save you, good Sir Henry Lee, though I
have scarce the honour to be known to you.--Save you, worthy doctor, and
a speedy resurrection to the fallen Church of England."
"You are welcome, sir," said Sir Henry Lee, whose feelings of
hospitality, and of the fraternal reception due to a royalist sufferer,
induced him to tolerate this intrusion more than he might have done
otherwise. "If you have fought or suffered for the King, sir, it is an
excuse for joining us, and commanding our services in any thing in our
power--although at present we are a family-party.--But I think I saw you
in waiting upon Master Markham Everard, who calls himself Colonel
Everard.--If your message is from him, you may wish to see me in
"Not at all, Sir Henry, not at all.--It is true, as my ill hap will have
it, that being on the stormy side of the hedge--like all honest men--you
understand me, Sir Henry--I am glad, as it were, to gain something from
my old friend and comrade's countenance--not by truckling or disowning
my principles, sir--I defy such practises;--but, in short, by doing him
any kindness in my power when he is pleased to call on me. So I came
down here with a message from him to the old roundheaded son of a ----
(I beg the young lady's pardon, from the crown of her head down to the
very toes of her slipper)--And so, sir, chancing as I was stumbling out
in the dark, I heard you give a toast, sir, which warmed my heart, sir,
and ever will, sir, till death chills it;--and so I made bold to let you
know there was an honest man within hearing."
Such was the self-introduction of Master Wildrake, to which the knight
replied, by asking him to sit down, and take a glass of sack to his
Majesty's glorious restoration. Wildrake, at this hint, squeezed in
without ceremony beside the young Scotsman, and not only pledged his
landlord's toast, but seconded its import, by volunteering a verse or
two of his favourite loyal ditty,--"The King shall enjoy his own again."
The heartiness which he threw into his song opened still farther the
heart of the old knight, though Albert and Alice looked at each other
with looks resentful of the intrusion, and desirous to put an end to it.
The honourable Master Kerneguy either possessed that happy indifference
of temper which does not deign to notice such circumstances, or he was
able to assume the appearance of it to perfection, as he sat sipping
sack, and cracking walnuts, without testifying the least sense that an
addition had been made to the party. Wildrake, who liked the liquor and
the company, showed no unwillingness to repay his landlord, by being at
the expense of the conversation.
"You talk of fighting and suffering, Sir Henry Lee. Lord help us, we
have all had our share. All the world knows what Sir Henry Lee has done
from Edgefield downwards, wherever a loyal sword was drawn, or a loyal
flag fluttered. Ah, God help us! I have done something too. My name is
Roger Wildrake of Squattlesea-mere, Lincoln; not that you are ever like
to have heard it before, but I was captain in Lunsford's light-horse,
and afterwards with Goring. I was a child-eater, sir--a babe-bolter."
"I have heard of your regiment's exploits, sir; and perhaps you may find
I have seen some of them, if we should spend ten minutes together. And I
think I have heard of your name too. I beg to drink your health, Captain
Wildrake of Squattlesea-mere, Lincolnshire."
"Sir Henry, I drink yours in this pint bumper, and upon my knee; and I
would do as much for that young gentleman"--(looking at Albert)--"and
the squire of the green cassock too, holding it for green, as the
colours are not to my eyes altogether clear and distinguishable."
It was a remarkable part of what is called by theatrical folk the
by-play of this scene, that Albert was conversing apart with Dr.
Rochecliffe in whispers, even more than the divine seemed desirous of
encouraging; yet, to whatever their private conversation referred, it
did not deprive the young Colonel of the power of listening to what was
going forward in the party at large, and interfering from time to time,
like a watch-dog, who can distinguish the slightest alarm, even when
employed in the engrossing process of taking his food.
"Captain Wildrake," said Albert, "we have no objection--I mean, my
friend and I--to be communicative on proper occasions; but you, sir, who
are so old a sufferer, must needs know, that at such casual meetings as
this, men do not mention their names unless they are specially wanted.
It is a point of conscience, sir, to be able to say, if your principal,
Captain Everard or Colonel Everard, if he be a Colonel, should examine
you upon oath, I did not know who the persons were whom I heard drink
such and such toasts."
"Faith, I have a better way of it, worthy sir," answered Wildrake; "I
never can, for the life of me, remember that there were any such and
such toasts drunk at all. It's a strange gift of forgetfulness I have."
"Well, sir," replied the younger Lee; "but we, who have unhappily more
tenacious memories, would willingly abide by the more general rule."
"Oh, sir," answered Wildrake, "with all my heart. I intrude on no man's
confidence, d--n me--and I only spoke for civility's sake, having the
purpose of drinking your health in a good fashion"--(Then he broke forth
"'Then let the health go round, a-round, a-round, a-round,
Then let the health go round;
For though your stocking be of silk,
Your knee shall kiss the ground, a-ground, a-ground, a-ground,
Your knee shall kiss the ground.'"
"Urge it no farther," said Sir Henry, addressing his son; "Master
Wildrake is one of the old school--one of the tantivy boys; and we must
bear a little, for if they drink hard they fought well. I will never
forget how a party came up and rescued us clerks of Oxford, as they
called the regiment I belonged to, out of a cursed embroglio during the
attack on Brentford. I tell you we were enclosed with the cockneys'
pikes both front and rear, and we should have come off but ill had not
Lunford's light-horse, the babe-eaters, as they called them, charged up
to the pike's point, and brought us off."
"I am glad you thought on that, Sir Henry," said Wildrake; "and do you
remember what the officer of Lunsford's said?"
"I think I do," said Sir Henry, smiling.
"Well, then, did not he call out, when the women were coming down,
howling like sirens as they were--'Have none of you a plump child that
you could give us to break our fast upon?'"
"Truth itself!" said the knight; "and a great fat woman stepped forward
with a baby, and offered it to the supposed cannibal."
All at the table, Master Kerneguy excepted, who seemed to think that
good food of any kind required no apology, held up their hands in token
"Ay," said Wildrake, "the--a-hem!--I crave the lady's pardon again, from
tip of top-knot to hem of farthingale--but the cursed creature proved to
be a parish nurse, who had been paid for the child half a year in
advance. Gad, I took the babe out of the bitch-wolf's hand; and I have
contrived, though God knows I have lived in a skeldering sort of way
myself, to breed up bold Breakfast, as I call him, ever since. It was
paying dear for a jest, though."
"Sir, I honour you for your humanity," said the old knight--"Sir, I
thank you for your courage--Sir, I am glad to see you here," said the
good knight, his eyes watering almost to overflowing. "So you were the
wild officer who cut us out of the toils; Oh, sir, had you but stopped
when I called on you, and allowed us to clear the streets of Brentford
with our musketeers, we would have been at London Stone that day! But
your good will was the same."
"Ay, truly was it," said Wildrake, who now sat triumphant and glorious
in his easy-chair; "and here is to all the brave hearts, sir, that
fought and fell in that same storm of Brentford. We drove all before us
like chaff, till the shops, where they sold strong waters, and other
temptations, brought us up. Gad, sir, we, the babe-eaters, had too many
acquaintances in Brentford, and our stout Prince Rupert was ever better
at making way than drawing off. Gad, sir, for my own poor share, I did
but go into the house of a poor widow lady, who maintained a charge of
daughters, and whom I had known of old, to get my horse fed, a morsel of
meat, and so forth, when these cockney-pikes of the artillery ground, as
you very well call them, rallied, and came in with their armed heads, as
boldly as so many Cotswold rams. I sprang down stairs, got to my
horse,--but, egad, I fancy all my troop had widows and orphan maidens to
comfort as well as I, for only five of us got together. We cut our way
through successfully; and Gad, gentlemen, I carried my little Breakfast
on the pommel before me; and there was such a hollowing and screeching,
as if the whole town thought I was to kill, roast, and eat the poor
child, so soon as I got to quarters. But devil a cockney charged up to
my bonny bay, poor lass, to rescue little cake-bread; they only cried
haro, and out upon me."
"Alas, alas!" said the knight, "we made ourselves seem worse than we
were; and we were too bad to deserve God's blessing even in a good
cause. But it is needless to look back; we did not deserve victories
when God gave them, for we never improved them like good soldiers, or
like Christian men; and so we gave these canting scoundrels the
advantage of us, for they assumed, out of mere hypocrisy, the discipline
and orderly behaviour which we, who drew our swords in a better cause,
ought to have practised out of true principle. But here is my hand,
Captain. I have often wished to see the honest fellow who charged up so
smartly in our behalf, and I reverence you for the care you took of the
poor child. I am glad this dilapidated place has still some hospitality
to offer you, although we cannot treat you to roasted babes or stewed
"Truth, Sir Henry, the scandal was sore against us on that score. I
remember Lacy, who was an old play-actor, and a lieutenant in ours, made
drollery on it in a play which was sometimes acted at Oxford, when our
hearts were something up, called, I think, the Old Troop."
So saying, and feeling more familiar as his merits were known, he
hitched his chair up against that of the Scottish lad, who was seated
next him, and who, in shifting his place, was awkward enough to disturb,
in his turn, Alice Lee, who sate opposite, and, a little offended, or at
least embarrassed, drew her chair away from the table.
"I crave pardon," said the honourable Master Kerneguy; "but, sir," to
Master Wildrake, "ye hae e'en garr'd me hurt the young lady's shank."
"I crave your pardon, sir, and much more that of the fair lady, as is
reasonable; though, rat me, sir, if it was I set your chair a-trundling
in that way. Zooks, sir, I have brought with me no plague, nor
pestilence, nor other infectious disorder, that ye should have started
away as if I had been a leper, and discomposed the lady, which I would
have prevented with my life, sir. Sir, if ye be northern born, as your
tongue bespeaks, egad, it was I ran the risk in drawing near you; so
there was small reason for you to bolt."
"Master Wildrake," said Albert, interfering, "this young gentleman is a
stranger as well as you, under protection of Sir Henry's hospitality,
and it cannot be agreeable for my father to see disputes arise among his
guests. You may mistake the young gentleman's quality from his present
appearance--this is the Honourable Master Louis Kerneguy, sir, son of my
Lord Killstewers of Kincardineshire, one who has fought for the King,
young as he is."
"No dispute shall rise through me, sir--none through me," said Wildrake;
"your exposition sufficeth, sir.--Master Louis Girnigo, son of my Lord
Kilsteer, in Gringardenshire, I am your humble slave, sir, and drink
your health, in token that I honour you, and all true Scots who draw
their Andrew Ferraras on the right side, sir."
"I'se beholden to you, and thank you, sir," said the young man, with
some haughtiness of manner, which hardly corresponded with his
rusticity; "and I wuss your health in a ceevil way."
Most judicious persons would have here dropped the conversation; but it
was one of Wildrake's marked peculiarities, that he could never let
matters stand when they were well. He continued to plague the shy,
proud, and awkward lad with his observations. "You speak your national
dialect pretty strongly, Master Girnigo," said he, "but I think not
quite the language of the gallants that I have known among the Scottish
cavaliers--I knew, for example, some of the Gordons, and others of good
repute, who always put an _f_ for _wh_, as _faat_ for _what_, _fan_ for
_when_, and the like."
Albert Lee here interposed, and said that the provinces of Scotland,
like those of England, had their different modes of pronunciation.
"You are very right, sir," said Wildrake. "I reckon myself, now, a
pretty good speaker of their cursed jargon--no offence, young gentleman;
and yet, when I took a turn with some of Montrose's folk, in the South
Highlands, as they call their beastly wildernesses, (no offence again,)
I chanced to be by myself, and to lose my way, when I said to a
shepherd-fellow, making my mouth as wide, and my voice as broad as I
could, _whore am I ganging till?_--confound me if the fellow could
answer me, unless, indeed, he was sulky, as the bumpkins will be now and
then to the gentlemen of the sword."
This was familiarly spoken, and though partly addressed to Albert, was
still more directed to his immediate neighbour, the young Scotsman, who
seemed, from bashfulness, or some other reason, rather shy of his
intimacy. To one or two personal touches from Wildrake's elbow,
administered during his last speech, by way of a practical appeal to him
in particular, he only answered, "Misunderstandings were to be expected
when men converse in national deealects."
Wildrake, now considerably drunker than he ought to have been in civil
company, caught up the phrase and repeated it:--"Misunderstanding,
sir--Misunderstanding, sir?--I do not know how I am to construe that,
sir; but to judge from the information of these scratches on your
honourable visnomy, I should augur that you had been of late at
misunderstanding with the cat, sir."
"You are mistaken, then, friend, for it was with the dowg," answered the
Scotsman, dryly, and cast a look towards Albert.
"We had some trouble with the watch-dogs in entering so late in the
evening," said Albert, in explanation, "and this youth had a fall among
some rubbish, by which he came by these scratches."
"And now, dear Sir Henry," said Dr. Rochecliffe, "allow us to remind you
of your gout, and our long journey. I do it the rather that my good
friend your son has been, during the whole time of supper, putting
questions to me aside, which had much better be reserved till
to-morrow--May we therefore ask permission to retire to our night's
"These private committees in a merry meeting," said Wildrake, "are a
solecism in breeding. They always put me in mind of the cursed
committees at Westminster.--But shall we roost before we rouse the
night-owl with a catch?"
"Aha, canst thou quote Shakspeare?" said Sir Henry, pleased at
discovering a new good quality in his acquaintance, whose military
services were otherwise but just able to counterbalance the intrusive
freedom of his conversation. "In the name of merry Will," he
continued,--"whom I never saw, though I have seen many of his comrades,
as Alleyn, Hemmings, and so on,--we will have a single catch, and one
rouse about, and then to bed."
After the usual discussion about the choice of the song, and the parts
which each was to bear, they united their voices in trolling a loyal
glee, which was popular among the party at the time, and in fact
believed to be composed by no less a person than Dr. Rochecliffe
GLEE FOR KING CHARLES.
Bring the bowl which you boast,
Fill it up to the brim;
'Tis to him we love most,
And to all who love him.
Brave gallants, stand up.
And avauant, ye base carles!
Were there death in the cup,
Here's a health to King Charles!
Though he wanders through dangers,
Dependent 'on strangers,
Estranged from his own;
Though 'tis under our breath,
Amidst forfeits and perils,
Here's to honour and faith,
And a health to King Charles!
Let such honours abound
As the time can afford.
The knee on the ground,
And the hand on the sword;
But the time shall come round.
When, 'mid Lords, Dukes, and Earls,
The loud trumpets shall sound
Here's a health to King Charles!
After this display of loyalty, and a final libation, the party took
leave of each other for the night. Sir Henry offered his old
acquaintance Wildrake a bed for the evening, who weighed the matter
somewhat in this fashion: "Why, to speak truth, my patron will expect me
at the borough--but then he is used to my staying out of doors a-nights.
Then there's the Devil, that they say haunts Woodstock; but with the
blessing of this reverend Doctor, I defy him and all his works--I saw
him not when I slept here twice before, and I am sure if he was absent
then, he has not come back with Sir Henry Lee and his family. So I
accept your courtesy, Sir Henry, and I thank you, as a cavalier of
Lunsford should thank one of the fighting clerks of Oxon. God bless the
King! I care not who hears it, and confusion to Noll and his red nose!"
Off he went accordingly with a bottle-swagger, guided by Joceline, to
whom Albert, in the meantime, had whispered, to be sure to quarter him
far enough from the rest of the family.
Young Lee then saluted his sister, and, with the formality of those
times, asked and received his father's blessing with an affectionate
embrace. His page seemed desirous to imitate one part of his example,
but was repelled by Alice, who only replied to his offered salute with a
curtsy. He next bowed his head in an awkward fashion to her father, who
wished him a good night. "I am glad to see, young man," he said, "that
you have at least learned the reverence due to age. It should always be
paid, sir; because in doing so you render that honour to others which
you will expect yourself to receive when you approach the close of your
life. More will I speak with you at leisure, on your duties as a page,
which office in former days used to be the very school of chivalry;
whereas of late, by the disorderly times, it has become little better
than a school of wild and disordered license; which made rare Ben Jonson
"Nay, father," said Albert, interposing, "you must consider this day's
fatigue, and the poor lad is almost asleep on his legs--to-morrow he
will listen with more profit to your kind admonitions.--And you, Louis,
remember at least one part of your duty--take the candles and light
us--here Joceline comes to show us the way. Once more, good night, good
Dr. Rochecliffe--good night, all."
* * * * *
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-FIRST.
_Groom._ Hail, noble prince!
_King Richard._ Thanks, noble peer;
The cheapest of us is a groat too dear.
Albert and his page were ushered by Joceline to what was called the
Spanish Chamber, a huge old scrambling bedroom, rather in a dilapidated
condition, but furnished with a large standing-bed for the master, and a
truckle-bed for the domestic, as was common at a much later period in
old English houses, where the gentleman often required the assistance of
a groom of the chambers to help him to bed, if the hospitality had been
exuberant. The walls were covered with hangings of cordovan leather,
stamped with gold, and representing fights between the Spaniards and
Moriscoes, bull-feasts, and other sports peculiar to the Peninsula, from
which it took its name of the Spanish Chamber. These hangings were in
some places entirely torn down, in others defaced and hanging in
tatters. But Albert stopped not to make observations, anxious, it
seemed, to get Joceline out of the room; which he achieved by hastily
answering his offers of fresh fuel, and more liquor, in the negative,
and returning, with equal conciseness, the under-keeper's good wishes
for the evening. He at length retired, somewhat unwillingly, and as if
he thought that his young master might have bestowed a few more words
upon a faithful old retainer after so long absence.
Joliffe was no sooner gone, than, before a single word was spoken
between Albert Lee and his page, the former hastened to the door,
examined lock, latch, and bolt, and made them fast, with the most
scrupulous attention. He superadded to these precautions that of a long
screw-bolt, which he brought out of his pocket, and which he screwed on
to the staple in such a manner as to render it impossible to withdraw
it, or open the door, unless by breaking it down. The page held a light
to him during the operation, which his master went through with much
exactness and dexterity. But when Albert arose from his knee, on which
he had rested during the accomplishment of this task, the manner of the
companions was on the sudden entirely changed towards each other. The
honourable Master Kerneguy, from a cubbish lout of a raw Scotsman,
seemed to have acquired at once all the grace and ease of motion and
manner, which could be given by an acquaintance of the earliest and most
familiar kind with the best company of the time.
He gave the light he held to Albert, with the easy indifference of a
superior, who rather graces than troubles his dependent by giving him
some slight service to perform. Albert, with the greatest appearance of
deference, assumed in his turn the character of torch-bearer, and
lighted his page across the chamber, without turning his back upon him
as he did so. He then set the light on the table by the bedside, and
approaching the young man with deep reverence, received from him the
soiled green jacket, with the same profound respect as if he had been a
first lord of the bedchamber, or other officer of the household of the
highest distinction, disrobing his Sovereign of the Mantle of the
Garter. The person to whom this ceremony was addressed endured it for a
minute or two with profound gravity, and then bursting out a-laughing,
exclaimed to Albert, "What a devil means all this formality?--thou
complimentest with these miserable rags as if they were silks and
sables, and with poor Louis Kerneguy as if he were the King of Great
"And if your Majesty's commands, and the circumstances of the time, have
made me for a moment seem to forget that you are my sovereign, surely I
may be permitted to render my homage as such while you are in your own
royal palace of Woodstock?"
"Truly," replied the disguised Monarch, "the sovereign and the palace
are not ill matched;--these tattered hangings and my ragged jerkin suit
each other admirably.--_This_ Woodstock!--_this_ the bower where the
royal Norman revelled with the fair Rosamond Clifford!--Why, it is a
place of assignation for owls." Then, suddenly recollecting himself,
with his natural courtesy, he added, as if fearing he might have hurt
Albert's feelings--"But the more obscure and retired, it is the fitter
for our purpose, Lee; and if it does seem to be a roost for owls, as
there is no denying, why we know it has nevertheless brought up eagles."
He threw himself as he spoke upon a chair, and indolently, but
gracefully, received the kind offices, of Albert, who undid the coarse
buttonings of the leathern gamashes which defended his legs, and spoke
to him the whilst:--"What a fine specimen of the olden time is your
father, Sir Henry! It is strange I should not have seen him before;--but
I heard my father often speak of him as being among the flower of our
real old English gentry. By the mode in which he began to school me, I
can guess you had a tight taskmaster of him, Albert--I warrant you never
wore hat in his presence, eh?"
"I never cocked it at least in his presence, please your Majesty, as I
have seen some youngsters do," answered Albert; "indeed if I had, it
must have been a stout beaver to have saved me from a broken head."
"Oh, I doubt it not," replied the king; "a fine old gentleman--but with
that, methinks, in his countenance, that assures you he would not hate
the child in sparing the rod.--Hark ye, Albert--Suppose the same
glorious Restoration come round--which, if drinking to its arrival can
hasten it, should not be far distant,--for in that particular our
adherents never neglect their duty, suppose it come, therefore, and that
thy father, as must be of course, becomes an Earl and one of the Privy
Council, oddsfish, man, I shall be as much afraid of him as ever was my
grandfather Henri Quatre of old Sully.--Imagine there were such a
trinket now about the Court as the Fair Rosamond, or La Belle Gabrielle,
what a work there would be of pages, and grooms of the chamber, to get
the pretty rogue clandestinely shuffled out by the backstairs, like a
prohibited commodity, when the step of the Earl of Woodstock was heard
in the antechamber!"
"I am glad to see your Majesty so--merry after your fatiguing journey."
"The fatigue was nothing, man," said Charles; "a kind welcome and a good
meal made amends for all that. But they must have suspected thee of
bringing a wolf from the braes of Badenoch along with you, instead of a
two-legged being, with no more than the usual allowance of mortal
stowage for provisions. I was really ashamed of my appetite; but thou
knowest I had eat nothing for twenty-four hours, save the raw egg you
stole for me from the old woman's hen-roost--I tell thee, I blushed to
show myself so ravenous before that high-bred and respectable old
gentleman your father, and the very pretty girl your sister--or cousin,
"She is my sister," said Albert Lee, dryly, and added, in the same
breath, "Your Majesty's appetite suited well enough with the character
of a raw northern lad.--Would your Majesty now please to retire to
"Not for a minute or two," said the King, retaining his seat. "Why, man,
I have scarce had my tongue unchained to-day; and to talk with that
northern twang, and besides, the fatigue of being obliged to speak every
word in character,--Gad, it's like walking as the galley-slaves do on
the Continent, with a twenty-four pound shot chained to their legs--they
may drag it along, but they cannot move with comfort. And, by the way,
thou art slack in paying me my well-deserved tribute of compliment on my
counterfeiting.--Did I not play Louis Kerneguy as round as a ring?"
"If your Majesty asks my serious opinion, perhaps I may be forgiven if I
say your dialect was somewhat too coarse for a Scottish youth of high
birth, and your behaviour perhaps a little too churlish. I thought
too--though I pretend not to be skilful--that some of your Scottish
sounded as if it were not genuine."
"Not genuine?--there is no pleasing thee, Albert.--Why, who should speak
genuine Scottish but myself?--Was I not their King for a matter of ten
months? and if I did not get knowledge of their language, I wonder what
else I got by it. Did not east country, and south country, and west
country, and Highlands, caw, croak, and shriek about me, as the deep
guttural, the broad drawl, and the high sharp yelp predominated by
turns?--Oddsfish, man, have I not been speeched at by their orators,
addressed by their senators, rebuked by their kirkmen? Have I not sate
on the cutty-stool, mon, [again assuming the northern dialect,] and
thought it grace of worthy Mrs John Gillespie, that I was permitted to
do penance in my own privy chamber, instead of the face of the
congregation? and wilt thou tell me, after all, that I cannot speak
Scotch enough to baffle an Oxon Knight and his family?"
"May it please your Majesty,--I begun by saying I was no judge of the
"Pshaw--it is mere envy; just so you said at Norton's, that I was too
courteous and civil for a young page--now you think me too rude."
"And there is a medium, if one could find it," said Albert, defending
his opinion in the same tone in which the King attacked him; "so this
morning, when you were in the woman's dress, you raised your petticoats
rather unbecomingly high, as you waded through the first little stream;
and when I told you of it, to mend the matter, you draggled through the
next without raising them at all."
"O, the devil take the woman's dress!" said Charles; "I hope I shall
never be driven to that disguise again. Why, my ugly face was enough to
put gowns, caps, and kirtles, out of fashion for ever--the very dogs
fled from me--Had I passed any hamlet that had but five huts in it, I
could not have escaped the cucking-stool.--I was a libel on womankind.
These leathern conveniences are none of the gayest, but they are
_propria quae maribus_; and right glad am I to be repossessed of them. I
can tell you too, my friend, I shall resume all my masculine privileges
with my proper habiliments; and as you say I have been too coarse
to-night, I will behave myself like a courtier to Mistress Alice
to-morrow. I made a sort of acquaintance with her already, when I seemed
to be of the same sex with herself, and found out there are other
Colonels in the wind besides you, Colonel Albert Lee."
"May it please your Majesty," said Albert--and then stopped short, from
the difficulty of finding words to express the unpleasant nature of his
feelings. They could not escape Charles; but he proceeded without
scruple. "I pique myself on seeing as far into the hearts of young
ladies as most folk, though God knows they are sometimes too deep for
the wisest of us. But I mentioned to your sister in my character of
fortune-teller,--thinking, poor simple man, that a country girl must
have no one but her brother to dream about,--that she was anxious about
a certain Colonel. I had hit the theme, but not the person; for I
alluded to you, Albert; and I presume the blush was too deep ever to be
given to a brother. So up she got, and away she flew from me like a
lap-wing. I can excuse her--for, looking at myself in the well, I think
if I had met such a creature as I seemed, I should have called fire and
fagot against it.--Now, what think you, Albert--who can this Colonel be,
that more than rivals you in your sister's affection?"
Albert, who well knew that the King's mode of thinking, where the fair
sex was concerned, was far more gay than delicate, endeavoured to put a
stop to the present topic by a grave answer.
"His sister," he said, "had been in some measure educated with the son
of her maternal uncle, Markham Everard; but as his father and he himself
had adopted the cause of the roundheads, the families had in consequence
been at variance; and any projects which might have been formerly
entertained, were of course long since dismissed on all sides."
"You are wrong, Albert, you are wrong," said the King, pitilessly
pursuing his jest. "You Colonels, whether you wear blue or orange
sashes, are too pretty fellows to be dismissed so easily, when once you
have acquired an interest. But Mistress Alice, so pretty, and who wishes
the restoration of the King with such a look and accent, as if she were
an angel whose prayers must needs bring it down, must not be allowed to
retain any thoughts of a canting roundhead--What say you--will you give
me leave to take her to task about it?--After all, I am the party most
concerned in maintaining true allegiance among my subjects; and if I
gain the pretty maiden's good will, that of the sweetheart's will soon
follow. This was jolly King Edward's way--Edward the Fourth, you know.
The king-making Earl of Warwick--the Cromwell of his day--dethroned him
more than once; but he had the hearts of the merry dames of London, and
the purses and veins of the cockneys bled freely, till they brought him
home again. How say you?--shall I shake off my northern slough, and
speak with Alice in my own character, showing what education and manners
have done for me, to make the best amends they can for an ugly face?"
"May it please your Majesty," said Albert, in an altered and embarrassed
tone, "I did not expect"--
Here he stopped, not able to find words adequate at the same time to
express his sentiments, and respectful enough to the King, while in his
father's house, and under his own protection.
"And what is it that Master Lee does not expect?" said Charles, with
marked gravity on his part.
Again Albert attempted a reply, but advanced no farther than, "I would
hope, if it please your Majesty"--when he again stopped short, his deep
and hereditary respect for his sovereign, and his sense of the
hospitality due to his misfortunes, preventing his giving utterance to
his irritated feelings.
"And what does Colonel Albert Lee hope?" said Charles, in the same dry
and cold manner in which he had before spoken.--"No answer?--Now, I
_hope_ that Colonel Lee does not see in a silly jest anything offensive
to the honour of his family, since methinks that were an indifferent
compliment to his sister, his father, and himself, not to mention
Charles Stewart, whom he calls his King; and I _expect_, that I shall
not be so hardly construed, as to be supposed capable of forgetting that
Mistress Alice Lee is the daughter of my faithful subject and host, and
the sister of my guide and preserver.--Come, come, Albert," he added,
changing at once to his naturally frank and unceremonious manner, "you
forget how long I have been abroad where men, women, and children, talk
gallantry morning, noon, and night, with no more serious thought than
just to pass away the time; and I forget, too, that you are of the
old-fashioned English school, a son after Sir Henry's own heart, and
don't understand raillery upon such subjects.--But I ask your pardon,
Albert, sincerely, if I have really hurt you."
So saying, he extended his hand to Colonel Lee, who, feeling he had been
rather too hasty in construing the King's jest in an unpleasant sense,
kissed it with reverence, and attempted an apology.
"Not a word--not a word," said the good-natured Prince, raising his
penitent adherent as he attempted to kneel; "we understand each other.
You are somewhat afraid of the gay reputation which I acquired in
Scotland; but I assure you, I will be as stupid as you or your cousin
Colonel could desire, in presence of Mistress Alice Lee, and only bestow
my gallantry, should I have any to throw away, upon the pretty little
waiting-maid who attended at supper--unless you should have monopolized
her ear for your own benefit, Colonel Albert?"
"It is monopolized, sure enough, though not by me, if it please your
Majesty, but by Joceline Joliffe, the under-keeper, whom we must not
disoblige, as we have trusted him so far already, and may have occasion
to repose even entire confidence in him. I half think he suspects who
Louis Kerneguy may in reality be."
"You are an engrossing set, you wooers of Woodstock," said the King,
laughing. "Now, if I had a fancy, as a Frenchman would not fail to have
in such a case, to make pretty speeches to the deaf old woman I saw in
the kitchen, as a pisaller, I dare say I should be told that her ear was
engrossed for Dr. Rochecliffe's sole use?"
"I marvel at your Majesty's good spirits," said Albert, "that after a
day of danger, fatigue, and accidents, you should feel the power of
amusing yourself thus."
"That is to say, the groom of the chambers wishes his Majesty would go
to sleep?--Well, one word or two on more serious business, and I have
done.--I have been completely directed by you and Rochecliffe--I have
changed my disguise from female to male upon the instant, and altered my
destination from Hampshire to take shelter here--Do you still hold it
the wiser course?"
"I have great confidence in Dr. Rochecliffe," replied Albert, "whose
acquaintance with the scattered royalists enables him to gain the most
accurate intelligence. His pride in the extent of his correspondence,
and the complication of his plots and schemes for your Majesty's
service, is indeed the very food he lives upon; but his sagacity is
equal to his vanity. I repose, besides, the utmost faith in Joliffe. Of
my father and sister I would say nothing; yet I would not, without
reason, extend the knowledge of your Majesty's person farther than it is
"Is it handsome in me," said Charles, pausing, "to withhold my full
confidence from Sir Henry Lee?"
"Your Majesty heard of his almost death-swoon of last night--what would
agitate him most deeply must not be hastily communicated."
"True; but are we safe from a visit of the red-coats--they have them in
Woodstock as well as in Oxford?" said Charles.
"Dr. Rochecliffe says, not unwisely," answered Lee, "that it is best
sitting near the fire when the chimney smokes; and that Woodstock, so
lately in possession of the sequestrators, and still in the vicinity of
the soldiers, will be less suspected, and more carelessly searched, than
more distant corners, which might seem to promise more safety. Besides,"
he added, "Rochecliffe is in possession of curious and important news
concerning the state of matters at Woodstock, highly favourable to your
Majesty's being concealed in the palace for two or three days, till
shipping is provided. The Parliament, or usurping Council of State, had
sent down sequestrators, whom their own evil conscience, assisted,
perhaps, by the tricks of some daring cavaliers, had frightened out of
the Lodge, without much desire to come back again. Then the more
formidable usurper, Cromwell, had granted a warrant of possession to
Colonel Everard, who had only used it for the purpose of repossessing
his uncle in the Lodge, and who kept watch in person at the little
borough, to see that Sir Henry was not disturbed."
"What! Mistress Alice's Colonel?" said the King--"that sounds
alarming;--for grant that he keeps the other fellows at bay, think you
not, Master Albert, he will have an hundred errands a-day, to bring him
here in person?"
"Dr. Rochecliffe says," answered Lee, "the treaty between Sir Henry and
his nephew binds the latter not to approach the Lodge, unless
invited;--indeed, it was not without great difficulty, and strongly
arguing the good consequences it might produce to your Majesty's cause,
that my father could be prevailed on to occupy Woodstock at all; but be
assured he will be in no hurry to send an invitation to the Colonel."
"And be you assured that the Colonel will come without waiting for one,"
said Charles. "Folk cannot judge rightly where sisters are
concerned--they are too familiar with the magnet to judge of its powers
of attraction.--Everard will be here, as if drawn by cart-ropes--
fetters, not to talk of promises, will not hold him--and then, methinks,
we are in some danger."
"I hope not," said Albert. "In the first place, I know Markham is a
slave to his word: besides, were any chance to bring him here, I think I
could pass your Majesty upon him without difficulty, as Louis Kerneguy.
Then, although my cousin and I have not been on good terms for these
some years, I believe him incapable of betraying your Majesty; and
lastly, if I saw the least danger of it, I would, were he ten times the
son of my mother's sister, run my sword through his body, ere he had
time to execute his purpose."
"There is but another question," said Charles, "and I will release you,
Albert:--You seem to think yourself secure from search. It may be so;
but, in any other country, this tale of goblins which is flying about
would bring down priests and ministers of justice to examine the reality
of the story, and mobs of idle people to satisfy their curiosity."
"Respecting the first, sir, we hope and understand that Colonel
Everard's influence will prevent any immediate enquiry, for the sake of
preserving undisturbed the peace of his uncle's family; and as for any
one coming without some sort of authority, the whole neighbours have so
much love and fear of my father, and are, besides, so horribly alarmed
about the goblins of Woodstock, that fear will silence curiosity."
"On the whole, then," said Charles, "the chances of safety seem to be in
favour of the plan we have adopted, which is all I can hope for in a
condition where absolute safety is out of the question. The Bishop
recommended Dr. Rochecliffe as one of the most ingenious, boldest, and
most loyal sons of the Church of England; you, Albert Lee, have marked
your fidelity by a hundred proofs. To you and your local knowledge I
submit myself.--And now, prepare our arms--alive I will not be taken;--
yet I will not believe that a son of the King of England, and heir of
her throne, could be destined to danger in his own palace, and under the
guard of the loyal Lees."
Albert Lee laid pistols and swords in readiness by the King's bed and
his own; and Charles, after some slight apology, took his place in the
larger and better bed, with a sigh of pleasure, as from one who had not
lately enjoyed such an indulgence. He bid good night to his faithful
attendant, who deposited himself on his truckle; and both monarch and
subject were soon fast asleep.
* * * * *
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-SECOND.
Give Sir Nicholas Threlkeld praise;
Hear it, good man, old in days,
Thou tree of succour and of rest
To this young bird that was distress'd;
Beneath thy branches he did stay;
And he was free to sport and play,
When falcons were abroad for prey.
The fugitive Prince slept, in spite of danger, with the profound repose
which youth and fatigue inspire. But the young cavalier, his guide and
guard, spent a more restless night, starting from time to time, and
listening; anxious, notwithstanding Dr. Rochecliffe's assurances, to
procure yet more particular knowledge concerning the state of things
around them, than he had been yet able to collect.
He rose early after daybreak; but although he moved with as little noise
as was possible, the slumbers of the hunted Prince were easily
disturbed. He started up in his bed, and asked if there was any alarm.
"None, please your Majesty," replied Lee; "only, thinking on the
questions your Majesty was asking last night, and the various chances
there are of your Majesty's safety being endangered from unforeseen
accidents, I thought of going thus early, both to communicate with Dr.
Rochecliffe, and to keep such a look-out as befits the place, where are
lodged for the time the Fortunes of England. I fear I must request of
your Majesty, for your own gracious security, that you have the goodness
to condescend to secure the door with your own hand after I go out."
"Oh, talk not to Majesty, for Heaven's sake, dear Albert!" answered the
poor King, endeavouring in vain to put on a part of his clothes, in
order to traverse the room.--"When a King's doublet and hose are so
ragged that he can no more find his way into them than he could have
travelled through the forest of Deane without a guide, good faith, there
should be an end of Majesty, until it chances to be better accommodated.
Besides, there is the chance of these big words bolting out at unawares,
when there are ears to hear them whom we might think dangerous."
"Your commands shall be obeyed," said Lee, who had now succeeded in
opening the door; from which he took his departure, leaving the King,
who had hustled along the floor for that purpose, with his dress wofully
ill arranged, to make it fast again behind him, and begging him in no
case to open to any one, unless he or Rochecliffe were of the party who
Back to Full Books