Woodstock; or, The Cavalier
Sir Walter Scott
Part 9 out of 11
debate took so worldly a turn.
But Joe Tomkins was much more concerned at the evil opinion which seemed
to be entertained against him, by one whose good graces he was greatly
more desirous to obtain than those of Nehemiah Holdenough. This was no
other than pretty Mistress Phoebe Mayflower, for whose conversion he had
felt a strong vocation, ever since his lecture upon Shakspeare on their
first meeting at the Lodge. He seemed desirous, however, to carry on
this more serious work in private, and especially to conceal his labours
from his friend Joceline Joliffe, lest, perchance, he had been addicted
to jealousy. But it was in vain that he plied the faithful damsel,
sometimes with verses from the Canticles, sometimes with quotations from
Green's Arcadia, or pithy passages from Venus and Adonis, and doctrines
of a nature yet more abstruse, from the popular work entitled
Aristotle's Masterpiece. Unto no wooing of his, sacred or profane,
metaphysical or physical, would Phoebe Mayflower seriously incline.
The maiden loved Joceline Joliffe, on the one hand; and, on the other,
if she disliked Joseph Tomkins when she first saw him, as a rebellious
puritan, she had not been at all reconciled by finding reason to regard
him as a hypocritical libertine. She hated him in both capacities--never
endured his conversation when she could escape from it--and when obliged
to remain, listened to him only because she knew he had been so deeply
trusted, that to offend him might endanger the security of the family,
in the service of which she had been born and bred up, and to whose
interest she was devoted. For reasons somewhat similar, she did not
suffer her dislike of the steward to become manifest before Joceline
Joliffe, whose spirit, as a forester and a soldier, might have been
likely to bring matters to an arbitrement, in which the _couteau de
chasse_ and quarterstaff of her favourite, would have been too unequally
matched with the long rapier and pistols which his dangerous rival
always carried about his person. But it is difficult to blind jealousy--
when there is any cause of doubt; and perhaps the sharp watch maintained
by Joceline on his comrade, was prompted not only by his zeal for the
King's safety, but by some vague suspicion that Tomkins was not ill
disposed to poach upon his own fair manor.
Phoebe, in the meanwhile, like a prudent girl, sheltered herself as much
as possible by the presence of Goody Jellicot. Then, indeed, it is true
the Independent, or whatever he was, used to follow her with his
addresses to very little purpose; for Phoebe seemed as deaf, through
wilfulness, as the old matron by natural infirmity. This indifference
highly incensed her new lover, and induced him anxiously to watch for a
time and place, in which he might plead his suit with an energy that
should command attention. Fortune, that malicious goddess, who so often
ruins us by granting the very object of our vows, did at length procure
him such an opportunity as he had long coveted.
It was about sunset, or shortly after, when Phoebe, upon whose activity
much of the domestic arrangements depended, went as far as fair
Rosamond's spring to obtain water for the evening meal, or rather to
gratify the prejudice of the old knight, who believed that celebrated
fountain afforded the choicest supplies of the necessary element. Such
was the respect in which he was held by his whole family, that to
neglect any of his wishes that could be gratified, though with
inconvenience to themselves, would, in their estimation, have been
almost equal to a breach of religious duty.
To fill the pitcher had, we know, been of late a troublesome task; but
Joceline's ingenuity had so far rendered it easy, by repairing rudely a
part of the ruined front of the ancient fountain, that the water was
collected, and trickling along a wooden spout, dropped from a height of
about two feet. A damsel was thereby enabled to place her pitcher under
the slowly dropping supply, and, without toil to herself, might wait
till her vessel was filled.
Phoebe Mayflower, on the evening we allude to, saw, for the first time,
this little improvement; and, justly considering it as a piece of
gallantry of her silvan admirer, designed to save her the trouble of
performing her task in a more inconvenient manner, she gratefully
employed the minutes of ease which the contrivance procured her, in
reflecting on the good-nature and ingenuity of the obliging engineer,
and perhaps in thinking he might have done as wisely to have waited till
she came to the fountain, that he might have secured personal thanks for
the trouble he had taken. But then she knew he was detained in the
buttery with that odious Tomkins, and rather than have seen the
Independent along with him, she would have renounced the thought of
As she was thus reflecting, Fortune was malicious enough to send Tomkins
to the fountain, and without Joceline. When she saw his figure darken
the path up which he came, an anxious reflection came over the poor
maiden's breast, that she was alone, and within the verge of the forest,
where in general persons were prohibited to come during the twilight,
for fear of disturbing the deer settling to their repose. She encouraged
herself, however, and resolved to show no sense of fear, although, as
the steward approached, there was something in the man's look and eye no
way calculated to allay her apprehensions.
"The blessings of the evening upon you, my pretty maiden," he said. "I
meet you even as the chief servant of Abraham, who was a steward like
myself, met Rebecca, the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milcah, at the
well of the city of Nahor, in Mesopotamia. Shall I not, therefore, say
to you, set down thy pitcher that I may drink?"
"The pitcher is at your service, Master Tomkins," she replied, "and you
may drink as much as you will; but you have, I warrant, drank better
liquor, and that not long since."
It was, indeed, obvious that the steward had arisen from a revel, for
his features were somewhat flushed, though he had stopped far short of
intoxication. But Phoebe's alarm at his first appearance was rather
increased when she observed how he had been lately employed.
"I do but use my privilege, my pretty Rebecca; the earth is given to the
saints, and the fulness thereof. They shall occupy and enjoy it, both
the riches of the mine, and the treasures of the vine; and they shall
rejoice, and their hearts be merry within them. Thou hast yet to learn
the privileges of the saints, my Rebecca."
"My name is Phoebe," said the maiden, in order to sober the enthusiastic
rapture which he either felt or affected.
"Phoebe after the flesh," he said, "but Rebecca being spiritualised; for
art thou not a wandering and stray sheep?--and am I not sent to fetch
thee within the fold?--Wherefore else was it said, Thou shalt find her
seated by the well, in the wood which is called after the ancient
"You have found me sitting here sure enough," said Phoebe; "but if you
wish to keep me company, you must walk to the Lodge with me; and you
shall carry my pitcher for me, if you will be so kind. I will hear all
the good things you have to say to me as we go along. But Sir Henry
calls for his glass of water regularly before prayers."
"What!" exclaimed Tomkins, "hath the old man of bloody hand and perverse
heart sent thee hither to do the work of a bondswoman? Verily thou shalt
return enfranchised; and for the water thou hast drawn for him, it shall
be poured forth, even as David caused to be poured forth the water of
the well of Bethlehem."
So saying, he emptied the water pitcher, in spite of Phoebe's
exclamations and entreaties. He then replaced the vessel beneath the
little conduit, and continued:--"Know that this shall be a token to
thee. The filling of that pitcher shall be like the running of a
sand-glass; and if within the time which shall pass ere it rises to the
brim, thou shalt listen to the words which I shall say to thee, then it
shall be well with thee, and thy place shall be high among those who,
forsaking the instruction which is as milk for babes and sucklings, eat
the strong food which nourishes manhood. But if the pitcher shall
overbrim with water ere thy ear shall hear and understand, thou shalt
then be given as a prey, and as a bondsmaiden, unto those who shall
possess the fat and the fair of the earth."
"You frighten me, Master Tomkins," said Phoebe, "though I am sure you do
not mean to do so. I wonder how you dare speak words so like the good
words in the Bible, when you know how you laughed at your own master,
and all the rest of them--when you helped to play the hobgoblins at the
"Think'st thou then, thou simple fool, that in putting that deceit upon
Harrison and the rest, I exceeded my privileges?--Nay, verily.--Listen
to me, foolish girl. When in former days I lived the most wild,
malignant rakehell in Oxfordshire, frequenting wakes and fairs, dancing
around May-poles, and showing my lustihood at football and
cudgel-playing--Yea, when I was called, in the language of the
uncircumcised, Philip Hazeldine, and was one of the singers in the
choir, and one of the ringers in the steeple, and served the priest
yonder, by name Rochecliffe, I was not farther from the straight road
than when, after long reading, I at length found one blind guide after
another, all burners of bricks in Egypt. I left them one by one, the
poor tool Harrison being the last; and by my own unassisted strength, I
have struggled forward to the broad and blessed light, whereof thou too,
Phoebe, shalt be partaker."
"I thank you, Master Tomkins," said Phoebe, suppressing some fear under
an appearance of indifference; "but I shall have light enough to carry
home my pitcher, would you but let me take it; and that is all the want
of light I shall have this evening."
So saying, she stooped to take the pitcher from the fountain; but he
snatched hold of her by the arm, and prevented her from accomplishing
her purpose. Phoebe, however, was the daughter of a bold forester,
prompt at thoughts of self-defence; and though she missed getting hold
of the pitcher, she caught up instead a large pebble, which she kept
concealed in her right hand.
"Stand up, foolish maiden, and listen," said the Independent, sternly;
"and know, in one word, that sin, for which the spirit of man is
punished with the vengeance of Heaven, lieth not in the corporal act,
but in the thought of the sinner. Believe, lovely Phoebe, that to the
pure all acts are pure, and that sin is in our thought, not in our
actions--even as the radiance of the day is dark to a blind man, but
seen and enjoyed by him whose eyes receive it. To him who is but a
novice in the things of the spirit, much is enjoined, much is
prohibited; and he is fed with milk fit for babes--for him are
ordinances, prohibitions, and commands. But the saint is above these
ordinances and restraints.--To him, as to the chosen child of the house,
is given the pass-key to open all locks which withhold him from the
enjoyment of his heart's desire. Into such pleasant paths will I guide
thee, lovely Phoebe, as shall unite in joy, in innocent freedom,
pleasures, which, to the unprivileged, are sinful and prohibited." "I
really wish, Master Tomkins, you would let me go home." said Phoebe, not
comprehending the nature of his doctrine, but disliking at once his
words and his manner. He went on, however, with the accursed and
blasphemous doctrines, which, in common with others of the pretended
saints, he had adopted, after having long shifted from one sect to
another, until he settled in the vile belief, that sin, being of a
character exclusively spiritual, only existed in the thoughts, and that
the worst actions were permitted to those who had attained to the pitch
of believing themselves above ordinance. "Thus, my Phoebe," he
continued, endeavouring to draw her towards him "I can offer thee more
than ever was held out to woman since Adam first took his bride by the
hand. It shall be for others to stand dry-lipped, doing penance, like
papists, by abstinence, when the vessel of pleasure pours forth its
delights. Dost thou love money?--I have it, and can procure more--am at
liberty to procure it on every hand, and by every means--the earth is
mine and its fulness. Do you desire power?--which of these poor cheated
commissioner-fellows' estates dost thou covet, I will work it out for
thee; for I deal with a mightier spirit than any of them. And it is not
without warrant that I have aided the malignant Rochecliffe, and the
clown Joliffe, to frighten and baffle them in the guise they did. Ask
what thou wilt, Phoebe, I can give, or I can procure it for thee--Then
enter with me into a life of delight in this world, which shall prove
but an anticipation of the joys of Paradise hereafter!"
Again the fanatical voluptuary endeavoured to pull the poor girl towards
him, while she, alarmed, but not scared out of her presence of mind,
endeavoured, by fair entreaty, to prevail on him to release her. But his
features, in themselves not marked, had acquired a frightful expression,
and he exclaimed, "No, Phoebe--do not think to escape--thou art given to
me as a captive--thou hast neglected the hour of grace, and it has
glided past--See, the water trickles over thy pitcher, which was to be a
sign between us--Therefore I will urge thee no more with words, of which
thou art not worthy, but treat thee as a recusant of offered grace."
"Master Tomkins," said Phoebe, in an imploring tone, "consider, for
God's sake, I am a fatherless child--do me no injury, it would be a
shame to your strength and your manhood--I cannot understand your fine
words--I will think on them till to-morrow." Then, in rising resentment,
she added more vehemently--"I will not be used rudely--stand off, or I
will do you a mischief." But, as he pressed upon her with a violence, of
which the object could not be mistaken, and endeavoured to secure her
right hand, she exclaimed, "Take it then, with a wanion to you!"--and
struck him an almost stunning blow on the face, with the pebble which
she held ready for such an extremity.
The fanatic let her go, and staggered backward, half stupified; while
Phoebe instantly betook herself to flight, screaming for help as she
ran, but still grasping the victorious pebble. Irritated to frenzy by
the severe blow which he had received, Tomkins pursued, with every black
passion in his soul and in his face, mingled with fear least his villany
should be discovered. He called on Phoebe loudly to stop, and had the
brutality to menace her with one of his pistols if she continued to fly.
Yet she slacked not her pace for his threats, and he must either have
executed them, or seen her escape to carry the tale to the Lodge, had
she not unhappily stumbled over the projecting root of a fir-tree. But
as he rushed upon his prey, rescue interposed in the person of Joceline
Joliffe, with his quarterstaff on his shoulder. "How now? what means
this?" he said, stepping between Phoebe and her pursuer. Tomkins,
already roused to fury, made no other answer than by discharging at
Joceline the pistol which he held in his hand. The ball grazed the under
keeper's face, who, in requital of the assault, and saying "Aha! Let ash
answer iron," applied his quarterstaff with so much force to the
Independent's head, that lighting on the left temple, the blow proved
almost instantly mortal.
A few convulsive struggles were accompanied with these broken words,--
"Joceline--I am gone--but I forgive thee--Doctor Rochecliffe--I wish I
had minded more--Oh!--the clergyman--the funeral service"--As he uttered
these words, indicative, it may be, of his return to a creed, which
perhaps he had never abjured so thoroughly as he had persuaded himself,
his voice was lost in a groan, which, rattling in the throat, seemed
unable to find its way to the air. These were the last symptoms of life:
the clenched hands presently relaxed--the closed eyes opened, and stared
on the heavens a lifeless jelly--the limbs extended themselves and
stiffened. The body, which was lately animated with life, was now a lump
of senseless clay--the soul, dismissed from its earthly tenement in a
moment so unhallowed, was gone before the judgment-seat.
"Oh, what have you done?--what have you done, Joceline!" exclaimed
Phoebe; "you have killed the man!"
"Better than he should have killed me," answered Joceline; "for he was
none of the blinkers that miss their mark twice running.--And yet I am
sorry for him.--Many a merry bout have we had together when he was wild
Philip Hazeldine, and then he was bad enough; but since he daubed over
his vices with hypocrisy, he seems to have proved worse devil than
"Oh, Joceline, come away," said poor Phoebe, "and do not stand gazing on
him thus;" for the woodsman, resting on his fatal weapon, stood looking
down on the corpse with the appearance of a man half stunned at the
"This comes of the ale pitcher," she continued, in the true style of
female consolation, "as I have often told you--For Heaven's sake, come
to the Lodge, and let us consult what is to be done."
"Stay first, girl, and let me drag him out of the path; we must not have
him lie herein all men's sight--Will you not help me, wench?"
"I cannot, Joceline--I would not touch a lock on him for all Woodstock."
"I must to this gear myself, then," said Joceline, who, a soldier as
well as a woodsman, still had great reluctance to the necessary task.
Something in the face and broken words of the dying man had made a deep
and terrific impression on nerves not easily shaken. He accomplished it,
however, so far as to drag the late steward out of the open path, and
bestow his body amongst the undergrowth of brambles and briers, so as
not to be visible unless particularly looked for. He then returned to
Phoebe, who had sate speechless all the while beneath the tree over
whose roots she had stumbled.
"Come away, wench," he said, "come away to the Lodge, and let us study
how this is to be answered for--the mishap of his being killed will
strangely increase our danger. What had he sought of thee, wench, when
you ran from him like a madwoman?--But I can guess--Phil was always a
devil among the girls, and I think, as Doctor Rochecliffe says, that,
since he turned saint, he took to himself seven devils worse than
himself.--Here is the very place where I saw him, with his sword in his
hand raised against the old knight, and he a child of the parish--it was
high treason at least--but, by my faith, he hath paid for it at last."
"But, oh, Joceline," said Phoebe, "how could you take so wicked a man
into your counsels, and join him in all his plots about scaring the
"Why look thee, wench, I thought I knew him at the first meeting
especially when Bevis, who was bred here when he was a dog-leader, would
not fly at him; and when we made up our old acquaintance at the Lodge, I
found he kept up a close correspondence with Doctor Rochecliffe, who was
persuaded that he was a good King's man, and held consequently good
intelligence with him.--The doctor boasts to have learned much through
his means; I wish to Heaven he may not have been as communicative in
"Oh, Joceline," said the waiting-woman, "you should never have let him
within the gate of the Lodge!"
"No more I would, if I had known how to keep him out; but when he went
so frankly into our scheme, and told me how I was to dress myself like
Robinson the player, whose ghost haunted Harrison--I wish no ghost may
haunt me!--when he taught me how to bear myself to terrify his lawful
master, what could I think, wench? I only trust the Doctor has kept the
great secret of all from his knowledge.--But here we are at the Lodge.
Go to thy chamber, wench, and compose thyself. I must seek out Doctor
Rochecliffe; he is ever talking of his quick and ready invention. Here
come times, I think, that will demand it all."
Phoebe went to her chamber accordingly; but the strength arising from
the pressure of danger giving way when the danger was removed, she
quickly fell into a succession of hysterical fits, which required the
constant attention of Dame Jellicot, and the less alarmed, but more
judicious care of Mistress Alice, before they even abated in their rapid
The under-keeper carried his news to the politic Doctor, who was
extremely disconcerted, alarmed, nay angry with Joceline, for having
slain a person on whose communications he had accustomed himself to
rely. Yet his looks declared his suspicion, whether his confidence had
not been too rashly conferred--a suspicion which pressed him the more
anxiously, that he was unwilling to avow it, as a derogation from his
character for shrewdness, on which he valued himself.
Dr. Rochecliffe's reliance, however, on the fidelity of Tomkins, had
apparently good grounds. Before the Civil Wars, as may be partly
collected from what has been already hinted at, Tomkins, under his true
name of Hazeldine, had been under the protection of the Rector of
Woodstock, occasionally acted as his clerk, was a distinguished member
of his choir, and, being a handy and ingenious fellow, was employed in
assisting the antiquarian researches of Dr. Rochecliffe through the
interior of Woodstock. When he engaged in the opposite side in the Civil
Wars, he still kept up his intelligence with the divine, to whom he had
afforded what seemed valuable information from time to time. His
assistance had latterly been eminently useful in aiding the Doctor, with
the assistance of Joceline and Phoebe, in contriving and executing the
various devices by which the Parliamentary Commissioners had been
expelled from Woodstock. Indeed, his services in this respect had been
thought worthy of no less a reward than a present of what plate remained
at the Lodge, which had been promised to the Independent accordingly.
The Doctor, therefore, while admitting he might be a bad man, regretted
him as a useful one, whose death, if enquired after, was likely to bring
additional danger on a house which danger already surrounded, and which
contained a pledge so precious.
* * * * *
CHAPTER THE THIRTIETH.
_Cassio_. That thrust had been my enemy indeed,
But that my coat is better than thou know'st.
On the dark October night succeeding the evening on which Tomkins was
slain, Colonel Everard, besides his constant attendant Roger Wildrake,
had Master Nehemiah Holdenough with him as a guest at supper. The
devotions of the evening having been performed according to the
Presbyterian fashion, a light entertainment, and a double quart of burnt
claret, were placed before his friends at nine o'clock, an hour
unusually late. Master Holdenough soon engaged himself in a polemical
discourse against Sectaries and Independents, without being aware that
his eloquence was not very interesting to his principal hearer, whose
ideas in the meanwhile wandered to Woodstock and all which it
contained--the Prince, who lay concealed there--his uncle--above all,
Alice Lee. As for Wildrake, after bestowing a mental curse both on
Sectaries and Presbyterians, as being, in his opinion, never a barrel
the better herring, he stretched out his limbs, and would probably have
composed himself to rest, but that he as well as his patron had thoughts
which murdered sleep.
The party were waited upon by a little gipsy-looking boy, in an
orange-tawny doublet, much decayed, and garnished with blue worsted
lace. The rogue looked somewhat stinted in size, but active both in
intelligence and in limb, as his black eyes seemed to promise by their
vivacity. He was an attendant of Wildrake's choice, who had conferred on
him the _nom de guerre_ of Spitfire, and had promised him promotion so
soon as his young protegé, Breakfast, was fit to succeed him in his
present office. It need scarce be said that the manege was maintained
entirely at the expense of Colonel Everard, who allowed Wildrake to
arrange the household very much according to his pleasure. The page did
not omit, in offering the company wine from time to time, to accommodate
Wildrake with about twice the number of opportunities of refreshing
himself which he considered it necessary to afford to the Colonel or his
While they were thus engaged, the good divine lost in his own argument,
and the hearers in their private thoughts, their attention was about
half-past ten arrested by a knocking at the door of the house. To those
who have anxious hearts, trifles give cause of alarm.
Even a thing so simple as a knock at the door may have a character which
excites apprehension. This was no quiet gentle tap, intimating a modest
intruder; no redoubled rattle, as the pompous annunciation of some vain
person; neither did it resemble the formal summons to formal business,
nor the cheerful visit of some welcome friend. It was a single blow,
solemn and stern, if not actually menacing in the sound. The door was
opened by some of the persons of the house; a heavy foot ascended the
stair, a stout man entered the room, and drawing the cloak from his
face, said, "Markham Everard, I greet thee in God's name."
It was General Cromwell.
Everard, surprised and taken at unawares, endeavoured in vain to find
words to express his astonishment. A bustle occurred in receiving the
General, assisting him to uncloak himself, and offering in dumb show the
civilities of reception. The General cast his keen eye around the
apartment, and fixing it first on the divine, addressed Everard as
follows: "A reverend man I see is with thee. Thou art not one of those,
good Markham, who let the time unnoted and unimproved pass away. Casting
aside the things of this world--pressing forward to those of the
next--it is by thus using our time in this poor seat of terrestrial sin
and care, that we may, as it were--But how is this?" he continued,
suddenly changing his tone, and speaking briefly, sharply, and
anxiously; "one hath left the room since I entered?"
Wildrake had, indeed, been absent for a minute or two, but had now
returned, and stepped forward from a bay window, as if he had been out
of sight only, not out of the apartment. "Not so, sir; I stood but in
the background out of respect. Noble General, I hope all is well with
the Estate, that your Excellency makes us so late a visit? Would not
your Excellency choose some"--
"Ah!" said Oliver, looking sternly and fixedly at him--"Our trusty
Go-between--our faithful confidant.--No, sir; at present I desire
nothing more than a kind reception, which, methinks, my friend Markham
Everard is in no hurry to give me."
"You bring your own welcome, my lord," said Everard, compelling himself
to speak. "I can only trust it was no bad news that made your Excellency
a late traveller, and ask, like my follower, what refreshment I shall
command for your accommodation."
"The state is sound and healthy, Colonel Everard," said the General;
"and yet the less so, that many of its members, who have been hitherto
workers together, and propounders of good counsel, and advancers of the
public weal, have now waxed cold in their love and in their affection
for the Good Cause, for which we should be ready, in our various
degrees, to act and do so soon as we are called to act that whereunto we
are appointed, neither rashly nor over-slothfully, neither lukewarmly
nor over-violently, but with such a frame and disposition, in which zeal
and charity may, as it were, meet and kiss each other in our streets.
Howbeit, because we look back after we have put our hand to the plough,
therefore is our force waxed dim."
"Pardon me, sir," said Nehemiah Holdenough, who, listening with some
impatience, began to guess in whose company he stood--"Pardon me, for
unto this I have a warrant to speak."
"Ah! ah!" said Cromwell. "Surely, most worthy sir, we grieve the Spirit
when we restrain those pourings forth, which, like water from a rock"--
"Nay, therein I differ from you, sir," said Holdenough; "for as there is
the mouth to transmit the food, and the profit to digest what Heaven
hath sent; so is the preacher ordained to teach and the people to hear;
the shepherd to gather the flock into the sheepfold, the sheep to profit
by the care of the shepherd."
"Ah! my worthy sir," said Cromwell, with much unction, "methinks you
verge upon the great mistake, which supposes that churches are tall
large houses built by masons, and hearers are men--wealthy men, who pay
tithes, the larger as well as the less; and that the priests, men in
black gowns or grey cloaks, who receive the same, are in guerdon the
only distributors of Christian blessings; whereas, in my apprehension,
there is more of Christian liberty in leaving it to the discretion of
the hungry soul to seek his edification where it can be found, whether
from the mouth of a lay teacher, who claimeth his warrant from Heaven
alone, or at the dispensation of those who take ordinations and degrees
from synods and universities, at best but associations of poor sinful
creatures like themselves."
"You speak you know not what, sir," replied Holdenough, impatiently.
"Can light come out of darkness, sense out of ignorance, or knowledge of
the mysteries of religion from such ignorant mediciners as give poisons
instead of wholesome medicaments, and cram with filth the stomachs of
such as seek to them for food?" This, which the Presbyterian divine
uttered rather warmly, the General answered with the utmost mildness.
"Lack-a-day, lack-a-day! a learned man, but intemperate; over-zeal hath
eaten him up.--A well-a-day, sir, you may talk of your regular
gospel-meals, but a word spoken in season by one whose heart is with
your heart, just perhaps when you are riding on to encounter an enemy,
or are about to mount a breach, is to the poor spirit like a rasher on
the coals, which the hungry shall find preferable to a great banquet, at
such times when the full soul loatheth the honey-comb. Nevertheless,
although I speak thus in my poor judgment, I would not put force on the
conscience of any man, leaving to the learned to follow the learned, and
the wise to be instructed by the wise, while poor simple wretched souls
are not to be denied a drink from the stream which runneth by the
way.--Ay, verily, it will be a comely sight in England when men shall go
on as in a better world, bearing with each other's infirmities, joining
in each other's comforts.--Ay, truly, the rich drink out of silver
flagons, and goblets of silver, the poor out of paltry bowls of
wood--and even so let it be, since they both drink the same element."
Here an officer opened the door and looked in, to whom Cromwell,
exchanging the canting drawl, in which it seemed he might have gone on
interminably, for the short brief tone of action, called out, "Pearson,
is he come?"
"No, sir," replied Pearson; "we have enquired for him at the place you
noted, and also at other haunts of his about the town."
"The knave!" said Cromwell, with bitter emphasis; "can he have proved
false?--No, no, his interest is too deeply engaged. We shall find him by
and by. Hark thee hither."
While this conversation was going forward, the reader must imagine the
alarm of Everard. He was certain that the personal attendance of
Cromwell must be on some most important account, and he could not but
strongly suspect that the General had some information respecting
Charles's lurking place. If taken, a renewal of the tragedy of the 30th
of January was instantly to be apprehended, and the ruin of the whole
family of Lee, with himself probably included, must be the necessary
He looked eagerly for consolation at Wildrake, whose countenance
expressed much alarm, which he endeavoured to bear out with his usual
look of confidence. But the weight within was too great; he shuffled
with his feet, rolled his eyes, and twisted his hands, like an unassured
witness before an acute and not to be deceived judge.
Oliver, meanwhile, left his company not a minute's leisure to take
counsel together. Even while his perplexed eloquence flowed on in a
stream so mazy that no one could discover which way its course was
tending, his sharp watchful eye rendered all attempts of Everard to hold
communication with Wildrake, even by signs, altogether vain. Everard,
indeed, looked for an instant at the window, then glanced at Wildrake,
as if to hint there might be a possibility to escape that way. But the
cavalier had replied with a disconsolate shake of the head, so slight as
to be almost imperceptible. Everard, therefore, lost all hope, and the
melancholy feeling of approaching and inevitable evil, was only varied
by anxiety concerning the shape and manner in which it was about to make
But Wildrake had a spark of hope left. The very instant Cromwell entered
he had got out of the room, and down to the door of the house. "Back--
back!" repeated by two armed sentinels, convinced him that, as his fears
had anticipated, the General had come neither unattended nor unprepared.
He turned on his heel, ran up stairs, and meeting on the landing-place
the boy whom he called Spitfire, hurried him into the small apartment
which he occupied as his own. Wildrake had been shooting that morning,
and game lay on the table. He pulled a feather from a woodcock's wing,
and saying hastily, "For thy life, Spitfire, mind my orders--I will put
thee safe out at the window into the court--the yard wall is not
high--and there will be no sentry there--Fly to the Lodge, as thou
wouldst win Heaven, and give this feather to Mistress Alice Lee, if
possible--if not, to Joceline Joliffe--say I have won the wages of the
young lady. Dost mark me, boy?"
The sharp-witted youth clapped his hand in his master's, and only
replied, "Done, and done."
Wildrake opened the window, and, though the height was considerable, he
contrived to let the boy down safely by holding his cloak. A heap of
straw on which Spitfire lighted rendered the descent perfectly safe, and
Wildrake saw him scramble over the wall of the court-yard, at the angle
which bore on a back lane; and so rapidly was this accomplished, that
the cavalier had just re-entered the room, when, the bustle attending
Cromwell's arrival subsiding, his own absence began to be noticed.
He remained during Cromwell's lecture on the vanity of creeds, anxious
in mind whether he might not have done better to send an explicit verbal
message, since there was no time to write. But the chance of the boy
being stopped, or becoming confused with feeling himself the messenger
of a hurried and important communication, made him, on the whole, glad
that he had preferred a more enigmatical way of conveying the
intelligence. He had, therefore, the advantage of his patron, for he was
conscious still of a spark of hope.
Pearson had scarce shut the door, when Holdenough, as ready in arms
against the future Dictator as he had been prompt to encounter the
supposed phantoms and fiends of Woodstock, resumed his attack upon the
schismatics, whom he undertook to prove to be at once soul-slayers,
false brethren, and false messengers; and was proceeding to allege texts
in behalf of his proposition, when Cromwell, apparently tired of the
discussion, and desirous to introduce a discourse more accordant with
his real feelings, interrupted him, though very civilly, and took the
discourse into his own hands.
"Lack-a-day," he said, "the good man speaks truth, according to his
knowledge and to his lights,--ay, bitter truths, and hard to be
digested, while we see as men see, and not with the eyes of angels.--
False messengers, said the reverend man?--ay, truly, the world is full
of such. You shall see them who will carry your secret message to the
house of your mortal foe, and will say to him, 'Lo! my master is going
forth with a small train, by such and such desolate places; be you
speedy, therefore, that you may arise and slay him.' And another, who
knoweth where the foe of your house, and enemy of your person, lies
hidden, shall, instead of telling his master thereof, carry tidings to
the enemy even where he lurketh, saying, 'Lo! my master knoweth of your
secret abode--up now, and fly, lest he come on thee like a lion on his
prey.'--But shall this go without punishment?" looking at Wildrake with
a withering glance. "Now, as my soul liveth, and as He liveth who hath
made me a ruler in Israel, such false messengers shall be knitted to
gibbets on the wayside, and their right hands shall be nailed above
their heads, in an extended position, as if pointing out to others the
road from which they themselves have strayed!"
"Surely," said Master Holdenough, "it is right to cut off such
"Thank ye, Mass-John," muttered Wildrake; "when did the Presbyterian
fail to lend the devil a shove?"
"But, I say," continued Holdenough, "that the matter is estranged from
our present purpose, for the false brethren of whom I spoke are"--
"Right, excellent sir, they be those of our own house," answered
Cromwell; "the good man is right once more. Ay, of whom can we now say
that he is a true brother, although he has lain in the same womb with
us? Although we have struggled in the same cause, eat at the same table,
fought in the same battle, worshipped at the same throne, there shall be
no truth in him.--Ah, Markham Everard, Markham Everard!"
He paused at this ejaculation; and Everard, desirous at once of knowing
how far he stood committed, replied, "Your Excellency seems to have
something in your mind in which I am concerned. May I request you will
speak it out, that I may know what I am accused of?"
"Ah, Mark, Mark," replied the General, "there needeth no accuser speak
when the still small voice speaks within us. Is there not moisture on
thy brow, Mark Everard? Is there not trouble in thine eye? Is there not
a failure in thy frame? And who ever saw such things in noble and stout
Markham Everard, whose brow was only moist after having worn the helmet
for a summer's day; whose hand only shook when it had wielded for hours
the weighty falchion?--But go to, man! thou doubtest over much. Hast
thou not been to me as a brother, and shall I not forgive thee even the
seventy-seventh time? The knave hath tarried somewhere, who should have
done by this time an office of much import. Take advantage of his
absence, Mark; it is a grace that God gives thee beyond expectance. I do
not say, fall at my feet; but speak to me as a friend to his friend."
"I have never said any thing to your Excellency that was in the least
undeserving the title you have assigned to me," said Colonel Everard,
"Nay, nay, Markham," answered Cromwell; "I say not you have. But--but
you ought to have remembered the message I sent you by that person"
(pointing to Wildrake;) "and you must reconcile it with your conscience,
how, having such a message, guarded with such reasons, you could think
yourself at liberty to expel my friends from Woodstock, being determined
to disappoint my object, whilst you availed yourself of the boon, on
condition of which my warrant was issued."
Everard was about to reply, when, to his astonishment, Wildrake stepped
forward; and with a voice and look very different from his ordinary
manner, and approaching a good deal to real dignity of mind, said,
boldly and calmly, "You are mistaken, Master Cromwell; and address
yourself to the wrong party here."
The speech was so sudden and intrepid that Cromwell stepped a pace back,
and motioned with his right hand towards his weapon, as if he had
expected that an address of a nature so unusually bold was to be
followed by some act of violence. He instantly resumed his indifferent
posture; and, irritated at a smile which he observed on Wildrake's
countenance, he said, with the dignity of one long accustomed to see all
tremble before him, "This to me, fellow! Know you to whom you speak?"
"Fellow!" echoed Wildrake, whose reckless humour was now completely set
afloat--"No fellow of yours, Master Oliver. I have known the day when
Roger Wildrake of Squattlesea-mere, Lincoln, a handsome young gallant,
with a good estate, would have been thought no fellow of the bankrupt
brewer of Huntingdon."
"Be silent!" said Everard; "be silent, Wildrake, if you love your life!"
"I care not a maravedi for my life," said Wildrake. "Zounds, if he
dislikes what I say, let him take to his tools! I know, after all, he
hath good blood in his veins! and I will indulge him with a turn in the
court yonder, had he been ten times a brewer."
"Such ribaldry, friend," said Oliver, "I treat with the contempt it
deserves. But if thou hast any thing to say touching the matter in
question speak out like a man, though thou look'st more like a beast."
"All I have to say is," replied Wildrake, "that whereas you blame
Everard for acting on your warrant, as you call it, I can tell you he
knew not a word of the rascally conditions you talk of. I took care of
that; and you may take the vengeance on me, if you list."
"Slave! dare you tell this to _me_?" said Cromwell, still heedfully
restraining his passion, which he felt was about to discharge itself
upon an unworthy object.
"Ay, you will make every Englishman a slave, if you have your own way,"
said Wildrake, not a whit abashed;--for the awe which had formerly
overcome him when alone with this remarkable man, had vanished, now that
they were engaged in an altercation before witnesses.--"But do your
worst, Master Oliver; I tell you beforehand, the bird has escaped you."
"You dare not say so!--Escaped?--So ho! Pearson! tell the soldiers to
mount instantly.--Thou art a lying fool!--Escaped?--Where, or from
"Ay, that is the question," said Wildrake; "for look you, sir--that men
do go from hence is certain--but how they go, or to what quarter"--
Cromwell stood attentive, expecting some useful hint from the careless
impetuosity of the cavalier, upon the route which the King might have
--"Or to what quarter, as I said before, why, your Excellency, Master
Oliver, may e'en find that out yourself."
As he uttered the last words he unsheathed his rapier, and made a full
pass at the General's body. Had his sword met no other impediment than
the buff jerkin, Cromwell's course had ended on the spot. But, fearful
of such attempts, the General wore under his military dress a shirt of
the finest mail, made of rings of the best steel, and so light and
flexible that it was little or no encumbrance to the motions of the
wearer. It proved his safety on this occasion, for the rapier sprung in
shivers; while the owner, now held back by Everard and Holdenough, flung
the hilt with passion on the ground, exclaiming, "Be damned the hand
that forged thee!--To serve me so long, and fail me when thy true
service would have honoured us both for ever! But no good could come of
thee, since thou wert pointed, even in jest, at a learned divine of the
Church of England."
In the first instant of alarm,--and perhaps suspecting Wildrake might be
supported by others, Cromwell half drew from his bosom a concealed
pistol, which he hastily returned, observing that both Everard and the
clergyman were withholding the cavalier from another attempt.
Pearson and a soldier or two rushed in--"Secure that fellow," said the
General, in the indifferent tone of one to whom imminent danger was too
familiar to cause irritation--"Bind him--but not so hard, Pearson;"--for
the men, to show their zeal, were drawing their belts, which they used
for want of cords, brutally tight round Wildrake's limbs. "He would have
assassinated me, but I would reserve him for his fit doom."
"Assassinated!--I scorn your words, Master Oliver," said Wildrake; "I
proffered you a fair duello."
"Shall we shoot him in the street, for an example?" said Pearson to
Cromwell; while Everard endeavoured to stop Wildrake from giving further
"On your life harm him not; but let him be kept in safe ward, and well
looked after," said Cromwell; while the prisoner exclaimed to Everard,
"I prithee let me alone--I am now neither thy follower, nor any man's,
and I am as willing to die as ever I was to take a cup of liquor.--And
hark ye, speaking of that, Master Oliver, you were once a jolly fellow,
prithee let one of thy lobsters here advance yonder tankard to my lips,
and your Excellency shall hear a toast, a song, and a--secret."
"Unloose his head, and hand the debauched beast the tankard," said
Oliver; "while yet he exists, it were shame to refuse him the element he
"Blessings on your head for once," said Wildrake, whose object in
continuing this wild discourse was, if possible, to gain a little delay,
when every moment was precious. "Thou hast brewed good ale, and that's
warrant for a blessing. For my toast and my song, here they go
Son of a witch,
Mayst thou die in a ditch,
With the hutchers who back thy quarrels;
And rot above ground,
While the world shall resound
A welcome to Royal King Charles.
And now for my secret, that you may not say I had your liquor for
nothing--I fancy my song will scarce pass current for much--My secret
is, Master Cromwell--that the bird is flown--and your red nose will be
as white as your winding-sheet before you can smell out which way."
"Pshaw, rascal," answered Cromwell, contemptuously, "keep your scurrile
jests for the gibbet foot."
"I shall look on the gibbet more boldly," replied Wildrake, "than I have
seen you look on the Royal Martyr's picture."
This reproach touched Cromwell to the very quick.--"Villain!" he
exclaimed; "drag him hence, draw out a party, and--But hold, not now--to
prison with him--let him be close watched, and gagged, if he attempts to
speak to the sentinels--Nay, hold--I mean, put a bottle of brandy into
his cell, and he will gag himself in his own way, I warrant you--When
day comes, that men can see the example, he shall be gagged after my
During the various breaks in his orders, the General was evidently
getting command of his temper; and though he began in fury, he ended
with the contemptuous sneer of one who overlooks the abusive language of
an inferior. Something remained on his mind notwithstanding, for he
continued standing, as if fixed to the same spot in the apartment, his
eyes bent on the ground, and with closed hand pressed against his lips,
like a man who is musing deeply. Pearson, who was about to speak to him,
drew back, and made a sign to those in the room to be silent.
Master Holdenough did not mark, or, at least, did not obey it.
Approaching the General, he said, in a respectful but firm tone, "Did I
understand it to be your Excellency's purpose that this poor man shall
die next morning?"
"Hah!" exclaimed Cromwell, starting from his reverie, "what say'st
"I took leave to ask, if it was your will that this unhappy man should
"Whom saidst thou?" demanded Cromwell: "Markham Everard--shall he die,
"God forbid!" replied Holdenough, stepping back--"I asked whether this
blinded creature, Wildrake, was to be so suddenly cut off?"
"Ay, marry is he," said Cromwell, "were the whole General Assembly of
Divines at Westminster--the whole Sanhedrim of Presbytery--to offer bail
"If you will not think better of it, sir," said Holdenough, "at least
give not the poor man the means of destroying his senses--Let me go to
him as a divine, to watch with him, in case he may yet be admitted into
the vineyard at the latest hour--yet brought into the sheepfold, though
he has neglected the call of the pastor till time is wellnigh closed
"For God's sake," said Everard, who had hitherto kept silence, because
he knew Cromwell's temper on such occasions, "think better of what you
"Is it for thee to teach me?" replied Cromwell; "think thou of thine own
matters, and believe me it will require all thy wit.--And for you,
reverend sir, I will have no father-confessors attend my prisoners--no
tales out of school. If the fellow thirsts after ghostly comfort, as he
is much more like to thirst after a quartern of brandy, there is
Corporal Humgudgeon, who commands the _corps de garde_, will preach and
pray as well as the best of ye.--But this delay is intolerable--Comes
not this fellow yet?"
"No, sir," replied Pearson. "Had we not better go down to the Lodge? The
news of our coming hither may else get there before us."
"True," said Cromwell, speaking aside to his officer, "but you know
Tomkins warned us against doing so, alleging there were so many
postern-doors, and sallyports, and concealed entrances in the old house,
that it was like a rabbit-warren, and that an escape might be easily
made under our very noses, unless he were with us, to point out all the
ports which should be guarded. He hinted, too, that he might be delayed
a few minutes after his time of appointment--but we have now waited
"Does your Excellency think Tomkins is certainly to be depended upon?"
"As far as his interest goes, unquestionably," replied the General. "He
has ever been the pump by which I have sucked the marrow out of many a
plot, in special those of the conceited fool Rochecliffe, who is goose
enough to believe that such a fellow as Tomkins would value any thing
beyond the offer of the best bidder. And yet it groweth late--I fear we
must to the Lodge without him--Yet, all things well considered, I will
tarry here till midnight.--Ah! Everard, thou mightest put this gear to
rights if thou wilt! Shall some foolish principle of fantastic punctilio
have more weight with thee, man, than have the pacification and welfare
of England; the keeping of faith to thy friend and benefactor, and who
will be yet more so, and the fortune and security of thy relations? Are
these, I say, lighter in the balance than the cause of a worthless boy,
who, with his father and his father's house, have troubled Israel for
"I do not understand your Excellency, nor at what service you point,
which I can honestly render," replied Everard. "That which is dishonest
I should be loth that you proposed."
"Then this at least might suit your honesty, or scrupulous humour, call
it which thou wilt," said Cromwell. "Thou knowest, surely, all the
passages about Jezebel's palace down yonder?--Let me know how they may
be guarded against the escape of any from within."
"I cannot pretend to aid you in this matter," said Everard; "I know not
all the entrances and posterns about Woodstock, and if I did, I am not
free in conscience to communicate with you on this occasion."
"We shall do without you, sir," replied Cromwell, haughtily; "and if
aught is found which may criminate you, remember you have lost right to
"I shall be sorry," said Everard, "to have lost your friendship,
General; but I trust my quality as an Englishman may dispense with the
necessity of protection from any man. I know no law which obliges me to
be spy or informer, even if I were in the way of having opportunity to
do service in either honourable capacity."
"Well, sir," said Cromwell, "for all your privileges and qualities, I
will make bold to take you down to the Lodge at Woodstock to-night, to
enquire into affairs in which the State is concerned.--Come hither,
Pearson." He took a paper from his pocket, containing a rough sketch or
ground-plan of Woodstock Lodge, with the avenues leading to it.--"Look
here," he said, "we must move in two bodies on foot, and with all
possible silence--thou must march to the rear of the old house of
iniquity with twenty file of men, and dispose them around it the wisest
thou canst. Take the reverend man there along with you. He must be
secured at any rate, and may serve as a guide. I myself will occupy the
front of the Lodge, and thus having stopt all the earths, thou wilt come
to me for farther orders--silence and dispatch is all.--But for the dog
Tomkins, who broke appointment with me, he had need render a good
excuse, or woe to his father's son!--Reverend sir, be pleased to
accompany that officer.--Colonel Everard, you are to follow me; but
first give your sword to Captain Pearson, and consider yourself as under
Everard gave his sword to Pearson without any comment, and with the most
anxious presage of evil followed the Republican General, in obedience to
commands which it would have been useless to dispute.
* * * * *
CHAPTER THE THIRTY-FIRST.
"Were my son William here but now,
He wadna fail the pledge."
Wi' that in at the door there ran
A ghastly-looking page--
"I saw them, master, O! I saw,
Beneath the thornie brae,
Of black-mail'd warriors many a rank;
'Revenge!' he cried, 'and gae.'"
The little party at the Lodge were assembled at supper, at the early
hour of eight o'clock. Sir Henry Lee, neglecting the food that was
placed on the table, stood by a lamp on the chimney-piece, and read a
letter with mournful attention.
"Does my son write to you more particularly than to me, Doctor
Rochecliffe?" said the knight. "He only says here, that he will return
probably this night; and that Master Kerneguy must be ready to set off
with him instantly. What can this haste mean? Have you heard of any new
search after our suffering party? I wish they would permit me to enjoy
my son's company in quiet but for a day."
"The quiet which depends on the wicked ceasing from troubling," said Dr.
Rochecliffe, "is connected, not by days and hours, but by minutes. Their
glut of blood at Worcester had satiated them for a moment, but their
appetite, I fancy, has revived."
"You have news, then, to that purpose?" said Sir Henry.
"Your son," replied the Doctor, "wrote to me by the same messenger: he
seldom fails to do so, being aware of what importance it is that I
should know every thing that passes. Means of escape are provided on the
coast, and Master Kerneguy must be ready to start with your son the
instant he appears."
"It is strange," said the knight; "for forty years I have dwelt in this
house, man and boy, and the point only was how to make the day pass over
our heads; for if I did not scheme out some hunting match or hawking, or
the like, I might have sat here on my arm-chair, as undisturbed as a
sleeping dormouse, from one end of the year to the other; and now I am
more like a hare on her form, that dare not sleep unless with her eyes
open, and scuds off when the wind rustles among the fern."
"It is strange," said Alice, looking at Dr. Rochecliffe, "that the
roundhead steward has told you nothing of this. He is usually
communicative enough of the motions of his party; and I saw you close
together this morning."
"I must be closer with him this evening," said the Doctor gloomily; "but
he will not blab."
"I wish you may not trust him too much," said Alice in reply.--"To me,
that man's face, with all its shrewdness, evinces such a dark
expression, that methinks I read treason in his very eye."
"Be assured, that matter is looked to," answered the Doctor, in the same
ominous tone as before. No one replied, and there was a chilling and
anxious feeling of apprehension which seemed to sink down on the company
at once, like those sensations which make such constitutions as are
particularly subject to the electrical influence, conscious of an
The disguised Monarch, apprised that day to be prepared on short notice
to quit his temporary asylum, felt his own share of the gloom which
involved the little society. But he was the first also to shake it off,
as what neither suited his character nor his situation. Gaiety was the
leading distinction of the former, and presence of mind, not depression
of spirits, was required by the latter.
"We make the hour heavier," he said, "by being melancholy about it. Had
you not better join me, Mistress Alice, in Patrick Carey's jovial
farewell?--Ah, you do not know Pat Carey--a younger brother of Lord
"A brother of the immortal Lord Falkland's, and write songs!" said the
"Oh, Doctor, the Muses take tithe as well as the Church," said Charles,
"and have their share in every family of distinction. You do not know
the words, Mistress Alice, but you can aid me, notwithstanding, in the
burden at least--
'Come, now that we're parting, and 'tis one to ten
If the towers of sweet Woodstock I e'er see agen,
Let us e'en have a frolic, and drink like tall men,
While the goblet goes merrily round.'"
The song arose, but not with spirit. It was one of those efforts at
forced mirth, by which, above all other modes of expressing it, the
absence of real cheerfulness is most distinctly animated. Charles stopt
the song, and upbraided the choristers.
"You sing, my dear Mistress Alice, as if you were chanting one of the
seven penitential psalms; and you, good Doctor, as if you recited the
The Doctor rose hastily from the table, and turned to the window; for
the expression connected singularly with the task which he was that
evening to discharge. Charles looked at him with some surprise; for the
peril in which he lived, made him watchful of the slightest motions of
those around him--then turned to Sir Henry, and said, "My honoured host,
can you tell any reason for this moody fit, which has so strangely crept
upon us all?"
"Not I, my dear Louis," replied the knight; "I have no skill in these
nice quillets of philosophy. I could as soon undertake to tell you the
reason why Bevis turns round three times before he lies down. I can only
say for myself, that if age and sorrow and uncertainty be enough to
break a jovial spirit, or at least to bend it now and then, I have my
share of them all; so that I, for one, cannot say that I am sad merely
because I am not merry. I have but too good cause for sadness. I would I
saw my son, were it but for a minute."
Fortune seemed for once disposed to gratify the old man; for Albert Lee
entered at that moment. He was dressed in a riding suit, and appeared to
have travelled hard. He cast his eye hastily around as he entered. It
rested for a second on that of the disguised Prince, and, satisfied with
the glance which he received in lieu, he hastened, after the fashion of
the olden day, to kneel down to his father, and request his blessing.
"It is thine, my boy," said the old man; a tear springing to his eyes as
he laid his hand on the long locks, which distinguished the young
cavalier's rank and principles, and which, usually combed and curled
with some care, now hung wild and dishevelled about his shoulders. They
remained an instant in this posture, when the old man suddenly started
from it, as if ashamed of the emotion which he had expressed before so
many witnesses, and passing the back of his hand hastily across his
eyes, bid Albert get up and mind his supper, "since I dare say you have
ridden fast and far since you last baited--and we'll send round a cup to
his health, if Doctor Rochecliffe and the company pleases--Joceline,
thou knave, skink about--thou look'st as if thou hadst seen a ghost."
"Joceline," said Alice, "is sick for sympathy--one of the stags ran at
Phoebe Mayflower to-day, and she was fain to have Joceline's assistance
to drive the creature off--the girl has been in fits since she came
"Silly slut," said the old knight--"She a woodman's daughter!--But,
Joceline, if the deer gets dangerous, you must send a broad arrow
"It will not need, Sir Henry," said Joceline, speaking with great
difficulty of utterance--"he is quiet enough now--he will not offend in
that sort again."
"See it be so," replied the knight; "remember Mistress Alice often walks
in the Chase. And now, fill round, and fill too, a cup to thyself to
overred thy fear, as mad Will has it. Tush, man, Phoebe will do well
enough--she only screamed and ran, that thou might'st have the pleasure
to help her. Mind what thou dost, and do not go spilling the wine after
that fashion.--Come, here is a health to our wanderer, who has come to
"None will pledge it more willingly than I," said the disguised Prince,
unconsciously assuming an importance which the character he personated
scarce warranted; but Sir Henry, who had become fond of the supposed
page, with all his peculiarities, imposed only a moderate rebuke upon
his petulance. "Thou art a merry, good-humoured youth, Louis," he said,
"but it is a world to see how the forwardness of the present generation
hath gone beyond the gravity and reverence which in my youth was so
regularly observed towards those of higher rank and station--I dared no
more have given my own tongue the rein, when there was a doctor of
divinity in company, than I would have dared to have spoken in church in
"True, sir," said Albert, hastily interfering; "but Master Kerneguy had
the better right to speak at present, that I have been absent on his
business as well as my own, have seen several of his friends, and bring
him important intelligence."
Charles was about to rise and beckon Albert aside, naturally impatient
to know what news he had procured, or what scheme of safe escape was now
decreed for him. But Dr. Rochecliffe twitched his cloak, as a hint to
him to sit still, and not show any extraordinary motive for anxiety,
since, in case of a sudden discovery of his real quality, the violence
of Sir Henry Lee's feelings might have been likely to attract too much
Charles, therefore, only replied, as to the knight's stricture, that he
had a particular title to be sudden and unceremonious in expressing his
thanks to Colonel Lee--that gratitude was apt to be unmannerly--finally,
that he was much obliged to Sir Henry for his admonition; and that quit
Woodstock when he would, "he was sure to leave it a better man than he
His speech was of course ostensibly directed towards the father; but a
glance at Alice assured her that she had her full share in the
"I fear," he concluded, addressing Albert, "that you come to tell us our
stay here must be very short."
"A few hours only," said Albert--"just enough for needful rest for
ourselves and our horses. I have procured two which are good and tried.
But Doctor Rochecliffe broke faith with me. I expected to have met some
one down at Joceline's hut, where I left the horses; and finding no
person, I was delayed an hour in littering them down myself, that they
might be ready for to-morrow's work--for we must be off before day."
"I--I--intended to have sent Tomkins--but--but"--hesitated the Doctor,
"The roundheaded rascal was drunk, or out of the way, I presume," said
Albert. "I am glad of it--you may easily trust him too far."
"Hitherto he has been faithful," said the Doctor, "and I scarce think he
will fail me now. But Joceline will go down and have the horses in
readiness in the morning."
Joceline's countenance was usually that of alacrity itself on a case
extraordinary. Now, however, he seemed to hesitate.
"You will go with me a little way, Doctor?" he said, as he edged himself
closely to Rochecliffe.
"How? puppy, fool, and blockhead," said the knight, "wouldst thou ask
Doctor Rochecliffe to bear thee company at this hour?--Out, hound!--get
down to the kennel yonder instantly, or I will break the knave's pate of
Joceline looked with an eye of agony at the divine, as if entreating him
to interfere in his behalf; but just as he was about to speak, a most
melancholy howling arose at the hall-door, and a dog was heard
scratching for admittance.
"What ails Bevis next?" said the old knight. "I think this must be
All-Fools-day, and that every thing around me is going mad!"
The same sound startled Albert and Charles from a private conference in
which they had engaged, and Albert ran to the hall-door to examine
personally into the cause of the noise.
"It is no alarm," said the old knight to Kerneguy, "for in such cases
the dog's bark is short, sharp, and furious. These long howls are said
to be ominous. It was even so that Bevis's grandsire bayed the whole
livelong night on which my poor father died. If it comes now as a
presage, God send it regard the old and useless, not the young, and
those who may yet serve King and country!"
The dog had pushed past Colonel Lee, who stood a little while at the
hall-door to listen if there were any thing stirring without, while
Bevis advanced into the room where the company were assembled, bearing
something in his mouth, and exhibiting, in an unusual degree, that sense
of duty and interest which a dog seems to show when he thinks he has the
charge of something important. He entered therefore, drooping his long
tail, slouching his head and ears, and walking with the stately yet
melancholy dignity of a war-horse at his master's funeral. In this
manner he paced through the room, went straight up to Joceline, who had
been regarding him with astonishment, and uttering a short and
melancholy howl, laid at his feet the object which he bore in his mouth.
Joceline stooped, and took from the floor a man's glove, of the fashion
worn by the troopers, having something like the old-fashioned gauntleted
projections of thick leather arising from the wrist, which go half way
up to the elbow, and secure the arm against a cut with a sword. But
Joceline had no sooner looked at what in itself was so common an object,
than he dropped it from his hand, staggered backward, uttered a groan,
and nearly fell to the ground.
"Now, the coward's curse be upon thee for an idiot!" said the knight,
who had picked up the glove, and was looking at it--"thou shouldst be
sent back to school, and flogged till the craven's blood was switched
out of thee--What dost thou look at but a glove, thou base poltroon, and
a very dirty glove, too? Stay, here is writing--Joseph Tomkins? Why,
that is the roundheaded fellow--I wish he hath not come to some
mischief, for this is not dirt on the cheveron, but blood. Bevis may
have bit the fellow, and yet the dog seemed to love him well too, or the
stag may have hurt him. Out, Joceline, instantly, and see where he
is--wind your bugle."
"I cannot go," said Joliffe, "unless"--and again he looked piteously at
Dr. Rochecliffe, who saw no time was to be lost in appeasing the
ranger's terrors, as his ministry was most needful in the present
circumstances.--"Get spade and mattock," he whispered to him, "and a
dark lantern, and meet me in the Wilderness."
Joceline left the room; and the Doctor, before following him, had a few
words of explanation with Colonel Lee. His own spirit, far from being
dismayed on the occasion, rather rose higher, like one whose natural
element was intrigue and danger. "Here hath been wild work," he said,
"since you parted. Tomkins was rude to the wench Phoebe--Joceline and he
had a brawl together, and Tomkins is lying dead in the thicket, not far
from Rosamond's Well. It will be necessary that Joceline and I go
directly to bury the body; for besides that some one might stumble upon
it, and raise an alarm, this fellow Joceline will never be fit for any
active purpose till it is under ground. Though as stout as a lion, the
under-keeper has his own weak side, and is more afraid of a dead body
than a living one. When do you propose to start to-morrow?"
"By daybreak, or earlier," said Colonel Lee; "but we will meet again. A
vessel is provided, and I have relays in more places than one--we go off
from the coast of Sussex; and I am to get a letter at ----, acquainting
me precisely with the spot."
"Wherefore not go off instantly?" said the Doctor.
"The horses would fail us," replied Albert; "they have been hard ridden
"Adieu," said Rochecliffe, "I must to my task--Do you take rest and
repose for yours. To conceal a slaughtered body, and convey on the same
night a king from danger and captivity, are two feats which have fallen
to few folks save myself; but let me not, while putting on my harness,
boast myself as if I were taking it off after a victory." So saying he
left the apartment, and, muffling himself in his cloak, went out into
what was called the Wilderness.
The weather was a raw frost. The mists lay in partial wreaths upon the
lower grounds; but the night, considering that the heavenly bodies were
in a great measure hidden by the haze, was not extremely dark. Dr.
Rochecliffe could not, however, distinguish the under-keeper until he
had hemmed once or twice, when Joceline answered the signal by showing a
glimpse of light from the dark lantern which he carried. Guided by this
intimation of his presence, the divine found him leaning against a
buttress which had once supported a terrace, now ruinous. He had a
pickaxe and shovel, together with a deer's hide hanging over his
"What do you want with the hide, Joceline," said Dr. Rochecliffe, "that
you lumber it about with you on such an errand?"
"Why, look you, Doctor," he answered, "it is as well to tell you all
about it. The man and I--he there--you know whom I mean--had many years
since a quarrel about this deer. For though we were great friends, and
Philip was sometimes allowed by my master's permission to help me in
mine office, yet I knew, for all that, Philip Hazeldine was sometimes a
trespasser. The deer-stealers were very bold at that time, it being just
before the breaking out of the war, when men were becoming unsettled--
And so it chanced, that one day, in the Chase, I found two fellows, with
their faces blacked and shirts over their clothes, carrying as prime a
buck between them as any was in the park. I was upon them in the
instant--one escaped, but I got hold of the other fellow, and who should
it prove to be but trusty Phil Hazeldine! Well, I don't know whether it
was right or wrong, but he was my old friend and pot-companion, and I
took his word for amendment in future; and he helped me to hang up the
deer on a tree, and I came back with a horse to carry him to the Lodge,
and tell the knight the story, all but Phil's name. But the rogues had
been too clever for me; for they had flayed and dressed the deer, and
quartered him, and carried him off, and left the hide and horns, with a
'The haunch to thee,
The breast to me,
The hide and the horns for the keeper's fee.'
And this I knew for one of Phil's mad pranks, that he would play in
those days with any lad in the country. But I was so nettled that I made
the deer's hide be curried and dressed by a tanner, and swore that it
should be his winding-sheet or mine; and though I had long repented my
rash oath, yet now, Doctor, you see what it is come to--though I forgot
it, the devil did not."
"It was a very wrong thing to make a vow so sinful," said Rochecliffe;
"but it would have been greatly worse had you endeavoured to keep it.
Therefore, I bid you cheer up," said the good divine; "for in this
unhappy case, I could not have wished, after what I have heard from
Phoebe and yourself, that you should have kept your hand still, though I
may regret that the blow has proved fatal. Nevertheless, thou hast done
even that which was done by the great and inspired legislator, when he
beheld an Egyptian tyrannizing over a Hebrew, saving that, in the case
present, it was a female, when, says the Septuagint, _Percussum Egyptium
abscondit sabulo_; the meaning whereof I will explain to you another
time. Wherefore, I exhort you not to grieve beyond measure; for although
this circumstance is unhappy in time and place, yet, from what Phoebe
hath informed me of yonder wretch's opinions, it is much to be regretted
that his brains had not been beaten out in his cradle, rather than that
he had grown up to be one of those Grindlestonians, or Muggletonians, in
whom is the perfection of every foul and blasphemous heresy, united with
such an universal practice of hypocritical assentation as would deceive
their master, even Satan himself."
"Nevertheless, sir," said the forester, "I hope you will bestow some of
the service of the Church on this poor man, as it was his last wish,
naming you, sir, at the same time; and unless this were done, I should
scarce dare to walk out in the dark again for my whole life."
"Thou art a silly fellow; but if," continued the Doctor, "he named me as
he departed, and desired the last rites of the Church, there was, it may
be, a turning from evil and a seeking to good even in his last moments;
and if Heaven granted him grace to form a prayer so fitting, wherefore
should man refuse it? All I fear is the briefness of time."
"Nay, your reverence may cut the service somewhat short," said Joceline;
"assuredly he does not deserve the whole of it; only if something were
not to be done, I believe I should flee the country. They were his last
words; and methinks he sent Bevis with his glove to put me in mind of
"Out, fool! Do you think," said the Doctor, "dead men send gauntlets to
the living, like knights in a romance; or, if so, would they choose dogs
to carry their challenges? I tell thee, fool, the cause was natural
enough. Bevis, questing about, found the body, and brought the glove to
you to intimate where it was lying, and to require assistance; for such
is the high instinct of these animals towards one in peril."
"Nay, if you think so, Doctor," said Joceline--"and, doubtless, I must
say, Bevis took an interest in the man--if indeed it was not something
worse in the shape of Bevis, for methought his eyes looked wild and
fiery, as if he would have spoken."
As he talked thus, Joceline rather hung back, and, in doing so,
displeased the Doctor, who exclaimed, "Come along, thou lazy laggard!
Art thou a soldier, and a brave one, and so much afraid of a dead man?
Thou hast killed men in battle and in chase, I warrant thee."
"Ay, but their backs were to me," said Joceline. "I never saw one of
them cast back his head, and glare at me as yonder fellow did, his eye
retaining a glance of hatred, mixed with terror and reproach, till it
became fixed like a jelly. And were you not with me, and my master's
concerns, and something else, very deeply at stake, I promise you I
would not again look at him for all Woodstock."
"You must, though," said the Doctor, suddenly pausing, "for here is the
place where he lies. Come hither deep into the copse; take care of
stumbling--Here is a place just fitting, and we will draw the briars
over the grave afterwards."
As the Doctor thus issued his directions, he assisted also in the
execution of them; and while his attendant laboured to dig a shallow and
mishapen grave, a task which the state of the soil, perplexed with
roots, and hardened by the influence of the frost, rendered very
difficult, the divine read a few passages out of the funeral service,
partly in order to appease the superstitious terrors of Joceline, and
partly because he held it matter of conscience not to deny the Church's
rites to one who had requested their aid in extremity.
* * * * *
CHAPTER THE THIRTY SECOND.
Case ye, case ye,--on with your vizards.
The company whom we had left in Victor Lee's parlour were about to
separate for the night, and had risen to take a formal leave of each
other, when a tap was heard at the hall-door. Albert, the vidette of the
party, hastened to open it, enjoining, as he left the room, the rest to
remain quiet, until he had ascertained the cause of the knocking. When
he gained the portal, he called to know who was there, and what they
wanted at so late an hour.
"It is only me," answered a treble voice.
"And what is your name, my little fellow?" said Albert.
"Spitfire, sir," replied the voice without.
"Spitfire?" said Albert.
"Yes, sir," replied the voice; "all the world calls me so, and Colonel
Everard himself. But my name is Spittal for all that."
"Colonel Everard? arrive you from him?" demanded young Lee.
"No, sir; I come, sir, from Roger Wildrake, esquire, of
Squattlesea-mere, if it like you," said the boy; "and I have brought a
token to Mistress Lee, which I am to give into her own hands, if you
would but open the door, sir, and let me in--but I can do nothing with a
three-inch board between us."
"It is some freak of that drunken rakehell," said Albert, in a low
voice, to his sister, who had crept out after him on tiptoe.
"Yet, let us not be hasty in concluding so," said the young lady; "at
this moment the least trifle may be of consequence.--What tokens has
Master Wildrake sent me, my little boy?"
"Nay, nothing very valuable neither," replied the boy; "but he was so
anxious you should get it, that he put me out of window as one would
chuck out a kitten, that I might not be stopped by the soldiers."
"Hear you?" said Alice to her brother; "undo the gate, for God's sake."
Her brother, to whom her feelings of suspicion were now sufficiently
communicated, opened the gate in haste, and admitted the boy, whose
appearance, not much dissimilar to that of a skinned rabbit in a livery,
or a monkey at a fair, would at another time have furnished them with
amusement. The urchin messenger entered the hall, making several odd
bows, and delivered the woodcock's feather with much ceremony to the
young lady, assuring her it was the prize she had won upon a wager about
"I prithee, my little man," said Albert, "was your master drunk or
sober, when he sent thee all this way with a feather at this time of
"With reverence, sir," said the boy, "he was what he calls sober, and
what I would call concerned in liquor for any other person."
"Curse on the drunken coxcomb!" said Albert,--"There is a tester for
thee, boy, and tell thy master to break his jests on suitable persons,
and at fitting times."
"Stay yet a minute," exclaimed Alice; "we must not go too fast--this
craves wary walking."
"A feather," said Albert; "all this work about a feather! Why, Doctor
Rochecliffe, who can suck intelligence out of every trifle as a magpie
would suck an egg, could make nothing of this."
"Let us try what we can do without him then," said Alice. Then
addressing herself to the boy,--"So there are strangers at your
"At Colonel Everard's, madam, which is the same thing," said Spitfire.
"And what manner of strangers," said Alice; "guests, I suppose?"
"Ay, mistress," said the boy, "a sort of guests that make themselves
welcome wherever they come, if they meet not a welcome from their
"The men that have long been lying at Woodstock," said Albert.
"No, sir," said Spitfire, "new comers, with gallant buff-coats and steel
breastplates; and their commander--your honour and your ladyship never
saw such a man--at least I am sure Bill Spitfire never did."
"Was he tall or short?" said Albert, now much alarmed.
"Neither one nor other," said the boy; "stout made, with slouching
shoulders; a nose large, and a face one would not like to say No to. He
had several officers with him, I saw him but for a moment, but I shall
never forget him while I live."
"You are right," said Albert Lee to his sister, pulling her to one side,
"quite right--the Archfiend himself is upon us!"
"And the feather," said Alice, whom fear had rendered apprehensive of
slight tokens, "means flight--and a woodcock is a bird of passage."
"You have hit it," said her brother; "but the time has taken us cruelly
short. Give the boy a trifle more--nothing that can excite suspicion,
and dismiss him. I must summon Rochecliffe and Joceline."
He went accordingly, but, unable to find those he sought, he returned
with hasty steps to the parlour, where, in his character of Louis, the
page was exerting himself to detain the old knight, who, while laughing
at the tales he told him, was anxious to go to see what was passing in
"What is the matter, Albert?" said the old man; "who calls at the Lodge
at so undue an hour, and wherefore is the hall-door opened to them? I
will not have my rules, and the regulations laid down for keeping this
house, broken through, because I am old and poor. Why answer you not?
why keep a chattering with Louis Kerneguy, and neither of you all the
while minding what I say?--Daughter Alice, have you sense and civility
enough to tell me, what or who it is that is admitted here contrary to
my general orders?"
"No one, sir," replied Alice; "a boy brought a message, which I fear is
an alarming one."
"There is only fear, sir," said Albert, stepping forward, "that whereas
we thought to have stayed with you till to-morrow, we must now take
farewell of you to-night."
"Not so, brother," said Alice, "you must stay and aid the defence
here--if you and Master Kerneguy are both missed, the pursuit will be
instant, and probably successful; but if you stay, the hiding-places
about this house will take some time to search. You can change coats
with Kerneguy too."
"Right, noble wench," said Albert; "most excellent--yes--Louis, I remain
as Kerneguy, you fly as young Master Lee."
"I cannot see the justice of that," said Charles.
"Nor I neither," said the knight, interfering. "Men come and go, lay
schemes, and alter them, in my house, without deigning to consult me!
And who is Master Kerneguy, or what is he to me, that my son must stay
and take the chance of mischief, and this your Scotch page is to escape
in his dress? I will have no such contrivance carried into effect,
though it were the finest cobweb that was ever woven in Doctor
Rochecliffe's brains.--I wish you no ill, Louis; thou art a lively boy;
but I have been somewhat too lightly treated in this, man."
"I am fully of your opinion, Sir Henry," replied the person whom he
addressed. "You have been, indeed, repaid for your hospitality by want
of that confidence, which could never have been so justly reposed. But
the moment is come, when I must say, in a word, I am that unfortunate
Charles Stewart, whose lot it has been to become the cause of ruin to
his best friends, and whose present residence in your family threatens
to bring destruction to you, and all around you."
"Master Louis Kerneguy," said the knight very angrily, "I will teach you
to choose the subjects of your mirth better when you address them to me;
and, moreover, very little provocation would make me desire to have an
ounce or two of that malapert blood from you."
"Be still, sir, for God's sake!" said Albert to his father. "This is
indeed THE KING; and such is the danger of his person, that every moment
we waste may bring round a fatal catastrophe."
"Good God!" said the father, clasping his hands together, and about to
drop on his knees, "has my earnest wish been accomplished! and is it in
such a manner as to make me pray it had never taken place!"
He then attempted to bend his knee to the King--kissed his hand, while
large tears trickled from his eyes--then said, "Pardon, my Lord--your
Majesty, I mean--permit me to sit in your presence but one instant till
my blood beats more freely, and then"--
Charles raised his ancient and faithful subject from the ground; and
even in that moment of fear, and anxiety, and danger, insisted on
leading him to his seat, upon which he sunk in apparent exhaustion, his
head drooping upon his long white beard, and big unconscious tears
mingling with its silver hairs. Alice and Albert remained with the King,
arguing and urging his instant departure.
"The horses are at the under-keeper's hut," said Albert, "and the relays
only eighteen or twenty miles off. If the horses can but carry you so
"Will you not rather," interrupted Alice, "trust to the concealments of
this place, so numerous and so well tried--Rochecliffe's apartments, and
the yet farther places of secrecy?"
"Alas!" said Albert, "I know them only by name. My father was sworn to
confide them to but one man, and he had chosen Rochecliffe."
"I prefer taking the field to any hiding-hole in England," said the
King. "Could I but find my way to this hut where the horses are, I would
try what arguments whip and spur could use to get them to the
rendezvous, where I am to meet Sir Thomas Acland and fresh cattle. Come
with me, Colonel Lee, and let us run for it. The roundheads have beat us
in battle; but if it come to a walk or a race, I think I can show which
has the best mettle."
"But then," said Albert, "we lose all the time which may otherwise be
gained by the defence of this house--leaving none here but my poor
father, incapable from his state of doing any thing; and you will be
instantly pursued by fresh horses, while ours are unfit for the road.
Oh, where is the villain Joceline!"
"What can have become of Doctor Rochecliffe?" said Alice; "he that is so
ready with advice;--where can they be gone? Oh, if my father could but
"Your father _is_ roused," said Sir Henry, rising and stepping up to
them with all the energy of full manhood in his countenance and
motions--"I did but gather my thoughts--for when did they fail a Lee
when his King needed counsel or aid?" He then began to speak, with the
ready and distinct utterance of a general at the head of an army,
ordering every motion for attack and defence--unmoved himself, and his
own energy compelling obedience, and that cheerful obedience, from all
who heard him. "Daughter," he said, "beat up dame Jellicot--Let Phoebe
rise if she were dying, and secure doors and windows."
"That hath been done regularly since--we have been thus far honoured,"
said his daughter, looking at the King--"yet, let them go through the
chambers once more." And Alice retired to give the orders, and presently
The old knight proceeded, in the same decided tone of promptitude and
dispatch--"Which is your first stage?"
"Gray's--Rothebury, by Henley, where Sir Thomas Acland and young Knolles
are to have horses in readiness," said Albert; "but how to get there
with our weary cattle?"
"Trust me for that," said the knight; and proceeding with the same tone
of authority--"Your Majesty must instantly to Joceline's lodge," he
said, "there are your horses and your means of flight. The secret places
of this house, well managed, will keep the rebel dogs in play two or
three hours good--Rochecliffe is, I fear, kidnapped, and his Independent
hath betrayed him--Would I had judged the villain better! I would have
struck him through at one of our trials of fence, with an unbated
weapon, as Will says.--But for your guide when on horseback, half a
bowshot from Joceline's hut is that of old Martin the verdurer; he is a
score of years older than I, but as fresh as an old oak--beat up his
quarters, and let him ride with you for death and life. He will guide
you to your relay, for no fox that ever earthed in the Chase knows the
country so well for seven leagues around."
"Excellent, my dearest father, excellent," said Albert; "I had forgot
Martin the verdurer."
"Young men forget all," answered the knight--"Alas, that the limbs
should fail, when the head which can best direct them--is come perhaps
to its wisest!"
"But the tired horses," said the King--"could we not get fresh cattle?"
"Impossible at this time of night," answered Sir Henry; "but tired
horses may do much with care and looking to." He went hastily to the
cabinet which stood in one of the oriel windows, and searched for
something in the drawers, pulling out one after another.
"We lose time, father," said Albert, afraid that the intelligence and
energy which the old man displayed had been but a temporary flash of the
lamp, which was about to relapse into evening twilight.
"Go to, sir boy," said his father, sharply; "is it for thee to tax me in
this presence!--Know, that were the whole roundheads that are out of
hell in present assemblage round Woodstock, I could send away the Royal
Hope of England by a way that the wisest of them could never guess.--
Alice, my love, ask no questions, but speed to the kitchen, and fetch a
slice or two of beef, or better of venison; cut them long, and thin,
d'ye mark me"--
"This is wandering of the mind," said Albert apart to the King. "We do
him wrong, and your Majesty harm, to listen to him."
"I think otherwise," said Alice, "and I know my father better than you."
So saying, she left the room, to fulfil her father's orders.
"I think so, too," said Charles--"in Scotland the Presbyterian
ministers, when thundering in their pulpits on my own sins and those of
my house, took the freedom to call me to my face Jeroboam, or Rehoboam,
or some such name, for following the advice of young counsellors--
Oddsfish, I will take that of the grey beard for once, for never saw I
more sharpness and decision than in the countenance of that noble old
By this time Sir Henry had found what he was seeking. "In this tin box,"
he said, "are six balls prepared of the most cordial spices, mixed with
medicaments of the choicest and most invigorating quality. Given from
hour to hour, wrapt in a covering of good beef or venison, a horse of
spirit will not flag for five hours, at the speed of fifteen miles an
hour; and, please God, the fourth of the time places your Majesty in
safety--what remains may be useful on some future occasion. Martin knows
how to administer them; and Albert's weary cattle shall be ready, if
walked gently for ten minutes, in running to devour the way, as old Will
says--nay, waste not time in speech, your Majesty does me but too much
honour in using what is your own.--Now, see if the coast is clear,
Albert, and let his Majesty set off instantly--We will play our parts
but ill, if any take the chase after him for these two hours that are
between night and day--Change dresses, as you proposed, in yonder
sleeping apartment--something may be made of that too."
"But, good Sir Henry," said the King, "your zeal overlooks a principal
point. I have, indeed, come from the under-keeper's hut you mention to
this place, but it was by daylight, and under guidance--I shall never
find my way thither in utter darkness, and without a guide--I fear you
must let the Colonel go with me; and I entreat and command, you will put
yourself to no trouble or risk to defend the house--only make what delay
you can in showing its secret recesses."
"Rely on me, my royal and liege Sovereign," said Sir Henry; "but Albert
_must_ remain here, and Alice shall guide your Majesty to Joceline's hut
in his stead."
"Alice!" said Charles, stepping back in surprise--"why, it is dark
night--and--and--and--" He glanced his eye towards Alice, who had by
this time returned to the apartment, and saw doubt and apprehension in
her look; an intimation, that the reserve under which he had placed his
disposition for gallantry, since the morning of the proposed duel, had
not altogether effaced the recollection of his previous conduct. He
hastened to put a strong negative upon a proposal which appeared so much
to embarrass her. "It is impossible for me, indeed, Sir Henry, to use
Alice's services--I must walk as if blood-hounds were at my heels."
"Alice shall trip it," said the knight, "with any wench in Oxfordshire;
and what would your Majesty's best speed avail, if you know not the way
"Nay, nay, Sir Henry," continued the King, "the night is too dark--we
stay too long--I will find it myself."
"Lose no time in exchanging your dress with Albert," said Sir
Henry--"leave me to take care of the rest."
Charles, still inclined to expostulate, withdrew, however, into the
apartment where young Lee and he were to exchange clothes; while Sir
Henry said to his daughter, "Get thee a cloak, wench, and put on thy
thickest shoes. Thou might'st have ridden Pixie, but he is something
spirited, and them art a timid horsewoman, and ever wert so--the only
weakness I have known of thee."
"But, my father," said Alice, fixing her eyes earnestly on Sir Henry's
face, "must I really go along with the King? might not Phoebe, or dame
Jellicot, go with us?"
"No--no--no," answered Sir Henry; "Phoebe, the silly slut, has, as you
well know, been in fits to-night, and I take it, such a walk as you must
take is no charm for hysterics--Dame Jellicot hobbles as slow as a
broken-winded mare--besides, her deafness, were there occasion to speak
to her--No--no--you shall go alone and entitle yourself to have it
written on your tomb, 'Here lies she who saved the King!'--And, hark
you, do not think of returning to-night, but stay at the verdurer's with
his niece--the Park and Chase will shortly be filled with our enemies,
and whatever chances here you will learn early enough in the morning."
"And what is it I may then learn?" said Alice--"Alas, who can tell?--O,
dearest father, let me stay and share your fate! I will pull off the
timorous woman, and fight for the King, if it be necessary.--But--I
cannot think of becoming his only attendant in the dark night, and
through a road so lonely."
"How!" said the knight, raising his voice; "do you bring ceremonious and
silly scruples forward, when the King's safety, nay his life is at
stake! By this mark of loyalty," stroking his grey beard as he spoke,
"could I think thou wert other than becomes a daughter of the house of
Lee, I would"--
At this moment the King and Albert interrupted him by entering the
apartment, having exchanged dresses, and, from their stature, bearing
some resemblance to each other, though Charles was evidently a plain,
and Lee a handsome young man. Their complexions were different; but the
difference could not be immediately noticed, Albert having adopted a
black peruque, and darkened his eyebrows.
Albert Lee walked out to the front of the mansion, to give one turn
around the Lodge, in order to discover in what direction any enemies
might be approaching, that they might judge of the road which it was
safest for the royal fugitive to adopt. Meanwhile the King, who was
first in entering the apartment, had heard a part of the angry answer
which the old knight made to his daughter, and was at no loss to guess
the subject of his resentment. He walked up to him with the dignity
which he perfectly knew how to assume when he chose it.
"Sir Henry," he said, "it is our pleasure, nay our command, that you
forbear all exertion of paternal authority in this matter. Mistress
Alice, I am sure, must have good and strong reasons for what she wishes;
and I should never pardon myself were she placed in an unpleasant
situation on my account. I am too well acquainted with woods and
wildernesses to fear losing my way among my native oaks of Woodstock."
"Your Majesty shall not incur the danger," said Alice, her temporary
hesitation entirely removed by the calm, clear, and candid manner in
which Charles uttered these last words. "You shall run no risk that I
can prevent; and the unhappy chances of the times in which I have lived
have from experience made the forest as well known to me by night as by
day. So, if you scorn not my company, let us away instantly."
"If your company is given with good-will, I accept it with gratitude,"
replied the monarch.
"Willingly," she said, "most willingly. Let me be one of the first to
show that zeal and that confidence, which I trust all England will one
day emulously display in behalf of your Majesty."
She uttered these words with an alacrity of spirit, and made the
trifling change of habit with a speed and dexterity, which showed that
all her fears were gone, and that her heart was entirely in the mission
on which her father had dispatched her.
"All is safe around," said Albert Lee, showing himself; "you may take
which passage you will--the most private is the best."
Charles went gracefully up to Sir Henry Lee ere his departure, and took
him by the hand.--"I am too proud to make professions," he said, "which
I may be too poor ever to realize. But while Charles Stewart lives, he
lives the obliged and indebted debtor of Sir Henry Lee."
"Say not so, please your Majesty, say not so," exclaimed the old man,
struggling with the hysterical sobs which rose to his throat. "He who
might claim all, cannot become indebted by accepting some small part."
"Farewell, good friend, farewell!" said the King; "think of me as a son,
a brother to Albert and to Alice, who are, I see, already impatient.
Give me a father's blessing, and let me be gone."
"The God, through whom kings reign, bless your Majesty," said Sir Henry,
kneeling and turning his reverend face and clasped hands up to
Heaven--"The Lord of Hosts bless you, and save your Majesty from your
present dangers, and bring you in his own good time to the safe
possession of the crown that is your due!"
Charles received this blessing like that of a father, and Alice and he
departed on their journey.
As they left the apartment, the old knight let his hands sink gently as
he concluded this fervent ejaculation, his head sinking at the same
time. His son dared not disturb his meditation, yet feared the strength
of his feelings might overcome that of his constitution, and that he
might fall into a swoon. At length, he ventured to approach and
gradually touch him. The old knight started to his feet, and was at once
the same alert, active-minded, forecasting director, which he had shown
himself a little before.
"You are right, boy," he said, "we must be up and doing. They lie, the
roundheaded traitors, that call him dissolute and worthless! He hath
feelings worthy the son of the blessed Martyr. You saw, even in the
extremity of danger, he would have perilled his safety rather than take
Alice's guidance when the silly wench seemed in doubt about going.
Profligacy is intensely selfish, and thinks not of the feelings of
others. But hast thou drawn bolt and bar after them? I vow I scarce saw
when they left the hall."
"I let them out at the little postern," said the Colonel; "and when I
returned, I was afraid I had found you ill."
"Joy--joy, only joy, Albert--I cannot allow a thought of doubt to cross
my breast. God will not desert the descendant of an hundred kings--the
rightful heir will not be given up to the ruffians. There was a tear in
his eye as he took leave of me--I am sure of it. Wouldst not die for
"If I lay my life down for him to-night," said Albert, "I would only
regret it, because I should not hear of his escape to-morrow."
"Well, let us to this gear," said the knight; "think'st thou know'st
enough of his manner, clad as thou art in his dress, to induce the women
to believe thee to be the page Kerneguy?"
"Umph," replied Albert, "it is not easy to bear out a personification of
the King, when women are in the case. But there is only a very little
light below, and I can try."
"Do so instantly," said his father; "the knaves will be here presently."
Albert accordingly left the apartment, while the knight continued--"If
the women be actually persuaded that Kerneguy be still here, it will add
strength to my plot--the beagles will open on a false scent, and the
royal stag be safe in cover ere they regain the slot of him. Then to
draw them on from hiding-place to hiding-place! Why, the east will be
grey before they have sought the half of them!--Yes, I will play at
bob-cherry with them, hold the bait to their nose which they are never
to gorge upon! I will drag a trail for them which will take them some
time to puzzle out.--But at what cost do I do this?" continued the old
knight, interrupting his own joyous soliloquy--"Oh, Absalom, Absalom, my
son! my son!--But let him go; he can but die as his fathers have died;
and in the cause for which they lived. But he comes--Hush!--Albert, hast
thou succeeded? hast thou taken royalty upon thee so as to pass
"I have, sir," replied Albert; "the women will swear that Louis Kerneguy
was in the house this very last minute."
"Right, for they are good and faithful creatures," said the knight, "and
would swear what was for his Majesty's safety at any rate; yet they will
do it with more nature and effect, if they believe they are swearing
truth.--How didst thou impress the deceit upon them?"
"By a trifling adoption of the royal manner, sir, not worth mentioning."
"Out, rogue!" replied the knight. "I fear the King's character will
suffer under your mummery."
"Umph," said Albert, muttering what he dared not utter aloud--"were I to
follow the example close up, I know whose character would be in the
"Well, now we must adjust the defence of the outworks, the signals, &c.
betwixt us both, and the best way to baffle the enemy for the longest
time possible." He then again had recourse to the secret drawers of his
cabinet, and pulled out a piece of parchment, on which was a plan.
"This," said he, "is a scheme of the citadel, as I call it, which may
hold out long enough after you have been forced to evacuate the places
of retreat you are already acquainted with. The ranger was always sworn
to keep this plan secret, save from one person only, in case of sudden
death.--Let us sit down and study it together."
They accordingly adjusted their measures in a manner which will better
show itself from what afterwards took place, than were we to state the
various schemes which they proposed, and provisions made against events
that did not arrive.
At length young Lee, armed and provided with some food and liquor, took
leave of his father, and went and shut himself up in Victor Lee's
apartment, from which was an opening to the labyrinth of private
apartments, or hiding-places, that had served the associates so well in
the fantastic tricks which they had played off at the expense of the
Commissioners of the Commonwealth.
"I trust," said Sir Henry, sitting down by his desk, after having taken
a tender farewell of his son, "that Rochecliffe has not blabbed out the
secret of the plot to yonder fellow Tomkins, who was not unlikely to
prate of it out of school.--But here am I seated--perhaps for the last
time, with my Bible on the one hand, and old Will on the other,
prepared, thank God, to die as I have lived.--I marvel they come not
yet," he said, after waiting for some time--"I always thought the devil
had a smarter spur to give his agents, when they were upon his own
* * * * *
CHAPTER THE THIRTY-THIRD.
But see, his face is black, and full of blood;
His eye-balls farther out than when he lived,
Staring full ghastly, like a strangled man;
His hair uprear'd--his nostrils stretch'd with struggling,
His hands abroad display'd, as one who grasp'd
And tugg'd for life, and was by strength subdued.
HENRY VI. PART I.
Had those whose unpleasant visit Sir Henry expected come straight to the
Lodge, instead of staying for three hours at Woodstock, they would have
secured their prey. But the Familist, partly to prevent the King's
escape, partly to render himself of more importance in the affair, had
represented the party at the Lodge as being constantly on the alert, and
had therefore inculcated upon Cromwell the necessity of his remaining
quiet until he (Tomkins) should appear to give him notice that the
household were retired to rest. On this condition he undertook, not only
to discover the apartment in which the unfortunate Charles slept, but,
if possible, to find some mode of fastening the door on the outside, so
as to render flight impossible. He had also promised to secure the key
of a postern, by which the soldiers might be admitted into the house
without exciting alarm. Nay, the matter might, by means of his local
knowledge, be managed, as he represented it, with such security, that he
would undertake to place his Excellency, or whomsoever he might appoint
for the service, by the side of Charles Stewart's bed, ere he had slept
off the last night's claret. Above all, he had stated, that, from the
style of the old house, there were many passages and posterns which must
be carefully guarded before the least alarm was caught by those within,
otherwise the success of the whole enterprise might be endangered. He
had therefore besought Cromwell to wait for him at the village, if he
found him not there on his arrival; and assured him that the marching
and countermarching of soldiers was at present so common, that even if
any news were carried to the Lodge that fresh troops had arrived in the
borough, so ordinary a circumstance would not give them the least alarm.
He recommended that the soldiers chosen for this service should be such
as could be depended upon--no fainters in spirit--none who turn back
from Mount Gilead for fear of the Amalekites, but men of war, accustomed
to strike with the sword, and to need no second blow. Finally, he
represented that it would be wisely done if the General should put
Pearson, or any other officer whom he could completely trust, into the
command of the detachment, and keep his own person, if he should think
it proper to attend, secret even from the soldiers.
All this man's counsels Cromwell had punctually followed. He had
travelled in the van of this detachment of one hundred picked soldiers,
whom he had selected for the service, men of dauntless resolution, bred
in a thousand dangers, and who were steeled against all feelings of
hesitation and compassion, by the deep and gloomy fanaticism which was
their chief principle of action--men to whom, as their General, and no
less as the chief among the Elect, the commands of Oliver were like a
commission from the Deity.
Great and deep was the General's mortification at the unexpected absence
of the personage on whose agency he so confidently reckoned, and many
conjectures he formed as to the cause of such mysterious conduct. Some
times he thought Tomkins had been overcome by liquor, a frailty to which
Cromwell knew him to be addicted; and when he held this opinion he
discharged his wrath in maledictions, which, of a different kind from
the wild oaths and curses of the cavaliers, had yet in them as much
blasphemy, and more determined malevolence. At other times he thought
some unexpected alarm, or perhaps some drunken cavalier revel, had
caused the family of Woodstock Lodge to make later hours than usual. To
this conjecture, which appeared the most probable of any, his mind often
recurred; and it was the hope that Tomkins would still appear at the
rendezvous, which induced him to remain at the borough, anxious to
receive communication from his emissary, and afraid of endangering the
success of the enterprise by any premature exertion on his own part.
In the meantime, Cromwell, finding it no longer possible to conceal his
personal presence, disposed of every thing so as to be ready at a
minute's notice. Half his soldiers he caused to dismount, and had the
horses put into quarters; the other half were directed to keep their
horses saddled, and themselves ready to mount at a moment's notice. The
men were brought into the house by turns, and had some refreshment,
leaving a sufficient guard on the horses, which was changed from time to
Thus Cromwell waited with no little uncertainty, often casting an
anxious eye upon Colonel Everard, who, he suspected, could, if he chose
it, well supply the place of his absent confidant. Everard endured this
calmly, with unaltered countenance, and brow neither ruffled nor
Midnight at length tolled, and it became necessary to take some decisive
step. Tomkins might have been treacherous; or, a suspicion which
approached more near to the reality, his intrigue might have been
discovered, and he himself murdered or kidnapped by the vengeful
Back to Full Books